We all know how troublesome rabbits can be. And there are several ways to deal with the rabbits invading your farm, but by far the most fun is shooting the little rascals. Hunting rabbits is fun and rewarding as you get to go home with fresh rabbit meat for dinner.
But to be effective in your hunt, you need the right tool. In this case, air rifles are the perfect choice. Air rifles are an inexpensive alternative to conventional rifles but pack quite a punch, perfect for exterminating rabbits and other small rodents.
So which is the best air rifle for rabbits? In my experience, a head shot from a .177 caliber air rifle will just be effective as a .22 one. But this is not to say all air rifles are the same.
And to save you from having to browse through the hundreds of air rifle options available, I have compiled a list of the top five best pellet guns for rabbits. I picked these five rifles based on my own experiences hunting rabbits.
A Quick Comparison Of My Top Air Rifle For Rabbit Hunting
Barrel Length (inch)
Diana Stormrider Gen2
Diana RWS 460 Magnum
Why Should You Trust My Review
You are probably now wondering why you should trust my top picks. As mentioned, I picked these five air rifles based on my own experience. As such, these are rifles I have used to hunt rabbits.
How I Picked The Top Picks
For my top picks, I picked .177 and .22 caliber rifles as I believe they are the most practical and ideal for rabbits. And for the rifles themselves, I considered accuracy, stopping power, price, ease of use, and weight.
What Type Of Air Rifle Is Best For Rabbits
Air rifles can be classified into three main types; break-barrel spring-powered, Precharged Pneumatic (PCP), and Co2 air rifles. C02 are the least powerful of the three, and for serious rabbit hunting, you will want to stick with either a spring-powered or a PCP rifle.
These types of air rifles offer sufficient power to drop a rabbit with one shot. Spring-powered rifles are relatively cheap and do not require any additional charging equipment. However, these types of rifles have recoil, which can cause them to be inaccurate in the hands of inexperienced shooters.
Furthermore, these are single-shot rifles, and if you miss, there is no chance for a follow-up shot. Due to their shortcomings, I prefer PCP for rabbit hunting over spring-powered. The latter is a bit pricey but allows for multiple shots and have low recoil, making them more accurate. However You can sitll find some breathtaking PCP air rifle under 1000 dollars which we tested and reviewed on outdoorever.
.177 or .22 air rifles for rabbits: What Caliber Should You Pick For Hunting Rabbits
You are best served with either a .177 or .22 caliber for rabbits. Anything larger than a .22 will be unnecessary. However, the Caliber you choose between the two will be influenced by distance. The heavier .22 faces more air resistance, which is not ideal for long-range shots.
Therefore use a .22 caliber for close-range shots. The lighter .177 will be a better choice for medium-range shots.
Is It Legal To Hunt Rabbits
It depends on where you are. It is legal to hunt these animals in most states, but with conditions such as a firearm license being required. Also, it is illegal to discharge firearms within city limits in others. So it is essential to check your state laws and season before going rabbit hunting.
Tips On Hunting Rabbits
- When looking for rabbits, search them in overgrown hedges and brushy ditches. Rabbits also hide in the abandoned property.
- After a cold spell, rabbits like to bask in the sun. So target sunny areas after a cold spell.
- Rabbits come to feed at dawn and towards dusk, so this is the best time to hunt rabbits.
- Focus more on smaller farms and neglected public lands instead of large farms.
Review Best Air Rifle For Rabbits
The Weihrauch HW97K
The Weihrauch HW97K is a german made spring-powered air rifle available in either a .177, .20, or .22 calibers. And for this list, I picked the .22 option as I find the .22 pellets easy to handle. It is an underlever action rifle.
Ambidextrous breach opening
The breach opening on this air rifle has the same distance on both sides. This makes it easy to get your fingers in there, whether right or left-handed. This, of course, makes it easy to load pellets making the gun very ambidextrous, something that I personally like.
Power And Accuracy
This air rifle is focused more on accuracy and shoot ability over high muzzle velocity. So do not expect a ridiculously high muzzle velocity of 1000 plus. With .22 Field Target Trophy pellets, I typically get an average FPS of 695 with 16 FPE.
A Fantastic Trigger
Ask anyone who has used the Weihrauch HW97K, and they will most likely point to the trigger as being the best feature of this rifle, myself included. This air gun uses the famous REKORD two-stage trigger.
I love the ridged surface of the trigger blade that helps minimize the risk of slipping off the trigger finger. This trigger has a pull weight of 2 lb 9 oz, but what I liked the most about the trigger is the well defined second stage that is very consistent.
Easy To Cock
The cocking mechanism on this rifle has an effort of 39 lbs, which sounds heavy. Still, it is actually common for spring-powered rifles of this kind. The cocking lever’s action is smooth and precise and is held in place by a sprung clip fitted to the barrel’s underside.
At the front of the cocking arm is a plunger button that you push to release the cocking lever. Overall, it is easy to release the lever and load a pellet, especially given the gun is ambidextrous.
Good Things About The Weihrauch HW97K
- It looks very well made with a beach stock that is well stained and does not look cheap.
- The second-stage trigger is incredibly consistent and has only a slight variation of plus or minus 5 ounces from the average 2 lb 9 oz pull weight.
- It is easy to cock the gun and load pellets thanks to its ambidextrous breach opening and easy-to-use cocking arm.
- It offers sufficient power for hunting most small animals, including rabbits.
- It is very accurate with both .177 and .22 pellets.
Things Didn’t Like About The Weihrauch HW97K
- Being a spring-piston rifle, it can only fire one pellet at a time; thus, accuracy is essential when using this rifle.
- Weighing 10 lbs 2 oz with a scope mounted, it is pretty heavy.
Why Should You Buy The Weihrauch HW97K
There are two main reasons why this is the best air rifle for hunting rabbits and why you should buy it. First is the trigger. It is smooth and consistent and is by far the best trigger I have found on a spring-piston rifle. The second is the shoot ability and accuracy. This rifle is incredibly accurate, and you should be able to hit the target with just one shot.
Diana Stormrider Gen2 Synthetic Air Rifle
The second-generation Diana StormRider is a PCP rifle with a synthetic stock and is one of the most lightweight air guns I have used. It also has a muzzle suppressor at the front. In terms of price, this is an affordable air rifle.
Accuracy And Power
I picked the .22 caliber option for this review; there is a .177 caliber option as well. This little guy packs a punch when it comes to accuracy and power. With Gamo Platinum alloy pellets, I was able to get about 875 FPS and 16.51 ft/lbs.
The trigger on this air gun seems to be an improvement over the Gen 1 version trigger, which was a single-stage non-adjustable trigger. The one of this gen 2 is a two-stage trigger with a distinct wall when you reach the second stage.
In terms of performance, I wouldn’t say it is the best trigger out there, but it is hardly surprising at the gun’s price. The pull weight is about 1lb 3.8 oz on average, which is daily light for an air rifle of its kind.
Given that it comes with a suppressor installed, how loud is it? It is quieter and should be a decent option for backyard target practice compared to first-gen rifles. But compared to other more silent guns, notably the Benjamin Marauder, it is louder.
Good Things About The Diana Stormrider Gen2 Synthetic Air Rifle
- Weighing about 6 pounds, it is one of the most lightweight airguns
- It is easy to shoot with a nice balance and should be a good option for beginners
- The addition of a suppressor makes it quieter than the original first-gen Stormrider
- It is relatively accurate for its price
- The two-stage trigger is also an improvement over the single-stage trigger of the first-gen rifle
What We Didn’t Like About The Diana Stormrider Gen2 Synthetic Air Rifle
- Some pellets can be a bit rough to load
- The synthetic stock could be more refined as it feels a bit rough
Why Buy This Diana StormRider Gen2 Synthetic Air Rifle
If you want to buy your first air rifle for pest control, this will be a good choice. It is an affordable option and is easy to use. However, despite its cost, it is still a capable shooter and can take down most small animals, squirrels and rabbits included.
Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Air Rifle .22 Cal
The Gamo Whisper Fusion is a break barrel spring-piston rifle that effectively takes down small animals such as squirrels and rabbits. You can get it in either a .177 caliber or .22 caliber configuration. I personally like the .22 caliber version, so that is what I will be reviewing.
Velocity And Accuracy
According to the manufacturer, this rifle can achieve velocities of 1020 FPS with PBA platinum pellets. However, with 14.3 grain Crossman Hollow point pellets, I get about 833 FPS, which is still sufficient for taking down rabbits.
In terms of accuracy, I am able to get a tight grouping of five shots from 20 yards using Field Target Trophy pellets. The Jumbo Express Diablo pellets work well with this air gun as well. So in terms of accuracy, I would give this rifle a 4.5-star rating.
I will be honest the trigger does take some getting used to due to its pull weight. It will require some muscle, which surprised me the first time I shot this rifle. But once you get over the initial surprise of the pull weight, which I measured to be around 2.3 lbs, it really is an excellent trigger. It is smooth and breaks cleanly. It is a two-stage trigger.
Impressive Stopping Power
I recommend using 14.3-grain pellets with this rifle as I found them to work best with it. But how much power does it have behind it? It will have no problems punching the pellets through ½ plywood from 40 yards, so imagine what it will do to a rabbit’s head from 20 yards.
Fiber Optic Sights
The rifle comes with a mounted scope, but it is a pretty crappy scope, to be honest. What isn’t crappy are the two optic sights on the front and rear. The front sight has a pin-point red dot on the front, and both are adjustable. So if you prefer shooting without a scope, this will be a great option.
Good Things About The Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1
- It is one of the most powerful air rifles for pest control and small game hunting
- It comes with two optic sights at the front and rear that are adjustable and offer excellent accuracy
- The rifle is well made with an adjustable stock and weighs about 6.5 pounds
- It is an incredibly accurate rifle from up to 40 yards out
- For the price, the trigger is nice and smooth
Cons About Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1
- The scope that you get with this rifle is terrible, and you are better off buying a new one
- While it has the name whisper in its name, I found it quite loud, especially for backyard target practice.
Why Buy This Gamo 611006325554 Whisper Fusion Mach 1 Rifle
Get this rifle if you are serious about exterminating pesky rodents and small animals. Its sheer power alone reasons enough for you to buy it. No rabbit or little rodent can survive a shot from this rifle. Another reason to consider it is its accuracy. It does well from 40 yards, and its optic sights make it accurate even without a scope.
Gamo 611006335554 Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle, .22 Caliber
Another great option from Gamo is the Swarm Fusion 10X Gen 2 air rifle. Like most of Gamo’s air rifle offerings, this uses an inert gas technology gas-piston. It is also a break barrel rifle similar to the previously reviewed Whisper Fusion.
10 Pellet Magazine
One of the best things about Gamo’s Swarm Fusion air rifles is the little 10 pellet magazine you get. This makes it easier to load pellets instead of having to load each pellet into the breach one at a time. I noted that loading pellets into the magazine in the Gen 2 rifle are much easier than it was with the Gen 1.
With the Gen 2 rifle, the pellets easily slide into the magazine without much effort. In contrast, with the Gen 1 rifle, I had to cram them into the magazine for them to get in there. It is nice to see Gamo fixed this issue.
Accuracy And Power
But how does it perform in terms of accuracy and power? From 25 yards out, using 15.4 grain Gamo Red Fire Pellets, I was able to get 3 ¼ inches to ½ inch groupings. From 50 yards, it was 1 to 1.5-inch groupings.
As for power, it is rated at 1000 FPS with .22 caliber pellets. However, in my experience and actual test results using a chronograph, the velocity is closer to 890 and 910 FPS. This still does achieve muzzle energy of about 30 foot-pounds, enough for a small game.
The trigger on this rifle is adjustable using small screws on the trigger assembly. You can adjust the length of the first and second stages. What you cannot adjust is the trigger weight. Nevertheless, the trigger is smooth.
Using the IGT gas-piston has a lower cocking effort compared to spring-piston rifles. The cocking effort is about 42 pounds, which is pretty average. The recoil is also not as bad as what you get with conventional spring-piston rifles.
Pros About Gamo 611006335554 Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle
- Weighing about 5.78 pounds, it is pretty lightweight and easy to carry around.
- It is pretty powerful and has enough power to take down most small animals.
- The 10 pellets magazine makes it easy to load.
- It is pretty accurate and, from 50 yards, is comparable to the Benjamin Marauder.
- The shockwave absorber recoil pad on the stock helps minimize recoil.
Cons Of Gamo 611006335554 Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle
- While it isn’t heavy, I would not recommend it for beginners, mainly due to its heavy cocking effort.
- It is not the quietest gun and might not be the best for backyard shooting with the neighbors around.
Why Buy This Gamo 611006335554 Swarm Fusion 10X GEN2 Air Rifle
This is a very practical gun, it doesn’t have any of the fancy features you find in high-end models, but it does what it is designed to do. For pest control and hunting small game, this is a great rifle priced reasonably priced.
The Diana RWS 460 Magnum
The Diana RWS 460 Magnum air rifle looks and feels more like a conventional deer rifle than an air rifle for small game hunting. It has a beautiful design and wood finish and is also quite long. It measures 47.75 inches long.
Power And Accuracy
This rifle is rated at 1000 FPS of velocity for the .22 Caliber by the manufacturer. With 12.6 HNN Hollow point pellets, though, I get about 944 FPS, which is still impressive. I find that the JSB 15.9 Diablo pellets work best when it comes to accuracy.
I get about 807 FPS with these, and these deliver exceptional power. At 50 yards, it delivers about 15 pounds of energy, which is impressive for small game hunting. At 20 yards, punched through ½-inch plywood with ease.
Adjustable TO6 Trigger
It comes with a T06 adjustable two-stage trigger. The trigger weight is, however, not adjustable. The 1st stage trigger length can be adjusted, though. It has a pull weight of about 4 lbs, which is not the most lightweight but also not the heaviest pull weight.
Front And Rear Sights
This air rifle comes with rear and front iron sights. Out of the box, these sights work really well. The rear one is click adjustable for windage and elevation. The front is made of plastic and is not adjustable.
Reasonable Cocking Efford
Given its magnum status and underlever cocking mechanism, I was expecting it to have a heavy cocking effort. But at around 36 pounds, it has a very manageable cocking effort. It should be manageable for most shooters.
Pros About The Diana RWS 460 Magnum
- It is a pretty accurate gun from about 30 yards out
- It is also very powerful and has not to trouble punching holes through ½-inch plywood from 30 yards
- The gun looks and feels very well made with a nice stock wood finish
- It weighs about 9.7 pounds, which is on the heavier side, but its weight helps steady it against recoil
- The front and rear sights it comes with work well out of the box
Cons Of The Diana RWS 460 Magnum
- The trigger is made of plastic and is not the best quality
- At almost 10 pounds in weight, some people may find it heavy
Why Buy This The Diana RWS 460 Magnum
Like the other rifles on the list, this is a very practical rifle for pest control and small game hunting. It is very powerful and accurate from 30 yards. It is one of the best air rifles for rabbit hunting.
Things You Need To Consider Before Buying Air Rifle For Rabbits
When you decide to buy an air rifle for small game hunting or pest control, there are certain things you should look at. The main ones are;
The Gun’s Caliber
Most air rifles designed for small game hunting are offered in either a .177 or .22 caliber. The .177 Caliber has a higher muzzle velocity, while the .22 Caliber has more stopping power. While both can take down small game, the heavier .22 caliber pellet is much more effective.
From distances of about 30 yards, .22 caliber pellets offer accuracy and power. Therefore, I recommend going for a .22 caliber air rifle.
The Gun’s Accuracy
Since most small game hunting air rifles are break barrel single-shot rifles, accuracy is crucial as you only get one shot. All the guns I have reviewed above offer good accuracy from 25 to 30 yards with .22 caliber pellets. When hunting a small game with an air rifle, you will most likely be doing so from 20 to 30 yards.
Velocity And FPE
Velocity is measured in Feet Per Second or FPS, while FPE stands for Foot Pounds of Energy. These two terms are important when looking for an air rifle to buy. Most small game rifles that fire .22 caliber will be marked with an FPS of 1000 FPS.
In my experience, though, the FPS rating given by the manufacturer is rarely correct. Nonetheless, you want a gun with a velocity of 600 and above will be sufficient. When it comes to FPE, for Rabbits and squirrels, an FPE of 9 and above is adequate.
PCP vs. Spring Piston Rifles
Air rifles for small game hunting will either be PCP or spring piston. PCP rifles require a pressure air pump and tend to be pricier. Spring pistons can be fired right out of the box without the need for a pump or any other equipment. They also tend to be more powerful and are thus more effective for small game hunting.
However, the cocking effort required to load spring piston rifles can be too much for some people, so PCP rifles may be a better option.
Single-Stage vs. Dual Stage Trigger
You really want to go with dual-stage trigger rifles for small gem hunting. A two-stage trigger is preferred for accuracy, while a single stage is recommended for quick shooting and follow-up shots. Regarding small game hunting, accuracy is important, hence why a two-stage trigger is better.
Air rifles offer a safer alternative to conventional rifles for small game hunting. However, not all air rifles are powerful enough to take down small animals. On the flip side, some air rifles are too powerful to be practical for small game hunting.
For small games, you want to stick to .177 and .22 Caliber. The five I reviewed above offer enough power and accuracy for small animals.
About The Author:
Lake Streeter, A Gun enthusiast, and loves to hunt in the middle of the wood. Always check the latest hunting gears out in the market and try to share his honest opinion with the audience in OUTDOOR EVER.