Best spring-powered air rifles for hunting 2022

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So you’ve got a problem with rats, or rabbits, and you want an airgun. Will a spring-powered air rifle do the job, and how much will it cost?

West Country gunshop owner Ian Hodge picks two great value guns off his shelf: the BSA Lightning and the Gamo Black 10 Maxxim. They’re both up to the job, Ian explains, and the choice is a personal one.

The BSA is a traditional looking gun with a wooden stock and a good ol’ British name. It sells for a little over £300, but Ian has packaged this one with a telescopic sight which he says will allow you to deal with typical small pests at up to 35-40 yards.

The Gamo is cheaper, priced new at a little under £300. It also has a more space-age look with its black plastic stock. That can appeal to younger shooters more than the traditional wood. This example is secondhand, and it’s on Ian’s shelf at £220 including the scope. It has a clever magazine system, meaning you can cock and load in one smooth movement – great for a quick follow-up shot or where another target presents itself.

Ian has plenty more spring-powered airguns in the racks, both new and secondhand, alongside a selection of pre-charged pneumatics too. If you’re unsure which will suit you, best bet is to pop in to your local gunshop and get some expert advice.

More on break-barrel airguns from Fieldtester and Fieldsports Channel

Which springers do our viewers prefer?

When it comes to spring-powered airguns, which are the favourites among Fieldsports Channel viewers? This video presents the results of our survey, carried out in 2020. We had 3,500 responses and, out of those who named a spring airgun, BSA has 16% of the market, with Weihrauch just ahead on 18%.

Best springers under £400

In this earlier video, Ian Hodge looks at spring air rifles under the £400 mark. His first pick is the Stoeger RX20, a bargain at £165 including scope. Another of his top sellers is the BSA Lightning XL, selling for just under £400 with a BSA scope. “It’s got plenty of knock-down power, and people do like to buy British,” Ian says.

In praise of spring air rifles

Airgun writer Phill Price explains why he loves springer air rifles, explains how they work, and how to get the best out of them. He demonstrates how to shoot a springer accurately, using a Walther LGV, and shows it can be a useful hunting tool.

On test: Gamo Maxxim Elite

Jamie Chandler tries out the Gamo Maxxim Elite, shortly after it was launched in the UK – featuring Gamo’s ingenious semi-auto loading system.

Springer or PCP?

Should you be considering a pre-charged pneumatic airgun instead? They are inherently easier to shoot accurately, but tend to cost more and you need to think about how you’ll recharge the air cylinder. Olympic clay shooter Abbey Burton, who also coaches youngsters on airguns, weighs up the benefits.

Mind your fingers!

There are some important safety considerations when cocking and loading a spring air rifle, even a modern one with an ‘anti-beartrap’ system. Airgun magazine writer Phill Price demonstrates what can go wrong, and shows how to do it safely.

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