Pellet Rifle Comparison Review in .177 and .22 Caliber

Following up on my Why Every Prepper Needs a Pellet Rifle post, I’m reviewing five different pellet rifles.

These rifles aren’t mine. A firearms dealer I know asked if I wanted to try some for a blog post review. How do you say no to that? He gave me a bunch of pellets and targets. I told him I’d list the price he’s selling them for with his contact info. His email is rockwoodarmz [at] msn.com. You can also click his Rockwood Armz facebook page.

 

If I was buying a pellet rifle, I wouldn’t be buying it to shoot squirrels or birds. I only try to kill critters that are a nuisance, like garden eating groundhogs, or animals I intend to eat, like Maine big bucks. If I wanted to go out in the woods shooting squirrels, I’d probably want the bigger, slower .22 caliber pellet; in a rifle that’s lighter to carry, composite stock.

That’s not what I’d want a pellet rifle for. I’d want to gain (and maintain) basic marksmanship skills. A pellet rifle is a convenient, quiet, fun – and cheap way of doing that. I’d want a target rifle. I’d want a heavy rifle, to better mirror a “real” rifle, something accurate, with the smaller, faster .177 caliber (which could still kill squirrels).

I shot the rifles in my backyard around the kids’ bedtime, able to steal a little time by telling my wife I had “work to do, an excuse that’s been easier since getting a few advertisers here. The picture to the right is the target, at the bottom of the picture is the top of a white chair that I rested the rifles on. Because I only had limited time, and because the rifles were new or close to new, I didn’t have the time to go sighting them all in, except one, which I sighted in the following night.

The rifles were all new or like new condition. Different quality and, naturally, prices. There are different types of safeties, some by the trigger, and some with “automatic” safety switches. The safety switch automatically engages after you pump the rifle, and you switch it with your thumb. I preferred the automatic safety, but I wished the “button” you push in wasn’t made out of plastic.

The rifles’ action is all the same, you just cock the barrel and load the pellet in the back.

Pictured is the Gamo “Bone Collector.”

That one is a .22 caliber, and a relatively lightweight rifle. I used the sights (which had a nice fiber optic feature), but it also has a scope mount. The safety is in front of the trigger, not automatic. The velocity is listed as 950 FPS with PBA Platinum pellets, which are lighter, and thus faster, than lead pellets. The composite stock is very comfortable, but the rifle has a very noticeable “sprrrring” sound after you fire it. That’s my biggest complaint with it. I see on the rifle “Gamo USA” but it doesn’t say “Made in the U.S.A.” or “Made in” anywhere. The Rockwood Armz price is $289.00 + $20 S&H for a new one.

Above Daisy Powerline Model 1000 – this .177 caliber rifle is heavier and has an auto safety. It has a Powerline 3-9×32 scope. While the Daisy mailing address stamped on the barrel as Rogers, AR, it clearly states “Made in China.” Nowhere does it state the velocity speed. I think he only has the one pictured, slightly used one available in the $80 range, but you’d have to contact him. Naturally, you get what you pay for. While this Daisy rifle has the weight and .177 caliber I’d be looking for, the rifle is not top notch. You can tell the better rifles just by picking them up and looking them over.

The rifle above is a Benjamin piston gun in .22 caliber. The rifle rifle had a nice balance to it and a 3-9x40A0 scope.  The pistol grip style stock was comfortable. The rifle is made in China. He sells this rifle new, with a stock trigger, for $223 + $20 S&H.

The rifle above is a RWS Panther Pro Compact – .177 caliber. They pitch it as an “adult air rifle.” It’s quiet, comes with an automatic safety. The rifle is heavy. Made in Germany. This rifle was easily my favorite. It felt more like a “real” rifle and it was a pleasure to shoot. I sighted this rifle in the next night and was making very tight groupings. He sells this rifle new for $247 + $20 S&H.

Gamo Nitro 17 – .177 is above. The rifle has a loud “sprrroing” sound to it. I used it with a Daisy electronic sight, but it comes with a 3-9×40 scope. The safety is by the trigger. Country of origin is not stated on the rifle. The craftsmanship is lacking, but at $125 + $20 S&H, it works for some people. It all depends on what you want it for.

Me? I want to hang a line of Pepsi “throwback” cans across some trees and punch them with a .177 pellet from the deck.

- Ranger Man

BTW: Thanks to those that made an Amazon.com purchases last month through the Amazon search bar at the right or through product links within posts. Spare Amazon commission change is always friendly.

 

17 comments… add one

  • gat31 June 2, 2011, 12:39 am

    Thank you Rangerman for this series on the pellet guns. After discussing it with the fam, we decided this might be a good start to our future “arsenal”
    (anything over 20 bullets right? lol) The smallest pack of plastic pellets for the airsoft gun was 200! Anyways, my grandson and l have awaited this review so we can decide what would be best to save up for. Do they tend to sell these type of guns at gun shows too? l was looking at ebay and craigslist and really didn’t find anything great so not sure where to buy these. Gander mtn? I’ll take suggestions and ideas.
    Good luck out there and happy prepping!

    Reply
    • Ranger Man June 2, 2011, 6:51 pm

      My pleasure. You can contact Rockwood Armz with the info I put in the post. His RWS price is pretty competitive. Otherwise I’d suggest Amazon.com, some other site, or a retail store.

      Reply
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. June 2, 2011, 8:35 am

    Thanks for the review. For the person with nusciance animals in their backyards or other short – medium ranges, a pump like a Benjamin or Sheridan are nice to have around. They can be left loaded behind the back door for instant use. Springers like the above should not be left loaded for long periods, and the mainspring will take a set and damage them in short order. Springers aren’t light at all – my RWS 350 is heavier than my Garand and is about as long – not for the small statured individual at all. But power galore and accuracy is great!

    The old rule of thumb for pellet bore size is .177 for feathers (birds) and .22 for fur. The smaller .177 has a flatter trajectory and is easier to find in stores. Lower priced too. The .22 has more ‘smack’ and produces more surer kills, especially on larger sized game like rabbit. The heavier pellet also has a more pronounced trajectory arc, so take that into consideration as well.

    Thanks again for the review.

    Reply
  • PrimalCane June 2, 2011, 9:53 am

    I’ve had a .177 Gamo 1200 FPS pellet gun for several years now and it’s actually what I used to take squirrels. I don’t know why everyone keeps saying these things are quite, in all honesty I think the Gamo is more than loud enough to upset the neighbors. I wish I would have know the feather and fur rule prior to purchasing my .177 , I would definitely have started with the .22. The .17 is more than capable of downing the squirrel, but 1 out of 10 isn’t a kill, and needs to be followed up.

    On a side note, I was told by the gunsmith at Cabela’s that you can’t use a regular scope on a pellet gun since the recoil isn’t just back into your shoulder. the piston release when you pull the trigger actually pulls the gun forward, then the gas release sends it back. Most reticules can’t take the forward abuse so you have to buy a special scope meant for air rifles. My .02 after buying one of these scopes, is that for a pellet gun you should learn to stalk and shoot with iron sights. The accuracy is extremely beholden the the wind over 25-40 yards, and there is nothing a scope can do to change that.

    Squirrel hunting was one of the most rewarding hunts I’ve gone on, even if I only got overcooked nuggets at the end of it. It’s a great way to introduce kids to hunting, and thin the tree rat population at the same time.

    Reply
  • PrimalCane June 2, 2011, 9:57 am

    For those interested in buying a pellet gun, I got mine from a Sporting goods store, Sports Authority I think, for dirt cheap when they were on sale. $130 for a .17 Gamo 1200 FPS. I spent another 80-90 on a scope, which was a waste of money in my opinion. I suppose if the gun came with it I would take it, but I’m enjoying shooting with iron sights.

    Reply
  • russell1200 June 2, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Very useful review. Knowing which ones are quiet and which ones are made in China is useful information.

    Reply
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. June 2, 2011, 1:51 pm

    Very good point about the springer scope PrimalCane. Many stories of standard rifle scopes (even high $ Leupolds) becoming toast after the recoil of ‘just a BB gun’. If you scope it, make sure it is air rifle rated, the manufacturer is the best authority on it. They don’t want warranty problems – they will be straight shooters. Air firearm websites are also good places for data mining – Pyramyd Air is a good one.

    Reply
    • Hokie June 11, 2011, 6:58 pm

      Can you provide any more info re: this statement? If an optic rated for the recoil from a series of center rifle cartridges – one would presume it’s more than sufficient to liberate compressed air. If there’s some argument to the contrary, I’d be wide open to sit back, learn, and pay it forward.

      Reply
  • hsoi June 2, 2011, 6:43 pm

    You said the RWS was quiet. How so? In terms of gas expelled from the muzzle quiet? or the action/internals? or just overall?

    I’ve started looking at pellet rifles:

    http://blog.hsoi.com/2011/06/02/so-tell-me-about-air-guns/

    and from there and other things I’m starting to gather, it seems like the Gamo does make the “blast” quieter, but you still get the sproong sound, like you mentioned. So, I’m curious if that RWS perhaps gives you the best of both worlds? that it’s both quiet shooting and no (or little) sprooong sound?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Ranger Man June 2, 2011, 6:52 pm

      I think mostly quiet in terms of the “sproong” sound. Thanks for visiting.

      Reply
      • hsoi June 2, 2011, 6:53 pm

        OK. Cool. Thank you. :-)

        Reply
  • Groundhog June 2, 2011, 9:52 pm

    I’ll have you know sir, that ‘this’ groundhog survives quite handily on charred slices of bovine thank you very much…

    Reply
  • Richard H June 3, 2011, 12:17 am

    I recent;y bought a .177 caliber air rifle. $100 refurbished. Really nice I must say. Very accurate and reliable. I was amazed that it actually had kick. Not much once you shot it a few times and it became normal, but everyone who shoots it for the first time is slightly stunned. It also has fantastic stopping power. I took an old metal paint can (one gallon) and hung it up on a post about a 80 yards out. It punched a large hole through both sides without even knocking the can over! It would seem that the little .177 pellet still has some power left in it even after that. By the way, as for hunting or pest control with a .177 pellet gun, I have three groundhogs that can testify to it’s accuracy and lethality. Very nice gun. Check it out. http://www.airgundepot.com/refurbished-remington-vantage-air-rifle-177-cal-1200-fps-w-scope.html

    Reply
    • gat31 June 3, 2011, 1:57 am

      man l like how this looks and it’s not bad on price ty so much!

      Reply
    • MM June 20, 2011, 11:20 am

      Richard,

      You sound like you know what you are talking about with respect to the much hated groundhog. I have a serious problem with them. I see them coming out of their burrow hole and can easily get within 20 – 30 yards from them. In order to KILL one, could I simply shoot it in the head with a basic .177 pellet gun? Please help. I am not a hunter an have never killed anything, but I am good with a pellet gun from my days of target shooting as a teen.

      Thanks in advance,
      MM

      Reply
  • john June 6, 2011, 9:18 am

    > so not sure where to buy these

    http://www.pyramydair.com/

    I ordered one thing from them and everything was 100%.

    I have ordered a few things from

    http://www.sportsmanguide.com

    The Daisy 5170 pistol has great power and their package deal includes a red dot and a laser. I wore mine out.

    The best thing for our garden has been a stray cat we adopted. Chipmunk and squirrels leave most of the stuff alone now. One year squirrels killed our sunflowers and ate all the heads off them, before we had her.

    If you have a cheap gun, I found shotgun BBs work pretty well if you do not have any .22 pellets around. I think it was “T” shot. I would not use it in a nice gun.

    Reply

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