When I was a child, my uncle bought me a Crossman 760 BB and pellet rifle. After my father and I added a little 3x scope to it, there wasn’t an aluminum can (or sparrow) anywhere near me that was safe. I spent as much time as possible hunting in the woods close to my home. Honestly, I wasn’t any good at it. I made way too much noise and had too little patience. But I did have a lot of fun.

Then, when I was a teenager, my father bought me a Ruger 10/22 and my pellet rifle was quickly forgotten. I saw real bullets as superior to pellets and equated my Crossman 760 to a toy for younger kids. But I couldn’t shoot real bullets in the woods near my house in the Dallas suburbs, so I ended up shooting a lot less frequently. My father sometimes took me to the range, or further out into the country to shoot my .22, but that didn’t happen as often as I wished. So, instead of shooting three to four times a week like I’d done before my pellet gun was demoted to toy status, I ended up shooting only once or twice a month.

I really didn’t think about pellet rifles again until I had kids. A few years ago we bought all three of our kids new Gamo pellet rifles (Whisper Silent Cat). They are considerably different than the one I had as a kid. I remember having to pump the old Crossman pellet rifle a dozen times, with each pump getting a little harder, until there was enough air pressure to fire. I didn’t know at the time but now I know this is known as a pump pellet rifle (or a variable pump). These new Gamo rifles are what they call a break barrel pellet rifle. Where you fold the barrel down which cocks a spring piston, then load the pellet and then bring the barrel back up to a shooting position. Pump it once and it’s ready to go.

Why should you buy a high powered pellet rifle?

Now that I am older and much wiser (that should get a few laughs), I can think of several reasons that a pellet rifle would be useful tool instead of a simple toy.

  1. First they are incredibly quiet. Which means if you live in a big city like me, you can shoot in your back yard.
  2. Second is accuracy. Understandably a .22 can shoot further, but pellet rifles are just as accurate for slightly shorter ranges.
  3. Third is Affordability. A nice pellet rifle with scope is about the same price as a .22 rifle. But the ammo is so much cheaper. You can buy a 1000 pellets for the same price you pay for 100 .22 bullets. That is a lot of small game that can be shot very cheaply.

What is the Best Pellet Rifle for Preppers?

Before we can answer that question, it is a good idea to know the different types of rifles available. Here is a chart to help explain your options.

Variable PumpCO2Break BarrelPre-charged Pneumatic (PCP)
POWER SOURCE3-10 strokes of an on-board lever to compress air12-gram cartridgeSpring or piston cocked by a lever (barrel)On-board high pressure reservoir
FILLING METHODNone, self-containedInsertion of CO2 cartridgeNone, self-containedUse of high pressure tank or pump to fill on-board reservoir
VELOCITYUp to 700 fpsUp to 780 fpsUp to 1400 fpsUp to 1100 fps
NUMBER OF SHOTSUnlimited (must be pumped for each shot)40-60, varies on rapidity of trigger pullUnlimited (must be cocked for each shot)15-35 (varies with caliber)
USESTarget Shooting, Plinking, Pest ControlTarget Shooting, PlinkingTarget Shooting, Plinking, Pest Control, Small Game HuntingTarget Shooting, Plinking, Pest Control, Small Game Hunting, Large Game Hunting
EFFECTIVE RANGE15 yards20 yards35 yards60 yards
COST$40 – $200$80 – $130$100 – $300$250 – $600
ADVANTAGESVelocity is variable based on number of strokesConvenient, accurateSelf-contained, accuratePowerful, consistent, superbly accurate
DISADVANTAGESMust be pumped up for every shotPerformance can vary with temperature (70 degrees is optimum)Requires practice to shoot at highest accuracyExternal fill source required

Once you have seen this chart I think that, for the purposes of prepping, we should eliminate a few of the rifle types that aren’t well suited to prepper needs before continuing.

I think the CO2 pellet rifle is mostly useless (for preppers) because it depends on a cartridge that is temperature sensitive and will eventually become depleted and require replacement.

The variable pump rifle is capable of taking out birds and squirrels, but the velocity and range really aren’t that great.

The pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) is the most powerful pellet rifle type, has a high velocity, the longest range, and several are semi-automatics. But a really nice PCP easily costs between $450-$600, and you can buy a Ruger 10/22 with several thousand rounds of .22 ammo for that price.

I think the best prepping pellet rifle type (for the money) is the break barrel pellet rifle. It has the highest velocity, a very good range, and can be operated for as long as your pellet stash holds out without depending on additional sources of propulsion like CO2 tanks or pumps.

There is also the decision of what pellet caliber to get, .177 or .22? There really isn’t a wrong answer to this question, in my opinion. Both have advantages. It really is more about what you plan to shoot with it. If you only plan to shoot birds, squirrels and rabbits than the .177 is perfect. But if you want a little larger prey like raccoons, small wild pigs, coyote and such, than the .22 is the way to go. Both calibers have many different pellet designs and options. But in general the .177 will always be faster and the .22 will always hit a little harder.

Pellet Rifle Options

I really don’t want to push a specific rifle, so I’ve linked to eight different brands and models in alphabetical order. Click on the link or image for more information.

Beeman Silver Kodiak X2 Dc Air Rifle W/3-9X32
Beeman Silver Kodiak X2 Dc Air Rifle W/3-9X32
This Beeman pellet rifle is unique because it is the only one (that I list) that allows you to switch barrels so that you can shoot both .177 and .22 caliber. It also has a nice scope, and a 2-stage trigger for higher precision.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air Rifle with Scope .177
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Air Rifle with Scope
This Benjamin pellet rifle in .177 caliber shoots at 1400 fps. It has a rifled barrel for added precision, a 2-stage trigger, and integrated noise suppression.

There is also a .22 caliber version that shoots at a slightly slower 1200 fps.

Black Ops Break Barrel Spring Powered Sniper Rifle B1008
Black Ops Break Barrel Spring Powered Pellet Rifle B1008
This Black Ops pellet rifle is designed to look and feel like a real sniper rifle. It is a .177 caliber rifle shooting at 1250 fps. It comes with a nice scope and a bipod.

Diana RWS 34 Breakbarrel Rifle, T06 Trigger air rifle
Diana RWS 34 Breakbarrel Rifle T06 Trigger
This Diana RWS pellet rifle is a German made rifle. With a hardwood stock, two-stage adjustable trigger, fiber optic sights, and a rifled barrel. It is a very high-end constructed rifle.

Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper ND52
Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper ND52 Pellet Rifle
This Gamo pellet rifle shoots a .177 caliber pellet at 1300 fps. It comes with a composite stock, sound suppressor, scope, and a 2-stage trigger.

Ruger Blackhawk Elite Air Rifle
Ruger Blackhawk Elite Air Rifle
This Ruger pellet rifle shoots a .177 caliber pellet at 1200 fps. It has a 2-stage trigger, and a ambidextrous synthetic skeleton stock.

Swiss Arms TG-1, black
Swiss Arms TG-1
This Swiss Arms pellet rifle shoots a .177 caliber pellet at 1200 fps. It has an adjustable stock, and a nice scope.

Winchester Model 1400CS .177 Caliber Break-Barrel Air Rifle, Mossy Oak
Winchester Model 1400CS
This Winchester pellet rifle shoots a .177 caliber pellet at 1400 fps. It has a camouflaged composite stock, sound suppressor, scope, bipod, and a sling.

Check out this article to learn the minimum energy, pellet size and kill zones for different animals, plus the Top 10 Best Air Rifles for Hunters & Preppers as recommended by TopSurvivalPreps.com.