Best Air Rifles for Squirrel Hunting: Top Picks for 2023

Sciurus niger, a tree squirrel of north america, in the autumn light

Squirrel hunting is a popular pastime for many outdoor enthusiasts, and using an air rifle offers several advantages over traditional firearms.

Air rifles are quieter, have less recoil, and provide an excellent opportunity for honing marksmanship skills without drawing excessive attention or disturbing the environment.

When searching for the perfect air rifle for squirrel hunting, there are some essential factors to keep in mind.

Air rifles come in various calibers and power sources, with the most common options being .177 and .22 calibers.

While both can be effective for squirrel hunting, the .22 caliber is often preferred for its increased knockdown power and better accuracy at longer ranges.

In addition, air rifles can be powered by CO2, spring-piston, or pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) systems.

Each type has its pros and cons, so considering your specific needs can help you make the right choice.

The accuracy and power of your air rifle are critical factors to consider when squirrel hunting.

A gun with sufficient power enables a clean, humane shot, while an accurate rifle simplifies aiming, especially when dealing with quick, evasive targets like squirrels.

Other considerations include the weight and size of the rifle, as well as its ease of use and maintenance.

To help you find the perfect tool during your next squirrel hunting adventure, we spent many hours researching and testing the best air rifles on the market, designed explicitly for squirrel hunting.

Best Air Rifles for Squirrel Hunting

Finding the perfect air rifle for squirrel hunting can greatly improve your success and enjoyment.

Below, you will find our carefully curated list of the best products available to suit your needs.

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max Pellet Gun Air Rifle

Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max

The Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max is an ideal air rifle for any squirrel hunter, offering reliable accuracy and outstanding stealth capabilities.


  • Ergonomic all-weather stock with rubber inserts for a comfortable grip
  • 5-chamber SilencAir sound dampener for maximum stealth
  • TNT (Turbo Nitrogen Technology) power system for smooth shooting


  • Some users report scope issues requiring adjustment
  • A somewhat heavy rifle
  • Made in China, not an original Ruger

The Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max air rifle has been designed specifically with the outdoorsman in mind.

It features an ergonomic all-weather stock, which ensures a firm grip regardless of the conditions you’re hunting in.

The stock’s checkered rubber inserts offer further assurance of a secure grip, whether it’s hot or cold, wet or dry.

Additionally, you won’t have to worry about recoil discomfort, as the rifle is equipped with a rubber recoil butt pad.

One of the standout features of this air rifle is its 5-chamber SilencAir sound dampener, which is permanently affixed to the rifle.

This significantly reduces down-range noise and helps to maximize your stealth while hunting squirrels and other wildlife.

You’ll also appreciate the TNT (Turbo Nitrogen Technology) power system that ensures smooth, consistent shooting.

In terms of optics, the Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max comes with a 3-9x32mm adjustable objective air rifle scope.

It also includes the Umarex exclusive integral Nucleus Rail Platform, which is engineered to reduce scope movement, maintain zero shot after shot, and minimize vibration.

While the majority of users are happy with this air rifle, there are a few drawbacks.

Some users have reported issues with the scope, requiring extra time and effort to sight it in properly.

Additionally, the rifle may be on the heavier side for some users, making it challenging to handle on long hunting sessions.

Lastly, the air rifle, although carrying the Ruger name, is actually manufactured by Umarex in China.

In conclusion, the Umarex Ruger Targis Hunter Max is a solid air rifle choice for squirrel hunting enthusiasts.

Its combination of stealth, ergonomic design, and smooth action makes it an excellent addition to your hunting equipment arsenal.

Just be prepared to spend some time adjusting the scope and getting used to the rifle’s overall weight.

Gamo Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal

Gamo Varmint Air Rifle

A reliable and powerful option for squirrel hunting, providing excellent performance at an affordable price.


  • Powerful and accurate
  • Durable build
  • Includes a 4×32 shockproof scope


  • No noise dampening
  • Heavy trigger pull
  • Plastic stock material

The Gamo Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal is a great choice for those looking to hunt squirrels with confidence and precision.

Its long-lasting spring piston delivers 1250 fps of muzzle velocity when using Gamo PBA Platinum pellets, making it powerful enough to handle those pesky critters.

One of the standout features of this air rifle is its fluted polymer jacketed rifled steel barrel, which ensures accuracy when targeting squirrels at a distance.

The grooved cylinder rail and the included 4×32 shockproof scope offer a stable platform for precise shots, allowing you to take down squirrels efficiently.

However, the rifle doesn’t include any noise-dampening features, which might alert other squirrels to your presence.

The trigger pull is on the heavier side, which may require some getting used to for some users.

It’s also worth noting that the stock material is made of plastic, which may be a downside for those looking for a more premium feel.

Despite these minor drawbacks, the functionality of the Gamo Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal truly shines in the field.

Its lightweight design and ambidextrous all-weather stock with a rubber recoil pad make it comfortable to handle during long hunting sessions.

In conclusion, the Gamo Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal is a reliable and robust choice for squirrel hunting enthusiasts.

With its powerful performance, durable build, and included scope, it offers excellent value for its price.

Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle

Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle

The Gamo Swarm Whisper is a solid choice for squirrel hunting due to its accuracy, quiet operation, and multi-shot capabilities.


  • Accurate and powerful
  • Quiet Whisper Technology
  • 10-shot magazine for quick follow-up shots


  • Requires some time to sight in the scope
  • Cocking mechanism takes getting used to
  • Scope quality could be improved

The Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle is a fantastic option for those seeking a reliable and accurate air rifle for hunting squirrels.

The IGT (Inert Gas Technology) piston provides higher velocity, less vibration, and a longer lifespan compared to traditional spring-powered airguns.

This means you’ll enjoy a smoother shooting experience with this rifle.

One of the standout features of the Gamo Swarm Whisper is its Whisper Technology, which substantially reduces noise – a huge advantage when hunting skittish squirrels.

Additionally, the Shock Wave Absorber equipped buttpad reduces recoil, making for a comfortable and effective shooting experience.

The all-weather synthetic stock with black rubber inserts ensures that the Gamo Swarm Whisper Rifle remains durable and comfortable to use in various outdoor conditions.

Despite the overall high quality of the rifle, some users have reported that the included scope takes time to sight in, and the quality may not be on par with the rest of the gun.

However, once correctly sighted, it’s capable of hitting targets at impressive distances.

In conclusion, the Gamo Swarm Whisper Air Rifle is a reliable and accurate choice for squirrel hunting and backyard plinking.

While the scope might take some time to sight in, and the cocking mechanism may require an adjustment period, this rifle delivers in terms of performance and user experience.

It’s an excellent option for those who value a combination of power, accuracy, and stealth.

Bear River TPR 1200 Air Rifle

Bear River TPR 1200

The Bear River TPR 1200 Air Rifle is a solid and affordable choice for squirrel hunting, offering power and precision.


  • 18″ rifled steel barrel for accuracy
  • 1200 FPS velocity with .177 Cal pellets
  • Includes 4×32 adjustable scope


  • Frame made of plastic
  • Noisy discharge
  • Rifle is slightly heavy

The Bear River TPR 1200 is a powerful air rifle with a 1200 FPS velocity, providing consistent speed when shooting.

Its 18″ rifled steel barrel ensures accuracy when targeting squirrels and other small game.

The pull-barrel cocking mechanism is simple to use, allowing you to smoothly and swiftly take down your prey.

When in the field, you’ll appreciate the 4×32 adjustable scope that comes with the rifle.

It allows you to achieve pinpoint accuracy, which is essential when hunting squirrels.

However, note that some users might find the rifle slightly heavy, weighing at 7.93 pounds, which could potentially impact their shooting comfort.

Aside from being powerful and accurate, the Bear River TPR 1200 does have some shortcomings.

The frame material is made of plastic, which compromises its overall durability compared to metal-framed alternatives.

Additionally, its discharge noise is loud, potentially startling nearby wildlife and diminishing its stealthy hunting capabilities.

In conclusion, the Bear River TPR 1200 makes for a capable and affordable air rifle for squirrel hunting.

It offers power and accuracy, but its plastic frame and noisy discharge are worth considering before making a decision.

Umarex Ruger Blackhawk .177 Caliber Pellet Gun

Umarex Ruger Blackhawk

The Umarex Ruger Blackhawk is a reliable and powerful air rifle perfect for squirrel hunting and plinking.


  • Accurate and powerful
  • Durable all-weather composite stock
  • Includes 4×32 scope and mount


  • Limited to single-shot
  • Scope setup may require some adjustments
  • Not for beginners due to its power

Handling the Umarex Ruger Blackhawk, you’ll immediately notice its comfortable all-weather composite stock and balanced weight.

The spring-piston break-barrel mechanism provides consistent power and velocity, making it an excellent choice for squirrel hunting.

With its .177 caliber, it packs a punch and provides high accuracy at considerable distances.

The included 4×32 scope and mount add to the rifle’s performance, making it easier to aim and hit targets.

However, you might need to spend some time fine-tuning the scope setup to get the best results.

Fiber optic sights, adjustable rear, and a 29-feet field of view at 100 yards make it a versatile option for different shooting scenarios.

The Umarex Ruger Blackhawk is an impressive air rifle suited for those who are serious about squirrel hunting or plinking.

Be aware that it’s a single-shot air rifle, which means you’ll need to load pellets manually for each shot.

And while it’s a great air rifle for experienced users, beginners may find its power a bit intimidating at first.

Overall, it’s a top choice with a one-year limited warranty and at a competitive price point, making it a valuable addition to your hunting gear.

Buying Guide

squirrel in tree

When choosing the best air rifle for squirrel hunting, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience.

This buying guide will help you make an informed decision based on key features and aspects of air rifles.

To start, consider the power and caliber of the air rifle.

Your choice will depend on the distance you plan to shoot and the type of squirrels you want to target.

Most commonly, .177 and .22 caliber rifles are suitable for squirrel hunting.

A .177 caliber air rifle is faster and has a flatter trajectory, making it more accurate at longer distances.

However, a .22 caliber rifle is more powerful, allowing for better energy transfer and a cleaner kill.

Next, pay attention to the rifle’s shooting mechanism.

Spring-piston air rifles are known for their durability, simplicity, and consistency.

These rifles are easy to maintain and require minimal effort to cock.

On the other hand, pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles offer more power and accuracy due to their internal air reservoir and require less physical effort to shoot.

However, PCP rifles can be more expensive and may have a shorter lifespan than spring-piston rifles.

Noise level is another important aspect to consider when choosing an air rifle for squirrel hunting.

Quieter rifles are less likely to scare away squirrels, allowing you to get closer to your target.

Some air rifles come with integrated silencers or noise reduction features, which can help minimize sound disturbance and improve your hunting experience.

Finally, ergonomics and weight of the air rifle play a crucial role in comfort and accuracy.

Air rifles with adjustable stocks and well-balanced weight distribution can significantly impact your ability to hold a steady aim.

Consider the rifle’s weight and how comfortable it feels in your hands before making a purchase.

In summary, when selecting the best air rifle for squirrel hunting, consider factors such as power, caliber, shooting mechanism, noise level, ergonomics, and weight.

By paying close attention to these aspects, you’ll find the perfect air rifle to enhance your hunting experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What caliber is most effective for squirrel hunting?

When hunting squirrels, a smaller caliber is often preferred. The .177 and .22 calibers are the most common choices. Both are effective, but the choice depends on your personal preferences and hunting style.

Is .177 or .22 better for squirrels?

The .177 caliber offers faster pellet speeds and flatter trajectories, making it easier to hit targets at longer distances. The .22 caliber has a heavier pellet, resulting in more energy transfer and better knock-down power. The choice between .177 or .22 will depend on the distance and accuracy you prioritize while hunting.

Which air rifle brands are recommended for hunting squirrels?

There are several reputable brands that manufacture air rifles suitable for squirrel hunting. Some of the popular choices among hunters include Gamo, Crosman, Benjamin, Air Arms, and Hatsan. Research each brand and their offerings to find the best fit for your style and preferences.

What features should one consider in an air rifle for squirrel hunting?

When selecting an air rifle for squirrel hunting, consider accuracy, power, weight, and overall size. A lightweight and maneuverable rifle with good power will make it easier to carry through the woods and aim at your target. Squirrel hunters often prefer a break barrel design due to its simplicity and reliability.

Are there quiet air rifles suitable for squirrel hunting?

Yes, there are quiet air rifles suitable for squirrel hunting. Some models come equipped with integrated suppressors, known as silencers, which reduce the noise produced during firing. The Gamo Whisper Fusion and Benjamin Marauder are examples of air rifles with quieting technology.

What budget options are available for air rifles in squirrel hunting?

A wide range of air rifles is available in various price ranges. For budget-conscious hunters, consider the Crosman Optimus, Gamo Varmint, or Benjamin Prowler. These offer a good balance between performance and affordability, making them suitable for squirrel hunting without breaking the bank. Remember, the cost of an air rifle does not always equate to its effectiveness in hunting. Research and compare various options to find the best fit for your budget.


Colby has been involved in the outdoors for over 30 years. Part of his problem is that instead of focusing on one specific outdoor hobby he spreads his time over a multitude of outdoor adventures. This has provided him the opportunity to have varied experiences across a broad spectrum of outdoor activities. Jack Outdoors has provided him an outlet to share the things he has learned as well as his successes and failures.

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