It’s rare but it does happen that I speak to folks that are only interested in target shooting or plinking. There are many good reasons for someone to desire an airgun for this purpose. Trigger time is trigger time. The more time you spend on the trigger, the more you are developing muscle memory and learning how to shoot consistently. The medium powered .177 class airgun is perfect for this task.
I consider a medium class .177 airgun to shoot up to about 850 fps and start at around 550 fps. That’s a pretty narrow margin, but it’s a fairly narrow product group as well. There are airguns built strictly for 10 meter target that shoot right at 495 fps but we are going to leave those out for now and focus on the more generalized target shooting and backyard plinking needs.
We’ve focused on spring powered airguns with the earlier parts of this series, but because we don’t need to hit the energy requirements for small game hunting and pest control, we can look at other power plants, like pump pneumatic and co2, along with traditional spring airguns.
So here’s how this question would look: “What would be the best arigun for backyard target shooting and general plinking without the need to ever shoot pests or small game?” The answer would be “Something in a medium powered airgun that’s focused on accuracy and economy.”Air Venturi Bronco .177 Target Rifle
There are a lot of airguns in this category, but here are a few standouts that you should consider. The Air Venturi Bronco is a wonderful airgun that’s easy on the pocket and even easier to shoot. It sends normal lead pellets down range at around 600 fps and does so with great accuracy for such a low price point. It’s ridiculously easy to cock and shoot. The unique double blade trigger is a dream. The default open sights leave a lot to be desired, but there are target sights available and of course an 11mm dovetail if you wish to mount a scope. This rifle can produce .25” CTC groups all day long at 10 to 15 yards and dime groups out to 20 and 25 yards.Crosman M4177 Tactical Pump Pneumatic Airgun
Next, we’ll take a look at a traditional pump pneumatic airgun. The Crosman M4177 is built around their long lasting multi-pump airguns and combines accuracy and shooting easy with a modern tactical look. The unique adjustable stock makes this a really good gun for young shooters in training as you can provide a very comfortable pull length for shooters of all ages. Accuracy tops out at 10 to 15 yards but the fun really never ends with this inexpensive and fun shooting little airgun.
The one rifle that really shines for me in this category is the Hammerli 850 Air Magnum. This is a co2 airgun that runs close to $300 for the base model. It’s a bolt action multi-shot airgun that’s more like shooting a traditional firearm them almost any other airgun I’ve ever tested.Hammerli 850 Air Magnum .177 Caliber Airgun
You can expect sub .25” groups over and over at 10 yards and dime groups out to 25 yards. The smooth action, multi-shot capability, and great trigger really makes this a joy to shoot. If there’s one consideration with the 850, it can be a little loud. You’ll want to have a big backyard so that you don’t bother the neighbors.Umarex Fusion co2 with SilencAir Suppressor Technology
Another co2 offering, new to this lineup, is the Umarex Fusion. This new airgun mixes good velocity, economy,and excellent accuracy, with the revolutionary SilencAIR technology from Umarex to form a great airgun for backyard target practice and plinking. Rather than rely on the need for the larger 88 gram co2 bottles, the Umarex Fusion uses 2 12 gram powerletts that are discharged into the rifles co2 reservoir. Once charged, you’ll get about 50 to 60 powerful and accurate shots. The Umarex Fusion is priced under $200 yet delivers better than .5” ctc accuracy at 20 to 25 yards. What’ more impressive is that the sound of the pellet impact is louder than the report of the rifle itself. If quiet, target practice and accuracy is your goal, then this may just be the best airgun on the market for under $200.
This wrap’s up our “Better or Best” airguns in .177 segment based on some pretty specific criteria. Undoubtedly there are a lot of other great options on the market and we’ll get around to them as we grow the blog, but this should get us started looking at how to prioritize our airgun needs and how to find the right airgun based on our priorities. Next we’ll look at .22 caliber, 800 fps class airguns and see what needs they fill.