Air Rifle vs Air Pistol – What Makes a Great?

Choosing your first air rifle or air pistol can be a daunting process. For most new customers, spending more might feel like buying the right air rifle. While buying an air rifle or air pistol seems pretty easy, the process can be daunting. It is important to choose the right air rifle or pistol that will serve your needs well.

The first step towards choosing the best air rifle is deciding what you want to do with the rifle. You can read this review for leading air rifles and air pistols on the market. Do you need an air gun for hunting, pest control, or target shooting? Knowing the purpose of the air gun will enable you to make a wise purchase decision.

So, what makes a great air gun? In this post, we will discuss important factors that make a great air gun. These factors include the following.


The size of your air rifle is the first major consideration to have in mind. The size can make your air rifle great or difficult to use. In general, a longer barrel air rifle will make your gun more accurate. While accuracy depends on several factors, a longer barrel for air guns can greatly enhance your accuracy. Air rifles with a longer barrel tend to hit targets with increased accuracies.

However, you don’t want something way too long. Very long barrels might end making the gun pretty heavy to carry and handle. A good size air rifle is considered to be in the range of 40 to 50 inches long.


Air rifles are usually lighter than traditional rifles. This is one of their major advantages and something that makes them stand out from the rest. The best air gun needs to be extremely lightweight for easy carrying and handling. However, this does not mean all air guns are light. If you’re not careful, you can end up with a pretty heavy air rifle that is extremely difficult to carry. The same applies to air pistols. A good air pistol is extremely lightweight and easy to hold and shoot.

In general, you need to choose something below 10 pounds when choosing a suitable air rifle. Anything more than 10 pounds will be too heavy to carry around and use.

Precision and power

A great air gun needs high precision and power to reach the intended target with enough force. However, not all air gun uses will require precision and power. For example, if you’re using the air gun for plinking, then precision is not a huge factor. However, if you’re using the air gun for target shooting and competition, then precision is a major factor to consider.

Precision for air guns means the consistent velocity of your pellet. The velocity of the pellet needs to be consistent over the desired range. However, velocity comes about from the propulsion used on the pellets. This takes us to the power of the air gun which propels the pellet. When we consider air gun power, we look at the muzzle velocity. This will tell us how fast the pellet is propelled.  A heavier bullet or pellet will have a bigger impact on the target. Overall, a heavier pellet combined with a higher muzzle velocity makes air guns more accurate and powerful.

If you’re hunting a bigger game, then consider air guns with a heavier pellet and a higher muzzle velocity. Such air guns are capable of killing bigger game with a single precise shot.

Firing velocity

We’ve already seen how fast a pellet comes out of the gun determines the gun’s accuracy and power. Air gun pellets are generally lighter than traditional pellets. A .177 caliber bullet will usually come out of the gun faster. Such pellet travels faster at over 1000 feet per second. This is the speed you need to look at when choosing an air rifle or pistol. Anything below 1000 feet per second (fps) is an underperforming air gun.

However, this is for a .177 caliber bullet. For a .22 caliber bullet, the ideal firing velocity needs to be 900 fps. Looking at the firing velocity is a great way to determine the effectiveness of an air gun. A higher firing velocity makes a great air rifle.

Quality of the trigger

Another great feature that makes a great air gun and rifle is the quality of the trigger. Most air guns come with varying trigger responsiveness. This can be reflected in the air gun price. What is the ideal trigger pull force? The majority of air rifles are usually set at 3 pounds of trigger force. You can also consider air guns with a lighter trigger pull. The best choices are those that feature an adjustable trigger pull. This gives users a customized experience where they can adjust the trigger force around 1 to 1.5 pounds.

Durability and safety

There is no greater air gun that is not safe and durable to use. In fact, safety is a crucial consideration when choosing any type of rifle. What are the air gun safety and durability levels? This is usually determined by the desired use of the air gun. You need to be concerned about the air gun power and muzzle velocity when considering safety. High-powered Olympic-grade rifles are recommended when participating in shooting events.

When performing basic target shooting and plinking, the gun’s overall durability and build should be of major concern. Consider the gun’s weatherproofing feature to ensure it can withstand the harsh weather elements outdoors. You also need to consider trigger safety.  A suitable air gun should also be easy to operate and load.

Fit and finish

Aesthetics are not a major concern when choosing a quality air gun. How the gun appears will not affect the overall effectiveness of the gun. However, everybody wants a nice-looking air rifle to complement their looks when on the field. There is nothing wrong with choosing a sleek and stylish finish air rifle as long as it performs well.

Final verdict

A great air rifle or air pistol must meet a variety of these features. However, a great air gun must work for your specific purpose and use. Make sure you understand the air gun’s purpose and make sure the gun meets its purpose.