So you want to buy a precharged pneumatic airgun but you don't have a lot of money to spend. Here are some choices that won't bust the bank but will do the work. Prices as reviewed.
We’ve looked around for some cheap PCP air rifles that still do the job, for budgets of up to £500 and under £1000.
Once you’ve bought the airgun you’ll be able to enjoy relatively cheap and accurate shooting, whether you’re a target shooter or need to do some pest control.
Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifles are popular because:
- They are inexpensive, easy to shoot and given a decent backstop you can even practise in the back garden.
- These cheap PCP air rifles are ideal for pest control and around a farmyard if you need to get rid of vermin without putting property or stock at risk.
- You don’t have to have a shotgun certificate to own a PCP air rifle (provided it is below the 12ft/lb) which all non FAC rifles are. PCP rifles use an external power source, air being supplied by a pump or diver’s tank to the built-in reservoir.
- The best PCP air rifles are consistent, accurate and have no recoil.
- Most come with removable magazines with 8 or 10 shots (depending on the calibre) making them ideal for ratting, rabbiting or effortless plinking at the range.
- PCP air guns are easier to shoot than break barrel (spring piston) rifles which do suffer from recoil and are therefore much harder to master.
Which calibre – 177 or 22?
Which calibre should you choose? The 177 calibre is recommended for general purpose as it offers faster and therefore flatter shooting, which makes it more forgiving when you’re estimating range. The high velocity and better penetration also makes the 177 more capable when despatching tougher quarry such as squirrels.
What about air pellets for PCP rifles?
The key factor is pellet placement. Accuracy is everything. It’s vital that quarry is despatched humanely and the faster, flatter 177 pellet simply makes that job easier.
Cheap PCP air rifles for under £500
1.Hatsan AT44-10 £430
One of the most popular PCPs on the market and it’s not hard to see why. Packed with features, like the elevation and fit adjustable butt pad, the pressure gauge, the dovetail for 11mm and 22mm dovetail rings all come in an airgun that costs under £500. The Quattro trigger is crisp and adjustable, which aids accuracy and the rifle also has a resettable and automatic safety catch. The gun is cocked and loaded with a lever mechanism, which prevents double-loading and has a ten shot magazine.
2. Air Arms S200 £499
The S200 is in fact a single shot PCP by design but McAvoy Guns sell them at £499 with a 10 shot conversion kit preinstalled. The S200 is a classic and it’s been in production for years. It’s essentially an old style target rifle with a simple design.
In the field it has limitations but there’s no reason an experienced Shot couldn’t add some sling studs and take it out on the land.
If you intend to go hunting you are going to need an additional sound moderator. For plinking or range work you don’t actually need one, the rifle isn’t overly loud but in the field a moderator would be handy.
3. Gamo Phox £499
All the features you’d expect from a modern PCP. The plastic stock, fit and finish isn’t quite the quality of its competitors but the overall design is very good for a rifle of this price. In terms of accuracy there are no complaints. There is an all-important safety alongside the trigger and a fill indicator at the end of the reservoir. It is a British-built rifle and it feels solid.
4. Gamo Venari £499
Built to withstand heavy use, the Gamo Venari features a tough synthetic stock with an adjustable cheek-piece. Keeping an eye on air reserves is easy, as there’s a pressure gauge at the front of the cylinder. It’s an adult-sized rifle, and weighs in at just over 3.5kg.
The Venari is an impressive gun for the money, and its recommended retail price includes some very useful extras.
5. Zbroia Hortitsia £499
Find a pellet the Hortitsia likes and it will land one on top of another at 30m, and it still groups tightly at 40m. Mat Manning favours the 330/180 carbine model, which measures a compact 89cm and weighs 3kg without a scope fitted. It’s small so as a result it’s a great gun for younger shooters but adults should also find it a good fit. Engineering and finish are very tidy and, although its design is not so traditional, the hardwood stock makes for a comfortable and balanced hold.
The Hortitsia boasts a straight-pull rear bolt action, which drives a pellet-friendly 12-shot magazine. The system makes for very fast reloading – it’s great fun on the plinking range and ensures quick follow-up shots in the field. Other features include two-stage trigger, manual safety catch, pressure gauge and shrouded barrel.
6. Walther Rotex RM8 UC £499
The UC comes supplied with a very effective sound moderator, and measures just 91cm with it fitted – take it off and, although a bit louder, the gun measures a really stubby 79cm. Tipping the scales at 3.8kg unscoped, it’s not a featherweight but the heft is testament to its solid build quality and it’s certainly not cumbersome.
Fast-reloading comes courtesy of an eight-shot magazine, which is driven by a side-bolt action that also sets the automatic safety catch. The UC has a very good two-stage trigger and, although compact, its buddy bottle holds a generous amount of air – you can expect around 160 shots from a 230bar fill. Remaining pressure is clearly displayed on a gauge on the underside of the stock.
Inexpensive PCP air rifles under £1000
If your budget will stretch a little, take a look at these.
1. Webley Raider 12 £527.99
This full-power multi-shot airgun has a 14-shot magazine in .177 calibre and 12-shot in .22, and is driven by a very reliable sidelever action. The safety catch is sensibly positioned well above the trigger blade towards the rear of the action, and the barrel sits within a sleek full-length shroud.
2. BSA Ultra XL £570
This fine carbine by BSA offers more shots per fill thanks to a slightly longer reservoir. However its compact dimension makes it ideal for shooting in the confines of a hide, or when ratting in a barn. Its cold hammer forged barrel is made by BSA in Birmingham and ensures great accuracy. The thumbhole stock comes with a riseable cheek piece, making eye to scope alignment perfect, which also ensures accuracy.
3. Weihrauch HW110 £650
Since being launched to the Weihrauch range, the HW110 has taken the airgun scene by storm and it’s not hard to see why. The competitive price combined with solid German engineering means this 10-shot rifle is great value for money. It’s two-stage match trigger, manual safety, integral pressure gauge and soft touch stock make it an ideal hunting companion. Being well balanced it doesn’t feel too heavy when you are carrying it in the field and the rifle comes on aim easily.
4. Air Arms S410 Carbine £719
This 10-shot rifle has been around for a good few years, which means it is tried and tested. The traditional bolt action is great fun to use, although you can inadvertently double load the rifle. The newer S510 model with its side-lever overcomes this problem, but will cost you a bit more money. Should it belong on a list of cheap PCP air rifles? Well, the S410 is incredibly accurate and the British firm, Air Arms, make sure the rifle is built to last, so it’s an ideal investment. Pop a silencer on the end and you will soon get on top of a plague of rabbits.