Mat Manning shares his shortlist of 10 full-power airguns that can cut it in the field whatever your budget
Modern airgun shooters are spoilt for choice when it comes to air rifles for pest control.
Daystate Red Wolf RRP: From £1,899.99
This British gun is far from cheap but it’s one of the finest pre-charged airguns in the world and its performance more than justifies its price tag.
Daystate has made pioneering airguns with electronically regulated firing cycles for over a decade, and this airgun is the pinnacle of that technology. Weighing 3.5kg and measuring 99cm, the Red Wolf is available in .177, .22, .25 and .303 calibres in power levels up to and in excess of 65ft/lb. Sub-12ft/lb models return around 500 shots per fill. Available in walnut and eye-catching laminate stock options, features include computerised firing cycle, sidelever cocking and loading, multi-shot magazine and electronic trigger.
FX Impact MKII RRP: From £1,688
The compact handling of bullpup airguns has made them an increasingly popular choice over recent years, and Swedish gunmaker FX Airguns makes some of the best.
Futuristically styled for simplicity and functionality, the Impact MKII is remarkably well engineered and available in black or silver finish. At just 75cm long and weighing 3kg, it punches way above its weight and can produce power levels up to 75ft/lb in .30 calibre. Sub-12ft/lb models can return well over 300 super-consistent shots from a 250bar fill. Features include high-capacity magazine, variable power, interchangeable barrels, adjustable two-stage trigger and a very effective integral sound suppressor.
Weihrauch HW100 KT RRP: £940
Made in Germany, the HW100 is a tough, solidly constructed pre-charged airgun with a reputation for exceptional accuracy.
The KT version is a carbine model with walnut thumbhole stock; it measures a very pointable 96cm with the supplied silencer fitted and weighs 3.3kg. Cocking and loading are taken care of by a fast and smooth sidelever action, which drives a 14-shot magazine – it’s a tried and tested mechanism which doesn’t miss a beat.
Available in .177 and .22 calibres, plus .20 on special order, this compact airgun returns up to 75 consistent shots from a 200bar fill. Features include a very effective silencer, pressure gauge and an excellent adjustable two-stage trigger unit. Stockist Hull Cartridge.
BSA R-10 SE RRP: From £879
This tried and tested British-made regulated pre-charged airgun is solidly constructed, measures a fairly compact 102cm and weighs 3.2kg. It returns 190 shots from a full 232bar fill in .177 calibre and 250 in .22 and .25. The stock has a fully-adjustable butt pad, and comes in in walnut, black, camouflage and black pepper laminate options. Features include rear bolt action with pellet-friendly ten-shot magazine, cold hammer forged barrel, adjustable two-stage trigger and fully shrouded barrel with removable silencer. BSA.
Brocock Compatto Sniper HR RRP: From £799
Brocock airguns combine rugged reliability with precision performance, which makes them a great choice for pest control. Made in Britain, the Compatto boasts compact semi-bullpup proportions and, if you go for the HR version, a quality Huma regulator which ensures very consistent performance and boosts shot count to around 150 per fill.
The Compatto is 85cm long and weighs 3.2kg. It runs a reliable ten-shot magazine, which is driven by a smooth side-bolt action. Available in .177, .22 and .25 calibres, this airgun has a power adjustment dial and FAC models produce maximum muzzle energy in excess of 40ft/lb. Other features include soft-touch and very robust synthetic stock options, crisp two-stage trigger and Lothar Walther barrel with full-length shroud.
Air Arms S510 RRP: From £799
This high-quality pre-charged airgun from British manufacturer Air Arms builds on the winning formula of the acclaimed 400 series with the addition of a slick sidelever action which drives a ten-shot magazine.
The S510 measures a compact 97cm and weighs a very manageable 3.2kg. Apart from looking great, this excellently engineering air rifle is also a fantastic performer. Available in .177 and .22 calibres, it can return up to 90 very consistent full-power shots from a single fill. Features include built-in air gauge, adjustable two-stage trigger and fully shrouded match-grade Lothar Walther barrel.
Air Arms TX200 MKIII RRP: From £499
Made in England, the TX200 combines the convenience of a self-contained powerplant with the precision of a fixed barrel, thanks to its underlever cocking action. It’s one of the most accurate spring-powered air rifles on the market, and has a long list of silverware on the competition circuit to prove it, but is also very at home in the field.
Available in .177 and .22 calibres, this elegant-looking springer is 105cm long and weighs 3.9kg. It comes in beech and walnut stock options and features include Lothar Walther barrel, high-quality adjustable two-stage trigger, Air Arms’ Safe-Lok loading system and integral moderator. Air Arms.
Walther Rotex RM8 Varmint RRP: £409.95
You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy a decent pre-charged airgun, and the RM8 Varmint is proof of that. This German-made airgun is very robustly built yet shoots with an impressive degree of refinement.
The ambidextrous thumbhole stock features an integral accessory rail and is moulded from a tough polymer that can stand up to unforgiving use in the field. This ruggedly-constructed airgun is 104cm long and weighs 3.6kg.
Rapid cocking and loading comes courtesy of an eight-shot rotary magazine that’s driven by a very positive side-bolt action. The RM8 returns up to 180 shots per fill, and features include pressure gauge, two-stage trigger and resettable auto safety. Stockist Bisley.
Weihrauch HW 95K RRP: From £395
If you want true simplicity, you can’t beat a break-barrel spring gun but that doesn’t have to mean compromising on quality or accuracy.
German gunmaker Weihrauch make some excellent spring-powered airguns, and the HW 95K is a fine example. It’s 114cm long with the supplied silencer fitted and weighs around 3.3kg. Although it’s distinctly ‘no-frills’ in appearance, the standard of engineering and finish is excellent.
Features include automatic safety catch, a very effective silencer, smooth cocking stroke and firing cycle, and Weihrauch’s legendary two-stage adjustable Rekord trigger unit. Stockist Hull Cartridge.
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Hatsan Breaker 900X RRP: £120
Although extremely inexpensive, the Turkish-made Hatsan Breaker is well made and powerful and accurate enough to tackle small pests out to around 25m. Measuring 112cm and weighing around 3kg, it’s designed for an adult fit but should still be manageable for younger shooters.
The Breaker runs a fuss-free break-barrel action, which is relatively smooth to cock. Felt recoil is minimal, although the scope rails feature an arrestor plate to prevent mounts from creeping. Other features include a surprisingly good two-stage trigger, a fairly effective integral sound moderator which doubles as a cocking aid, adjustable fibre-optic open sights and automatic safety catch. Stockist Edgar Brothers.