Paul Austin tests three of the best 10-shot pre-charged pneumatic air rifles for under £500 and asks which offers the best value for money, accuracy and design for your style of shooting.

best PCP air rifles

The Phox is tough to beat with its impressive accuracy and a mountain of extras for £499

Gamo Phox

Gamo doesn’t have the brand equity of Air Arms but I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the Phox. It has 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 at this price point.

The gun, a scope, a moderator, a pump and a case to put it all in. As a package the Phox is unbeatable

In terms of accuracy there are no complaints, fractionally behind the S200 perhaps but nevertheless impressive. The Phox is really all about the overall package rather than any particular stand-out feature on the rifle itself.

As a package deal it’s the best of the bunch. In addition to the rifle you get an impressive array of extras including a built-in moderator, which is a permanent fixture but nevertheless very effective, a scope, a scope mount, a gun bag and last but not least a pump to fill it.

best PCP air rifles

The simple bolt action of the Phox plus the all-important safety in front of the trigger

It’s relatively lite but definitely the longest, courtesy of the built-in moderator. Unlike the S200 it has both the all-important safety alongside the trigger and a fill indicator at the end of the reservoir. The magazine is BSA’s standard bomb proof offering – plastic but perfectly reliable.

BSA was actually bought by Gamo, so there’s a fair amount of cross-over between the two in terms of fixtures and fittings. Having said that, the Phox is a British built rifle and it feels solid. Add in all those extras and it’s an impressive combination.

The plastic stock on the Phox won’t be to everyone’s taste but the thumbhole design and high cheek raiser is a nice touch

It’s easy to overlook the total cost of a PCP set-up until you factor in all the extras such as scopes, mounts, refilling gear, moderators etc.. You can easily be looking at an additional £200/300 or maybe more. With the Phox it’s literally good to go straight out of the box.

It’s not all good news. The 3-9 x40 Gamo branded scope is basic to say the least, with no parallax adjustment and a centrefire style duplex crosshair reticle. Having said that, it will do the job until you can afford a more suitable mil-dot style scope.

Technical specifications

  • Overall weight: 3.5kg (7.12lbs – inc scope and mounts)
  • Overall length: 1100mm (43.3”)
  • Barrel Length: 500mm (19.6”)
  • Calibre: .177 or.22
  • Stock: Ambidextrous
  • Muzzle energy: Sub 12ftlb
  • Shots per fill: 60
  • Fill Pressure: 232 bar
  • Stock options: Thumbhole
  • Price: £499
  • Supplier: www.mcavoyguns.co.uk

Overall score: 8.5/10

  1. 1. Why are pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifles so popular?
  2. 2. Air Arms S200
  3. 3. Gamo Phox
  4. 4. Walther Rotex RM8
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