What’s The Best Break Barrel Hunting Air Rifle For Me?

Around this time of year, many people think of presents for others – or themselves! A popular choice for many outdoor enthusiasts is an air rifle for hunting small game and pests. So what is the best break barrel hunting air rifle around?

Break barrel air rifles can offer plenty of power without the need for all the complexity and cost of pumps or tanks that PCPs require. They are also relatively inexpensive.

The downside is that – in order to produce high power – break barrel hunting air rifles tend to be long and heavy. The need to compress a powerful spring or gas ram tends to make them hard to cock. Many of them also have a fierce recoil.

So, realistically, powerful break barrel hunting air rifles are best suited to large, strong users. Even though such guns are generally fired a relatively few times each day when hunting.

Let’s take a look at three top contenders in this market segment. They’re all great guns!

Which is the best break barrel hunting air rifle for me? Read on as we check out three powerful break barrels that have scored well in HAM testing. They’re in alphabetical order. There’s also a surprise contender, as we’ll see at the end…

Beeman Mach 12.5

Best Break Barrel Hunting Air Rifle

HAM tested this model some time back and it won a Silver Award. It’s a real powerhouse, with just about 26 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy available even in .177 caliber! (It’s also available in .22 caliber, of course).

We also found it to be very accurate on test. It’s also bundled with a 3-9x40AO scope and rings. The best part is that it sells for less than $220!

So why did it not win a HAM Gold Award? Because it’s very hard to cock and has a heavy trigger. Those are downsides for all day plinking or use by a person of smaller stature. But for a big guy (or gal) who understands these implications, it’s a great contender as the best break barrel hunting rifle.

Read the full HAM review here.

We LikeWe Don't Like
Massive power!So tough to cock
Great priceHeavy trigger
Very accurateOnly 12 month warranty
Beeman Mach 12.5 Air Rifle


The SIG ASP20 is a recent entry into the powerful break barrel market. This is a completely new design. Powerful and accurate, it incorporates a lot of new thinking and engineering development that reduces both the cocking effort and trigger pull weight.

Best Break Barrel Hunting Air Rifle

This gas ram gun is available in a number of configurations. Wood and synthetic stock, .177 and .22 calibers, with and without an excellent quality SIG bundled scope.

And, of course, it’s a SIG. That brand name counts for a lot with many shooting enthusiasts of all kinds. It was an easy HAM Gold Award winner on test. The only downside is price. A synthetic gun with no scope costs $350 and prices rise from there…

We LikeWe Don't Like
PowerTrigger is an acquired taste
QualityExpensive in this company
5-year warrantyNot much else!
SIG Sauer ASP20, Beech

Read the full HAM test review here.

Umarex Octane Elite

HAM tested this air rifle as the plain Octane some time back. The Octane Elite is an improved version of the same gun.

Best Break Barrel Hunting Air Rifle

With a competitive $225 price, this serious contender as the best break barrel hunting air rifle is powerful and accurate. It’s also bundled with a 3-9x40AO scope and rings. As you would expect, both .177 and .22 caliber versions are available. It also benefits from a 3-year warranty.

For its combination of quality, usability, value and performance, the Umarex Octane air rifle received a HAM Silver Award. Similar to the Mach 12.5, only the weight, and cocking effort held it back from a Gold Award.

We LikeWe Don't Like
PowerfulHeavy cocking effort
AccuracyAutomatic safety
Great priceNot much else!

Check out the full HAM test review of the Umarex Octane here.

Umarex Octane Elite Air Rifle Combo, Gas Piston 0.177

Conclusion And Surprise Entry

So here we have Hard Air Magazine’s recommendations for the best break barrel hunting air rifle. Both the Beeman Mach 12.5 and the Umarex Octane Elite are great choices for power and accuracy at around $220.

If your budget runs somewhat higher, you won’t regret choosing a SIG ASP20.

So what about the surprise entry?

Well, if you want a powerful, accurate hunting air rifle that doesn’t need additional PCP charging equipment, check out the American Tactical Nova Freedom.

This HAM Gold Award winner is a PCP with its own built-in pump. It’s less effort to pump than to cock the breakbarrels and has a multi-shot magazine making a follow-up shot faster, if required. All the other guns are single shot models.

What's The Best Break Barrel Hunting Air Rifle For Me?

At $400, the Nova Freedom is more expensive and you’ll need to supply a scope. But it’s another great choice for a self-contained hunting air rifle. Choice is good, right???

The full HAM review is here.

Nova Freedom PCP Air Rifle .22 caliber