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What’s The Best $200 PCP Air Rifle For Me?

Low-end PCP air rifles are a hot segment in the airgun world right now. So many folk want to know what is the best $200 PCP air rifle for me?

Let’s take a look at three top contenders in this market segment. They all won coveted HAM Gold Awards in our consistent, structured test reviews. This means they’re all great guns!

In this feature, we’ll summarize the HAM test data and conclusions on these three $200 PCPs. Of course, everyone has their own specific requirements, likes and wants. You can use this to help you make your own choice…

The best $200 PCP contenders are (in alphabetical order):

1. Beeman Chief

2. Benjamin Maximus

3. Diana Stormrider


Beeman Chief

HAM tested the Chief in .177 caliber. In fact, it was a pre-production 2017 SHOT Show demonstration model. It achieved an excellent 83% score in HAM testing and gained a HAM Gold Award.

What’s The Best $200 PCP Air Rifle For Me?

It’s a single, shot, bolt action air rifle with no regulator or silencer. We found the Chief to be loud but powerful, peaking at just on 20 Ft/Lbs Muzzle Energy even in .177 caliber. This makes it great choice as a low cost PCP hunter.

With a maximum fill pressure of just 2,000 PSI – like all three of our contestants – the Chief is easy to fill with a hand pump. We found it accurate with a wide range of pellets.

Although unregulated, the shot curve is pretty predictable. And some people will find the comb of the wood stock too low for a consistent cheek weld.

The Chief is currently selling at a Street Price of $180 and it has a 1-year warranty.

We LikeWe Don't Like
Great PriceLimited pellet-loading space
Not pellet pickyComb too low for many
Predictable shot curveNot much else for the price
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Beeman QB Chief PCP Air Rifle
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Beeman QB Chief

Benjamin Maximus

HAM tested this $200 PCP air rifle in .22 caliber. It was a regular production gun and – as always – we shot it straight out of the box.

The Maximus achieved an 82% score in HAM testing. That’s identical to the Chief for all practical purposes. It also gained a HAM Gold Award.

What’s The Best $200 PCP Air Rifle For Me?

Like the Chief, the Maximus has rather limited space for pellet-loading. It wasn’t pellet-picky and produced a strong Muzzle Energy of 22 Ft/Lbs in .22 caliber. It’s another great hunting airgun.

Again, the 2,000 PSI fill pressure makes the Maximus easy to fill with a hand pump. The main downside was the heavy trigger. And there will be people who don’t like the synthetic stock – although it is fitted with sling swivels.

Street Price for the Maximus is $190. It comes with a manufacturer’s 5-year warranty. That’s a best in class.

We LikeWe Don't Like
The price!Heavy trigger
Great accuracyDifficult pellet loading
And did we mention the price?It's loud!
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Benjamin Maximus Air Rifle
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BENJAMIN MAXIMUS AIR RIFLE

Diana Stormrider

The Chief and Maximus are broadly similar in concept. But the Stormrider offers a different approach to being the best $200 PCP air rifle.

It’s is the only model in this segment to offer magazine pellet feed.

HAM tested the Stormrider in .177 caliber. It attained a score of 79% and a HAM Gold Award. Please note that this review was of an original “Generation One” Stormrider.

Diana has a policy of continuous improvements for their products and there’s now a “Gen Two” Stormrider. This is a similar gun with an improved silencer – not present on the Maximus and Chief – and improved trigger. That would undoubtedly lead to higher scores in a future HAM review!

We found the Stormrider slightly more pellet-picky than the other two models. It was slightly less powerful at around 18.5 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy in .177 caliber. The shot count was lower than the other two. And we’re a little worried about the robustness of that long, unsupported barrel…

What’s The Best $200 PCP Air Rifle For Me?

Diana has an exciting range of options available for the Stormrider. These include a left-hand bolt conversion capabilities, a regulator upgrade, single shot tray and more. HAM will be looking at these when we test the Stormrider Gen 2.

The Gen 2 Stormrider sells at a Street Price of $200 and has a one year warranty. (The Gen 1 model was latterly selling at $170).

We LikeWe Don't Like
The price!Low shot count
Very small and light for a PCP air rifleBolt handle too short
Accurate with the right pelletsThat long, unsupported barrel
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Diana Stormrider Multi-shot PCP Air Rifle 0.177

So what’s the best $200 PCP air rifle?

If you want a powerful, single shot hunter, or are not concerned about noise, the Chief and Maximus are very tough to separate. It may well come down to a preference for the Chief’s wood stock or the security of the 5-year warranty that comes with the Maximus.

Although the “Gen One” Stormrider trailed just a little in HAM testing, it’s likely that the Gen 2 version will score higher – maybe a lot higher. HAM will be reviewing this model in depth soon.

Because all three are HAM Gold Award winners, you can be sure that one of them will be the best $200 PCP air rifle for you. It’s great to have choices!

PS. You can check out the links in this review to access the full, original HAM test reviews for each model.