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A Guide to Using a Rifle Scope with Your Air Rifle

Air rifles are powerful and versatile tools used for different kinds of shooting, like hunting, target shooting, and pest control. You can use a properly mounted and adjusted scope to get the most out of your air rifle. A scope will greatly enhance your accuracy and allow you to hit targets at greater distances easily. This article will discuss how to use a scope with an air rifle. So, whether you have been shooting for ages or just starting as a newbie, we will provide you with the knowledge you need to advance your shooting. Let’s get started!

What is An Air rifle?

An air rifle is a weapon that uses compressed gas or air to fire pellets or BBs at high velocities. Unlike other firearms that use gunpowder to create an explosion and propel a bullet, air rifles rely on air or gas to create the pressure that propels a projectile out of the barrel. Air rifles are very popular and often used as a more accessible and less expensive alternative to firearms. They are also very popular among beginners or those who don’t want to practice with heavy firearms, as they are often lighter, quieter, and easier to handle than traditional firearms. Air rifles are built in various styles and sizes, ranging from small pistol airguns to large rifles, and can be powered by various sources, including spring, CO2, and pneumatic power. Overall, airguns are versatile tools because they can be used by shooters of all levels in various applications.

Types of Recoil

Recoil is a common phenomenon, and it happens when a projectile is fired from a weapon. It is usually a backward movement of the gun when the projectile is released. Recoil is caused by the force of the expanding gases that propel the projectile forward, creating an equal and opposite reaction in the opposite direction. The amount of recoil generated by an air rifle can vary depending on several factors, such as the caliber, type of ammunition, and the power plant of the airgun.

Here are some types of recoil that air rifles can generate:

Forward Recoil

While it may seem counterintuitive, some air guns can produce forward recoil. This happens when the mechanism used to propel the pellet or bullet forward is located in front of the trigger or shooter’s hand. Forward recoil can make a rifle more difficult to handle and may even require special shooting techniques to compensate for the unusual movement.

Gas-Piston Recoil

Gas-piston air rifles use a gas-filled cylinder to compress air and propel the projectile forward. This type of air gun produces less recoil than spring-piston air rifles, making it a popular choice for hunting and target shooting.

Spring-Piston Recoil

Spring-piston air guns use a spring-loaded piston to compress air and propel the pellet or bullet forward. This action produces a backward recoil that the shooter feels. The amount of recoil produced by a spring-piston air rifle can vary depending on the spring’s power and the projectile’s weight.

Pre-Charged Pneumatic Recoil

Pre-charged pneumatic air rifles use compressed air to fire a projectile, producing very little recoil. The recoil produced by pre-charged pneumatic air rifles is so minimal that it can barely be felt by the shooter.


Some air guns are designed to be completely recoilless. These air rifles use a specialized mechanism that absorbs the recoil energy before it can be felt by the shooter. Recoilless air rifles are ideal for target shooting, as they allow the shooter to maintain accuracy and precision without being thrown off by recoil.

Can Any Scope Be Used On An Air Rifle?

No, not all scopes are suitable for air rifles. This is because air rifles have unique recoil characteristics that can cause damage to scopes that are not designed to handle them. Additionally, air rifle scopes typically have features that are specifically tailored to air rifle shooting, such as adjustable parallax settings, reticles that are calibrated for air gun pellet trajectories, and shock-resistant construction. Some air rifles have unique mounting requirements, so you must ensure the scope you choose is compatible with your particular air rifle.

Are Red Dot Sights Good For Air Rifles?

Yes, you can use a red dot sight for air rifles. Although they may not be suitable for some air guns like the break barrel air rifles. A red dot sight can be a great addition to an air rifle because it allows for quick target acquisition and is particularly effective for shooting at shorter ranges.

Air Rifles

When choosing a red dot sight for your air rifle, several factors must be considered. First, make sure the sight is designed for air rifle use and can handle the unique recoil characteristics of your air rifle. You’ll also want to consider the size of the rifle and the size of the red dot. 

What’s The Best Magnification For Air Rifle Scope?

The best magnification for an air rifle scope depends on several factors, including the type of shooting you’ll be doing, the distance you’ll be shooting from, and your personal preferences. For short-range shooting and plinking, a lower magnification of 4x to 6x may be sufficient. For longer-range shooting or precision shooting, a higher magnification of 8x to 12x may be more suitable. It’s important to choose a magnification that allows you to clearly see your target while still maintaining a wide field of view

Effective Range of Different Air Rifles

Air rifles are known for their versatility and ease of use, making them popular for various shootings. However, the maximum effective range of an air rifle may vary. Factors like caliber and type of projectile can affect this range.

Let’s take a look at some examples of different air rifles and their maximum effective ranges:

.177 Caliber Spring-Piston Air Gun

This type of air rifle is one of the most common and popular on the market. It is mostly used for target shooting and pest control, and has a maximum effective range of around 50-70 yards, depending on the shooter’s skill level. A great example of this type of air rifle is the Gamo Whisper Fusion Mach 1.

.177 Caliber

.22 Caliber PCP Air Gun:

A PCP air rifle is powered by compressed air and is known for its accuracy and power. The .22 caliber version of this rifle is popular for small game hunting and has a maximum effective range of around 70-100 yards.

.22 Caliber

.25 Caliber Break Barrel Air Rifle:

Break barrel air rifles are popular for their ease of use and affordability. The .25 caliber version of this rifle is great for hunting small game and has a maximum effective range of around 50-75 yards. A fantastic example of this type of airgun is the Hatsan 95.

.25 Caliber

.357 Caliber Big Bore Air Rifle:

Big bore air guns are becoming increasingly popular for hunting larger game such as deer and wild boar. The .357 caliber version of this rifle has a maximum effective range of around 150-200 yards, making it a powerful and accurate option for long-range shooting. 

Does an air rifle have more recoil than a traditional rifle?

Generally speaking, air rifles have less recoil than traditional firearms, such as rifles or shotguns. Air rifles use compressed air to propel the pellet, producing less recoil than gunpowder’s explosive force in a traditional firearm. However, it’s worth noting that there are some high-powered air rifles, such as PCP air rifles, that can produce a significant amount of recoil, especially if they are firing heavy pellets at high velocities. Additionally, the amount of recoil you feel can also depend on the weight and design of the air rifle itself. 

Step by step on how to use a scope on an air rifle

Mount the scope

First, mount the scope onto the air rifle using high-quality and best scope mounts specifically designed for air rifles. Ensure the mounts are tightened securely and the scope is level and stable.

Adjust the eye relief

Adjust the scope’s eyepiece so that the eye relief is comfortable for you. The recommended eye relief for air rifles is usually between 2-4 inches.

Zero the scope

Set the air rifle on a steady rest to stabilize it and shoot a group of pellets at a target at a specific distance. Air rifle scopes are usually zeroed at a shorter range such as 10-30 yards. Adjust the scope’s elevation and windage knobs until the crosshairs align with the point of impact. Continue shooting groups and making adjustments until the point of impact is consistently in the center of the crosshairs.

Maintain the scope

After shooting, clean the lenses with a soft cloth or lens-cleaning solution to remove any debris or dirt that may have accumulated.

Factors to consider when choosing an air rifle scope

When choosing an air rifle scope, there are several factors that you should consider to ensure you select the best one for your needs. Here are some of the key factors to consider:


The magnification of a scope refers to how much the image is magnified compared to the naked eye. Higher magnification can be useful for long-range shooting but may not be necessary for shorter ranges. Consider the distance you will be shooting and the type of targets you will be aiming at when selecting a magnification. Usually, air gun scopes don’t need a high magnification because of their low effective range.

Objective lens diameter

The objective lens of any scope, including air gun scopes, is very important because it determines how much light the scope can gather. Larger objective lenses allow more light into the scope to improve image clarity and brightness, especially in low light conditions.


The reticle is the crosshairs or other markings in the scope that helps the shooter to aim. There are many different reticle designs including crosshairs, mil-dots, and illuminated reticles. Choose a reticle that is easy to use and aligns with your shooting style.


Most scopes have adjustable windage and elevation knobs that allow you to make precise adjustments to the point of impact. Look for an air gun scope with easily accessible and easy-to-use adjustment knobs that will allow you to make quick and accurate adjustments.

Eye relief

Eye relief is the distance between the ocular lens of the scope and your eye. Make sure the air gun scope you choose has sufficient eye relief distance to allow you to shoot comfortably.

Legal Considerations for Owning and Using Air Rifles

When it comes to owning and using air rifles, there are legal regulations and restrictions that vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. It’s essential to understand and comply with these laws to ensure you are legally allowed to own and use an air rifle. Here are some key legal considerations:

Age Restrictions

Many countries and states have age restrictions on air rifle ownership. These restrictions typically require individuals to be a certain age, often 18 or older, to legally possess an air rifle. However, age restrictions may vary, so it’s important to check the specific regulations in your jurisdiction.

Licensing and Registration

Some regions require individuals to obtain licenses or permit to own or use an air rifle. These licenses may involve background checks or safety training requirements. Additionally, certain jurisdictions may require air rifles to be registered with local authorities. 

Velocity and Energy Restrictions

Some jurisdictions have laws that regulate the velocity and energy of air rifles. These laws may specify maximum muzzle velocities or energy levels that the air rifle must not exceed. It’s important to be aware of these restrictions to ensure compliance and safe use of the air rifle.

Shooting Areas and Safety

Laws may also govern where air rifles can be discharged. Shooting ranges or designated areas may be required for shooting air rifles, while discharging them in residential areas or public spaces may be prohibited. Safety precautions, such as using backstops or maintaining a safe shooting distance from others, may be legally mandated.

Hunting and Pest Control

If you plan to use an air rifle for hunting or pest control purposes, it’s crucial to be familiar with the hunting laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Some areas may have specific seasons, bag limits, or species restrictions for air rifle hunting. Understanding these rules is essential for legal and responsible hunting.

It’s important to note that the information provided here is a general overview, and the specific laws and regulations governing air rifles can vary significantly depending on your jurisdiction. To ensure accuracy and compliance, consult local authorities or legal professionals who specialize in firearms laws in your area. They will be able to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding legal considerations for owning and using air rifles in your specific jurisdiction.

Air Rifles for Youth and Junior Shooters

Air rifles designed for young and junior shooters are made specifically for young people who are starting to learn about shooting sports. These rifles have special features that make them easier and safer for younger shooters to use. Let’s take a look at some of these features:

Air Rifles for Youth

Size and Weight

These air rifles are smaller and lighter than adult-sized rifles. They are designed to fit better in the hands of younger shooters, making them easier to hold and aim. The lighter weight also reduces fatigue, allowing young shooters to practice for longer periods without getting tired.

Shorter Length of Pull

The length of pull refers to the distance between the trigger and the butt of the rifle. Youth air rifles have a shorter length of pull to accommodate the shorter arms of young shooters. This ensures that they can comfortably hold and shoot the rifle without straining or stretching.

Lower Power Levels

Youth air rifles are typically designed with lower power levels compared to adult rifles. This reduces the recoil and makes it easier for young shooters to handle the rifle without feeling overwhelmed by the kickback. It also promotes better accuracy and control while learning the fundamentals of shooting.

Easy-to-Use Cocking Mechanism

Many youth air rifles feature a simplified and easy-to-use cocking mechanism. This allows young shooters to load and cock the rifle with minimal effort, making it more manageable for them. It also enhances safety by reducing the risk of accidents or mishaps during the cocking process.

Safety Features

Youth air rifles often include additional safety features to ensure a safe shooting experience for young shooters. These features may include automatic safeties, which prevent accidental firing, and easy-to-access safety switches that are intuitive for young people to operate. Some rifles may also have features like adjustable trigger pulls to help young shooters find the most comfortable setting for their fingers.

Education and Training Focus

Many youth air rifles come with educational materials or training programs specifically designed for young shooters. These resources can help young people learn the basics of shooting, safety rules, and proper handling techniques. They may also provide guidance on responsible shooting practices and the importance of respecting firearms.


What is the Hawke Airmax, and how does it differ from other airgun scopes?

The Hawke Airmax is a popular line of airgun scopes with high-quality optics, durable construction, and a range of features designed specifically for air rifles. Airmax scopes offer adjustable objective lenses, illuminated reticles, and parallax adjustment knobs, among other features.

Can I use a scope on a break barrel air rifle?

Yes, you can use a scope on a break barrel air rifle. In fact, many break barrel air rifles come with scope rails already built-in, making it easy to mount a scope.

Is a fixed air rifle scope better than variable magnification air rifle scope?

Whether a variable or fixed air rifle scope is better depends on the shooter’s specific needs and preferences. Fixed air rifle scopes have a set magnification and are generally less expensive. They are also more durable and can be more reliable for holding zero. However, they may not offer the flexibility in magnification that a shooter may need for different types of shooting. 

Can I use a night vision scope with my air rifle?

Yes, several night vision scopes are available that are compatible with air rifles. These scopes typically use infrared illuminators to enhance visibility in low light conditions.

How good is the Hawke Vantage scope?

The Hawke Vantage is a line of airgun scopes with durable construction, fully multi-coated optics, and a range of features designed specifically for air rifles.

Can a pellet gun be used for long range shooting?

Depending on their power and accuracy, some pellet guns can be used for long-range shooting. A high-quality airgun scope with a long range reticle and an adjustable objective can be used for this shooting.

What is airgun hunting, and what type of scope is best for this activity?

Airgun hunting is the use of air rifles for hunting small games such as rabbits, squirrels, and birds. A high-quality airgun scope with a durable construction, parallax adjustment, and adjustable objective lens is typically the best choice for airgun hunting.

Can I modify or tune my air rifle?

Modifying or tuning an air rifle can be possible, but it’s important to understand the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction. Modifying an air rifle may be restricted or require specific permits in some places. Improper modifications can affect the performance and safety of the air rifle, so you must consult with knowledgeable professionals or seek guidance from reputable air rifle manufacturers or gunsmiths if you’re considering modifying your air rifle.

Can I shoot any type of ammunition in my air rifle?

Air rifles are designed to shoot specific types of ammunition, such as pellets or BBs, depending on the model. It’s crucial to use the appropriate ammunition recommended by the manufacturer for your specific air rifle. Using incorrect or incompatible ammunition can lead to damage to the rifle or result in unsafe conditions. 

Are air rifles suitable for hunting?

Air rifles can be suitable for hunting small game and pests, depending on their power and caliber. Higher-powered air rifles in calibers like .22 or .25 can be effective for hunting rabbits, squirrels, and similar-sized games. However, it’s essential to check the hunting regulations in your area, as some jurisdictions may have specific requirements or restrictions on using air rifles for hunting. Additionally, consider the effective range and power of your air rifle to ensure it is appropriate for the intended game.

Can I use my air rifle in my backyard or indoor range?

The use of air rifles in backyards or indoor ranges depends on local laws, regulations, and safety considerations. Some jurisdictions may have specific restrictions on discharging air rifles within certain areas, especially in residential neighborhoods. Ensure you understand and comply with the laws in your area regarding the use of air rifles and prioritize safety by ensuring a proper backstop and safe shooting environment.

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