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Education / Training Entry-level 10 meter airguns: Rifles

Entry-level 10 meter airguns: Rifles

by B.B. Pelletier

We get this question a lot, and it’s a fun one to answer, so here we go. Today, I’m looking at entry-level 10-meter air rifles. I’ll review pistols in the next installment.

Can entry-level target rifles be accurate?
You bet they can! In fact, you’d be surprised just how accurate these rifles can be. They’re fully capable of hitting the period on the end of this sentence 8 times out of 10 from 10 meters. And, the two times they miss, the pellets won’t land that far away. What keeps them from being competitive at the world-class level is ergonomics and those other two hits! Let’s look at some typical 10-meter target rifles that are considered affordable.

Daisy 853
The Daisy 853 is a single-shot single-stroke pneumatic built for youth competition. It’s the recognized leader in NRA Sporter-Class competition, which is a special class for inexpensive target rifles geared to first-time competitors. The class was founded to encourage new shooters to learn the fundamentals of safe gun handling and how to shoot accurately without spending a fortune.

The 853 and its 5-shot companion repeater, the 853C, are lightweight, ambidextrous rifles with Lothar Walther target barrels and inexpensive target sights. Their stock adjusts for length of pull so a gun can fit youths of many sizes within one shooting club. Although Daisy recommends the rifle for kids ages 16 and up, there are tens of thousands of children age 10 and older using this rifle in formal matches every year. The rifle can be sized for an adult by lengthening the stock, and it’s quite heavy for kids under about 12 years; but, where there is the desire to shoot, most obstacles are overcome. The one major drawback for younger kids is the effort required to pump the gun. It’s easy for a teenager, but can present a real challenge for a smaller child.


You can expect accuracy like this for five shots from a Daisy 853 or 753.


This would be the accuracy to expect for five shots from a top 10-meter rifle.

The trigger is heavy for a target rifle and also very creepy. Coaches have learned how to lubricate and tune the trigger for their kids, but most shooters will just learn to use it as is. It does break in over thousands of shots, so club guns eventually become smoother over time. The 853 is extremely reliable and can last for tens of thousands of shots, after which it can be easily rebuilt. I’ve seen club guns with a quarter-million shots on them that were still going strong.

The 753 is the same gun as the 853, with a stock proportioned even better for adults and sold with an upgraded rear aperture that can also be purchased separately for the 853. The 953 is a budget-priced version of the gun that doesn’t have the Lothar Walther barrel, which is why it’s not in the Avanti lineup. The savings is enormous, and the accuracy is still quite good, though not good enough for formal competition.

Crosman Challenger 2000
The Challenger 2000 is Crosman’s answer to the 853. After giving Daisy two decades to themselves, Crosman brought out the Challenger 2000 in the year 2000 to do just what the name implies. It’s a CO2-powered, single-shot rifle with some important differences. First, it uses a standard Benjamin 397 barrel, which, while accurate, is not in the Lothar Walther class. It’s more of a challenge to the Daisy 953 than the 853 in terms of accuracy, but the Challenger 2000 cocks much easier than the Daisy and doesn’t have a heavy pump lever to deal with. The trigger, while still creepy, is much better than the 853 trigger..

Crosman added an adjustable cheekrest, making the Challenger 2000 even more adaptable than the 853. However, they also made the rifle more than a full pound heavier than the Daisy rifle, so the youngest children will have trouble holding it for offhand shooting. Although Crosman’s intent was to challenge the Daisy 853, what they did was give adult shooters a fine alternative that’s more suited to informal target practice than the 853.

AirForce Edge
There have been several other 10-meter entry airguns on the market over the years, and they were all interesting and accurate. But one that isn’t even available yet is catching the attention of target shooters in this country. It’s so new that even the name isn’t fixed yet. Currently it’s called the Edge. It’s a 10-meter, single-shot PCP rifle with a Lothar Walther barrel and something very exciting – an American-made target aperture rear sight!.


The Edge from AirForce is the first U.S.-built 10-meter air rifle. It’ll be available at club pricing and also to retail customers.

The specifications are still somewhat in flux, but the rifle does appear to have a Lothar Walther barrel and an adjustable cheekrest and butt. The trigger has a dry-fire feature, the only one found at this price category. I’ve held the rifle, and it holds like a target rifle despite the “black-rifle” looks. I know AirForce plans to sell it through airgun clubs around the country, as well as offering it to the general public through their regular dealer chain. The price will be higher than an 853 or a Challenger 2000, but nowhere close to what a European target rifle costs. Accuracy should be at least as good as the 853, without the need to pump the gun, so smaller children will be able to use it.

Budget-priced 10-meter air rifles are worth considering if you want to shoot at targets. They’re accurate enough to challenge any shooter, and they have sights good enough to provide a big training bonus. The ergonomics are not as sophisticated as Olympic-grade target guns, but selling for a small fraction of the cost makes them well worth the investment.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

35 thoughts on “Entry-level 10 meter airguns: Rifles”

  1. Being relatively new to airguns — and realizing my CFX was a bit more gun than I wanted or needed for shooting in my garage — I recently ordered a 953 thinking it would a good low-velocity “fun gun” for the winter.

    It was a cheap way to decide if indoor 10 meter stuff interested me enough to upgrade.

    If I did upgrade, the 953’s cheap enough that I could give it to the right kid/shooting program with no regrets.

  2. B.B.,

    Am going to buy the Benjamin 392, and plan to scope it with the Air Venturi. But, out of curiosoty, what is the actual foor pound energy required to move the lever for cocking?

    Will it be enough for crows at 40 meters?


    Bill D.

  3. The “Edge” looks like something that I can see myself buying as long as the price is reasonable. Does it use compressed air? I don’t see the large tank that is normally on the Talon’s and such. I can see what seems like a small “tank” fitted in the butt. Am I wrong?

  4. I bought a Daisy 853C from Pyramid Air two months ago and have been shooting it almost daily. LOVE IT !!

    I would recommend the 853 single shot not the 853c with 5 shot magazine. The magazine constantly jams so I only use the single shot feature.

    It is roboust and accurate. I am having fun teaching my grandkids how to shoot.

    Thanks for the article BB


  5. B.B. – sorry if this is off-topic but I wasn’t sure where to post this question. I just ordered a Beeman R7 from Pyramyd (my first adult air gun) and I’ll be ordering a scope for it in a few weeks. Do you still recommend the Leapers 4×32 Mini AO Bug Buster with the B-Square 25020 1″ as the scope of choice for the R7?


  6. B.B. – thanks for the quick reply and the awesome amount of knowledge that you provide to all of us! One last thing: will the mounts that come with Tactedge 4×40 fit correctly and work well? I assume so, but I’d hate to order the scope only to find out that I need the other mounts.

    Thanks again in advance!

  7. TRC,

    The specs don’t mention if the rings that are included have a stop pin. I assume they do because this is a Leapers scope, but you call Pyramyd AIR and have them check for you. If not order a pair of Leapers Accushot rings to replace them.


  8. B.B.
    do you know how accurate the Gamo viiper express should be with pellets? Im asking because I have one, and found something was wrong, sent it to Gamo for repairs, and they sent it back fixed, with a target shot 5 times at 10 yards. The grouping was about 1.5 inches. Is this average, or should I get another gun?

  9. B.B.,

    Just purchased the RWS 48 from Pyramyd last week…impressed with both Pyramyd and the gun. Got freaked out yesterday, though, when the barrel turned in my hand while I was moving the front sight. With minimal effort, I found that the barrel could rotate endlessly. Funny thing is, the front sight doesn’t budge. I guess this is some protective sleeve over the actual fixed barrel? By the way, the front sight doesn’t rotate around, so it’s obviously attached to the barrel. You know anything about this? I thought I had “unscrewed” the barrel last night! Thanks.

  10. PA Gunner,

    I looked but could find no indication that I ever tried pellets in the gun. However, I know I did. As I recall, it was capable of groups smaller than one inch at 10 yards.

    To get accuracy you need a good diabolo pellet like a Gamo Match. A Crosman Premier will do poorly, I would guess because it’s too streamlined.


  11. To second BB’s comment, I had the same thing happen to my RWS48. Fortunately, my barrel sleeve doesn’t seem to be buzzing, it just rotates if I grab it and twist.

    While this might seem like penny-pinching on Diana’s part, I suspect there’s a good reason for it. The ’48 action is heavy to begin with, and by reducing the metal forward of the stock the overall weight and balance is kept a bit more reasonable.

    I used to have a B21 – a Chinese copy (not quite a clone) of the ’48 – and it had a solid barrel that was longer. Believe me, the ’48 is much more pleasant to shoulder.

    Besides, they did seem to do a decent enough job of it – on mine I couldn’t tell it was a sleeve until it moved.

  12. BB,

    What is the scoop on the HW guns at PA? No more HW80, HW 77, HW50s in 0.177, No more HW95 in 0.22?

    Out or discontinued? I’m glad I got 3 of the above in time if no longer available at Pyramyd!


  13. BB,
    This is way off topic, but I just wanted to bring this up to you and any who would like to know.

    I have been playing paintball for several years and interest in that airgun sport has lead me to more conventional air rifles. Because of my paintball experience, I am drawn to the familiarity of bulk fill CO2 guns. One thing about these air rifles that I have never seen mentioned on this website or blog, is the use of bulk fill high pressure compressed air (HPA) tanks that are very popular with paintball markers.

    A CO2 tank is usually filled to a pressure of 900 psi and drops as it it used. CO2 is also very temperature sensitive, i have seen psi spikes as high as 1200psi on a hot day and as low as 600psi from a full tank on a cold winters day.

    An HPA tank can be filled to either 3000psi or 4500 psi depending on the tank. There are also some hard to find tanks on the market that can be filed from 4800-5000psi. These air tanks contain an integral pressure regulator to control air output, and are regulated down to either 800, 600, or 450psi.

    HPA is not temperature sensitive and is vastly more consistent that CO2. Rapid fire using CO2 can literally freeze your valve assembly(I’ve had this happen to me), but HPA tends to warm-up slightly causing no problems. HPA is also cheaper to fill than CO2, and these tanks can be topped off, While CO2 must be purged before filling. The best benefit of HPA is that an airgun using it does not lose velocity until the pressure of the tank drops below that of its regulated output.

    I own a 92 cubic inch HPA tank, that gets filled to 4500psi and has an output of 800psi. I get just shy of 1400 shots from my paintball gun when using HPA, pellet guns tend to use far less air than paintball markers. All HPA tanks use the same threads as bulk fill CO2, and if you are using an HPA tank that is too large for your air rifle, thee are several remote lines on the market which allow you to connect air to your airgun without attaching the thank directly to the gun.

    The main downside of HPA is that the tanks themselves are very expensive.

    Now with that said, I was wondering if you have ever tried using or willing to try using a HPA tank on a bulk fill CO2 rifle.

    Thanks, mech

  14. Mech,

    Yes, I have tried it and so have several other airgunners. In fact, several have converted the RWS 850 AirMagnum to air this way. You can read about it in the comments section of those postings.

    It makes an interesting experiment and you can learn a lot about how pneumatics work, but air regulators are basically unreliable. The regs that take 4500 psi air down to 800 psi fail in use within a short time (usually a couple of years). They can be rebuilt, but not all airgunners want to do that, or even know how.

    Still, thank you for taking the time to explain how these regulators can help airgunners have fun with their guns.


  15. BB,
    What you said about HPA tanks having a short life span is true, but I have never heard of one needing to have a regulator rebuilt. The “shelf life” of may of these tanks are 7 year, then they must be hydro stat tested. If the tank passes, then you get another 7 years, but you can only have it tested once before you are required to purchase a new tank. I have owned a total of 2 of these air tanks but I have never had a regulator problem with them. The only regulator problems that I have ever encountered or heard of anyone else encountering is with secondary regulators that are mounted directly onto the paintball gun. These regs are usually adjustable and tend to fail due to lack of maintainence, over adjusting, or operating at too high a pressure. There are a few HPA tanks that integrally contain both a nonadjustable primary regulator and an adjustable secondary reg, so I can see how one of them would fail.


  16. Mech,

    I haven’t heard about not being able to use a tank through more than one hydro. Could you post a link for me?

    You must have a nice tank! Mine has a 5 year limit between hydros.

    .22 multi-shot

  17. .22,
    The 1 hydro rule is a new law that was passed here in Michigan. I have been told by many people in the industry that many states are passing the same law. I did forget to mention that the 1 hydro rule only applies to tanks made from or wrapped in carbon fiber. If you have an all steel or aluminum tank that is seam less, then it never needs to be hydro tested. I =’ll try to find a link for you.


  18. mech,

    Thanks! Is this 1 hydro rule on carbon fiber tanks because of accidents or real problems?

    BB – do you know about this and if it will affect larger carbon fiber tanks like the AirHog that Pyramyd sells?

    .22 multi-shot

  19. I’m pretty sure that this rule came into effect when the federal rules changed in August. It’s a rule that was passed on a state level in Michigan but there was some confusion on my part.

    When I first purchased my tank, I was told that it would be good for 2 hydros on 7 year intervals, or 21 years total, then I was told that it would only be good for 14 years.

    It seams that I was wrong about the 1 hydro rule though. I checked with a local paintball shop that fills and hydros the tanks, they said that the new laws say that the tanks must now be hydroed every 3 years in Michigan, and 5 years nationally. But the tanks are only good for 15 years total. When I was first told about this rule, I was told 15 years total and 7 year hydro.

    The up side is that co2 and HPA tanks made of steel that do do not have a seam in the bottle portion of the tank, do not have to be hydroed ever, and are good for life so long as they appear to be in good condition.

    One of the reasons for this law is because aluminum shows allot of metal fatigue due to changes in pressure. Therefor tanks made entirely out of aluminum, or with an aluminum inner lining (carbon fiber tanks) are more likely to develop stress fractures and rupture.

    They also did mention something about needing to have my tanks flux tested when I get them hydroed, but nothing about having it done annually.

    They told me, as a rule of thumb, that steel is good forever without hydro, aluminum is good forever so long as it keeps passing hydro, and that carbon fiber wrap is only good for 15 years.

    I’m sure that the rules will change again before anyone has a chance to fully understand them.


  20. I’ve had a chance to put a big tin of Gamo Match pellets through my 953.

    As my old fishing buddy would say, “that’s fun on a stick!”

    It’s a great indoor plinker and more accurate than I expected. The plastic bits don’t exactly inspire pride of ownership, but then there’s that low, low price… 😎

    The plastic magazines wouldn’t feed until I remembered someone here said to spray them with silicone lube.

    I tried it and now they index perfectly pretty much every time. Thanks to whoever said it!

    I read a lot of complaints about the trigger on the Daisys, but don’t count me among the complainers.

    I might have gotten the standout, but the trigger on my 953 is better than the trigger on my CFX, which — despite the GRT trigger blade — is still heavy and creepy.

    The 953 was a trial run of sorts; I decided I like 10 meter target shooting enough that I’ll probably spring for something nicer down the road, maybe next summer.

    Until then, I plan to have a lot of fun.

  21. I suspect I got a better-than-average Daisy trigger and that my CFX trigger is just plain awful (even with the GRT blade).

    After my target friend gets through with the CFX, I’ll know.

    Still, doesn’t diminish the 953 — you point it, shoot, and a hole appears. Great Fun.

  22. I see that the AirForce Edge has finally made it onto your website for sale. I am new to air gunning, and have been waiting to buy this as my first target rifle since you first mentioned it in your blog and I am wondering about the options/accessories, and more detailed specifications. What does it come with for accessories? Will this be available in different colors? Does the standard AirForce Scuba fill adapter work on the Edge? What is the working max pressure? Is the velocity adjustable? Will it shoot on CO2? Any and all information you have on this would be greatly appreciated!

  23. kenFZ6,

    Not a lot is known about the Edge yet, because the factory has not yet released a gun for testing, not has a lot of information been available.

    It will operate on 3,000 psi air, which precludes CO2. It will fill from a female Foster quick-disconnect fitting instead of the AirForce fill adapter

    No accessories have been announced, but since the gun is also sold without the sights, people may view the sights (the rear one) as an accessory. That would be a huge mistake, as the closest sight to the AirForce aperture will cost over $400.

    More than that I cannot say because I don’t know.


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