No expert on air rifles at all, and of course I'm sure it's far from "the best" strata, but so far I'm happy with Browning Leverage in .177, has good reviews, got it for $164 plus shipping from SG, generally cost 20-30 more than that. Made by a Chinese company that's fairly well thought of which produces rifles under its own name, which I forget. Just in case you might want to start out with lesser investment.
It's an underlever cocker with fixed barrel, so most folks claim they are more accurate than a break barrel. Max 1000 fps with alloy I guess, probably around 900 with lead. Haven't had it long, but it puts wicked hole through tin can at 30 yards, so guess it would do fine for birds, squirrels and rabbits. I'm sure you'd have to do head shot on possum or whistle pig. They make it in .22 also.
Very heavy rifle +8 lbs, pert quiet though, have shot it in my apartment, no pain. Fairly purty too, wood stock a rarity. Scope seems fine, but you'll really have to set it for a particular distance, precise point blank is pretty limited, but seems to be up to about the 25-30 yard range tops, then significant drop. The open sights are almost as good.
If quiet is a primary criterion, you'll need to stay under about 1100 fts. There's not a supersonic model out there that's very much quieter than a .22 rifle AFAIK, regardless of all the "whisper" type monickers.
Edited by Oh Shoot, 27 March 2013 - 01:47 AM.