Umarex USA’s new AirSaber is really turning heads outside of the traditional airgunning world. This is a good thing because it is opening the minds of sportsmen and women to the power of air and the new possibilities air archery devices can bring to them. But unlike a traditional bow or a firearm, airguns are a bit of a departure from those traditional methods when it comes to living with them. The biggest issue that comes up with pre-charged pneumatic (high pressure) air guns is air, or rather, how to get the initial 3,000+ PSI (pounds per square inch) fill needed for the device to work as intended.
My Garage Air Compressor Doesn’t Work!
Firstly, compressing air to 3,000+ PSI can’t be done with just any run of the mill compressor. The typical shop or garage compressor will only compress air to about 120-150 psi. These types of compressors are great for compressing a large volume of air for running power tools or filling tires. However, PCP airguns need a lower volume of highly compressed air. What this means for a consumer looking to get into Air Archery hunting with the AirSaber is that you will need to find a method to fill the tank to the correct pressure.
The most common ways of filling a PCP tank are: high-pressure hand pump, portable electric HPA (high-pressure air) compressor, SCUBA or Pony-sized tank, or filling via a shop’s compressor such as a dive shop or paintball shop. I’ll briefly expound on each method with some pros and cons.
High-Pressure Airgun Hand Pump
The airgun hand pump is not as bad as you might think. You do trade some sweat equity for a full tank of air, but you don’t need to be tethered to an extension cord or car battery to get the gun filled up. Hand pumps are a great option for hunters, survivalists, or preppers looking to stay off the power company’s grid. Other good news for the hand pump is that they are very economical, too. For shooters who don’t need to do all that much shooting, a hand pump like our SuperFill 4,500 PSI hand pump is a great answer. When using a hand pump, we recommend shooting no more than 5 shots with your AirSaber and then refill to the desired PSI. This keeps the pressure up in the tank and will require fewer pumps to bring it back up to the max fill PSI. When in a hunting situation, chances are you will have the tank filled all the way anyway, so this method will keep the shots all very consistent.
Filling Airguns with a Portable Electric HPA Compressor
The portable electric HPA pump is becoming more affordable every year. These pumps are often AC/DC powered which means you can fill the tank at home or in the field, provided you have access to a vehicle with a strong battery*. While the price is coming down on these compact compressors, they are still typically north of $500. So they don’t melt the wires, the amp draw has to be monitored and this is usually done at the expense of fill time. A zero to 100% fill will take a longer time, but a top-off is usually not exceptionally long. Yes, there are typically additional steps for maintaining the pump unit, but the convenience is worth it for many folks. Coming soon, Umarex Airguns is going to be offering our own maintenance-free and oil-free electric HPA pump! Get the complete down low from Rick Eutsler’s coverage of our gear at SHOT Show 2020. The Umarex ReadyAir piece is found at the 3:50 mark.
*Word of advice: have the vehicle’s motor running when using the DC alligator clips. An HPA pump can leave you with a flat battery in the middle of nowhere should you not crank up the engine. Make sure your car’s charging system is in tip-top shape if using the DC clips!
SCUBA/Pony Tank for Air Rifles
If making things easy for yourself is the name of your game, then a SCUBA or Pony tank is for you. The idea is to fill a much bigger tank with both a higher volume and higher pressure that will make filling your AirSaber’s on-board air cylinder really fast and really easy. While this only kicks the can of filling the tank down the road, it does add much utility and convenience to a shooter’s bag of tricks. The tank, valve, and hoses can be fairly expensive so look to budget at least $600 for a quality fully ready to go tank system. For many shooters the convenience of shooting with a big tank to fill from is essential. If you’ve already been bitten by the PCP bug, you may have already visited Joe Brancato’s AirTanksForSale.com or Ninja Air Tanks. If not, click on either of those links and you can see a selection of PCP air tank equipment. Do keep in mind, you’ll have to have an air source for filling these tanks.
Does Your Local Dive Shop Fill Air Gun Tanks?
If you are fortunate enough to live close to a dive shop or other airgun filling location you will have an excellent source for high-pressure air, should they be willing. They will have an industrial-grade high-pressure air pump or a big 6k Nitrogen tank that can make short work of filling either the tank of the gun or a pony tank. At a dive shop, you will likely need to supply the right adapter if using a SCBA valve (consult with ExpertHPA.com) as opposed to a SCUBA yoke. Plus, you will just need to part with a little cash for each fill and keep your shooting appetite in mind as the shop might not be open when you need it. The downside of this is not investing in an additional pony bottle to supplement the onboard tank’s charge. If you are only filling the gun’s tank there will be a severe limit to any shooting you can do—just the air that is in the cylinder at that time. But for a hunter who will shoot the Umarex Air Saber to zero it in and prepare for a hunt, a couple of fills will be sufficient for that task and a whole season of hunting.
Can I Store My PCP Gun with Air In It?
One very positive characteristic of PCP style airguns is that you can store them with a full charge with no negative consequences. This can’t be done with CO2 powered air rifles and spring-powered airguns shouldn’t be left cocked either. For this reason, the PCP reigns supreme among air-powered devices when it comes to a non-firearm hunting or shooting device. The AirSaber is a highly effective air archery device and is really an addictive shooting platform. If you are looking to get in on this mega-powerful (125+ Ft-Lbs. energy!) arrow flinger take into account which method you will use to fill it up!
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer is the social media specialist at Umarex USA.