The Next-Generation Six-shooter
Has there ever been a bb gun this fun? I don’t think so. I know full well that most kids can take any old bb gun and create their own fun, but this one has a built in giggle switch that allows the gun to shoot 6 round bursts.
In addition to being a mind-blowing fun-gun, the Steel Force is also a great teaching tool. I know. I took it camping with some 20 nine-year-olds, and it was the highlight of their range time.
It is a good facsimile of an AR, and works in much the same way. With a functional safety, mag release, and charging handle, the Steel Force offers a much safer way to explore the modern black rifle.
The Steel Force retails for somewhere in the $95 range. Well worth it. Even firing bursts, it makes economic use of CO2. BBs? Not so much. Stock up.
Compact Pellet Perfection
This is truly a youth gun. It is so small that I can’t get my hand around the grip. There’s a pride that comes from owning something that’s uniquely yours, especially for a kid that is new to guns—and this is perfect for instilling that sense of responsibility.
The Embark provides a fully functional platform. The break action is easy enough for a kid to operate, and the sights are meant for serious precision work. The whole package is about performance, but built for scale.
The Embark has the added benefit of being very aproachable. While some guns like the Steel Force have a more militaristic edge, the Embark is truly a sporting air gun.
The Embark sells for under $100. Compared to some air guns, it will have very low operating costs. The break action is incredibly efficient, and the platform rewards slow, steady shots.
Hard-Hitting Break Action
The Throttle is the gift you might choose to give yourself. The action is stiff, and more than most kids could easily master. And the Throttle produces speeds may surprise you (800—1,100 FPS—depending on pellet weight). That makes it ideal for dealing with pesky vermin like squirrels.
The Throttle is also great for plinking. The gun is heavy and equipped with Umarex’s new StopShox system that helps to dampen the felt recoil. The 3—9 scope that really opens up the potential of the gun. The Throttle is a capable rifle that is capable at ranges you wouldn’t even attempt with most air rifles.
This gun sells for just over $200 and comes with the scope and mounts. All you need is a tin of pellets (either .22 or .177) and safe place to shoot it.
Heirloom-quality Air Gun
For those who are looking for something more nostalgic, I’d suggest the Walther Lever Action. This gun is a fitting tribute to the Wild West, and a huge hit in Germany, where restrictive legislation prevents would-be cowboys from owning centerfire lever-actions.
This is actually a revolver with an ingenious and well-hidden loading mechanism. The outside, though, is a dead ringer for an old Winchester 94. The attention to detail is perfect and the lever action is smooth and consistent.
This kind of craftsmanship isn’t cheap. At over $400, you may pay more for the Walther Lever Action than you would for a pawn shop 94. It is worth it, though, for those who want the feel of the real thing without the hassle of range time.
Full-Auto History Lesson
If you mistook this for a C96, you could be forgiven. It isn’t. Though modeled on the C96, the Schnellfeuer (or fast fire, for those who aren’t bilingual) was a full-auto version of the old broom handle Mauser.
The Umarex version is just as solid as an original, and even has a detachable magazine. The attention to detail is exquisite—down to the functional thumb safety and working action.
The old Mauser is a landmark in firearms development, and this is a wonderful homage to the originals, which aren’t easy to come by. It retails for just over $100, and is money well spent.
A Polymer Practice Masterpiece
For those looking for something more modern, I’d suggest the PPQ. I’m a huge fan of the Walther, and I think this makes a great practice gun. Dimensionally identical, and similar in function, the PPQ is a great stand in for any compact polymer pistol, and a dead ringer for those who carry a PPQ.
The sights on the PPQ are my favorite part. Some air pistols cut corners, and sights are often sacrificed to keep down costs. These are spot on. The only thing that’s missing is the magazine.
There’s no better way to practice working from the holster. Still, it isn’t a toy. I wouldn’t recommend shooting yourself in the foot.
The PPQ sells for $65—about what you’d pay for three boxes of 9mm JHPs. Not a bad investment for anyone who needs a practice pistol.