The world of airgunning has never been more diverse. Seriously, there are all kinds of air guns that didn’t exist a few years ago, or if they did exist, they were the playthings of the wealthy or used only for sanctioned competition. The air rifle can still do what it always has done, but it can do other things, too. In this growing sea of airguns and categories of airguns, a shooter can get lost in all the fluff. In this blog entry we are going to look at the various categories and explore a few examples of each to help you decide what format will best fit your needs.
Spring powered air rifles are the most common type of air rifle that exists. Simply described, a large spring is compressed beneath a piston and seal assembly. When the trigger is pulled, the spring releases and compresses a charge of air behind the pellet. The action can be as simple as a break barrel design or a more complex side or under lever design. Additionally, the metal coil spring can be replaced with a gas ram like the Reaxis Gas Piston found in the Umarex Octane Elite. Both traditional spring and gas piston air rifles can produce excellent power in either .177 or .22 caliber. Yes, some manufacturers do make other calibers, but the most common springers will be found in either .177 or .22 caliber.
Who Are Springers For?
Springers are great for recreational shooting, plinking, targets, hunting, prepping- just nearly any shooting task you can prescribe. Springers are great in that they are stand-alone platforms– all that is needed is the rifle, some pellets, and a shooter. No pumps, no accessories– nothing at all needed. Not only that, there’s not much in the way of maintenance that needs to be done with a springer. Low maintenance, simple set-up, and high durability. These are hallmarks of a tool that can be used when needed, as much as needed, and with as little fuss as possible. The downside: Springers, particularly magnum springers can be a little tough to shoot accurately. This essentially comes down to shooting technique. Spring air rifle shooters need to know about the “Artillary Hold’.
CO2 powered air rifles are not all that common and that primarily boils down to power. CO2 pressurizes at about 850 psi. This lower pressure threshold will only allow for so much velocity no matter what the projectile you are shooting. The most common CO2 powered rifles are chambered in .177 but some .22 caliber rifles are available as well. CO2 rifles are useless without the proper fuel canisters needed to operate them. In this case, a shooter will need the rifle, CO2, and ammo to get their trigger time in.
Who Are CO2 Rifles For?
CO2 rifles are perfect for shooters who are looking to get an exceptionally smooth and accurate rifle for target shooting, precision pest elimination, and plinking. Due to the lower power output particular to CO2 rifles, they aren’t ideal for hunting, but have no problem eliminating smaller garden pests. However, if you are looking to get superior accuracy for target shooting, it’s hard to ignore the potential found in rifles like the Fusion 2 and UX 850 M2. CO2 is generally easy to find at local retailers and can be ordered in bulk for heavy consumers. For shooters who are teaching marksmanship or like to shoot quite a lot will appreciate the ease of shooting and accuracy inherent in this gas powered design.
Pre-Charged Pneumatics, more popularly known as PCPs, have been flying off the shelves of warehouses and on-line airgun retailers all over the country in the past 5 years. PCPs use regular old breathable air, pressurized to 3,000 psi or higher to launch pellets (or in some cases slugs). PCPs used to be found only in sanctioned competition rifles. However, these days PCPs have upped the power output and decreased in cost to the point that anyone can easily save up the scratch to purchase one. PCPs are known for their accuracy, power, large shot capacity and wide variety of caliber choices.
Who Are PCP Rifles For?
PCPs are becoming popular with many different types of shooters– hunters, plinkers, competition shooters, target shooters, pesters, preppers– you name it– there’s someone using a PCP to do it. Hard hitting PCP rifles like the Umarex Origin can now be purchased for less than $400 with a pump. Increasingly, though, PCP shooters are gravitating toward electric high pressure air pumps like the ReadyAir for quicker, less sweaty fills. PCP rifles are inherently accurate, powerful, and typically have multi-shot magazines. However, if you have trouble using a manual pump or cannot afford an electric pump, a PCP can be paper weight for you.
Big Bore PCP's
Big Bore PCPs are just that, pre-charged pneumatic airguns that have really big bores. Big Bores are well known for their power output and ability to humanely harvest large game. Yes, Big Bore PCPs are impressive on the range, too. Since they are PCPs, Big Bores will require a source for filling and due to their large appetite for air, this source will need to be electric or stored in a fill bottle. Technically, yes, a Big Bore can be filled via hand-pump. Big Bore air rifles like the Umarex Hammer are popular with shooters who like to impress their friends and themselves. Be on the lookout for the new Primal 20 big bore slug gun. The Primal 20 is making Big Bore power more accessible to airgunners looking to see what that big bore fun is all about.
Who are Big Bore PCPs For?
Typically, the Big Bore owner is someone who has tried everything and is looking for something different. While not exactly quiet, Big Bores aren’t all that loud and allow a hunter, especially disabled or older hunters, to use bowhunting techniques even when they can not utilize a vertical bow. Big Bore PCPs deliver serious power downrange and require a serious pump system for optimal use. The Safari Club International and Airgun Hunting Legion have both opened up record books for hunters to document their trophies.
Air Archery PCPs
The newest category of air guns aren’t anything like you have ever seen. Sort of a cross between big bore air rifles, spear guns, and vertical bows, the Air Archery category is catching on fast with airgunners and hunters in diverse locations. These Air Archery guns use high pressure air to launch an arrow to the target. The Umarex AirSaber series of Air Archery guns develop in excess of 130 ft-lbs of energy with the first several shots. This means an arrow will be flying well over 450 fps for these crucial first shots as well.
Who Is Air Archery For?
The people who are gravitating towards Air Archery are hunters, preppers, disabled outdoorsmen and those looking for something completely wild. More often than not, it is a mix of all the above. If you have spent any time with a bow, even compound bows with extreme let-off are just nearly impossible to use once you have had a shoulder injury. Like with Big Bore PCPs, AIr Archery PCPs are included in the SCI and AHL record books. Air Archery guns will require a steady source of air to fill, but they can be topped off with a hand-pump as long as the shooter fills after every few shots. Yes, an Air Archery gun would be extremely viable as an option for the prepper so long as a fill source is available as there is virtually nothing walking in North America that could not be humanely harvested with the massive power output of a product like the AirSaber.
Who knows what the next air gun category will be? Chances are we are working right now on something that will blow your mind. Time will tell. In the meantime if you are thinking of testing out a new category of airgun, check out what we have to offer in the categories listed above by clicking on the highlighted text in the respective paragraphs. Maybe you’ll discover something you’ve been missing!