by Robert Nelson, Port Charlotte Florida
I hear a lot of people talk about different guns they have, how much ammo they have in their basement or bug out location. What guns is the best, what ammo is best? Should I buy reloading gear? I hear every gun under the sun. From .22LR to very large bore rifles.
Some guys have crossbows, long bows and so on. What I have not heard much of is Air guns. Air guns? Yes, air guns. Why? Almost every guy I know had one in their youth. A lot of girls have shot their brothers or friends air guns.
I know a lot of you are like, are you kidding me? No, I am not. The air rifles range in price from $30 to well over $2000.00. The low-end range is old style one pump BB gun and the high end ones are PCP Air rifles. In the middle you have air rifles like the springers or as some know them, break barrels.
The single pump BB guns are good to teach young ones gun safety. Fun to shoot at paper targets, tin cans and other things. They are not the best things to hunt with. They do not have much power behind them.
The pump air rifles in .177 Cal/.22 can take small game. Birds, squirrels and rats. Downfall of this type of air rifle you have to be pretty close to make a clean humane kill.
Springer air rifles come in various calibers. .177 all the way to .25. Each caliber has it’s pro’s and cons. With these air rifles you almost see on the box 900 FPS or 1200 FPS. Yes, some of them have high FPS. However, the FPS only means so much. Most of the air guns manufactures out there get these numbers using non lead pellets. They weigh less and go faster. The problem with this is, a light pellet going fast does not make as much FPE (foot pounds of energy) which is what really matters when hunting.
I will give you a good example. I own a Gamo Whisper in .22 cal. The box claimed 950 FPS. It does if I use the PBA pellets. They weigh around 9 grams. They shoot fast and they are unstable at the high speeds. With this gun I use Crossman hollow points that weigh 14 grams. They are accurate and travel around 780 fps. That translates to around 18 FPE. My Gamo is accurate out to around 60 yards, I can hold a target out further but why push it? With this air rifle I can hunt rabbits, squirrels and birds out to around 50 yards and take them humanely. The Price for these Springer air guns range from $80 to around a grand.
Some of you probably scratched your head when I said PCP air rifle. What is a PCP air rifle? PCP stands for Pre-charged pneumatic. These types of air guns have some kind of High pressure air storage on the gun. Some of the tanks are removable some are not. The bottle sizes vary depending on the maker of the gun.
These kinds of air rifles range in price from around $300 to well over $2000.00. For those not wanting to spend $1800 on a Daystate or FX can find an old name in air guns more pocket friendly. Benjamin Marauder sold by Crosman. This nice looking air rifle comes in .177, .22 and .25. And price starts at around $469. They do not have iron sights but are set up to accept scopes. I recently had the pleasure to shoot the .25 models. This gun held a group of less than .45” at 65 yards for me. My friend that owns the gun told me that he can hold .65” groups at 100 yards. He has take squirrels humanely out to 85 yards. He feels that it could take a squirrel out to 110 yards but does not feel comfortable trying it as of yet.
All PCP air rifles need to be filled after so many rounds. There are a few ways to do this. Most PCP air gun dealers sell stirrup pumps. Looks like one hell of a beefed up bicycle pump. These pumps will fill up a tank with out a problem. It just takes a while. Most of these PCP air rifles normally hold 3000PSI in the tank. Some more and some less. The reservoir bottles range from 200cc to 500cc. Some people use scuba tanks with special yokes attached to fill the guns.
PCP Air rifles come in a lot of different calibers. .177, .20, .22. .25, .308, 9mm, .45 and. 50cal.
Yes, the prices are a bit high compared to a lot of modern firearms and I know that will turn a lot of folks away. I look at it this way. I buy a .22lr with a good scope I am looking to spend a few hundred bucks. Then I have to buy ammo for it. It all adds up. The pellets I use for me .22 Gamo cost me under ten dollars for 500 rounds. The gamo prefers the Crossman hollow points to any pellet. Some guns will shoot any pellet some are a bit more fussy. The good news is that you can plink for hours trying different pellets and it will not break the bank. You can also buy pellet makers to reuse your spent pellets.
Most of these air rifles are pretty quiet to shoot as well.
If you do a Google search for any of these types of air guns you can find hundreds of videos on YouTube from reviews to hunting to maintence. If you have interest in a fun cheap shooting weapon look into some of these different kinds of air powered guns. Find someone that has one that is willing to let you try it out. Then when you’re ready to buy one search online. Craigslist, and a lot of other websites have them posted almost weekly.