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This is intended to be a broad overview on what to look for when purchasing an air rifle. The amount of options that you have can be mind numbing, but here we will help you narrow it down quite a bit.
Here at Best air rifle review, we live, eat, and breath air rifles, and we love to do air rifle reviews! While air rifles have been around since the Girandoni Air Rifle (around 1780), the technology surrounding air guns have improved vastly. At the present, you can find air rifles for almost any purpose, whether it be for hunting, precision shooting, or just everyday plinking. While air rifles are often regarded as a step down from conventional firearms, there is much more technology and components that go into air rifles. Air rifles are severely underrated, but the top survival voices always recognize that having one is important to your survival arsenal. Not so trivial any more. Perhaps in the past there have been limited types of air rifles on the market, with the types of rifle firearms coming in many more shapes and sizes. In today’s market, the diversity in air rifles have extended the hobby of air guns to people of all interests. This presents a problem: how do you choose from all of the models, makes, and calibers available? Read on for all of your answers!
Got ADD? Here’s a list of the top air rifles in each power plant category.
Table of Contents
- Got ADD? Here’s a list of the top air rifles in each power plant category.
- How do you choose the best air rifle caliber for you?
- Choosing the Best Air Rifle propulsion platform for you!
- FPS vs. FPE
How do you choose the best air rifle caliber for you?
Choosing a caliber is probably the first hurdle you will face when choosing an air rifle. The four calibers you might have seen around are .25, .22, .20, and .177. The most common air rifle calibers by far are .177 and .22. Within these two choices, you’ll also find many more types of ammo/pellets available. For the purpose of providing a thorough guide, lets walk though all four calibers, starting with the smallest.
Choosing the right Caliber air rifle
What is your main purpose?
Are you going to be target shooting or hunting? And if you’re hunting, what will be your most common target? These are a couple things to have in mind.
For target shooting, a .177 caliber air rifle will work just fine. In fact, .177 is the more popular choice when it comes to air rifle competitions. .177 caliber has the ability to easily surpass 1000 fps depending on the air rifle. That’s about as quick as a 9mm handgun. .177 has the ability to take out small game such as squirels, but nothing bigger. It also requires less air than a .22 to obtain the same FPS (feet per second)
If you’re a hunter, then you know that your main goal is a clean humane kill. Therefore you’ll need something larger that will really pack a solid punch. For that you’ll need a .22 or .25 caliber air rifle. These pellets are simply heavier and carry more kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is a function of mass, more mass means more killing potential. Due to the .22’s nature of being heavier and not as high velocity as the .177, the shooter will need to compensate more for pellet drop. This is not usually a huge deal, since the trajectory for the heavier .22 or .25 is more predictable.
The compromise between a .177 and a .22 caliber air rifle is the .20 caliber air rifle. Though not as common, its a decent compromise. The gap between .22 and .177 deserves something to fill the void. I will have a few .20 caliber air rifles listed on this site and will definitely link them here!
Choosing the Best Air Rifle propulsion platform for you!
Getting down to the technical side of air rifles, its important to know the main types of propulsion methods. The air rifle power plants available are: PCP (Pre-charged-pneumatic), multi-pump pneumatuc air rifles, CO2 powered, and Spring Piston air rifles.
1) Pre Charged Pneumatic (“PCP”) Air Rifles
To put simply, these types of air rifles are initially filled to an average of 2,000 psi, and are able to fire multiple rounds on this single charge, often with great consistency. Pressure is attained by an external source, such as a hand-pump, or even a high pressure tank such as a scuba tank. These are the “Cadillacs” of air rifles. Whats the difference between a PCP air rifle and a pneumatic pump air rifle? A plain jane pneumatic air rifle needs to be pumped after every shot, where a PCP does not. In the case of using a PCP with a hand pump, you’ll get multiple shots from a pump. Scuba tanks are another popular option for powering PCP air rifles. The Benjamin Marauder is a popular option when it comes to PCP air rifles
2) Multi Pump Pneumatic
You probably get the idea after reading 1), these require multiple pumps to fire off a single pellet. The nice part; the power of your shot can be adjusted by the number of times you choose to pump it. The clunky pumping noise while pumping makes this type of air rifle less than ideal for hunting, as all the noise might scare away your target. The advantage is that there is no need for pricey C02 packs. As such, MPP’s are a good choice for your survival or SHTF weapon. Many parts are common, as many of these air rifles function similarly. With that said, multi pump air rifles are a very popular and common air rifle.
Many people would consider these to be the best air rifle; due their power variability and simple function. These are basically PCP air rifles with attached pumps! A direct comparison in the PCP world would be using a PCP air rifle with a hand pump. This setup is the same thing, except your pump in the begging and acquire a certain number of shots after that. Pump air rifles allow for a pump-fire-pump-fire sequence. This is good for surprise hunts, as your next shot would only be a few pumps away. This is why many prefer precharged tanks like scuba tanks for their PCP air rifles.
3) Spring Piston Air Rifles
As far as being convenient and always ready to go, spring piston air rifles take the cake. Typically, they utilize a break-away barrel in which only one pump is required to engage the spring with the piston to create high air pressure. Because each shot requires one pump, they are by nature very consistent. There’s no remembering how many pumps you pumped it last, which is not fun when you’re trying to sight in a new scope. In simple terms; one pump = one shot.
4) Co2 Air Rifles
CO2 air guns come in as many forms as you can imagine. Initially, they were popular mainly for air pistols, given that there wasn’t much space to put a pump. CO2 canisters are small, and would take up the space within the hand grip. Nowadays, we see a lot of air rifles that utilize this technology. The CO2 cartridges come in sizes ranged from 12 grams to 88 grams. With 12 gram cartridges being the most popular. What are some advantages to CO2 air powered air rifles? CO2 powered air rifles quiet, and easy to use, since there is no pumping involved. The 850 AirMagnum .22 is a fantastic example of a CO2 air rifle. This technology also allows air rifles to be semi-automatic, such as the Crosman 1077 air rifle. Semi automatic air rifles allow for rapid firing without cocking or pumping. The downside is that they use a little more air than their bolt action counterparts, due to some of the air being required to chamber a new round. Overall, CO2 canisters are meant to be disposable, so if you shoot a lot, expect to go through a lot of cartridges. Luckily, cartridges are cheap, at around $20 for 40 cartidges from amazon.
Now that you know enough about the type of air rifles out there, how do you know which brand of air rifle to purchase. Honestly, there are a lot of good brands there, as competition to create the best pellet guns only benefit the consumer. Here ill discuss a few brands and some of their interesting past.
Headquartered in Spain, “El Gamo” (as originally named) is the largest manufacturer and distributor of air rifles in Europe. Though Europeans mainly use Gamo air rifles, by far the largest gorup of air rifle buyers are form the Unites States. On a similar note, Gamo is the largest manufacturer of air rifle pellets in the world. Aside from air rifles and pellets, Gamo also makes air pistols, optics, and other air gun accessories. Gamo continuted to set worldwide standards with the introduction of its IGT, or inert gas technology. This technology replaces conventional spring power plants with a pneumatic gas cylinder. This creates a smoother shooting experience which leads to greater accuracy. In Europe, you’ll see this marketed as the “IGT” lineup, but in the U.S. we’ll see it as the “Silent Stalker Whisper”
Otherwise known as “Rheinisch-Westfälische Sprengstoff”, which is now licensed to Umarex USA for maketing purpases, produces some of the highest quality air rifles aorund. Although on the expensive side, nothing beats the overall quality of these air rifles. The quality of these air rifles are on par with that of conventional firearms. Thats are sturdy these are built. The RWS 350 Magnum .22 and .177 are one of their flagship guns that should always be considered if you are a serious shooter.
FPS vs. FPE
Feet per second vs. Pound-foot of Energy.
Often, air rifle manufacturers will advertize their air rifles FPS data and use it as a selling point. There are many more things that define a good air rifle than just feet per second data. The FPS data often comes from light weight pellets, which carry a minimal impact force. The true power at impact can be measured using FPE instead. For hunting, this data point is much more valuable than simply knowing the FPS. FPE is also a measure of kinetic energy, which can be written as 1/2*m*v^2. As you’ll see, the mass “m” plays a factor in the energy. Simply, a slower heavier pellet will impact harder than a fast moving smaller pellet.
Thank you for stopping by and I hope this guide helps!