There is no feeling quite like shooting an air rifle, and there are plenty of options for people to choose from. There are pneumatic firearms to fit every shooting need and budget, making this a perfect time to indulge in this popular hobby. Before rushing out to buy a pneumatic rifle, there are some features that everyone should be familiar with.
Air Rifle Calibers
The caliber is determined by the diameter inside the gun’s barrel, and there are several different sizes. The most common caliber ammunition for air rifles, listed from smallest to largest, are: .177, .20, .22, and .25 caliber rifle barrels. Each one has its own advantages when fired.
.177 caliber ammunition is the least expensive and most commonly used. Normally used in target shooting competitions, the lightweight and flat design makes this ammunition some of the most accurate at long distances. Some .177 caliber air rifles are also powerful enough to fire rounds at 1,100 feet per second which is faster than the sound barrier. Its smaller size does not make it ideal for hunting.
.20 caliber bullets are primarily used for either target shooting or pest control. Unfortunately, this ammo is typically more expensive and can be more difficult to find.
.22 caliber pellets are ideal for pest control and plinking. The larger and heavier size lets the ammo penetrate the skulls of small game, along with tin cans and watermelons.
.25 caliber ammunition is primarily used by recreational hunters since it is heavy enough to penetrate both small and large game. Generally more expensive than other calibers, and often requiring an expensive pre charged air rifle to fire them.
The Best Air Rifle Type
Understanding the different types of air rifles will help make it easier to choose the best one. Pneumatic firearms are divided into several different categories and each type has its own unique features.
Pre compressed air rifles can be either precharged pneumatic (PCP), multi pump, or single stroke. All of these three types use compressed air to fire the rifle which is either generated with a small tank or pumped by hand with the lever on the firearm. These types of air rifles are usually easy to refill, and are also known to be extremely accurate and less expensive than other models.
Spring driven pneumatic rifles are also powered by compressed air, but it is driven by the spring. The most common type of these firearms are break barrel and underside lever. These rifles are considered to be more affordable than other models, and use either .177 or .22 caliber ammunition. These rifles are typically louder, and can require a lot of force for cocking and firing.
Gas or nitrogen powered rifles are powerful, quiet, and offer better performance. These firearms are also more expensive. Using either gas or nitrogen canister that need to be replaced or refilled when emptied, these air rifles are ideal for target shooting and hunting. Normally firing .25 caliber pellets, these air guns can also be found for different calibers.
The final type of air rifle is powered by CO2 cartridges and is commonly found in pneumatic pistols. The harmless gas can fire several shots in a row, and is often used on semi automatic air pistols. These types of weapons are easy to use and fire, and can often be found in training classes. The main drawback to these air pistols is that the firing speed can be affected by extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Air Rifle Velocity and Accuracy
While it might sound fun to break the sound barrier with an air rifle shot, the high rate of speed can ruin accuracy. Most experienced air rifle owners tend to look for a velocity that is 1,000 FPS (feet per second) or less. Another factor to consider is the foot pounds of energy (FPE) which determines how energy is put out from the muzzle of the air rifle. A shot that is heavier may be slower, but it will also have the power to punch through harder targets.
With all of this in mind choosing the right air rifle does not have to be a challenging experience. Once the use of the pneumatic weapon has been determined, finding the best one can be easy. Simply remember that firing faster does not always mean the pneumatic firearm is better.