So tell me about air guns…

I’m sure I have some readers that know a thing or two about air guns, e.g. Gamo Whisper. Those sorts of things.

I’m considering buying one, but while I stood there at Cabela’s I realized I need a lot more research on the topic.

.177 vs .22?

Are they really that loud, and is something like Gamo’s Whisper technology really that good at dampening the sound?

I saw a Gamo model that had a fixed barrel, instead of their lock open model. It looks like the fixed barrel contributes to accuracy but… just how much? I’m not looking for high-end-competition one-ragged-hole competition…. minute of dead varmint is good enough. But then, that could also affect effective range. Just wondering if it’s worth it because it’s more accurate but seems to have less FPS, and you can get ones with far greater FPS… what’s the trade off? is it worth it?

A lot of the ones came with a scope. How necessary is that? One had a 3-9×40 on it and that seemed like a lot; do these have enough range to matter? Others had fixed 4x and those seemed potentially reasonable enough, if you needed magnification at all. Heck, they all had irons (well, typically fiber-optic types) and that seemed like it might be good enough.

Anyways… if you have experience with them, products to recommend, to avoid, websites with info, or whatever… I’d love to hear it. Please share in the comments. Thanx. πŸ™‚

22 thoughts on “So tell me about air guns…

  1. Ok NOW you’re talking my language! I’ve been a huge airgun nut for several years now and have collected at least 20 or so guns, getting the latest one last Saturday actually πŸ™‚ So there are several things to learn about airguns, some of which may be counter-intuitive to what you’d expect from having firearms training. Let me hit some of your points and give some general comments. I’ll try not to be too longwinded, feel free to ask follow ups.

    > .177 vs .22?
    For this I would ask– what do you want to do with it? While controversy abounds, if it’s hunting/pesting you generally want a .22 rather than .177 as the .22 makes a bigger hole and carries more energy. Of course you can go larger like .25, 9mm, .357, .45 and .50 but I won’t discuss that here. .177 is pretty much defacto for target shooting. They say .177 for feathers, .22 for fur, although in reality you can use a .177 for fur (rabbits, possums, etc) if necessary, assuming adequate velocity (well, rabbits are really easy to kill, even 600fps .177 will kill a rabbit with a headshot). Realize that with a .177 more so than a .22 you’ll more than likely get a complete passthrough on whatever you’re shooting at, given a sufficiently powerful gun. As a result the energy doesn’t get dumped and you’re left with a hole. A .177 is almost always going to shoot flatter than a .22 at any distance. With airguns you learn holdover πŸ™‚ You mentioned “minute of dead varmint” is a requirement– what that REALLY means is “what distance can you hit an inch sized target at consistantly?” Basically if you can hit a paintball nearly every time at your given distance you’re good to go. I say an inch target because you’re generally going to want to do headshots or heart/lung if you can’t get the head. So, let’s talk about some of the components required to do that:

    Pellets: Obviously the pellets you choose to shoot matter. I’m going to say they REALLY matter. While I can tell you what works for me for a specific gun that I have, the reality is that each gun has a favorite pellet. Notice I didn’t say each model, I said each individual gun. My most accurate gun will shoot heavy (10.x) Crosman Premier pellets very well whereas if I put anything lighter in it my groups will open way up. There are further controversy about shooting heavy pellets, mainly that they have been shown to break springs (which I have experienced btw) however what matters is that you hit what you aim at, so paying $20 for a new (better) spring every 8-10k shots is a small price to pay, IMHO. There are more pellet choices in .177 than .22, although there are enough in either caliber to get the job done. Locally you will not find good pellets anywhere except Mcbrides. I usually order my pellets from the largest airgun site on the web ( http://www.pyramydair.com/pellets ). At Pyramyd you buy 3 and get the 4th (lowest priced) tin free.

    Powerplants and holds: So if you were at Cabelas you probably saw mainly spring powered air rifles, although they have a few CO2 and multipump pneumatic guns there as well. I won’t discuss PCP guns here as I doubt you want to get into all that at this point (scuba tanks, etc). Spring powered is the most common and can be very powerful, moreso than the Co2 guns in many cases. Spring guns are also notoriously harder to shoot than co2 as well. A co2 gun you just point and shoot and there is no real recoil. As a result there is no technique required to shoot them and you can put any scope you like on them without issues. As a general statement the more powerful spring guns require a special hold to really be accurate with them. The hold is called the artillery hold and details on it can be found here: http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2007/07/artillery-hold.html The reason they need a special hold is because of the way a spring piston gun fires. Read the linked article as I won’t bother rehashing it here.

    Sound and velocity: Let’s talk about velocity right now. First off, what you see on the box is almost always overstated (big surprise). Secondly, you pretty much NEVER want to shoot what the stated velocity is anyway. Most guns say they will shoot around 1000fps to 1200fps. Gamo in particular likes to tout their guns as shooting 1200fps with their stupid PBA pellets. Once a pellet goes above say 1080-1100 fps (depending on sea level) it will break the sound barrier. When it breaks the sound barrier you will hear the same sonic crack that you get with a .22 rimfire. This is loud. When it crosses the sound barrier the pellet will wobble and become unstable and you will lose accuracy. You want to do whatever you can to keep your given gun from shooting that fast– that generally means using a heavier pellet or one with a different skirt, etc. Generally 800-950 fps or so is what you want to aim for and that’s what most 1000fps guns will shoot in the real world anyway unless you shoot the “trick” PBA or other lightweight pellets. The Gamo Whispers do reduce the sound of the guns quite a bit overall although even they won’t help you if you shoot light pellets. In a spring gun a lot of the sound comes from the spring action anyway.
    Co2 guns can be very loud as well, unless they have some type of “moderating” device on them. I have a Crosman 2240 that I need to use hearing protection when I shoot it in the house.

    Scopes: There are a couple of very important things to note about airgun scopes. First off, if you have a spring powerplant you MUST get a scope that specifically states it is for airguns or do some research yourself to determine that it is spring safe. Do *not* put your deer rifle scope on a spring rifle or you’ll likely be going to buy a new scope after the spring gun destroys it. *Plenty* of people have ruined hugely expensive scopes by putting them on a punishing air rifle. Firearm scopes are made to withstand recoil backwards, spring airguns recoil in BOTH directions and will trash most non-airgun rated scopes. Mounting a scope on an airgun can be a problem as well due to the recoil. Unfortunately most mounts used on AG’s are not weaver types and have a variety of problems with the scope sliding back. A scope stop is usually required. On some guns people try to use a screw or something in the receiver as a scope stop only to have the screw sheared off. Another issue is parallax. Most rifle scopes have a parallax set for 100 yards and most airgun shooting is done at 10-60 yards. So having an adjustable objective (A/O) is very important. I mentioned that you want to hit an inch/paintball sized target. If you want to hit that at 60 yards you need to be able to SEE it first πŸ™‚ I have a 6-24x Tasco Target/Varmint scope on my “main” accurate AG which although it doesn’t state it anywhere is indeed airgun safe. The model I have doesn’t have mildots but later versions do ( http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=156666 ). Mildots are really great when you know your holdover at a given distance. Centerpoint scopes (as sold at walmart) are AG rated too I believe and they were bought a while back by Crosman. I have a 4-16x which works well.

    See here for some details scopes on airguns: http://www.straightshooters.com/documents/choosingascope.html

    Chairgun is a VERY useful program for plotting trajectories with most common pellets, assuming you know the velocity (which means you need a chronograph, which most serious airgunners have). http://www.hawkeoptics.com/us/chairgun/index.php

    Tuning is another topic. Involves spring, seal replacements, valve adjustment, custom lubes and a variety of other things. Lots of (conflicting) details online about that πŸ™‚

    Backdrops: duct seal backdrops are great and you can find what you need at Lowes/Home Depot.

    Some final comments:
    My first “serious” adult airgun that I got after a lot of research was the fixed barrel model you saw at Cabelas, the Gamo CFX. It was both a great gun to get as my first one, as well as a terrible one πŸ™‚ It is great because it is not hold sensitive at all and can even be shot from a rest, which is very unusual for a spring gun. For this gun the artillery hold is not required. It is also great because it can be VERY accurate, given the proper pellet (for me, heavy 10.5/10.6 grain pellets). It was a terrible gun because EVERY SINGLE gun I bought after that never measured up to the CFX in accuracy so I always felt let down by them. After breaking my original spring I got a highly rated aftermarket spring ( from http://www.airrifleheadquarters.com/page/page/251327.htm ) and the completely required replacement trigger ( http://charliedatuna.com/GRT-III%20Trigger%20New.htm ). The GRT-III trigger makes a HUGE difference.

    You can find a brief old review here: http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2006/02/gamo-cf-x-field-test.html

    Another gun which you simply cannot go wrong with is the Crosman 2240 CO2 pistol. Plenty of power for small game, it’s in .22 and there are a TON of aftermarket parts for it. I have a custom made power adjuster and stock on a couple of mine. The 2240 is cheap too, like $55 or so. Get one.

    Websites: Well I mentioned Pyramydair, check out the blog and go through the archives for all you’ll ever need to know about AG’s:
    http://airgun-academy.pyramydair.com/blog/

    There are 2 main AG forums, which are somewhat “competing” although plenty of people are on both:
    The Yellow forum:
    http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/

    and GTA “Gateway to Airguns”
    http://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/index.php

    For Crosman guns there is also the Green forum:
    http://www.network54.com/Forum/275684/

    Also see Wikipedia πŸ™‚

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_gun

  2. I have been interested in purchasing a, air gun rifle also. Is it legal to fire an air gun in the city limits?

  3. In Austin it is no longer (as of a couple of years) to shoot an AG in city limits.
    I guess my previous huge posting didn’t make it, maybe too large, so I’ll split it up.

    Ok NOW you’re talking my language! I’ve been a huge airgun nut for several years now and have collected at least 20 or so guns, getting the latest one last Saturday actually πŸ™‚ So there are several things to learn about airguns, some of which may be counter-intuitive to what you’d expect from having firearms training. Let me hit some of your points and give some general comments. I’ll try not to be too longwinded, feel free to ask follow ups.

    > .177 vs .22?
    For this I would ask– what do you want to do with it? While controversy abounds, if it’s hunting/pesting you generally want a .22 rather than .177 as the .22 makes a bigger hole and carries more energy. Of course you can go larger like .25, 9mm, .357, .45 and .50 but I won’t discuss that here. .177 is pretty much defacto for target shooting. They say .177 for feathers, .22 for fur, although in reality you can use a .177 for fur (rabbits, possums, etc) if necessary, assuming adequate velocity (well, rabbits are really easy to kill, even 600fps .177 will kill a rabbit with a headshot). Realize that with a .177 more so than a .22 you’ll more than likely get a complete passthrough on whatever you’re shooting at, given a sufficiently powerful gun. As a result the energy doesn’t get dumped and you’re left with a hole. A .177 is almost always going to shoot flatter than a .22 at any distance. With airguns you learn holdover πŸ™‚ You mentioned “minute of dead varmint” is a requirement– what that REALLY means is “what distance can you hit an inch sized target at consistantly?” Basically if you can hit a paintball nearly every time at your given distance you’re good to go. I say an inch target because you’re generally going to want to do headshots or heart/lung if you can’t get the head. So, let’s talk about some of the components required to do that:

    Pellets: Obviously the pellets you choose to shoot matter. I’m going to say they REALLY matter. While I can tell you what works for me for a specific gun that I have, the reality is that each gun has a favorite pellet. Notice I didn’t say each model, I said each individual gun. My most accurate gun will shoot heavy (10.x) Crosman Premier pellets very well whereas if I put anything lighter in it my groups will open way up. There are further controversy about shooting heavy pellets, mainly that they have been shown to break springs (which I have experienced btw) however what matters is that you hit what you aim at, so paying $20 for a new (better) spring every 8-10k shots is a small price to pay, IMHO. There are more pellet choices in .177 than .22, although there are enough in either caliber to get the job done. Locally you will not find good pellets anywhere except Mcbrides. I usually order my pellets from the largest airgun site on the web ( http://www.pyramydair.com/pellets ). At Pyramyd you buy 3 and get the 4th (lowest priced) tin free.

  4. Powerplants and holds: So if you were at Cabelas you probably saw mainly spring powered air rifles, although they have a few CO2 and multipump pneumatic guns there as well. I won’t discuss PCP guns here as I doubt you want to get into all that at this point (scuba tanks, etc). Spring powered is the most common and can be very powerful, moreso than the Co2 guns in many cases. Spring guns are also notoriously harder to shoot than co2 as well. A co2 gun you just point and shoot and there is no real recoil. As a result there is no technique required to shoot them and you can put any scope you like on them without issues. As a general statement the more powerful spring guns require a special hold to really be accurate with them. The hold is called the artillery hold and details on it can be found here: http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2007/07/artillery-hold.html The reason they need a special hold is because of the way a spring piston gun fires. Read the linked article as I won’t bother rehashing it here.

    Sound and velocity: Let’s talk about velocity right now. First off, what you see on the box is almost always overstated (big surprise). Secondly, you pretty much NEVER want to shoot what the stated velocity is anyway. Most guns say they will shoot around 1000fps to 1200fps. Gamo in particular likes to tout their guns as shooting 1200fps with their stupid PBA pellets. Once a pellet goes above say 1080-1100 fps (depending on sea level) it will break the sound barrier. When it breaks the sound barrier you will hear the same sonic crack that you get with a .22 rimfire. This is loud. When it crosses the sound barrier the pellet will wobble and become unstable and you will lose accuracy. You want to do whatever you can to keep your given gun from shooting that fast– that generally means using a heavier pellet or one with a different skirt, etc. Generally 800-950 fps or so is what you want to aim for and that’s what most 1000fps guns will shoot in the real world anyway unless you shoot the “trick” PBA or other lightweight pellets. The Gamo Whispers do reduce the sound of the guns quite a bit overall although even they won’t help you if you shoot light pellets. In a spring gun a lot of the sound comes from the spring action anyway.
    Co2 guns can be very loud as well, unless they have some type of “moderating” device on them. I have a Crosman 2240 that I need to use hearing protection when I shoot it in the house.

  5. Scopes: There are a couple of very important things to note about airgun scopes. First off, if you have a spring powerplant you MUST get a scope that specifically states it is for airguns or do some research yourself to determine that it is spring safe. Do *not* put your deer rifle scope on a spring rifle or you’ll likely be going to buy a new scope after the spring gun destroys it. *Plenty* of people have ruined hugely expensive scopes by putting them on a punishing air rifle. Firearm scopes are made to withstand recoil backwards, spring airguns recoil in BOTH directions and will trash most non-airgun rated scopes. Mounting a scope on an airgun can be a problem as well due to the recoil. Unfortunately most mounts used on AG’s are not weaver types and have a variety of problems with the scope sliding back. A scope stop is usually required. On some guns people try to use a screw or something in the receiver as a scope stop only to have the screw sheared off. Another issue is parallax. Most rifle scopes have a parallax set for 100 yards and most airgun shooting is done at 10-60 yards. So having an adjustable objective (A/O) is very important. I mentioned that you want to hit an inch/paintball sized target. If you want to hit that at 60 yards you need to be able to SEE it first πŸ™‚ I have a 6-24x Tasco Target/Varmint scope on my “main” accurate AG which although it doesn’t state it anywhere is indeed airgun safe. The model I have doesn’t have mildots but later versions do ( http://www.midwayusa.com/viewproduct/?productnumber=156666 ). Mildots are really great when you know your holdover at a given distance. Centerpoint scopes (as sold at walmart) are AG rated too I believe and they were bought a while back by Crosman. I have a 4-16x which works well.

    See here for some details scopes on airguns: http://www.straightshooters.com/documents/choosingascope.html

    Chairgun is a VERY useful program for plotting trajectories with most common pellets, assuming you know the velocity (which means you need a chronograph, which most serious airgunners have). http://www.hawkeoptics.com/us/chairgun/index.php

    Tuning is another topic. Involves spring, seal replacements, valve adjustment, custom lubes and a variety of other things. Lots of (conflicting) details online about that πŸ™‚

    Backdrops: duct seal backdrops are great and you can find what you need at Lowes/Home Depot.

  6. Some final comments:
    My first “serious” adult airgun that I got after a lot of research was the fixed barrel model you saw at Cabelas, the Gamo CFX. It was both a great gun to get as my first one, as well as a terrible one πŸ™‚ It is great because it is not hold sensitive at all and can even be shot from a rest, which is very unusual for a spring gun. For this gun the artillery hold is not required. It is also great because it can be VERY accurate, given the proper pellet (for me, heavy 10.5/10.6 grain pellets). It was a terrible gun because EVERY SINGLE gun I bought after that never measured up to the CFX in accuracy so I always felt let down by them. After breaking my original spring I got a highly rated aftermarket spring ( from http://www.airrifleheadquarters.com/page/page/251327.htm ) and the completely required replacement trigger ( http://charliedatuna.com/GRT-III%20Trigger%20New.htm ). The GRT-III trigger makes a HUGE difference.

    You can find a brief old review here: http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2006/02/gamo-cf-x-field-test.html

    Another gun which you simply cannot go wrong with is the Crosman 2240 CO2 pistol. Plenty of power for small game, it’s in .22 and there are a TON of aftermarket parts for it. I have a custom made power adjuster and stock on a couple of mine. The 2240 is cheap too, like $55 or so. Get one.

    Websites: Well I mentioned Pyramydair, check out the blog and go through the archives for all you’ll ever need to know about AG’s:
    http://airgun-academy.pyramydair.com/blog/

    There are 2 main AG forums, which are somewhat “competing” although plenty of people are on both:
    The Yellow forum:
    http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/

    and GTA “Gateway to Airguns”
    http://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/index.php

    For Crosman guns there is also the Green forum:
    http://www.network54.com/Forum/275684/

    Also see Wikipedia πŸ™‚

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_gun

  7. We bought this: http://www.gandermountain.com/modperl/product/details.cgi?i=420833&pdesc=Ruger_Air_Hawk_177_Caliber_Air_Rifle&str=rugar&merchID=4005 air rifle back over the winter with the plan to shoot squirrels with it. I like it alot, but haven’t been able to shoot it nearly as much as I’d have liked. It shoots a .177 pellet, and its LOUD, now I’ve not got much long gun experience (well, ok, much gun experience at all), but even my husband who grew up hunting thought it sounded like a “real gun” to him. The occasional few shots are ok without ear protection, but if you’re going to be shooting it for an extended period of time you might want some earplugs just to be safe. And probly want to consider what the neighbor’s are going to think of gunshots in the back-yard.

    We choose not to go with a gun needing compressed air cartridges for a couple reasons, on-going cost being one, another is that you just KNOW that you’re going to run out at some point and not realize it till you’re ready to shoot.

    If you aren’t going with compressed air cartridges, then you’ll want to consider the strength needed to pump it up to full pressure. The Ruger we got only needs one “pump” (the same motion also “breaks” the barrel to load the pellet) and it takes some noticable strength to do it. I can do it, but I’ve more upper arm strength than an average woman my size, and it still takes some proper leverage to do so. You’d fine, your wife would likely have to work at it, and unless your kids wouldn’t be likely to be able to pump & load it themselves at all (not nessecarly a bad thing).

    This one came with a scope though I’ve my doubts about the quality of it. In theory the rifle has the range to need one though I’ve not tried to shoot it at anything beyond 30ft yet.

    • OK, that speaks to the noise factor. Adds fuel to the Gamo Whisper angle then.

      I have an old Crossman pistol that’s 20+ years old. CO2 based and no, I never cared for it much either since that first shot was great, but it was all downhill from there. And yes, when you need it, you won’t have it. So, I’m sure I’d go with a spring gun. I did read it saying it’d take some 30lbs of pull to cock it… that is a lot.

      • Yes it is, and it does limit how long a span of time I can target practice with it as I wear down pretty quick. On the other hand I don’t know that we NEEDED as highpowered a rifle as we got either, a lighter one would probly have been fine for what we needed and thus have a lighter pull too. Its something we didn’t think about till after we bought it.

        • While I’m thinking about it, the Ruger has a nice heavy feel too it. Not as heavy as the shotgun, but some significant weight anyway.

        • I’ve been talking offline with KC (commenter to this thread). The more information I gather, the more I think that something smaller will be suitable. If needs/desires change, I might reconsider a bigger, faster, more powerful one.

    • I too have a Ruger Air Hawk– got a GREAT deal on it at Sports Authority during a Thanksgiving sale– got it for basically $50 or so. It is fairly loud– the issue with that gun is that is that it is pretty powerful and will easily make a light pellet go supersonic giving you the telltale sonic crack. Heavier pellets will help slow it down. That said, I haven’t been able to get the accuracy out of the Airhawk that I was hoping to. Typically after 500 shots or so a gun will start to settle in, but that gun never seemed to settle in. I also had to buy a one piece scope mount for it as it just sheared off the mount that it came with on the 4X scope in the box.

      • well that makes me feel a bit better about my struggle to sight it in! Though I still think most of the problem is me and not the gun.

    • OO… how timely!

      Not much to the review, but he seemed to like the RWS which I believe I also saw at Cabela’s. The fact he said it was quiet was a bonus, but I’m curious if he meant quiet in terms of muzzle or the spring sound too. I think I will comment there and ask.

      I’m feeling like there’s little need for a scope… just a good set of irons and away you go. But many of the combos I saw came with a scope so, I can only assume they are appropriate for air guns.

  8. Pingback: Got an air gun « Stuff From Hsoi

Leave a Reply to hsoi Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.