Air weapons can be found in 2 forms, the air rifle along with the air pistol. As the term implies, both push their projectiles with the use of air, although the air is compressed in one way or another depending on model type.
Historically, the air gun was certainly around in one form in the sixteenth century because there is actually a surviving example in the Stockholm museum! By the seventeenth century, air guns had established themselves enough to use in hunting. These examples were commonly in the form of air rifles, and by now they were developed enough so as to pierce one inch deep timber at a range of one hundred paces. Really remarkable even for these days!
The pressures achieved on an array of these guns came to some 800PSI which was incredible. Nowadays however, we’re limited by low pressure simply for health and safety and legal factors. Actually in certain countries, air guns will still be classified as firearms, so you wouldn’t be able to obtain or use one except if a person had a license.
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These days we’ve a choice of forms of air gun. By that I mean the choice of how we power that weapon. It’s still primarily driven by air, however the process of how that air is compressed varies substantially. Let’s look quickly at each of the options and find out what advantages or disadvantages each provide.
CO2 Air Guns
Similar to the Crosman 1077 gun described elsewhere, these kind of guns are driven by CO2. The CO2 is actually stored in either little 12g caplets, or storage containers, or in larger 88g canisters. Both of them are fixed to the weapon. The smaller sized caplets offer approximately 50 – 80 shots before you need to change it, whilst the more expensive Carbon Dioxide storage container offers a huge 300 to 400 shots! Clearly, the most significant benefit of this method is the continuity of fun! You aren’t continuously halting to re-charge the rifle, and if you happen to be hunting small vermin, this is fairly significant as you will not have time to be able to re-pump and aim at a critter as it’s most likely they’ll be quite a distance off by this time! The downside is that you must keep buying the CO2.
Break Barrel Rifle
As the name implies, you ‘break’ the gun barrel on the point where it is hinged, so that you can compress a steel spring that’s hidden away within the weapon. The advantages of this rifle is always that the air is actually ‘free’. All that is needed is a but of muscle power to compress the spring. Some air guns need a lot of muscle power and that is one of several disadvantages with this sort of gun. One other disadvantage is the time taken in between each shot. Not too undesirable should you be just plinking, but a disaster if you’re vermin hunting and frighten the thing off with your very first missed shot! Some makes of weapon use a ‘gas spring’ rather than a coiled steel spring. Some brands that make use of this tend to be Weirauch, Crosman and Arowsmith.
This is where you utilize pre-compressed air as the source to fire the pellet. Compression is achieved simply by priming a lever somewhere around the gun. The pneumatic rifle includes a few variations. These include:
single stroke – in which you only have to prime the pump once on the gun for it to be ready to fire
multi stroke – where you have to prime the pump lever approximately 2 to 10 times to obtain adjustable power
pre charged pneumatic (PCP) – where you charge the tank not from a lever fitted to the rifle, but from an air reservoir such as a diving canister or even a hand pump
Like the Carbon Dioxide air guns, these present an advantage in which you want continuous shooting, as you can accomplish up to around five-hundred shots on a good tank. The drawback is often the greater cost of purchase since the manufacturing of these types of gun is costlier. Additionally, it is important to acquire a good quality high pressure hand pump or a diving canister. Usage costs will be lower though than say a Carbon dioxide rifle.
That’s it. A short synopsis of air rifles and an outline of the related good and bad points. I trust it helps any choices you need to make when contemplating an air rifle or air pistol.