Hunting with an air rifle is a common thing and in fact it is one of the oldest methods of hunting that dates back into the 16th century. For hunting, you need to have the best air rifle and know how to choose an air rifle. Over all these years, air rifles have been built in various calibers and have been used to hunt animals as small as a rabbit to the size of an Elk. However, by and large, the use of an air rifle is limited to hunting small animals like Rabbits and foxes.
Most of the big-game hunters benefit from practicing in the off season with an air rifle. This helps them in a big way because it is cheap, free of noise, recoilless and can be practiced in the backyard or even indoor with proper precautions. Big game hunters can practice field shooting positions with an air rifle which will bring tremendous improvement to your shooting skills when going big game.
Air rifle target shooting and competitions have been very popular in many countries and have found its place even in Commonwealth games and the Olympics. There are several target-shooting disciplines and competitions that are held every across the nation. Air rifle competition is open to both men and women.
Resource: How to Choose An Air Rifle According to Budget
Modern day air rifles are used for several purposes ranging from hunting to pest control. For pests such as rats and crows, most of the high-powered rifles producing roughly 1,000 fps in .177, .20 or .22 will bring good results. You can consider magnum powered .20, .22 and .25 calibers for small-game hunting such as a raccoon-sized one. Most of the air rifles have a range of 30 yards and this factor has to be considered while going for hunting so that you don’t shoot and let the game live the rest of its live with a pellet stuck somewhere in its body. So if you want to buy the best air rifle available in the market you need to consider a lot of thing and the best thing is we did a detailed research to write this post.
What To Consider Before Purchasing An Air Rifle
- Accuracy: the primary objective of buying an air rifle is to hit the target; you must not miss the target. So, accuracy is of prime importance. Most new hunters don’t actually know the range from which to fire. They would go for a small game which would require precision. On the top of it, the shot must be made from a proper distance so that you don’t scare away the game by moving too close to it. If you shoot, make sure you get the game. Else, you will not only lose the game but also scare away many potential games which will eventually lead you to coming back from the hunt empty-handed. There is nothing more unfortunate than that. So, factor the precision of the gun and how accurate it can hit from what distance before buying the air rifle. This is the main factor of choosing and air rifle how accurate the air rifle is.
- Power: A humane kill is very important since you don’t want to hit the game and let it run some distance. Make sure that it falls instantly. Speed does not mean power. All air rifle manufacturers sell their rifles by marketing the amount of feet per second value. This value can be easily manipulated by using a light pellet. What you must consider as a beginner is foot pounds of energy, which reflects the power of the rifle. This takes into account the feet per second of the rifle as well as the weight of the pellet. This figure will give you an idea of strongly the pellet is going to strike your game. If you want to hunt Elk sized animals, go for a powerful rifle.
- Easy to Use: You are buying your air rifle for the first time and you don’t know how to operate its scope. That would seem ridiculous. So, you must know how to use the rifle or to say the ease to use the rifle is a factor to be considered while buying one. Also, if you are hunting in a place which requires lot of walking, you better choose a rifle that is light in weight and easy to carry. If your game is very alert and fast, try an air rifle that is sleek and quick to use.
- Cost: Cost is a consideration when purchasing nearly anything and an air rifle is no exception. Guns come at various price range from USD 375-400 and above. You must make sure that apart from the other factors that must be considered, the cost of the rifle plays an important role in buying decision. Powerful guns will cost more than the less powerful ones. So, better check your budget and do a research before going to the show-room. In the end, you need not only settle for an air rifle that is within your means but one that is a good value for your money as well.
- Caliber: .177 and .22 calibers are the most popular ones and the former will give a more powerful impact than the latter. .177 is lighter than a .22 pellet which results in greater kinetic energy for hitting the target which in turn causes a powerful impact. You don’t have to be a physics geek to know all these.
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Once you have considered these points before purchasing the air rifle, you must know how air rifles are categorized. Air rifles can be categorized into three main categories depending upon the mechanism to launch a pellet:
- CO2 Powered: CO2-powered air rifles are, as the name suggests, powered by CO2 canisters. They may come in various shapes and models but the common factor is that they all are powered by Carbon dioxide. These guns are easy to use and these guns are made in almost any shape with no compromise on power. However, these guns have its disadvantages. CO2-powered guns are limited in power compared to other types of guns. Also, its per-shot economy is poor due to the cost of the CO2 canister. There is another problem with CO2 powered guns. The fluctuations in surrounding pressure can affect the performance of this rifle. At normal room temperature, a CO2 canister produces a pressure of around 900-1000psi, but as the temperature fluctuates, so does the pressure – this change in pressure will result inaccurate shots thereby rendering your purchase of the gun meaningless. This one of the main point of how to choose an air Rifle.
- Pneumatic: Pneumatic air rifles are typically any type of air rifle that uses compressed air to propel its pellet. There are two main types of pneumatics: pump-up and pre-charged.
The pump-up varieties are common in the US. Pump-up air rifles compress air with a built-in pumping lever which is located around the forearm section of the gun. You might have seen school kids shooting with this rifle. This is the most common model in the market today. Pump-up guns are kind of powerful and the major advantage is not using a CO2 canister to power the pellet making this model cost effective. The biggest disadvantage of the pump-up gun is the time it takes to charge the next round and also the effort needed. If you are buying just for fun, then this model would be ideal for you. It is relatively easy to use and you don’t to spend much on its maintenance. You also don’t have to be worried that keeping it idle for a while will damage its components.
- Pre-Charged Pneumatics: Pre-charged pneumatics have the biggest advantage of not requiring the effort and time to charge it for every shot. So, you don’t have to pull down the barrel and charge it every single time you have to use it. Pre-charged pneumatics use a large reservoir of highly pressurized air which results in multiple shots before the need to recharge the rifle. The process of recharging is simple and can be done with a high-pressure hand-pump. These guns have many advantages; they are extremely powerful and are extremely accurate.
If you are planning to invest your time into serious hunting, then consider buying this model. It might cost you dear but then the gun will get you an entry into clubs of serious hunting communities.
- Spring Piston: Spring piston air-guns are the most popular air guns used by serious users. They work with a stout spring and an air piston that propel a pellet down. The gun operation is very simple; for each shot, the spring is retracted to allow the gun to fire, after the fire, the spring pushes the piston forward. This action will charge the air into the barrel. The Spring Piston air rifles are very consistent, powerful and accurate. You can go for this gun perhaps after graduating through the pneumatic air rifles. That will allow you to know more about rifles and its operations. Firing a shot is more or less an art. Killing a game instantly is very humane than having the game to endure the pain of a stuck pellet in its body. So, after you are an expert with pneumatic air rifles, you can be confident that your performance with Spring Piston rifles will be perfect.
PARTS OF A GUN
- Scope: Rifles can have open sight and in that case, you are not targeting a faraway game. However, when you want to target something far away, you might need a scope for accuracy. A scope is not a fixed thing on the gun. So, if you are not satisfied with the scope, you can always buy and fix a new one. It would be great if you can test the scope before purchasing. Buy one that suits your need. If you need more focus then go for one that fits your need. The price can vary but scopes are not expensive.
- Muzzle: A muzzle is the opening on the front of a firearm. This is where the projectile comes out of. You have to make sure that the muzzle of the rifle does not have any hindrance. So, before you take your air rifle for a hunting trip, check if there is any hindrance in the muzzle. The pellet will come out only if the muzzle is clear.
- The Breech: A breech is the back of a gun. Nowadays, guns are breech loaded and not muzzle loaded. If you remember the images of American Civil war in your history books, you will notice that soldiers loaded guns through muzzle. They are muzzle loaded guns. Muzzle loading guns are old fashioned and you will not find one in production right now. Most of the models are breech loaded.
- Stock: A stock is also known as a buttstock. Sometimes it is also referred to as butt of a rifle. The barrel and firing mechanism are attached to the stock. While firing a gun, to absorb the shock of the fire, you will rest the stock on your shoulder.
- Trigger: You pull trigger to fire the gun. A trigger is normally surrounded by a trigger guard which will protect the trigger.
- Recoil pad: Just behind the butt of the gun, a recoil pad rests. This is to allow for absorption of any shock while shooting the gun.
Different Kinds of Pellets:
- Crosman Powershot pellets – It is a new design that has appeared in the market and is more environmentally friendly as it is lead-free. It is sharp and penetrates with more ease than other designs.
- Polyme- tip hollow-head pellets –This pellet has a hard, polymer ballistic tip intended for accuracy. It is designed to cut through the air with less friction. To cause maximum harm, the polymer tip makes the pellet to expand outward. This means there is more area to penetrate when hit causing more harm to the game during hunting.
- Gamo Performance Ballistic Alloy (PBA) pellets- These pellets are faster and of less weight. Accuracy is also good. These pellets are harder than other models.
- Hollow point – Though not the best hunting pellet in the market, there are hunters who use this model.
- Pointed pellets – Pointed pellets are generally used where maximum penetration off the target is required. So, this is a perfect choice of hunters.
- Wad cutters – They have a flat nose and these pellets are typically used for target shooting due to their accuracy. Due to their shape, it is used to target game that is located in near distance. The hit on the game will cause maximum damage due to its power.
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Pellets have evolved along with air rifles over the years. Earlier, steel ball-bearings were used as pellets. Today, lot of research has taken place and pellets are designed to give maximum damage to the target.