I’ve been avoiding big bore airguns for the past several years. If I’m going to be honest, I never really understood the purpose. They were big, heavy, loud, used a lot of air, and generally had limited range.
Now that more and more states are recognizing big bore airguns as suitable for hunting large game, I can’t really ignore big bore airguns anymore. With hunting season just around the corner, I decided to finally get over my issues and put in some trigger time.
Arizona has been very proactive in updating the hunting regulations to account for high powered PCP airguns. To better understand what these are all about, I got in several big bore airguns for a little trigger time. Here’s a look at the rifles that I had the chance to spend some time with over the weekend. I may not have “seen the point” behind big bore airguns before, but I sure get it now.
The “big daddy” of them all…
Years ago I was sitting on my couch in South Carolina staring at my laptop in awe of the possibility of a .50 caliber airgun. The Dragon Claw was something that I just couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around. I finally got the chance to hold one at the Virginia Airgun show and it was pretty cool for sure.
There’s NO comparison between holding one and actually getting to pull the trigger on one. The Dragon Claw was the first out of the gun case at the range this past Saturday. After a quick top-off with my Air Venturi Pony Bottle, I dropped in some round ball and started taking some shots. The rifle came with a simple red dot so that anyone shooting it would be able to sight it easily and not struggle with trying to learn how to use a traditional scope.
At 35 yards this gun was just pounding the target, shooting 3″ groups. What was most impressive was the cavity in the dirt behind the target. You can talk about it, wonder about it, but until you shoot it and see it with your own eyes, there’s no real way to understand just how much energy is imparted from this awesome airgun.
The Dragon Claw has 2 power settings. They call them “low and high” but I call it, hard and really hard. On low power I was getting about 5 to 6 shots before we needed to top-off the rifle. On high power, it basically cuts that in half. The test gun I was shooting was an older model that had the smaller tanks. The newer, 500cc model will deliver more usable shots. One thing is for sure, watching the power of the projectiles impact the bank was truly impressive. I would have zero hesitation pulling the trigger on game with this rifle. The key would simply be to make sure that I was taking an ethical shot, i.e. within accurate range with proper shot placement.
Is .357 may the “perfect” caliber?
The Dragon Claw is made by Sam Yang and they have variations in .45, called the 909, and also .357, called the Recluse. I’ve got the Recluse out for some light evaluation, primarily because the minimum caliber for taking big game in Arizona is .35 caliber, making the Recluse perhaps the perfect choice.
I’m shooting the single tank older model and I love the light weight, but you give up shot count. I’m getting 3 or 4 shots on low power before I’m hunting for more air. The .357 offers a lot of options in projectiles as well. Everything from wadcutter 9mm bullets, hollow point bullets, round ball, and even actual match grade pellets from JSB. The loading is single shot from a wide breach with sliding sleeve to close things up.
You better have your “ears on” when you pull the trigger because this gun, as with all unsuppressed big bore airguns, is loud. Once you get past the loud report and the fairly stiff trigger pull, the gun performs well. I was getting 3 shots touching at around 25 to 30 yards. I’ve shot to 50 yards with the Recluse in the past and have seen 3 shots touching at that range as well. Conditions have to be “just right” but it’s doable.
Next, big bores go “tactical”
That will wrap up part one of this initial look at big bore airguns. Next we’ll look at the Evanix Max ML bullpup and the Evanix .45 Sniper Tactical. These guns not only put big lead down range, they do it looking about as cool as you can imagine. Evanix goes “Tactical” as we move on to the next part in this series, so be sure to keep your eyes open for part 2.