Alright everyone. Get your steeled toe boots on, this one might sting a little. More and more rimfire and center fire folks are finding out what we airgunners have known for years. Shooting airguns is a lot of fun and it’s great practice for next time you pull the trigger on your powder burner. But, there are some very important things you need to know if you plan to have a good time doing it, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
This is another one of those topics that we’re going to talk about over and over. Yes, my fellow trigger puller, spring airguns (arguably the most popular and generally the first airgun folks making the switch to airguns tend to gravitate to) do have recoil. They have an overabundance of recoil. They recoil backwards, forwards, and sometimes they’ll even pull you left or right. To make matters worse, this is all happening while the pellet is still traveling down the bore. All of this motion makes achieving consistent accuracy a real challenge.
Airgun companies have been attempting to deal with this for years. Generally speaking the more expensive the airgun, the better at managing this recoil they are. Some companies have found some middle ground in their entry level guns by swapping out the metal spring for a gas filled “ram.” Gas rams to help make the shooting cycle more manageable for sure, but they are not the be all and end all the marketing companies would have you believe. A spring may wear out over thousands of shots, but guess what happens when your gas ram gets a leak? You guessed it, you’re completely dead in the water.
I’ve already bought my gun, what do I do now?
So now you know why you may be having some issues getting the kind of accuracy you were expecting from your new airgun. But, how do you know if it’s the gun or if it’s you? Here are a few simple things to try to help you figure that out.
First thing to remember is that an airgun is not a firearm. They have extremely low velocity with very lightweight projectiles as compared to even the lowly .22LR round. Both of these factors will greatly limit the effective range for repeatable accuracy. So the first thing to try, is to get close. There’s no sense it trying to sight in a gun at 30, 40, or 50 yards when you can get repeatable accuracy at 10.
When starting at 10 yards, ALWAYS shoot with open sights first, if they are available. I’ve got 2 new Gamo guns in for testing. One is the new G2 Whisper in .22 caliber, and the other is the new Buckmaster Squirrel Terminator in .177. Both have the new Turbo Stabilizing System that’s supposed to reduce recoil and vibration. The G2 Whisper has decent open sights but the Buckmaster doesn’t, so you’ll have to rely on the bundled optic. To test basic shootabilitiy and accuracy, I’m going to start with the G2 Whisper.
Get stable, use the artillery hold.
I always shoot from a bench when proving a new gun. I have a great indoor range in my garage that separated from the rest of the house by a two door pantry. I can lock the doors to prevent any “unauthorized access” while I’m shooting. I’ve setup a Champion Pellet trap in front of a 3′ by 3′ backstop made from doubled up 2x4s. At the other end I have a shooting table with my rifle rest. I’m able to setup and lock down to really focus on technique. This way I can find out just how accurate the rifle actually is. If you haven’t heard about the “artillery hold,” check out this great article here at Airgun Deopt to help get you started.
The initial results..
Here’s one of the cards from my initial results. At this point I’ve shot about 200 rounds and tried about 10 different pellets. I’ve settled in on some that I think will be the top pellet contenders and I’m shooting 5 shot groups with each.
Im shooting from bottom right, to bottom left, to top left, and then finally, top right. Don’t ask me why, that’s just the way I like to do it. The first group was with Crosman Pointed Pellets, usually a favorite for .22 cal Gamo airguns. The next group was with the Crosman Premier Hollow Points, also generally a Gamo favorite. I saw a glimmer of hope in that group so I gave them another shot. I shot the 3rd group with the Crosman Premier Hollow points again and not being terribly satisfied, I moved on to the H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. In this group I saw real promise, as I knew the open shots were more a cause of my shooting than the rifle’s inherent accuracy potential.
Final card for the day..
Believing that I had finally found the right combination of pellet and hold variation, I settled in for one last group using the field H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. The CTC for this group shot with open sights at 10 yards was .452″. That tells me that the gun can be shot accurately at least at 10 yards. (.i.e. it’s not the gun…) Now I bet you all would like to know what changed, besides pellet choice, to go from groups measuring over 1.125″ down to .452″. Well for that you’ll have to catch Part 2 of this series. We’ll talk about artillery hold variations, trigger control, rifle rests and a few more tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your airgun. So, definitely stick around!