When talking with folks about what they are looking for in an airgun, they often talk about 100-yard accuracy. And we are not just talking “pie plate” accuracy at 100 yards, but groups averaging 1 MOA. The harsh reality is that many firearms can’t do 1 MOA at 100 yards, so asking that of an airgun is really unrealistic. Or is it?
The fact of the matter is that more and more airguns are getting closer to that goal, and not just the ultra-high-end boutique airguns either. We’re talking off-the-shelf consumer airguns that are shooting way above their price tag. How is that possible? Well, let’s find out.
They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To
The phrase “they don’t make them like they used to” usually denotes a degradation of quality, not an improvement. But in the world of airguns, specifically PCP airguns, it’s the opposite.
Not only are airguns getting more powerful and more accurate, but they are also getting more affordable. And, the means to fill them, i.e., personal compressors, have encouraged a lot more shooters to get into the PCP world. When the market opens up as it has recently, then competition starts to take over.
Gone are the days of just strapping a tank on a gun and calling it a PCP. Now it needs to look good, shoot well, be reliable, perform at levels previously unexpected from the everyday PCP, and, manufacturers are producing these new PCPs in droves.
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
If you’ve ever reloaded your own bullets, you know that an accurate powder measure is critical to shooting accuracy. If you don’t measure the powder load for each round, then you’ll never hit the same place twice. The same is true with airguns, except we do it by creating a specified volume of air at a repeatable pressure. The two items that make this happen are called the plenum, the reservoir that holds the “charge,” and the regulator, the part that “regulates” the pressure in the plenum.
By creating this repeatable “charge” in your airgun, you begin to establish shot consistency so that each pellet is fired at the same velocity. A regulator in an airgun used to be a novelty, but now it’s considered essential. Even the most affordable PCP airguns are starting to ship with regulators as standard equipment.
Computer Controlled Manufacturing
Most of your manufacturing is now done by CNC (computer numerical control). These are essentially robotic machines that make thousands of the same part one after another. These parts are created on CAD (computer-aided design) systems and then downloaded into the machines, making the parts. Other parts are cast and then run through CNC equipment to clean up and refine them for the particular airgun. Barrels, stocks, actions, etc., are all done by the thousands on computer-controlled equipment, which helps ensure that each product performs as expected.
One of the most critical elements in the “accuracy chain” has to be the barrel. Years back, you’d want to make sure that you had an “LW” barrel or some other “match accurate” barrel if you wanted any accuracy. With CAD and CNC commonplace, even the entry-level airguns come off the assembly line with really decent barrels these days.
You Can’t Hit What You Can’t See
Not only have airguns improved dramatically, but so have the optics that we put on them. Optics like the Hawke Sidewinder deliver exceptional long-range clarity. Many brands have similar products which give shooters options like first focal plane, etched glass reticles, advanced multi-coated optics, etc. It’s a brave new world in optics as well as airguns.
Don’t Forget the Ammo
With regulated airguns, repeatable manufacturing practices, and good barrels, there’s only one thing left, and that’s the ammo that you’ll be sending downrange. Accurate airgun ammo has always been available. It’s probably the most stable part of the whole process. Some brands do more than others to ensure the best results, but nearly all brands have their “ultra” ammo specifically for the best accuracy possible. When you match good ammo with a good airgun and a good optic, then it’s all up to you, the shooter, to make the rest happen.
We know there are a lot of options out there. If you have questions or just need some help picking all the right accessories, just give us a call, and we’ll be happy to help. With brands like RAW, FX, Air Arms, and others, we carry a lot of airguns that can get the job done for just about any budget.