Knowing that each airgun type has both its strengths and weaknesses, it’s important for us to properly identify our needs so that we can match them to the perfect airgun choice. For example, if my main goal is shooting indoors at 10 yards at paper targets, then a high-powered hunting PCP airgun may not be the right choice. I may be better served with a medium powered target spring gun, CO2 gun, or pump pneumatic.
In this article we are going to examine spring airguns and multi and single pump pneumatic airguns. Let’s go ahead and start with pump pneumatic airguns. There are two basic categories. First you have the single pump pneumatic and next you have the multi-pump pneumatic. The descriptions pretty much tell you the differences between the two. A single pump pneumatic requires only one pump to achieve the maximum velocity that the airgun will produce. A multi-pump pneumatic airguns allows the shooter to put up to a certain number of pumps to achieve the maximum velocity. A multi-pump pneumatic can be very handy in that you can vary the power according to the shooting situation.
Typically, the pump pneumatic airgun is used for casual target shooting and plinking at short ranges because they do not generate that much power. They are usually very lightweight and fairly inexpensive. One unique feature found on many pump pneumatic airguns is the ability to shoot steel BBs as well as lead pellets in the same airgun. This makes them extremely affordable to shoot and a favorite with youngsters shooting in the backyard.
Most airguns in this category will fall in the sub $150 price range. Obviously, there are going to be exceptions to that rule as there are some higher end, purpose built pump pneumatic airguns that excel in either small game hunting or in some cases, precision target shooting.
If you’re looking for an airgun that is generally very easy to shoot, has reasonable accuracy at short range, has a low purchase price and is economical to shoot regularly, then the pump pneumatic airgun category may be perfect for your needs.
The next category that will take a look at is the spring airgun category. As we’ve discussed previously, this will break down into a couple different groups. First we have the traditional metal spring airgun, and secondly, we have the newer technology which is a gas spring, gas ram, or in some cases is called, a nitro piston class airgun. The mechanics that operate the gun are essentially identical between the two. The difference comes in with how the piston is propelled forward.
There is a definite separation of opinion in the airgun industry between traditional springs and gas springs. In the end, it all comes down to the execution in the manufacturing of either. If a metal spring is engineered and created with the proper materials and is tempered correctly, it will last a very long time. The same holds true with a gas spring. If it is manufactured to the correct tolerances and built with care and precision, it can deliver on the promises made by those marketing them as superior.
On the flip side however, if a traditional metal spring is NOT manufactured correctly, and likewise if a gas spring is NOT manufactured correctly, then neither will be a reliable power plant. Having been an early adopter of gas spring powered airguns and having experienced many failures of the same, I tend to lean towards traditional metal spring powered airguns.
So with that little discussion behind us, let’s look at spring guns in general, and I will let you all decide if you prefer a traditional metal spring or the newer gas spring powered airguns. Either way, the mechanics that make the pellet fly out the barrel are the same.
Spring powered airguns provide the highest power per dollar of any other airgun type that I am aware of. Some of these guns generate up to and over 1000 ft./s (feet per second), with a single cock of the spring. That is a tremendous amount of energy for a relatively low cost. Like pump pneumatics, they do not require any additional gear to make them work. The entire system is self-contained and therefore ideal for someone looking to keep recurring costs to a minimum. This airgun class has been the favorite amongst hunters and target shooters alike for this very reason.
I personally cut my teeth on break barrel spring airguns. I found them incredibly challenging and rewarding to shoot. Because of the unique reverse recoil (the gun will actually jump forward when the piston reaches the end of its stroke), spring airguns require a lot of technique to shoot accurately. While some may find this frustrating, I found the challenge to be a lot of fun and it really helped me gain the skills necessary to shoot not only spring guns but also virtually every other airgun and firearm better.
The price range for spring powered airguns starts at under $100 and goes up to well over $1000. Essentially, sky’s the limit. If you are interested in an airgun that produces a lot of power on a small budget, is self-contained and does not need any additional support structure, and you’re willing to put in the time to hone your skill and technique, then the huge variety of spring airguns will keep you satisfied for a very long time. Even though I have access to and own a large variety of expensive airguns, I still enjoy sitting down with a basic “springer” for some trigger time. They continue to be my favorite airgun class.