I’ve talked quite a bit about how judging an airgun based strictly on the FPS claims on the box can lead you down the wrong path. Let me try and further explain how this all works as I believe I’ve finally come up with a good way to describe it.
Same engine, different results…
A little over a year ago I purchased a 2006 Ford F250 Super Duty Crew cab with the 6.0L diesel. This truck produces a peak horse power of 325 and 570 lb-ft of torque. That’s the engine. How I choose to use that power will be determined by how I have the transmission setup and what gear ratio I choose for the rear end.
You can think of Airguns much the same way. Hatsan is a great example of a company that produces a great “engine” and then allows the customer to choose how they want to use all that power by providing 3 different calibers which can all take a variety of ammo weights, shapes, and sizes. Let me attempt to explain.
Speed or Energy, that is the question…
Let’s take the Hatsan 125 class airgun. It’s arguably one of my favorite lines of airguns. It has been since I had my first Walther Talon Falcon hunter, which was the 125, imported by Umarex and sold under the Walther name. It was a tremendously powerful airgun. I was fortunate to get one all decked out with the Nitro Piston upgrade which was a real pleasure to shoot. Shooting in .22 cal it would reach out past 50 yards and still hit with serious authority. I had never had the chance to try one in .177, but I did have the chance to shoot one in .25, also with the NP gas ram conversion and it was equally impressive, just in a different way. It did not have the range, but it put more energy on targets at close range and was deadly accurate out to about 35 yards.Hatsan Model 125TH .22 Caliber Air Rifle with 3-9×32 Scope – Massive power in a spring airgun.
Jump ahead several years and Hatsan USA is still importing the same 125 “engine” and has made it available with all kinds of options. The power plant (Vortex or Spring powered) will drive a .177 lead pellet at over 1250 FPS. That’s not an alloy pellet, that’s a lead pellet. In .22 it will shoot an honest 1000 FPS and in .25 you’ll get up to 750 FPS with lead pellets. These are beastly numbers and they all have their advantages and disadvantages given your intended purpose.
Know what you want to shoot…
I’ve shot some amazing groups with the Hatsan 125 sniper in .177. They’ve just all happened to be at 10 yards and shot with the H&N hollow points. For some reason they just scream out of the 125 .177. Unfortunately, 1250 FPS is just too much velocity for a gun like this to yield and still have any accuracy once the pellet drops to subsonic again. You can shoot heavier pellets, but even the realistically heavy pellets like the H&N Baracuda Match at 10.65 grain pellets are lighter than the lightest .22 cal lead pellet. To get the 125 in .177 would be like me buying my F250 to tow a 5×8 open metal trailer to move leaves. I mean, let’s be real. If that was the case, I bought the truck because I wanted the truck, not because I needed the power to haul a tiny lightweight trailer.H&N Baracuda Match, .177 Cal, 10.65 Grains, Round Nose 500ct
Now, if I had a 32′ travel trailer (which I have) and I wanted something that could tow it with ease and maybe allow me to tow more down the line, then getting my truck makes good sense. It would be similar to getting the 125 in .22 cal which can hold its own on paper targets, but also has power to take down small and medium sized game and pests like Raccoon and Possum. The power plant is being well utilized at this point.
Let’s say I had something bigger in mind. Maybe I only wanted to shoot game and it was going to need the most power I could bring to bear. I’d choose the .25 cal version of the 125. It can produce over 30 foot pounds of energy and can drop lead right where you need it out to 30 and 35 yards reliably. At this point, I’m really using every drop of power that the 125 can muster.
So is all this as clear as mud?
Let me try and bring it home. Buying an airgun, like buying a new vehicle, can be a huge challenge. It’s critical to know what you are going to use it for, BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. I can use my F250 Diesel to run to the post office and check the mail, but it’s much more efficient to use the wife’s Honda CRV. The same goes with airguns. If my main reason for getting an airgun is to shoot paper on my 10 yard indoor range, then the Hatsan 125, in any caliber, may not be the right airgun for the job.
So for Part 3 I’m going to try and help simplify the process of choosing your first airgun. I’ve talked about FPS and now I’ve talked a little about power and caliber. Next I’ll dive in and see how this all fits together. So, keep your eyes on the blog!