For air rifles, there are several different powerplants that operate them. These include spring piston, CO2 gas, and pneumatic. While you may know how spring pistons and compressed gas air guns operate, how does a pneumatic air rifle work? Using pneumatic potential energy within compressed air, pneumatic air rifles fire pellets when the trigger is pulled, releasing the pressurized air. There are two types of pneumatic powerplants that an air rifle can have: pump pneumatic and pre-charged pneumatic. Both of these require air to be filled into their cylinder or reservoir, so the force of the releasing air upon the trigger pull propels the pellet out of the gun. Each of these pneumatic gun types operate differently, so we’ll break down how these work and what each are best used for.
Pump Pneumatic Air Rifles
Pump air guns are designed with a lever that acts as an air pump for the gun. In order to fire it, the user must pump the lever to pressurize the internal reservoir. Once the pressure is built, pulling the trigger releases this pressure and propels the pellet forward out of the barrel. There are single and multi-stroke pump air guns that are used for different types of shooting. The single-stroke only require the lever to be cocked once. Air pistols and some air rifles are single-stroke pneumatic guns, used for plinking and target shooting. There are also multi-stroke pneumatic air guns, which have different levels of power according to the number of times the lever is cocked. In the event the gun is too pressurized—this can happen with beginners and professionals alike – the lever will jam and force the user to discharge the compressed air. This is called valve lock. But most multi-pumps automatically vent the pressure once it has reached the maximum level. The max air pressure limit for most of these guns is 8 to 10 strokes. Since multi-stroke pneumatic air guns have greater power capacities, these are used for hunting and pest control. However, the time it takes to pump may not be ideal for some hunting situations.
Pre-Charged Pneumatic Air Rifles (PCP)
The more popular pump air guns are PCP air rifles, which make up a large percentage of today’s air gun options. PCP guns use pressurized air from a separate source instead of using a lever. You can use a scuba tank, a hand pump, a special HPA air compressor or other way to add air to the airgun. The air is then stored in a reservoir until the gun is fired, when some of the air can escape. The firing value does not allow the high volume of air in the reservoir to escape all at once, so PCP guns allow the user to fire multiple shots before needing to refill. The quality of a PCP gun will determine how many shots it can fire on a single tank. The firing valve, hammer strength, and pressure are all factors that contribute to the way in which PCP airguns operate. Because of their design, PCP air guns shoot with less recoil and can produce a lot of power with large caliber pellets, which is why they’re incredibly popular in the United States, the UK, and Europe. The less time spent refilling, the more spent hunting or target shooting.
Though pump and PCP guns are similar, they have their differences, which will help you determine which is right for you. While pump guns are great for plinking, pest control, and some small game, PCP air rifles are better suited for those seeking very high accuracy and power for hunting and competitive shooting. No matter which type you choose, pneumatic powerplants make for great airguns that will provide hours of fun on the range or in the field. Now that we’ve answered the question, “How does a pneumatic air rifle work,” you may be interested in owning one to add to your air gun collection or begin one altogether. For the best selection of pneumatic air guns, look no further than our store. At Airgun Depot, we carry both pump and PCP air rifles from a variety of excellent manufacturers. Find the pellets, sights, and more you need for a new pneumatic air gun in our expansive inventory. From AirForce and Beeman to Gamo and FX, we carry the air gun brands you know and love. If you have questions about which type is right for you, simply contact us and we’ll make sure you get the best kind for your shooting needs.