Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I could go back and change my airgun purchasing path, would I? Well, I probably would not, because I may not be where I am today if I did. But, not many folks have the passion and the patience to keep beating their heads against the wall trying to make a living shooting airguns. I bet most folks want to buy one gun that works, and will last more than the 1 year warranty. Moreover, they want it to be powerful enough to get the job done with accuracy to spare. If I were someone in that situation, I would DEFINITELY do things differently.
Buy once… cry once…
When I started working with airguns, spending even $100 on what I considered to be a “toy” at the time, was a major commitment. I knew from reading blogs and forums that there were airguns out there in the $250, $400, and even $1000 price range. Spending that much money on something that did not go BANG when you shot it just made no sense to me at the time. So I bought a lot of guns in that $100 to $150 range trying to get the $300 and $400 performance and experience. After a while I learned that to get the “quality” airgun experience, I was going to need to spend more than $100.Ruger – Air Hawk Combo (4X32 Scope) – While based off the RWS 34, it’s not an RWS 34. It’s a good gun for the money (Sub $150), but it lacks the fit and finish of a true German Airgun.
So, if I had it to do all over again, what airgun would I purchase as my first airgun? I’ve thought about this a lot and I keep coming back to the same airgun over and over. I would recommend everyone get an RWS 34 variant as their first airgun and here’s why. It’s under $300, German made, easy to cock and shoot, and backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
Why did it take me so long to get one?
The big aversion to me not getting an RWS 34 was simply the price. I believe at the time they were selling for about $229. I remember a phone call to Airgun Depot’s sales line trying to work out what to buy. Having been so disappointed with breakbarrel spring guns, I was completely convinced that they were all inherently flawed and could never be accurate. It’s funny when I get the chance to talk to folks today and they have the same opinion. It’s easy to see why people have that opinion with what’s on the market these days in the lower end price range. Sadly, even guns in the $250 to $300 price range are plagued with the same issues I found in $100 guns some 6 or 7 years ago, weak barrel joints being the worst offenders. This can all be avoided by buying the right gun the first time.RWS Model 34 with T06 Trigger
Don’t be afraid of the price.
We all have something in our lives that’s hobby or entertainment related that we don’t mind spending more money on than would make sense to the person standing next to us. Computer gadgets, video games, home theater, car audio, boats, RC vehicles of all shapes and sizes, the list just goes on and on. It’s important to look at airguns the same way. If you spend the money up front, you won’t be chasing the “what if I had bought the other gun” question over and over.
Once I finally decided to just get my first RWS rifle, I finally realized that no “copy” is ever really going to match the real thing. I think my first RWS rifle was the RWS 350 Magnum. Once I put my hands on it and actually spent some time with it, it was obvious that all the clones I had tested just did not measure up to this German built, heirloom airgun. When I got the RWS 34 I had the same experience. I’ve had many RWS rifles and they’ve all been outstanding. The RWS 34, 350, 48, 52, and perhaps my favorite the RWS 460 Magnum, have all performed well and lived up to their pedigree. Are they more expensive? Yes they are. Do they deliver better quality and performance for that price? Yes they do.RWS 460 Magnum .22 Caliber Air Rifle – maybe one of the best small to light medium game spring airguns on the market.
Are RWS airguns perfect?
The short answer is no they are not. I’ve had a couple of problems over the years with a bad seal and a dry compression chamber, but they were all easily resolved through their limited lifetime warranty. And I think that’s the real difference that’s not often mentioned. What other airgun manufacturer with products starting at the sub $300 price point, extends a limited lifetime warranty for their products?
So if you are picking up your first airgun and have the flexibility to spend a little more, certainly consider something from RWS. They’ve been great performing airguns for me and they have required significantly less work over the years to keep them performing their best. In my opinion they are well worth the investment.
With this in mind, my next article is going to focus on what to do when you first receive your new airgun. And, we’ll be working with one of my all-time favorites, the RWS 34 in .177.