Airguns send pellets, slugs, and BBs downrange using high-pressure air or CO2. But there are many different ways to make that happen. When it comes to the best bang for the buck, it’s hard not to put spring guns, specifically breakbarrel spring or gas piston airguns, at the top of the list. When looking into a breakbarrel airgun, it’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the powerplant. Let’s take a look.
How Breakbarrels Work
As mentioned above, airguns use pressurized air to shoot pellets, slugs, and bbs. A breakbarrel spring-powered airgun has a compression chamber that’s “pressurized” when the ram is driven forward by the spring or gas piston. There’s a transfer port at the end of the compression chamber that’s in line with the breech. When the pressure builds up enough, it pushes the pellet down the barrel towards the target. The beauty of the system is that breakbarrel air rifles can produce high-power shots with just one cocking motion without the need for tanks, CO2 cartridges, or expensive compressors. So, creating good power with minimal effort puts a big check into the “Pros” column.
Break in Time
In order to create sufficient pressure in the compression chamber, the gas ram or spring needs to drive the piston forward very quickly. So quickly, in fact, that if there are any combustible oils in the chamber, they will actually ignite from the heat. This effect is called dieseling, and it can seriously damage your airgun. New, high-powered breakbarrel airguns will often diesel the first dozen or more shots as they burn off oils left over from manufacturing. Dieseling is more pronounced with budget airguns and should die down fairly quickly; if it doesn’t, make sure to reach out to the manufacturer.
Additionally, it may take time for the piston seal to break in and reach its optimal performance. So don’t get discouraged if it takes some time for velocity and accuracy to reach a steady state. A longer break in time can certainly be considered a “con” when looking at a breakbarrel.
Single Shot No More
Back in the early 2000s, all mainstream, mass-produced airguns were single-shot. That all changed when Gamo introduced the Gamo SWARM system. By integrating a 10-shot magazine, Gamo created the first truly commercially viable and widely adopted multi-shot system. No longer did hunters need to fumble around in their pockets for the next pellet. A new pellet was loaded as part of the cocking system. Having multi-shot capabilities was a massive game changer and one that most other manufacturers have sought to adopt since. However, Gamo still has the advantage here. So, having a multi-shot system goes into the “pros” column.
Maintenance May Be an Issue
Everything mechanical needs a little TLC now and then, and breakbarrel airguns are no exception. There are many forces at work on a breakbarrel airgun, including wear and tear on the seal and reverse recoil working against scopes and stock screws, not to mention the metal springs or gas rams themselves. Some items, like stock screws and barrel joints, can be easily maintained, but that’s not the case with the internals. The spring or nitro piston at the heart of all breakbarrel airguns is under pressure, even when not cocked. This means that they require special tools and training to service them properly. Where you can generally reseal a PCP or CO2 airgun with o-ring rebuild kits, changing a worn-out spring or ram may require factory service. This additional layer of maintenance complexity could be considered a “con” for sure.
Like all other categories, breakbarrel airguns come in all shapes, sizes, costs, and performance levels. The variety of diversity based on target performance is simply mind-boggling. There are youth breakbarrels, target breakbarrels, magnum hunting breakbarrels, and even big bore breakbarrels. The fact that there are so many great options has to put another check into the “pros” column.
We could continue to go back and forth with our list, but when you look at breakbarrel technology as a whole, it’s really pretty good. Every airgun powerplant has its strengths and weaknesses, and spring and gas ram airguns are no exception. We feel that the Pros certainly outweigh the Cons, and global airgun sales certainly support our opinion. You get a lot of performance, whether target shooting or small game hunting, at a very affordable price point.
With so many options, we know you may still have questions. If you do, be sure to give us a call here at Airgun Depot, and we’ll be more than happy to help point you in the right direction for your airgunning needs.