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The Quest for Air – Part 1

Solving the problem of finding HPA

I’m writing this article as I listen to the clickity-clack of my Shoebox Freedom 8 compressor running in the background. Having the ability to top off your own tanks has really opened up the world of PCP airguns, especially big bore PCP airguns. But that’s not where I started.

Let’s go back to the beginning…

If I go back to one of my very first projects, it was to evaluate a set of Xisico guns for, of all folks, Airgun Depot. In that lot of guns was their B50 PCP airgun in .22 caliber. Until then my experience covered mulit-pump pneumatic, co2 and spring guns. There was a lot to love about the B50, but there was also the issue of “how do I fill this thing?” At the time I had a client that owned a training academy for teaching navy divers. He was happy to help me out with a tank and all the fittings necessary to get up and running. At the time all the “high end” gear he loaded me up with totaled a whopping $1600. That was several times what the gun cost.

Taking a look at the Bam B50. This was my first exposure to PCP airguns back in 2007.

At the time, I had to admit that shooting the B50 was like no other airgun I had ever shot. Certainly no spring gun or co2 airgun could ever compare, but it was the issue of filling the gun that really caused me to stay awake at night. If I went out and shot, then I’d use up my air. If I used up my air then I couldn’t go shoot. If I didn’t shoot then I’d have plenty of air.. but then if I had plenty of air because I didn’t go out and shoot.. why have the gun in the first place! As you can see, it was a vicious cycle.

My time with the B50 was short lived as I had to return the rifle and all the gear. So for the next little while, it was back to spring guns for me.

Stepping forward a bit…

My next encounter with the PCP airgun world came when the Benjamin Discovery hit the market. Now here was an all-in-one solution for a reasonable price tag. The Benjamin Discovery was a PCP gun that only needed 2000 PSI to operate at full efficiency, and it came with the means to fill it right in the box. The Benjamin Hand Pump was an entry level pump that could easily fill the Discovery to 2000 PSI, but also reached up to 3300 PSI if needed. This was an ingenious marketing decision for Benjamin / Crosman because they not only broke the largest barrier to entry into the PCP market, they also equipped all those new PCP owners to fill their next PCP airgun purchase. And believe me, if you buy the first PCP, you are probably going to buy another.

Benjamin Discovery Rifle with Pump Attached

And, that’s exactly what happened to me. I started with the Discovery and then along came the Marauder. Now the Marauder needed 3000 PSI vs the 2000 PSI necessary to power the Discovery. The extra 1000 PSI was hard to come by when pumping with a hand pump. I did it for some time, but then I had to find a better way to get things done.

This time I wandered down to the Charleston Scuba Shop and talked to them about what I was doing. After a while they came up with 2 used tanks that looked pretty rough, but still held air. They sold me these used tanks for about $100 each and included a fresh hydro test and visual inspection. Now I was in business, or so I thought.

3000 to 3000 only goes so far…

What I learned very quickly was that filling my 3000 PSI airgun from a 3000 PSI tank meant that I would only get a couple full fills before I was not able to get a full fill into my airgun. This happens because the pressure simply equalizes between the tank and the gun. Regardless of the fact that the tank has a lot more volume than the rifle, it’s not going to put more pressure into the airgun than it has to give.

Benjamin Marauder Air Rifle Premium Combo – Available in 0.177, 0.22, 0.25, Includes Upgraded 4-16×40 Scope and Sling

Fortunately I could still get in a lot of shooting as I found out that most PCP airguns have what’s called a “power curve” and actually shoot optimally around 2700 PSI or so. At least that’s what I found with my Marauder. This allowed me to get in a lot of shooting even with a traditional 3000 PSI tank.

Scuba Tank

On to part 2

I’m going to go on to part 2 here next and talk about the next couple of stages in my quest to find HPA air. If you are into shooting PCPs or interested in getting in to shooting PCPs, you’ll want to keep an eye on the blog because this next part will help you learn to maximize your air and get the most from your guns!

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I’m writing this article as I listen to the clickity-clack of my Shoebox Freedom 8 compressor running in the background. Having the ability to top off your own tanks has really opened up the world of PCP airguns, especially big bore PCP airguns. But that’s not where I started. Let’s go back to the beginning… […]