So let’s jump into part 2 of this series. In this segment, we’ll look at the various mechanical options along with bundled optics and some of the various triggers on the market. Again, we’re looking at budget conscience ($250 ish) airguns.
Gas Piston or Metal Spring, that IS the question
You’re going to come across a variety of products in our $250 price range. Some will have a metal spring and others will have some version of a Gas Piston; also called a nitro piston, IGT Ram, air spring, etc. These parts are what push the piston, creating pressure and propelling the pellet down the barrel. They each have their pros and cons and will be an advantage or disadvantage depending on each individual product. Frankly, there’s more supposition than real hard facts as to which is “better.” So, at this time, you’ll need to go with your gut as to which overall gun package is best for your needs. Personally, I prefer a traditional spring powered airgun. I’ll explain my reasons in an upcoming article which I’m sure will be a lot of fun and should generate some interesting discussions.
Consider the optics
If you’re trying to hit a quarter sized area consistently at 30 to 35 yards, then you’re going to want to use a scope. Most budget conscience airguns have to cut corners somewhere and the Optic is usually the first corner to get cut. You may still get a scope, but don’t be expecting too much from it. One example of an airgun with a good optic AND aggressive price point is the Umarex Octane. It ships with a 3-9×40 AO (adjustable objective) duplex reticle scope and weaver mounts. This is a great combination. The most important feature in an airgun optic is going to be an adjustable parallax (also referred to as an adjustable objective). Keep this in mind when making your selection. The icing on the cake is when you can get a bundled scope that has an adjustable parallax AND a mil-dot reticule. The scope bundled with the Benjamin Trail is a good example. Both the Umarex Octane and the Benjamin Trail fit easily in our $250 budget.
Trigger pull… Gravel or Glass, Tons or pounds?
The last area we’ll look at today is an area that some manufacturers should spend a few extra dollars on in R&D and production. The trigger is your direct physical connection to your airgun. If it’s hard, rough, and inconsistent, it makes repeatable accuracy almost impossible. The big offender here is the Crosman / Benjamin line of break barrel airguns. This is not an industry secret and I’m certainly not saying anything that has not already been said a thousand times over. It’s just a matter of airgun fact.
You don’t have to spend big dollars to get a good trigger; you just need to know where to look. Some of the better triggers you’ll find are the; Hatsan Quattro, Beeman RS2/RS3, and Gamo SAT, or are on the; Ruger Yukon & Umarex Octane, Ruger Talon, and Browning Leverage.
The important function to look for is the adjustability for pull weight AND the position of the first and stage travel. Going back to the Crosman / Benjamin triggers for a moment. They say they are “adjustable” which they are. You can adjust them from terrible to completely miserable. The adjustment adjusts only the pull length of the “second” stage. They ship as short as possible with the only option to make the second stage pull even longer. Gamo’s SAT is similar to the Crosman / Benjamin variety with the exception that the pull weight and second stage travel is very useable and consistent without the need of modification. Triggers like the Beeman RS2 and RS3 along with the Hatsan Quattro, have a much greater range of adjustment, where others, like what’s found on the Yukon and Octane are not adjustable for pull weight, but are pretty good right out of the box and allow you to shorten the length of the second stage to a fairly consistent and crisp edge. The trigger on the Browning Leverage is not adjustable at all, but seems to work well without the need for any adjustments, so I’ve added it to the list.
One thing to remember, and in the defense of Crosman / Benjamin triggers, safety is their first concern. A user adjustable trigger can easily be over adjusted leading to malfunction or misfires. There’s no chance of that with the Crosman / Benjamin, Gamo SAT, and Browning Leverage triggers. Pay close attention to manufactures guidelines when adjusting your trigger and always adjust and test in a safe environment.
You’re not done yet
Once you’ve compiled your criteria, you’re still not done. The biggest component to repeatable accuracy is going to be you. There’s a great article already posted in the Airgun University that goes into the artillery hold and shooting spring powered airgun dos and don’ts. It is certainly at the top of my “recommend reading for new airgunners.” With the right technique and practice, provided your airgun is mechanically sound, your optics are mounted and sighted correctly, and you’ve found the best airgun pellet, you should be able to achieve repeatable accuracy in no time.