Air rifles are a favorite of many weapon owners or shooters, and especially hunters. They come in a range of classifications including BB guns, pellet air rifles, and air pistols, and are designed to shoot BBs, pellets, or sometimes both. Air rifles use air-powered propulsion such as CO2 or pre-charged pneumatic air tanks. Although they mostly come in .177 or .22 calibers, they begin at .177 caliber and go up to .50 caliber.
Air rifles are made of different materials including wood, synthetic, steel among others. There are very many air rifle brands in the market today which makes it hard for you to know the best air rifle to purchase. We shall help you go through some of the most important things you need to know before purchasing an air rifle. This may include the factors to be considered as well as the different air rifle brands.
Here are Air rifle brands on the market
- Air Arms
- Air Venturi
- Black Ops
- FAS Air
- FX Air Rifles
- Kral Arms
- SIG Sauer
- Sam Yang
- Springfield Armory
- Swiss Arms
- Tech Force
- Webley & Scott
Types of Air Rifles
Different Air rifle brands produce air rifles with different types of power plants. The three main types of air rifles are categorized according to their power plants and they are the spring piston, CO2, and pneumatic. These air rifles all come with a variety of pros and cons.
Springer air rifles have a piston and a coiled spring in the chamber. When you cock the spring is compressed and decompressed when the trigger is pulled causing a forward thrust of the piston propelling the pellet out of the muzzle.
These air rifles are high-powered and more affordable. They provide a high velocity and increased accuracy. The rifles compress air within the chamber providing a more powerful shot. A really strong spring together with an air piston are used to propel a pellet or BB. These rifles are great for beginners and learners.
There are three different designs of spring rifles:
- Break Barrel: in these rifles, the barrel is hinged and needs to be pulled down to cock the spring.
- Side Lever: here the cocking lever is found on the right side of the air rifle and needs to be pulled back to cock the rifle.
- Underlever: the cocking lever is located beneath the barrel and requires you to pull down the side lever in order to cock the rifle. This opens the breach in which the pellet is inserted.
|• Easy to use|
• Consistent and Accurate
• No need for pumping equipment
• Great for shooting skills improvement
• Parts easily available
|• More recoil|
• Cocking and shooting need some practice to perfect
• Gets weaker after several years of shooting
Check this out if you want to know more about different types of the regular rifles.
A gas piston air gun works just like a spring-piston gun only that it has a gas-filled cylinder instead of a coiled spring. More pressure is applied in the already compressed air in the cylinder by cocking the gun. When the trigger is released the pellet is discharged out of the barrel. These rifles are very popular for plinking.
|• Easy to use|
• Powerful and accurate
• Will last longer than a spring rifle
• Less recoil compared to a spring rifle
|• Won’t work if gas leaks|
CO2-Powered Air Rifles
CO2 air rifles are similar to PCP air guns only that they use carbon dioxide cartridges (CO2) instead of pressurized gas. These rifles are affordable and easy to find. They use compressed gas or cartridges as their power source for every shot. The rifles hold gas cartridges that are refilled or changed out after so many shots.
|• Easy cocking|
• Very accurate
• No recoil
• Great for repeated shooting
• Allows for semi-automatic firing
|• Not that powerful|
• Accuracy and power affected by weather since CO2 expansion is different in different weathers
Pneumatic (Pump) Air Rifles
For PCP air rifles the high-pressurized air in the chamber is the propellant force for pellet discharge. The pressurized air is compressed up to 3000-4000 psi using scuba tanks or hand pumps.
They use compressed air to propel the round from the rifle. This kind of rifle is powered by a pumping level which pumps air into its chamber. After each shot, you need to manually pump the rifle about 5 to 10 times. It is affordable and versatile as it enables you to shoot pellets and BB. This is a serious shooter air rifle.
|• No recoil|
• Very effective with larger caliber pellets
• Easy cocking
• Most are repeaters
|• Cost higher than other air rifles|
• Needs charging equipment
A variable pump air rifle has both the piston and a pressure cylinder in the chamber. Compression of air in the cylinder happens when the gun is cocked. The air has nowhere to go and is therefore forced into the cylinder. The cylinder has a lock valve to let air in and have it in there until you take a shot. Pulling the trigger the compressed air forces the pellet out.
|• No recoil|
• Light and compact
• You have control over the power of the shot, the more you pump the more the power
• You don’t need pumping equipment, its self contained
|• Pumping is tiring at times|
• Cocking need some practice and skills
• Cocking to shoot makes it less effective for hunting, the animal will run after the first shot miss
Factors to Consider when Choosing Air Rifle Brands
The different rifles differ in one way or another depending on the brand. Their features largely determine their performance as well as your comfort while using them. Below are some of the features to look out for;
Precision and Power
This refers to the consistent velocity of your BB or pellet and is important especially if you are looking for an air rifle to go on competitions or target shooting. The velocity depends on the means of propulsion used as well as the fps, while the power translates to the muzzle velocity and how fast the BB is being propelled. Heavy BB translates to more power on impact. This combined with high velocity translates to a more accurate air gun.
The type of powerplants used also matters when choosing an air rifle. They include CO2, Pneumatic, and spring among others.
It is good to purchase an air rifle that is capable of withstanding the test of time – waterproof and shockproof. Some brands improve their products by incorporating waterproof materials that can withstand harsh weather. When looking for plinking or target shooting rifles, it is good to consider the safety features used.
Scopes & Sights
This helps to increase accuracy, especially if you are shooting at long range. If you need a scope, sure to check the compatibility before purchasing either the air gun or the scope. A weatherproof scope is ideal for use with an air gun in harsh conditions.
The basic accessories assist in your air gun’s accuracy and longevity. A standard air gun requires few accessories to operate. However, there are more serious target shooters will have several pieces of very necessary equipment. Shooting glasses protect your eyes in the case of a recoil.
The most popular and commonly used calibers are the .177 and .22. The .25 caliber is used by very serious small game hunters. .177 air rifles can fire BBs and Pellets are very effective for plinking, small game, birds, and pest control. the .177 caliber is good for higher velocities, flat trajectories, and great penetration. A.22 caliber is larger and great for hunting thanks to its increased punch on impact, its not as accurate as of the .177. The .25 is less accurate than the .22
There are different types of ammunition that vary in use and cost. With the prices of live ammunition going higher, alternatives such as pellets are more preferred especially by hunters and marksmen who are not out to kill.
Why Air Rifles?
- Easy maintenance – air rifles require very low maintenance as there is no burning gunpowder to foul the barrels. Some will just need lubricating per the manufacturer’s instructions, wiping down the outside, and proper storage to maintain their good condition.
- Pocket-friendly- most air rifles are affordable hence you get to improve your shooting skills and other shooting activities without spending beyond your means
- Availability of Ammo- airgun ammunition is easily available. Due to the high price of ammunition, other alternatives have increased. Pellets for example are readily available and can be acquired by a simple click on the internet.
- Blowback- CO2 and pre-charged pneumatic airguns have no recoil. Some CO2 models release a bit of gas to cycle the metal slide for realistic recoil or blowback action. Spring cocking models generate a recoil impulse after firing due to the powerful internal spring used to drive a piston that pushes a blast of air to launch the projectile.
Choosing the best air rifles might be difficult especially if you are new to the game. However, knowing the type of exercise you will be doing with your rifle will help you have an idea of the features to look out for in an air rifle. The best air rifle brand should offer you value for your money in all aspects.