Which airgun for beginners?
With such an large spectrum of airgun models - power sources, stocks, calibers and manufacturers - it is initially difficult to assess which model will be consistent with our needs and expectations. As a rule, starting our adventure with pneumatic shooting, we are looking for models with a strictly recreational purpose.
Beginners, however, often pay attention to features that do not fully determine the value of an airgun. Of course, the personal taste of the shooter is very important, as you know, we largely buy with our eyes, and the satisfaction from buying will not be full if the air gun is not also visually attractive. That is why in this blog we will try to tell you what to pay attention to when buying your first rifle.
Each airgun is equipped with a system of pneumatic power supply, i.e. propelling shot with compressed gas, and directly from the construction of a given model depends on what gas and principle of operation it will use. Here we can distinguish spring models (with a metal or gas spring), powered by CO2 cartridges, equipped with an integrated pump PCAs and equipped with a compressed air tank PCPs.
(You can find out more about this in another post on our blog: Types of airguns - spring, CO2, PCA, PCP.)
What should you pay attention to when buying your first air rifle?
Let's focus on the design of the spring air rifle, because it is the type most often chosen for the beginning. Definitely a construction with the widest price range, which unfortunately favours setting traps for potential buyers. Running out of communication about supposedly extremely high bullet outlet speed (Polish law treats pneumatics with bullet energy >17 J as a weapon, so no airgun without permission will exceed it anyway), using many futuristic named technologies, which sometimes either make no sense or are in fact completely basic equipment is unfortunately standard in many "popular" manufacturers.
The long-range air rifle
First of all, we have to be aware that most of the airguns are not models dedicated to long distances - the match disciplines provide for a distance of 10 m and the silhouettes for a maximum of 50 m. Therefore, if the manufacturer of a budget airgun mentions the maximum permissible power and huge range, we may suspect that he did not focus on features that significantly affect the quality of shooting.
Of course, we do not claim that air rfiles cannot be used efficiently at such distances. The can size shooting targets are easily achievable for a well-positioned mid-rangew airgun. However, we must remember that it is the quality of the layout and the barrel that will enable us to shoot accurately, not the power at the limit.
Which scope for airgun?
The second thing indirectly related to this is the selection of the scope. We can see that many beginner air gunners look for a sight with high magnifications even by firearms standards. We can guarantee you that if a 4x magnification for AR-15 shooters over a distance of 150 metres is sufficient for a 4x magnification, then there will also be a suitable system with this specification for an airgun.
In extreme cases, you may be tempted to try models with a magnification adjustment from 3 to 9 times. However, it should be borne in mind that such models will, by their complexity, be more expensive than fixed magnification models, despite a similar optical standard. An important feature of the optics, however, will be the filling of the interior with nitrogen - this prevents the scope from evaporating, and can in a way be regarded as an indication of its quality, in the case of budget models of course.
The use of metal triggering mechanisms will also be one of the indicators. In addition to the overall strength, this also opens up the possibility of polishing to improve the quality of the work. If the seller is not able to tell us what the mechanism is made of, it is worth visiting thematic forums, you can often find there important information. Trigger adjustment is also very useful, we will meet it only on the middle price shelf, but it will definitely make our work with the chosen rifle more pleasant.
Sometimes we can meet with models of air rifles equipped with a gas spring. This is a specific system in which a classic metal spring is replaced with something we can associate with a pneumatic actuator. During breaking the piston compresses the gas contained in the cylinder, which expands when the trigger is pressed. Compared to metal springs, this system generates less vibration and an overall higher working culture.
This of course translates into a higher price. In our opinion, if a airgun already has a good, adjustable trigger and we still want to make it work a little bit more to satisfy us, a gas spring is the most appropriate choice. However, if we have a specific budget and it includes either a lower model with a basic trigger equipped with a gas spring and a second one with a classic spring but already equipped with a good trigger class, then the second model will be a better choice.
Safe handling of the airgun
Safety considerations will be important regardless of the price ceiling and the use of the air rifle. For spring models, the key mechanism will be the so-called "anti-beartrap safety". The name comes from the association with characteristic bear traps, which we all know for sure from cartoons. This mechanism prevents the barrel block from slamming on our fingers when breaking. Moreover, if we are not sure of our meticulousness, it is worth to choose models with an automatic trigger lock.
Which pellet should i use?
When we think about buying the first airgun, we can't forget the key thing - ammunition. For starters, we recommend buying the simple medium-weight versions remaining in barrel caliber. As we use them, we'll see if we expect a more stable flight path or a higher exit speed. Then increasing the bullet's weight or diameter to over-caliber will allow to obtain optimal parameters for a particular item.
Wood or polymer?
The stock is also a very important element, and it is often worth trying it out. In the case of airguns that are not replicas of firearms, we usually find models embedded in polymer or wooden beds. Apart from their aesthetic values, the versions will usually differ in weight, its distribution and profiling. In the case of spring air rifles, hollow polymer stock inside can make the vibration and thus sound much more noticeable.
Finally, all kinds of "compensators", silencers and other elements of this type will be just a decoration. There is nothing wrong with them if they make you like the model more. If, on the other hand, you see two models with similar characteristics, one of which is more expensive, "tactical" and equipped with a silencer or an oversized stock buttplate, we can guarantee that their value as shooting tools will be comparable.
Why did we refer practically only to spring airguns? Because it is the most economically optimal solution. A mid-range spring air rifle will cost as much as a very budget PCP, additionally requiring only shotguns to shoot. The same applies to the different systems used in spring ones. Break barrel models are the most affordable structures both in terms of price and mechanics. Models with lower tension, which are worth recommending, definitely stick to higher price levels, but we think that the first airgun should allow us to check if we are interested in this sport and, during operation, check which solutions are most convenient for us.