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They’re cheap, dangerous, silent, ridiculously accurate and they are the perfect addition for hunting and security. What are we talking about here? The ultimate survival weapon, the air rifle.
Whether it be an addition to your plans for security, bug out bag or simple home security preparedness, an air rifle is the one survival weapon that you should be considering. And why do they fit the bill as a viable option for survival? There are a number of things we should consider, such as:
With these points in mind, let’s take a further look at air rifles, what they are, and what you need to think of when looking for one.
Air rifles come in three different types: spring-piston, gas spring, and pneumatic, all of which are present in both air rifles and their counterpart pistols. In contrast to where a normal rifle would shoot a projectile by using combustible materials (gunpowder) in a bullet casing, the air gun does not rely on any explosive reactions so there is a very different sound comparison between the two.
For spring piston firing methods, a coil spring piston pump operates in a compression chamber that is separate from a gun barrel. These guns can use a lever or the barrel crack, where cocking the lever cracking the barrel will cause the pump to pull the spring back until it is locked into a sear or ledge that is subsequently released by the pull of the weapon’s trigger.
Gas spring guns differ from the previously mentioned mechanic spring by using an enclosed piston pump with pressurised air or inert gas. The gun is still cocked in a similar way but with the compression available due to the compressed chamber there is much more stability in the weapon when firing and there the window of time between the pull of the trigger and the release of the piston is much smaller so as to hold more of a strength on accuracy.
One of the added benefits of gas air rifles is the fact that you can keep it cocked indefinitely. When the gun remains in a cocked position there is no extreme pressure on a spring as it is cocked on the gas chamber. This benefits hunters and marksmen who want to sit for quite some time to either aim or to wait until prey steps out before firing.
Pneumatic air guns, pre-charged, and Co2 guns use internally stored compressed air as the source to drive a projectile. They do this by using an inbuilt pump. While the pneumatic guns use a pump arm to still complete the process, pre-charged or PCP guns do not use an external pump or lever methods to cock the weapon.
The benefit of PCP guns is that they are able to cock instantly and they are completely noiseless as there is only air moving when the weapon is fired. This means that a PCP weapon is capable of automatic fire, and because there is no need for an excessive spring of gas piston system, the PCP system allows for air handguns to use automatic fire as well. The CO2 system works in a similar way, but unlike the PCP system, the CO2 can be reloaded with air canisters.
A lot of the airguns available on the market hold a muzzle velocity that can range anywhere from 600 – 1300 feet per second (fps) when they fire a metallic pellet. Now let’s consider that in comparison to some other personal protective weapons:
Of course, an air gun is not as powerful or as fast as an AR-15, otherwise, it would be a lot more expensive and more regulated. That doesn’t detract from the safety of an air rifle or an air-based pistol, their projectile is essentially a small metallic bullet that can easily rip through the skin, and is in fact a hunting item relied upon by many hunters for small game and has been known to be used against large game as well.
There are various types of designs of ammunition available for airguns and are commonly referred to as ‘pellets’. They are simple diabolo designed bullets made of lead and generally come in .177 cal or .22 cal sizes.
Ammunition for air rifles, much like normal guns, will depend upon the capability of the rifle you own. Large caliber air rifles, usually for PCP guns, would include .357, .45, .50, .58 as well as much larger calibers of 20mm and .87 calibers.
The range on most types of ammunition for air rifles is quite good, with 50m being the effective range for hunting any small animals. When tested with ballistic soap and shot from 10 meters away the pellet is able to penetrate to more than eight centimeters.
One of the great added benefits of air rifles is the ammunition it uses. First, ammunition for air rifles is very cheap. For premium brands, air rifle pellets cost about $20 for 400 rounds. Second, the ammunition is very light so you don’t always have to hunt around large cases of ammunition.
When you are looking for a quality air rifle, you want to make sure you buy something that is peer reviewed as the industry is flooded with products that do not meet a lot of standards and are manufactured as an expensive BB gun rather than an air rifle. There is a stark difference between a BB gun and an air rifle in speed, quality and durability, as BB guns are not made for hunting and more so for entertainment.
So with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at these three hunting air rifles.
The Ruger Air Magnum air rifle uses a spring piston break barrel system to reload and cock the weapon and is a sturdy hunting rifle that works at an amazing 1,200 fps muzzle velocity.
Unlike other air rifles, the Ruger is a very solid system and makes a little more noise just because of its sheer power. When I used this one myself I was able to make quite an impact on trees at 75 yards out.
As far as affordability goes, this is one of the cheapest quality air rifles on the market. Just because of its cheap price, a lot of users of this rifle have customised the scope as there have been some issues about its use but is easily replaced with a UTG or Hawke lens.
The Gamo Hornet is a great hunting air rifle with a single break-barrel cocking system and safety catch. One of the best points about this rifle is its impressive maximum muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps which makes it a contender to the Ruger above.
The trigger on this has quite a fair amount of resistance so it is not a hairpin trigger like what you might experience in some air rifles.
I was able to get some pretty good groupings on the target when I tried out this rifle but like the Ruger, there have been reports from others about the long-term use of the scope as many have chosen to swap it out for a custom scope.
The Bear River is a much higher contender for the high fps hunting rifle with an fps count of 1300, which makes it definitely useful for hunting. Others have recorded greater fps rates but for the manufacturer, that is what they state.
As a .177 rilfe this air gun is very sturdy and a solid tool. It has a good weight to it which helps for positioning and accuracy when shooting. The cocking of this gun is easy as a simple crack barrel to reload and cock.
Being one of the favorites in the industry, the Benjamin air rifle has undergone a line of successful predecessors making it a very trusted brand. What makes this one more competitive than others is that it uses the nitro piston loading mechanism, which makes it one of the easing air rifles magnum spring or gas ram guns available.
Most of the projections for the speed of this weapon’s muzzle sit between 1200 to 1400 fps which put it at a similar level to the TPR, the Gamo and the Ruger. For the scope on this one, I found it really good and after sending out a few shots I was able to start forming some impressive groupings which I never thought I would be able to get with an air rifle.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of pressure on gun regulations at the moment and this is being reflected across the board through gun registrations, licensing, weapon price and ammunition cost. The fees to own a rifle are already a deterrent. So considering a viable option such as the air rifle makes sense, especially when you see that their power, accuracy, and reliability come at such a cheaper cost.
The fact that they are a silent weapon, able to be used without the need for registration, and have cheap, light, ammunition makes them not only a great hunting or personal security instrument, but also a great item to use if you are not so confident with handling a weapon and perhaps want to work on your accuracy and shooting principles.