I was in Cabela’s last week and stopped into their “Bargain Cave” to see what deals were available. I found a used but like-new condition .177 caliber, carbon dioxide powered BB pistol. Specifically, it is a Umarex Smith and Wesson M&P 40 look-a-like. The sale price was about half the normal retail price, so I bought it. I hadn’t had a BB gun since I was eight-years-old and never had a CO2 operated airgun.
As an adult, I bought my first airgun, a Daisy Power Line 747, .177 caliber pellet, single pump pneumatic, single-shot target handgun back in the 1980’s. The gun was a promotional/fund raiser item for some group I don’t remember. Years later, I learned this air pistol is considered a good entry level gun for formal airgun pistol match shooting.
I’m not a good enough shot to take advantage of the pistol’s potential, but I enjoy shooting it off my deck at metal spinning targets set up about 15 yards distant. I don’t see the target quality open sights very well anymore, so I mounted a Sig/Sauer red dot sight on the barrel. The red dot makes sighting much easier and quicker than the open sights.
My next airgun, a pellet rifle in .22 caliber purchased in the 1990’s, was a Benjamin/Sheridan model 392 pneumatic gun. To charge this rifle, one pumps the forearm up to eight times before aiming and firing. I started with open sights, and over time, went to a receiver sight, then a scope, and finally back to the receiver sights.
I bought this rifle for pest control, plinking, and a little small game hunting. Yes, with seven to eight pump strokes, this rifle can easily kill birds and small mammals up to the size of a snowshoe hare within a 25-yard range. The gun is quite accurate within that range as well. The down side is all the effort required to pump the gun up for the single shot.
A friend introduced me to the world of PCP pellet air rifles about seven or eight years ago. These pre-charged pneumatic guns have an air reservoir pressurized to around 3000 psi (pounds per square inch) as part of the gun. I bought the original version of the Benjamin Marauder rifle in .25 caliber. This model uses an eight-shot clip and with a charged air reservoir, can fire off the eight shots as fast as one can work the bolt-action mechanism.
Power wise, this rifle is about equivalent to .22 short or .22 long rifle rimfire standard velocity ammunition. It is also superbly accurate. I have read of accounts where this air rifle in .25 caliber has taken animals the size of foxes out to around 75 yards. I’m planning to do some small game hunting with this rifle.
To charge the reservoir, one can use a specially designed hand pump or fill from a separate air tank or specialized air compressor. I started with the pump and quickly found out it takes around 1500 pump strokes to bring an empty air reservoir up to 3000 psi. I started saving my pennies and bought a carbon fiber air tank with the valving and connectors needed to easily refill the rifle’s air reservoir.
I had read about the so called “break barrel” airguns and thought it would be interesting to see how well they work. About three years ago, I found a sale and purchased a Benjamin Titan NP Nitro .22 caliber break barrel pellet rifle. This gun comes without any sights, so I mounted a scope on it. According to the owner’s manual, a break barrel gun can take up to 250 shots before it is “broken in” and shooting with consistent accuracy.
When I first started shooting this rifle, I did notice inconsistent accuracy. Now that I’m nearing 200 shots fired, the rifle has settled down and is shooting very accurately. This gun also has enough power to be a good small game rifle within a 50-yard radius.
Here are a couple of general observations about owning an airgun. First, these guns are not toys! Even the carbon dioxide pistol has enough power to seriously injure or kill a person if used in a reckless and unsafe manner. Second, owning a collection of the various types of airguns is not an inexpensive proposition. A good quality airgun will cost over a hundred dollars and sometimes considerably more. Add the accessories and you’ve invested significant money in this shooting activity, but it is fun and air is free!