When deciding on what type of air rifle to buy you first need to figure out what you plan on using it for. If you’re wanting to go hunting or take care of some pests on your property then I would recommend going with either a “springer” or a PCP. If you’re wanting to do some plinking in the backyard then a pump or C02 airgun will be a better choice.
In order to make sure you get the best air rifle to fit your needs we have listed the different types of models below.
Table of Contents
Spring powered air rifles are extremely popular for hunting or pest-control purposes due to their ability to shoot at a high FPS. Springers, as they are often called come in three different model types known as break barrel, underlever, and side lever. The most common type of springer you will find is the break barrel design due to its simplicity and lightweight design because there is no extra lever. To help you fully understand the different types of springers we have described them below.
Break Barrel: A break barrel air rifle works by pulling down a hinged barrel, loading a pellet into the barrel, and then snapping it back into its original place.
Underlever: This type of model works by pulling down a lever underneath the barrel, loading a pellet into the chamber, and then moving the lever back into place.
Side Lever: Side lever models work by pulling a lever all the way back, loading a pellet into the chamber, and then pushing the lever all the way forward. Since the lever is located on the right side of the rifle you need to be right handed or ambidextrous to use this type of model.
Before buying a springer you do need to be aware of the issues with recoil and the stress on the spring if you leave it cocked for too long. Because of the recoil you will need to hold a spring powered air rifle a little more firmly than other model types to be consistently accurate. Also you need to be aware that if you leave a springer cocked for too long it can damage the spring and possibly ruin your gun over time.
Because of this Crosman came out with their own Nitro Piston models which compresses nitrogen instead of using an actual spring. This gives it a few distinct advantage over your typical springer such as a reduction in sound, vibration, and recoil. It also gives you the ability to leave the rifle cocked for extended periods of time without the worry of damage.
Precharged Pneumatic (PCP)
If you’re looking for the best type of pellet rifle for hunting then you want to go with a precharged pneumatic air rifle, or otherwise known as PCP. These types of airguns are fairly expensive but are extremely powerful and accurate. To use a PCP airgun you simply have to fill a reservoir with air by either using a pump or a special tank. Once filled you can expect around an average of 25 shots before having to precharge it again, this of course all depends on the individual airgun.
The major advantages of using a PCP air rifle include being quiet, consistent, recoilless, and being able to reload rapidly. The majority of PCP air rifles are bolt action so instead of loading a pellet at a time you just have to load a clip then pull the bolt back and then forward again. You can also find automatic PCP models if that is what you’re interested in.
Being able to reload rapidly is great news for hunters because it allows you to shoot again quickly if you miss your first shot. Not to mention you don’t have to sit around trying to pull the barrel down to load a pellet making a bunch of noise and racket while simultaneously letting your prey run away. Since shooting a PCP airgun is much quieter than their spring counterparts you really can’t compare the two when it comes to hunting.
Pump air rifles are great for beginners because of the low price and simple design. They are mainly used for simple target practice in the backyard although some models can be used to hunt small game. In most cases you will only be able to get off one shot though because of the amount of noise and time it takes to pump the rifle again.
If you do decide to try hunting make sure to pump the airgun 8-10 times to reach maximum velocity in order to kill your target humanely. For plinking purposes you can pump less so you don’t wear yourself out as much. If you’re just getting into shooting air rifles then a pump model might just be the best place for you to start.
C02 powered pellet guns are a ton of fun to shoot and a lot of models even come in semi automatic. All you have to do is pop in a 12 gram C02 cartridge and you can shoot around 50 shots before it needs to be replaced. This of course does depend on the efficiency of the airgun as each are different.
C02 powered air rifles do come with a few downsides though that you should know about. For starters, they aren’t very powerful compared to other models types. This makes them a bad option for hunting so it is recommended for these models to only be used for plinking purposes. You also need to take into account the climate of where you live; in areas where the temperature is often under 65°F, you’ll begin to notice that velocity starts to diminish. In warm climates though CO2 does a much better job.
Another big factor you have to worry about is the expense of having to buy CO2 cartridges as it can get rather expensive over time. If you really do like the idea of using CO2 though you can find certain models that will allow you to use a bigger sized CO2 tank such as the type you would find on a paintball gun.