Before getting caught up in all the features and fluff that comes along with your research, it’s critical to define this for yourself.
Do you intend to solely target shoot and plink; perhaps you have a pest problem and require a rifle to thin out squirrels or starlings?
You, like many other shooters, may want a little bit of both, making choosing the best PCP air rifle extremely difficult. Let’s go over some of the elements that are vital to Pre-Charged Pneumatics (PCP) air rifles, then I’ll give you my recommendations.
If you’re interested, I also prepared a page about my favorite air rifle scopes.
The Power Concept
One of the most misunderstood elements of airguns is their power, or kinetic energy output. The projectile’s velocity (FPS) is only one component of the equation; the projectile’s weight must also be considered. Faster pellet speed does not always imply higher power, which is why so many people are duped by boasts of “1,200 fps hypervelocity” power. To achieve the sexiest velocity claim, some producers employ the lightest pellet possible and plaster it all over the package in large lettering.
The muzzle energy, on the other hand, is a considerably more accurate and practical way to assess an air rifle’s power. Muzzle energy is the amount of kinetic energy (in ft/lbs or joules) a projectile possesses when it exits the muzzle, and it’s calculated using a formula that takes muzzle velocity and pellet weight into account. Lighter pellets are faster but lose energy more quickly, whereas heavier pellets transport energy more efficiently but are slower. Most people find a happy medium with middleweight pellets, which combine the best of both worlds.
Finally, a word about power (I promise my nerd rant is nearly over). The majority of airgun pellets were not designed to be shot at a high rate. When pellets are shot at speeds higher than 950 FPS, they destabilize and tumble in flight, especially in smaller calibers like.177. If you’re having trouble with accuracy in a “hypervelocity” gun, you should try a heavier pellet. Heavier pellets are physically longer and can withstand being pushed strongly without destabilizing. They also have stronger ballistic coefficients, which means they retain more energy.
Where Do You Get Your Air?
The amount of rounds you can acquire before needing to replace the air reservoir is one of the things that makes PCPs so useful; unfortunately, it’s also what makes this power plant more expensive to get into because it requires the purchase of a filling source to make the gun operational.
The modest hand pump is the cheapest and most practical air source for PCPs. These pumps look a lot like bicycle tire pumps, but they work in stages to enhance compression. A standard bicycle pump will not work since PCPs require fill pressures of 2,000 to 3,500 PSI. When utilizing a hand pump, the shooter connects the pistol to the fill hose and stands on the pump’s foot platform while pushing air into the gun. The length of time you must pump depends on the amount of pressure in your rifle’s tank. When a 3,000 PSI gun hits 1,500 PSI, people typically “top off” the rifle, which takes around 5 minutes. As the pressure rises, the pump will become increasingly difficult to operate. Hand pumps, I won’t lie, can be a tremendous workout, but they’re one of the greatest ways to get your feet wet in the PCP world without having to spend hundreds of dollars on a SCUBA/SCBA fill setup. Hand pumps typically cost between $180 and $300, and I prefer the Hill hand pump because it comes with rebuild kits so you can fix it yourself.
Is it better to use a multi-shot or a single-shot camera?
The function of a multi-shot magazine is one of the nicest characteristics you’ll come across while browsing for Air Gun Maniac. Magazine-fed PCP rifles are an excellent choice for hunting and pest management since they allow for quick follow-up shots and eliminate the need to fumble with loose pellets in your pocket. The two most significant disadvantages of magazines are that they can be costly, especially in higher-end PCP rifles. It’s also not uncommon to see double feeds, jams, or the magazine becoming caught in the gun entirely due to a pellet being loaded halfway without fully cocking the rifle, causing the pellet to become trapped between the magazine and the barrel.