GUIDE TO AIR GUNS
Reproduced with the kind permission of Blackpool Air Rifles

 

AIR RIFLES

The following information is designed to help those of you who are new to air rifle shooting.

The first thing you will need to do before looking at purchasing any shooting outfit is to familiarize yourself with the current legislation involved in owning and shooting an air rifle in your particular country.

Although the air rifle is the most important piece of equipment, the air rifle combination kit is split into five basic categories. These are:

THE AIR RIFLE

Air rifles can separated into many different groups, but one of the most obvious differences during use, is between those rifles that Recoil and those rifles that are Recoilless:

.

Recoiling Rifles

Recoiling rifles move sharply during the firing cycle, making them less forgiving to shoot. To shoot a recoiling rifle accurately, techniques must be learned to compensate for the recoil of the gun. Learning and improving these skills is all part of the hobby, and a huge amount of satisfaction can be gained from learning how to get the best performance from your rifle.

Recoiling Rifles are usually spring piston powered.

Theoben manufacture gas ram piston design rifles, which do not recoil as much as coil spring rifles.

Advantages of recoiling rifles:

Quick to load, generally cheaper and lighter in weight

No need for an external power source

Disadvantages of recoiling rifles:

As a rule only single shot.

The recoil of the rifle makes good marksmanship all the more important.

 

Recoilless Rifles

Recoilless rifles are either pumped up (like a Sheridan ProHunter), powered by a Co2 capsule (like a Crosman Ratcatcher) or filled with  compressed air from a diving bottle or stirrup pump, these rifles have a cylinder fitted to them where the air is stored and used for each shot.

 

Advantages of recoilless rifles:

Almost no movement during the firing cycle which makes them more forgiving to shoot.

In many cases available as a multi shot.

Quieter when a silencer is fitted.

Disadvantages of recoilless rifles: 

Co2 is generally low powered and less efficient than compressed air. Ideal for close range or back garden use though.

Multi pump rifles are more time consuming to load and require some effort to pump them to full power.

Pre-charged pneumatics require additional equipment to fill the gunís cylinder with air. This equipment is either a divers bottle or a stirrup pump, which to the beginner adds to the set up price.

This system also requires either access to a diving shop to have the bottle refilled or in the case of the pump a degree of physical exercise.

 

THE TELESCOPIC SIGHT  

To the beginner scopes look very complicated, and when you take a look at the  Telescopic Sights section on the web site you will see a vast array of numbers for each model.

As an example if we take a 4 x 32 scope the number four equates to how many times closer the object you are viewing becomes when viewed through the scope.

The number 32 equates to the size in mm of the front lens, also known as the objective lens.

The theory behind the objective lens is that the bigger this lens, the brighter the image will be when viewed through the scope.There are however other factors to consider, such as lens quality, that makes one scope brighter than another.When looking at a 3-9 x 40 as an example of zoom scopes, the number forty is once again the size of the objective lens. The numbers 3-9 mean that when the image is viewed through the scope and the 3-9 zoom (located at the rear of the scope) is adjusted the image will move from 3x closer all the way through to 9x closer 

Telescopic sights have adjusters fitted to them that enable the scope to be set up in such a way that the pellet will impact on the target at the same point where the cross hair also appears on the target. These adjusters are generally called turrets.

The top turret adjusts the cross hair up or down depending on which way the turret is turned .

The side turret will adjust the cross hair left or right depending on which way it is turned.

 

This is only a basic guide for telescopic sights and you will find as your shooting develops so too will your knowledge and understanding of them.

We will also be updating this section periodically with more in-depth information on reticles, parallax, turrets and lenses.

 

MOUNTS

These are a very important piece of your equipment that enable the air rifle and telescopic sight to work together as one.

Mounts are available in many different sizes and generally the bigger the objective lens the higher the mount required.

As long as you use good quality mounts that are fastened together with allen bolts  from a quality manufacturer you can not really go wrong.

 

GUN BAGS

This is required to enable you to carry your air rifle in a public place and will offer a good degree of protection from the elements. The thicker the lining of the gun bag, the more protection it will offer your equipment.

If you attach a silencer to your rifle, decide on the correct length bag to accommodate this to avoid having to detach it during trips. 

When considering which gun bag to purchase, think about the accessories you will be carrying with you. If you need storage space for pellets, spare air cylinders, targets, etc make sure you choose a bag that can accommodate these.

Internal straps to secure your rifle are a useful option on many bags, as are rucksack-style carry straps.

Hard cases offer the ultimate protection but can be unwieldy to store in car boots, so measure up before you buy!

Never store an air rifle in a gun bag as it will rust.

 

PELLETS

Stick to a good quality lead round head pellet from the likes of H&N, Air Arms, Crosman or Daystate and you cannot go wrong. Experiment with any of these brands and you will find a least one that will perform incredibly well.

Hollow point pellets are generally used for close to medium range hunting as they impart a lot of force on impact.

Flat head pellets are popular for paper target shooting as they punch the target cleanly and make it easier to work out your scores.

Pointed pellets are used as they are supposed to give more penetration on impact. They are not as accurate as roundhead pellets as they are not as ballistically efficient.

 

I hope this brief guide will be of help in choosing your first air rifle. Over the coming weeks this page will be added to with more information and topics relevant to air rifle shooting for beginners. Below is a selection of questions and answers that will familiarise you with some off the general terms used in air gunning, if you require any more help or information please email or call the shop as we will be more than happy to help.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


AIR RIFLE FAQs
 

 

What air rifle can I purchase?
Any air rifle that does not does not exceed 12ft/lbs of  muzzle energy

What is 12ft/lbs?
This is the maximum power an air rifle is allowed to produce in England, Scotland and Wales without a firearms certificate (F.A.C).

What is fps?
Feet Per Second (fps),is the velocity or speed a pellet travels at when leaving the muzzle of a rifle. The muzzle is the end of the barrel.

Can I have more power than 12ft/lbs?
Only if you apply for a firearms certificate from your local constabulary, without this you are breaking the law and could face a heavy fine or end up in prison.


What is calibre?
The size of  the bore or hole running through the centre of the barrel. In .22 calibre the rifle will require a .22 pellet, in .177 calibre, a .177 pellet.


What does this all mean to me?
In real terms a .22cal(.22 of an inch in imperial,5.5mm metric.) the muzzle velocity equates to around 600fps.In .177cal(.177 of an inch imperial,4.5mm metric.) the muzzle velocity equates to around 800fps depending on pellet weight.


How does pellet weight make a difference?
Pellets are weighed in grains, the heavier the pellet the slower it travels. That is why .177 flies faster than .22


What are the best pellets?
Round headed pellets made of lead have excellent all round accuracy. Stick to a good quality pellet from the following manufacturers; Air arms, Daystate, Crosman, H+N and RWS.


What calibre is best?
.22cal is generally preferred for hunting as it has good hitting power.177 is generally preferred for target shooting as it flies faster and flatter than a .22 cal. Depending on preference both calibres are suitable for hunting.


How do I work out ft/lbs?

Velocity (fps) x Velocity (fps) x Pellet weight (grains)   equals  ft/lbs

                               450240

 

What are joules?

Another form of energy measurement.12ft/lbs equals 16 joules.

 

Where can I shoot?

At any air rifle club in the country or on land where you have prior written permission from the landowner.

 

Can I shoot in my garden?

Yes as long as the pellets do not leave your property and you are more than 50 feet away from the centre of a public highway and are not causing a nuisance to your neighbours.

 

Is an air rifle powerful enough to hunt with?

A rifle producing just under 12ft/lbs at the muzzle in .22cal will still produce around 7-8ft/lbs at 40 yards and it will take just 3-4ft/lbs of energy to kill a rabbit providing you only go for head shots, there is to much margin for error when aiming for the body.

 

Will the air rifle be accurate enough?

Modern air rifles are more than capable of hitting a 50pence piece at 30 yards or more in the right hands. Set your rifle at 35 yards with a scope fitted and youíre more than covered, providing your marksmanship is good enough.

 

What can I hunt?

The most popular quarry for air gunners are rabbits, crows, magpies, feral and wood pigeon, collared doves, rats and the jay

 

What rifle should I buy for hunting?

This really is down to personal preference, as long as the rifle is producing between 10.5 and 11.5 ft/lbs and is accurate enough it can be used for hunting.

 

What rifle should I buy for target shooting?

If you want to shoot  field target you will generally need a recoilless rifle also known as a pre charged pneumatic in .177calibre.

 

 

SCOPE FAQs

 

What scope should I buy? 

From a hunting perspective anything from a 4x32 upwards will suffice. As a rule though the minimum is a 3-9x40 zoom scope.

 

What scope should I use for field target shooting?

A high magnification range finding scope with an absolute minimum of 18 mag is generally required although some shooters will shoot with scopes that are 50 magnification. The higher magnification the more precise the range calculation will be.

 

What is zoom?

The ability to bring an image being viewed through a scope closer  ( 4x32 brings an image 4 times closer. 3-9 brings an image from 3x closer all the way through to 9x closer.)

 

What do turrets on a scope do?

Turrets adjust the crosshair up, down, left or right so when set up at a desired range the pellet impacts at the same point on the target as where the crosshair is being placed on the target.

 

What is range fi nding?

The ability to look at a target at an unknown distance on high magnification and use the pre set up range finding or parallax adjustment ring to work out the distance in yards or metres.

 

What are crosshairs?

Look through a scope and you will see a cross made up of vertical line and a horizontal line, where these lines meet is where the pellet should impact on the target  when the rifle and the scope have been set up or zeroed in

 

What is zeroing in?

Adjusting the crosshair to line up with the impact point of the pellet on the target at the desired range of the shooter.

 

How do I use the parallax adjustment on my scope?

Very briefly, set the range on the dial (usually written on the scope dial from 10yards to infinity in varying increments) to the range at which you are shooting.

This will achieve two things: A reduction / elimination of parallax error and it will focus the scope clearly on the object you are looking at.

 

What is parallax error?

This is the apparent movement of the scope crosshair on the object you are looking at. This is caused by looking through the scope at an angle other than directly through it. Shouldering your rifle correctly will reduce this problem, or buying a scope that is correctly parallaxed (30 yards setting for air rifles on a fixed parallax scope) or setting the parallax dial for the exact range you are shooting at.