Types of Air Guns

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Many of the same basic principles that underlie powder-burning guns are also used in air guns. In general they fire pellets using a compressed gas to propel them out the barrel. Air is usually stored in a reservoir or cartridge (see picture above) until the shooter pulls the trigger and releases it. This allows the shooter to control the amount of power applied, from light plinking through to high-powered predator hunting.

There are four main categories of air gun. Break barrel, side cocking and underlever types use a cocking mechanism that retracts a spring and activates an internal piston to push air through the barrel to fire a pellet. These types are the oldest and most common in both recreational and competition shooting, with most Olympic-style air rifles being of this type.

They are typically quiet and very accurate with a great deal of mechanical consistency from shot-to-shot. They require a good quality pellet for best results, and as such are the choice of many rabbit and squirrel hunters. They can be used to hunt coyotes and bobcats too, but the velocity needs to be higher than a.22 LR to make this effective.

PCPs use the same principle as their spring counterparts, but the air is pre-filled from a small reservoir in the gun or from a separate air tank. It is normally stored at a very high pressure, in the order of 2700 to 3000 pounds per square inch (PSI). That’s a lot of air! This is about 25 to 30 times the pressure in a lorry tyre, so it’s very powerful. air guns

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