Do you ever play The Perfect Airgun Game? I sure do. Sometimes when I’m drifting off to sleep at night I think about what would be “the perfect” airgun. Of course, you don’t have to think about the whole idea for very long before you realize that what constitutes perfection depends a whole lot on what you intend to do with it – what the mission profile is. The airgun that is awesome for Olympic 10-meter shooting is going to be a lot different from the airgun that excels at long-range varminting, and very different from the airgun that is just great for family backyard fun.
I get to play with a lot of airguns, and over time I find myself turning to certain ones over and over again. So, here are some of my current favorites, and the reasons I like them. This list is drawn from currently available airguns that I have first-hand personal experience with.
Beeman R1 – This is a big springer that seems overbuilt for the job and shoots very pleasantly right out of the box. Lots of people hunt with them, and I have had good success shooting one (.177 cal.) in field target competition.
Beeman R7 – This diminutive, low-power springer is a favorite of many shooters because it is easy to shoot well. I have spent many happy afternoons plinking in the back yard with my R7. You can hunt small game with an R7, provided you keep the distances short and the shot placement precise.
HW35E – This springer is a classic in its lines, incredibly smooth performance and its barrel latch. If someone held a gun to my head and said, “You can only have one springer, choose!” I think the HW35E would be at the top of my list.
Crosman Nitro – The Nitro Piston Short Stroke rifle has a lot going for it: gas-ram powerplant, good accuracy, no twang or vibration, and you can leave it cocked, ready to deal with those Wascally Wabbits in the garden.
RWS 54 – In my view, this is the king of the long-range self-contained varmint air rifles. Its recoilless action shoots like a PCP and is satisfyingly accurate.
RWS LP8 – This springer pistol, with a red dot mounted, is currently my go-to pistol. It cocks easily and is great fun to shoot, but I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that any of the HW45 pistols or Beeman P-series pistols are just as much fun.
Single-stroke pneumatic pistols – I like the Daisy Avanti 747, the Gamo Compact, and the IZH-46M, and I can’t really pick a favorite among them. They are all accurate and fun, but if you want to mount a red dot, but Gamo is the easiest.
Crosman 2300S – This CO2 pistol qualifies for IHMSA “product class” silhouette competition (as does the Daisy 747). It’s wickedly accurate. Drop a scope on it, and you have an “instant” pistol suitable for pistol field target competition.
Wow, I’ve chewed up my space for this time and haven’t even gotten to PCPs!
How about telling me what some of your favorite airguns are, and why?
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott