In many ways I have one of the best jobs in the world. I am a fulltime freelance writer. Most of my time is spent working with high technology and medical organizations, but a sizeable fraction of my time is spent testing airguns for this blog and also for some other venues.
What’s the greatest thing about testing airguns? The opportunity to experiment with lots of different airguns models from many different manufacturers. When a new gun comes gun, very often I will quickly unpack it, mount a scope (if one is necessary), and go outside and shoot it, just to get a quick first impression of what the gun is all about. These first impressions are often quite useful, but they aren’t always correct. Sometimes I make notes of anything unusual or surprising that I discover.
After the first impression, there is the detailed examination of the gun from buttplate to barrel crown, followed by the gathering of data: chronograph information, trigger pull, weight, length, and so forth. Finally, I shoot the gun for accuracy, sometimes out to distances of 50 yards (which requires going to the range), but sometimes at 13 yards or 35 yards, which are distances I can manage without leaving home.
Over the decade or so that I have been writing about airguns, I’ve developed some rules for testing airguns that might prove useful to you in your own testing:
- Ignore the looks of the gun. A gorgeous gun can shoot well, but so can an ugly gun. Of course, it’s doubly nice if you find a great-looking gun that’s a real tack-driver.
- Let the gun speak for itself. Don’t pre-judge based on anything. If there is one thing that drives me nuts, it’s people who decide that a particular gun can’t possibly be any good, based on absolutely no first-hand experience. Good manufacturers have occasionally produced less than admirable guns, and manufacturers who have a reputation for producing inexpensive airguns have sometimes fashioned some real winners.
- Let the gun chose the ammo. Sometimes you’ll have to try lots of different ammo to get something that works well in a particular gun; sometimes you’ll get it on the first try.
- Remember the price/performance curve. All airguns are built to be brought to the market at a particular price. Sometimes you can get really excellent performance for not a lot of money. For more money, you’ll usually get more: superb performance, outstanding fit and finish, and often more or advanced features.
- Keep in mind there is no such thing as a “perfect” airgun. Perfection depends on the characteristics that are most important to the shooter and what the intended application is.
What’s the thing I have the most concern about? Accuracy testing. Just because I got a particular accuracy result with a certain gun and pellet combination, that doesn’t necessarily mean that if you buy the same model gun and use the same pellets, you will get the same results. Similarly, I’ve seen guys reporting results that I have been unable to duplicate. It bothers me a little, but I don’t know what to do about it, so I shoot the best I can and report the results.
Finally, what’s the worst thing about testing airguns? Packing and unpacking them. It’s a fussy business, and I swear those Styrofoam peanuts have a mind of their own.
Still, airgun testing is a lot of fun, and I really enjoy hearing from the people who read this blog.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott