Some friendly advice for outright newbies

Monday, February 25, 2013

The business of getting into a new hobby is a curious one. I should know; I’ve started enough of them to have some experience.

At the beginning of a new field of endeavor, it looks appealing, and you’re curious: what’s airgunning all about? What’s fun about it? What are the interesting activities that you might get involved in? And you begin to think about perhaps purchasing your first airgun.

It is precisely at this point that the trouble arises. If you have had any experience at all with starting new hobbies, you know that there are two potential traps you could fall into. The first is buying a really cheap piece of gear because “you’re just trying to get a feel for the hobby without spending too much.” The trap here is that often inexpensive gear often has some deficiency that seriously interferes with enjoyment. With airguns, specifically, that might mean a nasty trigger or a harsh firing cycle.

The other trap is going full-out and buying a really expensive piece of gear that is not the right fit for what you ultimately want to do. In airguns, this might manifest itself in buying a rifle designed for 10 meter Olympic competition or field target competition when ultimately what you want to do is plink in the back yard. On the online forums, occasionally someone will pop up requesting advice on buying an airgun. Often a forum participant will respond, “What do you want to do with it?” It’s not unusual to have the reply come back: “I’m not sure.” It’s a problem: how do you know what you want to get when you don’t know what you want to do with it?

So, having said all that, this blog is an attempt to help those outright newbies who might not know what they want to do with an airgun and don’t want to make a dumb (donkey) mistake in buying their first one.

The Daisy Avanti Triumph 747

If you like the idea of pistols and think you might like to plink in the back yard or maybe even get involved in some competition down the line, but you don’t have a need to kill pests in the garden or defend the bird feeder, I have one solid recommendation for you: the Daisy Avanti Triump 747 . This is a single-stroke pneumatic air pistol that is wickedly accurate out to about 20 yards, doesn’t generate a lot of power (It is completely unsuitable for pest control), and easy to shoot and maintain. All you need is one of these, some pellets, a pellet trap and targets, and some eye protection, and you’re set for years of fun indoors and out.

The Benjamin 392

The Benjamin 392

The Webley Rebel

The Webley Rebel

But suppose you’d like to dip your toe in the waters of airgunning and need to remove pests from the garden or defend the bird feeder, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money? In that case, I would recommend a multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle. These rifles are easy to shoot well and require multiple strokes of the pumping lever before each shot. The power can be adjusted by the number of strokes. If you want to shoot with iron sights, I would recommend the Benjamin 392  with optional Williams peep sight. If you would rather have an air rifle with a scope, I would suggest the Webley Rebel  with an optional scope.

The HW30S

The HW30S

But let’s suppose that you really have no clue what you want to do with an airgun but you want something that is fun to shoot and of decent quality to get started with. In that case, I would recommend the Weihrauch HW30S in .177.  It’s easy to cock, easy to shoot well (for a spring-piston powerplant) and generates enough power for pest control at short range (say, within 50 feet as a rough guideline). You can fit an HW30 with a peep sight or a scope, and with the right pellet, the HW30 is accurate enough that people (me included) have shot them in field target competition with some success. (You won’t be able to compete head to head with the high powered guns, but you’ll still have fun.)

So that’s my friendly advice for outright newbies. Remember, all of these airguns will need a selection of pellets, a pellet trap, targets, and some eye protection. And remember the Number One rule of gun safety: never, ever, point your airgun at anything that you don’t want to see a hole in.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott


  1. Lyle says:

    I am looking for an accurate air pistol that I can use to practice for BullsEye shooting. I’d like it to be accurate to 25 yards as we shoot a reduced BE match. What would you recommend?

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Are you looking for a repeater and are you looking to mount a red dot? Unfortunately, I don’t think you are going to find an air pistol that is a fast repeater, that has recoil, will allow you to mount a red dot and is accurate at 25 yards. The RWS LP8 will allow you to mount a red dot and has the recoil of a spring-piston powerplant. It is a single shot and must be cocked and loaded after each shot. The Weihrauch HW45 series can mount a red dot, recoil in the opposite direction, and are single shot. The FWB P58 is a repeater, but has virtually no recoil, and it looks like mounting a red dot would be difficult

      I suggest browsing here:

      Finally, if you want something that looks like a 1911, is a repeater, and can support a red dot (using an optional accessory rail), take a look at these

  2. Matt says:

    Great post Jock, that’s great info for new folks. I was hooked at the age of 12 when I read Peter Capstick’s article, “Minisniping” in Guns & Ammo. My Dad got me a used RWS Diana and I’ve been in love with airguns ever since. It’s always fun to introduce new people to the hobby.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Chet Spear says:

    I would like to purchase pellet rifles for my grandsons to plink in the back yard and also for me to rid back yard pests. I would like to have quality rifles to teach my grandsons to take proper care of their rifles and to have fun with them competing with target shooting in the back yard. My grandsons are 9 and 11, both have passed hunter safety classes; however, it is difficult for them to use a pump or break type. Any suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      You haven’t indicated why it is difficult for your grandsons to use a break barrel rifle. If you want a high quality air rifle that your grandsons can shoot and is also capable of taking pests at short range, I would suggest the HW30s The cocking effort is only about 18 pounds, which I think perhaps your grandsons could handle. It is not a cheap air rifle, but it is a gun you could shoot for a lifetime, with occasional replacement of the spring and seals. You can shoot this gun with the iron sights that are provided, or put a peep sight or a scope on it. This is not a tremendously powerful airgun, but you can kill garden pests at close range with proper shot placement. Best of all, the HW30 is easy to shoot well with the right pellets.

  4. Russ Best says:

    The main argument I have with the 30S for kids is the length of pull. HW and some of the other quality airgun makers size their LOP for adults, which makes it hard to handle properly with kids who are under 5’6″ tall. What I utimately did for my boys when they were young was to buy a Diana 23..then carefully cut about 2″ off the butt end of the stock so they could shoulder it corrrectly. I saved that cut off piece and years later re-attached it when they had grown.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Thanks for your excellent input!

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