An Airgun Picks its Owner

Thursday, December 15, 2016

So you’re thinking about an airgun. However you go about it, chances are good you’re relying on past experience, budget, and perceived value to guide your buying decision and for most, that’s where the trouble begins. Airguns don’t play by the same rules we grew up on. They’re not powder burners and in most instances don’t behave as such. There’s quicksand and lion’s dens all over the place and unless you’ve a guide to walk you through these perils, chances are good you’ll wind up making an expensive mistake.

Take the modern spring gun for instance. It’s a tragic mismatch for many but it also happens to be the most affordable way in. Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful if you pick the right one for your needs, patience, & physical ability but if you don’t, be prepared for some level of disappointment. Spring guns in a large part have gone down a path of overpowering and with overpowering comes some issues. Ever try cocking one? Many of these guns take 25+ lbs of cocking force to break the barrel & compress the spring and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, try doing it a few hundred times for an afternoon of pellet sorting and see how long it takes to get jelly arm. The firing cycle may also be a surprise to ya. It won’t have the clean, sharp snap of the powder burner you’ve come to love. If the springer is classified as a “magnum”, be prepared for that bone jarring gong that you’d get as a kid when you’d hit the ball wrong. Then by the time you finally get to working on those groups, you’re spraying pellets all over the place because powerful springers require the skillful mastering of a special hold before you’ll see any consistent accuracy out of them. Frustrated, soar, and tired, you’re left scratching your head in bewilderment trying to figure out what went wrong and what it is people like about these things.

Don’t worry, so it isn’t all bad. Spring guns are for the most part are a great way to enjoy airgunning, if that is, you are wise enough to pick one that’s right for you. Forget big power. It means nothing without accuracy and if your knees are knocking after enduring the cocking experience, you’re not going to be able to hit anything. Instead, focus on a moderately powered break barrel that benefits from a smooth firing cycle, clean trigger break, and reduced size & weight. Your selection will shoot straighter, be more pleasant to cock, and you’ll have a better time learning to master its tendencies. What’s more, your friends & family will be much more likely to join ya for a day of fun if you put something with manners in their hands. Regarding their moderate power output, dead is dead. Any size pellet traveling at 500-600 fps is going to clobber most anything inside of 50 yards into the afterlife so if ya want to hunt with it, have at it. Be sure to avoid the whole gas-ram/conventional spring distraction as well. I’ve shot both that perform great & I’ve shot both that cycle & shoot terrible. The smoothness, accuracy, & reliability chases the moderate power & dollars invested more than it does one spring or the other. Focus there.

If you’re down with a grander investment, the Precharged Pneumatic (PCP) will reward. True, support items such as a fill device and recharge source will add to your cargo but they also add to the fun. The PCP airgun is for the person who seeks easy operation, easy coming accuracy, and a lustrous firing cycle. It’s also for those who enjoy relying on one toy to make another work. If you’re good with the added hardware to make it go boom, you can enjoy not having to exert yourself and compress a mechanical spring with each shot. The PCP stores compressed air on board and with a single charge from an external fill source like an SCBA tank or hand pump, will get ya 30-100 shots depending on the model & caliber. What that means to ya is that you can load up a magazine of 8-12 shots or more & let em’ fly without having to work in between. In the field, all this luxury translates into more downed pigeons and greater precision in your match events. It also means that since there’s no spring release, there’s no recoil and that my good friends, is priceless on so many levels.

YouTuber & Columnist

Steve Scialli



  1. jorge says:

    Hi Steve , my name is Jorge, i recently was shooting in my backyard with my rws lp8 mag and enjoyed the simplicity of a spring power plant , actually one i can shoot often with ease. It made want a springer that was not a magnum. I happened on your review of the wierauch hw30s and got hooked . Now i want one badly also considering an hw50 in 177. I relish enjoying freedom from a tank . And want to just shoot . Thanks for a great review . At 51 i want to remember again.

    1. Hi Jorge. I’m with you, theres something about a 600fps quality springer just does it for me too, and to your point, that HW30 fills the bill so nicely… wish I had one myself. Its a gem. Thanks for the note, Steve

  2. RidgeRunner says:

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for another great blog. I have also been enjoying your YouTube channel for some time now. It is my hope that AOA and others continue to support your efforts to inform us of what is going on in the world of airguns.

    I too have seen time and again people with no experience with airguns buy the hyped up uber magnum sproingers, knowing that it will likely be their last. So many of these are sitting in the back of closets or gun safes, never to be shot again. I have picked up some really good deals at yard sales on occasion though. 😉

    Keep up the great work and remember to always have fun.

    1. Hello,

      You’re welcome. I too am grateful for the partnership… AOA has been a big part of AEAC getting off the ground this year and I look forward to hosting many more a project with them.

      It’s good to know I’m not the only one seeing overpowered springers get, “last pick.” Left modestly powered they’re a wonderful thing.

      Thanks for the nice note.

  3. Tom King says:

    After going through several air rifles, I found out that i much prefer lower power. For me, I found the power level I like best is just under the 12fpe limit used in the UK. The two i use mkst are a BSA Comet mk7 with a cdt trigger. This is my plinker. I also like my RWS34P pro-compact. It has a Vortek12fpe kit.
    There are a couple of guns that I no longer have that were not appreciated when i had them. Also a few wish i had not bought to begin with.
    One gun in particular was a waste for me.was a RWS 350 magnum. A beautiful rifle that i shot well.However, at near 70, even with a “docile” spring, it wore me out out after about 20 shots.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for sharing your experience and for validating the blog’s angle on making good decisions. To your point, I recently reviewed the Hatsan Carnivore .30 on the channel and while I value its purpose and had a great time with it, I don’t know that it would be a good fit for me as a senior. Seems the evolution of our wants & needs is all part of growing up.

      Take care,

  4. David K Bires says:

    My feelings exactly. Handing a springer to a new shooter and saying “you gonna love it” is just so wrong. Multi-pump pneumatics maybe. Anything that does not require the artillary hold, definately. A good pcp can be had now for the price of good springer. And with a few come the pump. I just wonder how many would be air rifle enthusiasts we have lost to the springer.

    1. You mean, “overpowered magnum springers,” right? I’ve had my hands on some super juicy reasonably powered springers who’s charm I appreciated very much. Best, Steve

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