Posts Tagged ‘spring piston’

Weihrauch HW95

The Weihrauch HW95 spring-piston airgun.

Most of us live in a fast pace rat race society.  With today’s advanced technology we stay connected to family, friends and the workplace associates seemingly 24/7.  I find myself looking back at the days of my youth with pleasure more and more.

At the age of 54, I grew up when phones still had cords, fuel was .25 cents per gallon and the drive-in movie was a great place to take your sweetheart or find one.  I remember saving the spent shot shells from my dad’s 16-gauge after the opening day of dove season because I thought they were so cool.  As a society we seem to need immediate satisfaction with today’s connectivity. We can order the latest widget and expect it at our door tomorrow, use it over the weekend, and discard it after our disappointment over its lack of quality and/or performance. We tend to want our things fast and cheap, and not value the qualities that last.

My last blog post was in honor of Mr. Stefan Weihrauch, owner/partner of the HW airgun factory in Germany. The owner brothers Hans and Stefan have built a company that embraces quality over quantity with high value for the money. I recommend their products highly. In particular, the Weihrauch HW95. This rifle is of the highest quality and performance standard with pricing that was negotiated by Stefan before his passing to provide German engineering at a value that rivals much cheaper made airguns. Take advantage of this special promotion while it lasts and bring back some childhood memories. It will put a smile on your face!

Thank you for reading,

Robert Buchanan

President, Airguns of Arizona

If someone were to back at the more than 300 blogs I have written for www.airgunsofarizona and ask “What were the most important ones?” My answer might surprise you.

I have been extremely fortunate in my tenure here. I’ve had the opportunity to test literally hundreds of really neat air rifles and air pistols, to interview champions about their shooting skills and practice routines, to talk with airgun manufacturers, and to do some admittedly zany experiments. It has been, for the most part, a lot of fun.

Sure, not every day has been a trip to Santa’s lap; there have been days when I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn, when airguns have misbehaved, or when scope mounts were in active rebellion, but those times have been rare. And I have been blessed to work with the good folks at, although at a distance of a couple of thousand miles. It is a common misunderstanding among the people who respond to the blog. They think I am in close proximity to Airguns of Arizona; I am not. Airguns of Arizona is just where it is supposed to be – in Arizona. I am in upstate New York.

But if you press me about which blogs have I written that were truly important, I would have to say there is no contest: the important blogs were the ones about safety. When first started writing about airguns well over a decade ago, I mistakenly thought that it had been years since anyone had been killed by misadventure with an airgun. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Deaths from airguns do occur.

In my view, there shouldn’t be any deaths or injuries from airguns because they are completely preventable. Here’s how: never, ever point an airgun or an air pistol at anything you don’t want to see perforated, broken, injured, destroyed, or killed.

That’s the Big Secret of airgun safety (in fact, all gun safety): always, always, ALWAYS keep your air rifle or air pistol pointed in a safe direction. If it is pointed in a safe direction, even if somehow, magically, the airgun goes off by itself without human intervention, it can only shoot where it is pointed. It can’t hurt a person or animal or destroy property if it is not pointed at them. And don’t point the airgun someplace where it could ricochet and cause damage that way.

All the other rules of gun safety – treat every gun as if it were loaded, and so forth – follow from rule one: never, ever point an airgun or an air pistol at anything you don’t want to see perforated, broken, injured, destroyed, or killed.

Another good rule to follow is to make sure that everyone on the firing line has eye protection.

Kids generally need adult supervision to make sure that they follow rule one. Check that — let me put it a bit stronger: if you are not 100% totally certain that the kids in question will follow rule one all of the time, they need adult supervision.

Now, what does adult supervision entail? Watching from the kitchen window to make sure the kids don’t shoot each other? No. Telling the kids as they go out the door to “be safe?” No.

Adult supervision means being close enough to redirect the muzzle of the airgun if that becomes necessary. Some kids are great at following the rules while others have extremely poor impulse control. Further, kids these days have grown up in general playing video games where they can get away with extremely dangerous behavior, hit reset afterwards, and everything is fine. Unfortunately, in the real world, things can go from fine to disastrous in a few thoughtless moments.

So do the right thing: read about airgun safety in detail here: and supervise the kids!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott



G12 FWB Sport 004There is one thing on the FWB Sport that is a bit unusual: on the dovetails on top of the receiver, there are no holes for anti-recoil pins on a scope mount. Instead there are four horizontal grooves like the ones that are on the dovetails on my FWB 150/300 match rifle. You might be able to fit an anti-recoil pin into one of those grooves, but if the scope moves at all, it might mess up the finish on the rifle.

I decided to use a one-piece mount that has four Allen bolts to mount a Vortex scope, and I had not problems with movement of the scope or mount.

G12 FWB Sport 002

The FWB Sport locks up very snugly, so you have to slap the barrel near the front sight with the palm of your hand to get the action to break open. After that you can grab the barrel and crank it down and back to cock the action and open the breech for loading. I estimate the cocking effort is in the mid-30-pound range, and you’ll hear a little bit of spring noise during the process.

Next, slide a .177 pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return it to is original position. Take aim at your target, push the safety forward to the FIRE position (there is a little red indicator for that), and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires 1 pound 4 ounces of effort, and a 2 pounds even, the shot goes down range. The trigger is very, very crisp.

G12 FWB Sport 006

The action exhibits a little bit of vibration and a little bit of rattle when the shot goes off, but this is heard, not felt, at the shooter’s position. There is no bucking on twisting, and that makes it easy to shoot this air rifle well.

The FWB sport launches 7.9 grain Crosman Premier Pellets at around 900 feet per second. The accuracy is simply excellent. At 13 yards, I put four pellets into a round hole about the size of a .22 caliber pellet and I yanked a fifth shot. At 32 yards, the FWB Sport put five pellets into a group that measured just 5/8 inch from edge to edge or .448 inch center-to-center. This is an air rifle that I would happily campaign in Hunter Class Spring Piston Field Target competition. Based on the way this air rifle shoots and feels, it inspires confidence when you get to the firing line, and that is critically important.

In the end, I think FWB has succeeded in creating a legacy air rifle. It looks and shoots great and should last for years.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 FWB Sport 001

It’s been more than a decade, and I hope that I am recalling this correctly, but I seem to recall reading in print that it was a Feinwerkbau (FWB) 124 or 127 that first opened the eyes of Tom Gaylord to the extraordinary world of adult precision air rifles.

I have never seen, handled or shot an FWB 124 (.177 cal.) or 127 (.22), but it is my understanding that a lot of America airgunners first got the idea that an air rifle could be really something special from their experiences with the FWB 124/127.

It has been a number of years since FWB has manufactured a spring-piston air rifle (they have been concentrating on their match rifles), but now they have come back in style. The new FWB Sport stretches 44.8 inches from end to end and weighs 8.2 pounds. It is also one of the most expensive spring-piston air rifles I have ever shot. I spoke to the good folks at , and they, in turn, have spoken to the folks at FWB. The intent of FWB in creating the FWB Sport was not to hit a particular price point or to capture a chunk of the breakbarrel springer market, but to create an “heirloom” air rifle.

G12 FWB Sport 003

As such, I think they have succeeded, but first let’s take a walk around the FWB Sport. At the extreme aft end is a brown rubber butt pad, which is attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock by a black spacer. Forward of that, the butt stock has a modest rise to the comb and a swell for a cheek rest on either side.

G12 FWB Sport 008

Moving forward, the pistol grip is modestly slanted and has fish scale checkering, which I have never seen before but find attractive, on either side. Forward of that, a black trigger guard surrounds an adjustable silver metal trigger. The design of the trigger guard is unusual, composed of three angled sections. When I first looked at it, I thought it might be a piece of folded metal. I must confess that I don’t actually know what it is composed of. It feels warm to the touch, so I suspect it might be plastic, but if it is plastic, it is exceeding sturdy plastic. If it is metal, it must be some alloy, and it is smoothly finished both inside and out.

Moving forward again, there is fish scale checkering on either side of the forestock, and there is a narrow slow for the cocking linkage on the underside of the forestock. The designers at FWB must have a lot of confidence that the cocking linkage will maintain its precise alignment throughout the cocking stroke, because this is narrowest slot I can remember seeing on the underside of a springer.

The far end of the forestock tapers slightly as it reaches the breech block. Forward of that is the .177 caliber barrel and at the muzzle is a hooded blade sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a precision, micro-adjustable rear notch sight, which is fitted into a slot machined into the breech block. I’ve never seen an arrangement like this before, but it seems fairly certain that it will not wobble from side to side and cause any sight alignment problems. The rear sight has four notches that the shooter can select for optimal sight picture.

At the aft end of the receiver is a push type automatic safety that is a serrated metal roller. On either side of the receiver Feinwerkbau is embossed in silver lettering. In all, the fit and finish of the FWB Sport are fully befitting an “heirloom” air rifle.

Next time, we’ll take a look at shooting the FWB Sport.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott


"Varmint cong" at work at El Rancho Elliott. They are undeniably cute, but they can be very destructive.

“Varmint cong” at work at El Rancho Elliott. They are undeniably cute, but they can be very destructive.

Sometimes the subject for a blog comes from the strangest places. My wife and I were on an outing with her sister and our brother-in-law Kyle. Kyle is my best buddy.

My mechanic had informed methat one of our ancient cars had several problems that, when the inevitable failure came, would be too expensive to fix. So we were talking about cars. Kyle was relating how pleased he was with his Honda van, how reliable it was, and how over the years he had spent relatively little for repairs and maintenance. . . except for “The Great Chipmunk Invasion.”

Kyle and his wife’s house are in an older development that was built perhaps 30 years ago in a vast oak forest. Everywhere you look, there are oak trees and vast quantities of acorns are available every year. So why, exactly, chipmunks would choose to crawl into the innards of Kyle’s Honda van and chew on the plastic that insulates the wires, no one knows. What Kyle and his repair shop know, for a certainty, is that the chipmunks did $800 worth of damage in a very short period of time. In addition, chipmunks or squirrels (Kyle can’t be sure which) also ate several important plastic parts on a lawnmower stored in Kyle’s shed. He related all this to me while were chatting about cars. He also said he had begun a war on chipmunks. He calls them “varmint cong.”

What came next, however, surprised the heck out of me. “You know that pistol you gave me?” Kyle said. I nodded. He was referring to an RWS/Diana 5G springer pistol. It launches 7.9 grain pellets at around 530 fps.

He continued, “Well, the other day I killed five chipmunks with it.”

The RWS 5G pistol when it was temporarily rigged with a red dot.

The RWS 5G pistol when it was temporarily rigged with a red dot.

“Holy smokes,” I said. “How far away were you?” In the back of my mind, I was thinking that he must have been pretty close. The eastern chipmunk is not a large animal. It’s about 5-6 inches long and weighs about 3 ounces. Further, since the RWS 5G is a springer pistol, it has typical springer recoil, which makes it challenging to shoot with high accuracy. Beyond that, the 5G is a difficult pistol to mount a scope on, so Kyle was probably shooting with iron sights.

“I was shooting from the deck,” Kyle said. His deck juts off the second story of his house and offers a commanding view of the back yard. “I got three of them by the shed and two by the woodpile.”

I thought about it for a moment. It has to be a good 30-40 feet from the deck to the shed or the woodpile.

“That’s some good shooting,” I said. “How did you do it?”

“I was shooting two-handed,” Kyle replied. “Sometimes, I rested my hands on the deck railing. The fiber optic sights really helped in lining up the shots.”

Kyle related that he dropped four of the chipmunks instantly. Another was hit but crawled under the shed.

So, if you are wondering if spring-piston air pistols can be used for pest control, under the right circumstances, yes they can!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

You don’t see it talked about much in the airgun forums, but many spring-piston air rifles and air pistols – springers – actually burn some of the lubricants in their compression cylinders during the shot cycle. Don’t worry; it’s a normal thing.

Here’s how G.V. Cardew and G.M. Cardew describe it in their book The Airgun from Trigger to Target: “The combustion phase is the phase in which most high powered sporting spring rifles operate. As the piston comes forward on firing, the temperature of the air in front of it rises with the pressure; this very high temperature causes oil, or any other combustible substance to burn, thereby increasing the pressure further, producing enough energy to drive the pellet up the barrel at a very high velocity.”

Further, they proved that the combustion takes place through an ingenious test that they called “The Nitrogen Experiment.” Starting with a .22 caliber Weihrauch HW35, they stripped it, degreased and rebuilt it with the correct amount of lubrication everywhere. They then fired it through a chronograph until it settled down at 636 fps with a 14.4 grain pellet (12.9 fp of energy at the muzzle).

They then placed the HW35 and a supply of pellets in a long plastic bag and sucked all the air out of it with a vacuum pump, leaving it sitting under vacuum for half an hour to remove all oxygen from within the seals and mechanism. The bag was sealed around the barrel and a rubber bung pressed into the muzzle to prevent oxygen from re-entering the gun. After that, nitrogen, an inert gas that does not support combustion, was blown into the bag to make it a manageable size for shooting the gun. The bung was removed and replaced for each shot, and a number of shots were fired. With the HW35 unable to enter the combustion phase of the shot cycle, the gun managed only 426 fps or 5.8 foot-pounds. The Cardews had proved conclusively that combustion is necessary for the proper operation of a sporting springer.

So, a little bit of lubrication is necessary so that combustion can take place. But what happens when your brand new airgun has a little too much lubrication? Check out the chart below.


This is the graph of velocities of an airgun that has too much lubrication and has entered into what the Cardews call the “detonation phase,” or what airgunners generally refer to as “dieseling.” Instead of making normal shot-cycle sounds, the shot goes off with a bang, producing the wild variations in velocity that you see above. Often smoke comes out the barrel and there is a characteristic smell. In severe cases, dieseling can actually bow out the walls of the compression chamber and drive the piston backwards with such force that it kinks the mainspring.

Fortunately, it is usually the case that a handful of shots with extra-heavy pellets will drive the excess lubricant out of the powerplant and settle the airgun back into normal operation. Below is the velocity graph of the same airgun after it was shot enough to settle down.


The bottom line: high powered sporting air rifles and air pistols require some combustion of their lubrication to operate properly. But there is such a thing as too much. If you find your air rifle or air pistol dieseling, 5-10 shots with the heaviest pellets you have of the appropriate caliber may help to correct the situation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott


G12 misc and modular moderator 022

A few years ago I conducted an interview on long-distance shooting with a gentleman who is well known in the airgunning community. He offered the opinion that no one would want a silencer on an airgun unless they wanted to do poaching.

I’ve had a few years to think about that statement, and my conclusion is that it is hogwash. Sure, I imagine that there might be some airgunners out there who are poachers and who would want silenced air rifles for that purpose, but among all the airgunners that I have spoken with or met not once has the subject of poaching even been whispered.

On the other hand, I have talked with and met many airgunners who particularly enjoy the special freedom that airguns offer – that is, the ability to shoot legally in many locations where the discharging of firearms is strictly forbidden. Many of them desire air pistols and air rifles with a reduced report to help maintain good relationships with their neighbors.

For myself, accuracy is the thing that attracts me to airguns, and in addition to accuracy I simply enjoy shooting an air rifle that makes as little noise as possible. In general, most spring-piston are much quieter than, say, a .22 long rifle, and most pre-charged pneumatics and multi-stroke pneumatics, if they are not fitted with some sort of sound-attenuation device, tend to be considerably noisier than springers.

Some time ago, I read that Dr. Robert Beeman, former owner of Beeman airguns, had done an experiment in which he had a colleague position himself so that he couldn’t see Beeman shooting. Beeman then fired a springer with and without a sound attenuating device, asking the hidden listener which as louder. The listener apparently found no discernable difference. From this, if I remember correctly, Beeman concluded that sound attenuation devices really didn’t have an impact on springers.

Recently, however, I had the opportunity to shoot a Walther LGV .177 caliber, high-power version, that had been fitted with the FX Modular Moderator. It’s easy to do a with-and-without comparison because all you have to do is remove the screw-on sections that attach to the base piece that is permanently bonded to the barrel.

G12 misc and modular moderator 023

Now, from the factory, the LGV is the smoothest shooting spring-piston powerplant on which I have had the pleasure to squeeze the trigger. If you want the easiest cock, quietest version, go for the .22 caliber 12-foot-pound version. It is simply amazing. But if you want the flattest shooting model, go for the .177 high power. It launches 7.9 grain Crosman Premier Lights (CPLs) at around 930 fps and produces a report at the muzzle that is very similar to the Weihrauch HW80 – a bit of a snap as the pellet exits. Fitted with the FX Modular Moderator, the noise at the muzzle of the LGV .177 high power seems to just disappear. The shooter hears and feels the action of the powerplant as the shot discharges, and that’s it. I like it. It makes an already excellent air rifle even better, and, as an added bonus, the modular moderator extends the length of the barrel assembly beyond the muzzle. I found myself grabbing the modular moderator as a cocking assist handle that, because of the additional length and leverage, reduces the cocking effort.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Just last night I had an encounter with a fellow who is an experienced hunter, firearms user, and sportsman, and he knows very little about airguns. His lack of knowledge of about airguns about airguns isn’t a rare thing. Most of the experienced sportsmen that I know have very little conception of the world of adult precision airguns. Their knowledge is pretty much limited to what can be found on the shelves of the big-box stores, and there the packaging screams: 1200 feet per second, 1300 feet per second, 1500 feet per second! This leaves the consumer to assume that more feet per second is somehow better, and it does the consumer a gross dis-service in making a buying decision.

So let’s suppose that you think maybe it would be neat to try airgunning, but you really don’t have a clue what to buy.


First on my list would be a Benjamin 392. This is a solidly made single-shot, bolt-action, .22 caliber, multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle. It is easy to shoot well, delivers enough power for small game hunting or pest control, and with care should last for decades. I would buy one with a Williams peep sight. Scoping the 392, or its .177 caliber brother the 397, is difficult.


Next up would be the highly respected RWS Model 34. This is a single-shot, break-barrel air rifle available in .177 or .22 with power enough for hunting or field targe. Like all spring-piston air rifles, it requires some care to shoot well. The build quality is excellent, and the trigger is far better than you will find in the typical big-box break-barrel springer. In addition, the Model 34 is easy to mount a scope on.


Third is the Weihrauch HW30S. This is a lower-power break-air rifle that is easy to cock, offers excellent accuracy, and is perhaps the easiest springer to shoot well. Many airgunners I know say it is the last air rifle they would sell. It can be readily scoped, the build quality is outstanding, and it will deliver decades of service with the occasional rebuild. It can be used for pest control and garden defense with careful shot placement at close range.


My favorite springer is the Walther LGV. These are break-barrel, single-shot spring-piston air rifles that are easy to cock and incredibly smooth to shoot. With a scope mounted, you could hunt, plink, shoot field target with a huge grin on your face. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend one to a friend.

When it comes to pre-charged pneumatic rifles, it’s hard to go wrong. Virtually all of them will deliver one-inch groups at fifty yards under good conditions with the right pellet.


Turning to air pistols, the Crosman 1377c is an excellent starter pistol that people love to customize. It’s a single-shot, bolt-action, .177 caliber pistol that is fun to shoot and can be used for small pest control at close range. The rear sight, however, requires a safecracker’s touch to adjust.


If you want pure, accurate, air pistol shooting fun, the Daisy Avanti Triumph 747 can’t be beat. It’s a single-stroke pneumatic pistol that’s wimpy in power and no good for pest control or hunting but highly accurate, and people use them all the time in air pistol silhouette matches.


If you want more power and a challenge, I suggest any of the Weihrauch HW45 pistols. These are spring-pistol air pistols that are tricky to shoot well but are fun to shoot and master. They also offer enough power for defending the birdfeeder at short range.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott




The new FX No Limit Mounts. Notice the big Allen screw just above the two main mounting screws.

The new FX No Limit Mounts. Notice the big Allen screw just above the two main mounting screws.

Unless you decide that you are going to shoot exclusively with non-glass sights such as iron sights or peep-and-globe target sights, eventually you are going to have to deal with the issue of scopes, including mounting and adjusting them.

For some basic background information, check this blog on mounting scopes — — and this blog on adjusting them — .

At some point, however, whether you encounter a springer that has built-in barrel droop or find yourself with the desire to shoot a pre-charged pneumatic air rifle at really long range, you are likely to run into a problem: lack of sufficient elevation adjustment in your scope.

I have faced that problem several times in my airgunning career, and, to my knowledge, there are only a handful of ways of addressing it. The first is to use a different scope, one that has a greater range of adjustment. This can work fine but is generally the most expensive option.

Another option is to switch to a special “drooper” mount for the scope. Some manufacturers offer special drooper mounts that are designed to work with their airguns that have barrel droop built in. I have used these special mounts successfully but they lack flexibility beyond their built-in droop compensation because they cannot be adjusted.

Alternatively, some airgunners opt to raise the back end of the scope by placing metal or plastic shims between the underside of the scope tube and the top of the rear mount. The danger with shims – especially if you are trying to achieve a large amount of vertical adjustment — is that by raising the scope tube at the rear and providing no compensation at the front mount, you raise the possibility of putting mechanical stress on the scope tube that could bend the tube or damage the scope. I have successfully shimmed scopes in the past, but it is not an optimal solution and doesn’t work well when you need a lot of adjustment.

Another option is to “lap” the scope mount rings to angle the scope downward as it passes through the rings. I have never personally used this method of providing for additional elevation.

Finally, I have in the past seen scope mounts that could be adjusted fore and aft to provide additional elevation adjustment, but most of these (a) looked flimsy to me and (b) required dis-mounting the scope to make adjustments.

But now the good folks from FX airguns have introduced something called “No Limit” mounts. They look like ordinary scope mounts, but there is an extra Allen screw above the foot of the scope mount.

Loosen the big Allen screw and the No Limit Mounts can be raised.

Loosen the big Allen screw and the No Limit Mounts can be raised.

With the scope mounted straight and true, you can loosen those Allen screws and adjust the elevation by lifting the front and rear mounts to different heights.  Because the mounts go up and down while tilting forward or back, the scope can maintain a stress-free and relaxing hold.  This allows you to optically center the scope without having to custom lap or shim the rings, and it also allows the long range shooter to re-position his scope angle for a better range of adjustment at extreme distance.

Best of all, the No Limit Mounts can be tilted to provide stress-free elevation adjust of the scope to compensate for barrel droop or long-range shooting needs.

Best of all, the No Limit Mounts can be tilted to provide stress-free elevation adjust of the scope to compensate for barrel droop or long-range shooting needs.

With springers with droop in their barrels, the No Limit mounts allow you to customize your scope angle to align with barrel angle.  The folks at tell me pcps have different angles too.  They see it when moving one test scope from rifle to rifle.  No Limit mounts allow the shooter to “tune” the scope to the rifle before cranking on the elevation turret.  Even if you don’t have a barrel droop problem or lack of elevation range issue, the No Limit mounts can raise or lower the scope to fine-tune its alignment to your eye.

No Limit mounts do not offer any windage adjustment.  The designers at FX felt that if they allowed left/right movement, it would be difficult to keep the mount stable, so they steered clear of that feature.

In my view, FX has come up with an excellent solution to a problem that is bound to vex every airgunner sooner or later.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott


Proponents of air rifle silhouette will tell you enthusiastically that air rifle silhouette is the most fun as you can have standing up. In involves shooting at four types of metallic animal shapes: chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams. The targets are the same size as the silhouettes used in air pistol silhouette, but you shoot at them at longer distances: chickens, 20 yards; pigs, 30 yards; turkeys, 36 yards, and rams, 45 yards. Generally, you shoot at 10 of each target, and when you hit them, they fall down (in the case of resettable targets) or go flying.

What makes air rifle silhouette even more challenging is that all shooting is done from the standing (offhand position), and unlike 10 meter air rifle competition, the use of special shooting jackets, pants, shoes, and so forth is forbidden. Competitors must shoot in ordinary street clothing. The irregular shape of the targets adds to the challenge and the fun.

If you want to get involved in air rifle silhouette, you will need an air rifle capable of shooting, at a minimum, dime-sized groups from a rest at 20 yards. Since during competition  you will not be shooting from a rest but will be shooting from a standing position, you – like all humans – will wobble. Given that all of the silhouette targets have narrow elements (the legs for example), you want an accurate rifle that will hit what it is pointing at, should you inadvertently wobble your aim over a small portion of the target. Naturally, whatever air rifle you use, you will want to shoot groups with a variety of pellets to discover which pellet is the most accurate in your rifle. You’ll want to check to make sure that the pellets you select group well at 20 yards and at the longest distance, 45 yards.

You’ll also want a scope. Although selecting scope magnification can be tricky – low magnification diminishes your apparent wobble but makes it harder to view the targets, and high magnification increases wobble while making the silhouettes appear larger – but folks in the know tell me that a 6-12x or 6-18x scope is a good place to start. You’ll want a scope with an adjustable objective to reduce parallax error, and, if you are shooting a springer, you’ll need a scope that is springer rated. In addition, because the trajectory of your air rifle can vary from 20 to 45 yards, you will want some means to compensate for the differing trajectory. Some shooters use target knobs to change the elevation of the crosshairs and others use mil-dot scopes, selecting the appropriate dot for different ranges.

Many air rifle venues offer different classes of competition. Target class is for any unaltered 10 meter target air rifle. Since many 10 meter target air rifles launch pellets at around 600fps, compensating for the wind, particularly at the longer distance, can be pretty “entertaining.”  Sporter class is where you will find spring-piston, gas-ram, and CO2 powered air rifles. All air rifles and scopes must meet an 11 pound weight limit. Open class is where you’ll find precharged pneumatic air rifles that do not fall into the target class. There are other specifications for each class so always check the current NRA silhouette rules to make sure your air rifle will be legal to use. You can find the rules on the NRA web site here:

For practice, I can recommend this target:

The last thing you’ll need is a place to compete. You can find out about air rifle silhouette matches by contacting the National Rifle Association. This website — — will help you find local NRA-affiliated clubs in your area. Unfortunately, you will have to contact them individually to see which ones offer air rifle silhouette competition.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott