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Bottle Fed Air Rifles

Posted by on February 10, 2014
Robert Buchanan and I on a pest bird shooot.... those Daystate guys now how to make a bottle forward gun!!

Robert Buchanan and I on a pest bird shooot…. those Daystate guys now how to make a bottle forward gun!!

From the perspective of appearance, some people love them others loath them, but when it comes to shot count bottle fed rifles can’t be denied …… But with the new breed of guns from manufacturers like Daystate, even those solely in the utilitarian camp will have to take a second look!

When buying any new air rifle there are several relevant factors to consider; power, accuracy, loudness (or quietness depending on perspective), trigger characteristics, the guns physical dimensions and how it fits the shooter, etc. Another important item specifically related to precharged pneumatic airguns is online air storage capacity, which dictates shot count and therefore how many shots are available each time the guns air storage reservoir is filled.

For any given gun, the shot count is a balance between how much air the gun can store and how much it uses on each shot. I have two Webley Raiders in my collection, which are identical except for the fact that one is set up for the UK market (12 foot pound of energy (FPE) limit), and the other has been set for the maximum power I can get out of this rifle design (40 fpe). The 12 fpe gun gets 60 shots per fill and the 40 fpe gun gets 28 shots. In other words I choose to give up 32 shots per fill in order to get an additional 28 fpe. The only way to get a higher shot count while keeping the same performance (peak velocity/energy) would be to increase the volume of available air.

When hunting small game and varmint I often want to use a gun that generates maximum power (to stretch out the shooting range), and don’t always want to carry an extra air tank in my pack. The way to accomplish this is deceptively simple, store more air in the gun! But increasing the dimensions of the air reservoir can be tricky; it needs to be done so that the balance and shooting characteristics of the rifle are not compromised.

On another trip to Arizona I took out the FX Gladiator, and was doing some long range prairie dog shooting with it.

On another trip to Arizona I took out the FX Gladiator, and was doing some long range prairie dog shooting with it.

There are essentially three ways to substantially increase the onboard air storage; you can attach a large capacity air bottle to the forestock, incorporate a large capacity air bottle into the buttstock design, or do both. There are several guns on the market that use the forward mounted air bottle, the BSA Superten and Theoben Rapid being good examples of the breed. Less common are guns that use the air bottle as the structural basis for the buttstock, exemplified by the AirForce line of guns (the Talon and Condor) and the Logun Sweet 16. These guns provide a very high shot count even when the guns are dialed up to provide the maximum possible power. The third configuration is a combination of the two, which is the least common approach seen on guns like the FX Gladiator with a buttstock air bottle and a under barrel air tube.

I’ve used the forward bottle guns from BSA, Theoben/Rapid, Daystate, and FX. I think this is a good design when you want to tune a gun to deliver maximum power with big heavy pellets. All of these rifles will let you drive heavy projectiles at high velocities while maintaining a fairly high shot count, the actual number depending on the bottle volume (typically between 400 – 500 cc) and the power level set up for the gun. In some of the earlier models (like the BSA Superten) I didn’t really like the feel of the bottle as the stock didn’t cover it, though I still found it possible to shoot accurately. But the newer guns such as the Daystate Wolverine Type B tend to have more ergonomically designed stocks that either seamlessly dovetail into the bottle.

The Airforce and FX have models (Talon and Verminator respectively) that have the air bottle forming the buttstock, and this configuration lends itself very well to the high tech look and feel of their guns. The bottles have a capacity of 400-500 cc of compressed air, and at full power can give up to 40-50 shots per fill. Dial the adjustable power down and you can get a couple hundred shots per fill! I find that with these bottle buttstock guns it is necessary to pay close attention to the scope mount used, if they are too high I find it difficult to achieve a consistent sight alignment. However, with a medium profile mount I do very well with both the Talon and the Condor. The Verminator and Gladiators have the mose ergonomic butt stock configurations built around the air bottle.

This is one of the old school guns, the BSA SuperTen I borrowed on an early varmint hunt in South Africa.

This is one of the old school guns, the BSA SuperTen I borrowed on an early varmint hunt in South Africa.

The method of filling these guns vary from manufacturer to manufacturer; in some models there is a filling port built into the gun so they can be refilled without demounting the bottle from the rifle. In others the bottle is removed and attached to the filling tank with a connector, filled, and then the full bottle is remounted. And in some there is the option to use either method, which is my preference. I like the option to carry a full tank that can be swapped for an empty in the field, but also like the option to quickly refill the gun without going through the extra steps of removing the bottle first. Regardless, the primary advantage of all of these guns is the increased shot count even when the gun is set for the highest possible power.

like the bottle fed rifles when hunting in target rich areas. On a recent prairie dog shoot out west, where I got a couple hundred shots a day, the WindyCity let me stay in the field for long periods. This was a great step saver, in that we were spot and stalk hunting and managed to move a couple of miles away from the truck on each outing. On more than one occasion I was still knocking prairie dogs over as we hiked back to the vehicles, while my buddies had long since run their guns dry. Between the high volume of the onboard bottle and the ability to carry a compact lightweight extra bottle, you don’t really need to stop shooting with these guns. That’s something to think about if you plan to do a lot of shooting!


2 Responses to Bottle Fed Air Rifles

  1. Max Duran

    I am new to air gunning and I’ve been to the box stores looking, I’ve been on Pinterest, you tube etc. I read reviews and blogs and this makes it difficult to pick a good reliable air rifle. I hear terms like Springer and PCP . I understand springers require no air supply but are only single shot and less expensive than their counterpart. Then you have calibers and so on and so on…. I would like some solid advice and direction on which way to go, which models etc.
    Perhaps a catalog would help.

    • Jim Chapman

      Max; It depends what you want to do with the gun, and if you are committed enough to buy the air tank that is required for a pcp. Springers are as you point out, less expensive than pcps, and can be approximately as powerful as the smaller bores sub 30 fpe pcps. And they don’t require an air source, being fully self contained. However, they are bigger and heavier (as a rule), almost all are single shot, and much more difficult to shoot accurately. If you want a spinger, I’d look at a Walther LGV in .22, or for a pcp a Compatto in .22 or .25 if you’re looking for a hunting gun. Check out the info in the AOA catalog, if you want advice on a specific gun for hunting, I’d suggest you ask for Kip, the AOA resident expert on hunting, he would be a big help.

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