As I mentioned in some recent posts here, Facebook, YouTube, and a couple magazine articles, most of my hunting recently has been with PCP’s but this year I intended to get out more with my springers. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PCP’s and they will make up the bulk of my hunting gear. However, I never stopped shooting springers, and don’t believe I ever will. This is where airgun hunting starts for most outdoorsman, and there are compelling reasons why these guns make sense.
The advantages may be old news for many, but I’ll restate them here for new recruits into the airgunning world. Spring Piston (or gas piston) rifles, all of which I’ll refer to as springers, are self contained and require no charging gear, nor do you need to find a place to fill your tanks. They are accurate, providing you put in the time to learn your rifle well, and appropriately accurate for almost any small game hunting.
It only fair to state the disadvantages; these guns are harder to shoot than a non-recoiling PCP, but I’d turn this around to an advantage. The techniques you gain from springer shooting, obtaining a consistent hold and follow through on shots, will make you a better marksman regardless of what you shoot in future. These guns can be heavier than a PCP and you do need to cycle them through a moderate to heavy cocking effort, but most shooters (outside of children and smaller ones) don’t have a problem with this.
My other comment is, buy the best gun you can afford. There is no doubt that you can be effective with one of the better mass produced springers purchased at a big box store. But I am willing to bet that inside of a year you’ll want to upgrade your kit. However if you invest a bit more for one of the fine European springers, I’m equally willing to bet you’ll hold on to that gun for a long time. Over thirty years of airgunning, I’ve kept the dozen or so great high end springers acquired along the way (Beeman R1, C1, Webley Patriot, TX200, RWS 34) and will hold on to some of the modern classics in my collection (Walther LGV, Diana 340 N-Tec), while at the same time I’ve gone through literally hundreds of the big box guns. Don’t get me wrong, many of these make fine hunters and if that’s what I could afford, would be happy to start out that way. But it’s a natural progression that as you progress in a sport, the smaller differences in performance become more important to you, not to mention pride of ownership in your equipment.
I’m leaving on another hunt in Texas for hogs in a couple days, and as usual will bring a gun for small game and varminting during down time. The gun I’m bringing is one I’ve been shooting extensively for a few months now, the Diana 340 N-Tec. This is a sleek rifle that is brilliantly crafted and absolutely beautiful; highly figured wood, sharp checkering, ergonomic design, fine metal work and bluing. My rifle is a .177, and small game springers are about the only time I use this caliber now days. I can stack pellets into a half inch group at thirty yards with this rifle shooting JSB exact pellets.
I’ll post either when in Texas or on my return to give you details on the gun and tell you about the hunt. Until then, get out and shoot ……. Hunting seasons are right around the bend!