The greatest Christmas gift — Part II

Monday, December 17, 2012

Last time I suggested that if you really want to put a grin on someone’s face this holiday season, you might want to make them the gift of an air rifle, combined with the gift of your time shooting with them.

The excellent Daisy Avanti 747 pistol.

But for some folks, an air pistol might be a better choice. If you want an air pistol that is suitable for casual plinking and backyard shooting yet could be used for silhouette competition or club-level ten-meter competition, the Daisy Avanti 747 is an excellent choice. It is a single-stroke pneumatic that is completely self-contained, is easy to cock and shoot, make a mild “pop” when it goes off, has virtually no recoil, and is wickedly accurate with the right pellet. The 747 is so mild-mannered that it probably could be shot in an apartment with a silent pellet trap and a little covering music. About the only thing that the 747 is not good for is pest control. It is simply too low powered to be used for humane pest control.

The CO2-powered Crosman 2300S has excellent sights.

If you want an air pistol that doesn’t even require a cocking stroke, consider the CO2-powered Crosman 2300S. It has a Lothar-Walther choked match barrel and meets IHMSA rules for “production class” silhouette competition. It uses 12-gram CO2 cartridges but delivers around 60 shots per cartridge. This pistol features a Williams rear notch sight with target knobs for easy adjustment and is extremely accurate with the right pellet. I would not recommend the 2300S for pest control, except for very small pests at close range.

An LP8 pistol equipped with an optional red dot sight.

If you want an air pistol that recoils, there are two really good choices that immediately come to mind. The RWS LP8 is a break-barrel springer pistol that can be readily fitted with a red dot, and is powerful enough for defending the bird feeder at close range.

An HW45 in the Black Star configuration.

Any of the HW45 series of pistols are also excellent. They are slightly more difficult to fit with a red dot, but they are extremely well made and deliver enough power for pest control at close range. I have personally terminated a squirrel using a .177 HW45, and I have heard stories of folks killing much possum-sized game with an HW45 at close range.

One of the interesting things about the HW45 is that the piston works backwards. A pistol like the RWS LP8 is like a scaled down breakbarrel rifle. You crank the barrel down to cock the gun, and you’re driving the piston and spring back, toward the palm of your shooting hand. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rocket forward, just like a break barrel rifle.

But cocking the HW45 is totally different. You pull back the ‘hammer’ to release the rear of the upper, and then you pull the rear part of the upper up and forward to cock the pistol. While you’re doing that, you’re actually dragging the spring and piston toward the muzzle of the pistol until they latch. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston leap toward your hand. The shot cycle feels different than the LP8, but both the LP8 and HW45 are a lot of fun to shoot, and I have spoken to several airgunners who really enjoy the challenge of learning to shoot these spring-piston air pistols well.

With any of these air pistols, you’ll likely need a pellet trap, a selection of pellets, some eye protection, and perhaps a red dot sight. Ask the good folks at, and they’ll fix you up with what you need.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

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