Airgun Universe - Everything Airgun.

Choosing an Airgun for Hunting

Your first consideration in selecting an airgun should be accuracy. A large part of that comes from you, as we will discuss later, but the airgun's construction plays a part as well. Try to avoid airguns whose actions are constructed out of injection molded plastic. Plastic has a tendency to conform to stress, causing a shift in your point of impact (POI). This applies especially to barrel supports and scope mounts. Also make sure the barrel is rifled, this improves accuracy and energy.

If using open sights, you should look for a gun with fully adjustable sights. If using a scope or red dot, make sure that the scope mount is solid. Beginners are encouraged to start with open sights before graduating to scopes.

Your second consideration is power. What type of game do you plan to take? If you are looking to shoot small birds and mammals, you won't need a DAQ Outlaw or Bandit. If you are wanting to take coyotes and wild hogs, your average department store .177 or .22 airgun will just sting the animal, and in the case of the wild hogs, get you hurt. You need to match the gun to the game you are taking.

Where do you plan to hunt? In some locations, there are limits on the muzzle velocity or energy. Make sure that you follow the laws, you'll get caught sooner or later if you break them. Don't use too powerful a gun in residential areas if their use is permitted. Remember, if you have a privilege, use it - don't abuse it. Much of the negative feeling toward our sport comes from trigger happy idiots that don't care about the consequences of their actions. Don't ruin things for the rest of us!

Power is contingent on two things: mass of projectile and velocity. Remember studying about energy in physics? Kinetic energy, or the energy of motion is equal to 1/2 x mass x velocity squared. If you double the mass, you double the kinetic energy. If you double the velocity, you quadruple the kinetic energy. Let's see how this works:

Take your average department store .177 pellet gun. It will shoot a 7.6 grain (gr) pellet at 550 feet per second (fps). This yields 5.1 foot pounds (ft-lbs) of muzzle energy. Not bad, if you are hunting small pests. If you take a RWS model 350, which advertises a 1250 fps velocity, you will get an impressive 26.4 ft-lbs of energy with the same pellet. That will reliably bring down rabbits and squirrel.

Muzzle Energy Calculator
Use the following calculators to figure out muzzle energy:

English Units:

Pellet Weight: (in grains)

Pellet Velocity: (in fps)

Metric Units:

Pellet Weight: (in grams)

Pellet Velocity: (in mps)

Here is a guide for the beginner to use in selecting a gun:

Muzzle Energy

Game Taken

Under 10 ft-lbs:

Small birds, field mice, other animals same size

10 to 30 ft-lbs:

Squirrel, rabbits, other animals similar size

30 to 100 ft-lbs:

Feral cats, coyotes, similar sized animals

100+ ft-lbs:

Wild hogs, small deer, other similar animals

Note that this is a general guide. In the hands of a marksman, a weaker gun can be used to take larger game with a well-placed shot.

Power Plant
If you have looked at airguns, you've probably noticed that they are powered in different ways. Each powerplant has its pros and cons. Use the following information to help you in your decision:

Multi-stroke pneumatic guns are one of the most popular guns sold at department stores. You normally pump the gun up to 10 times and you are ready to fire. Their advantages are quietness, no need to haul around an external pump or CO2 tank, and lightweight. Their disadvantages are the number of pumps required between each shot and many are so cheaply made that pumping them to full power on a consistent basis wears them out.

CO2 guns have been made extremely popular by Crosman, with the 22xx series being the recent rage. Their chief advantage is the fact that they don't have to be pumped up. Just cock the gun, aim, and fire. Other advantages would be consistent velocities at a given temperature, relatively cheap to shoot if you bulk fill, and you don't have to worry about water build up in the action. The prime disadvantage of CO2 guns is the fact that their velocity drops significantly in cold weather, making an otherwise powerful gun unsuitable for hunting in late fall and winter. Go figure.

The solution to the problems of the multi-stroke pneumatics and CO2 airguns is the pre-charged pneumatic or PCP. These guns store highly compressed air (usually 3000+ psi) in a large tank. The tank is normally filled by a scuba tank or hand pump, and is good for dozens of hi-power shots.

The main advantage is that these guns are more powerful and consistent than CO2 guns, in both warm and cold weather. Their main disadvantage is cost. The guns themselves are usually $100+ more than a CO2 gun, due to the higher grade materials designed to withstand the enormous pressures. Then there is the hand pump or scuba tank and all its adaptors, another $150 to $200 to shell out. If you have money, the PCP is the way to go. If not, don't give up hope, read on.

The last powerplant discussed here is the springer. These guns are powered by a massive mainspring. You cock the gun, which compresses the mainspring. When the trigger is pulled, the mainspring pushes a piston forward, compressing and heating the air ahead of it, pushing the pellet out the barrel at impressive speeds.

So why should you shoot a springer? Well, they are relatively inexpensive, both to purchase and to shoot. They shoot well in both warm and cold weather. They can pump out a remarkable number of shots per minute. They have very little muzzle report. Disadvantages? Cocking effort is a big one for elderly and young shooters alike. Cocking effort ranges from 25 to 50 lbs. of force. Not bad for a strong dude (ha ha) like me, but it would kill my dad's shoulders. Springers are also notorious for having heavy recoil. Not recoil like a 12 guage shotgun, but a sharp forward backward motion that will rattle a regular scope to pieces and destroy your confidence as a shooter. They take some additional practice to shoot consistently.

I hope that this discussion has helped you in choosing the airgun that is right for you. As your budget allows, don't be afraid to try all four types of guns. Some will be great for hunting, others for the outdoor ranges, and yet others will help you cope with cabin fever by allowing you to shoot indoors.