When buying your first Air rifle you need to decide what you want to do with it, be it pest control, target shooting or for plinking in the garden. There are 2 main calibres of air rifles for sale which you will need to consider; .177 4.5mm and .22 5.5mm. Other air rifle calibers are becoming more popular such as the .20 and .25.
The .177 calibre pellet is a fantastic pellet for target shooting. This is due to it being a fast pellet with a very flat trajectory over short and long distances. The .22 pellet has always been a much preferable calibre for hunting small game. 22 air rifle pellets are heavier than .177 air rifle pellets, therefore delivering a much harder impact to the animal.
A guide to Air Rifles for beginners 2019
Pest Control With An Air Rifle
When doing pest control you need a suitable air rifle that is up to the task. You will need a full power (sub 12ftlb) air rifle to deliver an instant and quick kill, as you want to respect the quarry that you are hunting. Full powered air rifles are generally set around the 11.5 ftlb power to allow for different pellet weight. The preferable calibre for hunting is a .22 5.5mm pellet as it delivers more shock energy and knock down power.
Target Shooting with An Air Rifle
For target shooting a .177 4.5mm pellet is the calibre to go for. 177 air rifle pellets fly faster and as a result have a much flatter trajectory then the other calibers. With a flatter trajectory it is easier to shoot at the various different distances within different types of target shooting disciplines. As the 177 pellet is also smaller it makes smaller groupings and are better suited to shoot at some of the competition targets.
3 Different variations of air rifle you can buy
Now that you have decided what you want to do with your new Air Rifle, you must now decide what kind of airgun you want to purchase. There are 3 main different styles of air rifles.
First up is the humble spring powered air rifle. Commonly known as a break barrel or a springer. Widely considered as the most reliable out of the three, it works by compressing a spring using either an underlever or by simply breaking the barrel away from the action.
Next up is the co2 powered air rifle. This style of air rifle is not usually full powered; however what it sacrifices in power it makes up for in accuracy, due to not having any recoil. Co2 rifles can vary between 6ft and 10ftlb. Ideal rifles for close range pest control, plinking at targets in the garden or to introduce a youngster to the sport.
Last up is the market leader and the most popular variation of air rifle, the Pre Charged Pneumatic (PCP). These pcp air rifles are powered by an air canister in the form of either a cylinder or bottle, situated somewhere on the gun. The PCP style of air rifle is recoil-less and therefore the most accurate over long distance. Pre charged air rifles are generally multi shot and come equipped with a magazine, they can also be whisper quiet when a silencer is attached. This type of air rifles come in all different shapes and sizes, with the bullpup air rifle being very popular.
The Spring Powered Air Rifle
The humble spring powered Air Rifle. A fantastic introduction to the world of air rifles being fairly accurate and good on power. Unlike its counterparts the spring powered air rifle is self-sufficient, simply break the barrel to compress the spring, pop your pellet in the breach end, close up the gun and fire. Another great thing about the spring powered air rifle is it is a very versatile tool. It can be used for either hunting or target shooting. You can buy a well-made introductory air rifle from around £100, or you can spend a little more and buy a German or British made air rifle for example, where the build quality and finish will be higher therefore potentially giving you more accuracy and consistency.
The Co2 Powered Air Rifle
A co2 powered Air rifle can be a slight step up from the spring powered air rifle in some aspects the main one being that you are moving onto multi shot magazine as appose to a single shot that you would get with a spring powered air rifle. The Co2 air rifle is powered by either a small 12g Co2 cartridge or a much bigger 88g Co2 cartridge. They are great for target shooting and close range pest control, thanks to being a recoilless action. The only one drawback to shooting a Co2 Powered air rifle is you lose a little bit of power with most running around 9.5 to 10.5 ftlbs. However that is made up with the accuracy you can get from a Co2 Powered Air Rifle.
The Pre Charged Pneumatic (PCP) Air Rifle
Now we come to the most popular market leading Air Rifle, The PCP is great for both types of shooting, target shooting or pest control thanks to its recoilless action. A PCP is powered by a compressed air cylinder or buddy bottle usually on the front of the gun running parallel with the barrel. The compressed air inside the reservoir is usually pressured at 200bar giving you a good amount of shots. Depending on what type of air rifle you have some can give 40 shots others will give 300+ shots, depending on the size of the cylinder and whether the rifle is regulated. PCP Air Rifles are mostly magazine fed and cocked with either a bolt action or side lever. Every leading gun manufacture has brought out a Pre Charged Pneumatic Air rifle, because it is considered by some as the best of all 3 types of air rifle.