How to Select Your First Rifle

How to Select Your First Rifle

Nowadays, there are many specialized weapons stores that sell pneumatic weapons from different countries. Rifles have different purposes: for training and recreational shooting, airsoft, as well as for underwater and traditional hunting.

Many people often do not know how to choose an air rifle because hunting or fishing are not one-day, one-time hobbies, but rather a way of life. Therefore, the choice of equipment for this hobby should be taken seriously and competently, so that a hurriedly purchased expensive item does not gather dust somewhere in the far corner.

All gun lovers are conventionally divided into two categories: those who already have it, and those who are just going to purchase it. For the second group, the question “how to choose an air rifle” is very relevant. A beginner might argue, “What’s the difference? I’ll come to the hunting store and buy the first gun I like. ” However, it’s not so simple.

One should understand that any weapon is an extension of its owner. There must be harmony between them. For example, you can take any rifle with good combat characteristics. It suits one person perfectly: the stock fits snugly in the shoulder, the length of the weapon corresponds to the length of the owner’s arms, and the weight will be ideal. But for another, the weapon will be inconvenient… As a result, despite the good characteristics of the rifle, the owner will not be able to get satisfaction from using it.

Therefore, when choosing a pneumatic weapon (as well as any other), you should not only pay attention to the tactical and technical characteristics but also “feel” it so that it becomes your faithful friend for many years.

If you have never held a pneumatic weapon in your hands before, first of all, you should go to the shooting range and shoot everything that you can get your hands on – spring-piston rifles, PCP, CO2, expensive and cheap – in general, test all the products. It is recommended to remember the impressions of the tests, or even better – to write them down. After that, you should ask yourself a few questions:

  • do you like to shoot from pneumatics at all?
  • how accurately do you want to hit the target?
  • how often do you plan to shoot?
  • is there a desire to finish the rifle?
  • how much money are you willing to pay for your purchase?

And only having received answers to these questions, you can decide how to choose an air rifle.

You should not hope that the sales assistant will tell you a decent option: the seller may see you as an easy sacrifice and persuade you to buy a product because it needs to be sold. Therefore, if you are a beginner, take an experienced friend with you to the store who can tell you the advantages and disadvantages of a particular thing. Now let’s look at what to look for when choosing a weapon.

Pneumatics and law

In the United States, access to guns is controlled by the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). How to choose an air rifle without a license and bureaucratic red tape? Any adult citizen can do this. A device with a capacity of up to 3 J is generally considered “structurally similar to a weapon, but not a weapon.”

A person who has reached the age of 18 can buy a sports pneumatic weapon with a capacity of more than 3 J, but up to 7.5 J and a bullet caliber of up to 4.5 mm, also without needing a special permit. More powerful hunting or sporting pneumatic guns are quite available, however, after obtaining permits for them.

What to look for

Now the market offers a large selection of long-barreled weapons. However, you should be aware that all these copies differ not only by the manufacturer but also by the features of the structural systems on the basis of which they are created, in caliber and power.

Caliber is the first parameter to pay attention to because it determines the purpose of the rifle. Today, on store shelves, you can find pneumatic weapons with three caliber options: 4.5, 5.5 and 6.35 mm. The first type is intended for recreational shooting and training. Such weapons are quite popular among consumers due to their affordable price. This caliber for shooting outdoors or in the country is considered the safest since such rifles are low-power.

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However, one should understand that it is necessary to adhere to safety rules even when using even the weakest weapon. The 5.5 mm rifle is pneumatic for hunting small animals and birds. If you plan to hunt a hare, rabbit, squirrel or duck, then this particular specimen should be preferred. The next type of caliber (6.35 mm) is not very popular since a license is required to acquire this type of weapon, and the price for it is much higher.

When choosing an air rifle for hunting or fishing, you should definitely focus on the power of the weapon. The price of products is closely related to this parameter. In the tactical and technical characteristics, power is rarely indicated, but the initial speed of the bullet is always indicated there. This parameter is the main one for hunting and sports pneumatics. But if the weapon will be used in a shooting range, then this characteristic does not play any role.

The next important selection criterion is the weight of the weapon. It affects the convenience of shooting and the accuracy of hitting the target. For beginners who decide to purchase pneumatics, one should bear in mind that the lighter the weapon, the stronger it gives vibration when firing. And heavy weight leads to fatigue of the shooter, especially when walking with a rifle for a long time. So, for the use of pneumatics in a dash, a heavy copy can be purchased from a stop. And for handheld shooting, it is better to buy a relatively light rifle.

If it is preferable for you to fire from a shelter or a car, then weight in this case is not a determining factor. Then pay special attention to the method of loading the weapon. A multi-charge air rifle will be more convenient here. Now let us consider the features of the structural systems “air”.

Accuracy and range

It’s about energy and technical precision. So how to choose an air rifle that ideally combines one and the other, how to create it – tasks from the realm of fantasy.

Accuracy usually refers to the accuracy of fire under unchanged external conditions and aiming. Ideally, for a 100% hit on the target, you need to be in the same position every time, aim in the same way, use bullets identical in shape, weight and material, and somehow ensure the same actuation of the rifle mechanism. In practice, the discrepancies between shots can be quite significant.

The best examples of pneumatics are capable of giving high accuracy of shots at a short distance (up to 25 m) and sufficient – at an average (25-70 m). However, difficulties arise at distances of 100 meters and more.

Due to the small mass of the bullet, the trajectory decreases, the wind drift increases, as a result, the dispersion is impressive. Therefore, the vast majority of sports competitions in air rifle shooting are held at distances of 25-50 meters.

The power of the rifle is usually measured in joules. Sometimes the manufacturer prefers to indicate the muzzle velocity of the bullet. Several categories can be distinguished – from 0 to 3 J, up to 7.5 J (such rifles are considered low-power and are designated by the letter F (initial velocity of 170 m / s for a bullet weighing 0.51 g). Next are devices with an energy of up to 16.3 J (which allows you to successfully hit targets at a distance of 50-70 m), denote such by the letter J.

Rifles that exceed the 16.3 Joule limit in terms of power carry the FAC badge. They are less dependent on the environment and are more suitable for outdoor shooting. They are capable of hitting a target at a great distance and causing serious damage to it.

What else does accuracy depend on?

When choosing a rifle, you should pay attention to the barrel since accuracy depends very much on its quality. In general, you need to look at two places – in the breech and at the end of the barrel.

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As for the breech (the place where the bullet is inserted), then there should be a small chamfer in it. If it is provided by the manufacturer, then comparing several rifles will help form an opinion. The chamfer is needed so that the bullet does not wrinkle.

How to choose an air rifle with good accuracy? At the end of the barrel, such a rifle should have a high-quality chamfer. The absence of a chamfer or its poor quality leads to the fact that the bullet will come off unevenly from the rifling – in this case, there is no need to talk about any good accuracy.

For some companies, the chamfer is not provided by the manufacturer – it is completely absent, or there is a thread instead of the grooves. Therefore, you need to inspect weapons very carefully before buying them.

However, in addition to the purpose, when choosing a rifle, you must also take into account its design. Existing modern products can be divided into several groups depending on which method of gas compression lies at the heart of the design.

How to choose the best air rifle design? Remember your requirements for it. Each system has its own pros and cons, is suitable for some tasks and bad for others.

Spring-piston pneumatic weapon

What are these rifles? The constructive system of such a weapon is based on a powerful spring that pushes the piston when fired. This compresses the air in a special compressor chamber and creates pressure that expels the bullet. These rifles are easy to use, they do not require additional devices. At first, in the absence of the skills to use such products, there may be slight discomfort associated with breaking the barrel for cocking the mainspring. However, the shooter gets used to this feature of spring-piston rifles within a few days.

You can also purchase a weapon with a side or underbarrel cocking lever. In such models, the barrel is more static, and the accuracy of fire is significantly higher than that of the breaking ones. In addition, these rifles can be used in conjunction with a bipod, which is very convenient when hunting from an ambush.

Multicompression air rifles

This type of long-barreled pneumatic weapon differs significantly from spring-piston systems in that it is equipped with a storage tank and a pump, which are designed to pump compressed air. Such rifles are characterized by high stability when shooting and low recoil force, and, accordingly, greater strength.

The multicompression system allows the shooter to independently choose the power of the shot. The disadvantage is the insignificant limiting speed of the bullet, so such a weapon is practically unsuitable for real hunting.

CO2 rifles

The heart of this system is a compressed gas cylinder – CO2. Despite the fact that such pneumatics have their advantages (for example, shooting in semi-automatic mode, as well as minimal recoil), this option is completely unsuitable for hunting. The insignificant power and albeit slow but constant evaporation of gas at low temperatures make it irrelevant for hunting in the winter. And the constant need to replace gas cylinders causes significant discomfort for beginners.

Pneumatics with pre-inflation

This weapon is widely used by athletes. The design of these rifles is similar to that of a CO2 weapon. The difference is that a can is replaced with a special high-pressure tank is used here, into which compressed air is pumped. This sporting air rifle is a very powerful weapon. At the same time, the speed of the bullet is easily and quickly adjusted, which does not require special skills and will be understandable even for a beginner.

The small number of moving mechanisms makes the recoil almost invisible when firing. The disadvantage of the pre-pumping system is the need to purchase rather expensive and bulky equipment for pumping air under high pressure. And, of course, using a compressed air tank requires additional safety measures.


For shooting from pneumatics, darts, balls, “arrows” and bullets are used in various variations: spherical steel, plastic, aluminum, lead and others. The most common are lead. Air rifle bullets are selected according to the rules, and violating them will not bring anything good either to the owner or to the weapon. A few tips on how not to spoil your purchase while experimenting:

  • do not load rifled weapons with arrows or darts;
  • it is better to avoid shells from an unknown manufacturer and from an unknown metal;
  • the newly purchased packaging must be free of metal shavings, sawdust, oil;
  • the bullets should not have traces of oxidation, a noticeable technological seam, high-quality projectiles can only have a “lead” color.
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Well, this is where the analysis of the question of how to choose an air rifle can be considered complete. Now let’s consider some models of pneumatics, both domestic and foreign manufacturers.

The best rifles available on the market

If you do not have much experience in reworking pneumatic weapons, you should look towards brands. You should bear in mind that the opinion of such things as air rifles – which one is better to choose for hunting, which one for a shot, and which one is suitable only for a “tick” – each experienced shooter has his own. There are also several different ratings. The list below is the viewpoint of only one part of the shooting community.

From the point of view of quality, manufacturers on the market can be ranked in the following order (from the best product quality to the worst):

  • Weihrauh.
  • Air Arms.
  • Kral.
  • Torun Arm.
  • Hatsan.
  • BAM.
  • Gamo.
  • Umarex.
  • CZ (Ceska Zbrojovka).
  • Weirhauch.
  • Steyr.

German quality

German air rifles are worthy of separate mention. Which one to choose if you have money for it? The product of the German industry Diana-54 is known for its quality, reliability, accuracy and power. This is the best air rifle, which you can choose for hunting and entertaining shooting. Its only drawback is its rather high price.

Diana 350 – This German rifle is a classic model of the Magnum class. This weapon is characterized by high-quality workmanship, reliability and, of course, accuracy. The Magnum Diana 350 pneumatic rifle has a fairly high power, the bullet speed is 320 m / s, and the caliber is 5.5 mm. It can be used together with a telescopic sight.

The model is specially designed for hunting, shoots heavy bullets, however, it is recommended to practice well for successful shooting. However, all weapons of this class have similar technical characteristics, therefore, when choosing a rifle, it is better to try all the options and choose the one that will be convenient for you.

Spanish pneumatics from El Gamo

Hunter air rifles are the Magnum class weapons. In hunting stores, you can find models with the letter “F” in the name, for example, Gamo 1250 F Hunter. This letter means that this rifle was weakened by the manufacturer so that its power does not go beyond the limits prescribed in the US legislation.

However, most hunters rebuild the pistons drilled at the factory and use the original Gamo mainspring, thereby increasing the power of the air rifle. As a result, it is capable of firing a bullet at a speed of 400 m / s.

This very powerful weapon is loved by many hunters. In addition to the high speed of the bullet, it shows good accuracy. And in combination with proprietary optics, it is capable of delivering a truly phenomenal shooting performance.

The disadvantages include powerful recoil, so a good grip of the weapon is required when firing. However, with practice and time, the shooter adapts and can knock down a penny coin from a hundred meters. The weight of the rifle in question is 4.2 kg without optics, so it is better to shoot from the stop.

Strengthening the air rifle

Many hunters and athletes prefer their weapons to have more power, and, accordingly, the speed of the bullet. To do this, the following steps are taken: the rammer’s sealing is improved and the mainspring is changed to a more powerful one. To achieve the goal, small grooves are made in the threaded connections of the rammer and rubber sealing rings are installed.

It is best to select a spring that is suitable in length and diameter (from more advanced types of pneumatics). In addition, the use of heavier bullets is recommended, which also leads to an increase in speed.


If you decide to purchase an air rifle, you should highlight for yourself the main tasks of the weapon: sports training, sports games, precision shooting or hunting. Then compare the technical characteristics of the respective models. If you make the right choice that fully meets all the requirements, there will be nothing to regret.

Category: General Issues

Tags: hunting, rifle, weapon