Benjamin Rogue .357 Air Rifle One of the most powerful air rifles on the market.
The oldest existing mechanical air gun, a bellows air gun dating back to about 1580, is in the Livrustkammaren Museum in Stockholm. This is the time most historians recognize as the beginning of the modern air gun.
Air rifles have come a long way in recent years. Modern air rifles come in a variety of calibers and types or propellant.
The most common air gun calibers are
- .177 (4.5 mm): the most common caliber. All official shooting organizations mandate .177 caliber for both pistol and rifle competition. Used in ISSF shooting events at the Olympic Games. It has the flattest trajectory of all the calibers for a given energy level, making accuracy simpler. At suitable energy levels it can be used effectively for hunting.
- .22 (5.5 mm & 5.6 mm): for hunting and general use.
Other less common traditional calibers include:
- .20 (5 mm): initially proprietary to the Sheridan multi-pump pneumatic air rifle, later more widely used.
- .25 (6.35 mm): the largest commonly available caliber for most of the 20th century.
Larger caliber air rifles suitable for hunting large animals are offered by major manufacturers. These are usually PCP guns. The major calibers available are:
- .45 (11.43 mm)
- .50 (12.7 mm)
- .58 (14.5 mm)
Custom air guns are available in even larger calibers such as 20 mm (0.79″) or .87 (22.1 mm).
Some .50 Caliber Air Rifles produce more energy than .357 magnum Size comparison from .22 caliber pellet and .50 caliber pellets
In recent years we have seen a perceived shortage of some caliber ammunition. Many believe that hoarders are purchasing large quantities of 22LR ammunition and artificially creating a shortage and driving the cost of what typically is a low cost ammunition.
WHY BUY AN ADULT PRECISION AIRGUN?
Target Shooting: It is not surprising that target shooting with airguns is so popular around the world. The top-grade precision airguns are now considered to be the world’s most accurate guns, bar none. In many countries such as Germany and England, target shooting at the local clubhouse is mixed with good fellowship and, after the contest, good beer! Americans also target shoot in clubs, albeit in a bit drier surroundings than their European counterparts. While Americans often think of airgun shooting as primarily a youth program leading to adult firearm events, they are now recognizing that serious airgun competition is an end in itself and something in which members of all ages can participate.
Airgun shooting in America is actively promoted by the National Rifle Association. In fact, airgun shooting is one of only three competitive shooting events that have grown in the U.S. during the last decade (combat pistol and silhouette are the other two). The NRA has established 15 levels of marksmanship awards in their 25-ft airgun shooting programs, awards which you can obtain by shooting right in your own home. Target shooters can also compete with each other via postal matches, and in-person at hundreds of airgun matches at the local, state, national and international levels. Airgun competition is also an official Olympic event for both men and women.
Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock .25-Caliber Pellet Air Rifle
In addition to target shooting, many U.S. shooting clubs have started hunting style metallic silhouette and “field target” programs for air rifles and pistols.
Pest Control: With a proper high-powered airgun you ran reduce harmful pests in areas where a firearm would be unsafe or not permitted (please be sure to select an airgun with sufficient power to do the job humanely). Suburbanites, farmers and gardeners appreciate the adult use of airguns in the selective control of crop predators such as woodchucks, opossum and even raccoons. Airguns may he used to control destructive rodents and birds such as Norway rats, English sparrows, Crows, European starlings, and feral Old World Pigeons.
Hunting: Shooters enjoy adding to the larder using the new breed of “magnum” hunting air rifles with 40 to 50+ yard range. Hunting for food is especially popular for such delicate game as pigeon, squirrel and rabbit. And, believe it or not, even eating crow can be quite delicious if it’s not too old. Many suburban airgunners are able to hunt on local farms where firearms simply can’t be used!
The more proficient you become with adult precision airguns, whether to plink, pot pests, or punch paper targets, the more you will appreciate how exquisitely these elegant rifles and pistols are scaled to human sensibilities. Airguns are fairly quiet, modestly powered and extraordinarily accurate mechanical works of art. Learning to master the discipline of superior marksmanship, and training yourself to approach the performance of which these tools are capable can be an enduringly satisfying avocation. One which you might gladly spend a lifetime attempting to master.
Cost of Operation: You can safely and economically fire thousands of rounds a year from an airgun right in your own home. A suitable range can be set up in minutes in a basement, garage, or even in the living room of small apartment.
Make Your Own Ammo: Since you only need lead and no gun powder, brass, or primers, one can easily cast their own lead air rifle ammunition just about anywhere you can build a fire.
Shooting Skill Improvement: All skill sports require frequent practice. The benign airgun can be used to teach the elements of marksmanship which carry over nearly perfectly to firearms shooing. The safe, sheer handiness of airguns means practice can be impromptu, informal and frequent.
Airgun Regulations: Airguns are not subject to the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968 and many other firearm laws. There are little or no purchase or ownership problems in most areas. However. some cities and communities treat airguns as firearms. It’s always a good idea to check with your police department for the local regulations. Normally, you can ship, mail and take target airguns across state and even international borders when traveling and vacationing, although magnum hunting air rifles above 12 ft-lbs. of muzzle energy may he treated as firearms in some countries.
*Outdoor shooting may not be permitted in some localities. Check with police for outdoor shooting regulations.
Sources: Wikipedia, Crossman Website, http://www.pyramydair.com/, and http://www.extremebigboreairrifles.com/