Headshots Are Key To Airgun Hunting Success


SEPTEMBER 19, 2011 5:20 PM

Airguns are experiencing a renaissance not unlike archery hunters have seen with compound bows or muzzleloaders and their advancements in ignition systems. New technology such as the Crosman Nitro Piston-powered break barrel rifles and Benjamin pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifles have made it possible for hunters to take airguns beyond the backyard and pursue game as large as hogs and coyotes. Airgun hunting is not a new concept, however just as with a bow, centerfire or muzzleloader, there are considerations to be made in order to be successful. Because airguns do not produce the velocity of a firearm, it is important to be aware that shorter effective ranges are

to be expected. The ammunition does not have the cutting diameter of a broadhead, making head shots the most effective target. Head shots are not reserved solely for big

game. This technique applies equally to woodchucks, squirrels and pests such as rats. The heart/lung shot is ingrained in shooters at an early age because it is the largest target area and the animal will surely die. With airguns the distance between a chest impact and “will surely die” could be significant. Coupled with no exit wound, the hunter is faced with a difficult track, and likely a lost animal. Experienced firearm hunters often opt for a neck shot to put an animal down quickly. The buck in the photo above was taken with the Benjamin Rogue .357 with a single head shot at 43 yards. The entry was the size of a dime and there was no exit. No meat was ruined, the trophy was intact and no tracking was necessary. The same result on a 180 pound hog at 50 yards and a prairie dog at 135 yards left no doubt that a properly placed head shot is the most effective method of dispatch with an airgun. Professional airgun hunter and writer Jim Chapman approved of taking a deer with the Rogue and reflecting on his own whitetail deer experiences, wrote, “it’s not a matter of power but exact shot placement, and for that reason my personal guideline is to keep my shots inside of 40-50 yards” (Whitetail Hunt at Michigan’s Deer Tracks Ranch, 2009).

Crosman offers an Airgun Hunting Capabilities Guide to assist consumers in determining what Crosman or Benjamin airgun best fits their needs. The guide was developed with input from several veteran outdoorsmen with experience in multiple hunting disciplines. Suitable hunting airguns, from .177 caliber up to the ground-breaking Benjamin Rogue .357, are included along with suggested pellets and expected velocities and foot-pounds of energy (fpe). The guide lists a variety of popular small, medium and larger game and recommended maximum distances for shooting each species, all with a headshot being the recommended kill zone. There are species such as deer and exotics that, with practice and proper discipline, these guns are perfectly appropriate to use but are not included in the chart. Hunting with an airgun offers the exciting challenge of close pursuit across a wide variety of species if taken with a head shot. Ultimately, success will be determined by ballistics and the accuracy of the shooter, so above all know your distance and know your capabilities. Ready to hunt? We encourage you to check your local regulations then visit us online to find the perfect hunting airgun to fit your needs. See Crosman’s Chip Hunnicutt use the Benjamin Rogue .357 on a deer hunt next season on The Outdoor Channel’s “Hunting the World Southern Style”. Thanks to Cypress Creek Hunting Lodge for an outstanding experience. For more on hunting with airguns, visit crosmanhunting.com. TAGS: hunting, rogue, tv

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2 COMMENTS

1.

Mchristopherson September 27, 2011 at 9:05 pm
I agree with the head shot, the only shot you should take. I tried shooting a pesky coon and it took 14 shots to the heart area to kill it, ruined my whole night!
REPLY

2.

Glenn September 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm
I say take head shot only for grey/fox squirrel if you’re using a .177 caliber. My .177 caliber air rifle shoots 670 fps with 7 grain pellet. I shot a grey squirrel at about 10 yards in the heart/lung area. The squirrel lost control of his hind feet and crawled with front feet toward a tree. I shot him again – he kept moving. The squirrel finally reached the tree and climbed it out of site! The .177 caliber at 600 fps doesn’t produce a large enough wound channel, it takes too long for the squirrel to bleed to death.

Airgun Hunting (April 2012) Hunting with airguns
by Tom Gaylord exclusively for PyramydAir.com. © Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved
Can airguns be used for hunting? The answer is yes, but there are some things to think about, and this short article addresses them.

Are airguns humane?
Yes, and there are two key areas to address. The first is accuracy: if you can't hit the target, nothing else matters. Since airguns are best-suited for small game like squirrels, rabbits and many birds, the area that

must be hit to ensure a humane kill is small. How small varies from animal to animal, but as a general rule it's no larger than an American quarter -- which is just under one inch in diameter.

At what range can you hit this quarter with every shot? That's your maximum effective range for hunting with a smallbore airgun.

The most effective shot is a brain shot. If it's done right, the animal dies instantly. If you miss and hit the animal elsewhere, it can escape to die slowly. So, you must know where to hit each animal you hunt. On larger game such as deer, a heart/lung shot is preferred because the kill zone is about eight inches in diameter. Deer don't always die instantly from this shot; but when they run, you can usually track them. They don't climb trees or burrow into the earth. Small game often stays close to a burrow in the ground or a nest that's high in a tree. When they run, they can get to a spot that is inaccessible to the hunter. The kill must be instantaneous, or you risk losing the animal. Limit your shots to as far as you're assured of hitting a quarter-sized target every time. You must exercise discipline to take a shot only when everything is clear. If the animal's head is half-hidden, then the kill zone isn't the size of a quarter anymore. If that's the case, use your best judgment to decide if you can make the more difficult shot.

How much power?
The second thing to consider about airgun hunting is the power the airgun generates. Velocity without power is meaningless, so airgun hunters speak in terms of muzzle energy -- never velocity. This subject is hotly debated by two groups: those who believe in using all the power that's possible and those who feel it's possible to kill with very little power. The truth is that it's possible to kill game humanely with very little power; but the lower the power, the more important it is to hit exactly the right spot. In the end, this gets to the ridiculous point of almost no power that must be delivered by a million-to-one shot to be effective. Sportsmen do not like taking chances where there's a possibility that an injured animal

will escape. and the two most common animals that come to mind are the cottontail rabbit and the gray squirrel. are far more difficult to dispatch. The recommended lower limit for a hunting airgun is one that produces 12 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.p. and you can use Pyramyd Air's handy energy calculator to determine the velocity of your airgun. A 30 foot-pound gun would be useful out past 50 yards. which is a distance where it will become harder to keep all your pellets inside the one-inch target. Gray squirrels. while a more powerful airgun can reach out farther. What is small game? Say "small game" to any hunter. so there are practical lower limits to the power recommended for airgun hunting. They can absorb body hits and still run a long distance to escape. on the other hand. the pellet doesn't retain its energy after leaving the muzzle. These limits are supported by decades of successful hunting experience. at the muzzle or a . both in North America and the United Kingdom. at the muzzle. That equates to a . . They can be taken with a heart shot as well as a head shot. Other pellet weights will obviously produce different amounts of energy at the same velocities.p. the maximum range you should engage targets should probably be 35 yards. But those are only two of an incredibly long list of animals suited to hunting by airguns.s.s. Of course. The maximum range at which game can be taken humanely is limited both by the power of the airgun as well as its accuracy.9 grains at 827 f. The cottontail rabbit is fairly easy to take with an airgun. You'll be limiting your shots to distances at which you can place all your pellets inside a one-inch target.22-caliber air gun shooting a 14.177-caliber pellet gun shooting a lead pellet weighing 7.3-grain pellet at 615 f. A lower-powered airgun has a more limited range of effectiveness. With a 12 foot-pound gun. And even those two are not equivalent.

.

. They are to cottontails as bighorn sheep are to domestic sheep.If you open the topic to all rabbits.one of the toughest of all small animals. there's the wiry jackrabbit -.

Rats are on everyone's pest list. but the red-headed woodpecker who's ruining the shingles on your house is a protected species throughout North America. When you consider hunting small game with airguns.. That didn't stop NASA from obtaining airguns to shoot them when they attacked the insulation of launch vehicles at Cape Canaveral. the gray squirrel is tough. . There's also a much broader category of animals that society and your community consider a pest. Not only are they many times the body weight of a gray squirrel.Though small. What are pests? There are two different definitions of a pest. raccoons and opossums.like a jackrabbit. What constitutes small game is really a pretty broad category. You need to actually know what type of animals you intend hunting and plan for them accordingly. Then there are larger critters such as woodchucks. they're also tough to take down. The critter that is bothering you personally can be considered a pest. it isn't enough to just lump all the animals together in one bunch and get an airgun for everything. so this is all I'll present at this time. It takes a very precise shot with sufficient power to anchor him. This topic deserves its own article because of the intricacies of the subject matter..

20. Since air pistols are much harder to hold than air rifles.but they didn't publicize the program. Those that can generate more power are always the more expensive models. there can only be one viewpoint. there will be a separate article devoted to just this topic.25.local. either. the accuracy requirement is just as limiting as the one for power. the term pest has two important points of view. Twelve footpounds is the lower limit recommended for all airguns.177. The TalonP precharged pneumatic air pistol generates over 50 footpounds of muzzle energy. Their acidic excrement was blistering the paint on the wings of airliners. and they're all effective for hunting as long as the accuracy and power requirements are met. costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs and grounding costly capital assets. state and national. the same holds for an air pistol. . So. They're protected everywhere except at the airport in Honolulu. so it's one of the better-suited air pistols for hunting. But there are some subtleties the hunter should be aware of. majestic waterfowl with brilliant white plumage. Not many air pistols can be used for hunting. What about calibers? This article addresses only the four smallbore airgun calibers of . but the . Can air pistols be used? Like air rifles. When you hunt pests. air pistols must satisfy the two essential criteria of power and accuracy.25-caliber TalonP air pistol is an exception. where officials hired airgunners to get rid of the birds from the inside of hangars. The snowy egret is a large. Because this is a very popular segment of airgun hunting. . That excludes most air pistols because they typically do not produce much more than 6 foot-pounds. Just as the air rifle is limited to the range at which a one-inch target can be hit reliably. Hawaii. and it has to agree with the laws -. .22 and .

The reason for this restriction is because the kill zones in small game are not perfect circles.177 pellet. . Read further to see how each fits into airgun hunting.177-caliber airgun should be able to hit a nickel. regardless of how much velocity or even energy your air rifle produces.S. If you're using a . Instead of being able to hit a U. The brain of a gray squirrel looks more like a large piece of candy corn than a marble.177 we'll reduce this to about . you must be able to hit even this smaller target every time. The . But the hunter needs to restrict himself a bit more to compensate for the very small diameter of the .20. and it has the unfortunate reputation for shooting through game without touching vital areas.177. for . .25. This caliber is also the fastest of the four smallbore calibers.177.The four smallbore calibers are (left to right) .177 caliber is the smallest of all pellet calibers. Where the general rule for accuracy is hitting a one-inch target. the shooter who uses a . quarter. .22 and .75 inches. so the energy minimums for hunting can be met by many more airguns in this caliber than in the three larger calibers.

.22. They're the most successful calibers of all for hunting when everything is taken into consideration. They give the hunter a broader impact and punch a larger hole in game. Calibers .25-caliber pellet can now hold its own with a .if not better. There's no room for accidents in hunting. but until recently. The guns existed without anything to allow them to realize their full potential. because the pellets cost so much more than pellets in smaller calibers. And at the top of the list is protecting the safety of people and property.177 caliber should only be used to distances at which you can hit a nickel every time. A hunter must conduct himself in such a way to ensure that he does everything as safely as possible. and a .25 caliber should be the most effective caliber of all for airgun hunting.20 and . but so do your surroundings. Does it go through the animal and travel on in a dangerous direction? The most important thing for any hunter is to leave the environment as good as you found it -. You must also be concerned about where your pellet goes after it hits the game. This isn't the caliber for casual shooting. Safety above everything One of the best things about hunting with an airgun is also one of the most challenging things. That has changed in the past couple years.beyond the intended target. The small kill zones restrict the distance at which you can shoot.Because it's so small in cross-section.177 caliber. there haven't been good pellets in this caliber. and that's never going to change. Hunting is limited to close ranges at which perfect shots can always be made. so the airgun hunter must be aware of what is downrange -. The only drawback the big caliber still has is cost. so they're much more effective than . the .22 are so much alike that I'll discuss them together. Airguns are often employed in more urban settings where firearms simply cannot be used. The . But even an airgun pellet will carry beyond the target.

the more confused I become. and they were asked in such a way that the reader could understand exactly what the person was asking.Which airgun to buy. I'll tell you what --next time we meet. of course. Most dealerships won't allow you to go off-road or do anything dangerous with their cars. but to do that you would need to have a license to drive. but I don't know anybody who shoots. I'm on my own. New airgunner's question: I'm thinking of getting an airgun -. Q: Okay. Copyright ©2012. I don't know. do I? So how do I get the training I need? A: Good question! I'm glad to see you thinking about it that way and not just supposing that because you're an adult living in the United States you're automatically qualified to operate an airgun. you'll be farther along in your quest to become an airgunner. too. I recently read a very informative guide to target shooting that was written more than a century ago.com. And you could only test-drive cars on the road. A: You're right about that! TV and the movies portray a very small section of the shooting sports. that brings up an important point. It was written in question/answer format and the author wrote both the questions and the answers. What kind of shooting would you like to do? Q: Well that's the problem. but you can't do that with airguns -. So. Which airgun should I buy? Part 1 by Tom Gaylord Exclusively for PyramydAir. frankly. I hope you do. I don't need a license to own an airgun. I'll give you a lesson on the safe operation of airguns. but.but the more I read and research on the internet. I've seen people shoot on TV and in the movies. All Rights Reserved. Q: I sensed that. I enjoyed the format and also found it very informative. When you understand all that I teach about safe airgun operations. . They like to add effects for dramatic appeal. Part 1. buying cars and buying airguns isn't a direct comparison. I doubt much of that is real. and most is shown incorrectly. but the reality is both different and far more attractive than they make it appear. A: You say you could take a car on a test drive. It read well because the right questions were asked. If I were buying a car. I'm also new to shooting and don't know what there is.at least not as far as I know. Could you please help me decide which airgun will be right for me? Answer: I'd be glad to help. I could always take it on a test drive.

A: I know even more about you from what you've said. I guess you're right -. That narrows the field a lot. it'll be my responsibility to eliminate the rabbits and other pests.I want to shoot a rifle. Right now. if that's what you mean. let's not rule out some hunting. but when I saw the movie Quigley Down Under I was fascinated by all the long-range shooting. The gun you get doesn't have to meet any particular power requirement. Q: Exactly. I didn't get into it as a hobby. A: That's not stupid at all. As long as it's accurate. A: Okay. knowing that you're interested in pest elimination is another important piece of information. So how does that help us? A: It allows us to rule out hunting at this time. When you're ready to make a purchase.Q: Great! I'm up for that. You don't know how many people saw that movie and felt the same as you. Q: Hold on a minute! Just because I want to shoot long-range. I wouldn't have said it that way. you will be better informed. A: Did you like it? Q: I suppose. with an airgun. I've played a few times. Let me ask you a basic question: Have you ever played darts? Q: You mean the throwing kind? Yes. So what about shooting guns seems attractive to you? Q: Well. you're going to think this is stupid. A: No problem. A: Okay. My wife always has a vegetable garden. Q: I've never even thought about that. You just told me something very important about yourself. and we agreed that if I get an airgun. that will be the most important thing to you. It'll help us decide on the right caliber for you. we'll do it. Any airgun we choose will be able to do that. and you want to do so with great precision. You want to shoot a rifle. I don't have the time or inclination to buy a Sharps rifle and learn to shoot like Quigley. let's explore a little more about the kind of shooting you'd probably enjoy so you and I can narrow the field. Q: What's that? A: You're more interested in shooting rifles than handguns. but that's what I want. However. Only you were smart enough to realize that you can reduce the distance to the target and still have the same challenge with an airgun. . I could sort of scale that down and even shoot a little in my backyard. but I thought that.

Q: Before you go. If you read this before we meet again. but she was a novice. next time I'm going to cover the basics of safe airgun operations. and the links to the others are at the top of the page. Your answers don't seem to lead in that direction. I have one last question. I think we're off to a good start. Mom wanted to be their teacher.Q: Oh boy. step-by-step. In this series. I recommend reading them starting with the first one and going forward because they build on each other. You asked if I ever played darts. Does the pivot point of a breakbarrel rifle make it potentially less accurate? (February 2010) Does the pivot point of a breakbarrel rifle make it potentially less accurate? by Tom Gaylord Copyright PyramydAir. I've read so much about why you should choose this caliber or that one that I'm twisted up in knots! A: No problem. I probably would not be interested in shooting just at paper targets all the time. All Rights Reserved. When the time comes. I want you to read this series of blog articles that I wrote for a single mother of two young boys who wanted to start shooting. Yeah. I'll send you to the last report. most of the work in the next lesson will be a review. and I have a homework assignment for you. What was that about? A: If you enjoyed darts more than a little I would have explored formal target shooting with you. I get asked this question: By repeatedly breaking open a breakbarrel rifle. so I dropped the subject. does that ever open a can of worms.com ©2010. Quigley was what got me started thinking about shooting. There's also a World Cup championship circuit that airgun target shooters follow. Well. Like I said. I walked her through everything she needed to do. I'll recommend a caliber that I think is best for what you want to do -. Remember. could that lead to accuracy issues due to possible misalignment of the barrel with the action? There are some customer reviews on this site where shooters have stated that they know their . thanks for your time and I'll see you after I read all those blog reports.and I'll give you my justification for selecting it. You can cross-examine me and go a different way if you aren't convinced. Every now and then. but you should know that airguns are one of the shooting sports in the Olympics. New airgunner: I see.

nothing could be further from the truth! One of the most accurate long-range spring rifles ever made is a Whiscombe. but that was the way the market was headed. We also get similar comments on the blog. In fact. I doubt that any accuracy was gained through this conversion. This Whiscombe JW 75 comes with all four smallbore airgun barrels. but the epitome must be the Diana 65. the Whiscombe JW 75 is as accurate as a fine precharged air rifle. so it was a good business decision.with no discernable accuracy advantage for either.rifle could never attain great accuracy because it's a breakbarrel. but RWS decided to change the configuration by transforming the action to a fixed-barrel sidelever when they created the rifle that finally became the model 75. It could hold its own with any target rifle of its time. . Although it's a breakbarrel spring gun... and it's been made as both a breakbarrel and a fixed barrel. There have been any number of accurate breakbarrel target rifles throughout the years.

The barrel latch on this Weihrauch HW55 target rifle locks the barrel in perfect alignment with the rear sight.The Diana 60 and 61 are precision target rifles.. even after hundreds of thousands shots have been fired. . therefore. Another fallacy regarding breakbarrels is that the continuous action of cocking the rifle will eventually bend the barrel. by letting the barrel slam shut just once. On a gun with a mechanical lock. There's also some kind of lock to keep the barrel closed during shooting. They don't have a scope. Can the barrel come back into alignment with the scope time after time? Yes! It can and it does..every time. there's also a spring-loaded detent. yet they're breakbarrels. In truth. that's how they're straightened! The final fear about breakbarrels is that the scope is mounted on the receiver and the barrel moves independently. Airgun barrels are made from dead-soft steel and can be bent by hand if you know what you're doing. The purpose of all locks. The HW55 won the 1969 World Championship. It's the reason breakbarrels are just as accurate as fixed barrels.. barrels can be cocked hundreds of thousands of times with zero deflection. This bearing is of large diameter to spread out the load. The "problems" we've looked at here are not really problems at all.. They won't lose accuracy. but it's usually smaller and uses less spring force than the detent on a gun that has no lock because the mechanical lock serves to keep the barrel closed. Yet. mechanical or springloaded. The simple truth about breakbarrel spring-piston rifles and pistol is that their designs are both robust and potentially accurate. is to prevent air loss on firing and to return the barrel to the same place every time. too. have the same alignment problems. a spring-loaded chisel detent catch or even a mechanical catch that's unlatched by the shooter prior to breaking open the barrel. you can easily bend it. they don't. This can be a spring-loaded ball bearing. Many target-class breakbarrel air rifles have shot 10-meter groups measuring less than one-tenth of an inch between centers of the widest shots. However. Breakbarrels have a pivot bearing that serves as the barrel's axle when the rifle is cocked. but their aperture rear sights are also mounted on the receiver and should.in fact.

It's only a pellet! Why airguns are so different from firearms (October 2009) It's only a pellet! Why airguns are so different from firearms by Tom Gaylord Copyright PyramydAir. think of the game of darts. louder siblings. like a badminton birdie made of lead. It's long and hollow. published in 1997. It's not at all similar to the bullet from a firearm. If you haven't played badminton in a while. The dart is weighted in its nose to the extent that if you throw it tail-first. How can a pellet gun out-shoot a refined firearm that has had thousands of dollars worth of customization lavished upon it? The answer lies with the projectile--the thing that differentiates an air rifle from its larger. This article originally appeard in Airgun Revue #1. All Rights Reserved. even without the stabilizing spin imparted by rifling. with all the weight concentrated forward in the nose. Take a long look at an airgun pellet.com ©2009. it will turn 180 degrees in flight and strike the target point-first. An airgun pellet looks. The diabolo pellet is designed for stable flight. or even the ball from a blackpowder arm. for all the world. Like a birdie. . the forward weight of the pellet gives it directional stability.

are much less likely to endanger others. The birdie tapers straight back from its head.100 f. It's because of their aerodynamic properties that pellet guns are best for safe training. as well. Like the birdie. And today. a speed that a few years ago was thought to be impossible to attain. It causes an immense amount of aerodynamic drag. This is not to say that airgun shooters should disregard safety practices simply because their guns are so limited. the pellet rapidly decelerates. They can even be used to eliminate small pests. combined with the high aerodynamic drag.Another pellet/birdie similarity is that both projectiles have a flared tail. they've taken over the role of the world's most accurate arms of all types out to ranges of 50 yards.22 long rifle bullet will travel a mile and a half and come back to earth with sufficient energy to maim and even kill. But the flared skirt serves the same purpose for both projectiles. as a result of this. a pellet is extremely light for its size. and lack of harmful recoil. which have long been the bane of the firearm. This is a second stabilizing feature. Military departments all over the world have been using them for training since the turn of the century. just like the birdie. A . Even so. such as rats and poisonous snakes at close range. while the pellet is shaped more like an hourglass. renders the pellet extremely safe at a very short distance from the muzzle. no matter how fast the initial velocity.s. it will soon be harmless.p. And. The most powerful pellet rifles commonly available today can only shoot a maximum of about 500 yards. low noise. Even disregarding their cheaper operating expense. which keeps the nose pointed straight forward to the line of flight. but it also serves to slow the projectile rapidly.. airguns are the ideal tools for initial gun training for all situations. This same drag is what makes a pellet gun many times safer than a firearm of any kind. their pellets fall safely to earth in less than 150 yards. Airguns can cause painful injuries at close range when they're handled without care. It allows the game of badminton to be played in a small area. even though the birdie may start out at well over 100 mph with a powerful serve. they can only do that when they're elevated to a 30-degree angle to the horizon for maximum range! When shot relatively level. as the already-inefficient pellet is rendered even more so by deformation after striking the surface from which it rebounds. . This light weight. A powerful pellet rifle today may be capable of launching its pellet at 1. Ricochets.

BB guns all shot lead balls. which are far less likely to bounce back. is quite prone to ricochet because of its round shape and hard steel composition. the ball 120 grains! There are some air rifle projectiles in existence that do not have the poor aerodynamics mentioned above. have their own unique safety requirements.A . Don't use them in rifled barrels! Other types of airgun projectiles. such as BBs and darts. smoothbore airguns are suitable for these darts. Replicas of those guns are being made in ones and twos throughout the world today. At close range. Some low-powered. they're surprisingly accurate. for example. Of course. Some air rifles even fire round lead balls with the same force as blackpowder rifles. This is where "You’ll shoot your eye out" originated.9 grains. the shooter must still practice safe shooting at all times. One model was actually used by the Austrian Army against Napoleon in the 1790s. The logistics of shooting a powerful air rifle like these is so great that a flintlock looks like an assault rifle by comparison. when steel shot was introduced to the market.177 Crosman Premier is dwarfed by a . A BB. The pellet weighs 7. . These guns were initially designed in the early 1600s for European nobility. but they hardly represent a threat to anyone. Until the 1920s.443 lead ball for the Farco air shotgun.

All Rights Reserved. In other words. One day I was running a . even at low velocity. On a pistol range. I'll tell you. and as a first lieutenant under his command I was not about to argue. Airguns are what they are by virtue of their extremely specialized projectiles. then read this short article. He did. showed up. He wanted to shoot with us. If a shooter has a malfunction and fails to follow .45 pistol range at Fort Lewis. who am I to tell anyone how to hold a pistol properly? I'm not a former Olympian. and you decide if you want to listen. Although capable of world-class accuracy at close range. and my squadron commander. but if you want the BANG to mean something. I was responsible for announcing all the commands on the range. when used in an unsafe manner. The nature of the sharp dart makes it very dangerous. bad things happen quickly. and my NCOs watched each of their shooters to make sure they complied. We had all the 1911A1s from our B-Troop arms room at this range. They're to be used in low-powered guns at short distances.com ©2009. I ran a lot of ranges. there was a whole lot of watching of the shooters. and to tell you the truth. I watched the 10 non-commissioned officers who each had two shooters to watch. You can grab a pistol any old way if all you want to do is hold it while you pull the trigger. I hold no titles in pistol shooting. so I asked Colonel Bonsall to select a pistol from those lying on the table and join the line in the next rotation. What gives me the right to write about this subject? Well. Even adults have been known to turn with loaded pistols in their hands. which sets up a potential accident in an instant. and that was the last I thought about it because I had 20 shooters on the line at a time. watch the video and follow along. How to hold an air pistol for greatest accuracy (September 2009) How to hold an air pistol for greatest accuracy by Tom Gaylord Copyright PyramydAir. And. I didn't mind it that much. When I was in the Army in the 1970s.The airgun dart is tipped with a sharp point that sticks well in a special target surface like a dart board. That's one of the extra duties that officers are assigned. LTC Bonsall. watching for things that escaped the eyes of the line NCOs. Parents should exercise close adult supervision at all times when children are shooting airguns with darts. they are the safest guns in existence. Let me tell you why. Washington. My troop training NCO was walking the entire line.

Olympic team.S. He liked the stippling I did on the front strap and the mainspring housing. I was shocked to see a tiny hole in the area of the heart. I've seen the dust kick up six feet in front of a shooter once the command "commence firing" has been given. Bonsall hadn't been in the squadron that long. Because I was interested in shooting. he liked the target sights and the tight bushing that aligned the barrel on every shot. So. because the gun gripped him back aggressively. and he told me about the program and the fact that he had reached the level where he could have tried out for the U. I asked him about that. It's scary. It was all in the grip. because we don't put the targets anywhere near that spot. so nobody knew much about him. He never did. he can turn his body in an instant. but after this day we all started learning real fast. He wore a gold medal on the breast pocket of his dress uniform that signified he was a Distinguished Pistol Shot. Like everyone else. everybody who isn't shooting is watching everybody who is. because he was used to a 4-lb. then he showed me how to do it.the procedures we told him to follow. The muzzle of the pistol will go with him and will probably by pointed at the shooter next to him. The other shooters were lucky to get 25 of their 50 rounds anywhere on the sillhouette. When I stepped to where I could see his target. which is to remain in place with the muzzle of the pistol pointed downrange and raise his non-firing arm for assistance. I was surprised. competition pull. when my training sergeant walked over and mentioned that the Colonel was doing very well. me! I've seen shooters do things like that on occasion. I was only watching to see where all the muzzles were. he showed up and I gave him my personal 1911A1 that I had gunsmithed to my tastes. Col. More frequently. He put 50 rounds through that hole. heaven forbid. He was surprised by the 1.5-lb. Therefore. a silhouette at 25 yards. He managed to shoot an incredibly tight group with that pistol. Distinguished Pistol Shot badge At the next pistol range. . And. the nearest NCO or. he volunteered to teach me how to do it. but when I told him how surprised I was at the shooting performance he demonstrated on our range with non-accurized guns. trigger-pull.

Let the other fingers and the thumb just wrap around the grip lightly and put no pressure on it. published in 1998.com ©2009. I'm not a pistol champion. and I'm passing it along in his honor.He told me to grasp the grip with my middle finger only. Related articles: Accuracy--it's not a given! Part 2: The projectile Accuracy--it's not a given! Part 3: The sights "I want to tune my airgun so that it shoots at least 1.The barrel by Tom Gaylord Copyright PyramydAir. Why is my friend's recoiling gun able to shoot tighter groups than mine?" Sound like something you might have said? All of us have said these things at one time or another. I learned from one. Finally he told me that the real secret of good pistol shooting was to not care what happened when the gun went off. And. to lock the elbow. Bonsall started me on the path to good shooting offhand in the same way that Elmer Keith had taught me how to shoot a rested handgun. Bonsall taught me a valuable lesson back in 1972. no. Airgun accuracy: It's not a given! Part 1-The barrel (September 2009) Airgun accuracy: It's not a given! Part 1 . Col. What is accuracy. When bringing the pistol up to fire. will that make it more accurate?" "I bought a recoilless airgun for the extra accuracy they are known to have. roll the shooting arm as far to the right (for right-handers) as possible. This article originally appeared in Airgun Revue #2. of course.p.000 f.s. and how do we get it? . All Rights Reserved. pulling the pistol straight back into the web of my hand. "Let it surprise you. How much more accuracy can I expect?" "If I can get someone to tune my gun so it shoots smoothly. Col. But. So. I had read that before. but hearing it from a man I had watched put 50 rounds from an arms-room pistol through a two-inch hole at 25 yards had greater impact. even if I can't take it as far as I would like." he said. I have enough experience to know that his way was right.

the bullet will be stabilized well and travel very straight. A gyroscope provides the proof for this. such as hold and the ambient weather conditions. So does an arrow. All these things are important. and the striking of flesh simply made this more apparent. to make them perform. and I advise you to keep every one of them you come in contact with. In Vietnam. A spear also travels straighter if it's spiraled when thrown. Any ballistic projectile can be stabilized by rotating it. and the bullet may begin to go in an erratic direction. barrels with a fast twist tend to erode more quickly. but they may begin to strip lead from the pellet. Actually. The barrel guides the bullet the whole time it's under the shooter's control. If the twist is slower. For example. The rate of twist is a measure of how many inches of barrel a bullet must traverse to rotate one time. as well. the early US M16 rifles were said to be more deadly than the larger-caliber rifles they replaced because their smaller-caliber bullets naturally tumbled when they hit flesh. If they were so great as flesh destroyers. the early M16s had an incorrect twist rate for the bullets they fired.Accuracy is several things. Unfortunately. Good barrel=good accuracy. a barrel that rotates a bullet one complete turn in 10 inches of travel is said to have a one-in-ten-inch twist rate. bore friction and bullet deformation on both the base and sides. In a rifled gun. the stability will not be as good. as long as the right things are done. Left alone. And. but we'll look just at twist rate. even though most gyroscopes we are familiar with are not ballistic projectiles. Other guns have been remarkably stable--shooting well in all conditions. which can build up in the bore of the . why did the Army bother to change the twist rate in later rifles? The answer is accuracy. they don't erode. but nothing I do can guarantee the repeat of a lucky shot. In airguns. The old warning to beware of the man who owns just one gun because he probably knows how to use it--is true. In firearms. but the shooter must stay on top of several factors. because they aren't that common. Accuracy is a function of the shooter." They can be made to shoot quite well. the rifling affects many of the bullet's physical characteristics (and vice-versa). If the twist is fast enough. like footballs. they travel farther and straighter if they're thrown with a spiral twist. Among these are rate of twist. I can always move a tight group by adjusting the sights. For starters. they destabilized in flight and became erratic at long distances. They would even suffer abuse and continue to group well. That will put undue stress on both the bullet and the barrel. which is all this article will examine. These are the "natural" shooters. accuracy is consistency--the repeated striking of a shot in the same place. New shooters are sometimes surprised when a veteran is more pleased with a tight group of shots anywhere on the paper than with a random shot through the center of the bullseye. the twist can also be made too fast. I'm convinced that most of the accuracy in any gun resides in the barrel. Some guns are "twitchy. But bullets are! They rotate on their long axis like American footballs thrown in a forward pass. all of which must be present for results to pay off. and it's where the bullet gets its physical programming for the rest of its ballistic flight.

So.s. Instead.p. It's a direct relationship.000 f. that it's irrelevant. it will also over-stabilize a lighter pellet.s. at one turn in eight inches. Although it's no longer imported to the U. though. but the amount is so small it doesn't affect anything we're looking at here. Over-stabilization isn't bad--it's just an expression that means there's a greater spin than required to stabilize the pellet in question. Like any mechanical force. would be 720. If it exits the bore at 1. So. it had a reputation as one of the most accurate air rifles on the market.). Longer pellets need more spin to stabilize them than do shorter ones.s.p. r. especially in the blackpowder field.200 r. it does slow just a bit. Think of a pellet shot from a one-in-ten-inch-twist barrel.gun. It shoots an extra-heavy.30" at 50 yards. for any rifled barrel. The thing to remember about r. because the bullet is no longer under its direct influence. in comparison to the length of time it takes to stop rotating. Remembering that lighter pellets require a slower spin to be stabilized than heavier pellets. will eventually cease..s.s. as this air rifle is as accurate as many . That's only the beginning. the r. a pellet that's unstable at slow speeds may stabilize when it goes faster. and .S.p. Downrange velocity doesn't mean very much for this computation.s.s. and the pellet is rotating once every 10 inches of travel while it's inside the barrel.s. even before. because I don't know. but nothing on airguns. extra-long 29.p. there will be pellets that perform better because the twist is fast enough for them and for pellets that are unstable because of their size. Before this discussion proceeds. I must mention that I'm NOT going to tell you what the "right" twist rate is for an airgun. The same pellet shot from a gun at 800 f.s. twist rate ceases. I'm not aware of anything that has been published on twist rates for airguns..22 rimfire rifles clear out to an amazing 100 yards. unless it begins to strip in the bore.p.. the VELOCITY of the pellet begins to drop immediately after it leaves the muzzle--and with some guns and states of tune. the twist of the barrel has imparted a spin to the bullet that's now expressed in rotations per second (r.200 r. At 600 f. the pellet remains at 1.000 inches in 1. this could cause a problem. for essentially its entire flight. It won't change much from that rotational speed after it leaves the barrel. The compromise is this: if a barrel can stabilize a heavier pellet. (800 x 12 = 9600 ÷ by 10 = 960).6-grain domed pellet that can group five shots in 0. because there are 12.p. because there's very little besides air friction to slow it down. would be rotating 960 r. as described earlier. Since most airgunners don't clean their bores.s. I'm quite sure such work has been done by the individual manufacturers (probably several times. On the other hand. There has been a lot of work done on firearm twist rates. is that it increases as velocity increases. The twist rate of the Korean-made Career 707 rifle is extremely fast.p.p. In reality.000 feet. What I DO know is that once a bullet or pellet leaves the muzzle of the gun. It will still be accurate. Most of this is due to the barrel. So. but the flight of a bullet is so brief. it will also be spinning (rotating on its axis) at a rate of 1.p..p. since no one publishes it) but that's of no help to airgunners. they can be expected to do better at slow muzzle velocities.

firearm barrels off-center this way when they were cut off behind the muzzle.most of that is due to the twist rate. But don't assume that any barrel is straight on the inside--no matter how it measures on the outside. or else they'll fail to grab it at all--allowing it to traverse the bore without guidance. Another uniformity factor is the height of the rifling lands. uniform bore. Airgun manufacturers sometimes compromise the best work of the barrel makers when they press-fit their barrels into a base block of steel to form the barrel assembly. The width of the bore (the distance between the opposing walls of the bore) should be as uniform as possible. Either condition promotes inaccuracy. Airgun barrel makers must keep the height of the rifling to the minimum possible. there's no guarantee that it's parallel to the outside of the barrel. This is one of the major problems the Chinese airgun manufacturers face today. ruining their near-perfect uniformity. Still another barrel factor is the straightness of the bore. While all of them have the ridges mentioned. This operation can swage constrictions into the finest barrels. Finishing at the muzzle hides this from the consumer. It represents one of the most challenging control factors barrel manufacturers have been dealing with for more than a century. but it isn't. Fortunately. because it robs the pellet of velocity through friction. many shoot quite accurately and would only suffer if they were lapped . there are no easy answers to the straight-hole/parallel-hole dilemma. though. Their fine Olympic models are proof that they can make good barrels when they must. Boring a straight hole is a problem that barrel makers have never solved. but it's there just the same. I've seen many. then ream it to the final dimension. You might think that this uniformity is a given. they'll either impart uneven friction on the pellet. There have been great strides in dealing with this problem. The walls can be uniform and parallel but tiny ridges in the rifling itself can wreak havoc with accuracy. It is done with abrasives and requires skill. but they all seek the same result--a smooth. something can be done about this condition. or the barrel can be ruined beyond hope of redemption. If they're not uniform. but the average Chinese airgun barrel has most of the uniformity faults mentioned here. even most. Uniformity is another factor in barrels. Even if a hole runs straight. though. There are several different methods of lapping a barrel. Smoothness inside the bore also affects accuracy. this operation can also put stresses in the steel that leads to things like uneven movement when the barrel heats during shooting. A lack of uniformity is quickly compounded. So. They haven't yet gotten a handle on making uniform barrels in the quantities needed to keep pace with the rest of their production. The barrel can be lapped. Top barrel makers sometimes bore their barrels in the vertical plane to eliminate the influence of gravity pulling on the boring bit. That's why accurate barrels can be made. so the pellet is guided through without undue influence. Lapping is a process that reduces the high spots in metal surfaces to a uniform level. Don't automatically assume that all barrels NEED to be lapped. While the barrel can be turned on a lathe after the bore has been drilled and reamed. Another trick is to bore the hole undersized.

They recoil severely when shot. It's probably best to shoot a gun before determining that it needs to be lapped. This sets the gun up to recoil and vibrate to the maximum extent it can." I didn't invent the thing--only gave a name to what the good shooters were . Top shooters practice it. That's because the pellet is so much slower that it's influenced by the gun to a much greater extent than a bullet. A better approach to vibration is to cancel it from the shooting equation. Lo and behold. if you don't have the experience to do the job. hire someone who does. I laid the rifle on a comforter to see just how poorly it would perform. I figured this out after becoming frustrated with a Beeman C1 carbine a few years back. In the '90s. barrel (and even whole gun) vibration is a key to accurate shooting to a much greater extent than for firearms shooters. when the pellet exits the muzzle. Finally. I was following Beeman's recommendation (in their catalog) to hold the rifle firmly when I shot it. alike. If it is properly stabilized. yet they're also highly accurate at many miles distance. but all that does is reduce velocity--and. there was a barrel-lapping fury that swept the firearms industry and ruined many fine bores. The payoff in spring guns is enormous and dramatic. With gas guns it's much less. I let it buck and vibrate all it wants with every shot. increase the harshness of the firing cycle.incorrectly. with "fire-lapping" being hotly debated in the magazines. and I'll be rewarded with the tightest group that gun can make with that pellet. That has the effect of always launching the pellet from the same point. For the airgunner. the fad came back. No matter what I did. vibration was either ignored by manufacturers and shooters. or else it was treated in such a manner as to be rendered neutral. This was followed by lots of experimentation with many airguns and observations of others who are known for their prowess. I don't pull the rifle into my shoulder. in spring guns. Some airgunners have taken to shortening their barrels in an attempt to get the pellet out before there can be much influence from vibration. the gun will always be in the same position. Barrel vibration is still another factor that greatly affects accuracy.10" five-shot group at 10 meters that way. Only lap the poor performers--leave the good ones alone. As a result of both my experimentation and observation. I named the hold described above the "artillery hold. I reflected on my military training with artillery pieces and mortars. The neutralizing of vibration became embedded into the fabric of good marksmanship. I do this by holding my airguns the same way every time. And. That way. but I do it just the same to remain consistent. That's what I'm after. In the 1960s. it will fly as true as possible. I shot a 0. where it resides today in the form of consistency of hold. It's often one of the deciding factors in a match. Also. that C1 just would not group. Until recently. average ones do not. in frustration. The one common denominator seemed to be that they were allowing the barrel group to move as much as it wanted. I rest the forearm of a spring rifle on the flat of my open palm and grasp the pistol grip very lightly with my shooting hand. but ensuring by design that it always started out from the same place.

let's look at what comes out. a few years ago. The first accurate airgun projectile was the dart. All Rights Reserved.com ©2009. but that hasn't always been the case. slugs and round balls have all been used with good results over the centuries. One dark strand of hair was put into the tail to serve as an alignment reference point. Related articles: Accuracy--it's not a given! Part 1: The barrel Accuracy--it's not a given! Part 3: The sights We have already looked at the barrel in our quest for airgun accuracy. . Airgun accuracy: It's not a given! Part 2-The projectile (September 2009) Airgun accuracy: It's not a given! Part 2 . The BOSS has a movable weight that lets shooters adjust the vibration patterns of the barrel to suit a specific load. According to authors like W. but the barrel is where it all begins. and airgunners are starting to experiment with firearms add-on muzzlebrakes with adjustments.H. Today's adult airguns shoot pellets almost exclusively. the early target airguns were accurate to about 50 feet. The lower-powered airguns of the 16th and 17th centuries used them because they were often the only projectiles those guns could launch at any velocity. This concept is so demonstrable and works so well that Browning held annual competitions for BOSS owners. Finally.already doing. If you agree that my reasoning about the barrel makes sense. Smith. but there are now several other designs in the works. This article originally appeared in Airgun Revue #2. John Whiscombe was the first manufacturer to install devices on the barrels of guns he makes. published in 1998. Airgun makers are just starting to take barrel vibration into account.B. why not incorporate it into your quest for accuracy with airguns? There are many other subjects to be dealt with. It's only a question of time until you'll be able to buy many airguns with vibration adjustments built in. and shot placement was controlled by the removal of the hairs in the tail of the dart--one at a time.The projectile by Tom Gaylord Copyright PyramydAir. Darts. now. the Browning corporation introduced their BOSS muzzlebrake as a solution to barrel vibration.

advances were by degrees. By the start of World War II. the Crosman Corporation marketed a cylindrical pellet. called the Super . The Complete AirGunner. and government contracts were pursued. they're much shorter and have a metal head with point for sticking into the target. They were supposed to have been remarkably accurate at the proper range. they're dangerous. At best. Stories abound of one-inch groups being shot with BSAs at 20 yards and beyond. even at very low velocities. They were fletched with animal hairs that measured an inch or longer. lagging behind. Darts should be relegated to smoothbore guns.Early darts were considerably longer than the ones sold today. And. and it's much shorter. Darts have continued to this very day. but it could shoot as well as gallery guns of that time at a fraction of the price. to say nothing of what it will do to brass! Also. for the first time. but none more than the BSA Military Trainer. That sharp point can do great harm. There was very little advance made in diabolo pellets from 1915 to the end of WWII. we call it the diabolo design and acknowledge that it's done more for airgunning than any other single invention. or the extraction effort will quickly ruin them. It was actively marketed as a direct training tool for the Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle. It was by no means an accurate gun. as two truncated cones with the bases away from each other. Today. It was a new type. by that time. many of the period airguns that used those pellets got a new lease on life when better pellets became available some time in the 1970s. so they acted much like the feathers on an arrow. Owing to the better pellets of today. The early air rifle was quickly assigned a military training role in both the United Kingdom and throughout Europe.B. the airguns of yesteryear are much more accurate than when they were new! Just to give an example. Many of these early air rifle designs showed strong military origins. described in R. Even in 1907. And at least a part of this was due to the pellet they used. Suddenly. Townshend's book. In 1876. which was first produced in 1906. airgun design had evolved to a very mature stage. the points are so penetrative that they should only be shot in lower-powered airguns. Townshend could see the remarkable improvement that the nowfamiliar wasp-waisted pellet has upon accuracy. Here. As a consequence. the Quackenbush air rifle made quality adult airguns available to the American buyer for the first time (the German Bugelspanner had done the same thing for Europeans decades earlier). but the design has changed. both guiding and slowing the projectile as it flew to the target. Today. if safety precautions are not taken. but the pellets were. was an affordable airgun with a precision rifled barrel and ammunition that was at least reasonable. rather than quantum leaps. The fletching appears to be a synthetic fiber instead of a natural one. a Quackenbush or Bugelspanner was an informal gun for fun and recreation. a Crosman pneumatic rifle from 1940 went from being an average shooter to a fly killer at long ranges. as the metal in the head can damage steel rifling. I consider the first serious target airgun for general consumption to be the BSA underlever. From that time forward. And this is all because the ammunition being fed into it was so superior that it tapped the latent accuracy the manufacturer had put in but which had never before been realized.

Some Crosman pellets are smaller than other brands. Of course. It was actually a highly modified diabolo shape.S. A lever-action Career 707 is just as fast to shoot and more accurate than a Winchester 9422. at a fraction of the cost. experienced airgunners expect to see an overnight change in that caliber.. These were made from pure lead and were as soft as pellets ever become--often to the detriment of performance in the repeating guns that Crosman made. and the Career 707 is no longer imported to the U. However. since they're not wadcutters. Today's airguns have all but pushed . when you consider that the gun is capable of dropping woodchucks at 75 yards and rabbits at 100 yards. A few things should be kept in mind. They are made for repeating mechanisms and are made of a harder lead alloy so they feed more reliably. Pellets made in China are generally sub-standard.Pell. and today it's airguns. so a weight comparison for the purpose of determining uniformity is useless. Suffice to say that they were okay for their time. during the '60s and '70s. these are the most uniform pellets the airgun community has ever experienced. as far as uniformity is concerned. Crosman pellets are among the finest in the world. It's just that. And. but the head and skirt were so predominant compared to the slightly constricted waist that the overall appearance was that of a metal garbage can. I refer. an airgun shooter can shoot many times more often because of the reduced cost and less stringent range limitations. what have you lost? [This article was originally written 11 years ago.25 caliber before they embrace those guns. In all calibers. Use them in gas guns (CO2 and pneumatics) and repeaters. any Super Pells you encounter will probably be white with oxidation. Not that a shooter should convert from firearms to airguns. the rules they use are a close adaptation of those used in the latter part of the 19th century for the zimmerstutzen. but no one would advocate using them now. to the world-famous Premier.22 rimfire target rifles from the scene at distances out to 50 yards.] One third of the modern Olympic shooting events are for airguns. Field target shooters. many accurate repeaters and single-shots have come along that are as good as the 707. the Premier is such an important pellet that some are just waiting for it to come out in . seldom win a match with anything else. but the user should know a few things before using them. Curiously. In the early half of the 1990s. They don't seal the bore well enough to cushion the piston from slamming into the front of . of course. but don't use the small ones in powerful spring guns.. 2. where all shooting was offhand at 15 meters with iron sights. So. The maturation of the diabolo pellet has had a tremendous impact on adult airgunning. If it ever does. Crosman brought another pellet to market--one that immediately earned it an enduring place in the airgun hall of fame. They are often sold at gun shows and flea markets or bundled with Chinese airguns. They are best left unfired. Often. nowadays. And nothing is given away. however.and some have surpassed its accuracy. Today. they cannot be used for bullseye matches. if he or she knows what to ask for and where to look. In fact. the bulk-packed Premiers will eclipse even the hand-selected Olympic pellets from other companies. Only back then it was firearms. though: 1. Even the number of shots fired remains at 60. accurate ammunition is inexpensive and available for the new airgunner.

but they're definitely worth a look.000 pellets and BBs per year.000 to 35. let's look at iron sights first and finish with optics.the compression chamber. which are the world standard for all accurate airguns except those used for paper punching (because they aren't wadcutters).The sights by Tom Gaylord Copyright PyramydAir. This article originally appeared in Airgun Revue #2. published in 1998. Airgun accuracy: It's not a given! Part 3-The sights (September 2009) Airgun accuracy: It's not a given! Part 3 . The Spanish-made pellets sold under the Daisy label are about as good as German pellets.com ©2009. because often the reseller has little or no control over the specifications--they can change at any time! 4. Airguns definitely have me shooting more often than I would otherwise. 3. People just didn't trust optics back then. Every airgun responds a little differently to every pellet. Much of that can be credited to my work testing and writing about airguns. Related articles: Accuracy--it's not a given! Part 1: The barrel Accuracy--it's not a given! Part 2: The projectile Sights are an important component of an airgun's accuracy. There are many private-branded pellets on the market. Test for yourself. . While some generalizations often work (like the one we've made about Crosman Premiers). but about 5. and there has been a revolution in sighting over the last 20-30 years. I shoot 25. Try to learn who really makes the pellets you like. So. in much the same way new airgunners feel there must be some inherent inaccuracy in breakbarrel rifles today (there isn't). 5. just as they were for firearms 10 years earlier. optical sights on an airgun were rare. they are not ALWAYS true. They cost less because of Daisy's marketing volume. I believe I'm a better shot because of it.000 shots or more are for my own recreation. I contrast that with the less than 2. This advice does not extend to Crosman Premiers.000 shots of firearms ammunition that I've fired within the past 12 months. Before the 1970s. All Rights Reserved.

such as rabbits. there wasn't much call for precise sighting devices because the guns of that period were only capable of mediocre accuracy. If a person shoots just one rifle . Rifling did not come into general use until the 1700s. so sights had to evolve to extract the extra accuracy available. In the 17th century. By holding the front blade to the right or left of the center of the rear "V. made by Joseph Schembor. and there were even special-purpose crossbows that shot round stones at birds and small game. and only a few highly crafted sporting weapons were any better. as it has come to be known--could be applied. because they were generally as inaccurate and range-limited. Crossbows were better for light hunting. The first sights were crude by today's standards. But rifled barrels did eventually prevail. but they worked well and can still work well if a shooter takes the time to learn them. I've owned certain rifles that were so repeatable that I gained a sense of where to aim to hit the target." variations left or right-or windage. A blade on the front of the barrel was centered in a rear leaf that had a shallow "V" notch. a fine sight was one where it only barely showed. Elevation was determined by how much of the front blade could be seen above the rear notch. it's only natural that airguns followed firearms in the types of sights they used. A coarse sight was one in which the front sight stood high above the rear. You only have to look at the Girandoni windbuchse of 1780--a repeating rifle capable of hitting and killing a man at 100 yards--to see that sights were not keeping pace with the capabilities of the time.Iron sights evolved like the other parts of a gun's mechanism--when they were needed. had only a front sight. Even the sporting version of this rifle. he would be able to discriminate slight variations in between. and even then it took some time to be widely accepted. So. As the shooter became familiar with the gun. Hitting a man at 100 yards was presumed to be luck with military long guns.

and the whole thing has to be recomputed and relearned. Like a camera lens. And. That's because the shooter has only to look at the front sight and the target--one less element than the simpler-looking open sights. because the shooter must peep through the small aperture in the rear to see the front sight. this sense develops fully. but they're much larger than target apertures for rapid target acquisition. And they didn't come all at once. they were in use as early as 1840 on muzzleloading Schutzens. (There ARE aperture sights with magnifying lenses and even prescriptionground corrective lenses. the target should be well-lit and the shooter should be in relative darkness. The M1 Garand even went into battle with a peep sight. which I believe is the most important part of the discovery. The aperture sight is the easiest to use of all iron sights (a term that means sights without optical assists. Those sights were already well developed. which actually took longer and is still changing today. The next innovation in sighting--aperture sights--came at a time I haven't been able to establish very accurately. evolved separately from the front. the same powder all the time. Change any part. Sporting apertures also exist. such as lenses). According to the literature I have examined. and many thousands of servicemen learned just how good these sights can be. described above. the human eye becomes much more capable of precise focus over a broad range of distance (depth of field) when the light admitted is restricted by a small hole. "Beware of the man with one gun. Of course. Aperture shades and eye patches for the other eye help create this situation. because they don't understand how these sights work. so there must have been an even earlier gestation period. but they will not be addressed in this article." came from such an association.) Aperture sights are also commonly called peep sights in the US. either. this feature is the very thing that keeps most people from using them. when they came into the picture. To use aperture sights to their fullest. Of course. I believe this is one of those things that probably bumped along for many years before coming into general use. and even the same percussion caps. That means one bullet from one mold. The phrase. . Aperture sights existed before the US Civil War (1861 to 1865). though. all this talk about instinctive sighting requires a faithful dedication to just one single load. The rear aperture.all the time. we should not forget that their grandfathers once learned the same lesson with the famous Buffington rear sight of the Trapdoor Springfield. one load of powder. allowing some very accurate shooting that could almost be termed instinctive. German muzzleloading schutzens had them many years earlier.

The tube helps align the elements and. and even some pistols. with scopes comes the special problems of mounting. but. Gunmakers now customarily prepare their rifles.The Buffington sight brought the aperture from target shooting to combat. Noted blackpowder writer Sam Fadala estimates that putting a scope on a gun increases the average shooter's realized accuracy by a factor of two. there are no lenses--just a front and rear element. at least with recoiling airguns. There was a dramatic revolution and change of opinion concerning scopes in the 1960s. and. to the fact that no rifles were made for easy scope mounting. This was partly due. Of course. alignment with the barrel. allowing farther shots with greater precision. the additional factor of magnification is a treat. Companies like B-Square have made a business out of supplying no-gunsmithing mounts for the others. which looks like a telescopic sight on the outside. they won almost completely. The most common sights in use on airguns today are the telescopic sights. though. after which holes for the mounts had to be drilled and tapped--hopefully level with the top of the receiver. Inside the long tube. breakage. reduces light for a sharper picture. to take scope mounts with little fuss. A special variant of the aperture sight is the tube sight. Receivers had to be spot-annealed. in the end. of course. parallax. It dates to 1884. they were regarded as somewhat less than sporting and even prone to failure at the most inappropriate times in the field. Also. Today. Scope manufacturers battled this prejudice for years before tipping the balance their way. it's the rare shooter who goes afield with iron sights. no doubt. Even the muzzleloading crowd is starting to put scopes on their guns. and shotgunners are more than halfway converted--at least among the slug gunners. Before that time. Most people are now aware that an airgun is . The telescopic sight presents a single sighting plane to the shooter--the easiest of all the sight pictures to work with.

or very close to it. is common among the airgun-specific scopes having a parallax adjustment. 50 yards is generally the far limit at which shots will be taken. On scopes designed for centerfire guns. So. but few were ready for the strong forward thrust of an air rifle. or adjustment for the range at which the scope is used. simply brace all their scopes against all jarring movements and make no special distinctions about application. Ten yards. Scopes have long been braced against recoil to the rear.harder on a scope than a firearm. Some companies now make special airgun scopes that are correctly braced. The telescopic sight is responsible for more interest and confusion among new airgunners than any other single item of equipment. For an airgunner. The fact that you're shooting at a target 40 yards away. At greater or lesser ranges. Parallax. by virtue of its two-way recoil pattern. is another airgun quirk. and even 7-1/2 yards. but they usually adjust only as close as 50 yards. Better scopes have parallax adjustments. It is very disconcerting to watch a group open up to one inch in front of your eyes. while others like Leupold. the parallax is off--but the effect is so small that no one really cares. their scopes must be adjustable down to a much closer range. the parallax may be fixed at some distance that averages out to the probable range at which the gun will be fired--say 100 to 150 yards for centerfires and 50 yards for rimfires. where an inch may .

The shooter simply adjusts the parallax while watching the target through the optics. When it comes into sharp focus. the parallax adjustment is precise enough to determine the range to the target to within one meter. While it's true that modern manufacturing methods. Similar to the coincidence rangefinder of a camera. And. Knowing the range helps.177 pellet give the visual impression that you're shooting all over the place. don't forget the barrel maker--a different company in almost all instances. having a two-inch variation in trajectory makes the shot a crap shoot. Shimming has long been an accepted cure for this. It's similar to watching a 22/250 print a 2-1/2" group at 100 yards--not a pretty sight! Compounding this problem. And. They have somehow learned how to drill a straight hole through the exact center of a steel bar. When you're trying to shoot through a hole one inch in diameter. The small holes left by a . of course the scope mount maker attended the same meeting and agreed to the precise final dimensions of the rails and the receiver tube diameter--along with every airgun maker on the planet! And. so why should it be different for airguns? Firearm shooters who use scopes have known for decades that very few rifles leave the factory with their barrels pointed in the same direction as bases for their scope mounts. that's exactly what some airgunners expect. Yet. because the air rifle pellet has a very pronounced trajectory at close range. the scope is corrected for that range. the airgunner is typically watching his group take shape through an 18-40x magnification that renders the image of the target as large as a barn door! This is the frustration. we still don't expect to just slap on a scope and hit the bricks. that often leads some people to pursue a fanatical assault on ultimate accuracy in which thousands of dollars will be spent on all possible improvements to a gun. . so the time spent in study is well worth the investment.be the best you can expect. If you think about all the variables. apertures. by the way) with zero deviation in relation to the machined grooves on the scope rail. Another help a scope gives airgunners is rangefinding through parallax correction. it's a wonder that a scope ever works! So. and that those fixed barrels will (or should) be pointed in the same direction as the scope rails. which may then be read off the range scale on the adjustment knob or ring. is seldom taken into account. on some powerful scopes. That isn't true for firearms. and then the bushing into the receiver tube (which can have no variance in wall thickness. in which two images converge into one at a certain predetermined range. But scoping your gun is still the way to wring out the most potential accuracy. To use a scope successfully. such as investment casting. although 18x will usually get you within five yards of the true range. For instance. a popular misconception among new airgunners is that airguns having fixed barrels are more accurate than breakbarrel guns. an airgunner has to take the time to learn a bit about the technology before charging out into the woods to win field target matches. I believe. It takes about 24x or more to make very precise estimates. They want the manufacturer to press that barrel into that bushing. there's a lot to learn if you're going to use a scope on an airgun. and scopes--there's a lot to learn about airgun sighting equipment. Open sights. have improved this situation greatly.

Just remember that your sights are what help you align your barrel with the intended target.we haven't even touched on the exotic stuff. Both consider their guns to be accurate if they can hit their target. like dot sights and lasers. we will discover what you can expect from several types and even some specific models of airguns. while hunters usually just want a clean killing shot on their quarry. not one but five pellets have sailed through the 10-ring. One person shoots at a tin can 20 feet away and another wants to hit an aspirin at 50 yards. © Copyright 2004 All Rights Reserved Russia's IZH 46 is a 10-meter target pistol capable of world-class accuracy. . Accuracy is always subjective. Still other shooters want to see what an air rifle will do at 100 yards. Here. In this article. Such a pistol groups top-quality target pellets in five one-hundredths of an inch or less at 10 meters.com. Choose wisely! Airgun accuracy (June 2004) Airgun accuracy What should you expect from today's airguns? By Tom Gaylord exclusively for PyramydAir.

the term "group" is correct. but it isn't as precise. Other factors such as how controllable the trigger is and how well the stock fits the shooter are also important. and it works the same for all groups and all calibers. For example.220" across their widest distance. it could be a good choice. If the two widest shots of a group of . Use a scope if it helps you shoot the gun the way you want to shoot. namely spring guns. This is often shortened to the expression "center-to-center. are very forgiving while others.Every product has specifications that limit performance. How to measure a shot group If we're going to talk about accuracy. don't forget that most bullets except wadcutters will tear raggedly through paper instead of cutting a clean hole. Measuring a shot group is not hard. a red dot sight allows much faster target acquisition than a scope. it becomes easier to estimate where the edges are and you won't have to use a pellet. the c-t-c distance is 1. but that may become increasingly important with some kinds of powerplants if the shooter does not practice proper shooting techniques. Incidentally. The barrel. The math is simple. like those using compressed air. . are not. Shot-group size is by far the most popular way to do this.0". but the barrel and pellet comprise about 90 percent of the accuracy potential for an airgun. but also consider if other kinds of sights might even work better for what you are trying to do. The powerplant adds a small amount of additional potential. The most common way of stating the size of a shot group is the distance between the centers of the two shots farthest apart. In the beginning it helps to stick a pellet in the holes to visualize where the edges are. You need to find the true edge of the two widest holes. A pattern is the spread of shot from a shotgun. If you don't need that last half-inch of accuracy. A scope sight will make it easier to shoot any airgun more accurately. we have to use some easily understood means of comparing relative shot placement. a group is the arrangement of shots from a gun that shoots just one projectile with each shot.22-caliber shots measures 1. Some powerplants. it is not a pattern. When you measure the group spread. and then subtract one bullet diameter to get the distance between the centers. such as for long-range precision shooting and hunting." or "c-t-c. but it will not make the gun more accurate." Measure a group by measuring the distance from the far edges of the two widest shots. but there are some things you need to know. With some experience. powerplant and pellet are at the heart of every airgun's accuracy.

group of five . a group size of one-tenth of an inch is possible. Subtract the measures just 0.125" group. It just makes the results sound more impressive. Don't be fooled by the precision of the It's easy to measure groups with a plain old ruler.22 diameter of one pellet and you get a group size of just over 1. if the shooter uses the correct technique. a Condor from AirForce puts five . though. such as a 0. Simply because you are measuring in thousandths doesn't mean you are doing it accurately. 0. You'll be fortunate to measure Simply bracket the outsides of the two widest correctly to within a hundredth of an inch. Use a sloppy technique and you can easily see a half-inch group from the same gun at the same distance. don't kid yourself that a more precise measuring tool will make your measurements more accurate.22. Here. groups shot closer will be smaller than those shot farther away. compared to a 1/8" group. With a sporting rifle such as the Webley Longbow. It hair larger than 1-1/2" at 50 yards. That's at 10 meters. center-to-center. reading. Not bad for a breezy day in Texas! Don't expect your . given the same circumstances. You can measure the distance across the group with a common ruler marked in sixteenths of an inch or you can use a dial caliper that indicates thousandths of an inch.816". The Condor will shoot groups half this size on calm days. Whatever you choose. five-shot groups measuring only a few HUNDREDTHS of an inch in width are possible.22 rimfire rifle to shoot this well unless it has a great pedigree.50-caliber airgun bullets was fired at caliber Korean pellets into a group that measures a 25 yards from a Dragon big-bore air rifle. The edges of the pellet holes are difficult to see in this photo but are more obvious when you have the target in hand.Dial calipers make it easy to rapidly measure group size.28". With an Olympic-grade 10-meter rifle like the Walther Alutek or a target air pistol like the Aeron B98. This shots. What accuracy is possible with an airgun? Obviously. This is a common mistake. Some of the top . which is about 33 feet.

a 10-meter target rifle will be shooting a group of three-quarters of an inch to one inch. while a Benjamin Sheridan single-shot pneumatic might group in one-eighth of an inch. All pellets would have hit Roosevelt's head on a dime! At the same 10-meter distance. A high-quality CO2 pistol like a Smith & Wesson 586 might group five shots in three-quarters of an inch and a low-cost CO2 gun like a Gamo P23 might shoot a 11/2" to 2" group. rivaling the target guns. a nice sporter air pistol like the Webley Tempest or Weihrauch HW 75M will group five shots in one-tenth of an inch. . You may read discussions about half-inch groups at 50 yards and they may sound easy. while a top-quality sporting rifle like the AirForce Talon SS can shoot a half-inch group. Everyone loves to talk about such things. a Falcon FN-19 rifle put five Beeman Kodiak pellets (also known as H&N Baracuda) in a group of just 0. but they are not as common as you might believe. A lower-cost rifle like a Crosman 1077 might shoot a quarter-inch group at this distance. As the range increases. but they can be fun to shoot at the longer distances if you like a real shooting challenge. At 40 yards. so does the group size for all airguns.sporting rifles like the BSA Super 10 MK II will give even smaller groups at this distance. At 50 yards. Air pistols are pretty much out of the picture beyond 30 yards or so. but they're not.327". A half-inch five-shot group at 50 yards with an air rifle is the shooting equivalent of a par hole in golf or a bowling score of greater than 240.

When the distance is stretched to 100 yards. Eight of the 10 shots went into a group . Simply shoot fewer shots. the bragging group size is one inch. but they are even more rare than half-inch groups at 50 yards. If 50-yard five-shot groups of one-half inch are possible. ever invest the time and effort to shoot them. and it is 60 percent easier to shoot than a five-shot group of the same size. 10-shot groups are considered the standard measurement tool. And. a Talon SS from AirForce shot this five-shot group of . including yours truly.22 caliber isn't accurate! My wedding ring is size 12. Nobody has tried to put a one-shot group up for scrutiny yet. When the only person you have to please is yourself. though few shooters.22-caliber pellets. but it wouldn't surprise me if someone did. shoot whatever number of shots you want. to say the least. They happen with the same frequency as holes-in-one in golf or 300 scores in bowling. I have recently shot some 10shot groups at 50 yards with a Ruger 10/22 rifle I'm testing.At 35 yards. A three-shot group looks pretty convincing. a 10-shot group will be about 40 percent larger than a five-shot group from the same gun. Indeed. The number of shots in a group affects the size There's a secret to shooting small groups. such groups have been shot. quarter-inch groups at 50 yards are not unknown. Whenever the accuracy of a gun is being measured. I would rate a one-inch 100-yard group as four times more difficult to shoot than a half-inch 50-yard group. but a test report with groups of less than five shots is suspect. it stands to reason that there will be even better groups from time to time. some folks say . On the other hand. A two-shot group is even easier and some shooters are so eager for bragging rights that they will settle for two close shots. The longer a pellet takes to fly to its target the more wind will influence it. And.

The lowdown on the four most popular airgun calibers. The four popular smallbore pellet calibers are.25. . my squadron commander. "Aim small. but shots nine and 10 opened up that group to 8-1/2"! That's an extreme example of what I'm illustrating. . or you'll never get all the accuracy your gun has to offer. . On Army pistol ranges. plus a quick look at BBs By Tom Gaylord Exclusively for PyramydAir. I have seen soldiers deliberately aim at a target 50 feet away and hit the ground 15 feet in front of where they were standing. The group sizes mentioned and shown in this article are very achievable with a good airgun. We'll also see how BBs differ from the four pellet calibers." When Mel Gibson was telling his sons how to hit their mark. I like to use a line from the movie "Patriot. we'll look at each of those four calibers and see what it does best.25.com. All because of improper trigger control.45 and shoot a 2" 10shot group at the same distance. good pellets and a good shooter. When you move back to the more forgiving firearms.20 (also called 5mm). Not only does your breathing and heart rate come into play. but I never got a 10-shot group of less than 2-1/2" with that ammunition in that rifle. so what does that say about the 1-1/2" eight-shot group? Settling down to shoot You have to settle down to shoot good groups. your mental frame of mind is essential to accuracy. . your time spent with an airgun will have sharpened your skills. take the same tired Army .22 and . .measuring 1-1/2". . miss small. All Rights Reserved There are four popular airgun calibers today--. You have to settle down and use the proper technique. I have also seen a national champion shooter. The hyperactive shooter has no chance of shooting as accurately as the shooter with proper technique. he said. Copyright ©2003.177.22 and .177. from left to right.20. In this article. One good reason to shoot airguns is that they give you the best shooting training money can buy." Whoever made up that expression knew what it takes to shoot accurately. Airgun Calibers (June 2003) Airgun calibers.

. more accurate than guns in other calibers. but since all target guns are made in this caliber only.177 pellets have is that their light weight allows them to go faster than the larger sizes.20/5mm Did you notice at the start of this article that the .177 caliber gun for both pistol and rifle competition. plus there are often more of them in a box. Any given gun will shoot faster in .177 to keep the velocity down.177 caliber was probably created shortly after the start of the 20th century. but today the only target guns made are . if all things are equal. the popular misconception is that the .177 guns ARE.20 caliber was actually created that way from the start. knocking down the target and registering a hit.. which was a hotbed of airgun development both then and now.177.177 is somehow more accurate than the other three calibers. It seems to have surfaced first in England. The sport of field target is one competitive shooting sport in which a .177 pellets tend to be less expensive than .s.22. The advantage of . . It is widely used for general shooting and is the only caliber that can be used for bullseye target shooting anywhere in the world. the smaller size of the .177 pellet makes it the statistically superior choice in this sport. The .22 pellets. The kill-zone holes range from 1/4" to 2" in diameter.100 f.22 pellet is larger and some people find it easier to load than the smaller .177 is a smaller pellet that uses less material--usually lead. a lot of .177 places the shooter at a distinct advantage. guns come in both . The . America and perhaps other countries. One final thought. at sea level). Sometimes.22 caliber target airguns made in the past in England. For powerful air rifles.p.177/4. There have been . Once the speed of the pellet approaches the speed of sound (a variable speed of approximately 1. A problem . the . the accuracy suffers. Because of this. consider this. The shooter must shoot a pellet through a small hole in a steel target to hit a paddle.20 caliber is the only one also designated by its metric size? While all pellets are marked with both their English and metric sizes today. This is not strictly true. The . but the smaller holes are by far more common in a match.177 than in .177. there's a good chance the target won't fall and no point will be awarded.22. Which should you get? Well.177 and .177 caliber is by far the most popular today and will be the easiest pellet to find in a store. So.5mm The . shooters must select the heaviest pellets in . If the pellet touches the side of the hole. The rules of all official shooting organizations mandate a . Germany.22 calibers. in fact. That same gun will hit about 20 percent harder (have more energy) in .

The .20 as a long-range pellet that's superior to the . Many shooters consider . Even then they also referred to it as a 5mm.20 caliber/5mm got off to a somewhat tenuous start.22 than it is to . began making 5mm guns. While that sounds like a good way to make more money.177 and .22 pellets. Of course.22--the hunter's choice . they're looking only at the very specific instance of Crosman Premier pellets in that ad.177 and . That project never went anywhere. no other airguns were made in that caliber until Robert Beeman requested Feinwerkbau to make up five special model 124 rifles for his company. The . so he created a proprietary caliber--the . There are still fewer choices in . but within a few more years Weihrauch. .22.20. In 1947. the German maker of all the Beeman R-series guns.22.20 caliber pellet to the world in 1947. Actually. . However. but there are fewer styles to choose from. The pellet makers are also making more designs of pellets in this caliber. it can also backfire and destroy the entire marketing plan.20 caliber gun for general shooting and for hunting or pest elimination. but Sheridan remained in production and by the mid-1970s.20 is a little closer to . they might not buy the gun. but the gap is narrowing. While some British ads promote the . Ed Wackerhagen designed a multi-pump pneumatic air rifle that he called the Sheridan. Robert Beeman promoted it that way in his catalogs for many years.20 caliber pellet. this also meant that his company had to supply all ammunition. nobody gave it much thought.22.Sheridan introduced the .20 at a great distance.20 caliber than in . If shooters feel they may not be able to purchase an odd-sized caliber in the future (consider the Remington 5mm rimfire that can now cost a dollar a round). The market blossomed from there.22 has a great number of pellets that are better for long-range shooting than any . though there's nothing wrong with shooting a .20 caliber to be a good compromise between . but Europe is producing more of them all the time. America has been the leader in . He found commercial airgun ammunition of the time too inaccurate to work well in his rifle. Get a . The pellets cost about as much as .20 caliber/5mm airguns.177 in terms of the cost of the pellets and pellet weight.

p. but. at the start of the 20th century was the choice for most small shooting jobs such as pest elimination. On the other hand. In . The pellets do cost more than . The quarter-inch bore is somewhat older than the . but since animals don't act the same as humans.right? Perhaps. Speaking of high velocity and hunting with pellet guns. the lightweight . The . some guns that OUGHT to be great in . and on up until around the 1980s. which. the . because of the larger size. a .22 is the king of the hunting calibers. and others that SHOULD be too puny to do well are surprisingly good! The RWS 48/52 is one of the most popular spring guns ever made. That's why the . Even a chipmunk can be "acupunctured" in this way. yet in .s.s. It existed in smoothbore airguns at the end of the 19th century. The same thing CAN happen with a . Even at a top speed of 1. it's much less likely.22 caliber pellet grew out of the .22 it is very powerful for a spring rifle.217" to 0.200 f. the animal is in extreme pain. Of course. Usually.22 caliber is just fine.25 caliber don't fulfill their promise. It hits harder and also transmits more of its energy to the target than the smaller . It's the second most popular airgun caliber.218". all . "Bigger is better. it appears to simply run off.177 pellet traveling at high-velocity is small enough to pass completely through the body of a small animal. and BSA made it popular in 1906 with the first rifled smallbore air rifle to use . Velocities were in the 300 to 400 f. a high velocity bullet does so much damage to its target that much smaller calibers can be used to hunt big game. As far as general shooting goes.222" to 0.22 rimfire bullet." So the . A .220 Swift in 1935 and grew very popular through the promotion of Roy Weatherby.22 caliber pellet is definitely the choice of the hunter and pest eliminator.25 the power drops off a bit.177. after suffering increasingly greater pain.25 caliber. They don't travel 3.p.22. The rimfire barrel is sized 0. It wasn't until the 1990s that the emergence of powerful rifles made this caliber truly viable and brought it fully back to life.25 caliber has to be the best .22 pellet.22 rimfire. The funny thing is. it will die several days to weeks later. The big . This began with the introduction of the . pellets are not centerfire bullets. So a "fast" pellet is of no advantage to a hunter unless it also carries a large amount of energy that it can successfully transfer to the animal.000 f.25 caliber air rifles were low-powered and slow.223" across the grooves.177s and the velocities of the guns are usually slower. Twenty-two caliber was the most popular airgun caliber in America until the late 1960s.22 caliber pellet is no longer the same diameter as a . In those days. but learn all the facts before making up your mind.p. But.The .. and faster. while the airgun barrel is sized 0. But. a pellet is going WAY too slow to have a similar hydraulic shock effect on game. let's clear up a misconception. range.s. leaving no visible signs of trauma if a vital organ or bone is not hit. That's why more airguns of that caliber exist among the vintage and antique guns made in this country.177.25 To many shooters. In firearms. but a good shot will have no problem with a . nor will a rimfire barrel work well for pellets.

In the precharged guns.25 pellets that are even heavier than the heaviest .25.177 and . The magnum spring pistols top out at about 6 foot-pounds.20-. which makes long-range shooting that much more difficult. As long as you keep the power level in mind. we tell them that unless they have a 12 foot-pound pistol.25. Air pistols All we've talked about so far is air rifles. but it's almost never a sporting choice for a hunter. a BB was a type of shotgun shot sized 0. What's the deal there? The deal is that they're . it's not powerful enough for small game hunting. Even so.22 pellets are already so heavy that there is no clear advantage for a . Where do the pistols fit in? For starters. Yes. as a rule. When it was first created in 1886. at just six foot-pounds.180" in diameter. air pistols in the four smallbore calibers we're looking at get up to 12 or even 14 footpounds.177? No! The BB is smaller than . air pistols are MUCH less powerful than air rifles.25-caliber air pistol.177 caliber almost the universal choice for an air pistol. a . When people ask about hunting with a pistol. there is absolutely nothing wrong with owning and shooting a . they really shouldn't hunt. Yes.172" to 0. but these airguns are as large and heavy as small carbines.22s. it's a completely different caliber. Through the years.25 caliber doesn't deliver much of an advantage. That's because the new solid .22. Just knowing about the big power difference between air pistols and air rifles will help you decide what to get. BBs: Are they the same as . the size became smaller. In the precharged rifles. The Beeman P1 is considered a very powerful air pistol. which is a delight in . Some airguns can shoot either BBs or pellets. seems to defy logic by also handling the big caliber well. it's possible to kill certain pests like rats and mice with an air pistol. there are solid . but they take away some velocity. until todays steel BB is 0.22 and ought to be a dog in .and even a . but the rifles get up as high at 80 foot-pounds! There are a few specialty pistols made in the Orient that get 30 to 50 foot-pounds. In fact.177. . while the rifles get up to the low 30s. This difference in power between pistols and rifles makes .BSA Supersport Magnum.173'.

.177 bore is still oversized and will give poor performance. NEVER shoot steel BBs in a gun designed to shoot only pellets! Pellet gun barrels are softer. Summary The four main airgun calibers give you a lot of choice. then pick an appropriate pellet and try it out.22 and . Hopefully. but a . yet a lead pellet can also be shot.177. and the undersized steel BB will damage the rifling (if there is any) as it rattles down the bore. You have to think about what you want to do with your airgun. A few manufacturers make round balls in . These are sized the same as lead pellets and won't harm your barrel.designed with some kind of compromise bore that will not be damaged by steel BBs. this article has helped you understand the most important fundamentals. Like anything else in life. A good way to shoot round balls in a pellet gun is to use a round lead ball. there's no rifling to ruin. If the gun is smoothbore. These guns are seldom as accurate with either ammunition as regular pellet-only guns. the final answer to what's the best caliber or best pellet lies with you.25 and a few other calibers. . though some of them do a pretty remarkable job at short ranges.