Air Rifle Technology.
Air Rifle technology has seen massive changes since 2010, when new manufacturers started entering the airgun arena in a bid to gain a foot-hold on this emerging sport that has taken off. With almost daily shootings somewhere in the developed world, the noose around gun owners tightens inch by inch. This push against firearm ownership is presently aimed at semi-automatics and big bore centre fire rifles if they even slightly resemble a military weapon.
At present they are leaving air rifle owners alone (to a degree) but guys, please do NOT get complacent about this. Our battle has yet to start as soon as some tree-hugger realises that, “hey, these air rifles are available up to .50 cal… we can’t have that…”. We need to support the Shooters and Fishers party if we want to keep our sport. I have had my rant so let’s continue…
Spring Air Rifle Technology.
Spring air rifles, or ‘springers’ as they are usually referred to, have advanced at a slower pace than Pre Charged Pneumatics (PCPs), but advance they have. The most significant advances have been in piston seals that have moved from leather to plastics over the years. Now we have piston seals if PTFE that are significantly more suited to high powered springers, with yet another seal referred to as a Vac Seal (by Vortek) that is getting popular.
Calibres that were once restricted to .177 and .22, now have .20, .25 and even .30 available to the spring air rifle customer. Power has increased to carry these heavier projectiles, some using heavier springs and others by using Gas Piston technology. The use of synthetics has seen the emergence of what some would call “way out there” looking stocks, claims of 1250 Fps etc, aimed I’m guessing at our young shooters just starting out.
The emergence of cheap spring air rifles from China, Russia, Turkey, Spain and Czechoslovakia has fuelled the demand for spares and aftermarket tuning kits that have now come to prominence. This has led to the arrival of businesses like V-Mach in the UK, Vortek and Maccari of the US, all of whom supply custom springs and seals to improve the performance of these underperforming spring air rifles.
Due to the overwhelming number of different springer manufacturers, spanning many years, Gunroom has found it uneconomical to do repairs and servicing of these springers as obtaining parts is a nightmare. Hence we now only work on what we sell or those guns that have been imported by Gunroom.
PCP Air Rifle Advancements.
PCP Air Rifles have seen the most advances, due in part to there being more parts and a more complex system of high-pressure valving. Daystate and Brocock started using an inertia hammer rather than the more conventional solid hammer used by other manufacturers. They called it the Slingshot Hammer and it produces consistent pressure resulting in flat bow curves that translate to better accuracy.
Then there is the introduction of electronics that has seen Daystate for example, produce a number of PCP air rifles that now have a computer that regulates the power and shot count. What is more, is that the system is proving very reliable with great shot consistency, accuracy and higher shot count.
The cost of Walnut has risen over the years as logging has taken its toll of this tree that is sort after for rifle stocks and furniture etc. This has led to the use of coloured laminates that are cheaper, stiffer and provide an ideal stock building material. The use of laminates has seen most manufacturers using them in assorted colours and stock configurations. Even the conservative Weihrauch air rifle company has produced excellent laminates in both PCPs and spring air rifles.
Prices of air rifles have dropped thanks to the introduction of CNC (Computer Numerical Control) that are responsible for mass production of extremely accurate machining together with 3D CAD(Computer Aided Drafting) advances of late. This in turn reduces the cost through ‘Economies of Scale’, and where a manufacturer also uses similar parts on each different air rifle model, this commonality of parts saves money. The Minelli Group in Italy make most of the air rifle stocks you see today as they too are heavily invested in expensive CNC Machines and CAD.
Another advance I think we will see more of in the near future is the hammerless PCP air rifle as seen in the Huben Bullpup. This reduction in moving parts reduces recoil and action movement, however slight, to almost zero. Expect to see more air rifle manufacturers jump on this bandwagon in the next year or two.
Air Rifle Summary.
Finally air rifles are following military examples such as semi-Bullpups (Brocock for example) and full Bullpups such a Daystate’s Renegade and Pulsar. Other air rifle examples that are capturing customers imaginations are the Benjamin Armada and the Kral Puncher Armour, with both their tactical appearances heavily indebted to military concepts.
Another military influenced PCP air rifle, the Kral Puncher Armour.
Go back just 15 or maybe 20 years and look at what was available in the air rifle marketplace then and the reader will immediately recognise the technology jump over the last few years. Think about that and just where will the air rifle be in say, another 5 years, given the speed of technology that is driven by demand and competition; that is providing we are still allowed to own an air rifle then…