I must get at least 1 phone call a week asking about the advantages of PCP verses a spring powered air rifle that has prompted me to write this blog.
It is just too easy to say, for example, “a PCP is the better alternative…”, as this is not necessarily accurate in terms of customer needs and proposed functions for the intended air rifle. Then there is the cost factor to consider, accuracy, pellet energy, maintenance, ease of handling and in the case of PCPs, refilling their air cylinders.
It is quote common for guys to say to me, “I want a springer as it is cheaper and doesn’t need an expensive pump or scuba bottle and valve assembly”. They have already made up their minds and won’t even consider a PCP and then when they get their spring air rifle, I get calls saying, “it is not very accurate”, “it is not really powerful enough” and “what does it cost to tune it? Will I get more power?” OK, so I am going to address each of these issues chapter by chapter.
What you should know about air Rifles.
Before you race out and get a new air rifle you really need to get it into your head the following:
- Is it for Target shooting?
- Am I going to hunt with it – like rabbits (rather than small birds)?
- Is the intended air rifle for short or long distance shooting?
- Am I going to control vermin such as rats and birds (like the Indian Miner – Acridotheres tristis, or the Noisy Miner – Manorina melanocephala)?
- What is my budget?
- Does this include a Scope?
If you are going to shoot competitively then a visit to your local air rifle club is warranted where you can talk to experienced guys and see what calibres they are using, the class (discipline) they shoot in, what types of air rifles and what size of scopes they use. This will define for you whether it is a spring air rifle, a PCP, what calibre and scope size. Armed with this information, it is easy to work out a package that will do the trick.
You should need to know that with target shooting and to be any good at it, you will need to tune your air rifle which can add substantially to the cost, especially a spring air rifle. Bear that in mind in this scenario, as it applies to all spring air rifles, including Weihrauchs.
Hunting with an Air Rifle.
So you think you might like to hunt Rabbits and larger vermin, say as large as a Fox. Then this comes down to what environment you are intending to shoot in. An example of this would be where I shoot rabbits, it is sporadic bush where I seldom have to shoot greater than 40 metres due to a limited field of view as I am not shooting in a farmers field. Then a basic spring air rifle in .22 calibre works just fine and does not need extensive tuning due to the short range for rabbits.
Taking out a Fox can be done with a .22 spring air rifle at close quarters but I would hesitate to advise this as I am of the opinion that it would results in more wounded foxes than ones killed outright.
Shooting at greater ranges.
If you want to shoot out at greater ranges, say in a farmers paddock, where the field of view will necessitate you shooting at greater distances than 50 metres, then look at a PCP air rifle. If you are just shooting rabbits (with the occasional other small vermin) then .22 calibre PCP air rifle is OK. If you want to take out Foxes then I think you need to consider a .25 or .30 calibre PCP air rifle. Before you jump on the phone to me with “I have shot a fox at 50+ metres with a .177 or .22…), let me say this: My take of calibre selection is based on getting the best results, and that is a clean kill the MAJORITY of the time over greater distances. A lucky shot with a .177 does not do it for me.
Small Vermin Control with Air Rifles.
Quite a few of my customers get spring powered air rifles in .177 and .22 for controlling birds in an orchard, rats and associated small vermin. In this scenario a spring powered air rifle with open sights works well and is a cheap option. Put on a scope and you have an even better platform giving increased accuracy together with better identification of vermin and bird types.
Shooting on a small property such as 5 acres or a small orchard suits a springer over a more powerful PCP air rifle due to the increased power of the PCP, as you have a Duty of Care as to where a stray pellet may go after exiting your property. The Police here is WA have indicated that they would like to see larger properties such as 15-20 acres plus, for guys licencing PCP air rifles for this given safety concern.
Air Rifle Budget.
I would hesitate to advise you to purchase an air rifle strictly to meet your budget, as doing so will in most cases result in an airgun that is not designed for its intended use.
You need to ascertain exactly what you want to do with the air rifle based on the points above and if your budget does not extend to cover the price of the specific air rifle type, then consider purchasing a second hand air rifle. There are many out there that have seen little use and would save you a bundle whilst giving you the air rifle that will do what you want.
Just remember that tuning an air rifle can be (not definitely) expensive with some spring powered air rifles costing more to tune that the basic rifle costs. This should be taken into consideration when tossing up between a PCP and a spring powered air rifle.
Air Rifle Scopes.
An air rifle is only as good as the scope you put on it, simple. Buy a good air rifle and then mount a crappy scope will result in a rifle that is compromised in performance due to an inadequate functioning scope.
I seriously suggest that you should look at recommended scopes such as the Hawke Airmax range or the new Leapers Scopes that I now carry as well. Over the years I have sold numerous scopes, all manufacturer approved for air rifles and have found that many do not do the distance. This has resulted in me decreasing my stock in Hawke Scopes as the performance and longevity of some of their scopes leaves a bit to be desired.
With the ever changing landscape in scopes, performance and cost, I have sourced a range of Leapers Scopes that I will stock alongside my Hawke Scopes. These scopes are both cheaper in some cases (than Hawke scopes) with additional features and come with the same warranty.
When asking for a quote, please give me as much information as you can so that what I quote you will be more accurate in the final analysis.
Air Rifle Selection Summary.
Take your time and work out exactly what you intend doing when getting a quote, so that with your new purchase you actually get what you are after and do as near as, what you want.
Buying a PCP does not necessarily mean that you will spend more money going this route as there are several PCP air rifles on the market now that are very well priced and will come in under the price of a tuned spring air rifle.
Please bear this in mind, when tuning an airgun, I tune it for accuracy or power, not both as in most cases these factors are inversely relative, so a compromise has to be reached especially when tuning an air rifle for hunting.