By B.B. Pelletier
A lot of airgunners are fascinated with big bore airguns. Like, “How can a .45-caliber rifle shoot a 225-grain “pellet” over 600 feet per second on just AIR? Believe it or not, it’s possible – and so are many other supposedly unbelievable things.
For starters, did you know that these same guns will often group in one inch at 50 yards? They not only develop crushing power, they also deliver that power precisely where it’s needed to “Git-R-Done”!
Big bore airguns are over 400 years old
There were 20-shot repeating air rifles in the Austrian army before the year 1800. They were 50-caliber monsters capable of killing a man at 100 yards. At that time, a firearm could not reliably hit a man-sized target at more than 50 yards – on a good day (except from the target’s viewpoint, I suppose). Firearms were all single shots that took about 20 seconds for a well-trained man to load, while the 20-shot Girandoni repeater could dump its whole magazine of 20 balls in less than a minute!
You would have paid a king’s ransom (the equivalent of $30,000 – $50,000) for one of those old guns – even for the single-shots that were more available than the military Girandoni. Yet, today, you can buy a modern big bore single-shot for $500-600. Check out the Big Bore 909S from Sam Yang. It delivers around 200 foot-pounds of power and shoots HUGE .45-caliber lead bullets.
If .45 isn’t big enough for you, there’s always the .50-caliber Career Dragon. Check out the article on this website that shows accuracy and velocity with a test gun. The Dragon is a bolt-action and looks more conventional, while the Big Bore 909S has a sliding breech for loading. Both rifles deliver about the same power, with the accuracy edge perhaps going to the Dragon.
Big bores and repeating mechanisms are not a good match
As it turns out, a big bore is one gun that you DON’T WANT as a repeater. The 9mm Career Ultra was a seven-shot lever-action repeater, but the pellets that fit in it were lightweight. It also allowed single loading, but the mechanism was sized for the smallish repeating pellet and proved too cumbersome to accept serious bullets. On the other hand, the 9mm Career single-shot loads and shoots real pistol bullets more than twice as heavy.
The Big Bore 44 and the Career Dragon are single-shots rifles, and the airgun equivalent of muzzleloaders. They’re PERFECT for shooting pellets or bullets of your choice. The article about the Dragon even mentions that. That puts YOU in the driver’s seat to discover the best combination for power and accuracy. Use commercially cast bullets or cast them yourself.
Let me know if these guns stir your pot the way they do mine, because there is a lot more to talk about. Oh, yeah, and there are more big bores on this website, too. Who will be the first to post all of them as a comment to this message?