Which airgun should I buy?

by B.B. Pelletier

This question comes up all the time. Most people who ask it think that if only all the airguns they were interested in were reviewed side-by-side, it would be easy to make a decision. I disagree. I think there are some very subtle cues that we each follow when making a big decision, and all the input in the world will not dissuade us unless we discover that something we thought was true…turns out not to be.

Listen to yourself!
You know what you want better than anyone. Most of you are not ruled by money as much as you believe. You simply use the cost of something as a substitute for some really important piece of information that you lack or perhaps don’t even know exists. Let me give some examples.

Example #1: When buying exercise equipment, I used to shop for what I wanted within my price range. Then one day I happened to try out an expensive piece of equipment that was very similar to one I already had. It was so much better that I found myself scheming how to raise the money for this thing that did exactly what I was already doing – but cost more than three times as much! There was so much more performance in that equipment that I wanted it at almost any price!

Example #2: I’d been using an FWB 124 for field target for more than a year when I happened to try a TX 200 underlever spring-piston rifle. With the experience of many matches behind me, I immediately understood why everyone was proclaiming the TX 200 as the finest spring rifle in the world. Money was no longer the issue. I had to get a TX 200 – and I did!

Example #3: About two years after I bought the TX200, a new type of TX came out. It had the underlever hidden in the stock and looked like a sleeker gun. Then, I tried one! The cocking linkage was much harsher and the rifle recoiled like a Chinese springer, which is to say it was jerky and it buzzed a lot. Apologists all around me were buying this new gun and having it tuned down to 12 foot-pounds to make it smoother and easier to cock, but I refused to say the emperor had his clothes on. A few more years passed and I noticed that this new model had disappeared from the scene. It never was a nice air rifle and no amount of hype and wishing could make it one.

Ask the right question!
I sometimes get suckered into written conversations like this:

ewok: BB, what’s the most powerful air rifle in the world?

BB: ewok, Dennis Quackenbush makes a .79-caliber rifle that puts out more than 1,000 foot-pounds.

ewok: BB, I don’t know much about foot-pounds. Can you tell me how many fps that would be in .177?

BB: ewok, it isn’t a .177 caliber gun. It’s a .790 caliber gun. It shoots a 2.5-oz. bullet. It’s used to hunt elk and bison.

ewok: BB, where do I get those .790 pellets? My Wal-Mart doesn’t have them, and the guy at the register didn’t know what I was talking about.

BB: ewok, the rifle we are talking about is custom built and costs about $1,500.

ewok: Good heavens! I don’t need to spend $1,500 just to kill a few squirrels in my attic, do I?

BB: No, and with the rifle we have been discussing, you would shoot through the squirrel, then through your roof and through several walls in your neighbor’s house! You asked me what the most powerful air rifle was and I told you.

ewok: All I want to do is get rid of a few squirrels, and I don’t want to see them suffer.

BB: Get a Sheridan Blue Streak and pump it six times for each shot.

Ask the right question, No. 2
ewok: I want the best air rifle I can get for $400.

BB: At that price I like the RWS 48, the RWS 46, the BSA Tech Star and the HW 95.

ewok: Which one can my 11-year-old daughter use for Pony Club matches?

BB: A Daisy model 853 target rifle.

ewok: Why didn’t you list that the first time?

BB: I didn’t know you had a daughter or that she’s 11!

What is important to YOU?
The reason people ask the opinion of others when there’s a difficult choice to be made is because they don’t know what they want. They haven’t figured out what’s important to them, so they haven’t a clue where to begin looking. I once was asked if the RWS 34 is a nice breakbarrel air rifle. I said it was (it is!) and the fellow thanked me. About two weeks later he called me up and jumped all over me for not telling him about the Beeman Crow Magnum! We had been talking about a $100 rifle (this was many years ago), and he was angry that I didn’t also mention a $1,200 rifle in the same breath! So, when he finished I told him about the hand-made Whiscombe breakbarrel that cost $2,000. He said he wasn’t interested in spending that kind of money. But I learned that he’d just bought a Crow Magnum and didn’t want to hear about any other airguns! Find out what is important to YOU!

You know, I like this column! I’m going to do this again.

34 thoughts on “Which airgun should I buy?

  1. B.B.,
    Great post. This has to be the best airgun blog site on the internet!
    I really appreciate your sense of humor and to have it coupled with a real wealth of good technical information is frosting on the cake!
    I got my 24 inch .22 cal. Airforce barrel yesterday, have it installed, sighted, and ready for raccoon. It is noisy but what a whallop! We’re getting 6-8 inches of snow today but when that clears I’m hot to go.
    CWI


  2. You mention “The cocking linkage was much harsher and the rifle recoiled like a Chinese springer,” I have two Chinese rifles, .22 and .177 among other rifles. I have nothing in the 1000fps range, and would like to get away from that harsh recoil like the Chinese have. I seen the video that Cabela has on their web page of the Mendoza 2003 and it don’t seem to have much recoil, nor noisy. With the thought that all springers were like the Chinese I have not looked at them seriously.. I am asking what would you consider in a springer to be smoother and more enjoyable to shoot? I have nowhere to go close to where I live to try the different rifles. Thank You, F Nash


  3. Hi B.B.,

    My son has a Crossman 1077 which he likes very much. We are trying to get a scope on it for him; I purchased the 6×32 Mini Size A.O. Bug Buster 2. The scope is very nice and looks great on the gun but the problem is I can’t move it back far enough for it to fit him well. Is there an adjustable mount that will move it back (about 3 inches) or if that won’t work would I need to get a full size scope so there will be more room to slide it back? What is a nice combo for the small shooter?

    Keep up the good work with the blog, I enjoy reading it each day, lots of great information!! Hope you are enjoying your time off.

    Thanks,
    Jeff


  4. BB,

    This post was fantastic! Your writtings have a wealth of information that is useful to all airgunners, be they seasoned vets or those new to the wonderful hobby. I thank you!

    Jason


  5. Jeff,

    BKL makes cantilever scope mounts. Check out BKL 253A and BKL 254. Theese mounts will correct your issues.

    Jason



  6. Jeff,

    Either a full-sized scope, which I don’t like as well on a light rifle like the 1077, or Jason’s suggestion.

    B.B.


  7. BB,

    I’m sorry for jumping the gun and responding to Jeff in your stead. I didn’t know you were back. I was only trying to help, I hope I didn’t offend you. Sincerely

    Jason



  8. Jason,

    No problem. Thanks for the help.

    Condor vs TX200,

    They are both very accurate. The Condor is easier to shoot accurately because of the low recoil, but in the hands of a good shot, either rifle could beat the other.

    B.B.


  9. B.B.

    In example #3 you said “a new type of TX came out. It had the underlever hidden in the stock and looked like a sleeker gun. “

    Is that the Air Arms Pro Sport rifle you are talking about?

    KW



  10. B.B. and Jason,

    Thanks for the help the BKL mount looks good. I have just one more question, I was hoping to get an adjustable mount do you know of a cantilever mount that is adjustable?

    Thanks again for the help,
    Jeff




  11. BB

    re:Which airgun should I buy?

    Your blog on Today’s classic airguns – Friday, October 14, 2005 I think worth mentioning again. That days blog acted as a trail map for my first collecting. It answered, for me, the question “Which airguns might I want to buy?”

    I am grateful to have been able to purchase new three of those mentioned so far, a Benjamin 392, an IZH 61, and a Webley Hurricane

    Thanks again BB, your assistant(s)?, and Pyramyd for this tremendous blog.

    Ray Ck

    BTW-
    The 392 I find tough to pump any suggestions.


  12. Ray Ck,

    Thanks for the feedback. You now have three classic airguns. To get the 392 to pump more easily, try oiling the pivot points in the pump linkage and oil the pump head.

    Also remember you don’t have to pump it all the way for each shot. I shoot my Blue Streak on four pumps most of the time.

    B.B.


  13. Ok, this is going to be a long one. I am considering purchasing an airgun pistol to take care of the pesky robins and sparrows that manage to get into the nets I cover my 3 cherry trees with. I plan on mounting a holster on my lawnmover for this and a rifle is just too big..(my .22 rifle with birdshot works, but I also have to take care not to shoot into the tree, only on the ends of branches etc.)
    I am considering either the Crosman 1377, or the Crosman 2240 mostly for the price and reasonable performance of each.
    Since both are in the same price range but the 1377 is a pump and the 2240 is CO2…
    Can I store the 2240 with a cartridge if I only use it occasionaly?
    How long can I store a CO2 pistol with a charged cartridge?
    I like the 1377 mostly because I know I can just pump it up and use it. But the 2240 may be balanced better (haven’t handled one yet) and certainly handier not having to pump it up each time.
    Also, have you seen the new Crosman Target 2300T and Silhouete 2300S? Any opinions? I just may have to wait until they arrive in the shops in April of 2003…
    http://www.crosman.com/site/catalog/crosman/pistol

    Thanks
    Revwarnut (I’m a Revolutionary war hobbiest…)



  14. Revwarnut,

    Okay, First thing – you won’t see either of those Corsman pistols in a store. They are coming to “The Crosman Shop” in April. I think they mean their online store. Crosman is trying to increase revenue by selling direct from their Custom Shop. These are just 2240s that have been modified – something they warn not to do in their manual, but so many others were doing it that they decided to get in on the action.

    Speaking of the manual – it specifically warns not to store a 2240 with the powerlet in it “for reasons of longevity.” That said, I have one that’s had a powerlet in it for more than a year. I think this is a safety issue for them.

    You want to shoot robins? Robins are songbirds and protected everywhere in the U.S.

    But sparrows are not. For your purpose, I would recommend the 1377, though I wish it was available in .22.

    B.B.


  15. Thanks for the information.

    so…Robins are “Songbirds” ehhh… Ya know… I do beleive you are right on that… at least as far as the law is concered and the Migratory Bird Act etc… Darn….So much for that plan…
    Guess I’ll have to carry a Softpellet gun for the Robins and the 1377 for the Sparrows… ;>)I’ll get the weakest spring loaded one on the planet of course… an fps of 100 or so since 350 FPS even with a softpellet might be to much for a fragile bird….

    Yes, I’d sure like the 1377 in a .22. But .177 should do for the sparrows and gophers. And I am back to just making rude gestures and shouting at the Robins I guess…
    I’ll have to look into how “crop damage” applies. Probably just going to have to improve my nets, find a better way to keep the wind from picking up the bottom ends to keep the birds out.
    But I will still get perhaps the 1377 for the gophers. I can legally fire my .22 rifle or .45 Pensylvannia black power rifle (or any gun if the projectile stays in property line) in my township, but my concern is for any ricochets off rocks below the surface since the lots are only 1 acre and a bullets easily travels that far. At least a pellet fired into the ground won’t likely do that.
    JBA
    Thanks again
    And this is a fantastic blog!!!!!


  16. FYI for anyone else with problem Robins, a permit is available for control, but is a long drawn out process meant for commercial growers. Needs site inspection, approval by Feds and local Fish/Game authorities, approvals, reviews, wavers and is time limited.
    So… forget it… and technically you can’t even use a firearm to disperse any protected bird species. But noise makers are ok like a starting pistol (no projectile) so even AirSoft guns may not be allowed. Darn again!!!

    jba



  17. I love how vague people are when they want something. I work in a grocery store and try to be as patient as possible. Do you have cheese? Sure, what kind? I don’t know but I bought it here last time. Shreds or block? No, that’s not it. It was in a can. Oh you mean parmesan then. Yeah that’s it. They never know what they want but they want it now. I feel for you BB.



  18. Just was wondering between the Goldfinger .177 and the tx200..177 which is more accurate. I am in a situation where the goldfinger is in my budget but if I have to spend a little more(well alot more! Goldfinger $450, tx200 $548)
    Then I will. I just wanna to make sure I get the best gun. If there is no big difference in accuracy , and quality, then I would love to go with the Goldfinger because I wont be broke..


  19. primomusic,

    The TX will be easier to shoot well than the R9 Goldfinger. But the BAM B40 is just as accurate as the TX200 for a lot less money than the Goldfinger.

    You should read the reports on the B40 in both calibers. Do a search on the term B40 on today’s blog.

    B.B.


  20. Hello BB,

    I just placed a purchase order (at Pyramid) for a Drulov DU-10. My main purpose for this air pistol is target practice (hard to go to the range in winter, you know). The DU-10 is attractive and looks like it would be very accurate, but I noticed in your article on it that you mention using wadcutters only (and light ones at that) in this pistol. Can the Drulov function with domed pellets as well? Also, this pistol looks to be rather heavy, whereas the Tau 7 pistols (such as the “Junior”) are lighter. Would one of these be a better choice for training when rimfire pistol shooting is not practical? (due to inclement weather, etc). Thanks for your time and attention.

    Curtis


  21. Curtis,

    The Drulov pistol is a 5-shot semiautomatic. That’s why the wadcutters – for better feeding. Also, you always use wadcutters when shooting targets.

    The Drulov is a perfect gun for rimfire training. The Tau 7 is a 10 meter target pistol, while the Drulov is a sport (semiauto) pisto;l.

    B.B.


  22. Time to refresh this blog! 1 year and no comments!!
    I got a Crosman 1088 for Christmas from the daughter and son-in-law.. (trying to influence me perhaps???)
    What a fun present it has turned out to be. I am curious how you feel about this gun though, could not find a review on it and thought others might be interested.
    I am looking at making a modification to it so I can add a red-dot scope to the top. It only has a large dove-tail mount on the bottom ahead of the trigger guard.
    At 50 years of age, my eyes just don’t see like they did when I was 29… It is hard to shoot trying to tip you head back for bifocal to become effective. May have to get some “shooting glasses” made.
    I have some aluminium stock that I will test the idea of mounting to the top for the mount. If this works out I will post the results and perhaps I will make a photo record of the process.
    I never did get the Crosman 1377 I asked about earlier in this post, just put it off so long and so my daughter and son-in-law took care of that decision for me!! (great kids… aren’t they???)
    (I fixed the nets to keep the Robins out of the cherry trees now anyhow…so now it is just for a lot of fun!!)

    Thanks!
    Revwarnut


  23. Hi BB

    I'm new to airguns but not guns. I am fairly good shot and can put a 22 through another 22 hole at 30 feet using my Browning Challenger II. (Most of the time)

    I have been researching airguns now for several weeks and the more I read the more confused I get. Based on your comments further up in this blog, I would like to ask a question but unlike the fellow above, with enough information to help get an accurate answer geared to my desires. Here is what I want. The top of the list being the most important down to the bottom as the least important.

    1) A pistol for $200-$400
    2) Accuracy a must.
    3) Very smooth trigger pull at less than 4 pounds.
    4) More metal than plastic.
    5) 380+ muzzle velocity
    6) Shoots BB and pellets.
    7) I would rather have a high Mag capacity but if I have to take a disk to get the above, then so be it.
    8) Blowback is important because I need to be able to relate my practise to the real thing.
    9) Anything you can think of that is more important than my limited knowlege can think of.

    Thanks, BB

    Bill Thames


  24. Bill Thames,

    B.B. is in the hospital but there are many devoted and experienced readers that contribute to this think tank of an airgun blog.

    Not many have the ability to be notified of comments left under an article written over 3 years ago like yours.

    I'm not an airgun pistol guy but do own eight airgun pistols. A pcp pistol can easily meet all of your criteria EXCEPT price.

    There are more experienced pistol guys talking on the current forum but will never see your comment. I would suggest that you re-post your question (copy it verbatim, then paste it on the current blog) and give them a chance to respond. They've probably owned 600 pistols between themselves and had 70 years of experience combined. I'm interested in seeing their answer to your question as well.

    Below is a link that will always take you to the latest article that B.B. has written. Even though B.B. is in the hospital, new articles are being posted everyday, Monday-Friday. Scroll down to the bottom of the most recent article (if you go to far you may post your question on an article that is a day or two older and won't get near as many responses) and click on "comments". Repost your question there. Here's the link:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/

    kevin


  25. Bill, the current blog is over at http://www.pyramydair.com/blog. You can ask any airgun-related question over there, and you'll get a lot more response than you will from this blog, which is over 2 years old.

    Right now BB is hospitalized, but I'll toss in my 2 cents worth.

    If you're looking for a really good, accurate pistol – in that arena I don't think you're going to find a BB/pellet pistol, since steel BB's will ruin a good, rifled barrel- and are a slightly different size anyway. Cheaper guns like the Daisy 880 get away with it with a compromise barrel design that does a fair job with both – but not great.

    If you want to shoot BB's, there are a number of sub-$100 pistols (like the Makarov) that shot BB's as well as BB's can be shot, with plenty of money left over to buy something like the S&W 586 or Colt 1911.

    Hope this helps…



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