Is ANY airgun worth $1,000?

by B.B. Pelletier

I hear this a lot from people outside the airgun community. They’ve gone all their lives thinking airguns were inexpensive copies of firearms, fit only for children, when suddenly they come face-to-face with a Logun Gladi8tor or a Weihrauch 100S, two rifles that retail for over $1,100. The shock of the encounter blows them away, and the ironic thing is – they aren’t one-quarter of the way up the big-ticket airgun ladder. They are gawking at Pontiac Firebirds, and no one has told them about Ferraris yet!

These stunned shooters then ask the title question, because how could a BB gun be worth as much as a Kimber (or more!)? We overlook the BB gun insult, though many of them do know better, but perhaps the limit of their exposure has been to the stacks of cheap Chinese springers that still show up at gun shows. They once saw a Diana RWS 34 (ooooooh!) and they were amazed how much it resembled a “real gun.” Surely, that must be the pinnacle of modern airguns!

Let’s be reasonable
As a veteran airgunner, I try to put our hobby into perspective for them. They know Rock Island makes a good, inexpensive variation of the M1911A1 pistol, and they also know that Wilson Combat makes a better one for a lot more money. If you put the same development into the Rock Island gun as is in the Wilson, it will probably be just as nice. So it shouldn’t be much of a stretch to grasp that if an AirForce Talon selling for under $500 can shoot as well as their Ruger 10/22 Target that costs about the same, it’s worth it. But can it – really? Yes and no, and I am not waffling on this answer. This is the key element that makes expensive airguns so wonderful and the main reason why those who know what they can do are willing to pay the price. The Ruger 10/22 is limited by ammunition. If you get a bad round – and they happen more often than rimfire shooters like to admit these days – your accuracy goes down the drain. The bad news is that YOU have little control over the ammo, other than buying the best stuff in large lots. The ammo maker is still largely responsible for how well your Ruger shoots.

Airgunners are like handloaders!
Same thing with the Talon, only, like a handloader, YOU control the ammunition! The Talon takes a pellet – one that you have selected from the best lot of pellets you have found for the gun. If you are fastidious, you’ve weighed all your pellets and sorted them into lots that vary in one-tenth grain increments. It isn’t the weight you are concerned with; it’s the uniformity. And like a bullet caster, you have learned that small weight variations also mean small dynamic variations that affect ballistics. I won’t bore you with the other preparations because we’ve covered them many times in this blog. For the benefit of first-time readers (and perhaps doubters), they include optically centering your scope, using a scope level, shooting inside the optimum pressure curve for your gun and – ABOVE ALL – shooting on as calm a day as you can find! That’s where the real precision comes in. Moving air affects pellets more than it does bullets. Also, no experienced long-range airgunner will shoot a pellet above about 900 f.p.s., in spite of all the hype they see. Yes, 1,600 f.p.s. is possible with the new Gamo Raptor pellet, and, no, you can’t expect to hit anything with it at that speed. I addressed that in my CF-X review. In Gamo’s video of the pellet in the field, the shots were taken at only 10 meters, or so.

Let’s set some parameters before we continue. I am talking about the ability to group 10 shots at 50 yards. Beyond 50 yards, an airgun is a special challenge that I can discuss, but not in this post. Don’t let our firearms friends get away with claiming their 10/22 Target can group 10 shots in 3/8″ at 50 yards. Yes, it CAN happen, and it does happen about as often as there is a Powerball winner. A Ruger 10/22 shooting the best target ammo is doing well to keep 10 shots inside a half-inch at 50 yards, when all the measurements are real. An AirForce Talon can do the same UNDER IDEAL CONDITIONS. Please read on to learn what those conditions are.

Airgun scale
A good long-range airgunner learns to “dope” (figure out) the wind. Just like a buffalo hunter with a .45/70 has to dope the wind to make a 500-yard shot because his 500-grain bullet is going to be airborn a very long time. Therefore, a 50-yard bullseye shooter shooting a $1,000 air rifle has to do the same thing for the same reason. Ah, but the difference is that he’s only shooting 50 yards, yet it is as challenging as a 500-yard shot with a lead bullet from a blackpowder rifle. There are a heck of a lot more opportunities to shoot 50 yards in America than there are opportunities to shoot 500 yards! You shooters in Wyoming and Montana know how good you have it; but, with a precision adult air rifle, a fellow in Syracuse, New York, can shoot with the same challenges, except for the noise, recoil and expense.

Ah, yes – THE EXPENSE!
A firearm shooter can pay $2,800 for a Shiloh Sharps (or $1,200 for a Pedersoli lookalike) and still be faced with 40-cents-a-round ammo costs. Forgetting travel to the range (and, if your 1,000-yard range really IS in your backyard, I hate you!) and cleanup of the rifle and cases after each excursion, the cost of doing business with a powder-burner goes right on happening with every pull of the trigger. The long-range airgunner pays under $9 for 500 .177 caliber hand-sorted JSB Exact pellets (and still bitches about the cost!). The last time I checked, air was free – or, at the worst, very reasonably priced. So, he can save up for his next toy even sooner.

Have I answered the question?
It’s in the third paragraph and also in the one above. The answer is this – is a Wilson Combat .45 that much better than a Rock Island? Is a Shiloh Sharps that much better than a Pedersoli? To some they are and to others they aren’t. And, so it is with expensive airguns. Think of the AirForce Talon as the Pedersoli and the Gladi8tor as the Shiloh. Both are expensive, all right, but one is considerably more than the other. Both will get you into the game. And, YES, airguns can be worth $1,000, and even a whole lot more!

24 thoughts on “Is ANY airgun worth $1,000?

  1. Wow, I am a lonely shooter in the border between USA and Mexico and have thought about remaining air or going fire.
    This blog is in my top list on why I stay in air, it is just so much fun to lear and for a poor Mexican in the USA like me, much much cheaper.


  2. The only airguns I have regretted buying are the “cheap” ones. I currently have a Steyr LG100 modified by Alan Zasadny for field target (about $2000)and a TX200 Mark 1 (it kicks a bit but incredibly accurate; bought used for $500 with a Tasco Custom Shop). In both cases, I have absolutely no regrets.

    Would I “kick a USFT out of bed?” No way, but I find it very hard to justify one since I am probably more people-limited than gun-limited.

    Same can be said for scopes, BTW. Currently shooting a Leupold Competition 35X on the Steyr and a Sightron 36X on the TX. Both are excellent optically and in rangefinding (Leupold is better by a bit in both cases but for 3X$ it has to be.)





  3. take your bb gun to the range like I did and shoot a 100 yard group of about 1.4 inches off of a bipod and not benched and they start seeing the light. Career 707 nt 950 ft/sec and crossman premiers.
    OK Alan Zasadny might have done some work on it.
    This after I sighted in a marlin 450.


  4. BB,

    It is unfortunate that most people (potential buyers) don’t get to see high quality airguns in a local store. Some of the marts sell Gamos and even the Chineese Beemans. At least in my area theese are the only “adult” airguns sold locally, as a result some people think theese are the “top of the line” airguns. In my opinion the qualities of $1000 gun are most noticable in the way they perform and feel. You can only get this feedback from shouldering the gun and firing it, a luxury most people don’t have(including me). I’m not saying that a maker of high end airguns would want to be associated with cheap-marts, but people can’t buy something they never see.

    Jason



  5. Jason,

    What you say makes sense, but you know with firearms you seldom get a chance to try before buying, either.

    Forgetting the mart stores, even a fine gun store seldom has the facilities to let you try out a .300 Win Mag. So why do us airgunners complain about something that firearms shooters never get to do, either?

    ‘Tis a puzzlement.

    B.B.


  6. BB,

    What you say about firearms not being able to be fired at most shops is true! My point was also about availability. Most anyone is with in driving distance to a gun shop, where they can see and touch many weapons. The firearm industry is advertised also a whole lot more too! I think if airguns in general were advertised more, and generally just more available as a result more people would be enlightened and join the cult. Or not?


  7. BB,

    Since we are talking pricey airguns, have you ever shot a Daystate with the electronic trigger. I’m saving up for my next toy, and I’m curious about the electronic trigger series.

    Jason



  8. Jason,

    I haven’t shot the Daystate with the electronic action (it’s more than the trigger now – it actually fires the gun with an electric solenoid).

    Tom Gaylord was told in Germany that the Daystate MkIII can now be adjusted so fine that there’s no need of a silencer on a 30 foot-pound rifle because they time the air to be at low pressure when the pellet leaves the muzzle! If that’s true, it’s a real reason to buy a MkIII.

    But they had some real teething problems with the first batch of MkIIIs, so I would wait and see how these turn out.

    B.B.


  9. B.B.

    You said “We overlook the BB gun insult, though many of them do know better, but perhaps the limit of their exposure has been to the stacks of cheap Chinese springers that still show up at gun shows.”

    Perhaps you should say “…, but perhaps the limit of their exposure has been to the stacks of cheap American springers.”

    Why? Because the American being making cheap (Quality and price) airguns much longer then the Chinese. The Americans cannot even make an Airgun that can compete with the Europeans. They tried before and failed.

    The Yellow Peril


  10. The Yellow Peril,

    No, I stand behind my statement because it’s true. There are no “stacks of American springers” at gun shows. The only stacks of spring airguns you will find at gun shows are from Chinese makers.

    I did not mean my remark as an ethnic or cultural slur, however, as your comment seems to imply. Americans do not make that many spring air rifles and they have not been making what they do make that long. They make multi-pump pneumatics and gas guns, with a few single-strokes besides. The only significant cheap American spring airgun at this time is the Marksman 1010, which has been around for half a century longer than it deserves.

    The Chinese were making spring guns back in the 1950s, shortly after the Communists took over. Importation to this country began in earnest in the early 1980s.

    As for Americans making an airgun that compares to the Europeans, I will agree that no American maker has put the effort into airguns like Feinwerkbau, BSA, BSF, Webley and so on. Crosman did make the Skanaker and the model 84 target rifle, but their hearts weren’t in it. However, no European airgun maker ever made a Sheridan model A, nor could they today, at an affordable price. Don’t be so quick to minimalize the American contribution to airguns.

    As for an American airgun that competes with the Europeans, which European maker can produce a .79-caliber rifle that develops 1,000 foot-pounds, as Dennis Quackenbush has done? Which European maker makes a big bore rifle that will shoot sub three-inch groups at 200 yards, as Gary Barnes’ rifles will? The Europeans are very good, but they are not perfect. And neither are the Americans.

    B.B.


  11. BB,

    In field target,the most accurate springers are all from europe(hw97k,hw77,tx200 and R9) So in springers in term of accuracy,european springers are the best,right?
    It doesnt mean that american guns are unaccurate but the best right now is not from America.

    And also,for the price,I belive that spanish airguns such as gamo offer good accuracy,Great power,good quality for the price and they are quite unexpensive.Im talking about springers .Because that is the area im interested in.
    May I suggest a post about the countries that make great air guns and wich type they do best.For example,Germany has weihrauch and RWS,America has air arms,sheridans and others.Spain has gamo.You get me.And each country you put the guns with most succes in the airgun world and in wich category(mostly) are the countries(accuracy,power quality or price)Hope you consider it since you will make clear to everyone the info and you will never,maybe,have to see questions like “Are German guns better than spanish guns?”

    CF-X guy


  12. CF-X guy,

    Years ago, Saturday Night Live did a spoof of a Spanish game show entitled ?Que es mas macho? The “contestants” were supposed to rate two things in their order of macho – like watching TV or going miniature golfing. It was a spoof, and, as such, humorous.

    Rating German airguns against Spanish airguns would be the same thing, only serious. When something that is humorous is done seriously, it’s a tragedy.

    An airgun is what it is. Currently some of the best spring-airguns are made in Germany, England and China. Yes, China! The BS-4 is as accurate as the FWB 300 it copies so faithfully.

    What I’m saying is this – the country of origin makes no difference to the accuracy of an airgun. Any country can make accurate airguns. So I don’t look at airguns by country; I look at them individually and try to rate them on their merits.

    Along the way, I have formed opinions about the different manufacturers and, yes, even the countries in which airguns are made. I had a choice about what to do. I could gossip about my opinions and seek others who agree with me or I could supress my opinions and try to keep an open mind about the world of airguns.

    Each of us has to choose which way he will go. I have chosen to keep my opinions to myself, to the extent possible, and to try to keep an open mind about all airguns.

    For that reason, I try not to compare one airgun with another. And even when I do – the TX200 vs the HW97, for example – it doesn’t change anyone’s mind, so what purpose does it serve?

    I will refrain from ranking airguns by country.

    B.B.





  13. I wouldnt spend that much many by any means other than if I was a sirious national class or world class shooter but I am not,the only air gun I think is worth that much is the airforce condor or the talon outside of special limited edition guns or other collectable speacial guns.Same goes for firearms in my oppinion,unless I was planing on buffalo hunting,world class shooter or building my own army(lol)I wouldnt spend that much money on a gun.That is just my oppinion.Mainly because it isnt just guns some things are just way to overpriced today whether it be cars or houses etc.And it is harder to find products that are not over priced compared to finding something that is.It also seems it is that way with high quality products or products with extra features.Like the difference between a very good airgun and a very good airgun with a few extra features can be amazing far apart in price range esspecially each is from a different company.


  14. jed,

    the ‘enter’ key is free to use and it makes paragraphs. I don’t see you using it much. Are you sure you know value when you see it?


  15. BB
    I recently came across an air gun wonderland in Frankfurt Germany. It had gun cases full or high end air rifles from RSW, Air Arms, Walther, Gamo and more. They would let you hold them cock them, if they could be de-cocked, no shooting in the store. It was the first time I hade seen high-end air rifles up close, I was very impressed. One problem they cost 50% more in the land they are made than they do in the US, the shop keep said they have high taxes on such items.

    Ed


  16. The good thing is that you don’t have to pay the taxes if you order from the manufacturer and have them shipped to the US. I was thinking about ordering a HW 97 in .20 caliber with a left handed stock. It would be about $580 including shipping at the current exchange rate. Better price than you can find anywhere especially if you’re a lefty. Shawn


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