Why are some PCPs so darned expensive?

by B.B. Pelletier

Merry Christmas!

Don’t worry. I wrote this post last Friday. I’m enjoying the day with my family.

Glen asked a question that comes up all the time. I have tried to answer it individually before, so now I’ll just blog it to everyone.

B.B.,
I read your articles and had decided on which springer to buy when I found your article addressing springers at altitude. Whoops! I’ll be shooting at about 8500 feet. Guess I need to look for a PCP instead.

I’ll be exclusively target/FT shooting and refilling from my scuba tanks. But which rifle? I’ve never shot pellets before but have shot skeet/trap and rifles/pistols at targets. A shrouded Logun Solo sounds like a fine rifle, but what improves as one spends up to say $1200? Do you have a favorite rifle or manufacturer? You haven’t devoted much space to PCPs and I could sure use some additional, independent advice.
Thanks.

Modern production methods
When I was a kid in the early 1950s, the term Made in Japan meant crappy goods that wouldn’t last. That changed in the 1960s, when the teachings of W. Edwards Demming and Joseph Juran were embraced by the nation of Japan as the best and only way to manufacture things. Those two gentlemen, who streamlined the U.S. war production effort during WWII, taught the rebuilding Japanese nation how to best make and move things, and the Japanese exported it to the world in the 1980s as “Japanese Management.”

There was once a time when U.S.-manufactured goods were too expensive for most of the world. That’s not true today. The European Union, despite some taxation problems, has built the euro into a strong world currency. The British pound is equally strong against our dollar, with the result that American-made PCPs, which just one company makes at present (AirForce), are significantly cheaper than guns coming from Europe. So Glen, this is part of my answer. If it comes from Europe or the UK, it has to cost more. If it’s made in a place where labor, utilities, and materials are even cheaper than they are here in the U.S., say China, then it will cost less.

Business practices
PCPs can be made by automated machinery (U.S., England, Sweden, Germany, Bosnia, China to an extent and Korea to an extent), or they can be made by slower processes that require more labor. HOWEVER, once the parts are made, the guns can be assembled rapidly (U.S., Sweden, Germany, Bosnia, China and Korea) or they can be assembled by expensive labor that fine-tunes them (England, to a large but decreasing extent). In the case of several companies, the guns are actually made by others (Air Arms buys the S200 from the Czech Republic, Logan buys the S16 from Bosnia) and sold by the company whose name is on the gun. If that company is located in a country that has high overhead (England, Sweden, Germany), the cost of passing the gun through the books of the named company is high. So, the Bosnian-made S16 that should be relatively cheap costs a lot more because it’s run through the books of a company whose operating costs are high.

Features
Glen wants to buy a shrouded Logun Solo, but wonders what he’ll be giving up. Well, I think the Solo is a remarkable bargain! It’s noteworthy that a company based in the UK (Logun) can get a PCP to market for $525 unshrouded and $575 shrouded. These are fantastic bargains! If you are looking for a traditionally stocked PCP, why wouldn’t you want this one? Ah, it’s a single-shot and you want a repeater.

Repeaters
If you want a repeater, prepare to spend money. Except for the Korean guns, most repeaters are quite expensive. In fact, the repeating function is perhaps the most costly feature you can add to a PCP.

Good wood
Fancy wood used to be the big-ticket item, and is still very costly, but manufacturers are aware of that problem and are fighting to keep the costs low with synthetics and laminated stocks. Funny thing about laminates…they’re expensive, too, but not in Europe, where figured walnut is off the wall. In the U.S., we have a cheaper source of figured wood, as does Asia. But any wood you can PAINT will be MUCH CHEAPER, because the wood underneath can look horrible and no one is the wiser.

Power adjustability
Ten years ago, Korea was the only country making PCPs with power adjustability. In 2000, AirForce Airguns brought out the adjustable Talon. A year later they brought out the quiet SS with an integral shroud. Now you can’t find an airgun maker that DOESN’T offer those features! They all have to offer the features shooters want.

Power and accuracy
This is what I think lies at the back of most people’s mind. How can a $580 PCP be as powerful and accurate as a $1,000 PCP? They can and they often are! Not always, but more often than the big price differential would seem to imply. The AirForce Condor is more powerful than any of the thousand-dollar air rifle, and it has a Lothar Walther barrel, same as most of them. I’ve even heard reports that the $350 Chinese-made B50 is very accurate, too! How can it be?

Here is a firearms analogy. Savage makes inexpensive centerfire rifles (110-112 series), but their action is so well-designed that a number of long-range shooters prefer it. Weatherby also makes accurate rifles, but they sell for 2-3 times as much as the Savage rifles. Are they 2-3 times “better” (more accurate, easier to shoot)? No! Why do they still sell well? Style and advertising. Same for airguns.

The real exception to what I’m saying here is in the ranks of the 10-meter target rifle, where things like superior ergonomics, anti-recoil mechanisms and better sights really DO offer a tangible advantage. The Beeman FWB P700 may retail for $2,900; but if I were competing in 10-meter rifle competition, I’d buy it.

So, Glen, get that shrouded Solo if it appeals to you. I’m sure it will be a wonderful rifle.

20 thoughts on “Why are some PCPs so darned expensive?


  1. BB,

    Is the gamo match pellet as accurate as JSB match pellet? I saw you recommend gamo match pellet quite a bit. I know it’s cheaper, but I would like to know the accuracy of it compare to more expensive ones. Thanks. (granted gamo might have more deformed pellets in a tin because they are not hand picked, but throw that aside, compare the accuracy between gamo and jsb pistol match pellet.)


  2. Gamo Match pellets are a good inexpensive wadcutter. They can be very accurate at short range.

    At long range, no wadcutter pellet will be as accurate as a good domed pellet, and the JSB domed is the best in the world.

    I would imagin that JSB match wadcutters are good, because Joseph Shulz, the maker, supports his national target team. I have never tested them. The best target pellets on the market are H&N Match and RWS R-10. Vogel are also great in some guns.

    B.B.


  3. There seem to be a few multi-shot PCPs around even under $400 (SamYang Saver Carbine 505 @$390). Do you mean something different by a repeater?



  4. You are right B.B., there aren’t very many multi-shot PCPs in the lower price bracket! Also the less expensive models don’t appeal to me asthetically. I don’t like any until they reach somewhere around the $500-$600 mark.

    .22 multi-shot


  5. While on the subject of PCPs, I wanted to ask you a few questions about the Talon SS.
    I live in CA, and i want to buy a pcp. are there any restrictions about buying them?
    also i was wondering…
    theres been some hype about “airgun silencers”, does the SS have a silencer that could get me in trouble for having it?
    ima sorta small guy, can i operate a pump for a pcp? if so which pump should i get?
    (im on a low budget)
    thanks a lot, i read all your posts
    sam mc


  6. Sam mc,

    You are in luck! There are no state restrictions for the Talon SS. There are probably local ordinances about shooting airguns in town, but that should be it.

    The SS does not have a silencer. Instead, the barrel is housed inside the frame to muffle the shot. There is no silencer and BATF&E has blessed the SS design.

    California is the biggest user of the Talon SS. It’s the only state with a law making air rifles legal for hunting turkeys in season.

    Right now there is a national shortage of hand pumps. The Swedish maker just changed hands. I expect this to clear up in another month.

    The hand pump is difficult for adults who weigh less than 140 pounds. After 2300-2500 psi, you use your body weight to pump the gun, so being light is a problem.

    Why not order the one-hour DVD about the AirForce guns? It’s instructional, and it shows how the pump works.

    B.B.


  7. B.B.

    Thanks for the info about the AirForce DVD. I’ve wondered about the hand pumps. I’ll probably end up buying one for my RWS 850 conversion.

    .22 multi-shot




  8. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and thanks for the quick reply B.B.! Just saw your reply (got snowed out of Colorado for a while) and was somewhat surprised. While I certainly understand the economic cost realities you outlined, I expected you to say something about triggers, barrels or regulators improving with higher gun cost. Not true? In looking at reviews (when I could find them) of the Daystates, Steyers, FWBs, Anschutzes, etc., which place well at FT competitions, one thing that jumped out at me (other than cost and adjustability) was the string-to-string pellet velocity consistency those guns achieve as opposed to lower cost PCPs. Am I correct in identifying that as a crucial factor in the 25th shot being zeroed like the 1st? If so, are you aware of a sub-$1800 PCP rifle that achieves consistent accuracy? I’d just like to know that misses are on me and not the rifle. Many thanks again for sharing your expertise with us.


  9. Glenn,

    Your Logun Solo will be as accurate as an $1800 PCP. It just has to be in the right hands. Heck, the AirForce Talon will shoot alongside most $1,800 PCPs. It’s only the light weight, the heavy trigger, plus the straight line of the stock that keeps the Talon from field target.

    A Talon can shoot a half-inch group at 50 yards, and I bet the Solo can do the same. You won’t find a Daystate or a Falcon that can do any better.

    So what do the $2,000 guns offer? Finer triggers, more ergonomic stocks, and very little else. The $1,000 to $2,000 guns have beautiful wood stocks. But shooting FT you don’t care about that.

    I shoot FT with an old Daystate Harrier and it’s more accurate than I am.

    B.B.


  10. HI MR. PELLETIER
    YOUR SITE IS VEY GOOD AND INFORMATIVE. ONLY A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS. FIRST, I’VE BOUGHT A WINCHESTER MODEL 1000 0.17 CAL, BUT ITS STOCK LOOKS DIFFERENT FROM THEE ONES IN PYRAMID AIR, WHY? SECOND, I’M LOOKING FOR A FEEDBACK ON THE QUEST 800 0.22 AIR RIFLE, I HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A MODEL 800 OR GAMO VIPER EXPRES. WICH ONE IS THE ONE TO GO FOR.

    THANKS, GOD BLESS.

    megustasuzuki@yahoo.com



  11. B.B.-

    okay… i am in need of some solid advice. anyone else who wants to chime in…go for it. i have been hunting with firearms for a long while. i started shooting pellet guns a while ago when i had a rat problem in my back yard and poison wasn’t to feasable cause of my dogs. anyways since then i have found myself having a bunch of fun with them and i have decided that it is time for me to upgrade into the world of the p.c.p. right now i have two beeman springers, a 22 and a 17. Spring turkey season is coming in a couple months and apparrently you can now (legally) use pellet guns to take them!!! (awesome!!) because of the size of a turkey, i would imagine that you pretty much need a head or neck shot to take one humanly with a .22″. id like to get a pcp that has maybe a 3″ spread at 50′ or less if that is possible. a repeater, while ideal, is not going to to be as essential as good solid accuracy. i am looking right now at the evanix ar6 and the air force condor. which of the two is more accurate in your opinion? which would you choose? the evanix is a repeater while the condor is not. both seem very high powered. would i be able to shoot either of these at full power and still maintain high accuracy? my experience with firearms tells me that the condor has a scope mount that is way to high… anyone else notice that? it looks like the mount would set the scope like 2-3 inches off the top of the barrel and this is going to be a detriment to accuracy especially when your aiming at targets no bigger than 2-3 inches. what are your thoughts on this? also another contender would be the logan s16 which doesnt seem to have the power of the other two but if i cant fire the other two at full power accuratly then i guess that doesnt matter. can the conder fire heavy pellets (like the kodiak) at full power and maintain accuracy or does it have to be turned down? i am really torn on which of these to get and i need a good solid push in one direction. i guess it comes down to which is more accurate?if they are the same then i would go with the ar6 cause it seems to have just as much power and it is a repeater.if the super high power thing causes an issue the i guess i could get the logan which by the way doesn’t have that rediculously high scope mount. anywayz…what are your thoughts…let er rip!


  12. The scope mount on the Condor is as high as it is because of the straight line of the stock. In fact I use an ultra-high scope mount on top of that, just to get the scope up high enough.

    As for accuracy, forget 2-3 inches at 50 yards. If I couldn’t hit a quarter with every shot from a Condor, I’d quit! A quarter is just under one inch in diameter. The Condor is extremely accurate – like a Ruger 10/22 that someone has spent some money on.

    As for the Evanix, I have tested them in the past and found them capable of 1 to 1.5 iunches at 50 yards. This new crop of rifles is supposed to be better, but they haven’t arrived, so I haven’t tested one. They are repeaters, so you will have a fast second shot, though if you are making head shots on turkeys, it’s usually a hit or miss situation.

    Concerning power, these rifles have more than you need, so you can throttle back for best accuracy. A Condor goes about 1100 f.p.s. with a Kodiak pellet, and that’s too fast for the best groups at 50 yards.

    You must live in California, because that is the only state I know of that has legalized turkey hunting with a pellet rifle. If you don’t, better check with your state fish and game department.

    B.B.


  13. b.b.-

    thanks for the response, yes i live in cali.ha ha, ya im not ganna be hunting turkeys illegally cause poaching = lots o jail time. anyway, looks like you guys are getting another shipment of evanix ar6 rifles w/ thumbhole stock in in another week or so and i pretty much got my mind made up for that one after checking into the reviews by jim chapman on both the condor and ar6, both of which he speaks very highly about. he showed in his review a dime sized pattern at 40 yards out for the ar6 which i found very impressive. hell, thats pretty decent by firearms standards if you ask me. if you think the condor is a better choice then lemme know why. but now what im wondering is what i will need to buy in order to be able to fire this thing pertaining to the fact that it is a pcp. (this will be my first pcp) i need to know what to get and what my options are as far as filling the gun with air. what would you get? i dont know anything about this. will the hand pump work for this model or do i need to get a scuba tank and fill off that? do i need adaptors and/or fittings, etc. etc. etc? basically what do i have to get to shoot the thing and what are my possible upgrades to look at? thanks so much. by the way my name is justin. oh and fyi, ha ha, i actually have a ruger 10/22 mag converted over to 17hmr with a clarks kit and i could do inch and a quarter at a hundred yards all day with that thing. just thought it was funny that you mentioned a 22 with some money put into it. thanks for the great advice and i look forward to what you have to say not just to me but on all your posts. keep up the great work.

    -justin


  14. bb-

    one other thing.. you said a conder will put out kodiaks at 1100 fps but that is too fast to be accurate..is that with 22 or 17 that it sends em at 1100? i have a chrony and i plan to do some testing with the new rifle to determine which pellets are giving me the most power and accuracy combo, but when i get it, at what speed or speed range should i be trying to fire at to be the most accurate? thanks

    -justin


  15. Ju8stin,

    The Condor shoots .22 Kodiaks at 1100. I have shot synthetic .177s from a Condor at 1480.

    Your choice of the AR6 sounds right for what you want. I can’t wait to try out a new one.

    Filling from a scuba tank is faster with less effort. Biut you are tied to the dive sjhop to get the scuba tank filled.

    A pump requires work and goes more slowly. But the air is free and the pump is lightweight, compared to the scuba tank.

    Right now there is a shortage of hand pumps in the U.S. But that should chang in about another month.

    Besides the scuba tank or pump you need a way to connect whatever you get to your gun. The gun comes with an adaptor that fits it, but nothing to connect the adaptor to whatever you fill with. I advise paying Pyramyd Air to create whatever filling setup you need. They have a service for that. For $28.75 they take care of everytthing.

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/accessory.pl?accessory_id=595

    It’s located under the precharged accessories.

    B.B.


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