The paradox of power
by B.B. Pelletier
My wife pointed out today's topic to me, after reading a comment from a Pyramyd Air customer regarding the power of an airgun. Apparently the customer was put off by some British-spec 12 ft-lb airguns, but he felt fine with a rifle that shoots a .177 pellet at 800 f.p.s. Folks - 800 f.p.s. is LESS than 12 foot-pounds if it is achieved by a lightweight pellet! This is where F.P.S.-talk gets us in trouble.
In the game of baseball, we make a big deal when a pitcher throws a 100 mph fastball. If they reported it as a 147 f.p.s. fastball, nobody would listen. That's because the average guy understands miles per hour. You have to relate to people in terms they can comprehend.
Why do you think American airgun dealers use feet per second, when the European and Asian manufacturers are actually providing meters per second? Americans understand f.p.s. All of our patient European readers are doing the conversions and suffering silently.
For several YEARS, there's been a velocity-to-energy conversion caculator on THIS website. If you know the velocity and the pellet weight in grains, it will give you the energy. A second caculator further down on the same page will take energy and pellet weight and give you the velocity. I get so frustrated when a reader asks me to convert something when the calculators are right here. Please bookmark them so you can refer to them in the future.
So how fast does a 7.9-grain Crosman Premier have to go to register 12 foot-pounds? The second calculator says 826.99 f.p.s. How about that? So, if an RWS Hobby pellet goes 800 f.p.s., what kind of energy does it have? 11.23 foot-pounds. See how it works?
The funny thing is that the people who seem to grouse the most about velocity and 12 foot-pound guns are the ones who don't own the guns they are complaining about. They just don't seem to like the fact that there are 12 foot-pound airguns on sale in the U.S. But have they ever considered that the $3,000 Olympic target rifles are only 6 foot-pound airguns? I think not.
Remember Airgun Illustrated magazine? Two writers who called themselves the Urban Hunters, Tom Jue and Robert Hamilton of California, made a sport out of hunting with rifles that had less than 12 foot-pounds of energy. Sometimes a LOT less! In one article, they wrote about shooting pigeons at ranges up to 55 yards with a Beeman R7 that shot 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers at a starting velocity of just 580 f.p.s. Now that's some good shooting, but it also underscores the reason f.p.s. isn't as important as we might believe.
Twelve foot-pounds is a lot of power, if you use it correctly.