Three types of pneumatic airguns: multi-pump, single-stroke and precharged

By B.B. Pelletier

Pneumatic guns have been around for over 100 years. But, today’s pneumatics are a far cry from their forefathers, as they offer a wide selection of brands, calibers and velocities. Oh, yes, they offer one more thing – extreme accuracy!

A pneumatic gun propels a projectile with compressed air stored in the gun. There are three main types of pneumatics – precharged, multi-pump and single-stroke.

The convenience of precharged pneumatics – fill once, shoot a lot!
A precharged gun has a sizeable air reservoir or tank built into the gun that is filled with air from a compressor, manual pump or scuba tank. It’s shot many times before it needs to be refilled. Target guns such as the Avanti XS40 Valiant target rifle from Daisy gets up to 80 shots per fill. Sporting rifles such as the FX2000 can get as many as 60 shots before needing a refill. The powerful AirForce Condor only gets about 20 full-power shots because it uses so much air to generate its incredible power.

Multi-pump pneumatics have a built-in pump
Lots of airgunners like the multi-pump pneumatic because its air reservoir is filled with a built-in air pump. To fill the gun with compressed air, you work the pump handle one or more times. Because it’s a multi-pump, you usually give it more than one pump for each shot. This type of pneumatic has lots of fans because you don’t have to take any other equipment with you – it’s all built into the gun!

A popular multi-pump rifle is Crosman’s 760 Pumpmaster air rifle, while the Benjamin HB22 is a great multi-pump air pistol.

Single-stroke pneumatics are extremely accurate
Single-strokes are just that – pneumatic guns that are pumped just one time for each shot. In fact, if you try to pump its mechanism a second time, it releases the stored air from the first pump! These are excellent target guns because they have remarkable consistency from shot to shot, which explains why they were once the favorite guns of Olympic airgun shooters. Keep in mind that there are variations on this type of mechanism. For instance, Pyramyd Air describes this as a “single pump” gun. I’ve seen other ways of describing the single-stroke pneumatic, so be on the look out for those and understand they’re all talking about the same thing.

Daisy’s 840C Grizzly is an example of a single-stroke air rifle, and the Russian IZH 46M target pistol is one of today’s best values in a single-stroke air pistol.

What’s the best pneumatic?
Each type of pneumatic airgun has its pros and cons, but precharged airguns are tops on my list because they’re easier to use. I like the idea of doing all the charging work at one time and then firing them over and over before they need a refill. They’re usually filled from scuba tanks, though electric compressors and hand pumps are also available.

When you want the best airgunning has to offer, think about getting a pneumatic!

8 thoughts on “Three types of pneumatic airguns: multi-pump, single-stroke and precharged

  1. I am primarily an airgun hunter. I prefer my 25-year old Sheridan multipump in 5mm/.20 cal. I deal with the lack of a quick repeat shot by not missing the first time! This puts a premium on my hunting skills and less burden on the rifle. Variable power of the multipump is the other big plus for me. I can shoot in my attic at 3pumps, squirrels with 6 pumps.

  2. I agree about the Blue Streak. I bought mine in 1978 and it has lasted as a faithful friend ever since.

    I also agree about Pne shot, one kill.” Too much emphasis is placed on repeaters and semiautos today, without the requisite basics of marksmanship.


  3. Um, I don’t agree with the comments regarding the Condor only getting 20 full power shots. False. I got over 40 right outta the box. With some time and money, you can opt for a Talon tank to get over 100 shots easily. You can change the hammerweight to get even more shots. There are a number of other simple changes that can be done and still protect your warranty. check out the Talon Owners Group for more info.

  4. Andrew,

    You are right that there are more than 20 shots in a Condor. What I meant was there are only about 20 shots IN A TIGHT VELOCITY RANGE. If you keep shooting, the rifle still fires, but the velocity drops and the groups open up at long range.


  5. I had and older model Crosman 760 with a one piece rifled barrel, and adjustable rear sight and metal front sight. My later replacement leaves something to be desired, and latest models are smooth bore. Could you recommend a couple of new multipumps simular to the old Crosman or as near as you can get? I prefer a black finish barrel. Do using BB’s in these guns damage the barrel?

  6. Phil,

    Crosman went to plastic front sights and simpler rear sights back in the 1980s. I really miss the older metal ones, too.

    As for the 760 having a rifled barrel, I wasn’t aware of that but you are correct. I researched the gun in the Blue Book of Airguns, 5th edition, and they mention both rifled and smoothbore barrels.

    I don’t believe Crosman would ever recommend shooting steel BBs in a gun unless they were sure it would do no harm.

    If you are interested in older airguns you might want to pick up the Blue Book as a reference. It’s a great way to find out facts about those wonderful older airguns.


  7. Thanks. I was wanting a new replacement rather than an older gun. But I can’t seem to get the info needed to make a good choice. The places near me that sell airguns sell them sealed in boxes and have no display models. I may just have to get my old 760 repaired.

  8. The Benjamin Sheridan 392 (.22) and 397 (.177) or the blue/silver streaks (.20 and dont mind paying more) are both built of metal and wood. Nice guns, closest match to the older 760’s.

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