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!