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How to pick your first PCP

By B.B. Pelletier

Now, don’t think I’m going to tell you which guns to buy, because I’m not. But, there are some basic things to think about when buying your first precharged airgun.

How PCPs differ from springers
The thing to remember about PCPs is that they generate lots of power with very little effort on your part. Where springers generally become larger and harder to cock as they get more powerful, PCPs do not. In smallbores, the AirForce Condor is the biggest dog on the block, yet it weighs 6.5 lbs. and cocks easily with one thumb. A Career 707 is almost as powerful, weighs about 8 lbs. and has a handy lever to cock it. No smallbore PCP is as hard to cock as a mid-level spring rifle.

What caliber should you buy?
With a PCP, you can forget the idea that .22 caliber is too slow. Any powerful PCP will shoot a .22 pellet over 1,000 f.p.s., which is too fast for accuracy. You’re going to have to slow it down.

On the other hand, a .177 PCP is wonderful for long-range target shooting. I wouldn’t choose one for hunting, but for shooting inanimate targets, they’re cheaper to shoot and just as much fun as the others.

Do you want a repeater?
PCPs come as repeaters as well as single-shots, so here’s your opportunity to sling some lead. But understand this – the nature of the magazine used with a repeating PCP determines which pellets will work and which ones won’t. Guns with linear magazines such as the Career 707 will not feed pointed pellets reliably, while MOST guns with cylindrical magazines – like the FX 2000 – have trouble if the pellets are too long. The Korean rifles with cylinders are the exception to this because they were made for pellets like the Eun Jin heavy domed pellet, and everything else is shorter.

How do you plan to fill the reservoir?
This is a tough question if you’ve never handled a PCP gun, so let me tell you what I have seen. Most shooters favor the scuba tank as the best way to fill. The more often you shoot and the more pellets you fire when you do go shooting, the truer this is. A hand pump is for a certain kind of person who wants to be freed from having to drag around a scuba tank. That said, I recommend starting out with a scuba tank first. Many PCP owners end up buying a hand pump after shooting PCPs for several years and owning a number of PCP guns.

A secondary issue is how to connect your new gun to whatever refill system you buy. Make certain you buy all the necessary adapters for YOUR GUN! They’re not interchangeable – and if you don’t have one thing that’s needed, it can spoil the entire experience.

Getting into PCP guns means there are things you’ll have to learn. At first it seems impossible, but after you’ve solved a few little issues, you’ll experience a whole new world of airgun enjoyment!

4 thoughts on “How to pick your first PCP”

  1. how would you rate the new gamo varmint hunter w/ bull bore? i bought a remington spring action and it was very inaccurate, but great to look at. i am willing to sacrafice beauty for functionality, but how functional is it?

  2. B.B., read your articles and had decided on which springer (HW97) 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 (no longer a single shot) 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 advise. Thanks.

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