Air shotguns, part 2: the Fire 201

by B.B. Pelletier

On October 18, we learned about the Farco shotgun from the Philippines. In this second look at air shotguns, we’ll examine a gun that was so powerful that it spawned a whole line of air rifles for its maker. The Fire 201 air shotgun from Shin Sung.

The original Fire 201 air shotgun later served as the foundation for a generation of Korean big bore air rifles.

Today’s Fire 201 is completely different!
Pyramyd Air still sells a gun called the Fire 201S, but now it’s a single-shot big bore rifle. It is actually a direct descendant of the shotgun, though it shoots single bullets/ammo/pellets only and has a 9mm rifled barrel. The original Fire 201 was a .25-caliber smoothbore that used special shotshells to hold the shot. A .25 caliber Beeman felt cleaning pellet was inserted on either end of this shotshell to hold the shot in place, and the shell was placed into the breech of the gun, exposed by a sliding gold cover.

Shot filled the special aluminum shotshell and was held in by a felt cleaning pellet on either side of the shell.

The loading trough that is now so familiar to big bore shooters was initially created to hold Fire 201 shotshell.

Tremendous power!
Because its valve is based on the powerful Career 707, the Fire 201 shotgun was extremely powerful. Mine shot a 115-grain load of shot at an average of 1,010 f.p.s., which works out to 260.55 foot-pounds of muzzle energy (visit the energy calculator on this website to figure that out). That was astounding, and I believe it holds the record for any air shotgun. But, American shooters avoided it like the plague. They weren’t interested in air shotguns, it seemed. A few experimenters added a 9mm barrel to see what was possible, and Shin Sung’s whole line of big bores was born!

Inside of a year, the 9mm rifle was being imported directly from Shin Sung, and the .25 caliber shotgun was becoming hard to find. Airgunners had to learn the lessons of bullet weight/length versus rifling twist in order to get any accuracy, but the factory also provided huge 9mm diabolo pellets for those who didn’t like to bother.

Was it a practical shotgun?
Unlike the Farco, the Fire 201 could easily break clay pigeons. There was a tradeoff, though. Because of the relatively small charge of shot it held, this gun had no practical range. Like the .410 shotgun that is equal in velocity to the 12 gauge but only holds a tiny fraction of the shot, the Fire 201 shot pattern spread too fast to be of much use. At 10 yards it would tear apart a small bird, and at 20 yards the bird would not be hit by one shot! That made it a poor shotgun, but a wonderful foundation for a big bore rifle.

There are plenty of other air shotguns. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing about them!

59 thoughts on “Air shotguns, part 2: the Fire 201”

  1. A lesson from the history books there for sure. You’ve said it a bunch of times since Ive been round here BB, something like, ya gotta hit it or any amount of power is a waste.

    That comparison to a .410 puts things right in perspective. It’s just like the handgun shot loads…great snake bullets, but thats about it.

    Glad they diddn’t give up on the framework though they look like really nice guns.

    I’m right with Denny, “yep, wanna read more…”

    it’s always a great visit…

  2. I’m a little late with this post but I would also like to hear more about air powered shot guns since my initial introduction to fire arms started with a Remington 870 which I have had modified and I dearly love. I really didn’t know that airguns came in that iteration. I guess one is never too old to learn something new!

  3. I want to find an air shotgun that is actually practical for bird hunting. Hopefully you will be able to promote more. I know that there is a 13mm Shark Air Shotgun, but very little information about it. I am determined to find an air shotgun that is practical as as a bird hunting weapon. I am determined to not add a firearm to my hunting collection. I want to get an air shotgun, or a modification kit for an air shotgun. But very little information on the subject.

  4. If you mean wingshooting, no airgun ever made is practical for that. If you want to take potshots at sitting birds, then there might be a few that will work at close range (under 20 yards).

    I will try to learn more about the Shark for you. At 13 mm it has a large bore, but if it’s powered by CO2, you are sunk.

    Another possibility might be to modify one of the existing rifles to shotgun use by reaming out the rifling. The big bore 909S has plenty of power to throw a small shot charge at a respectable velocity. But you will be limited in range and no wingshooting.

    Tell me more about what you want.


  5. S.S.

    There was a .43 caliber catapult gun, which is like a spring gun. I may be able to work it into a posting one day.

    As for a 9mm gas gun, this very website sells the only one ever made! Go tp Pyramyd Air home page, click on air rifles and look at the Drulov 9mm CO2 rifle!


  6. S.S.

    Yes, it is difficult to move a 60-grain pellet with a spring piston. But not impossible.

    The reason they don’t do it is probably because there would be very little demand. The .25 caliber springers already have a hard time selling and a slower .356 would be that much tougher.

    Like I said, though, in the 1840s, there was a .43-caliber ball-shooting gun that used elastic bands to propell a 120-grain ball fast enough to kill a wild pig! So at least that’s something.


  7. Hello,

    When using same pellet or bullet could you say that Career Single Shot 9mm has same ft/lbs muzzle energy as Ultra repeater? And do you think the .360 round balls do well in career single shot?

    Thank you very much!

  8. The Gamo Viper Express is one of the only air shotguns being made today. There is one made in Argentina, but it’s powered by a gas spring and I know next to nothing about it.

    No CO2-powered air shotgun has ever had the power to kills birds. In fact, the only air shotgun that really ever did have true power was the .25-caliber Fire 201 that was turned into a 9mm big bore rifle.

    Why don’t you ready my five-part report on air shotguns on this blog. Just search for the term on the home blog page.


  9. Dear BB,

    Would it be possible to mount a Fire 201 .25 shotgun barrel back on a standard 9mm Fire 201.
    Can this been done easily or…..

    Just got hold on a 6.4 mm original Fire 201 shotgun barrel and I’m planning to things the other way round.

    You started this all, after reading your great article about the Fire 201 shotgun I had to get one 🙂



  10. B.B.
    Is there any chance that you might do a more in-depth review on the Fire 201S 9mm itself, in terms of accuracy, trigger, power and such?
    It seems like a really neat pcp.


  11. I ordered a shark air shotgun, and I am thinking about having a .308 or 9mm barrel made. Do you know anybody who would take such order? Another thing is that since it works on CO2, I thought that I could use 3000psi hpa tank with 1250psi regulated output. Do you think it is a bad idea?

  12. B.B. I was looking at reviewcenter.com and a couple of people there say the shark is good enough for birds at 30-40 yards (smaller sized birds i predict).If you find out anything of the shark please tell me, I am considering buying it and would like an expert opinion… Now, if i could just find out where to get the .22 cal barrel it says u can buy for it… Thanks!!!

  13. Shark,

    A 12-gauge is considered minimal for a 40-yards shot, so I don’t see how a shotgun that shoots at half the speed will work.

    Sunshine Airguns is the only Shark dealer I know of. They can be bothersome to contact, but keep trying.


  14. Put in an order for one of the Shark 13mm co2 shotguns with Sunshineair over a year ago. I’ve called them twice regarding the order and each time gotten excuses. They seem content to keep the item in their catalog, even adding info on the interchangable barrels but for some reason don’t stock the gun. Too bad. Saw posts at reviewcentre about owners firing 50 cal. balls using sabots in the plastic shells, looked interesting but had to try if you can’t get your hands on the gun 🙁

  15. Jo,

    I do not have the answer to your question, but I can point you in the right direction to get one. You posted to a blog that was written in 2005. There aren't many people reading the older posts. If you will repost your question on the current blog I'm sure you'll get your question answered. /blog//


  16. Thanks Bruce,

    I am also trying on the Yellow. Tom is really good about tracking all posts, regardless of how old the original thread is. 🙂 Thanks for the help, though.

    All best,


  17. I will do that, BB; thanks so much for your help. I have a Foster fitting on the gun if that helps; that is a mod I performed just this weekend lol….otherwise, the gun is bone stock.


  18. lol…no worries, Tom. I was thinking about my Samyang .45 which DOES use 3000; the Fire 201 shotgun takes 2500. I just made a filling error; apparently a costly (at least in effort) one! 🙂

    Do you have an email for those guys you mentioned? Found them all over the web, but no contact information as yet…

    Thanks BB!


  19. Hey BB, I saw that this an older post, but thought you might be still able to answer… Got my first air rifle (a Crossman 760) when I was 12, 56 now (math makes that a “way back when…)… I remember at that time that Crossman advertised an “air shotgun”. Do you know anything about those? Do they still make it? Are they still around and how do they compare to the ones in this post/article………


    • Ernie,

      The very next report in this series is what you want.


      All you have to do to find it is enter Air Shotguns in the Search box on the right side of the page and click GO.


  20. Have you considered revisiting this topic now that there are two 450+ FPE 20 ga air shotguns on the market (SWA 20 ga and PBBA Pro 20)? I’ve seen photos of people claiming to have shot bird on the wing and turkeys with both. The two 20 ga guns also use reusable shells/magazines. Not sure what to think. CAP makes an upgrade for the Wing Shot II that brings the power up to 600-ish FPE for slugs, but ammo is very expensive and might as well buy a gun. An air shotgun comparable to a 16ga actual shotgun would be something I’m very interested in, but not sure if that really exists in a form with reusable shot shells.

    • spacebus,

      I will consider that. This blog is 17 years old and a lot has changed in that time.

      However, many “products” have come and gone during that time, and I watch that carefully. If a “product” is really just a one-off that a hobbiest with a machine shop makes, I don’t like to report it as a real product. Social media-type websites are an anathema to me and my readers.

      I will look into these two, plus there are no doubt others to consider.


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