Air shotguns

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • History
  • What an air shotgun has to do to succeed
  • The second key to success
  • Mainstream hunters
  • Below the standard
  • The Orient
  • Yewha BBB Dynamite
  • Fire 201
  • Gamo Viper Express air shotgun
  • Air shotguns today

Air shotguns are a subject that keeps bubbling to the top every few years. With the recent interest in big bore airguns, its time has probably come, again. In today’s report, I want to tell you what has been done in this arena over the past 500 years and also what’s needed to make an air shotgun viable.


Air shotguns date back to the beginning of airguns, some time in the middle 16th century. All guns at that time were smoothbore, so not a lot of thought was paid to whether they shot a single projectile or many projectiles. For birds that flew, many projectiles were necessary, although this was before people shot at flying birds.

Today we only think of shooting birds in flight. But as late as the late 19th century, market hunters (those harvesting game to sell for a living) were still shooting ducks, geese and swans by the dozens and even the hundreds in flocks as they floated on the water. Shooting birds on their roosts in trees was also considered proper until very late in the 19th century. The limitations of flintlock shotguns made such shooting a necessity.

During these same periods, airguns were all very large caliber. It was considered normal for a fine English-made airgun to come in a leather case with both a rifled barrel and a smoothbore shotgun barrel. But these airguns, as finely made as they were, were not as powerful as the firearms of their day. If we compare antique air rifles to antique firearm rifles of the same period, the difference doesn’t seem so great; but when we look at air shotguns, we see they lack something that firearms of the same period all had — velocity.

“Shooting flying” was the term used for downing birds in flight. Once percussion gun locks became reliable, the sport of shooting birds on the wing took off and never looked back. But the air shotguns could not compete with their firearm cousins, because, by comparison, they shot only half as fast. And, that’s one of the 2 major problems that have plagued air shotguns from around 1830 until the present day.

What an air shotgun has to do to succeed

My late friend, Mac, was very comfortable shooting shotguns. We talked all the time about what an air shotgun would need to do to be successful. It was Mac’s opinion that an air shotgun needed to shoot its shot at a minimum of 1,000 f.p.s. to be accepted by shotgunners. He told me that even lower-velocity shotgun loads are going out at around 1,150 f.p.s., these days, and most competitive rounds for Sporting Clays and Trap are leaving the muzzle at 1,300 f.p.s. In fact, today’s shells are so regular that shotgunners are basing their swing speed on that velocity. Hand a world champion skeet shooter a shotgun shell that travels only 800 f.p.s., and you’ll see him miss his target every time. Their shot columns will be behind the targets in flight. I’m not aware of any modern air shotgun capable of reaching even 800 f.p.s. with a respectable load of shot, which I’ll now discuss.

The second key to success

Besides velocity, the amount of shot in the charge has to be meaningful. Mac and I went around and around on that subject, until we realized the decision had already been made for us. Those who shoot the .410 shotgun fire a lower-velocity shell that contains 1/2 oz. of shot. One-half ounce equates to 219 grains. The size of the shot in the charge doesn’t matter; although, if it’s only a half-ounce, you’ll need a smaller shot size to give you enough shot. Maybe No. 7-1/2 or No. 8 shot is appropriate in such a shell. After all, you aren’t shooting geese at 60 yards with a .410!

So, the ideal air shotgun has to fire a half-ounce shot charge at 1,000 f.p.s. That is, if the folks who make the air shotguns want them to appeal to mainstream hunters.

Mainstream hunters

Let’s be honest. Most hunters who use shotguns today don’t shoot lower-velocity .410s with a half-ounce of shot. The trend is toward the 3-inch and even the 3-1/2-inch shell, which holds 1-1/8 oz. to 1-1/2 oz. of shot, depending on the gauge. While I am at it, let’s all understand that shot fired from a 28-gauge shotgun hits an animal just as hard as shot fired from a 12-gauge shotgun. The difference is the amount of shot you can get into the charge; and to a shotgun hunter, more shot is always better. The larger gauges (which means the smaller numbers — 12 gauge is larger than 20 gauge) hold more shot.

When a shotgun fires, the shot charge that’s been bunched up into 1/2-inch inside the shell spreads out to 12-20 feet long as it flies through the air. It also starts to spread apart in an ever-growing circle. A fast-flying bird may miss most of the shot in the column because of this. Even though your shot pattern looks good on paper, not all of the shot got there at the same time, and you may miss your target because of it. Shotgunners learn this lesson very quickly, so they point their shotgun barrels ahead of their targets, ensuring that the birds fly into the fast-moving shot column at exactly the right time. When you watch a clay pigeon break into 3 pieces in the air, it’s being hit by one or two shot at the edge of a shot column. When the entire column hits it, the pigeon explodes in a puff of black smoke or dust. That’s called dusting the targets. That’s what shotgunners want to do to birds.

Below the standard

Now you should understand why air shotguns have never really succeeded. They fire their shot far too slowly to hit the target with a normal swing, and many of them shoot way too little shot in a charge. Only one air shotgun I’ve ever tested shoots faster than 1,000 f.p.s. That was the Fire 201 air shotgun. Unfortunately, it was only a .25-caliber airgun and could shoot only a very small charge of shot. The velocity was barely okay, but the amount of shot was substandard. And remember, we’re calling a lower-velocity .410 shotgun shell with a half-ounce of shot the standard.

The other air shotguns that have existed (and some still do) have had an adequate shot charge, but they fired it far too slow. The Paul air shotguns of the 1920s and the Vincent (1940-1955) had larger bores of .410 caliber. But they were too slow — at 450-550 f.p.s. The Crosman Trapmaster 1100 was .380 caliber and was both too slow (450-550 f.p.s.) and also had a shot charge that was too small.

Paul air shotgun
Paul air shotgun was a multi-pump pneumatic.

Paul shotshell
Shells for the Paul were sheet metal with cork wads on both ends of the shot charge.

Vincent air shotgun
Vincent air shotgun was also a multi-pump.

Crosman Trapmaster 1100
Crosman’s Trapmaster 1100 was powered  by CO2. It was .380 caliber and featured 2 power settings.

The Orient

When the Philippine population had their guns taken away in 1972 by the Marcos regime, air shotguns suddenly became an important item for subsistence hunters. The Farco air shotgun is the best brand known in the U.S., although there are many others we don’t see that often. Farcos caught American airgunners by surprise in the 1990s, when they were heavily promoted by Air Rifle Specialists of New York. The ARS owner, Davis Schwesinger, even shot a small boar with one, and suddenly Americans had to have a Farco — including yours truly.

Farco air shotgun
Farco air shotgun.

The Farco is a 28-gauge shotgun powered by CO2 that’s bulk-filled into the gun’s long reservoir. The shot charge can weigh nearly a half ounce, but the resulting velocity is pitiful — barely 450 f.p.s. It was more of a gun we owned for bragging rights than for serious hunting, though there were a few stalwarts who did use it seriously.

It’s been reported that some Philippine hunters used arrows with dynamite torpedoes on their ends to kill animals as large as water buffalo with the Farco. I don’t know how true those stories are, but I do know that the Farco was used successfully for bowfishing.

But the Farco is a subsistence gun — not a sporting gun. Birds are not shot on the wing; they’re shot on the roost or floating on the water. The hunters who use a gun like the Farco are living by the same laws that existed in the United States until the late 19th century.

Yewha BBB Dynamite

The Yewha BBB Dynamite was never officially imported into the U.S. Many were brought in as samples, even by the Beeman company, which considered carrying them but never did. The samples were sold, which is why some folks think Beeman used to carry the Yewha. Although they put it in some catalogs, it was never a stock item.

Yewha air shotgun Yewha 3B Dynamite.

The Yewha was a .25-caliber multi-pump air shotgun that had a front-pump rod with a foot rest. The shooter stood on the foot rest and pumped the gun up and down up to 150 times for a full charge. After that, the gun could be topped off with 10-20 pumps after every shot.

The gun was made in Korea, where firearms are nearly impossible to own. The Koreans love to hunt, which is why so many powerful air rifles come from that country. The Yewha was also a subsistence gun, firing a pitifully small charge of shot at a respectable 1,000 f.p.s., or nearly so. Beeman sold a total of 350 of the guns; but as I noted, they never stocked it as a regular product in their line. Dr. Beeman was interested in the design of the gun, but he knew that not many customers would be willing to pump for such a long time. Since then, many Yewhas in the U.S. have been converted to precharged operations that shooters are more accustomed to.

Fire 201

I mentioned the Shinsung Fire 201 — also from Korea. It was a .25-caliber precharged gun that shot a minuscule charge of shot at just over 1,000 f.p.s. I owned one of them and tested it extensively for my newsletter, The Airgun Letter.

Fire 201
Fire 201 air shotgun was a .25 caliber that had good velocity, but the shot charge was too small.

Like most air shotguns, the shot was loaded into a hollow shell that was plugged at bother ends. I found that cleaning pellets were perfect for the job.

Fire 201 shotshell
The Fire 201 shotshell is filled with shot and plugged at either end with a felt cleaning pellet.

Like all the other air shotguns mentioned in this report, the Fire 201 was for subsistence and as a novelty, only. Although it shot fast enough, the shot charge was far too small to have any affect. The only interesting thing about the gun is it was later rebarreled with a 9mm rifled barrel to become the first Korean big bore. While the Shinsung 9mm rifle is no longer available, it was very similar to the Recluse that’s still being sold.

Gamo Viper Express air shotgun

Gamo calls their .22-caliber Gamo Viper Express air shotgun an air rifle, too, but it clearly isn’t. It has a smooth bore, and to be a rifle it needs to have rifling in the barrel. Some people not familiar with firearms call any long gun a rifle because they don’t know the terminology. But rifles have rifled barrels, and if they have smooth bores they are properly called guns.

The Viper Express is a novelty gun, only. It’s not suited to either subsistence or to sport; though if you get very close to your quarry, you might get lucky and hit something with a pellet. I tested this one for you back in 2006.

Gamo Viper Express
Gamo Viper Express is a spring-piston air shotgun.

The Viper Express is something airgunners have told me they really want — a spring-piston air shotgun! It handles really well and looks like a 28-gauge shotgun, but it lacks velocity and shot capacity — both critical items for an air shotgun.

Air shotguns today

The current interest in big bore airguns is spawning a resurgence of air shotguns. I’ve seen and shot several prototypes, including one that is based on an AirForce Escape survival rifle. That one is a .410 that does launch a half-ounce of shot, but only at 600 f.p.s.

Until an air shotgun can launch at least a half ounce of shot at 1,000 f.p.s., they’ll remain novelties and subsistence guns. I hope I’ve explained why this is the case. They do hold interest and fascination for some shooters, but that fascination is based more on what people think an air shotgun ought to be rather than what they actually are.

My gut feeling is that someone has already invented an air shotgun that meets the minimum requirements, or they will pretty soon. When that happens, air shotguns will transition from the novelty class into the true sporting shotgun class. That should open the market for them.

178 thoughts on “Air shotguns”

  1. BB,

    I bought a plastic airgun for a family member. It shoots only a pinch of salt, and is made for hunting flies at a distance of about three feet. I have to say –it is a world of fun. Maybe you have seen one.

    Anyway, my point is that a lower impact air shotgun might appeal to those who are not true hunters. When I was a kid, I used air pistols and air rifles to shoot tin cans thrown into the air. I didn’t have to kill them, just wing them, to get a satisfying ding from the can. The sport would have been a lot more fun, certainly a lot easier, using an air shotgun. Plinking, as it were.

    Something for the manufactures to consider.

      • RidgeRunner,

        The Bug-A-Salt does not work well on carpenter bees or paper wasps, they are too tough! The best that can happen is that you can damage their wings at point blank range and then step on them. Fortunately, the carpenter bees are not aggressive except towards their own kind! I even use “Bug Shot” (a coarser grain Margarita salt) in mine and it will devastate large flies, even of the horse variety and shows promise towards yellow jackets also. I have only done this on solitary insects. I would strongly recommend not shooting at them around their paper nest or burrow!

        It needs more power!


          • RidgeRunner,

            I have similar games here, I use an old Badminton racket, sometimes with a handle extension for a longer reach and I call the game Beeminton. I have also gotten several this year with my old TS45 and IZH61 while they were in hover mode or having just landed on the wooden trusses or lumber. On rare occasion, if you are lucky, sometimes you can get a twofer with the racket when they are busy fighting each other.

            As far as the Viper Express goes, which is pricey, the salt would ruin the barrel unless you carefully cleaned it after each and every use, just as you would a black powder firearm. Why not just pick up a cheap break barrel .22 caliber springer, remove the rifling and experiment with it even though the maintenance would still be the same?

            I have some material which was given to me several years ago which I will have to experiment with. It is finely granulated lead. I have no idea what its original purpose was but I have a .50 ammo can nearly full of it and is it heavy! I believe that it would be an ideal material for close in “wing shooting” of flying insects such as carpenter bees.

            Aluminum foil is an excellent medium to test the pattern, penetration and effectiveness of this type of ammo.


            • Bugbuster,

              Oh, I know I would have to clean it thoroughly after each use with salt. I have picked up some real good deals on a couple of black powder rifles and pistols because of such.

              As far as removing the rifling and such, it would probably be cheaper and easier to go with the Viper.

              I have thought of replacing the #9 with #12 or finer lead myself, but I am not too crazy about spraying fine lead around the place.

              My wife thought of using flower seeds. It would not pollute, the birds would enjoy it and it could brighten up the place a bit.

              • RidgeRunner,

                I honestly believe that flower seeds will not have the mass to do any damage, they will not even be as heavy as salt, however here is something else to consider, a coarse sand which if fired in a cheap break barrel, will eventually take care of the rifling! Use the aluminum foil trick, it will confirm if the “shot medium” is effective or not.


                • Bug,

                  You would have to do a lot of shooting to get rid of the rifling and you would still have to machine out for the shell. Now if you were to pick up one of the old smoothbore Dianas, it would just need a little machining and away you go.

                  • RidgeRunner,
                    You are probably right in respect to wearing out the rifling, only because you want it to go away, it won’t, you know how that works.

                    Here is an update on the granulated lead I told you about a couple of days ago. It appears to be about the same consistency as ball powder,very small spheres with some sort of coating on it, no oxidation at all. An empty .22 LR case will hold 31.9 grains of the stuff, a .22 rim fire magnum case will hold 65.2 grains. I weighed the container and I have over 90 lbs of it. The shot load for the Gamo shot shells is listed at 17 grains. This leads me to believe that a modified .22 magnum case or possibly even a .22 LR case could be used as the “shot cartridge” depending on the length/heigth of the wad which goes under the “shot”.

                    Another possibility could be a bag of 35-80 “grit” steel shot which is used as a blasting medium. I just am not sure what the actual physical size of this material is, I am sure that someone on this blog will know this.

                    Regardless of which of these materials is used, you would not want to shoot against glass, painted surfaces or siding, obviously.


                    • Bugbuster,

                      It could possibly be #12 shot. That stuff is pretty small.

                      Another type shot I have thought of which may work real well is plastic micro pellets. I work in the polymer pelletizing industry and we on occasion manufacture pellets the size of fine sand for use in molds. The shot shells would be able to hold quite a bit of it and because it is so light, it would lose velocity rapidly, reducing the possibility of collateral damage.

                      Now if someone would just send me a Viper Express to play with for awhile. 😉

          • RR

            I hate to guess what it would cost, but…..

            A bucket full of the ball point pen balls from BIC (fine point) would tear those carpenter bees a new one . A bucket full should last for a lot of shots .


          • RidgeRunner,

            Had to go here, we were out of space above!

            I just checked my Dixie Gun Works Catalog and it listed #12 shot at.05″ diameter which is much larger than most of the material that I have. They have a listing for fine dust which measures .03″. My stuff appears to be a mixture with the fine dust being the bulk of it. Number 12 shot would have around 90 pellets in a 17 grain load.

            It suddenly dawned on me that using flower seeds, plastic, even salt or sand may not work due to its lower density. The amount necessary to achieve the nominal 17 grain weight requirement to avoid a dry fire condition could be too great! To get to that weight, the “shot column” with the lighter materials would have to be VERY high, much more than the factory shot cartridges could ever hold!

            To check this out, measure 17 grains of any of these materials, pour them into a transparent soda straw as close to .22″ ID as you can get with a powder funnel and measure the height of the column. You will see what I mean.


      • Almost any air rifle will work for bees and wasps, no projectile required. Just get the muzzle close to the victim, hit it with a blast of air, and usually it will be knocked out of the air and stunned.

  2. Deja vu! I either caught a sneak-peek or got caught up in one of your older reports, nonetheless it is an interesting topic for ideas to be bounced around on. 🙂

  3. BB
    First I have to say a interesting topic.

    I would like to own a air shotgun for sure. But so far from what you explained it kind of reminds me of the bird shot for .22 rimfire guns. I tryed them when I was a kid and I seriously had to be no farther than 30 yards away to hit something. Well it might of even been closer. I was shooting them at the old empty cardboard oil cans. And they would only end up with 2 or 3 of the shot hitting the can.

    I was surprised they still sold them for the .22 rimfire guns. The gun shop by my old house still has them. I believe it was CCI that makes them. I darn near almost got some just to try again but didn’t. Hmm maybe I should. Maybe they are better now?

    • The .38’s are only good for about 10yds on rats & snakes Through a rifled barrel.
      I was very interested in obtaining one of the Judge models until they got over $450

    • Hi Gunfun1,

      I still have a couple of those .22 rimfire shot shells that I keep in my novelty box of unusual ammunition. They were pretty useless beyond 10-15 feet because the rifling would cause a huge pin-wheel pattern with an open center.

      40 years ago, a friend’s father wanted to use those cartridges to get rid of bats that had taken to roosting in the barn and out buildings. He bought a tube-fed semi-automatic and asked me to modify it for him. I had to remove the rifling, polish the bore and grind/polish a “bell choke” into the barrel before it would throw a nice even 18 inch pattern out to about 30 feet. Took off the sights, added a nice bead and he had the .22 caliber shotgun he wanted. Hated to destroy a new rifle like that but it was an interesting project.


    • Gunfun 1,

      Why not just purchase a .22 caliber barrel blank which has been drilled but not rifled from one of the barrel manufactures? As long as you mount it in a rifle with sufficient barrel length, you should not run afoul of the law. Then you will have a .22 smooth bore which should greatly improve the pattern from the shot loads.


        • Reb,

          That is some very tough material, but I believe that the OD would be way too thin to be used as a barrel for durability. It would be about the same or a little larger on the OD as the sleeve barrels on cheap multi-pump pneumatics.


            • Reb,

              My comment was for a smooth bore barrel chambered for .22 caliber rim fire shot cartridges which would readily feed from a magazine, tubular or detachable. These would more than likely not cycle the action of most semi-autos. For a sufficiently rigid barrel, I personally would want at least a .625″ to .750″ OD minimum so the shank could be machined down to fit the receiver and the barrel not flex. Even tubing with a .100″ wall thickness could be easily bent by hand when the length is anywhere from 18″ to 24″.

              Since you have already done some research on this, what is the largest OD or wall thickness available in this material with a nominal .22″ caliber bore?


              • Bugbuster
                Those bird shot use to cycle fine in my Winchester 190. It is a tube fed semi-auto .22. Well from what I could remember back when I was kid.

                I still think I’m going to pick up a box of 50 or 100 rounds and see how they shoot now.

                I got that new Savage bolt action but I don’t want to shoot them through it. Maybe it could mess with the rifling and don’t want to take the chance on the new Savage. Now the Winchester thats another story. I shot the heck out if that gun throughout time.

                • Gunfun1,

                  I had a Winchester model 290 which I had purchased around 1968, 1969 it was a tube fed semi also, i believe that the only difference between the two was the checkered stock. I had never attempted to fire any .22 LR bird shot rounds in any of my rifles or pistols due to what I had read about their performance, or lack thereof out of a rifled barrel. The 290 was amazing however, due to the fact that it would function flawlessly with any ammo, whether it was shorts or long rifle. Never tried longs in it. Hell, the thing would hold over half a box of shorts at a time!

                  Don’t blame you about not shooting the bird shot loads out of your new rifle, I seriously doubt if they would harm the barrel that a good brushing wouldn’t clean up, but why take a chance, right?

                  Out of curiosity, what will you be using the “bird shot” loads for?


                  • Bugbuster
                    I got mine in 1971 I got for Christmas and just turned 10 years old. So back then didn’t really think about what could be good or bad for a gun. I just shot what I was able to get.

                    And back then it was for shooting at cans and such when we would throw them up in the air and try to hit the can.

                    Now days probably try them for the same thing. Probably won’t even throw the can in the air. Just plinking on the ground.

                    But I would like to get one of those can launchers that BB mentioned a while back.

                    I could have my daughters shoot at the paddle trigger that launches the can with the pellet guns and I can try to shoot the can in the air when it launches with the bird shot. Or vise versa with who gets to shoot at what.

                    I think that could be a nice little challenge.

                    • Gunfun1,

                      Have you ever dissected any of the .22 caliber shot cartridges? I believe there were two types. The original were crimped closed on the end then I believe CCI loaded theirs with the shot in a transparent blue capsule. It probably would not be a good idea to disassemble a live one, too dangerous. It would be interesting to fire one into water though and recover all the components for examination especially the over powder wad.


                  • Bugbuster
                    Never did take one apart.

                    Now I wonder which would work better. I bet the crimped ones rob some of the power. But maybe the crimped shot holds a better pattern?

                    • Gunfun1,

                      I would put my money on the CCI because the full crimped ones, to the best of my memory, were exactly that. By the way, a memory is a terrible thing to lose! The end looked exactly the same as a blank cartridge for a Ram set nail gun. To force the crimp open had to severely distort the shot, and I am sure the small shot bouncing off of the rifling on its way down the barrel didn’t help much either.


      • RR
        That is a idea. You know me when it comes to modding.

        But I would think with the modern day pcp guns and the power they can produce would be a good starting point.

        I can see a Marauder converted real easy with a different in rifled barrel. And make a new magazine that would accept little cases you load with shot and put one of those little felt cleaning pellets in to hold the shot in.

        Heck look at how the Crosman 1077 works. You could adapt that system and have a semi-auto air shot gun and run it on HPA instead of Co2. That could be a fun gun to kill those dreaded ferel cans with.

          • Reb
            That was me and Buldawg talking back and forth that came up with the idea.

            We just drilled and tapped a 1/8″ pipe threads in the end of a 88 gram cartridge. Buldawg came up on a good deal on 2 used Crosman 88 gram cartridge adapters for the 1077 so we used them.

            And yes it did work out good. 1200 psi down to 800 psi with an average of about 50 shots per fill. Also the power increased a bit and you can pull the trigger as fast as you want and not gave to worry about the gun icing up and slowing down like Co2 does.

            We both got red dots on ours and yes its a nice little combination now. Very fun gun to shoot.

              • Reb
                I did mine with a hand drill as the 88 gram cylinders are not that hard of metal you just need to make a good starting center punch indent so the drill does not walk on the curved rear surface on the cylinder and them use a 90 degree fitting 1/8 pipe male to female fitting to screw the foster check valve into so the check valve cannot blow out of the foster.

                I already have in the works of adding another 88 gram cylinder tandem under the first to double the volume for 100 shoots per fill.

                It works far better than CO2 and is cheaper as well as air is free plus you get a little more velocity to boot.


        • You would have to build a new action with a larger opening and a longer bolt as the shot shell would be fairly long. That is why the break barrel works so well.

          Why not take two break barrels and bolt them together and make a double barrel? 😉

              • RR
                This true.

                What happens if somebody doesn’t give something a try. Nothing.

                Somebody out there has to be willing to try. I bet we have a lot of things we use nowdays in our lives that at some point in time thought was crazy.

                I say go for it. If a design is thought about then take the chance and make it.

                Remember the movie Field of Dreams. Like they said.
                “Build it they will come”

    • Many years ago,,, let’s make that many, many, MANY years ago,, at Boy Scout camp.. we were able to shoot the .22 shot shells at clay birds thrown from a regular trap. I have no idea of the distance at which the birds were shot,, but for some reason, I was very proficient at it, and hit 23 in a row. Drew quite a crowd after the first ten.
      The point is that these shot shells were able to break regular clay birds at , what I would assume now, 20 to 25 yards. I would not believe it myself,, if I hadn’t done it. Doubt it would have done more than annoyed anything alive, at that range.

  4. And that reminds me also that I believe the other day Twotalon was talking about that salt gun that shoots a blast of salt at bugs like fly’s and such.

    I seen a sporting good chain store add that had them. If I have a chance to get one I’m going to just for the heck of it. I don’t have that particular store anywhere close to my house. Guess I’ll have to search online and order one.

    Oh just remembered what its called. Bug-A-Salt.
    Seriously thats the name of it.

  5. Maybe the new AirForce Texan .45 could work as the foundation for an air shotgun. The bore is about the right size. The .410 is a challenging round to master, something that would fit into the airgunner’s philosophy.

  6. B.B.
    Great report! You explain why there are so few air shotguns, but could you please explain why there are any????
    Can PCP’s, with their large tanks, 4000psi, 6-8 shots per fill, overcome the problems you so well outlined?
    How about a super high-power automatic BB gun?

      • Tom,

        What about one of Dennis Quackenbush’s .458 Outlaws that are rated at ~500 ft-lbs with a 405 grain slug? Hypothetically could that fire a 1/2 ounce load of shot at 1000 fps?

        As an aside, and not to be a wet-blanket; but I honestly don’t see the reason to make a PCP, air-shotgun like what you’re describing. It would be a novelty or proof of concept at best. If you’re in someplace like the UK, such an air shotgun would be considered a shotgun under their gun laws and subject to a shotgun certificate so you’re not really gaining anything in terms of ease of access. And in the US, a PCP version of an air-shotgun would be prohibitively expensive, especially since you can get a Rossi .410 shotgun for around $100 (when they’re on sale) at Rural King/Walmart/etc… The only way I can see someone other than a novelty collector being interested is if they live in a place where firearms are banned,but airguns are unrestricted regardless of power/caliber/velocity… And I don’t know of any of those offhand. So basically what’s the point or advantage?


          • Reb,

            I seem to recall that we’ve discussed firing airguns in city limits before. The end results were that its a crap-shoot whether or not its legal to fire an airgun in cities/towns/villages since it depends on the wording of local ordinances prohibiting the discharge of “firearms”. I’m not totally ruling it out, but it wouldn’t apply to everyone.

            As for less noise, I’ll concede that an air-shotgun should produce less noise than a shotgun. However its still going to be too loud to shoot in a suburban backyard. The noise levels should be comparable to a very powerful, big-bore PCP without any suppressors/baffles/bloop tube/whatever you want to call it built in.


        • That’s a good idea and I’d like to know how much shot could be launched and at what velocity.
          We’ve got quite a few really good number crunchers, but I’m not one.

          • I think Tom already answered part of that question when he set his minimum shot load at 1/2 ounce. So for starters lets assume that you’re shooting 219 grains of birdshot, and add in a bit of extra weight for the wads. So assume the total mass fired is 250 grains, give or take a bit.

            The problem is figuring out exactly how fast the shot would leave the barrel. Normally I’d just ballpark it by plugging it into one of PA’s calculators, but Tom has pointed out in the past that airguns vary in power depending on the weight (and type) of projectile used. So until someone actually tests a shotgun version of a .458 Outlaw all we would get would be guesses.

        • J.,

          The reason is to be able to shoot flying birds successfully. The guns that exists today are all for subsistence hunting. What they are not capable of is shooting birds on the wing, because the lead is too long.


          • Tom,

            I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make/what I was asking in that paragraph. I understand what you’re trying to achieve in terms of capability. However I’m asking what practical advantage does an air-shotgun have over a powder-burner.

            Performance wise, you’re talking about replicating a .410 shotgun (at a minimum). But you’re going to build/use a big-bore PCP that would cost what $500-$2,000. A conventional .410 Rossi youth shotgun costs around $100 in the US. So it doesn’t compete on price. (And unless you get into a high-end shotgun, I don’t see that changing much.) Even if you add in the cost of ammunition it still doesn’t compete in on price since you can buy a lot of 2.5-inch, #8 .410 shells ($12 for 25) or 3-inch #6 .410 shells ($15 for 25) for the price difference in the guns.

            Because of the performance level (in excess of 12 ft-lbs muzzle energy), a person would have to have a shotgun/firearms certificate to own one in the UK. So getting one in the UK (or other European countries) wouldn’t be any easier than getting a regular shotgun.

            Normally, I’m interested in airguns, including airguns for hunting. But in this instance, it almost seems like the people pushing the development of this concept merely want to prove it can be done (proof of concept) rather than it filling a viable/useful niche in the shooting sports. Maybe I’m wrong about that. If I am, I’m sure people will let me know…


            • J.,

              Well, to begin with, .410 shells weren’t available 2.5 years ago. Then they came back on the market at twice the cost of 12 gauge shells, which is where they are today. Airguns don’t need store-bought ammunition. Given a 25-lb. bag of shot, they can create their own as they go. So, having an air shotgun that really works like a shotgun is perceived as a good thing.

              Next, if you can make a real air shotgun that works as well as a .410, then you have one component of a real survival kit. We already have the rifles, just not the shotgun.


              • Tom, where I live .shotgun shells never went away. Even at the height of the insanity, (when the shelves were stripped of every box of .22 rimfire, centerfire rifle, and centerfire pistol) the local Walmart had plenty of 12, 20, and .410 shells on the shelves. The “tactical” loads were scarce, but the target, upland game, and slug loads were available just like always at the same price. .410 shells cost between $12-$15 for 25 depending on the length and type of shot then and now. 12 gauge ran about $8-$9 for 20-25 target shells, same as now. 12 gauge upland game loads were a couple dollars more. Not sure on the waterfowl, turkey, buckshot and slugs since I don’t really price those in 12 gauge…

                As for the bit about store-bought ammunition… I’m tired from having people rip on me all weekend at work so I’m going to keep my response short. Otherwise I’ll succumb to the temptation to be snarky. That said… Unless you have a shot tower in the backyard you’re still buying the ammunition for an air-shotgun. Same as the guy or gal who shoots a Northwest Trade Musket or a cap & ball shotgun buys their powder, shot, and caps/flints. Or same as the person who loads/reloads their own shotgun-shells… You need fewer components, but you still depend on access to manufactured ammunition to feed your gun.

                As for the bit about the air-rifles… I can see the value there since the ammunition is cheaper than rimfires (by a substantial margin these days) and much easier to find for plinking. As for hunting I fully get the value in an air-rifle since it doesn’t fill the meat with birdshot like a shotgun and doesn’t fire a bullet that is going to travel for a mile if it misses the critter like a .22LR/WMR/etc… But it appears an air-shotgun can’t do anything that a regular shotgun doesn’t do as well or better and cheaper. That’s why I said it seems more like a proof of concept than a practical choice.

                • J.
                  Sometimes proof of concept is what gets the ball rolling. Sometimes the right person hears about the concept then develops it. Maybe the first versions won’t be the best but it will be a base standard for them to improve on it.

                  Oh and by the way the shotgun shells in my area never dryed up either. But as far as cost goes I didn’t pay attention to see if they got more exspesive. I was more into air guns at that time than my firearms.

      • Check out the Extrem Big Bores air shotgun and air shotgun pistol. I think they could meet your minimum 1000fps requirement.

        I don’t know of anyone who makes more powerful air guns than those guys in America.

        They make a 72caliber 1450fpe air rifle too…

  7. An important and highly interesting air shotgun you missed out is the Shark Escopeta, made in South America. It has a very unusal and highly efficient in-line valve.

  8. Interesting topic. I look forward to watching this one; hopefully there is a pot already simmering with makers, and hopefully you just gave it a good stir, B.B. 🙂

  9. The pbba 20 gauge is a viable air shotgun.. being its taken turkeys with shot I’m sure clays are easier.. as far as I know its the best option.. also I believe extreme big bores has a .410 that’s viable.. they are out there just not production guns..

  10. BB, you say “Some people not familiar with firearms call any long gun a rifle because they don’t know the terminology”. Interestingly, where I live, those people call everything a shotgun, not a rifle. So much that today it is very common to hear people naming airguns as “espingardas de chumbo” (pellet shotguns).
    I think we already have the technology to develop a truly effective air shotgun if we use the current big bore airgun PCP systems. I just don’t know if we have sufficient market for it. We already hunt pigeons and other birds with air rifles effectively, so the need for an air shotgun is lost.

    • Fred_BR,

      This is one term that the Brits created and the Americans adopted without change. I learned the difference between rifles and guns in the 1950s, and our Army and Marine Corp used to punish soldiers when they referred to their rifles as guns.

      Maybe in Brazil shotguns are so much more common that the term is used for all long guns?


      • Yes, shotguns are far more common in South America in general, but I learned that is not the reason. In fact, in Portugal they refer to all long guns as “espingardas” (=shotguns), including military assault rifles (“espingardas de assalto”). Except for… well, shotguns! Shotguns are called “cacadeiras” (=hunters). Their tradition was obviously brought to us and we kind of stick to part of it to this day.
        Here, in Brazil at least, the name rifle, or their Portuguese translation “fuzil”, is applied almost exclusively to military rifles. Civilian rifled long guns are carbines, no matter their size, caliber or weight. Following that tradition, most shooters consider “air carbines” (“carabinas de ar”) or “pressure carbines” (“carabinas de pressao”) the correct term for air rifle.
        It is odd when you think of it, because we name an airgun like a Texan bigbore a “carbine” and a M-4 .223 a “rifle”.

  11. B.B.:
    You mentioned that your gut feeling was that someone has already invented an air shotgun that can shoot at least a half ounce of shot at 1,000 FPS. I remember a report from the 2015 show (yours?) about an Air Ordnance Rolling Block Rifle that used replaceable single shot refillable cartridges with a 4500 PSI fill. The rifle looked like the old Sharps rolling block buffalo guns. The one that I remember reading about was in .357 and was rated at 1,000 FPS. I would seem simple to convert this rifle to an air shotgun. If fact, could the cartridges be manufactured to fit in say a 10 gauge with a 3.5 inch chamber?


      • BB:

        I had to leave for work before I had a chance to finish my though. I was wondering could one of the Modocs be modified to accept an existing shotgun barrel with a larger higher capacity cartridge that would be then capable of shooting a half ounce or better of shot at 1000 FPS. Or bascially, that would be to take a single shot shotgun and modify it to accept the 4500 PSI cartridges and to beef up the cartridges accordingly. While It may be possible to develop such a shotgun, I can’t see it as practical.


  12. About the lightest shot shell today is the Winchester AA Feather, the 12 ga version runs 980 fps with 26 grams of shot. They work surprisingly well. I have shot trap with them. They are very popular with Cowboy Action Shooters.


      • G’day BB
        Mike is right with the sub sonics as is Mac. You can get them going upto +1400 fps. Around 1100 fps to 1250 fps gives better patterns they say.
        BUT the BC of smaller shot (7-8s) used in clay targets is absolutely abysmal. At 40 yards the shot has dropped 6 to 8 inches.
        It is like your fastest baseball pitcher and your average Jo Blow throwing a handful of dry sand. There isn’t much difference in distance.
        1/2 ounce is 14 grams so I would be using 4s to BBs sizes for hunting for better BC as there is so little shot.
        Cheers Bob

  13. There are still allot of people that hunt birds, especially grouse in the UP of Michigan that shoot their birds on the grounds. Why? Well, a number of reasons. Grouse are very good to eat. Most people could never hit one flying, it takes years so practice or a lot of luck. The woods are often so thick that when you see one, it disappears as soon as it flushes. So, folks just head shoot them for the pot. Up north in Canada, where the grouse are often very tame, they are hunted with .22 rifles and even slingshots.

    That said, I use a light 20 ga. OU and try to shoot fast as they vanish!


  14. I have read about air/Co2 powered shotguns with mild curiosity but I really don’t see their purpose.

    I can see the advantage of an air powered shotgun where regular shotguns are not permitted or say in a survival situation where independence from manufactured cartridges would be desirable.

    Except for the novelty factor I can’t understand why someone would want to hunt with an air powered shotgun, with all of the compromises when a regular shotgun does the job so efficiently.

    The small shot charge would give a low density “column” of shot to intercept the flying bird resulting on fewer pellet strikes on target. I think that air shotguns could end up wounding a lot of game.

    Using a .410 as a reference is ok for conditions where a .410 is useful… I loved my .410 with size 6 or 7-1/2 shot for woodcock, grouse and cottontail shooting at close range in dense brush. I would never consider using it beyond 25 yards or on larger game.

    If ducks and larger game are being hunted then I think that a standard 12 gauge load should be considered as the minimum.

    Just my 2 cents.


  15. I don’t see how big bore air rifles and shotguns could ever “go mainstream” as long as muzzleloaders and firearms are available. That doesn’t mean they’re not interesting.

    A premium .410 load will break every crossing target from station #3, #4 and #5 on a skeet range. Just as big bore air rifles offer less performance than muzzleloaders and firearms, but are still useful for hunting, an air shotgun doesn’t quite need to duplicate the performance of even a modern .410 skeet load.

    750 fps with a 1/2 ounce of shot is likely possible, and is probably enough power and velocity for small game, varmints, and small birds on the wing at reasonable angles, out to 15 yards.

    It would be interesting to experiment and see what pattern densities could be obtained. A 1/2 ounce of #7 1/2 shot gently pushed from a PCP shotgun might pattern pretty well.

    It would be nice to see a traditionally-styled, blued steel and wood air shotgun on the market. And while I’m wishing, I’d like to have a cased big bore, sporting air gun with smooth and rifled barrels.

    Best wishes and a good weekend to all,


  16. Hey, think I am on to something here! I have been killing carpenter bees with a racket ball racket and my Daisy 99, but often they are out of reach for will not hold still long enough. I have thought of getting a Bug-A-Salt, but it is not powerful enough. I could take a Viper Express and load the shells with coarse salt. That should give me some range and power enough to bust them on the wing and it would be real fun! With the salt I would not need to be as concerned with damaging the house either.

  17. Hmmm…

    Is the discussion limited to shouldered air shotguns?

    Has anyone watch Pumkin Chunkin? The air canon division regularly chunks pumpkins over 4,000 feet. The air canons are just jumbo sized PCP’s. I wonder what would happen if the pumpkin was replaced with an equal weight of shot (something like an oversized shotgun shell).

    I can envision one used like a punt gun on a lake or field full of geese. Should be interesting results.


  18. On some of the Other forums I have read where Poppy seeds,
    Sesame seeds etc.have been used as loads for small bore shot
    to good effect on insect type targets.
    Food for thought :>)

  19. After reading through the comments today it made me remeber something we did when we were kids.

    We use to take the Crosman 760’s of the day and pump them up to like 15 times then load 5 or 6 BB’s in the barrel and shoot. You had to keep the barrel tilted up or the bb’s would roll out.

    We would put tin cans up on the bank of the creek and shoot at them. I would say 20 yards away and it actually worked pretty good.

      • I’m not gonna find out it was a bad idea with my chrony.
        By the time yo figure in shot string, was and muzzle blast, I wouldn’t expect good results very quickly.

      • So how can we know that we achieved that magic velocity BB’s been talking about?

        Does it come down to shooting different power ranges with different buck shot loads to achieve the pattern you want.

        Thats like those home defense shot gun loads. They usually use 2 different types of projectiles in the load and they are different brass heights also for the power the load makes if I remember right. They have flat discs like washers and diamond shapes to in the same load.

        So maybe its like anything else. You have to find the correct balance between projectile type and amount if the projectile in the load compared to power for the type of target you want to shoot at.

          • Sam
            Sound like that would work.

            But thats just the thing. That slug would maintain its energy for a fair amount of yards. The shot shhell would diminish in energy very rapidly.

            I think the trick to making a air shot gun work good enough to shoot a flying bird at close ranfe. Say 20 or 30 yards out. Would have to be with a pcp gun something like in the .300 up caliber. But the down fall would be that we could only load maybe something like 4 steel .177 bb’s for the shot. I think the pcp should make enough power to send them 4 bb’s out fast enough. And maybe we could get 6 or 7 bb’s in a shot.

            Maybe it would be enough to do the job we are talking about. Or maybe not.

            • I think it is the same with real shotguns- between pattern and shot column, the muzzle velocity is known and downrange is an estimated guess.

              A really helpful guy who let me shoot his muzzleloaders is really into shotgun reloading. His “thing” is to drive his loads faster than most by using a slower powder.

              Anyway-:you mentioned bbs. He told me the load data is differant for steel shot. The steel has no “give” and so when the powder goes off, the steel shot tries to find somewhere to go and pushes hard against the shot cup. This creates friction which raises chamber pressure over comparable lead loads of equal weight. So he told me even though I get away with just pulling and swapping bullets in 7.62×39 if they are of the same weight and the ogive is at the same length – Do not just substitute bbs for lead shot- the shot cup is differant, the charge is differrant, the length of shot column is different.

              Sorry for rambling.

              • Sam
                You just mentioned weight and ogive legnth.

                We made different big projectiles at work throughout time and the ojive diameter was located at different places for the type of projectile for the same caliber. Or in our case at work milimeters.

                And now I’m going to reference air guns here. The ojive of a pellet could make the difference in the way a pellet shoots. But as far as a cartridge loaded with bb’s or lead shot I don’t think it will matter with a air gun.

                We don’t have to balance the front of a airgun shot gun load like we do a pellet or a bullet.

                So I don’t believe that matters on a air gun shot gun load.

            • Gunfun,

              The shot pattern wouldn’t be dense enough to guarantee a hit on a bird with 4-7 BBs at 20-30 yards. A .410 shell has about 200 #8 shot or 100 #6 shot in a 1/2 ounce load. A 12 gauge shooting a 1 1/4 ounce load has around 280 #6 shot. And even with those kinds of shot charges, people still miss and injure game at the sorts of distances you’re talking about. That’s why Tom is arguing for shot loads at least as potent as what a .410 throws.


  20. The bigger gauge Philippine air shotguns probably have the basics for the ideal air shot gun. They just have to be re-engineered to take high pressure air instead of CO2. They already fire shells about 1 inch in diameter by 2 inches long. With their large exhaust valves and very long barrels (up to 48 inches long.) they might be able to come close to reaching that 1000 fps mark with a decent shot load for use against flying targets, but they are too heavy to swing around fast enough for that kind of sport. But even if you don’t get to that velocity, you can at least hunt wild fowl up to the size of turkeys on the ground.

    The Farco is really one of the smaller gauge Philippine air shotguns. Similar gauge LD swinging breech CO2 designs also fire metal shotshells and with a rifled barrel insert, fire .22 pellets. Without the insert, these also fire ball bearings of about .30 caliber. In which case you have a smoothbore musket.

    If a smoothbore airgun can be designed to fire rifled slugs, then it can be used to hunt medium-sized game like wild boar and deer at close range. For dangerous game like wild boar, it would be preferable if you can have a double barrel or a repeater, because you might need that second shot to put the pig down before it rips into you with its tusks!

    Or maybe all we need is for somebody to re-barrel and revalve an Air Force Texan into a larger smooth-bore and fire, shot, slugs or even darts out of it using shells.

  21. 22LR “shot” shell are not that bad. The trouble is that people shoot them out of rifled barrels and got bad results. They blamed the rounds. I’ve owned a couple different smooth bore 22 rifles. The two guns also shot very different. I have a Savage bolt action single shot smooth bore. It was just ok. I had a Steven’s Favorite single shot that would shocked everyone. Patterns were very good, considering what it shot. Just goes to show you that they are “chocked” different, just like powder burning shotguns. I also found that what most considered “out of date”, crimped shot shells did twice as good out of the Steven’s as the CCI shot capsule (blue shot cup). Not even close. The Savage didn’t seem to matter. Neither shell did well in it. I don’t think the Savage was “Chocked” so to say. I’ve never owned a 22 WMR long gun that was smooth bore, but I’ve read good reports on the lucky few to have bought a Marlin 22 Mag Garden Gun (smooth bore).

  22. I’ve always wanted a “air” shotgun. Years ago, I took a Spyder paint ball gun, “hopped” it up, put on a longer “smooth bore” barrel, and then went on to experiment with “Shot” loads for it. I’d use homemade wadding from cotton, cardboard and so on. I never got the results I wanted. I have a couple Daisy 200 co2 pistols. I’ve seen a Daisy “critter gritter” which looked like the same pistol, in single shot and made to shoot .380 shot shell. I guess it never took off. I’ve heard they never made for sale per say, yet some must have “gotten” out the factory door.

  23. One of the greatest reason I enjoy air rifles is the fact they have limited range and power. Enough to have fun and really accurate to 40 yds or so.
    I get the desire for a powerful air shotgun, however it would be intresting for me to have the opportunity to shoot skeet and sport clays in an urban environment, as the rifle shooting in minature. No need for vast open spaces and no objectionable report to irritate the neighbors. Scatter gun distances of 5-20 yds with flying targets to break. No need for 1000 fps, 500 to 700 will do. As with rifles use the powder burners for longer ranges and hunting. I could be incorrect, but I do not believe firearm shotguns have the same restrictions as rifles and pistols in other countries.

  24. I already own several Air Shotguns, although most people call them Air Rifles. They shot such a large 10-shot group, that I keep thinking it is an Air Shotgun.

  25. If I remember right, Daisy and the Army developed a point-shooting training system for army recruits using bb-guns and flying clay birds at short range. Problem with using more powerful air shotguns for very short range of clay target shooting will be the much heavier weight. Firearm Skeet, Trap and Sporting Clays are shot far enough so that the shooter will be able to swing his shotgun fast enough to get a lead on the flying targets. Unless you can develop an air shotgun light enough to be whipped around like a Daisy bb gun, shooting at flying targets at very short range will be very difficult. Maybe one way would be to use radio control drones to dangle and pull clay targets around at low speed so that the air shotgunner can keep up…….Something the military used to do for anti-aircraft artillery target practice. Will be expensive however if you shoot the drone down along with the clay target.

  26. The Viper Express can be improved upon. Finned projectiles like airgun darts can be shot accurately at longer ranges through these smooth bores. Maybe somebody should design a finned or rifled pellet? Could eliminate the need for rifling airguns altogether.

    And maybe a stronger powerplant can be mated with the Viper Express barrel?

  27. Ok I got to throw this out there.

    Remember the early airgun horsepower wars.

    There was a air gun that they injected a flamable liquid into the breech that created a combustion firing cycle. Can’t remember exactly what gun but I do believe BB mentioned thats how H&N Barracudas came about for the thick area of lead in the head of the pellet. The early pellets would blow the head out.

    Can we call that a fesable power adder for a air shot gun. Look at the green gas air soft guns.

    It would definitely boost air gun performance.

  28. Ok here is something else that comes to mind.

    Why are we comparing a .410 shot gun or other gauge shot guns to a air shotgun.

    It wasn’t till recently that air guns have been performing like some firearms. Air guns have always shot in at closer distances than a firearm and with less power.

    Why can’t a air shot gun make less power and shoot at a closer distance with less coverage of the projectile. Air gun shooting is more of a art I believe when you hunt than a sport. Stalking and even camafloge is more important when air gun hunting is concerned.

    I say bring on the air shot gun ideas.

    • I think that people are comparing an air-shotgun to .410 shotguns because that’s the minimum that is practical for the kinds of hunting people use shotguns for today. Past attempts at the air-shotgun either fired shot charges that were too small to be truly effective, fired shot charges too slowly to hit quick moving game, or both. Tom is arguing, and I agree with him, that as a minimum an air-shotgun needs to duplicate the performance of a .410 (1/2 ounce shot @ >1000fps) to be effective for hunting. Tom and I are disagreeing over whether such an air-shotgun is practical since it doesn’t do anything that a .410 single-shot does more cheaply…

      Remember unlike rifles, shotguns are already short-ranged propositions with an effective range (with a shot load) of around 30 yards, give or take depending on gauge, choke, type of shot, size of shot… And if the pattern isn’t dense enough (and the shot moving fast enough to deliver adequate penetration) you’ll just injure animals instead of killing them humanely. If all you want to do is bust mini-clay pigeons that’s one thing. But going after squirrel/rabbit/dove/etc… at 25-30 yards with an air-shotgun that fires 1/8 ounce shot is inhumane.

      • J.
        The whole thing about shot gun shooting be it a air shot gun or a firearm shot gun could be considered inhumane.

        We can’t say that one is better than the other. Efective rang is the determining factor of what could be considered humane.

        My dad was a duck hunter and I sat many times in a blind out on the lake at our property with my dad. And I can tell you right now I know what a 12, 16, and 20 gauge shot guns can or can’t do to game.

        I’m not arguing but just saying what I have seen. I use to rabbit and squirrel hunt with shot guns and I will say that the trusty ole .22 caliber rim fire gun was much more effective than a shot gun.

        And we use to quail and pheasant hunt. What gage shot gun di you think was most effective and humane at 30 yards for those type of wing hunting birds. Please don’t sy a 410.

        • If you are concerned about what is humane or not, just give up hunting. I gave up shooting animals and birds for sport after I came back from my second tour in Vietnam. Not much sport in shooting something that can’t shoot back.

          • DR
            This is true. Haven’t hunted in a fair amount of years.

            And now days if something is going to shoot at me they just might be in for a surprise. Protect what you have you know.

      • I think for most People a .410 is really small to shoot birds on the wing. My stepdad has a .410 called a snakecharmer. It is a neat gun, but more for gophers and rabbits than flying birds.

        There used to be wild chickens on his property that roosted in his lemon trees. He would dispatch them with a maglight in his left hand and the .410 in his right.

        • Sam
          By time a 410 spreads out to a nice pattern the contained energy is gone.

          Thats why I don’t like a 410 shot gun. My favorite shot gun for birds is a 16 gauge. You have a balance of power and shot pattern.

          Heck what am I saying. I haven’t hunted for years.. Maybe the new shotshells are way better now. I would think that technology has improved the hunting sport now days. And the clay shooting also. I bet they have very distinctly different loads for each now days.

          • I like 16 gauge also. 16 gauge is an orphan though- you can get factory non toxic ammo in any flavor you want for 12 or 20. But if you want a non toxic load in 16 for coyote or turkey, you generally have to roll your own.

            I know as the only shotgun I have access to is my dads old bay states h&r 16 gauge single shot- love the gun, but will probably end up buying brass shotshells for it one day.

            • Sam
              Like I was saying above I haven’t hunted for years now. I bet they have a lot better loads now then when I was a kid.

              We had the paper shells when I was kid then the plastic ones. I guess they are all plastic now??

  29. gunfun,

    Actually its not inhumane if you match the gun, loads, and choke to what you’re hunting. If you hit an animal with enough shot of the right size it will kill cleanly. The trick is hitting what you’re shooting at with enough pellets.

    I’ll agree that a .22 rimfire rifle is going to be more effective on rabbit and squirrel since it delivers a heck of a lot more punch in one spot. However hitting a running rabbit or squirrel is just a wee bit difficult with a .22 rimfire, unless your name is Carlos Hathcock. A shotgun works well enough, especially for those of us not named Carlos Hathcock and not gifted with great eyesight.

    As for your question about quail and pheasant, at the range you specified I’d say a 12 gauge firing 2 3/4 inch, 1.25 ounce loads of #6 shot would work well (and probably not dislocate ones shoulder too badly). Given how traditional most upland game hunters are, I imagine the classic choice would be a double w/ both a modified and full choke. (Or if you’re more contemporary, a pump w/ an adjustable choke set to modified or improved modified. But a 20 gauge firing 1ounce loads of the same shot would probably work fine.

    The point isn’t that the .410 is ideal. The point is that it represents a minimum standard below which it isn’t effective to go. So until an air-shotgun can throw at least that heavy a charge that fast… its a glorified toy rather than an effective tool for sport hunting as its practiced in the US, Canada, and Europe.

    • J.
      The reason I say don’t say a 410 is because they usually hold a tighter pattern. Not because they won’t make enough power.

      And yes effective range is what its all about. Airguns to firearms have their effective range.

      I always say you need to know your ability and the guns also. Don’t take the shot if your not confident that the shot will do the job intended.

      So as a hunting air gun to be effective at a shot gun firearm distance could be tuff. Put for can or bug killing it could be great.

      Its all about how much projectile can be contained at a effective distance and with correct placement. I think a air shot gun can do the job.

  30. A tiny .410 shotgun works in the area of about 1000fpe, and is already considered to be out of specs for most shotgun applications. A 12ga is in the region of 4000 fpe. So it is easy to see why air shotguns struggle to be more than a novelty, they just don’t pack the punch.

  31. Hi BB,

    I recently purchased the .22 cal Talon SS. I’ve been shooting it a lot the past month or so and I love it! I just received the .22 cal 24 inch barrel in the mail, and am ready to make the change (the frame extender is on the way). I watched the video you made with an older model Talon. I was wondering, is the sound-loc kit installed in the new Talon SS’s? Are baffles going to spill out when I remove the barrel? There are no instructions that come with the barrel. There’s also a round black plastic piece that came with the barrel and screws, that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Is it some kind of spacer?

    Thank you,

    • Doug,

      The sound loc baffles are under spring tension and will slide out. The fit is very close, so if one becomes stuck, take a wire coat hanger and make a straight rod with a 90 degree hook to reach through the hole and pull it forward and out. Watch out for the screws catching things. I typically remove them until I get familiar with the rifle and know how far to back them out.

      I’m not sure what the black plastic piece might be, unless it looks like a washer. Then it goes under the last bushing for the spring to press against.

      Otherwise, call AirForce.


      • Hi BB,

        I spoke with Airforce and they said the baffles come out of the Talon SS, and stay out, because the 24″ barrel is quite a bit thicker than the 12″ barrel. That’s disappointing. I was hoping the baffles would still be used somehow, and slide back in, followed by the end cap or the frame extender. The black plastic piece is a tapered end cap. Instead of the flat end cap that comes with the gun, it’s cone shaped, to blend better with the long barrel. I wish they would create a new DVD for the new Talon SS that walked you through the barrel change. At least include a piece of paper that mentions the baffles coming out and staying out, the different size screws that will be used with the 24″ barrel, and the different shaped end cap. I don’t think they give you enough information. At least not enough up to date information. As always, BB, I appreciate your help and thoroughness.

        Thank you,

  32. In hunting with an air shotgun, part of the trick will be keeping the shot stream tight until it reaches the prey. Doesn’t matter if the shot is only flying at 400 to 500 fps. You just have to hit the animal with enough pellets. Using the larger gauge Philippine air-shotguns, good wadding and even wrapping the shot in paper, foil or wax seem to work towards a tighter shot pattern. The wrapper will fall apart in flight but keeps the shot together far enough. This is effective for hunting rabbits and wild fowl on the ground.

    Air shotguns will always be limited in terms of producing enough velocity, so the design solution probably lies in making better ammo. Properly made airgun shot cartridges with good wadding and shot cups might do a more effective job.

    You also have to get much closer to the prey than when using firearms…. maybe 30 to 40 yards max. Its all part of the challenge that comes with hunting with airguns.

  33. Lioniii
    I’m with you on what you just said.

    Wadding and containment will be big factor for a air shot gun.

    The wadding type and possibly how its wrapped will make a difference if the shot will hold a tight enough pattern to make a difference.

    All I will say here is I know what bb’s will do when shot from a steel tube with a 1/4″ inside diameter with a 160 psi of air at a wood particle target 20 yards away. With no wadding. You just might be surprised at the outcome.

  34. Wow! There is an article in the latest issue of Backwoodsman taking a look back at the Gamo “shotgun”. He was writing about something that was no longer available. I was pleased to drop a line to let him know where to find some.
    Now, about my Titan .22. As I looked at the piston and cocking mechanism I realized that I thought was a flaw is the notch the cocking mechanism uses to return the piston to the ready position after cocking the trigger.
    Twotalon asked if I could cock the Titan with two fingers. Oh, yeah!! I can probably do it with one finger. Although I didn’t do anything objective to find out, I believe this gas ram was under powered from the beginning. I never though it took 31 pounds of effort to cock but I didn’t think much about it. I have read enough of B.B.’s writings you would think I would check out such things to start with to get a baseline. I’ve have gotten pretty good at dismantling it and putting it back together without hurting myself. Thank you for the feedback.

    • Fortunately Crosman doesn’t seem to be shy of the fact that they know their gas springs will need replacement and offersthem for less than the price of a whole new gun, but barely.
      The good news is they’ll tell you which one will fit, if you look in the right place.
      I have no idea which one of their offerings would work best for your needs but they have plenty .
      I’m sure if you let us know what type of shooting you’re planning to do with the gun and how you’d like it to react, you’ll get some quality feedback here.
      Good luck Ken!

  35. I have a Gamo Viper Express. I got mine when they were first made so I got the stamped metal trigger. I won’t part with it and for a good reason. Joe Biden PROMISED us that if some evil-doer breaks into my place all I have to do is take it outside and fire two blasts into the air and like magic the bad guys will vanish. I’m not clear on if I have to fire straight up into the air so the birdshot falls back down on me or if I need to fire it into the air at an angle though. Since this is the only shotgun I own I can’t get rid of it because one day I might need this powerful dark magic.

      • I don’t know about that but it definitely makes a “Sproing” sound. I don’t think nitro pistons were invented yet when I got my Viper Express. At the time it was new and innovative so of course I had to have one. About that time I also discovered the Gamo whisper as well. It was the first airgun I had ever seen that had noise reducing technology built in. I did not know at that time if anybody else had done either of these things before. At that time I had just discovered Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot and was just amazed at the selection of airguns I had never dreamed existed before. Before that all I knew about was what was sold at places like WalMart that had a rather limited selection and a .177 Ruger Airhawk was the biggest baddest thing on my block at a blistering 1000fps advertised in .177 and all that was available was Crosman .177 pellets in either wad cutter or domed hunting. So this Viper Express is something I’ll keep mostly for the history it has in my house.

      • Yeah. I know he’s a bit of a moron but what elected politician doesn’t have some warped ideas? But he is vice-president so he must know things nobody else knows. Maybe he got that dark magic out of the mythical presidential book of secrets that they say doesn’t exist or something. You never know until you try.

  36. I had a Gamo Viper, and if it was useful for anything I never found out, and the rounds are prohibitively expensive. I did turn a tidy profit at a gun show, since I bought it right and found an airgun enthusiast who liked the idea of of an air shotgun. I tried making some .22 shot rounds with #8 shot and and gel capsules to use in a regular .22 air rifle, but they go all over due to the centripetal force.

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