Getting started with a precharged air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • The PCP boom
  • A gamble
  • Buy in bulk?
  • The advantages of a PCP
  • How to get into PCPs
  • Entry-level PCPs
  • 2000 psi fill rifles
  • Benjamin Wildfire
  • 3000 psi rifles
  • What if you just want to dive in?
  • Advanced PCPs that are forgiving
  • If you ignore my advice
  • Summary

There has been a lot of discussion on the blog about getting into precharged pneumatic (PCP) airguns. I want to weigh in on this discussion.

The PCP boom

Ten years ago the world had one entry-level precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle — the Benjamin Discovery. It came to market in 2007 and revolutionized the airgun world. When it hit the market it established the parameters of what an entry-level PCP should be and cost.

Benjamin Discovery
The Benjamin Discovery, packaged with a hand pump at an affordable price, broke the PCP market open in 2007.

A gamble

Before it was launched no one knew how the Discovery would be received. When I pitched the idea to Crosman in 2006, their CEO, Ken D’Arcy, asked me if I thought they could sell a thousand of them in a year. I told him I thought they could sell two thousand! Of course I didn’t know for certain, because something like this had never been done before. But I did know airgunners. I knew they were very curious about PCPs, but also quite cautious. Companies like Crosman had tried putting their name on PCPs made by others before (Logan, in Crosman’s case) and it didn’t turn out very well. Once airgunners discovered who really made the guns, they reasoned why buy from Crosman who had to mark up the guns to make a profit? If you wanted a Logan, why not go directly to the source? With the internet it is impossible to conceal things like this today.

Buy in bulk?

Now, you may think that Crosman is large enough to buy a thousand Logans to get a better price, so they may not have to sell them for any more than Logan does. Well, that works for things like automobiles that sell in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of units. It does not work in a market as small as the American airgun market. In that market selling a thousand of anything other than a discount store springer is a real big deal. D’Arcy was asking the right question and I was guessing when I answered.

Fortunately it was a very good guess. Crosman had about 4,000 walnut stocks left over from a 2260 promotion that never happened, and, since the Discovery is based on the 2260, they fit. The first Discoverys all had walnut stocks. I don’t know how many Discoverys Crosman sold that first year, but I do know they ran out of walnut stocks and switched to beech before the year was over.

Ever since that year, the airgun market has been scrambling to bring out more new and enticing entry-level PCPs. In 2007 PCPs were considered the dark side of airgunning. In 2017 they are fast becoming the mainstream.They solve a lot of problems that a new airgunner doesn’t want to deal with — allowing them to enjoy their shooting experience all the more. This report will address what I think are the important things for a new airgunner to consider when making that first purchase.

The advantages of a PCP

I will start with power, by saying it is not an advantage in this discussion. Yes, the PCP powerplant is the most powerful of all airguns, but that should not enter into the new airgunner’s thoughts when selecting a rifle. Of course it does, just like speed sells cars, but power is no guarantee of any other performance factor. You want a good airgun — not bragging rights to something with little practical value.

You want accuracy, and in that realm PCPs dominate. You want reliability, and PCPs can be anvil-dependable if you get the right one. You want simplicity and a PCP is the simplest powerplant on the airgun market — alongside CO2 guns. But CO2 has problems with temperature that pneumatics don’t share, so again the PCP wins.

On this last point the spring-gun advocates will argue that a PCP needs a source of compressed air, and they’re right. They say that makes it more complex than a spring gun that’s just cocked and shot. If you look at it that way, the spring gun is simpler to operate, but remember this — a bicycle is simpler than a car, but which would most people use for daily transportation?

How to get into PCPs

When I got into PCPs in the mid 1990s, you had to dive in head-first. There was a lot to learn and very few people were willing to teach you. The user manuals were full of jargon that had to be decoded, and there was no codebook. PCP manufacturers all seemed to have chips on their shoulders and wanted only those customers who knew the technology. In truth the manufacturers of PCPs were making very few units per year, compared to the numbers being made today. They could afford to be haughty because the market wasn’t that large. Today everything has changed, thanks to companies like AirForce Airguns, Crosman and Pyramyd Air. PCPs are mainstream and will no longer tolerate an elitist atmosphere.

There are still some PCPs whose makers don’t help the new shooter as much as you would expect, but I’m not going to recommend any of them to first-time buyers. Their airguns may be wonderful, but the lack of support, in the form of documentation, makes them a challenge to learn. If you stick to the airguns I will present, you will find things more straightforward. Let’s get started.

Entry-level PCPs

This is a category of airguns that are inexpensive to purchase, and yet offer the safest way into PCPs. Before I list them, stop and consider where your compressed air will come from. PCPs that fill to 2,000 psi are much easier to fill from a hand pump than those that require a 3,000 psi fill. Several of the entry-level guns have 2,000 psi fills.

If you don’t want to spend a ton of money starting up, I strongly recommend getting an entry-level rifle and a hand pump. That was the original concept for the Benjamin Discovery — that a rifle, pump and pellets would all come in one box, so the shooter would be set to go from the start. And I also recommend you get a gun that has a 2000 psi fill, so filling it won’t be so difficult.

2000 psi fill rifles

These rifles are my top recommendations for the person who is new to PCPs. They get you into the game at a low cost, yet they are powerful enough and accurate enough to be useful. They may lack refinements like better triggers, but all have open sights, to keep the cost down for you. And they are easier to fill with a hand pump.
Benjamin Discovery
Benjamin Maximus
Beeman QB Chief (I have not tested this rifle yet)

Benjamin Wildfire

I am not recommending the Benjamin Wildfire as an entry-level PCP because the Wildfire has different features than the other airguns in this class. It is a repeater, but has what the maker calls a semiautomatic action, meaning the trigger is pulled for every shot with no additional cocking required. That makes the Wildfire more of an action air rifle, putting it into a category by itself. The Wildfire does fill to 2000 psi, though, and, if you want its other features (open sights and 12-shot semiautomatic repeatability), it is the only rifle that has them at an affordable price.

3000 psi rifles

These rifles don’t shoot any faster than the rifles that fill to 2,000 psi, but they do get more shots per fill. So, why get one? Well, they have features you can’t get in the other entry-level PCPs.

Umarex Gauntlet (I have not tested this rifle yet)
Diana Stormrider (I have not tested this rifle yet, and it uses a fill probe)

What if you just want to dive in?

Not everyone wants to proceed this slowly. What if you are ready to ride the whirlwind? I still recommend that your first PCP be one of a few reliable choices. I recommend rifles that are “forgiving.” Those are rifles with good documentation, reliable manufacturers behind them and common features like Foster quick-disconnect fill couplings. An easy way to get off my recommended list is to have an oddball fill device.

Advanced PCPs that are forgiving

Benjamin Marauder (fill level adjusts from 2,500 psi to 3,000 psi.)
Umarex Gauntlet — I am putting the Gauntlet in two classes because it has features that rival the Benjamin Marauder. For example, the Gauntlet has a regulator, while the Marauder doesn’t. Since I haven’t tested it yet I can’t comment on the trigger, shot count, accuracy or noise level. But with all its features I do feel the Gauntlet belongs in this higher class.

Umarex Gauntlet
The Umarex Gauntlet offers many high-end features for a bargain.

The 09-12-17-03-Diana Stormrider is also a repeater. It doesn’t have the regulator and until I test it I can’t comment on the trigger or noise level. But it does have open sights and has a higher power than most of the other rifles, except the Marauder. The fill probe is the only drawback I see, and you may not think it matters, if this is your first PCP.

Diana Stormrider
The Diana Stormrider is a repeater for less than $200.

If you ignore my advice

A lot of people think I say these things because I don’t have any faith in their ability to learn new things. That’s not it at all. I am trying to help them avoid the steep learning curve some of us had to endure. I do the same thing with spring-piston air rifles. When someone wants to buy the latest discount store supermagnum breakbarrel and they ask me to help them choose between two models, I try to steer them to something I know they will enjoy more. I know they won’t enjoy the hard cocking, viscous recoil and mediocre accuracy those rifles all have. Sometimes it works, but not always.

I was once asked at an airgun show, “How many FPS?” The guy was pointing to a rifle on my table. So, I asked him, “Do you know what f.p.s. stands for?” He did not. He just knew that a big number was better and he wanted the biggest number he could get. Sometimes you just have to let people make their own mistakes.

Summary

I will end today’s report here, but there is more to cover. We need to discuss accuracy expectations, triggers, and scopes at the least. And perhaps some of you who are looking to buy your first PCP right now might give us your concerns.

85 thoughts on “Getting started with a precharged air rifle: Part 1


    • Yogi,

      To quote B.B.,… they were considered the darkside,.. back in 2007. Now they are mainstream.

      And speaking to the term “darkside”,.. I do suppose that is fairly accurate,.. in a dark-ish sort of way. The ease of shooting and accuracy will suck you in, grab you and will not let go. So yes,.. be VERY cautious! 😉

      -C


      • Chris, I have a method that can help to keep an airgunner from getting sucked into the darkside–use a handpump exclusively!

        I’ve been shooting my first and only PCP for over a year now and I’ve hand-pumped all of my over 5000 shots. It’s an AirForce TalonP (with a 3D printed stock that I designed, making it a TalonP carbine). I can certainly understand why B.B. didn’t include any of AirForce’s U.S. guns on the PCP newbie list here (though I know he loves them). Like he said in his review, the TalonP is for someone with “the heart of a buffalo hunter” (which I think he and I share)!


        • Cal
          I think a AirForce edge would be a perfect first pcp.

          What do you think?

          I haven’t owned one yet. Notice the word yet. But I have had several Air Force guns. And they are accurate very reliable guns. I hear alot of good about the Edge. I would definitely consider one that’s for sure.


          • That’s a good suggestion from the AirForce USA line (not AirForce International) Gunfun1! Yes–I agree. It looks like a good choice and I’ve thought about buying one too. The edge even includes the extra part under the top hat that my TalonP needed to achieve better accuracy. I could never achieve satisfactory accuracy by just varying the fill pressure and power wheel setting. I guess the AirForce factory must think a top hat o-ring has merit too–especially for a gun without a power wheel.

            I’m experimenting with my top hat gap now, which may or may not work as well as my previous o-ring. I think the o-ring trick is somewhat affected by temperature changes, which is not the best thing in a hunting airgun. My TalonP shipped with about 0.106″ space under the top hat and I added a #10 o-ring, which yielded a much flatter velocity vs. shot count curve and improved accuracy. I’m trying the tried and true U.S. quarter coin gap without an o-ring now.

            Note the o-ring here:
            https://cdn.pyramydair.com/images/zoomed/AirForce-Edge-Red_AFU1055_rifle_zm5.jpg


            • Cal
              The thumb wheel never did much for the Talon SS’s I had.

              But the o-ring behind the top had did.

              And I had several different length and caliber barrels for them. The first one I had was the old style tank. The other 2 I had was the doin lock tank. Was 100% satisfied with the spin lock tanks. That was one of the biggest improvements they did to their line of guns.

              Well other than the outrageous powerful Texan line.

              Yep I would like one of those too. Heck I want em all. All the time. 🙂


              • I like the Spin Lock feature too, Gunfun1, and given my TalonP’s ergonomic but tiny 213 cc tank, I’d like to be able to carry a spare tank in the field, but I seriously doubt that the valve in the second tank would exactly match the valve in my existing tank. I’m nearly certain that the second tank would require a slightly different optimum fill pressure and power wheel setting at the very minimum. Changing the power wheel setting would not be very convenient or very practical, given that changes in the the power wheel require a shot or two for the gun to settle. I’ve removed the automatic safety toggle (I prefer pure manuals safeties) but the mod also allows me to de-cock my TalonP. If I hold the trigger and move the breech cocking knob back and forth a couple of times (to the cocked position and back to breech closed), I think it helps the spring settle after a power wheel adjustment too, but I still like to “waste” one shot after an adjustment, just to be sure.

                My power wheel has always made a difference in performance. I use my Chrony extensively and I’ve learned that the power wheel allows me to center my shot string on “both sides” of the shot number / velocity curve for any given fill pressure. In almost every case, the resulting minimum in extreme spread and standard deviation produce the smallest group size at any given tank pressure. If the power wheel is set too low for the fill pressure, my Chrony will show increasing velocity with each shot as the tank pressure drops and allows the valve to open progressively further. If the power wheel is set too high, my Chrony will show decreasing velocity with each shot as the valve can’t open sufficiently more against to dropping pressure to compensate for the decreasing tank pressure (perhaps both the opening and dwell time even become maxed-out). If the power wheel is set just right, the velocities of the first shot and last shot of the string will be approximately equal, with a peak in velocity somewhere near mid-string. This setting is where my groups are tightest 95% of the time at any given fill pressure. Sometimes the velocity curve will even monotonically and slowly rise and fall perfectly with each shot! Once I know the power wheel setting for a fill pressure and pellet combination (and top hat gap / o-ring combination), I can dispense with the Chrony, but not until then. This is one place where my results differ from B.B.’s TalonP and Escape results, though I think they would not differ so much had I stuck with my stock top hat setting. After I installed an o-ring, I noticed the above behavior became very consistent, though my current ~.070″ gap (quarter coin width) is looking pretty good without the o-ring too.


                • Cal
                  The power wheel only showed about 60 fps difference on the guns I had. Maybe it is because the flow valve is different in the Talon pistol and a Talon SS. Can’t remember right now.

                  But I do know this all 3 of my Talon SS’s liked different fill pressures. So I’m thinking your right about if you got another spin lock tank for your gun it would need it’s own fill pressure and shot string recorded.

                  That’s the thing about pcp’s. You can shoot them out of the box with ok results. But definitely need alot of chrony work and shooting time to get the most out of them. And I’m talking pcp’s in general. Not just the Air Force guns.


                  • Yes–the TalonP and subsequent derivatives of the TalonP that comprise the Escape series all have the same valve as the Condor (“Hi-Flow” or “Direct Flow,” depending on the product’s AirForce marketing-speak). These guns all use the Condor valve in a smaller 213 cc tank. Your results indicate to me that, even at the minimum power wheel setting, your Talon SS hammer/striker hits the valve with enough force to just about max it out. My TalonP power wheel is capable of reducing the striking force to well under what’s required to fully open the TalonP’s valve. I would have to install a very thick o-ring or reduce the top hat gap considerably to obtain a tune that would nullify my TalonP’s power wheel action. Interesting and I wonder if your power wheel would gain functionality if you opened up your top hat gap or used a thinner o-ring. Of course you’d probably have to start all over again to find an optimum fill pressure for each pellet too and then you’d have the power wheel tinkering to distract you! 🙁 Like B.B. says about these guns, life is too short to fully explore their capabilities.

                    I think I may have read about the AirForce tank swap valve differences issue from a Tim McMurray (airgunsmith) post somewhere, though it might have been another well-respected smith that brought it up. Makes sense.


                    • Cal
                      My first Talon SS with the non spin lock tank was my Ginnie pig gun. I had 3 different 12″ barrels in .177, .22 and .25 caliber. Wanted to keep the gun silenced basically is why I stuck with the 12″ barrels. I put one of Air Forces heavy striker weights in it and a heavier spring. Don’t remember where I got the spring. It was definitely aftermarket though. Tryed all the barrels and different power wheel settings along with different fill pressures. All that happened was I got a less accurate gun.

                      Basically the spring and the added heavy striker weight made the firing cycle abrupt. Even tryed different thickness o-rings.

                      The last 2 Talon SS’s I had was with the spin lock tank and came with the sound lock kit in each. One was a .25 caliber 12″ barrel and the other a .22 caliber 12″ barrel. They remained stock other than me trying different size o-rings behind the top hat.

                      Pretty much same results. Ended up with no o-ring behind the top hat. Fill pressure made the most difference in performance. Plus they shot very smooth and accurate.

                      Don’t know what to say other than that is what I had happen with the Talon SS’s I had.

                      All I can say is pcp’s can be tricky beasts at times. But once you get them tuned they are performers.



              • I’ve given some thought to buying a Talon valve and replacing the heavy TalonP weight and spring with Talon parts. Even though I’ve also thought about designing and 3D printing a one piece bloop tube tube with integrated baffles to replace the body tube air stripper cap and enjoy the advantages of the 12″ barrel, I decided to buy a TJ’s 9/16″ diameter barrel liner in 257 caliber, which reportedly really turns this gun into an accurate and non-picky shooter. I got a 28″ long TJ’s liner and plan to use all of it! The liner alone works well in airgun applications. I just need to retrieve my machine tools from 8 hours away first to machine the barrel bushings, turn the breech, and crown the muzzle.

                I fired and logged the results of over 3000 rounds before I changed anything with my TalonP but fill pressure and power wheel settings. I tried over two dozen pellets and the only pellets that shot halfway accurately were the three different JSB Kings and also the Predator and Air Arms pellets, which are made with JSB dies of course. The three slugs I tried weren’t great either. Now with almost another 3000 rounds through the gun, there’s no doubt in my mind that reducing the top hat gap and/or adding an o-ring improved accuracy significantly beyond what I could achieve with only fill pressure and power wheel adjustments. It sounds like the Talon SS and TalonP are quite different in this respect, but I already knew the Talon line has a reputation for better accuracy than the higher power guns, in general.


        • Calinb,

          Good to hear from you. I knew going in that I was not willing to hand pump, though plenty capable. So, the cost of a Shoebox 10 and a small CF tank was factored in up front. Shooting time is about relaxing and having fun.

          Like I said in the past, if I could keep only 1 air gun of the stable (.22 TX200, .22 LGU, .25 M-Rod, .22 Maximus),… The Maximus would be it. As for anyone that wants to gripe about the trigger, it can be set to scary (too) light with some spring tweaks along with a short “1st stage” and a trigger stop with some 4-40 screws. Like 20 minutes of work.

          I have 0 regrets going PCP. The tanks fills and shuts off automatically at 4,500 with the Shoebox 10. (3,500-4,500 in 30 minutes) My front yard is a 100 yard capable. When I want to fill, I just step back into the house. My biggest hassle is setting up a target(s) and making 2 trips to the permanent bench 50′ away. A 24′ and 41′ indoor range is available 24/7 when weather is not conducive to outdoor shooting.

          Yup, I am spoiled. 😉 “Hat’s off!”,.. to the hand pumping by the way.


          • Maximus? That’s some pretty impressive favoritism, considering the quality and reputation of all the other airguns in your stable. Not having any experience with any of them, I would of course choose one of your several “gold standard” guns first, if you were to offer to give one up. 😉 I love my .177 LGV and I’ve considered owning all of your guns, at one time or another, but never the Maximus. Thanks for your opinion, Chris!

            -Cal


            • Calinb,

              😉 ,…. ya’ never know. The variety is nice. The M-rod is real good for reaching “out there”. Even if I was raising money for another air gun, which I am not,… I am not even sure what it would be. I can say that it would be another PCP though. This last year was a total explosion on the PCP scene.

              No problem on the opinion. Maybe worth gold to some, and worth a steaming pile of “poo” to others. 😉 No B.S. though,.. the Maximus would be it.


              • I think there’s a PCP that will require less pumping (and perhaps also provide 10-shot quarter size groups at 50 yards :)) in my future too. I’m very interested in the Stormrider and I heard about the MRod at shot with the special fancy barrel but what ever happened to it? I don’t know.


                • Calinb,

                  Is there any short comings with the Maximus? The bolt is a bit sloppy. There could more tension on it. Unscrew the handle and add a piece of black fuel line hose, cut a tad long, and done. It acts as a cushion for the finger as well. The loading port is tight and is a bit of a pain, until you are used to it. I could load it blind now and often do not look at all while doing so. A Limbsaver butt pad added an easy 1″ to LOP and did not distract from the looks at all. Large.

                  It would be nice if it was a repeater,.. and there is a kit that will do just that. I am sure there is stocks and triggers too. But, for all that added cost, I would have to back up and consider the total cost and then take a serious look around and see what else is out there. With the exception of the trigger tweaks, the tubing and the butt pad,.. I will leave it as is. Mine is scoped.


                • Calinb,

                  On shot count and 50 yards,.. mine did 30 consecutive shots in 1″ at 50 yards. That is also the limit before POI dropped off. I was on my game that day. So you could figure on something around that.


                  • 30 shots is a long game especially without an autoloader (must establish natural point of aim, hold, eye alignment, etc. for every shot). Very good! I’ll take a look at the Maximus for sure. My father-in-law has only a Nitro-Piston springer and is itching for his first PCP so I’ll be sure to mention this blog article and your comments to him. -Cal


                    • -Cal,

                      OK. If you get one, let me know. I will gladly share what trigger tips I used. I should have some pretty good notes. I would even pop the action and the trigger action cover gladly if needed.


                  • Chris, I’ll be sure to let you know if either my father-in-law or I end up getting a Maximus. I don’t think I’ve left any of my rifle triggers completely stock, with the exception of my two Savage powder burner Accutriggers. I’ll surely be interested in improving the Maximus trigger too.




  1. Hello BB, Wow,this subject sure gives me alot to think about.I liked the piece you and Rossi and your other cohorts did on the Gauntlet,probably didn’t spell that right,anyway there is the need to have a way to charge the PCP,which ever I might choose.I really dig the consistancy and repeatative shots.They also seem quite accurate.For me cost of what I would reguire is a factor,at least for now.Good article, Dan


  2. B.B.,

    Superb topic! (For me),.. I almost wish that I had went the PCP route from the start. I was new, real new,.. and very cautious. You recommended the TX200 and that is what I got. No regrets at all, other than the money. Not the money itself, but rather I (might) have spent that money elsewhere. So that is something else to consider.

    For those that have a specific task/job in mind (pesting), PCP’s should be considered.

    For those that have a somewhat limited capacity for tolerating something that may be hold sensitive, or patience, PCP’s should be considered. I have plenty of both and have, but PCP’s win out in the ease dept. of just picking up and shooting well.

    Lastly, having lot’s of good info. on the internet is a big help. If you are one to improve, tune or otherwise “mess” with your new “toy”,… the internet is a great way to learn all of the tricks real quickly. Only the rifles that have been out awhile will have a good supply of that info. out there.

    An excellent article and I am looking forwards to it’s future installments.

    Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris


  3. BB,

    Another part of the topic some may consider is the weight. Many sproingers, most especially the ones with lots of “FPS’s”, have a considerable amount of size and weight. The power plant to provide all of that FPS is large and made mostly of steel. Many of these entry level PCPs are more powerful and more accurate than most sproingers and weigh far less.



  4. BB

    I have avoided the dark side up to now. I shoot 10 shot groups at paper targets. All too soon the loss of air in the fill ruins a group due to POI dropping. Also my shooting setup does not lend itself to having bulky equipment nearby so a hand pump is the only choice. If I hunted with airguns I would already have bought a PCP.

    Decksniper


  5. Uh oh its the lure of the dark side! 200 dollar range? Tempting yes. My old rule I learned from a dear friend was to take no more than 70 bucks to gunshows and buy something intresting. He had a sizable collection of now very valuable military rifles. I modified that to 200 and did pretty well but now find it nearly impossible to find cool euro weaponry since the internet. So that makes the new entry pcp very seductive. I might have to give in. Pumping one up with a hand pump is a big turnoff for me. Back in the old days I used to top off low car tires with one. Yep I’m a wuss getting hot and sweated up to shoot had kept me safe from the dark side plus the cost.


  6. I had the chance to buy a used Discovery with hand pump for a give away price. I was able to try it first. The hand pump was the factory one. By the time I had reached 800 psi, I was done. While old, I’m still fairly strong. That thing was a beast to pump. Was it a faulty pump? Could it be I’m actually a feeble old phart?


  7. B.B.

    Having acquired more than a dozen new air rifles of various types from Benjamin, Umarex, and Hatsan, I gotta say that the Benji’s are the most reliable. I love the Marauders except for the flimsy wire spring in the magazines, and I don’t know any unhappy Marauder owners. It is a safe bet for those who can afford the gun and fill equipment. If the Discovery is similarly constructed, then I’d almost guarantee the happiness of the buyer. We’ll just have to wait until the newer offerings from Umarex and Diana have been in use for a few months to get a good feel for how well they are going to perform. I am looking forward to your reviews of these new PCP’s, and I’m hoping to try the Diana this Fall.

    Thanks for all you do for us!

    Walt


  8. B.B.,

    The PCP rifles have become much more affordable. Kudos to their manufacturers. But the problem with a PCP persists. It must be filled.

    While the affordable Gauntlet and Stormrider are tempting, pumping them to 2900 psi would be a chore. The 2000 psi rifles have mediocre triggers. The Air Venturi Booster apparently has not really panned out because of its snail-paced fill times. The Air Venturi compressor and Shoebox + oil-less shop compressor options are priced well over $1000. When (if?) A Gauntlet, fill system, a worthy scope and mounts will cost roughly $1900.

    The same money can purchase a TX200 MKIII, Hawke Airmax scope, BKL rings, and 50,000 (!) Crosman Premiers.

    Michael


    • Michael, I’m told by Umarex that the Gauntlet can be filled and shot with just 2000 psi. Yes the shot count will go down, but, with it being regulated, it still may get a good # of shots. I’m waiting for B.B. to test it before writing it off as a beginner hand pump rifle.
      Doc


  9. I guess I’m the unusual sort then, I read about the Bulldog on here back in 2015 and had one by June, it was my second air rifle(non red rider sort), and my first PCP. And I fill it with a hand pump, just got a tank about a week ago… No regrets though, PCP’s are the best.


  10. B.B.
    Thanks so much for this series of blogs regarding PCPs. I’ve been hoping to see some reviews of these entry level PCPs that are coming out. I did read your review of the Benjamin Maximus and was impressed by what I read. Very much looking forward to upcoming blogs on PCPs. This will be a great help in making that first PCP purchase. I am thankful to have this blog and your excellent reviews for reliable and accurate information. Like Rick Eutsler says “facts without the fluff”.


  11. A wonderful topic today with lots of good advice for the airgunner considering entering the pcp world.

    Nonetheless, the comments are what motivated me to respond. Your comments take me back to my mental debates about getting into pcp’s and I’m still smiling at my memories.

    I went through much of the same hand wringing and mental consternation that fed my reluctance to enter the pcp world that many are confessing today.

    Cost plus the necessity of additional paraphernalia I need to lug around like a device to fill the pcp and a chronograph to decode your individual pcp’s secrets etc. I made a bigger deal out of this than it is. A chronograph makes it easier to identify your guns power curve but after the initial testing the chronograph stays in the closet for all but the chronograph junkies. You can carry your cased gun and fill device (carbon fiber tank or pump) in one hand to your shooting area. When I realized that if I didn’t like the pcp world I could easily sell my newly acquired hand pump and newly acquired pcp for most of what I paid I put cost in perspective.

    Since today’s article could easily be titled, “THE NATURAL EVOLUTION OF AN AIRGUNNER” and because I believe many of you will eventually dip your toe into the pool of the pcp world, I’d like to offer my two cents.

    Start with a hand pump. Learn the proper way to use the hand pump. Too many people don’t take the time to learn the proper technique and pace. Use all of your body weight and it’s less of a chore. Slow down your pumping pace and your pump will last for many years. Quit worrying about scuba tanks vs. carbon fiber, a place to fill it, a small compressor vs. large compressor, etc. Get a pump and move along in your airgunning evolution.

    When shopping for your first pcp pay attention to what fill pressure/working pressure is required AND the number of ACCURATE shots you can expect from the gun. In other words, I’d rather pump a pcp to 3,100 psi that gets 130 accurate shots (like my daystate mct) than pump a pcp to 2,000 psi that only gets 10 accurate shots.

    Keep dirt out of your fill device, fill probe and gun. Use dust covers. Dirt and debris are the biggest enemies of pcp’s.

    ps-I don’t care as much about proprietary (odd ball) fill device as B.B. does LOL!


  12. BB,

    I don’t know if this will temper your bias against fill probes or not, but on the StormRider the probe has a male Foster fitting machined right into it. No extra adapter to buy.


  13. So why are Magnum Spring Air Rifles so popular?
    Because they want to use them instead of a real .22 cal rifle, or powerful hunting rifle. If your goal is to hit a trash can lid way out in a field or the side of an abandoned car just for fun and plinking, you probably wont be disappointed.
    At a reasonable distance pop cans and water bottles are easy to destroy too and I don’t know too many plinkers who expect to hit what they are aiming at the first time anyway, guessing the distance and shooting from the shoulder standing up.
    You usually just get lucky and hit it before your buddy does. So you may need two shots to kill a backyard rat or snake, it will do the job eventually..
    Plinkers are not too interested in putting five shots into a dime size hole however many people interested in airguns enough to read and contribute to an Airgun Blog usually are and know Magnums have no place in precision shooting. They are meant for hard hitting raw power above all and may even surprise you once in a while with accuracy and as Airgun and pellet design technology improves we may one day have it all.


    • Widely known for his quote “Only accurate rifles are interesting,” famed hunter, rifleman and writer Col. Townsend Whelen also developed several cartridges all using the Springfield .30-06 as a parent cartridge. Those cartridges included the .25 Whelen, .35 Whelen, .375 Whelen and .400 Whelen.


      • Kevin
        From your description I believe I can safely assume that although the Col. may have plinked at one time or another he is not considered a plinker.
        I think a plinker would probably purchase a Magnum Air Rifle not as something interesting but rather as a novelty item, not like the rest. Or simply because they are unaware of the shooting characteristics of a magnum. My brother in law is a regular hunter and he picked up a Umarex Octane from a big box store simply because it looked impressive and he thought he try it out.
        In any case Magnums would probably spend more time in a gun rack and only used when the occasional need for one comes up. I know mine do !



  14. B.B.

    If noise is a concern then the lowest price goes back the Marauder in .177 or .22. I would recommend the .177 until I am sure the .22 caliber barrels have been upgraded.

    I have not shot the Air Arms T200, or the Hatsan AT44 They may be just a quiet. There may be others.

    Don


    • Don
      And don’t forget about a 1720T and Marauder pistol both equiped with the 1399 stock.

      Their both cheaper than a Marauder rifle and quiet and very accurate. Plus are very easy to fill with a hand pump. Don’t ask how I know. 🙂

      Well maybe the Marauder rifle is cheaper right now with the sale they have going on.


    • Don
      Oh and have had Tx 200’s in .177 and .22 caliber. Both are much quieter than a Marauder rifle.

      And haven’t had a standard AT44 but have had a AT44-10QE. The QE is comparable to a Marauder. And Buldawg has a AT44 not the QE model. He says it’s very loud out of the box.


      • GF1,

        Yep on the pistoles, I was thinking rifle.

        Good to know on the TX 200, I like their looks.

        I just got a great deal on a large cabon fiber tank from a friend who also said he will fill it for $10 a pop. And i still have my pump for a backup. That may mean more pellets. Like going from a muzzzleloader to a semiautomatic. My pellet trap is already getting hard to carry, mite need to collect the lead soon.

        Next time you talk to Buldawg ask him if his hammer forged barrel is leading up after a few hundred shots. Mine was doing good until the last round and may need cleaning. I will shoot some more before i clean it to be sure I am loosing accuracy. I have a little over 500 shots since the last cleaning.

        Back to the the Marauder .22 barrels I dont know what is going wrong, some were very good. Too many were not good at all.

        Don


    • Don
      And I got thinking about when we was talking the other night about the Marauder .22 rifle barrel and accuracy.

      I think Crosman outsources the .22 barrel. Not 100% positive but pretty sure that’s what I remember.



  15. Hi. New to the blog. Thought I’d put in 2 cents. I got into air rifles a couple years ago. My son in law wanted one for plinking on his property,and I thought I would enjoy it as well. I went with the Diana 34 in .22 and found it hard to master, but got better as the time behind the trigger increased. Then the PCPs caught my eye. A used Gen I .177 caliber Marauder really opened my eyes to the genre and a Hill hand pump was the power source. Later an attractive price on a used .25 cal Gen II Marauder worked and I now have two. The pump was still the only air source, and worked well. Recently, in a local pawn shop, I found a rough looking AA S510 XTRA FAC .22 for $249 (A gun you read about, but don’t buy since it is $1000 normally!). Wood is beat up, but the metal looks good, missing accessories, and no idea if it held air or worked. I was really pleased, it came without its proprietary fill probe (drawback no. 1 mentioned in blog), and I discovered the missing magazine was spendy as well. When I got the probe, I discovered you can’t fill a S510 from empty without an air source like a bottle? So now I wait, on a bottle, so can find a place to fill it, and see if the rifle fills/holds air/shoots. As a new guy to the hobby, I would think that a .177 Marauder would be a really nice first PCP, quiet, accurate, dependable and can grow with you if you choose to tune it yourself.


    • MMCM13,

      Welcome to the blog. You are exactly the person I wrote this for, only you have progressed on your own. But you have faced all of these things recently enough to remember what it was like.

      Good deal on that Air Arms PCP, by the way! Pyramyd Air can seal it, if you discover there’s a problem. But we all hope you don’t.

      B.B.



    • MMCM13
      Welcome to the blog. I too have a Diana 34P in .22 caliber. I bought mine in 2013 and to date have not achieved my desired group size of 1.0″ at 25 yards scoped. In fact, after I tried every suggestion by B.B., as well as others on this blog, finally B.B. took pity on me and offered to review my Diana 34. He did a six part series on it and determined that it was a very accurate rifle with the RWS SuperDome pellet. Here is a link to his review: https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2017/07/checking-out-a-diana-rws-34p-part-5-2/

      Would be interested in hearing about your experience with your Diana 34. To date I have not been able to shoot better than 1 1/2 to 2″ groups at 25 yards. Very poor groups that I can no longer blame on the rifle thanks to B.B.
      Geo


      • Geo791, after I got the thing sighted with the scope to the vicinity of where i was shooting, I literally shot it hundreds maybe thousands of times. We set up a target stand out back and we would shoot our rifles after supper till it was dark and over a couple months went through tins of pellets. The targets were 42 yards away and we put out big (plastic bottles and such) targets at first to make it easy to hit (fun) and as we got better we used smaller targets until we were hitting empty pellet tins and pill bottles at 42 yards pretty reliably. The son in law shoots a Stoeger ATAC 22 or something like that, which I can’t seem to get the hang of. When we couldn’t hit stuff we would spot with binoculars to see where it was going, helped get back on target. I found another used .177 D34 which, I shoot better than he does and it is more accurate than the .22, maybe easier or more forgiving to shoot (super pellet finicky though). I then bought a Ruger Blackhawk (China copy of a D34 I think) on a different website, cheap and reconditioned, and I can shoot it well, everyone else that has shot it, hates it…
        If you have shot it a lot and can’t get the hang of the Diana, I would say try a different brand rifle as I have seen two that I don’t shoot well and two that I can, without a good reason for it.


        • It sounds like you have shot your Diana 34 more than I have in four years. I don’t have the opportunity to shoot only once or twice in a week. B..B. has demonstrated the correct artillery hold for spring airguns but I don’t seem to be able to master it. Maybe my expectations are to high for the Diana 34P.

          My purpose initially, and even now, is to consistently dispatch sparrows from my bluebird nesting boxes which are 25 yards from my back door. So far it has been an occasional hit with many misses. When spring nesting is over I don’t shoot much after that. Sometimes if a sparrow hangs around the feeders too long I will shoot it. Thanks for responding to my comment though.
          Geo


          • Geo 791, honestly, if I was you I would try a .177 rifle. My experience has been they are easier to shoot. Shoot flatter and faster too in general, and enough for sparrows. The new low price PCPs are sooooo nice to shoot, no technique really required and plenty of power. A used marauder was a little over $200 to the door, the pump cost more! The marauder is so quiet that my wife can’t hear me shoot it out the back patio door, and if you miss the quarry doesn’t move (usually).


  16. It ia very nice to see so many affordable PCPs these days. When I bought my first PCP, I thought it was fantastic. I made incredible shots! I had a 2nd hand scuba divers tank cheaply bought. I was in love with that rifle; and how could have avoided it? It was an Air Arms S410 xtra FAC. It was deadly accurate, powerful (and adjustable) stunningly beautiful… My longest measured shooting was 148 meters (golf balls).
    Later, I sold it, because I no longer had time to use it. I bought a bargain (pro sport) and I am happy with tank-free shooting.
    But, alas, I still miss that walnut beauty sometimes. I’m afraid that the PCP disease is an enduring one, indeed…


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