by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

AirForce Texan big bore.

This report covers:

Here is the deal
No more energy is needed
The TX2 valve

Twenty-five years ago big bore airguns were the stuff of dreams. They existed as antiques in collections, but for those who lacked big cash, they were unapproachable. Then, in 1996, Dennis Quackenbush did something about it. He started building the .375-caliber Brigand. It shot .375-caliber round balls and was a bolt-action breechloader. It was powered by bulk CO2 gas and put the ball out the muzzle at around 675 f.p.s. I tested mine on 1100 psi air and got velocities of 800 f.p.s. and more.


What followed is history, First the Koreans jumped on the bandwagon, followed by the Turks. They made high-caliber big bores, but in terms of energy they put out half or less of what a really powerful big bore did.

Back to Quackenbush — his .457 Outlaw produced over 500 foot-pounds (mine got 539 foot-pounds) and became the industry benchmark for a powerful big bore.

Big bores captured everyone’s attention.  We even had an annual shoot at targets out to 300 yards.

In 2014 I was invited over to AirForce Airguns to see something new. It turned out to be the rifle we now know as the Texan. It was initially built in .458 caliber, and now exists as a .257, .308, .357, .458 (AirForce calls it a .457, but that size bullet is hard to find. They also make it in .50 caliber! All barrels are Lothar Walther.

Here is the deal

Many big bores these days require being pressurized to 4,500 psi. That means after the initial fill even your large carbon fiber tank will no longer fill to capacity. The Texan only fills to 3,000 psi, and it gets three powerful shots on a fill. And it is accurate.

In 2015 I shot five 215-grain semi-wadcutter bullets into 0.762-inches at 50 yards and six of the same bullet into 1.506-inches at 100 yards! That, my friends, is some shooting!

Texan big bore best group 50
At 50 yards, I managed to put five 215-grain bullets into 0.762 inches. This was clearly a good bullet!

/product/airforce-texan-big-bore-air-rifle?m=3575Texan big bore best group 100

Remember, we measure from the center of the 2 holes farthest apart. That equals 1 bullet radius (center to edge equals one radius). So, subtract one bullet diameter (.458″) from the measurement shown on the calipers.

Texan big bore Tank
Tank Fisher gets down on the Texan at 50 yards. Off to the right of the 50-yard berm is the 100-yard target berm, and to the right of that you see the 200-yard berm.

No more energy is needed

A .22 Hornet cartridge produces just under 700 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Would you shoot an American bison with one? I hope not!

But Stephan Boles shot and killed a bison with a souped-up Quackenbush .457. The bullet went completely through the side of the animal and was lost.

So — here is the deal. we don’t need big bores with greater muzzle energy. They shoot through the largest animals already. More energy will just be wasted.

Big bores kill game through bleed-out. The animal bleeds until it expires. A larger caliber means faster blood loss. But more energy is meaningless.

AirForce Texan buffalo
in 2007 Stephan Boles killed an American Bison with a Quackenbush .457 Long Action.

But numbers sell airguns and in the big bore game the number is foot-pounds. So, even though it was already the world’s most powerful production big bore, AirForce upgraded the valve for greater power.

The TX2 valve

The TX2 air valve is found on the .50 caliber and .45 caliber Texans. With a carbon fiber reservoir filled to 3,500 psi a .50-caliber Texan with the TX2 valve will get three shots at over 700 foot-pounds and the first one will top 800 foot-pounds. And that is with a rifle that weighs less than 8 lbs. 

Texan splats
Two .50-caliber bullet splats taken from the steel trap at AirForce.

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I haven’t even finished introducing you to the Texan yet but I have to end it here. I have an eye doctor’s appointment and when both eyes are dilated I can’t see the computer screen. Just know there is a lot more to come.