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Thread: Air rifle recommendations?

  1. #1
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    Air rifle recommendations?

    I am considering picking up an air rifle for plinking and pest control.

    I prefer spring over CO2, but will make exceptions for the exceptional.
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    The market has changed quite a bit since I last looked, but the RWS 34 should do it for you.

    (And, wonder of wonders, Amazon.com lists them.)

    Spring and CO2 are not the only options.

    I really should get mine out again.
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    Spend enough money

    to get a really good one. Weirauch/Beeman, RWS, similar rifles will last near forever and are accurate and cheap to shoot. My Beeman R8 is 26 yr old now and on its second mainspring and still going strong. Buddy found a cheap air rifle last fall and bought it despite my advice. We spent an hour trying to get it to shoot decently and gave up. It will now gather dust. Spend a few hundred, at least, if you can. 20 years from now you'll have forgotten the price tag and you'll still be enjoying the rifle.

    Spring guns are very convenient and are quieter than compressed air, but the more powerful ones can require a lot of strength to cock. Compressed air is easy to cock and there are some out there with quite a bit of power, but they are louder and you need a compressed air source (scuba tank) or you need to hand pump. A lot. I've had a compressed air match pistol for about five years and really like it, but to be practical for me I had to invest in a scuba tank (about $120) which has to be certified periodically (I think every other year). That said, it takes two seconds to fill the cylinder on the pistol, and a tank lasts a long, long time between fills.
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    I'm looking really hard at this one:
    http://www.amazon.com/Crosman-Benjam...3124879&sr=8-1

    You can find it a bit cheaper if you look around.

    Real .22 pellets at 100fps, built in suppressor, and the Nitro system so you don't get the "twang" of the springer.
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    I'm looking at the RWS 460 .22 w/ 4X32 Scope.

    Opinions? Suggestion for best price? Is it worth the price difference over the RWS 350 (460 - 1150 fps, 350 - 1050 fps)
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    i'd go with a Air Force Talon SS, yes it'll cost a little more to get started being it's a PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) but you'll get one of the quietest airguns and most powerful air rifles for the price and it's made here in the USA. You need to look them up, i love mine. As far as looking at the Feet Per Second they fire, those numbers the manufacture give you are a little bit on the scued side of things, considering the the weight of the pellets they use are the lightest they can find for the cal. they're testing. More important is the accuracy and foot pounds of energy.

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    I have a Gamo. Not too bad for the price.
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    If I were in the market, I'd be looking for an old Benjamin Silver Streak pump. My break barrel Gamo was noisier than my .22 bolt stick with Super Colibris. The Silver Streak is very quiet in comparison the the break barrel.

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    I have one of the second generation RWS Diana 45 guns in 17 caliber for about 20 years. I am very fond of it. They are out of production now. If you can find one on the used market and put a Vortek Pro Guide 2 tuning kit in it, you could do a whole lot worse.
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    If you want to primarily plink with some pest control thrown in, do NOT buy some super-high-power magnum .22 caliber airgun.

    All you're doing is spending more money on the gun, ammunition and scope than you really need to and putting up with excessive noise, weight and cocking effort.

    The typical newbie error in airguns is going for raw power.

    You'll be a lot happier with a refined airgun that is moderately powered. My primary plinker/pest control airgun is a .177 that cranks out 7.9gr pellets at just under 650fps. I have several airguns that are much more powerful but they're a lot louder are considerably larger and require a lot more cocking effort. So I end up using my R7 because it's very quiet, quick handling, easy to cock (and uncock if I need to) and very accurate.

    I say all this with confidence that regardless of this advice you're still going to make your buying decision based primarily on power. For some reason this lesson is one that must be learned by experience if it is to be learned at all. Unfortunately many potential airgunners never learn the lesson. Instead of realizing their mistake and purchasing a more suitable airgun after they tire of the oversized, overweight, overpriced, hard to cock airgun they bought based mainly on velocity specifications they put their airgun away in a closet and decide airgunning just isn't for them.
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    Good thinking from JohnKSa. I'd opine that the 350 or 460 are a LOT of springer, for sure. And question if that is the best way to go for you AB.

    I've had an ongoing ground hog problem since I moved into this house almost 10 years ago. Shot them for a while with whatever I had laying around....22lr, 9mm, 45 Colt....and finally decided that I wanted to use an airgun to be neighbor friendly.

    Got a RWS 48 first and it was nasty to shoot. Kitted it with a JM guide/spring setup and now it shoots sweet. But...it is a .177 and with the heaviest pellet was a little shy on penetration on the bigger 'hogs. The 48's aren't the most powerful springers out there, but close enough to convince me that I needed more than they offer for my problem.

    Went with a .22 Benjamin Marauder and it nails them down just fine. A 25.4grn pellet at almost 900fps does the trick. It can be found for around $400 if you shop...plus another $200 for the pump if you hand pump it. Gets 20+ full power shots between pumping which is a lot of groundhogs. The 10 shot mag is great for fast follow-up shots too.

    The only other thing I can think to off is to shoot the rifle you plan to buy if you can. The PCP's are just like any other powder-burner as far as how you handle it. The big magnum springers are a dicipline all their own and don't respond well to being held the way we do the other rifles...at least some of them don't. The RWS magnums are some of the least sensitive to hold out there, but they are heavy and they do kick which will need some practice to get your accuracy down.

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    That's a good point. For someone who really wants to go the power route and isn't already into spring-piston airguns, the PCPs are a good option. They provide a lot of power without the eccentricities of a powerful springer for those willing to put up with tanks/pumps to deal with high pressure air.

    Starting out with a magnum springer is a good recipe for disappointment.
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    If it's primarily for pest control -- and the pests are not birds -- get a .22 or 5mm instead of a .177. If it's primarily for plinking and target shooting, get a .177

    I have a RWS Model 34, and I love it. But it's hard for me to get a clean kill on a rabbit with the .177 pellet. It tends to punch a little thru-and-thru hole and doesn't do enough damage to plant them. So they run off and die. I don't think a bigger pellet would have that problem. (I need to try some hollow-point pellets like a Beeman Crow-Magnum, or get a scope so I can make headshots)
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    I appreciate the input and opposing opinions here.

    My purpose in this air rifle is to have something with which I and my kids could plink, but also something that I could use to take down some of the plentiful rabbits we have near my home.

    RecoilRob, is this what you were suggesting:

    http://www.amazon.com/Benjamin-Marau...dp/B001QUM0O2/

    I can get the rifle, a 10-shot mag and the pump on amazon for about what i was considering on the RWS 460.

    If I'm looking at PCP rifles, what brands/models should I consider in addition to this one?
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    Well, I may have messed up, but I use a Crossman 760 for plinking. Cost me $25. The 4X scope cost me $8 more. Haven't noticed a problem, but I guess I'm plinking at shorter ranges than everyone else.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnKSa
    You'll be a lot happier with a refined airgun that is moderately powered. My primary plinker/pest control airgun is a .177 that cranks out 7.9gr pellets at just under 650fps. I have several airguns that are much more powerful but they're a lot louder are considerably larger and require a lot more cocking effort. So I end up using my R7 because it's very quiet, quick handling, easy to cock (and uncock if I need to) and very accurate.

    I say all this with confidence that regardless of this advice you're still going to make your buying decision based primarily on power. For some reason this lesson is one that must be learned by experience if it is to be learned at all. Unfortunately many potential airgunners never learn the lesson. Instead of realizing their mistake and purchasing a more suitable airgun after they tire of the oversized, overweight, overpriced, hard to cock airgun they bought based mainly on velocity specifications they put their airgun away in a closet and decide airgunning just isn't for them.
    John, between this post of yours and reading around more elsewhere, I agree that precision seems to be the more important factor in a small game airgun than raw power.

    Just to be clear, the main purpose of this rifle will be for taking small game (rabbits and squirrels and the like) in places where use of an actual firearm would not be legal or recommended; plinking will be an activity primarily to practice for hunting with this rifle.

    This article recommends .20 over .22 or .17 for taking small game, being a compromise between energy retention/terminal ballistics and precision (closer to the flat arc of the .17 than the .22).

    Some of the air rifles I am considering include (and I will probably end up eventually with more than one):

    Benjamin Marauder in .22 (7.5 lbs; 1000 fps/ ? FPE; 2000-3000 PSI)
    Amazon Link -- $469.49 + $9.99 (Plus ~$180 for a hand pump)

    Beeman R1 in .20 (8.8 lbs; 860 fps/15.1 FPE; 34 lb cocking effort)
    Amazon Link -- caliber uncertain -- $619.90 + $13.49
    Another link -- $539.99


    Diana RWS 34 in .22 (7.5 lbs; 740 fps/ ? FPE; 33 lb cocking effort)
    Amazon Link -- $219.90 + $12.90

    Beeman R7 in .20 (6.1 lbs; 620 fps/7.9 FPE; 18 lb cocking effort)
    Amazon Link -- $389.95 + $14.07

    I am probably leaning most heavily toward the Benjamin Marauder .22 or the Beeman R7 .20. Both seem to be favorably reviewed as being very accurate.

    The PCP probably also has the highest muzzle energy of the batch, and is probably the quietest. With a 10-round magazine and no need to cock, I could take several quick shots in succession. Using a hand pump, I could get it up to 3000 PSI and not need to buy CO2 cartridges.

    Nobody seems to have anything bad to say about the Beeman R7. It's light, accurate, has a very light cocking effort, and my daughters could probably use it. My main question is whether the R7 has enough energy to take game such as rabbits humanely and reliably. That leads me to include the R1 on the list, but that is twice the cocking effort and over 2.5 lbs heavier than the R7.

    I have a sneaking suspicion I will end up eventually with both the Marauder and the R7, probably getting the R7 first.

    I notice that the R7 and R1 often appear on Amazon both in unscoped and scoped combo variants. My gut tells me I'm better off getting the unscoped rifle, and adding a scope of my own. So, what recommendations for scopes?
    Last edited by Arrogant Bastard; January 3rd, 2011 at 09:52 PM. Reason: Added RWS 34 and prices
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  17. #17
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    Take a look at the RWS (Diana) Model 34 in .22 caliber. I don't think they make a .20
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    Thanks, zxcvbob, the RWS is up on the list -- and it was one of the very first recommendations.

    The RWS is much less expensive than the Beeman models -- does that show in the quality?
    Too many people {trade} rights {for} morality. I am certain that everyone here wants to live in a moral society. But, if you are going to live in a free society, you have to be willing to let people corrupt themselves. -- paraphrased from Sheik Yerbouti

  19. #19
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    A. B.,

    Precision is definitely the key.

    If you want this to be something that you kids can use, I'd avoid the larger springers, they can be a handful to cock for smaller folks. Also, the recoil that the gas piston & spring piston guns have can make them difficult to shoot for some.

    I have an R7 in .177 and love it. It's going to be very easy to shoot and there shouldn't be problems with cocking it even for your kids. Then again, I'm using mine primarily on pest bird species as opposed to the larger pests you're concerned with--the general rule of thumb with airguns is .177 for feathers, .22 for fur. I've broken that rule of thumb many times but I think there's still wisdom in it.

    My personal opinion on the R7 is that it's probably at its best in .177. That said I've seen several folks who like the R7 in the larger calibers and I don't have experience with the R7 in anything but .177. But it's probably a little on the light side for rabbits and squirrels even in .20.

    If I had to give up all my airguns except one, I'd keep my R7. It's a fun gun to shoot and still practical for most anything anyone would reasonably want an airgun for even if it's not ideal for taking larger pests.

    I have an R1 in .20 and it would certainly fill the bill for your application, but cocking effort might make it difficult for kids to use. In addition, it's going to recoil a bit more which will make it more hold sensitive compared to the R7 or the Marauder.

    For your application I have to agree with RecoilRob that something like the Marauder is going to be a better option. The pump may be too hard for the kids to operate, but they will get a good number of shots between fills so you won't have to be there for the entire shooting session to provide muscle.

    If you go with the Marauder you can scope it yourself without much worry, just get something that's oriented toward airgun ranges. Some hunting scopes intended for high-power rifles aren't really designed to be used for a lot of shooting at short ranges. Parallax won't be set for the shorter distances, or on an adjustable parallax scope it won't be able to be adjusted to the shorter distances.

    I don't have any personal experience with the Marauder and I like the "self-containedness" of the springers so I haven't gotten into PCP so I can't give you a lot of guidance if you take that path. Other than read the manual and follow the instructions carefully. High pressure air can be tricky stuff.

    If you go with a springer you may be better off buying a combo from someone who knows all the tricks of dealing with springer recoil and scopes/scope mounts. These guys have a good reputation if you decide to buy a combo. They'll also ship your combo in a hard case to protect it if you choose that option. http://www.straightshooters.com/
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  20. #20
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    I notice that the R7 and R1 often appear on Amazon both in unscoped and scoped combo variants. My gut tells me I'm better off getting the unscoped rifle, and adding a scope of my own. So, what recommendations for scopes?
    Spring-piston guns have a weird recoil that destroys scopes that would be fine on a high powered rifle. You need something specifically made as an airgun scope, or Leupolds are rumored to handle the recoil well -- but you'll want a .22 or shotgun scope so the parallax will be set at the right distance (I just barely know what I'm talking about here and may have the terminology wrong)

    If you get a compressed air or pump-up gun, the recoil is like the optic makers expect and any scope even a cheap one will work without the reticle falling off (parallax issues still stand)
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  21. #21
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    OK, I think I am gravitating towards the Beeman R7 in 0.177. Since the R7 is probably marginal for larger small game like rabbits, I'm not going to try to use it for that -- I'll probably get the Benjamin Marauder or similar for that --and it seems it really excels in 0.177.

    I know that air rifle scopes have different requirements than scopes for firearms, and I'll probably get one with a scope attached -- I just want to be sure the scope is not garbage, or that I couldn't have gotten the scope separately for much cheaper.

    Amazon lists the Beeman R7 from "Big T Products" for:
    Link $339.40 + $11.54 shipping with no scope
    Link $435.19 + $11.54 shipping with a Bushnell 4-12x40AO scope

    Is this scope, mounted, worth $95.79? Is it the scope you would use on this rifle, or a different one?
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    If I might offer a link to all the answers you could ever need: http://www.network54.com/Forum/79537/

    I DO love the springers...don't get me wrong. There are 7 spring rifles and 2 spring pistols in my assemblage and I enjoy shooting them very much because they are a challenge to hit well with and each is different in how it needs to be used to best effect. You can't really go wrong with the R-7 or RWS M-34 for a first springer. The Bushnell scope in the linked package should work fine. The lower powered springers aren't as hard on the scopes as the 'magnums' so the Bushy should allow headshots...which you should be taking on the bunnies. Squirrels don't like the headshots either, but will expire quickly when ventilated through the lungs/heart too. .22 beats .177 every time for anchoring game. PCP's don't recoil much at all so any scope will hold up no problems. Centerpoint and Leapers make good air-gun scopes that are reasonably priced yet well made and decent optically. It is nice to have the scope able to focus down to 10yards and most of the AO airgun scopes will.

    Light pellets are available for practice and the lower powered springers need to be used with light or middle-weight pellets. The springs don't like the heavies and your velocity will be really low with the biggest slugs which makes hitting at distance a real challenge. Mid weight for mid-power springer is the tip. 14.3 is about where you will find happiness.

    They call the PCP guns 'The Dark Side' and not many people go back once bitten by the advantages of them. The Marauder is about your best gun for the money and I've researched them all. It IS quiet....you can make a lot more noise with a snap of your fingers than it makes turned up to full power. Shooting one the first time, you hear a faint 'ping' through your cheek-weld and it seems like the gun must have mis-fired. But just as you get that thought processed you hear the 'SMACK' of the pellet smashing your target. They have a LOT of power....more than the heaviest spring gun and as we mentioned earlier a lot easier to shoot.

    One of the main attractions of the Marauder is the adjustability. You have control of the hammer spring tension, hammer stroke length and transfer port opening. If you just want to shoot targets, you can easily (with a few allen wrenches) adjust it to a low velocity and get a bunch of shots on the air reservoir. No need to have it cranked up to max to kill paper. When you need the power, another minute or two with the wrenches and you have it. No other rifle available it quite so easily adjusted to suit your needs. And, no, I'm not paid by Crossman. The rifle is THAT good...and they are spectacularly accurate.

    When they first came out, the first batch was a bit spotty, accuracy wise. Mine was made in July last year in the second or third month of manufacture and is great. The odds of you getting a great one is very good...once you find the pellets it likes. Funny guns that many will shoot some ammo great and others not so. Mine isn't too fussy and I've settled on the 25.4 Monster JSB's as they are accurate and maximum penetration for my hogs.

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    Don't usually do the "+1" thing, but I can't find a thing wrong with what RecoilRob posted.
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    Just a note on airgun power - I have no experience of airgun hunting (I owned a rather nice spring BSA .22 in Britain, always intended to go after rabbits with it but sold it to pay to move to the USA before I'd really learned to shoot well with it )

    BUT: In Britain the maximum energy air rifle you can own without it being classed as a firearm (and hence requiring somewhat expensive and definitely time-consuming licensing) is 12 ft/lbs (yes, really).

    And hundreds of thousands of Brits hunt rabbit, squirrel and pigeon (all classed as vermin in Britain and hence legal to hunt all year round) successfully with airguns under that limit. So no, you definitely don't need an airgun that can generate 20+ ft/lbs to hunt bunnies...
    I'm a skinny, rather geeky, over-educated Englishman living in the small-town MidWest who believes in the 2nd Amendment and the RKBA... my existence messes with people's stereotypes :-)

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    Thank you, again, everybody.

    Your input has been very valuable.

    I think I will pick up the Beeman R7 in .177 first. It seems, from the reviews, it is most accurate in .177, and if I'm going to do ANY hunting with it at all, it sounds like the voice of experience says accuracy is the overriding factor in that energy class. Although, I will probably mostly use it as a plinker, and something for my girls to shoot.

    I am confident I will also pick up the Benjamin Marauder next, if I still desire an airgun for small game hunting.
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