Not Your Mother’s Air Rifle

January 6, 2012, by Ken Jorgustin


Guest post: by ‘TripodXL’

An often, overlooked survival item, is the air rifle, as it is looked upon by many as a toy. Today’s air rifle has the capability to take LARGE game, and we’re not talking BB guns, not pump and pump and pump pellet/BB guns, but real honest to God air RIFLES. There are basically two types, the single stroke, spring piston (SSSP, S3P) and the pre-charged pneumatic (PCP). They both have advantages and disadvantages as it relates to the survivalist’s arms needs.

What do I need an air rifle for? Well, if you are hunting squirrels, rabbits and other small game they offer a very significant decrease in price, even over .22 LR ammunition, on the order of .5 cents per round versus 4-6 cents per round of .22 LR, that’s a 10:1 advantage. Second they offer as much stopping power, with the correct pellets and rifle, as a .22 Short in the small bore versions and in the large bore versions they offer as much stopping power as a hot, .38 special/ 9mm. Third, this allows large and small game to be taken at intermediate yardages without the use of a manufactured substance, other than the projectile. Fourth, they are quieter than regular firearms, which may be a concern or necessity in a survival situation. Fifth, since they will kill animals…well, guess what else they can kill?

Okay, so tell me about them. Okay, first are the S3Ps, they are typically in .177, .22 and .25 calibers. They are suitable for small game, and they are quieter and cheaper to shoot, than a .22 LR rifle. The .22 and the .25 are capable enough to kill a human with the right shot, through an eye socket or the side of the temple. Now, I don’t recommend getting in a firefight with a pellet rifle, as I don’t think you can reload fast enough, unless there is only one and you cap him/her first (equal opportunity) with a fatal shot, not that it can’t be done. Their number one quality is that it only takes ONE stroke to cock them. You aren’t pumping them. The one stroke cocks, a spring-loaded piston, you insert a pellet and close the bolt, and you are ready to shoot. When you pull the trigger, the piston is released (single stroke, spring piston) and almost instantaneously compresses the air in a cylinder to the point that it blows the pellet out the barrel at anywhere form 850 feet per second (FPS) to 1200+ FPS, depending on the caliber and weight of the pellet. This will produce energy sufficient to kill many small game animals, and as stated before under the right circumstances, can produce a fatal shot on humans, given the right aim point. Their downside is their noise. While quieter than a .22 rifle, they still produce a significant noise when fired. These run from anywhere in the $150-500 range.

PCPs are the “nuclear weapon” version of air rifles, in that they are all of the same calibers as mentioned before and much larger calibers as well. A pre-charged pneumatic is a pellet rifle that has a cylinder on it that holds a supply of compressed air, usually supplied form a larger tank, and the user controls how much energy will be expended, with a control valve that they can adjust to a certain level to determine the FPS of the projectile for each shot. PCPs have the advantage of NOT having to be cocked. You just load a pellet and pull the trigger. They are also capable of multiple shots on a single cylinder of air, requiring no effort, at that time, on the user, other than reloading a pellet. They can shoot projectiles that are 9 millimeters in diameter at 700-900 FPS. This is a lethal velocity and is a deadly projectile. Large game and humans are at risk from these weapons. Their biggest advantage is that they are SIGNIFICANTLY quieter than a S3P rifle. As a matter of fact they are significantly quieter than a suppressed (silenced) .22 LR. Their one disadvantage is that they run in the $900-1500 range. Kinda pricey!

I personally own an RWS Model 48, which is a quality, German, S3P, .22 caliber air rifle. I have personally taken small game with it and it works well at that. It would probably kill a human being if the shot were well placed. I have personally shot it through a 3/8” piece of hardwood at 30 yards, nuff said. This rifle cost me about $400 about 5 years ago.

Are these weapons worth their price? Depends on your price point, personally and need. Is a perfectly quiet, one shot, one kill, weapon worth it? You have to answer that yourself, but the stealth factor is very desirable. Survive well. Enjoy.

As always do not assume that everything discussed here is legal in your locale. Discuss your personal tactics with someone in the legal profession that is capable of answering your questions for your area. Nothing here should be construed as advice for the conduct and action associated with a certain set of circumstances, as all circumstances are individual and unique, and should be treated as such. Any such action, as you take, should be considered your own choice and responsibility.


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