The Texan

With all the new and innovative products on the market today, it's a great time to be an airgun enthusiast, especially those who want to push the envelope and go afield hunting with a big-bore airgun. Which also means it's a great time to be an independent gun shop offering these products to a growing cadre of airgun lovers.

Case in point: AirForce Airguns.

At the 2015 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, AirForce unveiled a new big-bore airgun dubbed "The Texan" aimed squarely at hunters. The .45-caliber Texan can deliver a lead bullet at speeds up to 1,000 fps, with over 500 ft. fibs. of energy The rifle is a pre-charged pneumatic or PCP, meaning it has its own pre-charged air tank system that holds up to 3,000 psi of air pres­ sure. When the trigger is pulled, the sear hits a valve that releases pressurized air into the barrel and propels the bullet.

"This isn't a Daisy Red Rider, which is what alot of people think of when you mention airguns," says John McCaslin, CEO of AirForce. "This is a high-tech, high­ quality and very powerful gun. There's nothing wrong with Red Riders, spring propelled airguns, or the break­-action models. But we made The Texan for hunting big game."

Weighing in at 8 pounds, The Texan is 48 inches long with a 34-inch Lothar Walther barrel.The 490 cc­ capacity air tank is located in the buttstock. It also has a two-stage, adjustable trigger and comes with open sights. Optics can be easily mounted on the Texan, too.

With each shot, The Texan loses air and therefore air pressure. So, the first five or so shots will be the most powerful, though it will continue shooting eight to 10 times on a charge, depending on how heavy a projectile is being used.

With a range of approximately 100 yards, The Texan fills that hunting gap between archery and muzzleloading. According to McCaslin, hunters have taken deer, hogs and even exotic aoudad with the Texan. Many of the kills saw the .45-caliber lead cast bullets go all the way through both sides of the animals.

Innovation isn't anything new to AirForce. The company's lineup of airguns includes the Escape, 16 Condor and Talon models, a series of PCPs offered in .177-, .20-, .22- and .25-caliber.The larger bores are very capable of dispatching pests and varmints up to coyote size.

McCaslin thinks independent retailers can do very well with products like The Texan and other AirForce PCPs.

"The Big Box stores just can't sell these kinds of products," he argues. "People going to a Big Box are looking for a fairly inexpensive break-action air gun, maybe a C02 model. But they're not in the market for a serious hunting airgun, a high-quality product that can cost $1,000 or more."

He continues, "With a big-ticket item like The Texan, you are going to need knowledgeable staff, people who can answer questions, and employees who've actually used it. That's the kind of service only an independent firearms or sporting goods retailer can provide. And that's why they are the natural places for AirForce products to be sold."

For 2016 and beyond, expect many more good things from AirForce. McCaslin's people are working on several new projects. While he wouldn't get too specific, he noted that he and his crew soon discovered that the bullet choices available for The Texan weren't exactly a perfect match.

"I think it's safe to say we're looking atsome better projectiles for The Texan and our other airguns," Mc­Caslin adds.

Expect some airgun-specific, larger-caliber projectiles from the AirForce brain trust at the upcoming 2016 SHOT Show. And McCaslin notes that AirForce is always looking to build better airguns, and new models will be forthcoming, too.

"This market is growing and it's growing steadily," McCaslin says. "We're in a phase right now where people are just starting to learn what our PCP airguns are capable of, and as that goes forward, we're expecting a lot of interest and many more sales."