Looking for a new hunting challenge? Maybe it's time to drop the powder.
Ton Jones, star of Spike TV’s hit series Auction Hunters with a scimitar-horned oryx taken with an AirForce Texan in .45 caliber is featured in this great article from PetersensHunting.com.
by Mike Schoby for PetersensHunting.com
Looking at the recent surge in popularity of medium- to large-bore air rifles, one would think our generation had invented them. But one would be wrong, and as they say, what’s old is now new again.
Big-bore air rifles (and hunting with them) are nothing new, a fact the Mandan Indians could attest to after seeing Meriwether Lewis’s 22-shot .46 caliber Giradoni air rifle during Lewis and Clark’s 1804 Voyage of Discovery. And the Giradoni wasn’t a spring chicken even then: It was already nearly 25 years old.
When it comes to hunting, European nobility was using the power of air to kill medium to large game, such as boar and red deer, in the 17th and 18th centuries. The earliest recorded air rifle (preserved in a Stockholm museum today) dates back to 1580.
So like I said, what’s old is new again. We are witnessing a modern renaissance in air rifles designed for hunting with more accurate, more powerful, and more user-friendly options arriving every year.
THE POWER PLANT
While there are many variations and styles of rifles in use today, broken down to its basics, there are really four main types of power plants that propel projectiles downrange.
The name sounds confusing, but it isn’t really. Just think of the pump-up pellet gun you had as a kid. Maybe the Crosman 760, Benjamin Silver Streak, or Daisy 880. All of them are still being manufactured today in their basic configuration. The naming conventions may have changed, but many of them have remained pretty much the same as when introduced. And all are still viable options for hunting small game at moderate ranges at a price that won’t break the bank.
However, the multi-pump pneumatics have fallen somewhat in popularity in favor of the higher velocities—with less effort—the spring-piston system provides.
In this system a cylinder of gas is compressed by a spring in one stroke, and this provides the power to propel a pellet of moderate caliber at a surprisingly high velocity. This is probably the most common small-game hunting air rifle in use today. There are many manufacturers and lots of variations, and quality ranges all over the board, from horrible to excellent. Most models are of the break-barrel design, but for the accuracy afflicted, side-lever and under-lever cocking designs rule the roost.
While carbon dioxide is not technically “air,” it is still a compressed gas and therefore qualifies in the “air rifle” category. Possibly the most commonly used propellant in air rifles and pistols, it is not the first choice of hunters due to its temperature sensitivity as well as its relatively low pressure and the subsequent low velocities it produces. That said, it does work exceptionally well for training with both pistol and rifle and can yield realistic practice sessions as it allows for true semiauto operation. CO2 is available in containers of various sizes, but the most common is the 12-gram Powerlet cartridge.
Finally, coming full circle back to the type of air rifle Lewis and Clark carried and the most viable power plant for big-bore hunting air rifles today, Pre-Charged Pneumatics (PCP) utilize highly pressurized air (commonly 3,000 psi but can be higher) stored in a reservoir on the gun. PCPs generally use either a specially designed hand pump or a scuba tank to fill the reservoir. On smaller-caliber rifles a hand pump works fine as the reservoir will provide many shots, but on big-bore air rifles, where a reservoir may only yield a handful of shots, a scuba tank is a far better option for recharging. In either case, PCPs are available from .177-caliber target rifles all the way up to .50-caliber big-game hunting options.
Manufactured in Texas with an eye on precision, AirForce Airguns rifles are serious hunting machines. Offering a wide variety of models—in various barrel lengths and calibers and with or without integral suppression—AirForce makes a rifle to fit about any need. I have been simply blown away by the level of performance all AirForce rifles exhibit
Ton Jones, star of Spike TV’s hit series Auction Hunters with a scimitar-horned oryx taken with an AirForce Texan in .45 caliber.