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Are you a firearm enthusiast? If so, the best place to start is getting an air rifle. While it’s not as powerful as a full fledged automatic rifle, it’s a great option to introduce you to the world of firearms.
Air rifles can also be used for sport, and are commonly used to hunt small game like squirrels and rabbits. Air rifles can also be used for field target shooting. While air rifles might not sound too serious, you can get some seriously powerful air rifles that work well for beginners.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the different types of air rifles, their construction, and how they work.
How is an Air Rifle Different From a Firearm?
If you’re new to guns, the differences between a firearm and an air rifle (or air gun) is the first thing you should know.
Air rifles use a compressed gas to fire slugs or bullets. This internal pressure can be built using a tank or a pump that’s used to fill up the compression chamber, or by cocking it manually.
On the other hand, firearms, which are a lot more powerful, come with a chemical component  to them. When you fire a bullet through a firearm, molecular bonds are broken down to generate energy. You can read more about the process by checking out this article about firearms.
This also means that air rifles don’t release any smoke when fired. They’re also lighter and quieter than firearms, making them a good choice for beginners who want something with lower power, or just a household device for pest control.
Types of Air Rifles
As mentioned earlier, air rifles come in a lot of different types. Broadly speaking, there are five different types of air rifles that you should know about.
1. Pump Action Air Rifles
Pump Action Air Rifles require that you build the air pressure inside it manually by “pumping” it. There’s a pumping handle on the rifle that can be pumped multiple times to build up a variable amount of pressure.
The interesting thing about these kinds of rifles is that you get to decide the speed of your bullets or pellets depending on the number of pumps you choose. Of course, there’s a limit to the number of pumps for the maximum possible power.
One reason why this type of rifle might not be for everyone is because there’s a lot of manual work involved. If you’re out hunting and you need to fire quick shots, this type of air rifle won’t be your best bet, as you’ll have to wait a certain amount of time before the rifle is fully pumped again.
2. Break Action Air Rifles
When it comes to the firing mechanism, a Break Action Rifle is similar to a pump action rifle. However, with these types of air rifles, the barrel is hinged at the junction with the receiver.
Instead of pumping the rifle, the barrel is flexed in the downward direction. This compresses air as well as a spring present inside the gun, making it more powerful than a pump action air rifle.
A disadvantage of this type of rifle is that it takes a lot of work and practice to keep it steady. The compression mechanism moves the rifle when the gun is shot, giving it a slight recoil.
3. CO2-Powered Air Rifles
It goes without saying that it’s not always feasible to use a pump action or break action rifle when you’re trying to hunt game or practice your aim. You may need something that can fire more than a single shot at a time before it needs to be reloaded.
This is where CO2-powered air rifles shine. The pressure inside of these types of rifles is built up with the help of CO2 cylinders.
These cylinders can be easily replaced within the rifle. A great advantage of these types of airguns is that you can shoot multiple bullets or pellets as long as the CO2 cylinder lasts.
There are certain disadvantages, as well. Mainly that CO2 powered rifles are not quite as powerful as the other types. The maximum muzzle velocity that you can get from them is limited to around 700 FPS (feet per second).
4. PCP Air Rifles
These types of rifles contain compressed air in them and only a part of it is released per shot. This means that your cocking effort is saved, and you don’t have to give it a pump after every shot.
These types of rifles are surprisingly powerful and accurate, making them a good fit for game hunting situations.
A possible disadvantage is that you’ll need some extra equipment to use these rifles properly. Air tanks or a scuba pump is required to easily fill up the compressor. While this can be done manually, it requires a lot of effort and strength to get it done.
5. Nitro Piston Air Rifles
While conventional air rifles use compressed air and a spring to give it the energy for shooting, nitro piston rifles, as the name suggests, use the cocking action to compress a nitrogen gas cylinder.
Using nitrogen makes the rifle more accurate and reduces recoil and vibration while shooting.
However, cocking the rifle does take a lot of effort, and might not be the best fit for smaller men and women.
When it comes to firearm safety, the best way to learn is by getting an air rifle. These are excellent options, not just for firearm safety reasons, but also for hunting small game and backyard target practice.
Air rifles are also lighter, quieter, and cheaper than real firearms, making them more practical in certain circumstances.
We hope that this article has helped you choose which option among the different types of air rifles is a good fit for you. Check out this guide on the quietest air rifles for more information.
If you want to learn more about similar topics, feel free to check out our other articles, as well!