When I was a wee lad growing up in the city, my buddy and I would spend our afternoons in my Dad’s basement target shooting with an old .177 Slavia pellet rifle and several models of Daisy BB guns.
We had a makeshift target range set up, with a decent backstop that allowed us to shoot at distances up to about 20 feet.
What can I say, it kept us “off the street” so to speak, so it kept us out of trouble that we would have otherwise probably gotten ourselves into with too much free time. Perhaps if today’s youth had opportunities like that, it might help keep them off the street too.
We shot paper targets mainly, and if I do say so myself, we both got to be pretty good shots, how could we not, shooting hundreds if not thousands of pellets over the course of a few years.
That started my interest and I guess love of airguns. I still have several to this day, including the original Slavia pellet rifle although it has lost a bit of power over the years of abuse I put it through.
The Crosman Phantom Air Rifle
I also owned and still own several Crosman airguns, including a pistol powered by C02 (pressurized carbon dioxide) cylinders, and several pump up air rifles. But my favorite these days is my newest, it’s a Crosman Phantom air rifle in .22 caliber.
Airguns Under 500 fps
Although this particular model of Crosman Phantom airgun can be designed to shoot up to 1000 fps, mine is made for sale in the Canadian airgun market, which means the power is limited to 495 feet per second, keeping it under the maximum power of 500 fps before it becomes classified as a firearm and would have to be registered.
That said, I think this is one of the best air rifles under 500 fps. While it may not be that spectacular to air gun purists, to me, the Crosman Phantom air rifle is a well made, practical air rifle.
I got the Phantom from my wife as a Christmas present a year ago and I have already fired hundreds of pellets with it, and blasted the heck out of a lot of tin cans, paper targets, even some books.
The Crosman Phantom air rifle is a straight shooting gun, and packs quite a little oomph with the heavy .22 caliber pellets. It’s rekindled my interest in airgun shooting, where you can have hours of fun without hurting anything but a tin can or a paper target.
I like the Crosman Phantom air rifle a lot, it is a single shot “break barrel” pellet rifle, meaning you break open the barrel to load it and cock it, which essentially means depressing the spring which fires the projectile, (pellet) when you pull the trigger, releasing the spring.
My Crosman Phantom airgun would be considered an adult airgun meaning it takes a fair bit of muscle to break open to action to cock and load it and the dimensions, weight and size of the stock are designed for an adult.
Air Rifles Good For Teaching Gun Safety
Airguns are much maligned in some circles because like everything, they get abused by some people, most of whom shouldn’t be allowed to have anything sharp let alone an airgun. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Airguns can also be a great way to teach people, young and old about the pleasure of shooting, the science, the skills and the necessary safe gun handling techniques.
Under proper adult supervision, with an air rifle a young person can learn to shoot, can develop concentration skills, learn about science like ballistics, aerodynamics, and perhaps develop a hobby and a skill that they will enjoy for years to come, who knows, maybe even to the Olympics.
These days there are a lot of fine airguns to choose from, although so far, Crosman remains my favorite. You can pay anything from $70 or $80 for an airgun right up to several thousand for the real purist, but a good general purpose airgun for a hobby shooter shouldn’t cost more than $200 give or take. You can pay more depending on the brand, model, and features and if it has telescopic sights, etc, but a couple hundred or even less will buy you a very servicable air rifle that will give you hours upon hours of target shooting enjoyment.
Air Guns Have Come A Long Way
Airguns have developed a long way in the past few years, and come in many designs from the original spring guns, to newer piston propulsion methods including compressed air guns which can pack a punch strong enough to kill big game.
These are referred to as PCP airguns, meaning, PreCharged Pneumatica, these types of guns are typically high-powered, outfitted with a cylinder that is charged with enough compressed air to fire several shots.
Outfitted with telescopic sights the PCP rifles are hard hitting accurate rifles, and with enough variety that there is one for everyone.
However I am not really all that interested in hunting big game with an airgun, although I do admit it kind it has a certain allure. But what does interest me is the ability to keep my shooting eye in practice and have some fun in the basement or out back of the cottage, target shooting with my Crosman rifle. As I said, it’s a straight shooting airgun that packs a punch when it hits the target. Crosman have been making airguns for a long time and I think they have things figured out pretty well.
You can purchase airguns that shoot above the 500 fps limit, although in Canada you would need to have a firearms aquisition certificate and register it as a gun.
Usually the high powered air rifles shoot somewhere in the 800-1000 fps range, which gives them quite a bit more power and some distance as well. Of course it also makes them more dangerous so if you buy one, keep that in mind.
I have found that the 495 fps (feet per second) speed of my Crosman Phantom air rifle is plenty for what I want to do, which is target shoot both at the camp and in the basement at home, but I admit, I am intrigued about the higher power rifles.
Chronographs Measure Velocity
True airgun purists use a device called a Shooting Chronograph to measure the velocities that there various airguns are attaining.
A chronograph, or “chrony” as they are called can be very useful for determining the best pellet designs for your particular airgun as well as learning about how other factors can affect shooting, such as the air temperature.
I could go on about this for some time, but I won’t “bore” you…lol but there has been a lot written lately about pellet gun and air rifle velocities. It is not an exact science, although it probably should be. However, the jury is often undecided about what makes the best air rifle, and what are the best velocities.
Reaching muzzle velocities of over 1000 feet per second can actually detract from an air gun’s effectiveness, although some would find that hard to believe. Other than to be able to say you can, there is reason for higher velocities.
In terms of hitting power, the weight of the pellet is acutally more important and in terms of accuracy pellets moving at slower speeds can be less affected by factors such as wind or branches etc.
There is a velocity ‘sweet spot’ and it is dependent on several factors, the gun, the pellet and the shooter.
Sometimes Less Power Is Better
Generally a pellet travelling around 800 to 900 fps is quite effective for most airgun uses. But sometimes, depending on your use for the gun, 800 fps might be too much. To be honest, considering I sometimes shoot in an indoor range, my Crosman shooting at under 500 fps is more than enough velocity for my shooting purposes.
However, my experience tells me that with a well placed shot, even at the lower power, the Crosman Phantom would be effective for killing a rat or perhaps a problematic squirrel.
I haven’t used mine to shoot any small animals like rats, nor do I intend to, but it’s nice to know I could if need be.
One thing to keep in mind about airguns is that the pellets lose velocity, measured in feet per second, and therefore power, the farther out from the muzzle of the gun.
In other words, what might be hitting at 500 feet per second at 30 feet will probably be hit at 300 feet per second or less at twice that distance. That’s good and bad.
It’s good because it enable them to be fired in smaller places, but it also means you need to be very cognizant of distances if you are using one to control a pest problem, such as a rat in the barn.
But always remember, even at reduced feet per second, a pellet from an air rifle can cause harm if it hits something that you do not want to hit.
Airgun ammunition, namely “pellets” have also evolved a great deal in the last few years with many options available in terms of weight and design.
I have come to like using the hunting point pellets from Crosman, I find they work quite well in my Phantom. They are accurate and the design with a pointed head allows for good penetration. I actually have had some go into a piece of 2X4 and protrude out the other sides from a distance of about 20 feet. That, in my opinion, is all the power and impact that I need to shoot up some soup cans!!
When I am shooting indoors, typically in the basement garage, as Wendy gets kind of annoyed if I start shooting in the living room Pellet Trap which allows me to shoot without having to worry about pellets richocheting around and it also traps the flattend pellets for easy clean up. It has metal targets or you can put paper targets over it as well. It’s a great addition to my indoor target shooting.
At the cottage, all you need is a bit of space, with a backstop and you can shoot for hours at very little cost. A box of 500 pellets costs around $10 or $12 which is quite economical compared to any other type of shooting, and with the Crosman Phantom Airgun, because it is a break barrel spring gun, there are no C02 cylinders to buy.
I highly recommend you add an airgun to your cottage. Learn how to use it safely and it will provide you with hours of shooting enjoyment in the great outdoors and even in your basement if you have a suitable place and one of the lower power airguns.
These days I am teaching my blog assistant, Dennith the fine art of airgun shooting, he seems to be catching on. He insists on wearing that damm sombero, says he is “sensitive to the sun”
I will offer a couple words of advice. First of all, an airgun is not a toy, it is a gun, remember that, even the low power versions can be quite dangerous if improperly handled.
Secondly, make sure you read the owners manual.
I know most of these things seem quite straightforward, but you’d be surprised. Airguns tend to have there own little quirks you need to be aware of, things like proper cleaning and maintenance, loading, pellet sizes and weights. It also pays to experiment with various pellets to determine the type that performs best in your own air rifle and suits your particular shooting purposes.
.22 Versus.177 Caliber
Many will disagree with me, but I personally prefer the .22 caliber pellets, although I recognize that .177 have certain advantages. However, in terms of knockdown power, the .22 is the better choice for me.
.22 caliber airguns have the added weight that delivers a harder punch when the pellet hits the target.
If that is a Norway Rat in the composter, the harder hit will dispatch him a lot quicker than the .177 which is lighter and travelling a little faster making it possible the shot will go right through him. That is not what you want for an effective kill.
Read The Owners Manual
The owner’s manual will provide you with the information you need to know about the operation of your particular airgun as well as the purposes intended for it. Crosman has a series of pictures on their boxes that indicate what the particular model of airgun is designed for including, target shooting, small pest control, small game animals etc.
If you don’t have a manual, most manufacturers provide copies on their websites, just search Google for one that you can download. In fact, I would insist you do that if you have an airgun and no manual. These guns require some special maintenance, for instance, did you know that you should not be oiling an air rifle? Particularly the firing mechanisms?
Finally, if you are considering buying an airgun, go with an air rifle, not a pistol. That’s my personal preference, and for beginners in particular, a rifle is a better choice. It is much easier to become proficient with a rifle than a pistol. And if you want a great gun at a reasonable price, then I highly recommend you buy a Crosman air rifle.
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