What is an air rifle? All Basic Discussion That You Need to Know

An air rifle or air-gun is a sort of weapon that dispatches projectiles pneumatically with compressed air or other gases. These air or gases are pressurized precisely without including any chemical reactions, as opposed to a firearm. This rifle can generate propulsive energy by breaking molecular bonds.

The very first air rifle “Girandoni air rifle” was made in the 1779. From that time, this rifle has taken a considerable place in the market. Apart from that, from hunting to warfare, the air rifle had been used to a large extent.

Before starting of the civilization, people hunt with their own made weapons. From that, they got the idea of the air rifle for self-defense, hunting, shooting, etc.

There are different types of air rifles with different calibers, and uses of them are also different from one another.


Air Guns History

Air Guns are always considered as a symbol of pride and power. From the starting of civilization, people love to get these two for themselves.

The history of the air gun is not a recent one. Rather it is a story that goes back many centuries. We need to go back several millennia to find the origins of the use of technology.

Air guns are mainly representing the oldest pneumatic technology. The blowpipe has been considered as the first-ever air gun. To shoot a projectile, it uses the force of the air. By using the same premise, all the subsequent air rifle were developed on that early time.

If you are looking for the origin of the first air rifle, you’ll need to be travel back to the 15th centuries. Though you’ll not get any physical appearance of the rifle, due to the materials of that ancient time wasn’t that much durable. So for that, the archaeologists were failed to discover many ancient air rifles over the years.

The oldest surviving air rifle that is based on spring-piston or known as a piston is stored in “Livrustkammaren Museum” in Stockholm as a token of an early form of an air rifle.

After that, from the 17th to 19th century, the uses of Pre-compressed air rifle (PCP) has been spread widely for its effectiveness. Also, the calibers .30-.51 were used for hunting. Those rifles were extremely powerful and effective also to kill a deer or wild boar with a single shot. In warfare also the PCP air rifle was used. At that time, guns were used for showing the aristocracy as these were expensive enough.

There is a definite advantage of the compressed air rifle over the uses of traditional air rifles.

At first, it can offer advantages over their black powder counterparts. It can be used in extreme weather conditions where traditional rifles work well.

Then if you look over it, you can find that it is quiet enough and not generate white smoke or flash when fired.

Also, the speed and consistency of the rifle are impressive too. Whereas the traditional guns took a long period to prepare for shooting, but the 18th centuries rifles were fast to shoot. In 1779, Austria equipped with .44 caliber air rifle that was capable of firing 20 round lead balls per minute with the 1000 feet per second approaching velocity. Also, the most recognized Girandoni rifle of the 18th century could fire up to 20 shots a minute.

With having some advantages, these air rifles also come with some disadvantages too, which is mainly focused on the Second World War. To replace this, Germany started manufacturing many air rifles. These are also used for hunting, plinking, pest removing, etc.

And from that, the adult air rifle market has boomed. The air rifle company start focusing on their rifle’s accuracy, velocity, and consistency to make it more powerful. Also by the technological advances opened the door for a whole new generation to use the air rifle for their recreational support like-small game hunting, plinking, etc.


How does an air rifle work?

Air rifles are not a toy at all. It is a weapon that is used for self-protection to recreational element. As there are different types of air rifles, the working procedures are also different.

The air pressure or the compressed air drives the projectile (BB, pellet) up the barrel of an air rifle. To shoot the projectile a trigger releases the hammer strike and opens a metering valve to release the compressed gas.

BB weapons utilize unrifled barrels to shoot copper-plated steel BBs. Rifled barrel air guns are progressively more accurate and shoot pellets and most of them are made from lead.

Most of the rifles have an automatic locking safety that engages automatically when the gun is cocked to ensure the safety of the users.

Again, for all most, every air gun models have the trigger pull that is adjusted in the factory. But the experienced shooters need the adjustment feature. The two-stage trigger has that adjusting screw for them.

By pulling down on the end of the barrel in a single action, you can cock the air rifle in a safe direction. And by inserting a pellet into the breech, you are ready for your shooting. But be careful about choosing the right pellets for your air gun.


What are the different uses of air rifles?

The air rifles can be used for several purposes like:


Plinking is the most common hobby for many shooting enthusiasts all over the world. It is the informal way of practicing target shooting to emphasis on fun. This recreational air rifle shooting is mostly done in the backyard and on metal targets.

Long-range Shooting

For long-range shooting heavier calibers (.25, .30, .50) air rifles are used mostly. This big bore air gun is very famous among the athletes or professional shooters to bring excitement to the events.

Sports Shooting

In many sports events like- Olympic events use very accurate and costly air guns for targeting. These rifles are built for giving extra penetration and accuracy to achieve the target of the games.


Air guns are also used in an initial level of training at several defenses, security and other departments for giving the basic knowledge of the shooting. This guns are also very cheap and have less recoil management aids for improving aims and other techniques.

Veterinary Use

To give proper vaccinations to the zoo animals and other wildlife parks animals compressed air guns are also used. Thru dart type projectiles this vaccination is delivered to the animals.

Pest Elimination

In several parts of the world, air guns are proven as the best pest elimination tools. If you feel irritated for rats or other types of vermin, then air guns can give you a solution. With a short-range great accurate gun can make you rid of this problem with a single shot.


In many construction industries to drive nails and such variants of air, guns are also used. These guns are known as Nail Guns. These guys are expert in increasing speed, but the safety should be taken properly.


For having less noise, no smoke emission and faster to load features make it also user-friendly in military or defense. These guns are best to hide their position for their no smoke emission.


Basic Types

There are four main types of air rifles. Among these four, three are used some form of a compressed air tank and the other is different from the three. The four types of air rifles are-

  1. Pneumatic air rifle
  2. Spring-piston air rifle
  3. Gas Piston air rifle
  4. CO2 air rifle

If you want to know details about types then read this post.


Types Of ammunition

Mainly there are a very few options for the source of ammunition available for the air rifle-

  • Pellet
  • Ball Bearing (BB)
  • Others



Pellet is the most popular type of ammunition for any air rifle and is used mostly. These air gun pellets come in different shapes, designs, and materials. Though there are several different materials from which the airgun pellets are made of but the most used materials are lead, lead-based alloy, tin, plastic, copper, etc. These pellets are used several different calibers to shoot. Read full article about air rifle pallets.

Ball Bearing (BB):

After the pellet, the ball bearing as BB is used to be the most popular ammunition type. The materials they used to make are lead or steel. For short distance shooting or for fun shoot they are best. Mainly .177 caliber is used in this BB and they can deliver a great accuracy as well.


Some other types of ammunition are mostly known as projectiles. But they are not that much popular and not standard also.


Discussion about Calibers

There are four major calibers for airgun pellets that are used worldwide for shooting, hunting, plinking or pest removing. The weights and sizes of the pellets create a direct impact on its velocity as well as accuracy.

The most used calibers are-

.177 Caliber (4.5 mm):

This caliber is the most commonly used pellet. It has a great round for casual shooting. .177 pellets are very popular, cheap and also very light in weight and can provide a higher velocity to achieve the same muzzle energy. For target shooting and small game hunting, this pellet is the first choice for many.

.22 Caliber (5.5 mm):

.22 is heavier than, 177 and has more knockdown power to hit the target with a perfect performance. It can deliver 20% more power than .177 cal and has the more slightly better stopping power. So for that, it has the hunting supremacy for field hunters and pest eliminators. It carries a lot more energy in target and can impact great when it hits.

But also some other calibers are used hardly-

.20 Caliber (5 mm):

 Once it was used widely but it is not popular nowadays.

.25 Caliber (6.35 mm):

.25 is heavier than .22 and has less velocity. As .22 is suitable for hunting the small critters just in one clean shot whether larger critters like- raccoons, the coyote can be killed by this .25. This caliber is used for a long time and is known as the largest calibers for air guns.

.30 Caliber (7.62 mm):

This is a large round caliber and mainly used in the PCP air guns.

.357 Caliber (9.07 mm):

The .357 is a caliber frequently connected with Magnum revolvers. It can give higher velocity with excellent penetration properties.


Is an Air Rifle Dangerous?

An air rifle can be dangerous as can make serious injury to death if it is misused. Also without adult supervision, it can be deadly too.

Air rifles are an important cause of serious eye injuries. It can also make some fatal injuries to children. Using extra force in air rifle can be risky. Moreover, the pellet of rifle can be a reason for infection as it contains the lead toxin.

Also for doing crimes like robbery, threatening or human killing can be also done through this. According to a survey of the United States, it is clear that 40% of offensive crimes have been done through this rifle.

That is why there is an air gun law. Though the law is varied from country to country or states to states. In some of the states of the United States, 16 is the perfect age for using air rifle whereas some other states are not allowed to use air gun below age 21.


What Can You Hunt With Air Rifles?

If you are bored with the backyard pests like- rats, rabbits then surely try to apply air rifle for controlling these. An air rifle can hunt small animals like deer, squirrels, etc. and it is legal too.

By using .177 and .22 caliber you can hunt fairly decent sized wild animals. But you need to follow the legal hunting procedure for it.

Once my friend killed a German shepherd with one shot to protect his chickens. Though some of his neighbors claimed him that it was beyond law, soon he let everyone knew that it was legal.


Some well-known Brands of Air Rifles

With the passages of time air rifles have gained a huge market worldwide. The manufacturer lists are also big. The well-known companies are doing well and upgrading their products with modern technology and materials regularly. Bellow is the list of top 5 brands you may choose one from these. Their maximum rifles are good and they are very concern about quality.

  • Gamo
  • Crosman and Benjamin
  • RWS
  • Beeman
  • Ruger
Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments

Leave a Reply: