Don’t Let The Kids Have All The Fun!
When I was a kid, I didn’t get my first BB rifle until after I had already burned up a ton of my dad’s .45 ACP and .30-06 ammo. I guess he thought it was a cost-cutting measure. But, given his military “supply channels” versus the flood of BBs my pals and I put through that little lever action — with every single BB having to be shipped from the States to the western Pacific — I’m not sure he saved much!
With the cost of ammo skyrocketing, that’s a sound reason for you to check out airsoft and airguns, and there’s another reason: Fun! You’ve actually got more choices in air-powered guns than you do in powder-burners, so this is a very limited look at what’s available. Check ‘em out, and happy hunting!
If you want paper-punching precision and small-critter-crackin’ power, try Crosman’s 2300S. It’s a bolt-action single-shot CO2 airgun with a 10.1″ Lothar Walther rifled steel match barrel, single-stage adjustable trigger, a Williams rear sight, and you can adjust velocity of its .177 lead pellets from 440 to 520 fps. Designed for metallic silhouette competition, it gets five stars from both competitive shooters and varmint slayers. It lists for $253.99, and to quote one pleased user, “Spend the money, because it’s well worth it.”
Hey, Smith & Wesson M&P fans, this looks familiar doesn’t it? Yup, but this one’s a CO2-powered semi-auto steel BB-shooter from Umarex USA. It’ll empty a 19-shot drop-out magazine about as fast as you can pull the trigger, pushin’ ’em out at 480 fps. Fiber optic sights, an accessory rail and accurate dimensions make it a good trainer as well as a fun plinker. One deputy sheriff who carries a “real” M&P on-duty reported he’s put 50,000 BBs through his M&P airgun in a year, and it’s still shooting great! The best part? It retails for $45.94!
If you’re gonna play at semi-serious airsoft gunfighting, you’ve gotta put on your game face — and try this Gameface GF357 revolver. Each cartridge holds a 6mm, .12- or .20-gram airsoft BB in the nose, launching them at 326 and 460 fps. The cylinder swings out for loading just like the real deal, and the fixed-blade front and windage and elevation-adjustable rear sight keep you on target. A CO2 cartridge nestles in the butt. With a 6″ barrel on a 2-pound metal frame, wheelgunners will feel right at home with the size and heft. List price is $105.99.
Steel Storm Full Auto! The name alone gets your attention, right? As it comes stock from Umarex, it fires single shots or 6-round bursts of .177-caliber steel BBs, but after the wizards at Drozdmax modify the action, it’s a full-auto 430 fps steel-sprayer. An 18-shot mag is backed up by a 300-round reservoir, and you can add an optic, light or laser on the two accessory rails. Power is provided by two on-board CO2 cartridges; you provide the imagination. It’ll cost you $125.
How good are GAMO airguns? Doug Koenig, widely recognized as the world’s best all-around shooter, signed a sponsorship agreement with ’em, and he shoots the tactical variant of this PT-85 Blowback .177-caliber pellet pistol. Cool features include a magazine with two 8-round rotary cylinders at each end of the stick, so when you’ve shot eight, just drop the mag, reverse it, and you’ve got eight more on tap. And, if you miss realistic slide action on other airguns, you get it here: a portion of gas from its CO2 cartridge cycles the slide. This one lists at $114.95.
Kel-Tec’s “real” PMR-30 is a radically different, way cool design — and about as hard to get your hands on as a purple unicorn. I gave up my yearlong quest for one. Then I got to play with SOCOM Gear’s licensed airsoft copy. It shoots 18 6mm airsoft BBs per mag versus 30 rounds of .22 WMR, but it’s a quality-made faithful reproduction — and fun! Powered by a CO2 cartridge, velocity is 450 fps, and the price runs about $100.
WEB BLAST EXTRA!
I suspect a lot of you are like me: dedicated gunpowder-burners, who don’t pay a lot of attention to airguns and airsoft. But maybe, just maybe you should, for more reasons than the skyrocketing cost of ammo. Airgunning opens up lots of both target-shooting and hunting opportunities in times and places where powder-burnin’ ain’t allowed, and the basics of good marksmanship still apply. Airsoft guns are used routinely now by many world-class competitive shooters, and lots of them also enjoy airsoft-combat games. To me, anything that sharpens your skills is worthwhile, and if you can save a pile of money at it, and do it in your garage or back yard, so much the better! Here are some more choices for your consideration:
Just about everybody knows Ronnie Barrett’s big, beautiful .50 BMG sniper rifles, but few know he also makes one of the best AR’s extant: the REC7 (“Reliability Enhanced Carbine”). I’ve had the pleasure of shooting one, and it’s a superb shooter. And I’ve gotta say, Mad Bull Airsoft has done a great job of building the officially licensed airsoft version. Shown in the photo is the short-barreled REC7 PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) variant.
Equipped with a battery-driven electric motor, it fires 6mm airsoft BB’s at 400 fps in either semiauto or full-auto mode, and has a magazine capacity of 300. Like its powder-burning brother, it has a Daniel Defense Omega-X quadrail so you can accessorize it any way you like. List price is $239.99 at Echo1USA.com.
While you’re there on the website, ya wanta know how big airsoft is, and how seriously gamers take it? Check out the six-barrel rotary-cannon airsoft Echo AEG Minigun, with a rate of fire of 3,000 BB’s per minute! That one will only set you back $3,499.99!
Check this beauty out, traditionalists! Looks like your trusty ol’ 30-30, doesn’t it? But this Walther Lever Action by Umarex is a 630-fps .177-cal lead pellet rifle featuring a precision rifled, blued Walther barrel and receiver and a sleek, straight stock of real hardwood. It feeds from a rotary eight-shot magazine (you get three with the rifle) and it’s powered by a Co2 cartridge in the buttstock. Plink, punch targets, pop small varmints, or teach a kid to shoot! MSRP is $487.52
Here’s some select-fire fun for airsoft gamers: The H&K G36 Airsoft by Umarex, equipped with a powerful electric AEG motor, goes from semiauto to full auto with a flip of the selector switch. It has a folding stock, adjustable rear sight and tactical rails at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock to add whatever accessories you please. With a capacity of 300 6mm airsoft BB’s you can “go full rock`n’roll” for a long time between reloads. A battery and charger is included for a list price of $120.65.
When you push a .177 lead pellet over 1,000 feet per second, you’ve entered the realm of serious airgun small-game hunting. Of course, along with that velocity, you need accuracy too. You’ll get both with Gamo’s new-for-2013 Whisper Fusion Pro, which is also said to be the quietest such airgun available. Combining integrated noise dampening and a Smooth Action Trigger, it launches pellets at up to 1,400 fps using PBA Platinum and new LETHAL Hunting Pellets.
The Whisper Fusion Pro features a rifled steel barrel in a fluted polymer jacket, an all-weather stock with adjustable cheek piece, fiber optic front and rear sights, and it’s topped with a 3×9 adjustable objective `scope. Power comes from a 33mm inert gas cylinder, and you get 50 rounds of PBA Platinum and 30 rounds of LETHAL Hunting pellets so you can get out shootin’ right away! MSRP is $339.95.
So you want to take even bigger game with an airgun? With the Benjamin Rogue .357, hunters are knockin’ down coyotes, bobcats, wolves, wild boar to 300 pounds, and lately, hartebeest, antelope and African warthogs. The Rogue launches .357 slugs in a wide range of weights to 175 grains (including the superb 145-gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip), pushing them out at up to 800 fps. Power comes from an onboard air reservoir filled by a manual pump or a 15″ Benjamin high-pressure tank. Power levels can be set lower for raccoons and fox, for example, and higher for game like feral hogs. Digital regulation assures you get consistent power from shot to shot.
The Rogue is a bolt action repeater feeding from an easily-filled six-shot magazine. Quieter than virtually any centerfire firearm, recoil is next to nothin’, and Rogue users report that when hunting thick-skinned game like wild hogs at ranges of about 75 yards or less, the sound of your slug whackin’ the game is much louder than the sound of firing — or is it “launching”?
There are some great videos of the Rogue in action on YouTube: just search Benjamin Rogue .357. MSRP is $1,349.00, or check out Rogue kits including optics and spare magazines on parent company Crosman’s web site.
Finally, I just gotta put in a plug for a true American classic, which hundreds of you will recognize instantly from the photo: Crosman’s aptly-named Classic American Pump Pistol. It’s been around since long before I was a Lance Corporal, and other than its original wood furniture being replaced with plastic, it hasn’t changed much over the decades. And, it’s still the ideal choice for any handgunner who owns only one airgun.
The Classic is a single-shot pneumatic pump bolt-action pistol which fires .177-caliber lead pellets with surprising accuracy for a $69 airgun.
About seven years ago I wrote an article about airguns, and as part of that, I shot the Classic against a $1,000-plus European-made Olympic competition air pistol. As I recall, groups from the Classic were larger than those of the Olympic pistol by a quarter-inch or less. True, Olympic airgun matches are won by differences measured in hundredths of an inch, but marauding rats, robins-nest-destroying cowbirds, and terrorist tin cans don’t know the difference. The Classic is the one air pistol I kept, and I’ve used it many times since then.
Pump it a couple of times for plinkin’, or several times for rat-cappin’ (you can get velocities up to 600 fps), it takes very little maintenance and will keep chugging along for a long lifetime of use. The rear sight is fully adjustable, and the fixed front sight is clear and sharp. The trigger pull ain’t bad either. The Classic is a tad over a foot long and weighs just over one pound. Get one and have some fun! Connor OUT.
By John Connor