Types of Airguns
If you just have a look at the assortment of Airguns at AirGunStyle you will learn that Airguns come in many shapes and forms. Depending on the powerplant (means of pushing a pellet out the barrel) Airguns may be divided in three main groups: Spring-Piston Airguns, Pneumatic Airguns, CO2 Airguns.
Spring-Piston Airguns are the most popular ones because it is the most affordable type. Besides, Spring-Piston Airguns are easy to shoot and maintain.
Spring-Piston guns operate by means of a coiled steel spring-loaded piston contained within a compression chamber, and separate from the barrel. Cocking the gun causes the piston assembly to compress the spring until a small hook on the rear of the piston engages the sear, pulling the trigger releases the sear and allows the spring to decompress, pushing the piston forward, thereby compressing the air in the chamber directly behind the pellet. Spring guns, especially powerful ones, have great recoil that makes them less accurate.
The better quality spring air guns can have very long service lives, being simple to maintain and repair. But Spring-piston Airgun owners must be aware that one should not shoot this gun without a pellet in the breech. It may course serious damage. Besides, springs of Spring-piston Airguns do wear out after a while. A spring piston replacement is rather inexpensive and very easy for an air gunsmith.
There are several subcategories of Spring-Piston Airguns. The most widespread kind of them are single-shot breech-loaders. Nowadays multiple-shot guns are becoming very popular. Spring guns are usually cocked by a mechanism requiring the gun to be hinged at the mid-point (called a break barrel), with the barrel serving as a cocking lever. There are also side levers, under-barrel levers and electric cocking, powered by a rechargeable battery.
Pneumatic Airguns use compressed air for power. The most common pneumatic Airgun is the Multi-Stroke (also referred to as Pump-up type pneumatic Airgun). To get a little volume of air compressed in a multi-stroke pneumatic takes, as the name implies, 2-10 strokes of the pump lever to get the internal pressure needed for shooting. As a rule multi-stroke pneumatic Airguns are not big, accurate, with low recoil, light weight and not very powerful. The main disadvantage of Multi-stroke pneumatics is effort needed for every shoot.
Single stroke pneumatic Airguns seemed to be more interesting. It is enough to move the cocking lever only once to compress the air for a shot. The main merits of Single stroke pneumatic Airguns are consistency, accuracy and lack of recoil, demerit is low power.
Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) Airguns are filled from an air tank, such as a scuba cylinder or by charging directly with a hand pump. Thus buying a PreCharged Rifle you have to buy cylinders or pump too. On the comparison with CO2 Airguns. PCP Airguns have higher initial costs but later operating costs become quite low. Powerful PreCharged Rifle is an excellent choice for those hunters who live in countries with strict firearms laws. PCP Airguns are also used in sport of Field Target shooting. PreCharged Rifles have very low recoil. You can make about 500 shots per charge. PreCharged Airguns are very widespread in the EC because of their accuracy and ease of shooting.
CO2 Airguns use compressed CO2 as the source of power. C02 is contained in special tanks. CO2 Airguns have much in common with PreCharged Airguns, but still there are some important differences. CO2 Guns have a simpler system for compact storage of energy: a small CO2 tank carries a large volume of pressurized gas. CO2 Airguns have no pressure regulator. Generally it makes CO2 guns construction to be simpler than PreCharged guns construction. At the same time liquid CO2 must be bought while a PCP Airgun with hand pump use free air. Moreover under the average conditions the pressure in CO2 reservoir is thrice lower than working pressure of an ordinary full PCP tank. That is why PreCharged Rifles are more efficient than CO2 Rifles.
CO2 guns as well as compressed PCP Airguns, have enough energy for repeated shots in a compact package without the need for complex cocking or filling mechanisms. Nowadays CO2 replicas of famous firearms are manufactured that became very popular among the collectors.