Airguns operate using a pneumatic system. The projectiles, diabolos, steel balls or darts are propelled by the propulsion of a gas in the barrel. Depending on the type of weapon, the gas used may be either carbon dioxide, contained in 12 or 88 g cartridges , or simply compressed air Soft air gun.
The different powers of compressed air rifles and their legal classification
Before choosing an air rifle, you should know the regulations that govern this type of long weapon. You must choose a weapon adapted to your needs, shooting distance, age of the shooters, but also to your legal situation.
The law sets a change of category from the power of 20 joules. Below this power, the sale of compressed air rifles is free for adults. You can therefore easily buy an air rifle with a power of less than 20 joules with just your ID on the NaturaBuy website. These weapons are perfect for family recreational shooting, even with children around ten years old. Some models with a power of around 7 joules and with a shorter stock are well suited for these young shooters. Many recreational rifles have a power between 14 and 19 joules. They allow you to shoot precisely up to 20-25 meters and make beautiful groupings. Beyond that, the shooters pass on metal targets, soda cans for plinking or metal gongs. These weapons are very often available in 4.5 or 5.5 mm caliber and allow you to shoot all forms of diabolos.
Above this limit of 20 joules you must have a shooting license or a hunting permit to purchase these more powerful rifles. Caliber side we find of course the 4.5 mm, the 5.5 mm and also the 6.35 mm. This larger caliber makes it possible to shoot heavier diabolos which are more stable at long distances, 40 meters and more and retain good energy at these same distances.
Depending on your legal situation, you will therefore be able to find rifles classified in category D, free sale or category C, regulated sale on our NaturaBuy site.
Calibers for air rifles
Let’s come back in more detail to this notion of caliber. It is directly related to the size of the barrel. So you will not be able to put 4.5 mm caliber diabolos in a rifle chambered in 6.35 mm and vice versa! It is undoubtedly the 4.5 mm caliber that reigns supreme in the world of compressed air. Skirted diabolos, steel ball BBs and darts are available in many versions and finishes in this very popular caliber.
These 4.5mm air rifles are numerous. 5.5mm is also popular, on more powerful weapons, above 20 joules. This caliber is more precise and stable at long distance as is the 6.35 mm caliber. The rarer calibers 9 mm, 357 and even for some time the 50 caliber are available in compressed air on PCP type weapons which we discuss below.
The different models of air and compressed gas rifles
There are different models of air rifles:
Tilting barrel rifles
Tilting barrel rifles are certainly the most popular and best known. These are the rifles that are found in particular in certain fairgrounds and which are used to burst balloons or break white pipes fixed on rails and which are mobile. This type of rifle has very good value for money and there is a wide choice of finishes. These long weapons are equipped with a stock made of varnished or oiled wood, walnut or beech and more and more often made of synthetic material. These polymer stocks allow more ergonomic shapes, with a straighter pistol grip for a better position of the strong hand, the one that will be used to press the index finger on the trigger. These polymers can be black or tinted, we are finding more and more air rifles with sand or FDE (Front Dark Earth) colored stocks which give a somewhat tactical look to these recreational shooting weapons.
The operation of these tilting barrel rifles is very simple, which explains their wide distribution. Simply lower the rifle barrel downward to reset the diabolo’s propulsion mechanism. A mechanical system will tension a spring or retract a cylinder which are coupled to a piston. The air contained in this mechanism is compressed. When the shooter presses the trigger, he releases the mechanism, which will propel the air contained at the rear of the diabolo at high speed and thus push the ammunition into the rifled barrel then towards the target.
The internal grooves of the barrel are oblique and will stabilize the diabolo by a gyroscopic effect. The diabolo turns on itself at the same time as it advances in the barrel, which will then stabilize its flight and thus increase the precision of the shot. Smooth-bore weapons are more suited to shooting steel balls and darts. We will detail these projectiles later.
Rifles with fixed barrel and cocking arm
At first glance, rifles with fixed barrels and cocking arms resemble rifles with tilting barrels. The stock can also be made of wood or polymer, colored or black. But on these models the barrel is fixed. It does not tip down. To rearm the propulsion mechanism you must activate a lever arm located under the steel barrel as on the Stoeger RX 40 pictured. The big advantage is better precision over time.
In fact, each time you lower the barrel of the first models mentioned, you risk twisting the barrel a little on its tilt axis. Since the sights, rear sight and front sight or telescope are located on the cylinder, at the rear of the barrel, there may be a small offset between the axis of the barrel and that of the sight at the end of the barrel. one moment. With a fixed barrel rifle you do not risk this problem!
The downside is that these rifles are generally a little heavier… and there is less choice in the models available. The principle of projectile propulsion remains the same as on tilting barrel rifles with a piston system with spring or cylinder.
CO2 capsule rifles
The general shape of these CO2 sparklette rifles is the same as tilting or fixed barrel rifles. The stick can vary a little in length depending on the target audience, adult or adolescent. The finishes are in the same vein with stocks in walnut, beech or polymer and steel barrels, often black bronzed in terms of the external finish and which can be scratched or not depending on the type of projectile you wish to fire .
Concerning the gas cartridges used in this type of compressed gas weapon, they are pre-filled with CO2. It is therefore the mode of propulsion that differs. These weapons contain CO2 gas cartridges, the classic sparklets of 11 or 12 g of gas or the more bulky and expensive cartridges of 88 g of CO2 . The big advantage of these CO2 models is the speed of reloading the mechanism since you do not have to carry out any manual action to rearm the rifle. A valve system will release a certain amount of CO2 with each shot. These weapons are generally less powerful and you should not forget to have a small reserve of CO2 cartridges when you want to have fun shooting with family or friends. The autonomy of a sparklette is directly linked to the power of the rifle.
Major advantage: these weapons are generally quieter, there is no noise from the cylinder or the spring sometimes clicking and they are more pleasant to shoot for the same reasons since there is less vibration. In general, manufacturers use this mode of propulsion on their replicas of legendary weapons, particularly war weapons, because there is no handicap of the tilting barrel or the cocking lever which can harm the aesthetics!
PCP (Pre Charged Pneumatic) rifles have a cylinder or cylinder that contains highly compressed air, often at over 200 bars. It is possible to compress the air in this container manually, using a specific hand pump or using a powerful electric compressor. Some enthusiasts also use recycled diving bottles which allow you to refill your PCP rifle many times, an advantage if you go to a stand which is not equipped with electricity for example!
There are also different powers for these PCP models. Here again, PCP rifles below 20 joules are on sale over the counter to adults. But most of today’s production is much more powerful. This is one of the advantages of PCP rifles , some models reach 300 joules, or even 1000 joules for the Hammer rifle manufactured by Umarex in 50 caliber!
Most of these PCP rifles are chambered in 4.5 and 5.5 mm caliber. The 6.35 mm and 9 mm calibers allow shooting at longer distances. These recreational shooting weapons are generally very precise due to their fixed barrel and a volume of gas propelling the projectile that is always identical from one shot to the next. They are also discreet, an advantage if you shoot in a large garden for example while respecting all the basic safety rules in relation to your neighborhood! There is no clicking of the piston and spring.
Most PCP rifles are delivered with rotary magazines which contain projectiles, diabolos or bullets and which allow shots to be chained together thanks to a mobile breech reloading mechanism. It’s very fun in fun shooting and plinking for example. With rifles above 20 joules and therefore in category C you can hit targets between 40 and 80 m distance without any problem.
Air rifle projectiles
Unlike sports shooting weapons or weapons intended for hunting, compressed air weapons use ammunition without explosive charge, without powder, we therefore speak more of projectiles. You can find steel BBs, diabolos and darts for air rifles on NaturaBuy. Most diabolos are made of lead whose density allows it to retain good energy at long distances. There are also copper diabolos.
The different models
BBs steel balls
Steel BBs are projectiles suitable for smooth-bore airguns. They are perfect for recreational shooting and plinking in particular. They are quite economical, often sold in bottles containing several hundred beads. They can be silver or sometimes coated with colored surface treatments. Given that they are fired in a smooth barrel, lacking the internal rifling which will stabilize the projectile, these steel balls generally offer worse groupings than skirted diabolos.
The skirted diabolos
These are the projectiles most used for shooting with air guns. Their cost is low, the choice is very wide and the number of manufacturers is large. Always remember that the accuracy of your air rifle is often linked to the type of skirted diabolo you use, both in terms of weight and shape!
head may vary. Flat head diabolos are often the most accurate. They are used in competitive sports shooting and often referred to as Match or Target.
Diabolos with round heads are often heavier. They are useful for maintaining good energy during long distance shooting, especially in 5.5 mm and 6.35 mm caliber. Some countries, notably England, authorize the shooting and hunting of small animals with fairly powerful rifles. These round-headed diabolos are popular in this context of regulating harmful animals such as rats, pigeons or wild rabbits.
You can also choose lighter diabolos, to gain speed, whose head is made of lead or steel but whose skirt is made of polymer.
It is essential to test several head shapes and several diabolo weights in your compressed air or C02 rifle. The differences in grouping, and therefore in precision, can be really significant from one model to another.
Darts are very fun for shooting with friends or family. They are mainly used in tilting barrel weapons due to the shape and size of these projectiles. A dart cannot fit into the rotating magazine of a PCP weapon for example!
Darts are rarely used, and wrongly so! They allow you to carry out small shooting challenges on traditional dart targets for example. Their colored tail allows you to see at a glance who shot the best… You can place bets!