There’s no sub­sti­tute for ac­cu­racy, says the editor.

The editor looks at high-power

Air Gunner - - Contents -

“I’ve found that 900fps seems to be at the up­per end of the speed an airgun pel­let can be launched at and still keep its ac­cu­racy”

I’m of­ten asked about the amount of power an FAC-rated ri­fle needs to be ef­fec­tive, and it’s one of those ques­tions that begs many more. For ex­am­ple, what do you hope it will of­fer you that your ex­ist­ing sub 12 ft.lbs. ri­fles do not? There’s a com­mon mis­un­der­stand­ing that dou­bling the power means dou­bling the range, and it’s the abil­ity to reach fur­ther that I think most peo­ple want. How­ever, it’s far from be­ing that sim­ple. Air­guns kill with pre­cise shot place­ment and no amount of power can make up for a bad shot, although it does help with shots that are just a lit­tle bit off. I re­cently hit a rab­bit with a 46 ft.lbs. .25 ri­fle, but my shot place­ment was poor and it was only the speed of my dog re­triev­ing it that al­lowed me to dis­patch it, so please don’t see tons of power as the an­swer to all your prob­lems.

18 ft.lbs.

I have heard some peo­ple say that they were go­ing to ap­ply for their firearm cer­tifi­cate and then have their old gun mod­i­fied to make per­haps 18ft.lbs., and I think this is a bad idea. When you look at the in­crease in per­for­mance that the ex­tra 6 ft.lbs. gives you, it’s very small in­deed. Take a typ­i­cal break­bar­rel .22. At 12 ft.lbs; when shoot­ing the ex­cel­lent H& N FTT, it will have a muz­zle ve­loc­ity of just un­der 600fps and when ze­roed at 28 yards it will keep the pel­let within ½” of your sight line (PBR) out to 32 yards. At 18 ft.lbs. the muz­zle ve­loc­ity is 740 fps and the PBR is stretched to 39 yards.

The wind is al­ways a fac­tor in airgun shoot­ing and fast-fly­ing pel­lets are of­ten less af­fected, so let’s see how much the ex­tra power ben­e­fits us in a 5mph wind com­ing at 90 de­grees. The stan­dard gun will be blown off course 1.2” at 30 yards whilst the high-power one will be 1.5” and 0.3” isn’t much to write home about.

Then we come to how the gun shoots. When you wring ev­ery drop of per­for­mance from a spring-pis­ton ri­fle they can be pretty tricky to shoot, and some­times downright un­pleas­ant. Go­ing back to the point I made ear­lier about pre­ci­sion be­ing the most im­por­tant thing for airgun hunters, then I’d rather shoot a docile 12 ft.lbs. gun well, than a dif­fi­cult 18ft.lbs. gun badly.

Tried them all

Hav­ing tried just about ev­ery high­power ri­fle I’ve ever seen, I’ve come to

the con­clu­sion that if you’re go­ing to make the ef­fort and spend the money to go down the route of get­ting your firearm cer­tifi­cate then you should make a big­ger step up in power to the 28 to 30ft.lbs. mark. This means us­ing a pre- charged pneu­matic ri­fle and all the at­ten­dant equip­ment that re­quires, but the step up in per­for­mance is well worth the ef­fort.

Like many peo­ple around the world with whom I’ve dis­cussed this, I’ve found that 900fps seems to be at the up­per end of the speed an airgun pel­let can be launched at and still keep its ac­cu­racy. Some­body told me re­cently that his ri­fle was ac­cu­rate at 960fps, but I haven’t seen that for my­self. I’d like to send my pel­lets as fast as I pos­si­bly could, but never at the ex­pense of ac­cu­racy. Shoot­ing pel­lets faster helps to flat­ten the tra­jec­tory and re­duces the wind drift, so is a huge help in hit­ting your mark.

Af­ter years of re­search, I’ve con­cluded that a .22 at 900fps is just about the op­ti­mum set-up, although I haven’t had much time to ex­per­i­ment with .25 and .30 pel­lets yet. So, for now, I’m us­ing .22 for my hunt­ing. The PBR for this com­bi­na­tion reached out to nearly 48 yards and the wind drift at 30 yards is half of the 18 ft.lbs gun, and these are re­ally worth­while im­prove­ments.

Easy to shoot

Be­cause pre- charged pneu­matic ri­fles are al­most re­coil­less, they’re very easy to shoot ac­cu­rately and are also close to silent with a mod­er­a­tor fit­ted. Add a multi-shot ac­tion, and the ben­e­fits to the mod­ern hunter are im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore.

The two most pop­u­lar 900fps set­ups are the 16 grain, Air Arms Field Di­ablo pel­let mak­ing 28.6ft.lbs. or the 21 grain Bis­ley Magnum mak­ing 37.8ft.lbs. I pre­fer the lighter pel­let be­cause the ri­fle will get more shots per fill at that power level. Also, from my own ex­pe­ri­ence I can tell no dif­fer­ence in killing per­for­mance between the two. Air­guns kill with pre­cise shot place­ment, and no amount of power can make up for a bad shot Any rab­bit or squir­rel get­ting in the way of ei­ther pel­let at that speed usu­ally drops on the spot if the place­ment is cor­rect.

I hope this helps if you’re plan­ning to go down the FAC route. I’ve tried them all and seen what works and what just isn’t worth the ef­fort, so take my ad­vice on the 900fps .22 and you’ll have all the per­for­mance you could want, or need.

“Air­guns kill with pre­cise shot place­ment and no amount of power can make up for a bad shot”

Main: This light­weight PCP de­liv­ers what I be­lieve is the op­ti­mum FAC per­for­mance Above: A PCP gives the best per­for­mance but don’t for­get to bud­get for a dive tank or a pump

Above: Ri­fles like the HW80 can have their power in­creased, but is that wise? Be­low left: 900fps is the key ve­loc­ity fig­ure for high- power ri­fles Be­low mid­dle: These are the most pop­u­lar pel­lets to use in high­power ap­pli­ca­tions Be­low right: The wind...

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