What is the Measure of an Airgun?
The 4 things I look for in an airgun.
So I recently sent an email to a manufacturer basically praising them on their creation and execution of what I consider to be a pretty nice airgun. What I got back was a very interesting email that got me thinking about what’s really important. I looked strictly at how the gun performed and shot, both close in and at range. In their response, they seemed to really fixate on the importance of how accessories could be attached to the rifle, something I addressed, but maybe not as completely as they would have liked? While that’s a cool feature, is it what makes an airgun stand out? As I sit here and ponder the question, I believe I’ve come up with the 4 basics of what I look for in an airgun. I’m curious if they line up with what you all look for?
Performance – does it live up to the hype?
One of the first things I look for when I’m testing a new airgun or considering a new airgun purchase is the overall performance, or the claimed performance. Most airguns can be put into some fairly basic categories like target vs hunting airguns. Target guns generally don’t shoot that fast, nor are they meant to shoot that far. On the other hand, hunting airguns need to have sufficient power and range based on what you’re looking to hunt. If the manufacturer claims a specific performance level, then I want to see the product meet or exceed their claims, or at the very least, be pretty close.
Accuracy – can it hit the target?
The next thing I look for is going to be accuracy. This standard will also vary based on the purpose of the gun. A match grade target gun or bench rest gun had better be incredibly accurate. Hunting airguns have a bit more margin for error. If they can keep their shots in the kill zone, that’s accurate enough. Small game guns need to keep their shots into a 1″ kill zone at a reasonable range. Say 20 to 30 yards with a spring gun and 40 to 50 yards with a PCP. When it comes to big bore guns, things are all over the map and I take them on a case-by-case basis. I’d love to see 1″ at 50 yards, but generally 2″ to 3″ at 50 yards is pretty good for most big bore airguns.
Shootability – can it hit the target again and again with relative ease?
Shootability is a term that I created, I think I created it anyway, that talks about how easy it is to see repeatable accuracy. It’s one thing to get a good group here and there, but getting consistent accuracy say 95 times out of 100 is what I’m looking for. Also, it goes to how easy it is to see that repeatable accuracy. For example, a big magnum spring airgun like the Umarex Octane or the Benjamin Trail NP XL may be accurate, but they may also take a lot of technique and practice to see repeatable accuracy. In contrast, something like the new Gamo Coyote takes little to no effort to see 50 yard accuracy group after group. The Coyote would class as a very “shootable” airgun, where some of the magnum springer would not.
Value – is it worth the investment?
This part is pretty subjective in the end. Each of us have a different threshold of what’s “worth it” vs what’s “not worth it.” When I started out, $250 was an impossible amount of money to spend on an “airgun.” That has really changed for me at this point. Each person will have to judge a product’s value based on their wallet and how well it has performed in the previous categories. When a product meets and/or exceeds the manufacturer’s performance claims, can hit the target with precision time and time again, and can do so with minimal effort, then the value is probably going to be there too.
What do you think?
I’m curious to know what you all look for when considering an airgun a “good” airgun? Let us know, as it will help us quantify the important points as we do product reviews and provide information on all the new airguns hitting the market.