How Altitude and Pressure Affect Your Multi-Pump Gun
Did you know that altitude and pressure will affect your pump gun? Airgun manufacturers will typically impose a one to 10 time pumping maximum on their multi-pump airguns based on standard day conditions and maximum valve pressure. The pump limit is meant to preserve seals, reduce wear and tear and prevent valve lock. It’s a guide, but not necessarily an absolute.
When the air is thin, multi-pumps have little to compress and therefore get weaker at higher altitudes. There is less air for them to compress and store. That can be offset by pumping more to compensate. For instance, if you live in a mountain state and have an Umarex Next Generation APX or Daisy 880 for instance, you may have to pump 12 to 15 times to achieve the same velocity that 10 pumps produces on a normal day at sea level. On the flip side, if you’re in Death Valley on a winter night just seven or eight pumps might suffice for the same velocity achievable at sea level with 10 pumps.
Pump Guns are the Most Useful of Airguns
Pump guns are the most useful of airguns. Why? You can adjust the pressure at any altitude or temperature to achieve the same velocity without any extra gear just by altering the number of pumps. Pneumatic pump guns don’t require CO2, which is affected by temperature and you don’t have to worry about density altitude like in fixed volume break barrel spring rifles.
Always Use Caution with Pump Guns
Whether you pump just one or two times or experiment to find out how many pumps your gun takes to reach its maximum velocity where you live, be aware that just one pump will send a projectile flying at dangerous speeds. One or two pumps can cause serious injury or property damage. No matter how many times you might pump your airgun, ALWAYS keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Don’t aim or point the gun at anything other than a target or object intended to be used as a target.
by Chip Coone
Chip Coone is a writer for Umarex USA, Inc. The writings of Chip Coone are not representative of Umarex USA, Inc. or its affiliates or parent companies and are the opinion or reflection of Chip Coone.
I have the pleasure of speaking to hundreds of folks each year. Many are already hardcore airgunners, but others are still sitting on the fence and have one very specific question. That question is simply “why airguns?” It’s actually an easy question to answer and it’s what we are going to address in this article.
Usually my first response to the question of “why airguns” is why not? If you like to shoot, airguns are another opportunity to pull the trigger. What I’ve found is that most of the time folks think we airgunners are trying to get people to choose between airguns and firearms, as in one or the other. That could not be further from the truth. It’s not actually one or the other; it’s about adding airguns as another way to get quality trigger time.
The truth is that airguns offer traditional shooters the advantage of more trigger time at a much lower price per round. A quality airgun will cost about the same as a quality firearm. Take for example a decent AR15. Decked out with optics, a decent AR15 is going to run $1000 or more. Shooters can get a very nice PCP airgun with all the gear to keep it going, for about the same price; and that’s on the rifle side of things. When we consider all the replica air pistols on the market, things get really interesting.
But where airguns really shine, is the convenience of being able to shoot in more locations. Provided your city or town permits it, maybe even right in your own back yard. Moreover, the price per round is a fraction of what it costs to shoot firearms. When you compare inexpensive .22LR ammo to quality .22 pellets, you’ll find that you can probably shoot 3 to 4 times as much with a pellet gun than you can with a .22LR. And, if you shoot .177, that ratio can double or triple. If you like to shoot, you can shoot a lot more for a lot less if you add airguns to your collection.
Many shooting disciplines lend themselves to airguns as a supplement for training, as many functions crossover. Some examples may be, learning muscle memory to draw and gain a sight picture on a target, or learning breathing and trigger control for precision shooting. Airguns allow for a more convenient and affordable means for someone to improve their gun handling skills.
Our municipality allows for target shooting with airguns on your own property provided what you shoot, i.e. pellets, bbs, airsoft bbs, etc. do not leave your property and that you don’t violate any noise ordinances. Keeping this in mind I’ve setup two shooting areas in our yard, one short range for pistol practice, and one longer range for rifle practice. Even though we have a tiny yard, we’ve managed to make it work. This allows our entire family to get in that trigger time whenever we like.
We shoot replica pistols on our short 10-yard range to help develop and maintain a basic familiarity with our actual firearms. This does not replace practice and training with live ammo, but rather it is a supplement to keep up our proficiency. In addition, we shoot suppressed air rifles on our longer 22-yard range to work on our precision shooting. We can do this all on our own property whenever time allows, without having to plan a special trip to the range.
Another great reason to look at airguns as a supplement to your firearms collection is pest control, specifically small pests like rats, squirrels, and rabbits, that can cause significant property damage. There are times when it is perfectly legal to remove pests that are causing damage, but illegal to do so with a firearm. .22 caliber and larger airguns fit very well into this situation.
Because they are very quiet as compared to firearms, they can get the job done without disturbing anyone. There is an airgun for every pest out there, regardless the size. Obviously, you need to use good common sense here, but the point is that modern airguns bring a lot to the table in this regard.
Beyond pest control, airguns are also great for small game hunting. Rabbit and squirrel hunting are good examples. They provide a greater challenge than traditional firearms and are inherently safer for developing shooters and young hunters. Again, because they are quieter than traditional firearms, you can often get several shots off before your game even knows what is happening, allowing you to maximize your time in the field and bring home more game.
While the other reasons to add airguns to your collection are all very “practical,” there is another side to them that you just can’t overlook and that’s fun. If you like to shoot, probably a part of you likes the fun of it. Seeing the bullseye in your target being drilled repeatedly is just fun. Airguns allow us to do this just about any time the urge comes along. And, there’s more than just paper out there to shoot.
So many different target options on the market bring shooting fun and airguns together. There are resetting metal targets, knock down targets, heck you can have a lot of fun with paint balls and golf tees, the options are really only limited by your own imagination.
If you have been on the fence about adding airguns to your shooting collection. It’s time to get off the fence and start shooting. I would bet there is something out there that will resonate with how and what you like to shoot. Whether you prefer a serious traditional hunting rifle, a lever action 30/30 rifle, or maybe even an old cowboy action Colt 44 revolver, there is an airgun with your name on it.
Rick Eutsler, Jr. of AirgunWeb & AirgunWebTV
Airgun Critic, Writer, Videographer, and all around lover of Airguns.
Special thanks to Harwood W. Loomis at The M1911 Pistols Organization (www.M1911.org).
Remember the Lone Ranger? Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and look at one of the newest CO2-powered BB guns offered by Umarex USA, under license from Colt. This is the Colt Peacemaker .177, an incredibly accurately detailed (and fun!) reproduction of a Colt Peacemaker Model from the late 1800s. This is, without a doubt, the most accurate Peacemaker reproduction I’ve ever seen in a BB gun. It looks, feels and acts real.
The level of detail and authenticity is astonishing, carrying through the entire gun. Small details throughout, tell you this is a Colt Peacemaker.
The CO2 cartridge is contained in the grip frame. The left side panel pops off, revealing space for the gas canister in the area where the hammer spring would be in a real revolver. The canister is locked into place by a set screw under the grip frame. A hex key is built into the removable grip panel.
Now for the fun part. Air gun revolvers typically use a small, pinwheel-like disk, with holes for loading the pellets. The disk is then dropped into the gun to shoot. It works, but it doesn’t look or act much like a real revolver. The Peacemaker is different. Rather than load pellets or BBs into a tiny disk, the Peacemaker uses realistic-looking bullets with a hole running length-wise. The center hole contains a rubber sleeve sized to hold a BB that’s inserted into the back end. The bullets are loaded into the cylinder, just like the Lone Ranger’s silver bullets. It just doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Between the realistic action and the weight and balance of the all-metal frame, there’s enough six-gun here to “fill yer hand, Pardner” and have fun plinking. The only problem is that you’ll likely want a lot of extra “bullets”, and they are so popular that it’s not easy to buy spares.
The Peacemaker has a manual safety. It’s inconspicuously located under the frame, just ahead of the trigger guard. It’s easily accessed and used, yet it’s out of the way until you need it.
Shooting the Peacemaker is a joy—just like playing cowboys and Indians like us older kids did when we were young. The trigger pull is light and crisp, and because it’s a single action revolver there is little trigger movement. BBs have plenty of power to punch through soda cans, and the Peacemaker is plenty accurate for an afternoon of backyard plinking. The Colt/Umarex Peacemaker is in a class by itself; there is nothing even remotely like it on the market today.
By Dennis Adler
Collectors call them “snake guns,” Pythons, Diamondbacks, Cobras, Anacondas, King Cobras, etc. Colt once had an entire lineup of famous double action revolvers named after snakes, and each and every one, in its own right, has become collectible, some more than others. At the top of the order was the Colt Python. Back in the 1950s and well into the late 20th century revolvers were king among law enforcement sidearms, and one of the most popular was the Colt Python .357 magnum revolver, introduced in 1955.
The .357 Magnum Colt Python was one of two significant revolvers introduced in 1955, making it a very memorable year for Colt. The other was the second generation Single Action Army. The Python was a superbly designed and handcrafted gun, harder to manufacturer because it was built to a standard that only Colt could live up to; Pythons took longer to make than any other production pistol at the time because each was hand fitted and hand polished to perfection. And they were unmistakable for any other revolver, bold in shape with a full length bull barrel, fully shrouded ejector rod and full length stippled vent rib. The grips were big and distinctively shaped to provide a firm hold on the heavy recoiling .357 magnum, which came with a standard 6-inch barrel. An optional 4-inch barrel (popular with law enforcement) was also offered, a short-lived 3-inch barrel (Combat Python), long 8-inch target barrel length, and the very desirable compact model with a 2½-inch barrel and smaller Colt Service grips for easier concealment. Add the standard fully adjustable white-outline rear sight, a 1/8-inch front ramp with red inset, handsome Colt Royal blue finish or high polish nickel, and you had guns with instant appeal. Built like a target pistol the Pythons came with a distinctive wide spur checkered hammer and grooved, curved trigger. Overall weight for the standard 6-inch model was 44 ounces, 41 ounces with the 4-inch barrel.
Used by the California Highway Patrol, Colorado and Georgia State Police, and Florida Highway Patrol, among others, the Python’s remained popular with civilians and law enforcement alike in the decades leading up to the transition to semi-autos in the 1980s. By the 1990s high capacity semi-autos sealed the fate of the revolver as a primary sidearm for the vast majority of law enforcement agencies. By the early 21st century the Python and all Colt revolvers, save for the Single Action Army, were discontinued.
A little more than a year ago Umarex got together with Colt to build an authentic copy of the famed Single Action Army. To make this gun as authentic as possible the six-shot Peacemaker was literally a six-shooter using brass bullets that loaded a single steel BB into each cartridge. You loaded and unloaded the air pistol exactly as one would a real .45 Colt SAA. The concept of the BB cartridge opened the door for Umarex and Colt to take the cartridge-loading air pistol to the next level and reproduce the second most famous Colt wheelgun in history, the Python. This new double action, single action airgun is nearly identical is size, weight and operation and load their charge of six rounds either individually or with an included speed loader. (Extra cartridges and speed loaders are also available for just $22.95 a set).
The Hands-on Test
The moment you pick up the Colt Python airgun you have a sense of authenticity in their weight, balance, and very familiar operation. The guns even fit existing Colt Python holsters like the Galco thumb break belt holster shown. With a very modest suggested retail of $149.99 the Pythons are available in a deep matte blued black or nickel (actually chrome) finish with authentic wood grained or black checkered plastic grips. (The nickel chrome versions are a Pyramyd Air exclusive).
The BB-cartridge loading six-shooters weigh in at 39.4 ounces (empty) just 4.6 ounces less than a real Python with 6-inch barrel. The double action functions smoothly with a double action trigger pull averaging 10 lbs. 11 oz. and 6 lbs. 7 oz. single action. The wide notch rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage with a serrated ramped front sight for easy target acquisition. It is a hand-filling revolver, just like the original .357 Magnum models.
At a glance the Umarex/Colt Python air pistols look incredibly accurate, and they are for the most part, but there are some noteworthy differences aside from what comes out the barrel. For one, there is an important and discretely placed serrated manual safety lever at the base of the hammer that allows the gun to be locked so the action will not function. This is a good design, especially on the blued gun where it is almost indistinguishable against the dark finish. There is a corresponding window on the right side of the frame that displays a white S or F to denote the pistol’s condition. The guns have the original “PYTHON .357” and “.357 MAGNUM CTG” markings on the left side of the barrel and the Rampant Colt on the frame just below the cylinder release.
Unlike many CO2 powered revolvers the Python does not require removing a grip panel to insert the 12 gr. cartridges; rather like semi-autos with interchangeable magazines, the base of the pistol grip has a recessed, threaded cover that unscrews allowing the CO2 to be inserted, and then with the cap replaced, it is turned tight with an enclosed hex head wrench to pierce the cartridge and ready the gun for firing. This keeps things looking and working more authentically since the grips are actually screwed to the frame and have Colt emblems. Now for the differences; the frame is just slightly higher to accommodate the air pistol action, the ramped front sight atop the vent rib does not have the red insert, and the rear lacks the white outline, minor details but a difference. The speed loaders are easy to use and make loading the six BB-charged rounds as close to the real thing as it gets.
For the range test I used one of the best steel BBs on the market, Hornady Black Diamond black anodized BBs. The rounds are simply pressed into the hollow point bullet nose, and you can do this quickly by placing all six cartridges into the speed loader (just seat the cartridges and lock the release) then press the rounds into a tin holding a quantity of BBs. They find the hollow point openings and with a little downward pressure are loaded all at once and ready for the cylinder drop. Just make sure they are seated all the way in.
With the 6-inch barrel, excellent sights, an average velocity of 400 fps, and light, crisp, single action trigger pull, the target was moved out from the usual 21 feet used for semi-auto blowback action airguns to a more competitive 10 meters (33 feet). The test was done with the blued gun with two six round sets being discharged at a Birchwood Casey 3.75 inch circumference Big Burst orange target. The gun was consistent placing all 12 steel BBs inside the 10 and X rings with a best six measuring 1.5 inches.
Overall the Umarex Colt Pythons airguns are a great deal of fun to shoot and despite being air pistols they have a certain panache that only a Colt can deliver, even if it is only pushing a .177 caliber BB downrange. For more information visit umarexusa.com.
Are there differences between low end, say $200 airguns, and the higher end $500 plus airguns? I mean is it really worth the extra money to purchase a European air rifle over a less expensive clone of the same gun? This is a very good question and one that I discuss all the time with new airgunners.
I’ve been shooting airguns for many years. I started with the inexpensive copies because they promised to be “just like” their European counterpart. After a lot of shooting under my belt, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that there are huge differences. Many of which you wouldn’t see at first glance, but that become more evident with time.
High End Airguns
Some of the big names in high end airguns are Walther, RWS, Hammerli, Air Arms, Weihrauch, Feinwerkbau, Anschutz, BSA, and the European Beeman models just to name a few. These guns not only look great, but are built to be handed down from generation to generation. I’ve seen many companies attempt to copy mainstays like the Beeman R9, or the RWS 34 & 350 Magnum. But in the end, while they may look similar and may promise similar performance to the real thing, they never actually shoot like the real thing.
There’s a misconception that you’ll need to spend several hundreds of dollars to get a “high end,” quality European airgun. But “high end” doesn’t always have to mean a high price tag. Sure there are some competition products from Air Arms, Anschutz, and Feinwerkbau, that will push the envelope costing nearly $4,000 dollars, but there are also great products from Walther and RWS that can fit into just about any budget, and actually come in priced under some of the non-European imports.
Perhaps my favorite example of an affordable yet “high end” airgun would have to be the Walther Terrus, built in Germany by Walther. It’s easy to cock, easy to shoot, delivers great accuracy and costs under $300 retail. When you get up close and shoot the Terrus side by side a similarly priced, non-European import, the difference is more than just a little dramatic. The cocking stroke is extremely smooth and tight with zero slop. The rifle is very well balanced and great for younger shooters as well as older shooters given its lighter weight and easy cocking stroke. Out of the box the Terrus has about a 2 pound trigger pull that’s more than suitable for bench shooting as well as hunting small game in the field. The shot cycle is also tight, without the usual “twang” or “ping” you would usually get from a spring or gas piston airgun. All in all, it’s perhaps the best “first airgun” for a new airgunners looking to get into the sport.
So What’s the Real Difference?
When it comes to the major differences, it generally starts with the raw materials and goes from there. The standards used by the higher end European airgun manufactures are simply higher than what’s expected from the non-European counterparts. Unfortunately, photos seldom do these products justice. You really need to see them in person and feel the metal and other materials to understand the contrast between high end products vs commodity products.
Once you get one in your hands you can see that the primary distinction is the overall fit and finish. This is most evident as you begin to work the mechanics of the gun. Less expensive guns may take hundreds of pellets to season the internals and get them through the “break in” period. By contrast, quality airguns generally only take a few shots to hit their stride. Some good examples are the Walther Rotek and the Walther LGU. In fact the Walther LGU may be my favorite spring powered airgun for bench shooting. In the right conditions I’ve shot sub 1” groups at 50 yards with my .22 cal Walther LGU. I even had the chance to prove that point on American Airgunner.
Why Should New Airgunners Consider a Better Airgun as Their First Airgun?
As I mentioned earlier, I started my life as an airgunner much like most folks just getting into the sport. I didn’t want to invest a lot because I wasn’t sure if I was really going to like it. Unfortunately my first couple of air rifles where really poor examples of what the sport had to offer. They were cheap, and they performed like it. I actually almost walked away from the sport because I was just not convinced that it had anything to offer me.
But then I had the chance to try something that actually lived up to the potential. That rifle was the RWS 350 Air Magnum. I’d shot many airguns that claimed to be “like” the 350, but there was nothing like shooting the real thing. It’s not a cheap airgun. But, it does everything it claims to do and is a real pleasure to shoot. Once I had experienced what a real airgun could do, I was hooked.
Having been in the sport professionally for almost ten years now, I’ve learned that it’s actually less expensive, and less frustrating, to buy the right airgun the first time. Trying to save money on lessor products just does not work out in the end. They seldom live up to the expectations and the real performance of the higher end options. So if you’re looking into airguns for the first time, or you’ve been frustrated trying to find something that really works as promised, go ahead and raise your sights a little bit and consider some of the higher end European airgun options. You’ll spend a little more up front, but I bet you’ll be glad you did in the end.
Rick Eutsler, Jr. of AirgunWeb & AirgunWebTV
Airgun Critic, Writer, Videographer, and all around lover of Airguns.