The Florida Airgun Hunting FAQ

Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
edited April 2 in General Hunting #1

Here is my initial FAQ I wrote to give people and introduction to airguns.
I have written up a FAQ for those interested in trying their hand at airgun hunting this coming season. Please respond to this thread with suggested questions to add to it and I'll add and answer them:

The Florida Airgun Hunting FAQ

Does Florida allow hunting with air guns?

Yes. Florida has allowed the use of airguns to hunt furbearers, wild hog, and non-protected species for several years. Florida has also allowed airgun use to hunt squirrel and rabbit since the Fall of 2013.

Beginning in the Fall of 2018, air guns will also be legal to hunt deer and turkey.

Are there any rules and restrictions that apply as to what kind of airguns may be used to hunt with?

Florida’s airgun rules are divided into two categories; the rules that apply deer and turkey, and then the rules that apply to all other otherwise legal animals (furbearers, wild hog, non-protected species, rabbits and squirrel).

Furbearers, wild hog, non-protected species, rabbits, and squirrels, have no specific requirements concerning type or caliber of airgun used.

Deer and turkey are subject to caliber and airgun design restrictions. Specifically, deer and turkey may only be hunted with a specific type of airgun called a pre charged pneumatic airgun (PCP). Also, deer are subject to a minimum caliber of .30, while turkey are subject to a minimum caliber of .20. Arrows may also be shot from PCPs for both deer and turkey so long as they meet the broadhead requirements already outlined in the regulations.

Why are deer and turkey limited to PCPs of certain calibers?

Generally, PCPs are significantly more accurate and powerful than other types of airguns. They also engender a degree of investment and commitment that other types of airguns do not necessarily require, which encourages those who use PCPs to learn and maintain a higher level of proficiency with those weapons.

The caliber restrictions contemplate the smallest caliber that would be needed to ethically kill the animal in question with a vitals/lung shot (or in the case of turkeys, a brain shot). Although deer and turkey could theoretically be ethically killed with calibers smaller than those specified in the regulations, the caliber restrictions provide a safety net to ensure that the proper weapon is paired for the species in question.

Replies

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited February 14 #2

    Can you tell me about the different kinds of airguns?

    There are generally 4 types of airguns widely available to consumers; springers, multi-pumpers, CO2 guns, and PCPs.

    “Springers” are the term used to describe break-action airguns that are commonly seen in retail stores such as Walmart. Generally, they are single shot weapons. Inside the gun there is a large spring or Venturi piston that is compressed when the gun is cocked. Upon the pulling of the trigger, the spring or piston rapidly expands, heating the air inside the gun to several hundred degrees and causing rapid expansion that propels the pellet.

    Multi-pumpers are the sort of airgun people associate with traditional BB guns such as the “Red Ryder.” This type of airgun has a small cylinder in it that holds air. The air inside the cylinder is compressed by a pump mechanism that the user pumps several times. The compressed air is then released to propel the pellet during the shot cycle.

    CO2 guns propel their pellets by releasing compressed CO2 from a small CO2 cylinder that fits into the gun. CO2 guns are generally the weakest type of air gun and are often used for plinking, although there are some models that are powerful enough to be appropriate for small game hunting. CO2 guns are very sensitive to outside temperature. Generally, the colder the outside conditions, the weaker the gun shoots.

    PCPs, or pre-charged pneumatics, have an air reservoir attached to or built into the gun that fills to a very high pressure. That reservoir interfaces with a valve that is opened during the shot cycle and releases a sip of that high-pressured air to launch the projectile. Most PCPs are built to operate at a pressure at or around 3,000psi, although designs made to work from fill pressures of 4,000-4,500psi are becoming more popular. PCPs have to be filled from an external air source.

    Furthermore, Florida hunting regulations define a PCP thusly:

    “Pre-charged pneumatic air gun - A commercially-manufactured air gun that is charged from an external high compression source such as an air compressor, air tank, or external hand pump and is specifically designed to propel a bolt, arrow, or other projectile commonly used for hunting.”

    What calibers are available for airguns?

    The common airgun calibers are as follows:

    .177
    .22
    .25
    .30/303
    .357/9mm
    .45
    .50

    Less common calibers include:
    .20
    .257
    .308
    .70+

    In the airgun community, .257 and larger are considered “big bore” air rifles, while .25 and lower are considered small or standard bore.

    What kind of rounds do airguns shoot?

    Airguns can shoot pellets, bullets, or bolts/arrows. Generally, springers, pumpers, and CO2 guns only shoot pellets. PCPs can shoot bullets or bolts in addition to pellets.

    All airguns are designed to shoot subsonic rounds. Although many have the power to project rounds at supersonic velocities, the twist rates of airgun barrels are designed to best handle subsonic rounds in the 800-950fps range. Arrows or bolts shot from airguns usually meet or exceed the fastest crossbows.

    Airgun pellets and bullets are generally made of almost pure lead, with tin and antimony added in various amounts to define the amount of expansion at a given velocity.

    Pellets and bullets commonly come in soft point, hollow point, ballistic tip, wad cutter, and dome.

    Like firearms, individual airguns will have some rounds the gun will shoot more accurately than others. The shooter must experiment with different rounds to determine which rounds his or her gun prefers.

    Bullets offer an advantage of having higher ballistic coefficients than pellets. Pellets have the advantage of having less contact with the gun’s rifling, lessoning the amount of air needed to launch it at a given velocity. 
The hourglass shape that most pellets exhibit is called the "diabolo" design.

    Generally, pellets are more accurate than bullets.

    The common calibers, as well as rarer .20, have commercially made pellets readily available and most have some degree of bullet selection. The odd calibers (.308, .257, and some others), only offer bullets.

    Can airguns shoot bullets made for firearms?

    Yes, so long as those bullets are mostly lead and not jacketed in harder alloys or metals. Most PCP barrels are made of steel and won’t be harmed by copper rounds, but the rounds will not expand correctly and will often be too heavy to perform at the air gun’s optimal velocities

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited April 2 #3

    How do airgun rounds kill game?

    Airguns do not kill by dumping large amounts of kinetic energy inside a target in the same way a traditional firearm rifle often kills. Instead, airguns kill by creating a mortal wound channel thru the vital organs or the brain of a target, in a similar way an arrow kills.

    An airgun hunter would be best served by thinking of his or her weapon as a crossbow that fires a pellet or bullet instead of a bolt and treat shot placement accordingly.

    Are there advantages or disadvantages to choosing one design of airgun over another for hunting in Florida?

    Springers and multi-pumpers offer the advantage of not requiring an external source of air for use. So long as the seals inside the gun remain in operable shape, springers and multi-pumpers can be charged for use by simply operating the gun’s built-in mechanisms. They are also cheaper than PCPs. In total, they are generally more accessible than PCPs and more powerful than CO2 guns. Many springers are accurate and powerful enough to take small game up to the size of raccoons out to ranges of 30 yards or so. Some people hog hunt with springers, although this is not recommended unless the hunter is highly experienced with airguns.

    In terms of disadvantages, springers and multi-pumpers are generally not as accurate or as powerful as PCPs, limiting their use to small game in most circumstances. Florida regulation specifically excludes their use for deer and turkey. They can also be significantly louder than PCPs. Although many contemporary springers come with built in suppressors that adequately muffle the muzzle blast, the nature of a springer’s design often causes it to make loud mechanical noises during the shot cycle as the internal spring or piston decompresses. Most multi-pumpers do not come with suppressors nor are they easily outfitted with an aftermarket suppressor. Furthermore, the internals of springers and multi-pumpers are generally more complicated than PCPs. Should a springer require internal maintenance, it must be placed in a press that is similar to a bow press. Finally, a multi-pumper gun must be pumped several times between shots, making a followup shot very impractical.

    CO2 guns are generally best reserved for plinking and target shooting. Should one chose an appropriately powered CO2 gun for small game hunting, it would offer the advantage of being a reasonably quiet gun, even when not suppressed. Also, some models of CO2 guns can be highly customized and are often a favorite for airgun hobbyists for project guns. However, their disadvantages for hunting are many, including weaker power, reliance on a limited fuel cartridge, and fickle performance in cold weather.

    PCPs offer several advantages over other airgun types. PCPs are generally much more powerful and accurate than other types of airguns. Many commercially produced PCPs rival or surpass the accuracy of match-grade firearms out to 100 yards or further. PCPs are also very quiet weapons when properly suppressed and are often quieter than a suppressed firearm of comparable ballistics. Internally most PCPs are of simple design and are easy to maintain with basic tools. PCPs can shoot either pellets or bullets, while other airgun types are designed to primarily shoot pellets. Finally, PCPs of appropriate caliber open the door for hunter to take deer and turkey.

    The first primary disadvantage of PCPs is that they require an external air source and that air source must be factored into the costs of buying and using a PCP. The second primary disadvantage of PCPs is that PCPs are generally much more expensive than other types of airguns.

    Why might someone chose an airgun over a firearm?

    There are several reasons someone may chose to hunt with airguns instead of firearms.

    First, some suppressed airguns are significantly quieter than suppressed firearms of the same or similar ballistics. It is often possible to take multiple animals in a group in a very quiet airgun before the animals realize they are being shot at or that their companions are dropping dead. Also, the sound of a properly suppressed and silenced air gun does not travel far, keeping distant game from becoming alert to hunting activities as well as offering a degree of privacy and discreetness for the hunter from the ears of other humans. Airgun suppressors do not require ATF registration as firearm suppressors do. Although ATF attempted to assert control over airgun suppressors if the suppressor in question could theoretically be affixed to a firearm, the Federal courts have held that ATF does not have jurisdiction over airgun suppressors if the suppressor in question in not actually intended for use or used on a firearm, even if it can theoretically be affixed to a firearm but there is no actual intent to do so.

    Airgun rounds offer some unique properties that make make them preferable over firearm rounds in some circumstances. Airgun rounds are almost pure lead with varying degrees of tin and antimony mixed in to control the level of expansion. Therefore, airgun rounds can be made to expand much more easily than firearm rounds at a given subsonic velocity. Airgun rounds are shot cold (with the exception of springer guns, which sometimes heat up the round). Cold rounds offer greater penetration and damage than hot rounds with all other factors being equal. Pellets offer limited range over bullets, which can be an advantage were safety is an issue and one may wish the projectile to drop to the ground after a set yardage. Finally, airgun rounds are cheaper than the cheapest firearm rounds and have not historically been subject to shortages like firearm ammunition has. It is also relatively easy to cast rounds for airguns and no gunpowder, primers, or casings are needed for “reloading” airguns.

    Airgun shots to game will often cause the game animal to respond with a leap, then quiet confusion or a short run until the animal expires a few seconds later, eliminating the need for long tracking. It is unknown whether this phenomenon is due to cold airgun projectiles not hurting as much as firearm and archery projectiles, or whether the quietness of the shot simply doesn’t trigger a flight response. Game shot by airguns with expanding bullets is more likely to run than game shot by non-expanding pellets.

    Disabled hunters have began to discover PCP airguns as an alternate to firearms due to the little or no recoil they offer. The largest and most powerful airguns have recoil comparable to a .22 magnum.

    Finally, one may chose an airgun simply for the challenge or fun of using one, for the same way one may chose to hunt with a traditional long bow over a modern compound bow. Airguns often become a hobby for many shooters who begin by experimenting with them out of curiosity. Many airguns are easily modifiable, making each gun a custom weapon tailored for its shooter.

    Disadvantages that airguns offer are also several. The most powerful airguns exceed the ballistics of the most powerful handguns but are still inferior to the ballistics of common hunting rifles. Firearms will almost always offer flatter trajectories and much further effective ranges. Firearms also offer death thru the dumping of kinetic energy, a process often called hydrostatic shock. Airguns can only offer localized hydrostatic shock a few inches from the wound channel. In a small animal like a squirrel, a chest shot can still cause hydrostatic shock in the brain as the brain is only a couple of inches from the chest. In a large animal, the hydrostatic shock will never reach the brain. Therefore, shot placement is critical with airguns moreso than firearms.

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited April 2 #4

    What sort of external air source does a PCP require to be filled?

    PCPs are filled from 1) a precharged air tank such as a scuba tank, 2) a high-pressure hand pump, or 3) a high pressure air compressor.

    Many airgun users own scuba tanks or HPA (high pressure air) paintball tanks that they get filled from local dive shops, paintball shops, or fire departments. One scuba tank will refill a PCP several times before the tank has to be refilled, although the specific number of refills one can get off of one scuba tank will depend on the scuba tank’s size, the air gun’s reservoir size, the psi charge required to fill the gun, and how efficient the gun is with air usage per shot. It only takes several seconds to fill a PCP from a charged scuba tank.

    Hand pumps resemble traditional bicycle pumps, but are made to operate at pressures for 3,000psi or more. How much pumping it takes to refill the gun will depend on the gun’s reservoir size. Generally, air tanks 250cc and smaller are practical to fill with a hand pump, while reservoirs larger than 250cc are not practical to fill with a hand pump. A small reservoir can be pumped up to full charge in just 25 strokes to a few minutes of pumping. A large reservoir can take several hundred pumps before it is topped off.

    Air compressors either fill the gun directly or will fill a scuba tank that can then be used to fill the gun. Air compressors can take over 24 hours or just a few minutes to fill a tank or a reservoir, depending on the model of compressor.

    What would the practical monetary costs be for each kind of air source?

    A used scuba tank in good condition could run up to $100 or more. Sometimes they can be found for significantly less, especially when they’re locally purchased. For safety’s sake, one would want to make sure the scuba tank is current in its hydro testing. Virtually all dive shops won’t fill a scuba tank that hasn’t been properly hydro-tested.

    Hand pumps can vary from $35 up to $300. Until a couple of years ago, unreliable hand pumps were in the $100 range while very good hand pumps were around $300. Recently, the Chinese have began producing reliable hand pumps for under $50. I currently use a $35 Chinese pump that he ordered directly from China thru a Chinese vendor.

    American and European air compressors run $550-$1,000 or more and are generally slow (20 minutes to fill a gun, 24 hours to fill a scuba tank). Again, the Chinese have recently began producing reliable compressors in the $300 range that fill guns in seconds or large scuba tanks in minutes. I use such a Chinese compressor.

    What does it mean for a PCP to be regulated?

    A regulated PCP is one that contains a plenum chamber between the reservoir and the valve that maintains a constant pressure. For example, the air reservoir may have a charge of 3000psi, while the regulated chamber is set for 1800psi. The advantage to a regulated PCP is that shot velocities are more consistent. The regulated chamber will stay at 1800psi every shot until the reservoir drops below 1800psi.

    Most PCPs are not regulated, and most hunters won’t notice the difference between a regulated and non-regulated PCP.

    What maintenance is involved with a PCP?

    There is little maintenance involved in a PCP. The guns are usually stored fully or partially charged. Orings inside the gun are usually the weakest link and sometimes have to be replaced. I may have to do 15-30 minutes of internal maintenance on any one of my guns once every 6 months to a year.

    
One would want to clean the barrel more frequently than a firearm barrel, although cleaning is not necessary until accuracy is diminished. Most PCPs should be capable of nickle-sized to dime-sized groups at 50 yards. The lead dust from pellets will eventually cake up the rifling. If cleanings are neglected, the lead can mix with humidity and become a hardened cake inside the riffling that even dedicated lead solvent won’t remove. I have found that such caking has to be removed thru hard mechanical brushing with a brass or copper brush, often spun in a drill chuck.

    What would the total costs be to get into hunting with a PCP?

    Presuming one wants a PCP for small game, varmint control, and turkey hunting, one could break it down the costs as follows:

    Entry Level PCP in .22 caliber: $200-$300.
    Hand pump: $35-$50.
    Aftermarket suppressor if the gun doesn’t come suppressed from the factory: $50.
    Multiple tins of pellets to determine accuracy for a given model gun: $20 for several different tins and varieties.

    Not counting optics, One could theoretically buy a decent turkey and small game package for the $275-$400 range.

    If one wants to have an appropriate deer package, the cost will go up significantly. There are currently no .30 or larger airguns on the market for less than $600. One may find decent deals on used or factory-blemished guns for less, but one would need to do his or her homework and legwork to find such a deal. Also, the deer guns are going to have larger air reservoirs that would make hand-pumping very impractical. One will want to factor in the cost of a more expensive but convenient air source.

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited February 14 #5

    Can you make some personal and practical recommendations to me for my first PCP airgun in terms of actual makes/models and calibers?

    For your very first PCP, and if you’re only a limited budget, look into the Gamo Urban, Benjamin Discovery, Benjamin Maximus, Benjamin Fortitude, or Umarex Gauntlet. Those are all sub $300 guns in .22 that have decent power for small game and are very accurate with the right pellets. They would all be fine squirrel guns and would also be appropriate for brain shooting turkeys to about 30 yards or so. Note the Maximus and Discovery require aftermarket suppressors. Also note that the Gauntlet has a large air reservoir that would make hand pumping more inconvenient. However, on a full charge that gun gets about 80 full powered shots, so the time between pump sessions would be diminished.

    That being said, my personal three favorite calibers are .25, .30, and .357. Anything smaller and you’re limited by what you can cleanly take. Anything larger and you’re gun will be hard to keep quiet and you’ll have a diminished shot count. In my opinion, Its not until one experiments with those three calibers that one begins to see the advantages airguns offer.

    If budget allows, I recommend the .25 Benjamin Marauder or .25 Airforce Condor as all purpose guns (except for deer). The .25 Marauder can cleanly take hogs and coyotes with brain shots out to 50 yards and cleanly take bobcats and smaller with lung shots to the same distance, all using pellets in the weight range of 25 to 45 grains in velocity ranges of 750fps to 900+fps (the lighter the pellet, the higher the velocity). The Condor has a wide range of power levels it can be easily adjusted to meet. It can shoot pellets the same speed level as the Marauder but it can also shoot them much faster all the way up to shoot bullets up to 55 grains at speeds of 900fps. It will very cleanly take coyote-sized game on lung shots at long distance. You could use the Condor as a squirrel gun today and a coyote gun tomorrow just but adjusting the power level on the gun’s adjustment wheel. The Marauder has a smaller reservoir, making hand pumping somewhat practical, while the Condor has a huge reservoir, making a compressor to scuba tank a necessity. The Condor is marked as a $700 gun, but can be had new from the factory outlet store for a little under $500, and Marauders are listed for $550 or $600 but can sometimes be had for as little as $425 new.

    Then if budget becomes no issue, I’d recommend looking into .30s and .357 airguns. .30 is my favorite caliber. .30 airguns are usually distinct from the American .308. The .30 most airguns are sized in is British .303, which is the standard .30 firearm caliber in Britain. I own a .30 that will give me 60-80 full powered, quiet shots. Without adjustment, I can hunt deer with it one day and squirrels the next so long as I limit my shots to head and neck shots on the squirrels to avoid tearing up too much meat. I know air gunners in other states who use that gun for taking nuisance deer and they make very clean kills using expanding, ballistic tip pellets thru the lungs. I have a casting kit that lets me cast 63 grain HP bullets that expand to well over .50 caliber on impact (in my mind it seems like I once made some that expanded to .70, but I can't confirm that as I lost my pictures I had that documented my different bullet mushrooms with caliber measurements).

    .357 airguns are beasts. They’re a little too much gun for smaller game, but it wouldn’t be unrealistic to try to squirrel hunt with one, so long as one has safe backdrops and doesn’t mind blowing large chunks of bark off of the tree behind the squirrels and getting the occasional mangled squirrel. A .357 is the largest caliber that can still be made to have a decent shot count and be made reasonably quiet. Although my brother has a suppressed .45 Texan that is somewhat quiet.

    The budget .30 and .357 airguns available are generally made in Turkey by a company called Hatsan. They are decent guns for the money, but many airgunners modify them to get extra power out of them. The Koreans make decent airguns in the .30, .357. .45, and .50 range. There are two primary Korean brands, Sam Yang/Seneca, and Evanix. Evanix has a large following in the U.S., although my experience with their guns has been mediocre. Sam Yang/Seneca is known to make excellent and very powerful hunting guns such as the Sumatra, Recluse, and Dragon Claw. However, those guns will need aftermarket suppressors. One can expect to pay $600-$800 for entry level, but decent, .30 and up airguns. Sometimes deals can be had putting them below $600 if one shops around enough.

    High end air guns run from the $1,400 to $2400 range. I own one such gun. You don't need that kind of gun to have a good hunting gun, but eventually people who really "get into" airguns gravitate towards those sorts of guns for their potential for elegant performance.

    Can you boil down what you just said above into just a few sentences?

    If you want a squirrel and varmint gun that you can also brain shoot hogs with, go with a .25. If you want to lung shoot coyotes as well, go with an ultra powered .25. I'd also consider a .25 an appropriate turkey gun.

    If you want a powerful squirrel, varmint, and turkey gun that you can also appropriately lung shoot a deer with, go with a .30.

    If you want a gun primarily for deer and hog hunting that you don't really plan to squirrel hunt with, but would also still be appropriate for taking the occational feeder pests like a **** or a coyote out to 100 yards or more, look into a .357 or even a .45.

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited April 20 #6

    Where can I learn more about airguns?

    There is a world-wide community of airgun shooters and hunters that are active on the Internet. Youtube also has several videos showing airguns in action against game of various species. Resources include:
    Gateway to Airguns
    The Yellow Airgun Forum
    Airgun Nation
    The Airgun Guild

    Additional Questions:

    What Florida seasons will allow airgun use?

    On private lands, deer and turkey may be hunted with PCPs of appropriate caliber during General Gun season, Fall Turkey season, and Spring Gobbler season. In WMAs, airguns for deer and turkey may be hunted with PCPs during General Gun, and possibly Fall Turkey for those WMAs that allow Fall turkey harvest with a firearm. One needs to check his or her individual WMA brochures to be sure.

    For all other animals that may be hunted with airguns, airgun use is legal during any open season during defined hunting hours.

    Are airbows legal for deer and turkey

    Yes, airbows will be legal during any season otherwise legal for airgun use so long as the broadhead in use meets the same requirement of bows and crossbows. Airbows will not be legal in archery or muzzleloading seasons. Disabled hunters may be able to seek permission to use airbows in the special seasons.

    Do I really need a suppressor for my airgun?

    I recommend suppressing any airgun that doesn’t come suppressed from the factory. Using an airgun unsuppressed gives up a major advantage that the airgun offers, the ability to make the gun more silent than a firearm.

    When testing the loudness of your airgun, I recommend asking someone else to shoot it (in a safe direction) while you stand to the side of the gun at 50 yards. The loudness of the gun at muzzle will almost always be significantly louder than down range. Airguns that may sound somewhat loud up close may only sound like a pop or a puff at 50 yards and beyond.

    I've done some research on the airgun forums, and sometimes the science or mechanics behind airguns seems too complicated, do I really have to understand all of that before I can get into using airguns?

    Nope. Most airguns are built to just be filled and shot. Many people like to modify their airguns to stretch out the maximum performance they are capable of, whether it be for more power, higher shot counts, quieter shots, ect. I liken that aspect of the airgun hobby to people who like to hotrod cars or people who are into reloading firearm rounds. For many of those people (and I am somewhat in that camp), the guns are an end unto themselves. However, one need not know or care about the engineering aspects of airguns to enjoy their use for sport shooting or hunting. The most the casual airgun shooter needs to know is how to safety handle the gun, fill it with high pressure air, and replace some of the gun's orings should they fail.

    In what ways might an airgun be dangerous?

    PCPs use very high pressure air; 3,000-4,500psi. They are manufactured within strict tolerances to not fail unless the pressure in the gun exceeds the operating pressure several times over, and then the orings willl likely fail before the air reservoir does. I am aware of two accidents with PCPs in the near decade I've been involved with them. The first accident is on Youtube where a couple of guys were modifying an airgun incorrectly and without depressurizing it first, causing the valve the shoot out the gun like a missile and shooting the user in the leg/thigh. The second accident involved a cheaply made Chinese gun where the end cap of the gun's reservoir shot off due to poorly machined threads, but no one was injured in that accident.

    Don't buy Chinese made PCPs and don't modify the gun before you 1) learned the ins and outs of how its designed and 2) depressurize the gun.

    Also, never, ever, introduce petroleum based cleaners or lubes anywhere in a PCP except the barrel itself. Its ok to wipe a PCP down with an oil rag on the outside, but never, ever, have the gun apart and let petroleum products make their way to the pressure chamber. Petroleum explodes under pressure. If you use a hand pump, never lube the pump with petroleum oils. Only use nearly pure silicon grease in the pressured areas such as plumber's grease.

    You should also never introduce petroleum to a springer. When the inside of the springer heats up during the shot, it will set the oil on fire. This phenomenon is called "dieseling." It is rarely dangerous but it will destroy a gun thru introducing pressures inside the gun beyond what the gun was designed for. All springers will diesel slightly at various times, causing some spoke to come out the barrel after a shot. Small amounts are normal, but it should never be a flame.

    You mentioned cleaning earlier, do I need to do anything special about cleaning a PCP barrel?

    If the PCP barrel is made of steel (most are), clean it like a firearm barrel, with taking care to keep the cleaners in the barrel area and not letting them get into the gun itself. Most PCP barrels are easily removable and can be detached from the breach. Methods used to clean "cowboy" pistols that shoot mostly lead rounds are applicable to PCP barrels. Don't believe what you may read on airgun forums about damaging a PCP barrel with a copper or brass brush. That's a myth that's a holdover from the days when most airgun barrels were copper or brass lined. Although note that some springer barrels are still thus lined. Many people who practice very light cleanings eventually get barrels so fouled that they cannot later easily clean them. Contrary to what is taught some airgun articles, PCPs do not clean themselves out every shot. One can see how much lead dust is being deposited after several shots by removing the suppressor and examining the amount of dust in the baffles. One can also see that if left in place, the lead dust will mix with humidity and make a hard cake that requires some mechanical force to remove.

    Larger caliber airguns foul faster than smaller caliber airguns, and barrels that have been polished on the inside foul slower than barrels that haven’t. Airgun shooters measure accuracy by whether the rounds are hitting the same hole with little variance at 50 yards and sub 1 inch groups at 100 yards. Precision is important for airgun hunting. Thus, the airgun hunter will want to check his groupings every so often.

    I clean my big bore air rifles every 100 shots or so and my smaller bore air rifles every several hundred shots or whenever I see the groups opening up.

  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited February 14 #7

    I've never seen airgun pellets in Walmart besides .177 and .22. Where can a person order these large caliber pellets or bullets from?

    Generally, one will have to get pellets off the internet. Some large hunting retailers like Bass Pro may sometimes carry a small selection of .25 or larger pellets. There are several on-line stores devoted to airgun supplies. Amazon also sells several pellets.

    There are several "mom and pop" type online venders who hand-cast bullets for airguns in various calibers. Some of these venders can recommend particular bullet designs and weights for certain make and model airguns that are known to perform well paired with the gun in question.

    For people who have an interest in self-sustainability, one can learn to cast his or her own pellets or bullets. I personally cast .25 and .30 bullets for some of my airguns and its quiet easy once the technique is learned. I use small ingots of mostly pure lead cut with tire lead as my base alloy. I can control the rigidity of my bullets by how much tin and antimony I allow it from the tire lead.

    Are traditional .177 PCPs, springers, or any other type of .177 airgun useful for hunting?

    Yes! Any airgun that can shoot a standard .177 pellet between 800-850fps can make an excellent squirrel gun. Many .177s are so quiet that several squirrels can be killed in the same tree in short succession as the hunter moves his crosshairs from squirrel to squirrel.

    Some people use .177s for larger game either out of convenience or to test their marksmanship, all the way up to hog-sized game. I'd never recommend that for anyone except an experienced airgun hunter. Generally, .177s are best reserved for squirrel and rabbit, although the .177 can be a passible nuisance **** gun for the back yard so long as the hunter is careful to take precise brain shots.

  • joekat46joekat46 Posts: 1,848 Captain
    A few days ago Jim Shockey on his Pursuit channel show shot two fairly large Texas hogs with an air rifle.  Pretty impressive.  
  • CyclistCyclist Posts: 22,225 AG
    Fl Bullfrog, your write up is the definition of comprehensive.  Interesting and informative!

    Thank you.
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  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited March 26 #10
    Here's a video I made that explains a little bit about what makes air gun pellets kill so well, even when they don't expand:



    Basically, the skirt of the pellet becomes a cutting edge as it spins thru its target. 

    With a 860fps muzzle velocity, a 44.75 grain .300 pellet will shoot clean thru 1 foot of 12.5% ballistics gel at 50 yards and tear up a wound channel comparable to a broadhead. That's with significantly less energy than a .22LR (the gun is capable of lots more energy but for demonstration purposes I turned it down so as to match the capabilities of an entry level .30 PCP airgun). 

    Years of airgun hunting has convinced me that our traditional understanding of how FPE relates to wound channels may be wrong or incomplete. Later I'll do some more bullet testing and demonstrate how some heavy .30 airgun bullets will give you wound channels and expansion comparable to a .30 firearm even though the firearm has many, many, more times the energy. 
  • jimglassjimglass Posts: 83 Greenhorn
    Yes, great write up
  • HuntnfeeshHuntnfeesh Posts: 234 Deckhand
    What happens when that same pellet hits the shield on a boar hog? Or a shoulder blade? Energy is important when shot placement is not perfect.  Can you incorporate some shoulder blades and rib bones into your future ballistic gel demos.  Sounds like these air guns will increase the number of tracks the blood trailing network runs.  Don't get me wrong,  all things being ideal they sound quite effective, but seemingly very little margin for error or game movement. 
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    edited April 18 #13
    The pellet and caliber in the above video will shoot thru the shoulder blade of a deer and break thru the ribs no problem. I don’t know what this caliber would do to a boar’s shoulder shield, but I know that larger calibers like .357s and .45s will punch on thru it and often out the other side no problem. Which I would recommend shooting a hog with an airgun just like with a bow, in the armpit with the leg extended forward. That pushes the shield out of the way. Or brain shoot them. Even small pellets with crunch their skull easy. 

    Here’s the above .30 shooting thru pine trees:

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmkUWD4M4NM

    I can incorporate hard items into or in front of the gel. I know that even at 100 yards the .30 pellet is shooting thru 3/4” pine planks. Shooting thru a slab of wood would be easy. The harder part will be finding good bone. It would have to be fresh and wet to be valid. I might can find something from the butcher that will work. 
  • HuntnfeeshHuntnfeesh Posts: 234 Deckhand
    Look forward to it... thanks bullfrog
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 1,406 Officer
    Bump. I'm going to try to film the next round of penetration tests this weekend. 
  • GrumpytrollGrumpytroll InvernessPosts: 1 Greenhorn
    I hunt squirrel with a QB78 that I modified to pcp in January of 2017 since then have taken 31 squirrel a **** and armadillo. It is .22 Cal can it be used for turkey shoots at 925 fps with a 18 g pellet. The only problem I have is only get 4 shots at that fps before pumping up again that takes 13 pumps to reach 1800 psi again.
    Great article thanks for the info this is my first time on this forum.
    Grumpytroll

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