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Hunting with Air Rifles Empty Hunting with Air Rifles

Post by 12acrehome on Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:52 am

Since most of us are on small acreages, and have neighbors that most likely would not want to listen to much shooting. That does not mean that you could not hunt your own property, with some care and allowances. The care taken is more to ensure your neighbors do not see your rifle and cause you trouble. Some just do not understand. I try to avoid these types, rather than educate them. The allowances are in the range and equipment used, and the direction you can safely shoot. The direction is obvious, or should be, to everyone. DO NOT shoot at houses, vehicles, other people, nor over streets.

Range and equipment... Well range depends on the equipment, and the operator. So lets look at the equipment requirements.

Accuracy will limit the range before power will. Accuracy is more about consistency than one shot hits. If the rifle will consistently shoot to the same place, then you can adjust your sights or scope to aim at that point. On the other hand, if your rifle shoots first high left then low then high and right, there is a problem, and hunting is not a good idea. First ensure all bolts and screws are tight. Second be certain you always hold the rifle exactly the same, with the same grip pressure. Now is where things get complicated. You must know how your barrel size compares to your pellet size. I don't mean just caliber, there are slight variations in size between American sized pellets and barrels, and European pellets and barrels. So a loose american barrel matched with a loose fitting pellet will not give anything resembling accuracy. A tight European barrel, matched with slightly oversized pellets will cause leading (alloy buildup in the barrel) and destroy not only accuracy, but also reduce the power level of the rifle. Careful experimentation will get you to the right combination. You want a pellet to seat flush with just slight pressure, but not too loose that the skirt of the pellet falls below flush with the breech of the barrel, and not so tight that you have to push with force to seat the pellet flush. Beyond that what you are looking for is a group size of less than 1 inch. I allow myself up to 1.1 inch groups, but much prefer a group size of 0.75 (3/4) inch. The "kill zone" on a squirrel is about 1 and 1/2 inches, by about 1 inch. So how far can I shoot? Just to the point that my group opens beyond acceptable size.

What kind of Air rifle should someone buy to start with?? That is a loaded question. Even inexpensive pump up guns are capable of taking game, at very close ranges. Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) guns are capable of extraordinary power and velocity, but are high maintenance, require support equipment (compressor, scuba tank, hoses, fittings, etc), and tend to be quite loud. Some are louder than a .22 Magnum, and deliver more power than a .38 Special. These are high dollar, highly specialized rifles that are best left to expert air gunners who use these to their fullest potential. The last group has been nick-named springers or spring guns. This is where you find everything from the old Daisy lever action BB guns, to top of the line hunting rifles capable of killing at 60 yards and beyond. So what type is right for you? Well only you can answer that, but here's my opinion. First forget the $30.00 to $60.00 guns of any style, type, or brand, regardless of claims on the package. These are guns someone learns how to shoot with, and learns basic safety practices and gun handling with. Forget something that requires you spend as much on support equipment as you did for the gun. Also forget the upper end of the spring powered guns. These usually run $450 to $750, and while worth every penny to the experts, the new air gunner would be served as well with the mid priced springers and CO2 powered guns. Since I don't like the idea of buying compressed gas cans and pellets to feed a rifle I chose the spring power plant for my rifle. I also bought a brand that has been serving the adult air rifle market for a very long time. My rifle is wood stocked with rubber recoil pad, and features an upgraded factory trigger, power tuned compression chamber, polished rifling, with a recoil compensator permanently attached to the barrel. It came with a 3-9x scope with the same company logo as the gun wears. Price with upgrades, scope, carry bag and a second barrel was $165 delivered to my door. I've had it for four years now, and will tell you this. It is a quality unit, but being spring powered and capable of delivering 20 pounds feet of energy at the muzzle, requires a special hold due to the recoil. The gun does not kick, rather it jumps back then forward quickly due to the motion of the heavy piston.

So what is this 20 pounds feet of energy mean? Well in simple terms it is the muzzle energy generated by the pellet at the muzzle. Wearing the .22 caliber barrel it fires 14.3 grain pellets at an honest 800 fps. The advertised velocity was 850 fps, but no pellet weight was specified. So the energy is calculated by multiplying velocity squared times pellet weight and dividing that by the constant 450240. (VxVxM/450240) V = velocity, M = weight of pellet in grains. So if it fired pellets at the advertised velocity (850 x 850 x 14.3) / 450240 = 22.9472 rounded to 23 pounds feet of energy. The power needed to humanely dispatch a squirrel is a mere 3.2 pounds delivered to the brain, or 4.1 pounds to pass through the chest and disrupt the heart. So power wise I should have a range of 60 to 70 yards. Accuracy wise, well since nothing holds perfectly still and the wind really pushes pellets off course with a mere whiff, I limit my shooting to around 35 yards. I can easily hit paper targets at 50 yards, but animals tend to be much harder to hit at a distance.

more later

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
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Hunting with Air Rifles Empty Re: Hunting with Air Rifles

Post by 12acrehome on Thu Dec 06, 2012 5:13 pm

The two biggest advantages to hunting with an air rifle are safety and quietness. With encroaching urban sprawl and homestead sizes being 5 acres and under on average, the limited range of a pellet when compared to even a .22 LR gives a margin of safety when shooting in populated areas. A .22 LR is dangerous out to 1 or 1.5 miles (depending on source), a pellet being hour glass shaped has this big parachute on the back end of the projectile limits the dangerous range to perhaps 200 yards. The effective hunting range, with a top of the line rifle, in expert hands, can be out to 90 yards. Suppose you have a mink slipping into the hen house from time to time. Now a shotgun would certainly "cure" the problem, but with collateral damage to structure, or livestock, but that is not acceptable. Enter the pellet rifle. A mere 7 pounds of energy, delivered to a humane kill zone, will cure the problem, but now there is almost zero risk of collateral damage.

Squirrels and Rabbits are excellent sources of protein. Abundant populations can be encouraged with habitat improvement projects (discussed elsewhere). Hunting is a tradition in my family. From the days of the "long hunters" to Davey Crockett my family has been here, hunting, trapping, growing and gathering food. I feel a connection with my ancestors when I stalk game. A weapon capable of firing only once before reloading re-enforces this connection. The Lewis and Clarke expedition carried a 46 caliber air rifle that was pre-charged with compressed air from a hand pump, so even hunting with an air rifle gives a bit of a connection with the past.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_Air_Rifle

Small game stalked into range, and fired upon from concealment is more satisfactory to me than is large game. Perhaps this is due to the greater number of opportunities to hunt small game compared to large game. I was feeling like a hunt a few days ago, and had time for an afternoon stroll through my woods, so I gathered up my air rifle, a pocketful of pellets, a call, and headed out. I found my quarry after an hour of slipping around my woods. I found the Oaks stripped of their acorns, and most other mast crop trees also have already been stripped bare. It had rained that morning, so the leaves littering the floor of the woods were wet and quiet. I paused under a blow down to enjoy what God put before us. It occurred to me to check the edge of my woods near a clearing for Rabbts, since the squirrels seemed to have gone underground. As I neared the clearing I could hear the distince sounds of a squirrel cutting a nut. I finally located the fat Fox Squirrel high in a Hickory tree, near some heavy honey suckle growth. I slipped over behind the cover, braced myself and the rifle alongside a sapling, took careful aim... The cross hairs of the scope were steady on the squirrels shoulder/lung area, I carefully took up the first stage of the two stage trigger, took a deep breath, let it half out and tripped the sear...The squirrel didn't even stop cutting his nut. I dropped back to cover, reloaded and studied the range and angle of the shot. The squirrel finished his nut and gathered another one from a lower branch. I aimed again, carefully, made doubly sure to compensate for the angle of the shot, took up the first stage, took a deep breath, let it half out, tripped the sear and heard the pellet strike the limb the squirrel was perched on (I thought). This time he scampered to what he deemed a safer perch, screened by several small branches. A small opening (about 2 inches) in the screening could be seen through the scope. I loaded for a third shot, knowing the rifle was capable of making the shot...same result. I walked back to the house somewhat dejected and disgusted. Pausing at my shooting range I discovered the rifle was shooting 2+ inches high, and my usual 3/4" group was now 4 inches. The last time I had the rifle out we harvested two grey squirrels (much smaller than fox squirrels) with a single shot each. Hmm, thinking...thinking...one shot was a bit off...it was the second shot that day...BINGO I had re-greased the piston and spring and not fired the rifle much since servicing...and ...the last time I checked the action screws (the screws that hold the rifle proper to the stock) was last year!! Back to the work bench. The three action screws had all loosened up some, and the grease seems to be migrating into the compression chamber.

A funny thing about these spring powered air rifles. They are kin to a diesel engine. If air pressure from the piston moving forward alone propelled the pellet the maximum velocity achievable would be about 600 fps. The adult air rifle compresses the air in front of the moving piston, which raises the temperature of the air to around 1,800 degrees F for an instant. This is hot enough to ignite some lubricant left in the compression chamber by the piston on its previous stroke. This is called controlled dieseling, and the secret to high powered air rifles. Too much dieseling and you destroy the rifle, too little and you have no power...Somewhere in the middle is a well tuned fine mechanism that makes accurate power. Ultra high temp and highly refined greases allow the lubrication of the piston and spring without causing trouble. It takes a while for a spring powered rifle to settle in after it has had its yearly, or 1,000 round servicing (which ever comes first). I seem to need 150 shots to clear out the excesses and let the rifle settle in again, then I will get 250 rounds before I need to adjust the scope again, followed by 200 to 300 rounds , then the action screws will need attention. So if you choose a spring powered gun you will need to learn how to hold and how to service it.

Other action types will be discussed next

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Hunting with Air Rifles Empty Re: Hunting with Air Rifles

Post by 12acrehome on Sat Dec 08, 2012 4:29 pm

Well, you're still reading so here goes my latest effort.

I have already tipped my hand to being prejudiced toward the spring powered air rifle, so I freely admit to it here and now.

I can appreciate the other power types for what they are, but for me certain faults or perceived shortcomings out weigh any advantages.

Lets look at the pump up rifle next. Two types are marketed the multi-pump, and the single pump. In operation the single pump is the poor cousin to the spring piston rifle. Both achieve full power with a single stroke, both are equally accurate (potentially), yet the single pump air rifle is much weaker in power. Normally these barely achieve 400 fps, and are totally unsuited to hunting at any range beyond about 15 yards. If rats in a grain bin are your target this would be nearly a perfect weapon to use. If looking to harvest a squirrel or rabbit at 25 yards, well more power is required. The multi-pump rifle also lacks power for extended range use and tougher game. The multi pump has a further disadvantage by requiring too much movement to reload, not to mention the time and clattering noise, and ready to fire, while being scrutinized by a squirrel or Dove having missed the first shot. Accuracy is another matter fire as much as a single steel BB and any hope of fine accuracy can be forgotten. The rifle barrel is made of a rather soft steel, and sized to let BBs pass unimpeded, they rattle and bang down the bore and cause dents and scratches in the rifling. A properly sized pellet is engraved by the rifling and has spin imparted to it by that riling. The lands (the high ridges of the rifling) must be even and smooth or they will tear away bits of the pellet and / or cause the pellet to tip slightly while in the bore, sending the pellet at a strange angle to where it was intended. The grooves of the rifling (the low areas) must be smooth and even, and lubricated. A pump up type should have the bore lubricated every 20 shots or so, or leading is possible. The two things I will say in favor of these types is they are affordable. Often priced as low as 30 dollars (US) anyone wanting a pellet rifle can indeed have one. If your main concern with wanting a low powered quiet rifle is to dissuade starlings from messing on your car or porch these are just the ticket!

The PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) and CO2 powered guns have one common failure. Both all but require shooting lubricated pellets, lest you have rust set up in the barrel and ruin any hope of accuracy. Both also require a supply of compressed air to operate. This increases the expense of shooting. The CO2 perhaps is less costly, but when the power begins to drop you find it to be sudden and dramatic, it seems wasteful since the cartridge is not completely empty. Consistency in power is the key to accuracy with these rifles. The PCP is far and away the king of power in the air rifle world. Capable of repeat shots with minimal movement, and being fairly quiet (though one of the noisiest air rifles) what's not to like? Price. These beauties start around 400 bucks, and need either a scuba tank or separate hand pump or even high pressure compressor to bring the rifle into action. Any of these can cost as much or more than the rifle itself. Beautiful (with a few notable exceptions), powerful, and capable of wonderful accuracy these are for the experts and serious air gunners.

So that's my thoughts on air rifles for hunting, and a few hints of hunting with them. I'm gonna let this pass until someone expresses an interest.

Good hunting

_________________
Proverbs 28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food...

Genesis 1:29  Then God said,"I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it..."

http://christiancountryramblings.com/
12acrehome
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Posts : 4596
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Hunting with Air Rifles Empty Re: Hunting with Air Rifles

Post by Psalm25 on Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:21 am

A picked up a Beeman .22 cal air rifle last year. It is a nice looking gun, break barrel and has a scope. Downfall is there are no open sights on it and sometimes I like using the open sights for target, or shooting rats at night in the coop... can't do that with a scope. Another down side is I need to adjust the scope after every half dozen shots, it is a real pain. It is only a velocity of 495 fps (I think that is the max velocity that can be sold in Canada... not 100% sure though) You mentioned "deiseling, do you think I would be able to adjust that or am I better off leaving it alone?
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Hunting with Air Rifles Empty Re: Hunting with Air Rifles

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