Thursday, 21 January 2010

Not Just Hot Air – Air Rifle Hunting

A string of happy coincidences have occurred in the last few weeks:

I got that permission to hunt rabbits

I got some unexpected and well-paid work over the holidays

I got a small but timely windfall

I saw the brand and calibre I wanted, at about the right money, on British Blades

PCP – Pre-Charged Pneumatic

I know they have their fans but to me springers (AKA break-action air rifles) are yesterday’s technology. As soon as I understood that, unlike a powder burning rifle or PCP, with a springer the recoil is happening BEFORE the pellet leaves the barrel, I knew I wanted a PCP. I’m told my rifle holds enough air for eighty shots between refills and either needs to be filled at the diving shop or pumped with a special ‘dry air’ pump.

Air Arms

There are nicer looking rifles (to my eye), there are marginally more accurate rifles (supposedly) and there are defiantly more expensive rifles. But all-in-all Air Arms offerings look unbeatable for value, and I read a few forum posts where people who now own more expensive rifles said they’d still recommend Air Arms for the money.

S400 Carbine.

My Rabbit hunting guru James Marchington uses an Air Arms S400 in his excellent DVD ‘Rabbits’ I was planning to buy the bottom of the range S200 but when the S400 Carbine came up I went for it. I like idea of the carbine (short barrel) model, as anything to make sneaking up on the wabbits easier has got to be a good thing.


I wanted a rifle with as flatter trajectory as possible so I could have the best possible chance of putting the pellet where I aim it every time. The fabled extra oomph of the .22 sounds sweet, but where the pellet hits and what it does on arrival has to be more important than how much of it arrives there.

The three P’s of a clean kill - Placement, Placement, and Projectile.

Magazine [edited]

The rifles are shipped as single shot, a company called Rowan Engineering do an 8 shot conversion for which mine has.


With a huntable range of 35 yards, I didn’t need to sell a kidney for a Schmidt & Bender , and the rifle came with an AGS scope in 4-9X40 magnification.


Not usually a word that’s synonymous with your pal the Bushwacker. On TV they’re called silencers, under UK law they’re called moderators, either way they turn PHHSSST! Into phhssst, and my rifle came with one.

The other bit of good news is that I ran into R&E and E very generously put her vegetarianism to one side and gave me permission to hunt her land!

Yes! What amounts to my own private hunting preserve in the New Forest.

Pigeon, Squirrel and those pesky Wabbits!

Your Pal


PS: I’ll not be going shooting for a couple of weeks so there’s bound to be time for more of the hot air regular readers have come to expect. Phew!


Anonymous said...

um...squirrel? LOL

Good hunting my friend!

James Marchington said...

Good choice, SBW. Happy hunting!

Anonymous said...

I have been seeing a lot of ads for these type rifles. Enough where I almost want to go out and get one.

Tovar Cerulli said...

Good luck out there!

Chas S. Clifton said...

I have some a fair amount of airgun target-shooting and some small-game hunting (chiefly squirrels and pigeons).

My question is why sound-suppression is even needed with an airgun, unless you are poaching under the neighbor's bedroom windows.

Compared to my possible alternatives, e.g., a .410 shotgun or bird shot fired in a long-barreled revolver ("snake shot"), the airgun is so much quieter as it is.

murphyfish said...

That's a nice looking air rifle you have there my man, and a veggy giving you shooting rights, you are truly blessed my man.

Chad Love said...

Damn, that's a serious-looking gun.

I eagerly await your first hunting trip report...

Keith said...

Size of projectile is very important. Simply, a small projectile does less damage than a large projectile. Always go for the .22 over the 177 for hunting.
I have a BSA .22 air rifle. But I hunt bigger game these days and use a .62 cal flintlock fusil. It does not have the accuracy or penetrating abilities of say a .50 cal using 90 grains of black powder against my use of 60 grains of black powder but the game I hit does not get away! It stps it right there. Size does count!
Le Loup.

Hubert Hubert said...

Oooooohh yes! Heavens to Betsy, I'm pleased to see this development! I do like the idea of windfalls that sprout AA PCP's. Much of my life is, in fact, spent fantasising about just such an occurrence. And a new permission to use it on! Crikey! Have you been doing any of that Noel Edmonds Cosmic Ordering stuff, by any chance? I'd buy a lottery ticket if I was you. I'm very much looking forward to reading about your first hunting trip with this!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Many many adventures will spring (or should that be blow in) from last week. Wish me luck and see you soon?

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I've heard SOOOO much debate on this over the years, but flatter has to be the way to go to start with. Admittedly the next one'll probably be a .20. If I'm wrong i promise i'll tell you so.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


It's on the way, just a lil' bit 'o plumbin' to be done first.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I'm hoping it lives up to its rep.
R&E are very special vegetarians, very special

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Hmm interesting question

I really don't know, air rifles defiantly didn't have them when I was a lad and now all but the most basic rifles have them. I'll ask the experts and get back to you.


The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Thanks, hopefully my writings/mouthing off will have earned me a few credits with Artemis!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


They're a great deal of fun, the reason they're so popular here in Blighty is they're the only rifle you can have without a ticket.

Be warned they aint cheap and neither was the special pump which it won't work without. Ouch

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I've been watching your DVD again in preparation.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Hmmm yummy tree-rat



Chas S. Clifton said...

I was looking at new air rifles at a Cabela's store last fall, and all of a sudden many--not all--are being sold with suppressors.

The cynic in me wonders if it's a case of just copying the Europeans in a fashion sense or if the makers are just producing one model for sale on both sides of the pond.

I no longer have a .22 air rifle, and I see that the model that fits my needs comes with suppressor, so the discussion may become moot.

We have experiences an influx of Eurasian collared doves in these parts, and there is an open season on them, you see ...

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I’m always intrigued by the US air rifle fraternity, in a land where a .22 is an over the counter purchase, an air rifle looks a VERY expensive choice. But air rifles clearly have their fans over there and people are buying the high end English ones – which are an arm and a leg here – so they must seem massively expensive there

Trend wise I don’t know whether my mainland European neighbours have silencer/moderator/suppressors for their air rifles from what I’ve seen they don’t have them on their centre fires, where as in the UK lots of people have them as an adjunct to their ticket. They are a health and safety consideration.

I wonder if your Eurasian collared doves are like our wood pigeons (AKA collared doves) if so a total result for you. Yummy

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

SBW said: "Thanks, hopefully my writings/mouthing off will have earned me a few credits with Artemis!"

Hunters' prayers have taken stranger forms!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

And will do again.
Welcome to the blog

Anonymous said...

Boy, the only air rifles selling in my area, are made in china.

I rathe use rubber bands to proppel the pellet than to buy or contribute to china.

Unknown said...

Brilliant news, another hunter and Air Arms convert!

I was using a .177 Weirauch HW77K up until the begining of the year, an awesome gun with stunning accuracy. I now have a .22 AA S410 TDR. again, a brilliant gun.

In my opinion, I find that the 22 has more stopping power on pigeons and 177 is more forgiving at different ranges, but apart from that, it's all personal preference

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Welcome to the blog
You're not the first person to tell me pigeons need a a bigger pellet - so much for the old '177 for feather 22 for fur'.

'Forgiving at ranges' - was what made the decision for me.

I'll be doing extensive testing over the next few weeks, and cooking up some kills


Pablo said...

Now that sounds like a Pablo "justification" post. But it shouldn't be. What a cracker on all points. Well done that SBW!!

Phillip said...

That's awesome, SBW! Nice rifle, and I expect you're gonna have some great times with it! I can only imagine what it's like securing a place to hunt over there...

I've been looking closely at the big bore air rifles, but as of now there are very few places to hunt with them in the U.S. Somehow, though, the idea of taking a 300lb boar with an air rifle really gets the blood flowing.

Can't wait to read the adventures!

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I learned it all at the feet of the master.
PS I can only get away with it as I'm single and Ex mrs SBW never reads the blog.
PPS although she did shout 'just do some shooting' the other day

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Ah Big Bore Air Rifles - Quackerz and the like.
I want one too, I heard a rumor that there was at least one person who had persuaded the cops he should have a ticket for one in the UK but I've never seen one in the metal.

LSP said...

Well done, SBW! You'll have loads of fun with that and plenty of rabbits with it.


The Trout Underground said...

I recently bought a Crosman Marauder in .177 (a nice PCP despite the overreach on the name), and the shrouded barrel makes the thing largely silent - the loudest noise is the ping of the hammer.

PCP airguns are a little louder than most think (they're definitely louder than springers), and I love the quiet factor.

We live on three wooded acres in the mountains, and I still prefer the quiet gun - for both aesthetic and happier neighbor relations.

That said, if I was hunting, I might opt for a .22 Marauder; muzzle velocities of the more powerful airguns don't fall that much, and airguns seem to be most accurate at velocities under 1000 fps anyway.

Enjoy the Air Arms.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


Happy hunting yourself!

I was very keen on the idea of one of the more powerful air guns but i've read a couple of pieces recently that have left me thinking that the characteristic that I'll be looking for next is point-ability rather than power as there are question marks over the consistency of the punchier guns.
Also anything that promotes field craft has to be a better use of my time.

I'm a big fan of your blog, thanks for taking the time to comment.