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July 28, 2008

Lead Exposure on Air Gun Ranges

Lead exposure is a hot topic these days.....with California passing new regulations for hunting areas, and animal activists doing their best to use lead as an argument for no more hunting.....to the more serious and real concerns of lead exposure on firearm ranges.

I did a brief search and found an interesting article that I thought pertinent to the air gun community. VogelUSA, the maker of some extremely fine ammunition for airgun competitors, has a link to an excellent article concerning the health concerns of airgun shooters. You will see a link to the article below, but let me give you a brief synopsis.

http://www.vogelusa.com/fact1_lead.pdf 

Briefly, lead exposure concerns are of great importance to the shooting community. However, unlike powder-propelled lead, airguns have a low velocity, no burning propellant to assist the lead in abrasion into the atmosphere, and thusly no danger of exposure to the participant in the sport. Tests were run by the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) before, during, and after competition and training events alike. Shooters who are in residence at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs train daily with air rifles, and the USOC regularly checks their blood for contaminants and lead-exposure levels.

Would you believe that these tests have never found an instance of elevated lead exposure in the athletes who handle the lead ammunition on a daily basis? In fact, the majority of athletes enjoyed lower lead levels than the general population. Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Norway also report similar results among their athletes.

It seems that the best rule to use is the one followed by the championship athletes. Wash your hands after shooting, and no eating or drinking during the training session. Open beverage containers aren't allowed, and the results speak for themselves. Our best shooters, the ones who bring home the medals for our national prestige, have proven that we are at less risk for over-exposure to lead than many well-meaning, but misguided folks, ever thought.

So enjoy your airgun shooting, affirmed in the tests of our USOC, as well as the Olympic Committees of numerous other countries. And stop by Airgun Depot's ammunition locker to load up on the best pellet for your airgun. 

July 21, 2008

The Science of Airgun Projectiles

Once upon a time, shooters learned about the little quirks of their guns through trial and error. That method is still an excellent learning tool today, but you can certainly shorten the learning curve of how your gun will shoot, how a particular pellet performs in your gun, and a whole list of things by understanding some of the science behind shooting air guns.

In this article, let's take a look at a term that is thrown around quite a bit in the air gun world, and on the various forums. If you've never heard it before, you are bound to eventually. The term is "ballistic coefficient". 7 syllables. Two words. But what does it mean, and how does it affect you as a shooter.

First, let's define the term "ballistic coefficient". You can look it up online, or like me, you just borrow the accepted definition from the many posts on various forums when they talk about the ballistic coefficient of a certain pellet. Basically, the two words "ballistic coefficient" refer to the behavior of a projectile in the air. Another way of putting it is to say that a pellet's BC refers to how well the pellet retains its velocity in relation to the drag of the atmosphere it is moving through.

Since the diabolo-shaped pellet, one with a pinched waist, sheds velocity much faster than the solid projectiles used in rifle bullets, it is handy to know the BC of a particular brand of pellets. Pellets will shed over half of their velocity in the first 100 yards. (One definition I looked up has a pellet losing .30% to 1.3% of its velocity for each yard it goes through the air.) Knowing this ahead of time allows you to punch in the BC into a calculator, which will give you an idea of what to expect from your pellet at known distances. This is immensely useful to Field Trial competitors, as well as hunters who shoot targets at varying distances. Once you know what to expect from your projectile, you are better able to stay on target since you will know the drop of the pellet at known distances.

You can find the BC tables of most common brands of pellets by searching the internet. Here is a link to one such resource provided by individuals that host the Little Rock Airgun Show each year.

http://www.airgunexpo.com/airgundb/pelletBC.cfm 

Understand that these numbers are submitted by different individuals, so bear in mind that there could be errors. However, it is a place to start. Once you've determined the BC of your pellet, you can punch in the numbers into a computer program such as Chairgun, and you will have an idea of what to expect from your chosen projectile.

Since airguns are meant to be enjoyable when you can hit your target, it just makes sense to make use of all the tools available to you for determing how your gun and the pellet will behave. That, and practice, will turn you into a better marksman, able to call your shots in competition, or place your shots effectively on game or pests.

So go to Airgun Depot's ammo selection, select the projectile of your choice, and anticipate the fun of figuring out where each shot will land now that you have a better understanding of ballistic coefficient. Or.....just go out and shoot your gun a lot to figure it out!

July 14, 2008

Airgun Frustrations: Things You Need to Know

Having sold a few airguns via the internet before, I often run across individuals who are just getting into airgunning. They are full of questions, and the smart ones aren't afraid to ask them, which saves them quite a bit of time on the learning curve when it comes to airguns.

Let's compare two powerplants that are common in today's airgun scene: the spring-piston and the PCP (pre-charged pneumatic).

If you are new to shooting, and want instant gratification in terms of your ability to hit the target, then I would suggest to you the PCP powerplant. There is a flipside to PCP's that I'll mention in a minute.

With the PCP powerplant, you have the closest thing to a recoilless shooting mechanism as you are likely to find in a smallbore air rifle. We can't totally ignore the laws of physics, but the tiny amount of recoil that is there is so negligible that it is hardly worth mentioning. There is a reason that most competition shooters on the Olympic level use this powerplant. They need all the edge they can get when you compete against the world's best shooters.

The recoiless nature of the PCP powerplant allows a new shooter to achieve accurate results quickly, and that brings about a sense of achievement that is conducive to further involvement in the shooting sports. Now for the flipside.....

In order to enjoy the PCP powerplant airgun, you need accessories. Where is the air coming from? You need either a handpump or an air tank of some kind. Is there a place near you capable of filling said air tank? Do you have the needed adaptor to hook the gun's fill probe to the hose on the tank or pump? You see, there are other variables to consider when buying the PCP powerplant. One of the reasons that Crosman's new Discovery is so popular is that you get a source of air with the gun in one package! And what do you do when an o-ring goes bad? Lots of details in owning a PCP. They are wonderfully accurate and fun to shoot, but there is some extra equipment to buy.

Now, let's say you like a challenge and want a truly self-contained air rifle. Then I would suggest the spring-piston powerplant. It has been around a long time, is tried and tested, and will serve you well for many disciplines of airgun shooting. All you need is the gun and some ammo, and you are ready to shoot. Or so you think..... 

Spring-piston airguns can be difficult in some cases to shoot accurately. Going against everything you learned as a firearm shooter, you want to hold the gun lightly and delicately, not firmly into your shoulder like a centerfire rifle. And resting the forearm on a hard surface is a no-no.....you want it supported by a soft surface such as the palm of your hand. Scopes on spring-piston rifles need to be rated for airguns so that you don't break them with the bi-directional recoil of this powerplant. 

As you shoot your new spring-piston rifle, you'll likely experience dieseling at some point.....when the lubricants get into the compressions chamber and detonate during the firing cycle. The first time it happens may make you think you're shooting a rimfire, cause smoke will come out the end of the barrel! But the lubricants wear away, and your gun will settle in and begin giving you consistent velocities and behavoir before long.

Owning airguns can be full of pleasure and great times.....so don't let the occasional frustrations that come along give you heartburn. Ask lots of questions and check in with another airgunner from time to time for advice, and you'll enjoy your airguns just that much more! 

July 07, 2008

Air Pistol Hunting Choices

Hunting is my favorite use of an airgun. And to increase the challenge of hunting, or for a casual walk through the woods, I often use an air pistol. Here are some of my suggestions for appropriate air pistols with which to hunt that you will find here at Airgun Depot.

Crosman 1377 - A great, easily found design that has been taking game for quite a few years. Unfortunately, the 1322, it's .22 caliber sibling, is no longer available. However, you can convert a 1377 to a 1322 if you like with a few parts. This gun has the advantage of being adjustable in power by varying the amount of air you put in the gun. Another advantage is that it is less susceptible to cold weather side effects that you get from CO2-powered guns since it uses air.

Crosman 2240 - One of the most common pellet pistols around, the 2240 is a great little bolt-action pistol that runs on CO2. Accurate, compact, and infinitely customizable with lots of aftermarket parts. Velocity of the .22 projectile is adequate for squirrel and rabbit sized game at reasonable distances, and you get a decent shot count from each CO2 cartridge/powerlet.

Benjamin Sheridan Pneumatic - A pump-up airgun similar in function to the Crosman 1377. This gun lends itself less to modification, yet in stock form is quite capable of taking the size-appropriate game of your choice when you do your part and put the pellet on target.

Benjamin CO2 pistol - Similar in function to the Crosman 2240, this gun also does a good job on small game. I prefer the sight system on the 2240, but the Benjamin sighting system is quite adequate for the hunter if not the target shooter.

RWS 5G - This spring-piston pistol is powerful and accurate. Self-contained, all you need is a pocket full of pellets and you are set for the day in the field pursuing your intended game. There's no nonsense about this pistol!

Now, are there other pistol offerings out there that will help you with pest control? Certainly, you can use whatever pistol you have that will hit the target with adequate force. However, if you intend to actively pursue small game, and not just pop the occasional pest, then I believe these candidates are your best options. And airgun pistol hunting is among the most challenging of the shooting sports. You really have to work at it when using an air pistol, so get the right gun for the job before heading out into the field!

 

 

July 01, 2008

The Frugal Airgun Shopper

In this day and age of high gas prices, each of us is trying their best to make every dollar scream for all its worth when we spend it. I know that I have transitioned my running around town from my minivan to a scooter, tripling the gas mileage I get. And when it comes to airgun purchases, I find myself browsing through the classifieds quite often, looking for my next acquisition.

Though classified areas of the internet are good places to look, I run into problems sometimes when I find an item I like. First, I don't know the seller, what they look like, their reputation, whether or not they've described the gun in question accurately.....just lots of little things that make me hesitate sometimes before buying. To alleviate that problem, I often look for remanufactured airguns from the factory.

Airgun Depot has a category for just such items. Here is the link:

http://www.airgundepot.com/airguns-remanufactured.html 

When you go to the above link, you'll find different selections of goods determined by the availability from week to week. Remanufactured items are factory-checked, and often are a result of a customer changing their mind about their purchase. Since the gun has been sold at retail once, it is now considered a used gun. But the factory checks it over, runs it through the same criteria the new guns have, but must sell it as used. Quite often, such guns have never been fired, and are great deals if you run across one.

Right now in Airgun Depot's remanufactured section, you'll find guns for fun plinking, guns for hunting, and guns for target shooting. Each one is offered at a great discount.....for instance, the Benjamin 392 in there this week is over 20% off, $40 less than the suggested retail price. These are great savings, and many come with the manufacturer's warranty still in effect, or with a limited warranty for the used product. Benjamin, Crosman, and Daisy all have offerings in this week's remanufactured guns section, so check them out and stretch your dollar as far as it will go with this great deals from Airgun Depot.

Some of the best airguns I've ever owned have been used guns from individuals, as well as remanufctured guns from the factory. I have no problems buying these gems, and you should rest assured that the same attention to customer satisfaction for the used/remanufactured guns is the same as when you buy at full retail from Airgun Depot. 

 


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