History of Compressed Air Guns

Getting started in the sport of air rifle shooting is synonymous with reading a bit of history on the subject, so that we can digest the theory before moving on to practice.

The early history of air guns is often shrouded in mystery and is still as intriguing as any chronicle of centuries past. Although it is difficult to ascertain exactly when air guns were first produced in Europe, historians now believe that the most likely period for their first appearance was in the mid-1500s. Comparatively few examples have survived the slow march of time, and most of those air guns that have done so now rest in weapons museums around the world.

We know that from their earliest days, air guns were often kept secret and even dismissively branded as the Devil’s tools. Considering the fact that some air guns of centuries past were commonly very large caliber and nearly as powerful as today’s firearms – albeit without the ear-splitting noise, flash and smoke – it’s easy to understand why air guns of that time they were feared by many.

Most early airguns belonged to two different groups, those powered by spring-loaded bellows and those using pre-compressed air stored in a reservoir, which was an integral part of or attached to the gun. Bellows guns were generally intended for indoor target shooting. Although underpowered, they were amazingly accurate at short ranges.

Pneumatic weapons, on the other hand, were relatively powerful. The technology of these weapons gradually improved over the years and their use for hunting became fashionable among the European nobility. The fact that game as large as wild boar and deer were routinely killed by these primitive pneumatic weapons demonstrates their amazing power. Their relatively quiet and efficient operation, coupled with their imperviousness to rain or snow, made them certainly highly desirable weapons. For this reason, commoners were prohibited from owning airsoft guns.

In the late 1700s, powerful pneumatic weapons found their place among military troops. The Austrian Army had an entire regiment armed with .44 caliber repeating air rifles. All surviving accounts indicate that the Austrians used these air guns with deadly effectiveness against Napoleon Bonaparte’s French troops during the Tyrolean Campaign and are said to have been powerful enough to kill a man from 150 yards away. So feared were they that any Austrian soldier caught with an air rifle was summarily executed as a murderer.

On the American continent, records of the famous Lewis and Clark Northwest Expedition (1804-1806) show that an air gun was carried and was called by the Indians “the smokeless thunderstick.” The first airguns produced in the United States centered around the “gallery gun,” a relatively low-powered gun that used a spring-piston power plant. These weapons flourished in the immediate aftermath of the civil war and were used primarily for shooting paper targets indoors. By the end of the 19th century, the calibers of American and European air guns had been significantly reduced.

The 20th century has seen tremendous advances in the field of adult airguns, especially since the end of World War II. Many German factories became airgun producers after the manufacture of firearms was banned by the allied occupying forces. The rest has been the creation of a major new industry claiming a significant share of shooting sports around the world today. The misconception that airguns are just toys has been fostered for years by the popular mass-produced low-power, low-precision BB gun; however, the fact that airgun shooting is now an Olympic sport is quickly fading this image. Modern recoilless competition airguns, with accuracy capable of putting ten shots into a single hole at 10 meters, can hardly be called “toys.” The 1984 Olympic Games introduced airgun shooting for the first time, a relevant and historical sign of the importance of airguns in recreational shooting today.

Airguns for adults have finally become truly universal, a shooting sport that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere – a vast difference from its dark and uncertain beginning a few centuries ago.

Dr. Robert Beeman is an academic who founded his own pneumatic weapons factory. I think it is interesting to be able to read an academic who loves shooting, since rarely can we learn from a doctor of philosophy of sciences who talks to us about shooting.

Gamo 6110017154 Varmint Air Rifle .177 Cal , Black

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Features

  • .177 Cal pellet single cocking break barrel
  • The Varmint features a long lasting spring piston able to deliver 1250 fps of muzzle velocity with Gamo PBA Platinum pellets .177 Cal
  • Fluted polymer jacketed rifled steel barrel. Grooved cylinder rail
  • 4 x 32 Shockproof Scope. Gamo trigger with adjustable second stage. It has a synthetic ambidextrous all-weather stock with a rubber recoil pad. Lightweight design
  • Noise dampening: None

Hatsan Mod 95 Spring Combo Spring Piston Air Rifle, .22 Caliber

$214.00
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Features

  • .22 caliber; Single shot; Break barrel; Spring piston; Quattro Trigger - 2-stage fully adjustable match trigger
  • High quality, genuine Turkish walnut stock – with ambidextrous design; Precision rifled German steel barrel
  • Grooved dovetail receiver for 11mm scope mounts; Includes 3-9x32 Optima scope & rings
  • Max Velocity* – Lead-Free Pellets – .177 cal – 1300 FPS, .22 cal – 1000 FPS, .25 cal – 750 FPS Max Velocity* – Lead Pellets – .177 cal – 1100 FPS, .22 cal – 800 FPS, .25 cal – 700 FPS Max Muzzle Energy** – .177 cal – 20 FPE, .22 cal – 21 FPE, .25 cal – 24 FPE
  • * Velocity results may vary due to pellet weight, pellet shape, pellet material, temperature, elevation, as well as other factors ** Energy results may vary due to pellet weight, pellet shape, pellet material, temperature, elevation, as well as other factors

Gamo 611006875554 Swarm Whisper Air Rifle, .22 Caliber,Black

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Features

  • The GAMO Swarm Whisper Air Rifle features the IGT (Inert Gas Technology) piston that allows higher velocity, less vibration and a longer lifespan than traditional spring powered airguns
  • The Whisper Technology makes this gun really quiet, and you will appreciate the reduced recoil thanks to the buttpad equipped with the Shock Wave Absorber
  • All-weather synthetic stock with black rubber inserts
  • Package Dimensions: 47.7" L x 7.1" W x 2.7" H

Crosman CLGY1000KT Legacy 1000 Single Shot Variable Pump .177-Caliber Pellet And BB Air Rifle With 4 x 15 mm Scope, Black

$78.92
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Features

  • DURABLE, WATER PROOF SYNTHETIC DESIGN - With rifled steel barrel, built-in 850 BB reservoir and side-load pellet chamber
  • VARIABLE CONTROL - From 750 fps to 1000 fps COMPATIBLE WITH .177-CALIBER PELLETS OR TRADITIONAL STEEL BBs - Includes 17-round spring-loaded BB magazine (Pellets and BBs not included)
  • CROSSBOLT SAFETY - To ensure proper and safe handling
  • COMES WITH A FIBER-OPTIC SIGHT AND 4 x 15 mm SCOPE - For greater accuracy
  • IDEAL FOR PLINKING

Gamo WildCat Whisper Air Rifle .177 Cal , Black

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Features

  • .177 Cal pellet single cocking break barrel, 1300 fps with PBA Platinum
  • The IGT (Inert Gas Technology) is a gas piston that replaces the spring delivering more terminal velocity (1300 fps), less vibration, more consistent power and a constant and smooth cocking effort.
  • This air rifle also features the well known WHISPER noise reduction technology patented by Gamo
  • 4 x 32 Shockproof Scope. Gamo trigger with adjustable second stage. It has a synthetic ambidextrous all-weather stock with a rubber recoil pad. Lightweight design.
  • 1 YEAR WARRANTY. Made In Spain

Crosman CAK1 Full or Semi-Auto CO2-Powered 4.5mm BB Air Rifle, Black

$215.04
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Features

  • FULL-AUTO CO2-POWERED BB AIR RIFLE - With Semi-Auto option
  • FLINGS BBS UP TO 430 FPS - That's over 1400 rounds per minute
  • FULL SIZE, REAL FEEL, DURABLE SYNTHETIC DESIGN
  • 28-ROUND DROP OUT MAGAZINE - Holds 2 CO2 cartridges (not included) for rapid-fire action
  • FOLDABLE/ADJUSTABLE BUTTSTOCK - With stock tube and pistol grip and quad-mounting rail system

Daisy 880 Powerline Air Rifle Kit, Dark Brown/Black, 37.6 Inch/.177 Caliber

$94.99
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Features

  • 880 air rifle kit includes safety glasses, 4x15-millimeter scope with rings, 500 Daisy pellets, and 750 BBs
  • Multi-pump pneumatic rifle .177 Cal BB or pellet
  • Wood-grained Monte Carlo stock and forearm
  • Shoots BBs 750 feet per second; shoots pellets 715 feet per second
  • 50 shot BB capacity

Barra Airguns Sportsman 900 Air Rifle, BB Gun, Guns for Adults, Hunting Pellet Rifle, Multi Pump Lever Action, .177 Caliber Airgun Pellets & BBS with Rifle Scope, 800 FPS, Power & Accuracy

$69.97  in stock
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Features

  • CONSISTENTLY HIT YOUR TARGETS: This BB gun has a 20 Inch rifled barrel, and includes a 4x15 rifle scope, and adjustable fiber optic sights allowing you to consistently and accurately hit your target.
  • EASY TO LOAD: The 900 air gun has a large chamber opening with a magnetic pin making it easy to load. Whether it's in your backyard or at the shooting range, this BB gun rifle will allow you to easily shoot all day with power and consistency.
  • CONTROL YOUR SHOTS: With this dual ammo multipump pneumatic! Capable of shooting single .177 pellets or BB gun pistols from the built in 50-BB reservoir. The pump arm can be pumped 1 to 10 times to reach a maximum velocity of 800 FPS, making it capable of long range target practice or short range, small game hunting.
  • MATERIALS: A budget friendly pellet gun that's also consciously designed and rigorously evaluated. The stock of the air rifle consists of a thick wall made of ABS plastic and has a subtle texturized finish. We don’t cut corners with our materials, which is why Barra Airguns BB gun rifles last.
  • DESIGN: Better looking and more reliable than other multi-pump BB guns. The 900 air rifle was inspired by modern sporting air rifles, and has a pistol grip handle and a drop stock to allow for a good line of sight when shouldering the rifle.
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