Consider the Purpose of Your Airgun
To ensure you obtain the best airgun for your needs, you’ll need to consider how you plan to use it. We’ll look at a few different common uses below.
Hunting and Pest Control
A lot of people are surprised at how common it is to hunt with airguns and just how capable airguns are for hunting. What’s important to remember when it comes to airguns is that not all airguns are made for hunting.
Some simply aren’t powerful enough to hunt anything more than paper targets, others can take squirrel, rabbit, rats, and more.
Believe it or not, you can find an airgun for hunting for under 200 dollars. Airguns like the aforementioned Gamo Big Cat 1250 are an excellent example of affordable hunting airguns.
This means you are limited to a few different guns and power sources, but it is possible.
A hunting airgun for small game needs to generate at least 12-foot-pounds of energy. Foot pounds of energy is derived from the speed or projectile and how much it weighs.
This is necessary for killing game right around 6 pounds. For removing pests like rats, you can go a little lower in power. An airgun for hunting also needs to be exceptionally accurate, as does the shooter.
To kill with an airgun you must hit the animal in the head, which is quite small. Hunters may also want to look into suppressor equipped guns, so they can take shot after shot without scaring away their favorite game.
Target Shooting and Training
Refining your shooting skills or simply learning how to shoot can be quite affordable when done with an airgun. This could be a new hobby, or a means to transfer your skills from an airgun to a firearm.
Regardless of the reason why most shooters agree it’s quite satisfying to create tiny little groups on a paper target.
If you are just learning how to shoot I’d always suggest a simple PCP pump gun for accuracy training, especially for new shooters.
A PCP or really any manual action airgun will force the shooter to slow down and take their shots carefully. The manual action forces you to take your time and will help you focus.
At an under 200-dollar budget you can still find airguns with adjustable triggers to help enhance your accuracy as well as the ability to mount a scope.
If you are looking to train with an airgun to increase your accuracy with a standard firearm you generally want to select one that mimics the firearm you’ll be shooting.
This doesn’t mean you’ll want an AR style airgun, but an airgun with a similar stock and grip.
Staying under 200 dollars is our goal, and in a buyer’s market, it’s easy to find a wide variety of guns that can mimic your rifle’s controls, optics, and length of pull.
Air Guns for Kids
Starting kids with airguns is an excellent way to ensure they never do drugs because with an airgun addiction they’ll never be able to afford them.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea that you can just hand your kid your airgun and let them go. Kids are going to have their own requirements for an airgun that differs from adults. Here are the things to consider:
1. Length of pull – Length of pull, or LOP, is the measurement from the trigger to the end of the stock. Your standard length of pull for adults is 14 inches.
Children will often find that a bit too long to comfortably shoulder the rifle. A length of pull between 12 and 10 inches is often preferable for kids. Some guns have adjustable length of pull that you can customize as your child grows.
2. Weight – Too heavy of a gun is going to be hard to hold up for long. This is why youth model guns exist.
3. Cocking effort – On PCP pump guns or break barrel guns, you’ll have to factor in cocking effort. Cocking effort is measured in pounds with adult airguns being between 30 and 40 pounds. With kids, you should aim for 20 pounds and less of cocking effort.
Always be sure to keep safety in mind when purchasing an airgun for youngsters.
Features Worth Noting
Some of the features and characteristics you’ll want to think about when purchasing an air gun are listed below.
F.P.S. stands for feet per second and you have seen it littered around this article. This is how fast the round will be leaving the barrel. In general, the faster the better, especially when it comes to hunting.
FPS is measured at the maximum speed the round can achieve, and there are a few factors that can slow it down:
1. Heavier pellets, FPS will shrink as the weight of the pellet increases.
2. This applies to CO2 powered guns. As the CO2 gets low the speed of the projectile will slow down.
Most airguns under 200 dollars are going to be BBs or in .177, .22, and .25. Bullet selection for hunting is critical, so you need to know the proper caliber for your rifle.
You’ll also need to consider how easy is it for you to find one ammo or the other. BBs and .177 are by far the most common round for airguns. .22 is pretty common, but .25 isn’t incredibly common offline.
The action of the airgun will determine how it’s fired and how it’ll be handled.
- CO2 powered guns use an external power source and are often semi-automatic. Semi-automatic guns fire 1 round per pull of the trigger.
- Bolt action guns require the bolt of the weapon to be manually operated between shots.
- Break barrel designs mean the barrel bends on a pivot point that cocks the weapon and allows you to load the airgun.
- Pump actions will often have a lever installed under the barrel and allows the user to manually pump air into the gun.
Concessions for the Under-200 Category
When you’re shopping on a budget you can still get a high-quality gun, but you’ll often be sacrificing certain extra features. Some features relate to function, others relate to the look and feel of the gun.
Here’s a short list of concession you should expect to make with a gun that costs less than 200 dollars.
1. Real Wood Furniture – This more of a look and feel desire, but real wood guns will quickly drive the price of any airgun up.
2. Match Target Sights – Adjustable sights are pretty standard on under 200-dollar guns, but high-end match sights can cost 200 dollars alone. These sights are often used by high-end competitors and aren’t a great choice for anything but making teeny tiny groups on paper.
3. Calibers Larger than .25 – In general the big bore airguns designed for hunting medium game like deer and hogs will be priced out of the 200-dollar range.
Staying Under $200
Staying under 200 dollars and getting a quality airgun isn’t impossible. It’s a budget we can work with. Don’t settle for anything less than fantastic.