Air Rifle Actions and Type of Power Source

Hunting is entertaining in the US. Each year, when autumn begins and last until winter, the hunting season starts. Hunting with air rifles is challenging, and demanding, and using air rifle will demand you more than in any other types of sporting. As an air rifle hunter, you must present the ability to have an accurate and cleaned kill shot, as it will show your field craftsmanship utmost with respect for your quarry. For many sportsmen, rifle hunting is also behavioural sportsmanship, a connection with the nature around and its beauty. Yet, there are number of factors required to make a clean, effective shot at a turkey, or a deer rather than only pulling the trigger with a hope in your mind.

Airguns have not had much wide use within the main hunting community in the US, unlike Europe or the UK. In recent years and over the last decade, the present of airguns are more visible as you might see that there are more states are setting up their airguns hunting regulations every year. Most states allow airguns to be used for small game, varmint, and predators. At the present, some states allow airguns to be used for whitetail as well. They are many hunting jurisdictions opening their hunting seasons not only for smaller game. So, the state wildlife management agency comes to the scene.

In many parts of the world, air rifles cycled spring-powered are widely used for smaller game. More recently, there is an increase in the number of hunters using pre-charged pneumatic rifles for small game, predators, and even in larger game.

Air Rifle Actions                                                                   

Air Rifle ActionsRifles are classified based on their actions. There are single shot action and repeating action. All rifle actions operate in the same five steps: loading feeding, firing, extracting, ejecting.

There are five types of rifle actions in used today:

  • Bolt-action
  • Pump-action
  • Lever-action
  • Semi-automatic action
  • Break-action

A bit about air rifle history, these rifles have all been around for a long time. The bolt, pump, and lever action rifles have been there from the 19th century, while the gas powered operated semi-auto rifle was discovered and developed in the 1930s, and was well introduced in the end of the World War II.

To give you a basic idea of how they work, the single shot rifles are usually operated in break or bolt action. Repeating actions include the bolt-action rifles, pump-action rifles, lever-action rifles, and semi-automatic types of rifles. The empty cartridge case is ejected after a fire, is shot when the shooter operating the gun’s lever, bolt, or forearm, and chambers a new round of ammunition; the gun is cock and ready for a new shot. With the exception of the auto action, other actions are more effective in operation when they are cycled with force. So, just slam those bolt handles and levers no need to worry it will harm your rifles!

Power Source using for Air Rifles

Air rifle ammo types and power source are generally divided into 3 groups: Spring piston, Pneumatic (Pump), and CO2-powered (compressed gas). In Spring piston there is gas spring or Nitrogen piston rifles, and in Pneumatics there are single stroke, multi-stroke, and Pre-charged Pneumatic rifles.

Air rifles and handguns are designed based on each group of power source to have a suitable action and operate in the respective mechanism. The below terms and classification will help you understand clearly what is rifle caliber, what is a bullet, and what is a cartridge so as not to mistakenly using it when you are into hunting and as a beginner hunter.

Caliber: Rifle and handgun are measured by caliber. Caliber is the diameter of the bullet or the gun’s bore. It is measured in both metric system and in hundredths or thousandths of an inch. The measurements in metric are always a “diameter to length” ratio. For example, a bullet in caliber 5.55x40mm means 5.55mm wide and 40mm length.

Bullet: is the projectile in a cartridge that will exit the barrel when the gun is cock and fire. People often use the word “bullet” when their actually need is a cartridge. Therefore, bullet should not be used interchangeably with the word “cartridge” because it is only a component of a cartridge. Some gun beginners would normally confuse between these two terms when they go to a gun store. In rifles and handguns, the bullet is contained inside the cartridge case.

Airgun Pellets

image source: Wikipedia

Cartridge: A cartridge consists of 4 components, they are:  Case or cartridge shell (usually made by nickel, or steel), primer, propellant (or gun powder), and the projectile (or known as the bullet as mentioned above). The measurement of a cartridge is the number of powder grains it is designed to hold. For example, if you want to get a .30-’06 cartridge, the first number is the caliber size, and the second number means the cartridge case can hold six grains of gun powder. Some people would often tell the gun smith to get him/her a .30-’06 bullet, but what he/she needs is a cartridge.

How To Choose A Hunting Air Rifle

Air guns come in a wide range of varieties, in different designs, various sizes, materials, different stock (wood stock or synthetic stock) depending on the action types and the technology in different prices. It could be an overwhelming experience since you could probably don’t know which one you should choose. Thus, depending on what you need and the type of hunting you do to select a suitable air rifle.

If you are first time rifle users or hunting beginners, to choose a suitable air rifle for your need I would recommend you do a process which is a kind of theory reasoning called the backward induction. In this process, what you can do is to first find out the ideal end result, then step by step: answer questions, go backward to reach your first decision, find out which air rifle is for you.

Hunting Air Rifle

First step, answer a question ‘What kind of game you are going to hunt?’, by answering this question, you will find out what type of rifle you should choose and your intended hunting game. The hunting style you are going to do will narrow down the type of bullet you should use. The decision of bullet type will work your way out what kind of cartridge case or shotshell you will need to get. Eventually, in many different cartridges the cartridge you figured out based on the bullet type will limit the types of rifle you can use.

Why you worry about the cartridge at all? The cartridge type is important because choosing the right cartridge and suitable to the hunting game you need will guarantee a clean kill and preserving as much of the meat as possible. For example, if you use more powerful ammo than what you really need for your hunting game, then the animal is hunted down quickly without suffering but there may not much meat remain after you shoot them. Alternatively, if you use weaker ammo in a larger game, the animal could not be killed right on the spot and it could suffer in pain a long time before dying.

Air Rifle Cartridge


In short, air rifle hunting is a demanding job. As a beginner hunter, you should first understand the air rifle actions. There are five rifle actions in use in the market today: bolt, pump, lever-action, semi-automatic action, and break action rifles. Next, you will need to know different air rifle power source. Typically, rifle power source is divided into 3 groups: spring piston, Pneumatic, and CO2-powered. Air rifle is measured in caliber. I have classified what is caliber, bullet, and cartridge. Caliber measured the diameter of the gun’s bore. Bullet is a projectile, often made from nickel or steel and it is only a part of the cartridge. Cartridge contains a case, primer, propellant, and the projectile (or bullet). These 3 terms should not be used interchangeably when you visit a gun smith.

Sometimes, it is an overwhelming experience to get your rifle when you are in huge department store or gun pro shop. How to choose your first air rifle? To select a suitable hunting air rifle using backward induction process is to answer which game or hunting style you are into. Once you have decided a hunting style, it will narrow down which type of bullet you should use. With the decision on bullet to be selected, it will help you figure out what kind of cartridge you will need to buy, and finally the cartridge you found out and decided will limit what type of air rifles you would need to purchase.

Remember practise made perfection. Nowadays, pests become the vast majority of suitable and also legal air rifle hunting quarry, yet it doesn’t mean there is no need for a qualify well-aiming shooting for pests. Because no matter how ugly, lowly, or nasty the creature maybe, it still deserves a quick, clean, and humane kill without suffering long pain.  Be marksman and make effective shot with respect to your quarry. Choose your rifle caliber soon. Be safe and happy hunting!