Back when I first started shooting, I acquired a CO2 Crossman air gun for my girlfriend. It turned out extremely accurate and I kept it for over a dozen years until somebody borrowed it and forgot to return it. It was recently replaced with a Umarex S&W586 copy. While air guns don’t fully duplicate the manual of arms of real weapons, they are excellent for practicing presentation, sight alignment, trigger control and other elements of marksmanship.
A few years after the revolver, I got a refurbished Daisy single-shot pellet rifle. It was very similar to the single-shot arcade rifles that I used so enthusiastically as a kid in Russia. The rifle got regular use for back-yard practice and was eventually given to a friend’s daughter. A friend gave me his scoped Gamo 880 and it got used for longer-range practice, even including a couple of rabbit retirements. But the trigger on that was not impressive and the 4x optic was outright poor. For very occasional use, I didn’t want to get anything fancier. Spring air guns in general feel like open-bolt submachine guns: the lock time is relatively slow and the balance shifts slightly on firing. Those same qualities mean that a proficient air gunner would do very well with firearms. And then the crunch came.
The crunch was two-fold: 22LR ammunition got scarce, and my time got even more scarce than that. Driving 50 minutes each way to the range became prohibitively time-consuming, so I have not got to shoot since my late May training in Switzerland. Something had to change. I can shoot air guns legally very close to my home, while even suppressed 22s require either traveling to the far range or asking neighbors for access to farm properties.
I solved the problem by getting a RWS Diana 34P Compact. It came with a parallax-adjustable 3-9x scope of very good clarity. The ability to adjust parallax is important because of the short distances at which air guns are normally used. My past practice was done at 10 to 20 yards, and I don’t expect to go much past 50 at most. While I looked into pre-charged models, that would require more support structure than I wanted to maintain. The only expense with with the spring or gas pistol pellet guns is the ammunition.
I have not tried difference kinds of pellets with the new gun yet. Gamo 880 gave good results with the cheapest flat point Daisy pellets but was all over the place with pointed Crossmans. In general, it’s a good idea to try different types to see what works best for you — .177 pellet guns are even more picky than 22LR rifles. Some companies offer variety packs just for that. The prices, especially now, are very good — from ONE cents per pellet to about eight for the high-end match projectiles. And they are all in stock.
The new rifle has certain advantages over the old Gamo. It’s more ergonomic, produces higher velocities, and has a far better trigger. Daisy and Gamo both were like bad Mosin triggers, heavy and spongy. The RWS trigger is more like a decent Mauser trigger. The thick muzzle provides a comfortable grip for cocking the spring. It is more expensive than the Walmart specials, but the accuracy and the longevity are much improved. And the savings in ammunition and time not spent driving to distant ranges should be worth the one-time expense.