Less expensive shooting practice

Range time consists of three major expenses: range fees, travel time and ammunition. I shoot on friends’ farms, so the fees aren’t an issue. Ammunition, that I have. I’ve been a packrat a long time, and I no longer do much rapid fire. Travel time…that’s a problem. The nearest range available to me is a 55 minute drive away. The rest are further. Two hours on the road really add up.

Being able to practice in the back yard seemed ideal. So I’ve been looking at using air guns more…starting with a Daisy spring gun, later replaced with a Gamo 880 and augmented with Diana RWS34P. I also had a Crosman revolver of great accuracy which I lend to some friend and never got back. I replaced it with a newer, more expensive CO2 revolver but was not happy with its performance or feel.

So I started looking at various options, and ran into Crosman people at SHOT show range day. Shot a few pellets through pre-charged guns, liked how easy it was to hit targets compared to piston models. They agreed to provide me with some air guns to try out. Being a newbie to air guns, I’ve used up a lot of the time of their engineer who explained various technical details to me.

Today, I finally assembled the fancy Williams adjustable sight onto the pistol and took a few snapshots of it. And then the rain started, so no range time for me today.

I did a quick calculation of the economics of air gun shooting. Two 1250-pellet boxes add up to $58, and the 80 CO2 powerlets necessary to shoot them add another $36 (Wallmart prices). The pistol itself is $275 from Crosman and $260 from Amazon, shipping included. For comparison, a decent .22 pistol would cost about the same, and ammunition seems to be running about $250 for the same 2,500 rounds.

As a weapon, a .22 pistol is an obvious win. As a marksmanship training tool, the air gun looks to be economical — not just in terms of ammo but also in terms of range access — and rather accurate. Because air guns are not covered by NFA prohibition on barrel length, this pistol can be quickly augmented with a stock, making it much more useful for teaching new shooters. The notch rear sight can be either moved forward for a more conventional sight picture or left near the eye to make front sight focus easier for beginners.

Once I’ve had more time with this and other air guns, I will post my impressions in more detail.

PS: I just noticed a lot of complaints about canted front and rear sights. The front sight base is adjustable. The rear sight fits in the scope groove and has to be installed correctly or it shows the slight cant that buyers noticed. It took me about a minute to verify correct installation.



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14 Responses to Less expensive shooting practice

  1. Mike OTDP says:

    I hate to say this, but $300 is not going to buy you a “decent” pistol – neither air nor .22 caliber. A mid-grade air pistol such as an Izh-46m will cost about $500. And is a FAR better gun than a .22 plinker.

    The real fun comes when you get into the Olympic-grade hardware. We’re talking air pistols capable of shooting ten pellets into a group you can cover with a shirt button.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      I’ve shot IZH46M and it was most impressive. This one is intended primarily for training new shooters and should be sufficiently accurate for that.

      Browning Buckmark is a decent .22 and can be had for about $300. By decent, I mean reliable and accurate enough to make practicing with it worthwhile.

  2. Will Brown says:

    I’ve noticed with my air rifles that pellet quality has more influence on accuracy than does all but the most basic handling/aiming technique. Please include your experience with differing ammo manufacturers in your evalation process.

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  4. Billll says:

    FWIW: I had a Crosman semi-auto BB pistol some time back. I’ve forgotten the model, but it loaded 30 BB’s and would shoot 45 times on one CO2 cartridge. The fun part was that if you removed the right grip cover, lifted off the first plate of the trigger mechanism and reinstalled it upside down, the gun would fire full-auto at about 600 rpm.

  5. Jeff Dege says:

    I prefer spring-piston over CO2. No need to buy cartridges, and the power is more consistent.

  6. Mr Evilwrench says:

    I have a Gamo suppressed break-barrel .22 rifle. Hope to set up a range in the backyard this year, but it’s well good enough for squirrels and such.

  7. Dadof4 says:

    Ditto on the great value of a hunting pellet rifle like the .22 Gamos.

    I am in pest control and the Gamo Silent Cat has been more valuable than anything with gunpowder since I am mostly in a city. Best $200.00 (4 years ago) I ever spent on a firearm. On squirrels, many a pellet under the skin on the far side and many a one-shot drops .

    For fun at night I have put fluorescent paint in the cup of the pellet and charged it with a streamlight right before closing the barrel. Sure to bring a smile to your face.

    The tracer is entertaining but, as a bonus, you can find any pellet you just shot whether stuck in a piece of wood or bounced back on the ground because it’s still glowing. 🙂 Verification of where you hit the target – or by how much you missed – is obvious.

  8. AM says:

    The Pre Charge Pneumatic (PCP) options are pretty awesome, but the single stroke pneumatic (SSP) options will shoot very tight, and no need to buy an expensive external pump or CO2 cartridges. Although if you buy one Hill Hand Pump, you can use it on all sorts of PCP guns and not have to pay air tank fill fees. But SSP

    A Daisy Avanti 747 can be had for 200 bucks from pyramidair.com and while it won’t be an Olympic grade air pistol, it will shoot tighter than all but the Olympic grade shoooters. I’m using an IZH-53M springer pistol for basement practice, and I’m wishing I’d spent the extra money on an Daisy Avanti.

    • Y. says:

      Why pump?

      I had a 16J pcp rifle once and a not very big air tank (I think it was 3l, 300 bar). I had to re-fill it once per 6000 rounds or so. The diving shop charged $4 for that..

      • Oleg Volk says:

        That requires proximity of a diving shop. I have two PCP rifles, 177 and 22 caliber, awaiting testing. I am having entirely too much fun with the 2300S for now. It’s set up for very low velocity right now (chronograph shows 403-409fps spread) but that also means close to 100 shots per CO2 powerlet. And for my 25 yard plot of land, even 405fps is enough for practice.

  9. Kevin Ellis says:

    Find the right pellet for your barrel and a Crosman 2300 will go pellet on pellet at 6 meters or 10 meters which are competition ranges.

  10. Sean says:

    I’ve still got both of my old Daisy spring guns. Lost the dart kit for the pistol a long time ago though. more is the pity. I used to hunt cockroaches with those darts

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