New hunting tool? Air rifles have hit the big time
I love shooting air rifles. I think most marksmen started on the path to target shooting with a BB gun and worked their way up to 12-gauge shotguns and 30-caliber rifles.
I’ve come full circle, and these days I enjoy my .177 air rifle as much as centerfire rifles and smooth-bore shotguns.
At the recent Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference in Bismarck, N.D., I tested some new air rifle designs, and I must admit, these guns are incredible.
One model I test-fired was the Daystate Pulsar. This state-of-the art air rifle features British engineering and an action that’s computer-controlled via a sophisticated motherboard and software. Loading was simple as it uses a 10-shot, auto-loading rotary magazine. Check it out at www.daystate.com.
Another model I shot was the Brocock Bantam Sniper. This is another British-built unit, and it uses a highly-advanced regulator system that, when paired with the Bantam’s Slingshot Hammer valve system, precisely meters the air release to eradicate the usual “power curve” that we see in some unregulated rifles. Measured air control ensures minimal shot-to-shot deviation as the rifle cycles through its usable air charge. Take a look at this one at www.brocock.co.uk.
The third air rifle I tested had just returned from Africa, where it downed a Cape buffalo. You heard that right: A. Cape. Buffalo. The Western Big Bore Bushbuck comes in .45-caliber and has been accuracy-tested to 250 yards with amazing results. The extra-long 400-grain bullets give especially tight groups when shot with either the full-power (600-plus foot-pounds) high setting or the low-power setting of 400 foot/pound with fill pressures of 4,500 psi (high) and 3,000 psi (low). View more info on this one at www.airgunsofarizona.com.
These air rifles are extremely accurate and deliver bullet speeds that are more than capable of providing a kill shot. I shot a 22-caliber, 30-caliber and 45-caliber at targets from 20 yards out to 100 yards and realized there was potential for small game and big game hunting.
Think about it. White-tailed deer hunting with a .45 air rifle that has as much killing power as any muzzleloader. In states that have close-quarter deer hunting in thick woods, the 30-caliber air rifle would be perfect. The Bushbuck will handle any North American and most non-dangerous African game species. I wouldn’t hesitate to use one for Western elk hunting.
At this time, few states allow air guns for big game animals, but I predict that will change. Manufacturers are lobbying for legality nationwide, and it’s a matter of time before the regulations reflect the new technological advances. I am looking forward to the day when I can vist the northwoods with a rifle that pushes the bullet with a blast of air at a big buck that has thus far eluded me.