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What is the effective range of my airgun?

The effective range of your airgun depends on four major factors: 1) power plant / gun type, 2) power output, 3) pellet choice / precision, and 4) shooter skill.

  1. Your gun’s power plant has an impact on how well you will be able to shoot at longer distances. Traditional plunger-driven “springers” tend to generate quite a bit of recoil and require more skill to master, especially as power and distance increase.  Gas piston and other dampening technologies have helped reduce some of the vibrations generated during the firing cycle, but there is still bi-directional recoil to consider when shooting.  PCP (Precharged Pneumatic) guns have little to no recoil, and thus, tend to be more precise by design.
  2. Your gun’s power output will affect its effective range. Also, your intended purpose plays into this as well.  A 12 Ft.-Lb field target rifle is very effective at hitting a 1.5” target at 55 yards, however, it isn’t necessarily a 55-yard hunting rifle.  The ultimate effective range will be the furthest distance your pellet can precisely impact and maintain the minimum required energy for the target you are shooting.
  3. Your choice of pellet is also important in determining the effective range of your airgun. #1 is finding a pellet that is accurate / precise.  You need to be able to hit your target with consistency.  If you plan to hunt with your airgun, use quality pellets designed for precision hunting.  PLEASE DO NOT GO HUNTING WITH INEXPENSIVE BULK AMMO!!  Ballistics also plays a part in effective range.  Some pellet shapes are more aerodynamic and allow longer range shots.  Heavier pellets tend to be more accurate but require more power to shoot long distances.
  4. Ultimately, your skill will be the most important factor in determining your airgun’s effective range. If you are shooting a plunger-driven gun, practice the “artillery hold” – and practice a lot.  Consistency is key when it comes to airguns and how you hold and shoot them.  Most shooters find a limit of around 20-30 yards for hunting consistently, however, some accurately hunt beyond 50 yards with “springers”.  It all comes down to how well you and your rifle work together.  PCP rifles, are altogether different.  Their higher power and lack of recoil allow for 100+ yard precision from even moderately-skilled shooters.
To discover you and your rifle’s effective range, take a target and draw a 1” circle. You can trace a quarter, which is pretty close. Now set your target up at 10 yards and fire 5 shots at that circle. If you get all 5 shots inside the circle, you can check 10 yards off the list as an effective range. Now move your target back in 5-10 yard increments and repeat the test. When you can no longer keep all 5 shots in the circle, you’ve exceeded your particular combination’s maximum effective range.  Consider testing different ammunition or fine-tuning your technique. If you learn proper technique and continue to practice, you can increase your effective range and get more out of your airgun.