Spring vs Nitro Piston


March 8, 2014, 01:44 PM
I am considering the Crossman TR77 as my first pellet rifle in many years and cannot decide whether to go with the regular spring piston version, or the nitro piston version. I would really appreciate it if someone could highlight the differences between the two piston types.

I am leaning toward the spring piston because it is about $50 cheaper, but if it is worth it I wouldn't mind going for the nitro piston.

I can read the boxes all day, but would rather read it from a more unbiased source. ;)

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March 8, 2014, 09:35 PM
Usually the spring piston guns are a little easier to cock, not quite as powerful and the manufacturer typically recommends that you not leave them cocked for very long. They have more vibration and mechanical noise during the firing cycle as well.

The nitro piston guns can seem a little easier to shoot accurately and there's generally no prohibition against leaving them cocked for reasonable durations--to make hunting practical, for example.

My guess is that the nitro/gas pistons are somewhat more durable than the metal springs. That might be an issue if you plan to shoot it a lot.

March 8, 2014, 11:50 PM
Not sure about that?

The nitrogen things that hold up my car hoods & trunk lids seem to blow a seal or leak way sooner then the old fashioned springs that seemed to do the same job forever.
(O.K., maybe they needed a shot of oil every 5 years or so to keep them from squeaking!)

Same as air-rifle piston oil occasionally.

The only experience I have with one though was a Beeman a friend bought a few years ago.
I thought it was too hard to cock for my use.
But pretty smooth shooting.
Never had a chance to compare the exact same model rifle with a spring though.


March 9, 2014, 03:30 PM
The pistons on car lids are exposed to temperature extremes that a gun probably isn't. Would that have some bearing on the durability of the seals?

March 9, 2014, 04:04 PM
Thanks for the info. To me it seems like there is not a huge difference either way. The nitro seems to be a bit more durable with less of a noisy, disruptive release. Although the possibility of leakage is always there.

Seems similar to the piston vs direct impingement AR debate.

March 9, 2014, 04:24 PM
I don't think we have the requisite number of years of experience to judge how long the nitro piston guns will last.

We know spring guns can last a long time.

March 9, 2014, 09:15 PM
I don't think we have the requisite number of years of experience to judge how long the nitro piston guns will last.I know that Theoben has been making and selling gas piston guns for more than a quarter century--I don't know when they first started but I know it's been at least 25+ years. That's obviously not nearly as long as the metal spring guns, but it's a pretty long time. And, even if they do fail, they can be replaced just like a metal spring can.

The first big selling point was that the guns could be left cocked virtually indefinitely with no ill effects while it is well-documented that leaving a metal spring gun cocked for long periods can adversely affect the spring.

March 12, 2014, 04:15 AM
There are two problems with the nitro imo, one is the high failure rate, and two is scope breakage. There are a lot of them that leak out, but it seems if they're leakers they do it by the time you get it or soon after so the warranty will over it. The scope problem is because the nitro is stronger so the reverse recoil is too, and that's what breaks scopes. So if your nitro spring lasts a few months after you bought it I'd say odds are good it'll last for years, but no guarantees. And as mentioned about car hatch/hood stuts, time will kill them too, but who knows that time time will be since they're new. Comparing the Theoben gas spring to a Crosman version is like comparing a Mercedes to a Yugo. My Theoben spring is maybe 15yrs old and still as good as new, but more than one Crosman has leaked on me before I received it. If you tune the gun it will greatly reduce scope breakage, for example I tune all my guns have never broken a scope.
Nitro usually have more power out of the box than a coil gun, but if you tune a coil gun it will usually have more power than an untuned nitro. A tuned coil gun will also be as smooth and quiet as a nitro. So I suppose another question is do you plan on tuning whichever gun you get? If you don't plan on tuning then the noise of a coil gun may drive you nuts, but a nitro may break your scope... After warranty is over a replacement coil spring is $6, nitro are $26. Coil springs are very easy to change, but many people need a spring compressor to change a nitro.
A referb Titan is a great option for cost nitro btw, $90 for a nice nitro gun.
Btw, I have the tuning info if you want to see if it's something you want to do. You can also tune the trigger which can save the cost of an aftermarket one. Just pm me with your email and I'll send it all to you.

March 15, 2014, 02:54 PM
" If you don't plan on tuning then the noise of a coil gun may drive you nuts, but a nitro may break your scope.."

What do you mean by tuning?

I went ahead and got a Crosman TR77 springer (first airgun since I was a kid, first ever break barrel). Make fun of me if you want, but my main attraction to it was its similarity in look and feel to my AR. ;)

So far it is plenty accurate, but I cannot get over how loud and forceful that spring is. That spring slamming around makes its "recoil" feel worse than my .22 rifle.

I am considering returning it and getting the NP version. I am not sure though if that would actually be an upgrade or just a different flavor.

I really am starting to get into airguns again for inexpensive shooting and pest control around my house.

March 15, 2014, 09:23 PM
I think the TR77 is just fine. I have a few guns that are basically identical to it except for the wood stock and have squeezed as much as 18.5ftlbs from them with the oem coil spring. Tuning is usually just fixing the guns flaws, like a leaking main seal, replacing sticky grease with non-sticky, change the barrel washers from plastic to fitted brass to minimize barrel side play, removing burrs and sharp edges, but you can go further. For example you can smooth the transfer port, make the main seal a perfect fit for the gun, and if you have a coil spring you can drastically reduce the spring twang. That twang is what drives me nuts so I always fix that, plus the it reduces the overall noise of the gun quite a bit. You can do a little work on the barrel, properly setup the scope, and make the trigger better which is probably the #1 complaint with Crosman break barrels.
I'd tune it for sure, but it depends on your interest level and mechanical level. Most people don't tune because they're afraid to take the gun apart, worried about voiding the warranty, or simply aren't interested enough. So it's up to you, but I have a guide with pix to give you an idea of what's involved. You can do some or all, it's up to you.
The nitro vs spring is basically like you described, a different flavor. Most everyone prefers the nitro since there's no spring twang. It's up to you, but you really need to try them both to decide. If your gun is accurate you might think twice about trading it for another because you might not be so lucky next time.

March 16, 2014, 10:47 AM
I love working on guns, and since this one is only a $100 gun I am not opposed to fixing it up at all. I might get into that spring tuning if I decide to keep the springer instead of trading it for the NP version.

That twang is driving me nuts. I find it more unpleasant than say .308 recoil. It is just a weird vibration that I am having a hard time adjusting to. I can still shoot the rifle fine, but I feel it is causing me to anticipate and jerk the trigger knowing that awful vibration is going to erupt from the gun.

And the trigger is not so great either. At first it felt like a long DA revolver pull. With it shortened via the adjustment screw it is now tolerable. Still really heavy for a rifle trigger, but usable. Its about what I would expect for a mid level rifle.

March 16, 2014, 04:34 PM
Yup, it's like getting a small elect shock that programs you to not want to pull the trigger. A tune will make all the difference, and it possible to get it as quiet and smooth as a nitro. If you cocked one of mine you'd say it was a nitro without question, but assume the spring has leaked because it's easier to cock than a nitro. Email me at chevota@hotmail.com and remind me of who you are and I'll send you all the tuning info, trigger too. I took lots of pix so it's easy to gloss over and better understand.

March 23, 2014, 07:38 PM
I ended up trading the spring piston for the nitro piston version. I find the characteristics of the recoil to be more similar to what I am used to with a .22 rifle. It is more of a flat slap than a long buzz. It is calming down a lot as I shoot it. The muzzle blast sounds louder, but the piston is quieter. It is definitely harder to cock, but nothing a big strong fella like myself can't handle. I got the TR77 NPS version, to get the 2" shorter barrel. It is so much more handy, and doesn't seem to effect velocity.

March 24, 2014, 02:57 PM
I felt tbhe same "twang-y" recoil/vibration with my new (ten years ago) Gamo Shadow. It was an $85.00 air gun that I was going to use for varmints, but I found it to be as loud or louder than a .22 subsonic round and WAY louder than a CCI CB cap. Not to mention that it was just not fun to shoot targets with. It was accurate once I learned to allow the rifle to "float" on my support hand instead of gripping it.

I was tempted to have one of the better air gun smiths work it over, but never got around to it. The man I spoke with said that proper spring and piston fitting along with generally smoothing things out and honing the chamber would make a considerable difference. The cost was also considerable- $100 plus S&H, extra for a GRT-III trigger. I decided if I was going to have an air gun reworked, I'd start with one in .22 caliber because the stopping power of the .177 didn't impress me. Too many through and through hits that seems to wound more than a clean kill and I won't tolerate that.

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