Quality air rifle for long range plinking


March 12, 2005, 11:22 PM
My club has a four station trap field that throws the birds out over a small canyon. One of my favorite lunch break activities has been going to the club with my 22 rifle and picking off the unbroken birds on the opposite side; there's something very satisfying about breaking a clay bird, even those sitting on the dirt. Ranges have been lasered from 45 to 90 yards, with probably 3/4 of the birds in the under 60 yard range.

However, due to the STUPID actions of a few, the club has changed its policy and now only shotguns and air guns are allowed on the trap field.


So now I am looking for suggestions on a good air rifle that will let me blow off some steam during lunch breaks.

Some wants:

- Full sized (I'm a big guy), similar in weight and feel to a "real" rifle
- I don't dive anymore and like to travel light when plinking the birds: I'm not interested in lugging around a scuba tank. Pump or spring please.
- I'm left handed, so LH or ambi- will be required.
- I'll be putting a quality scope on the gun.
- I'm a good shot offhanded and would like a gun that is more accurate than I am.
- The wind through the canyon can be tricky (part of the fun), so a higher power or larger caliber gun will be preferred.
- I'd rather not spend more than $300 (plus optics).


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March 12, 2005, 11:48 PM
This (http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/model.pl?model_id=152) is a nice $300 airgun, and this (http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/model.pl?model_id=441) is a nice $170 airgun. :)

Either will need scope rings for it as well, and you can use any that fit the dovetail.

March 13, 2005, 12:34 AM
90 yards is a very long way for an airgun. The pellets are extremely poor projectiles, aerodynamically speaking, which limits their effective range both in terms of trajectory and wind sensitivity. On the other hand it's what makes them so attractive for shooting in populated areas. They have a similar range to a shotgun with birdshot--after about 400 yards even the real powerhouses are virtually harmless. That does NOT apply to the newer pre-charged pneumatics shooting bullet style projectiles.

60 yards is still pretty far. When you start looking at the trajectory tables, even for a "magnum" air rifle, you'll see that the trajectory gets pretty steep after 45-50 yards. Throw in wind, and depending on your personality, you may find your intended shooting activity is more along the lines of torture than "blowing off steam."

I'd recommend something in .20 (5mm) or larger caliber to get a bit more oomph at the longer ranges. The Sheridan pumps are decent guns, but scoping them is problematic due to their design. Power levels will have to be right up there. Maybe a Beeman RX-1 in .20 or .22 caliber. Of course with a decent scope you're going to be set back a pretty penny--probably more than double your price range when you throw in a scope that will tolerate gas-piston recoil. Cocking effort is way up there with this model too.

www.straightshooters.com has a forum frequented by many experienced airgunners. They can probably give you some good advice.

March 13, 2005, 01:10 AM
John, you just pointed something IMPORTANT out... I thought he said feet, not yards.

I don't really know of any airrifles that are suitable for firing to that range.

March 13, 2005, 01:31 AM
Thanks for the comments.

I've shot airgun silhouette with a borrowed gun and the rams were set at 45 yards. These were low powered target guns and the small steel ram was knocked over nicely. I think chasing the clay birds in the 50-60 yard range with a 1K fps gun is feasable, but those out at 90 yards get to stay intact. ;)

How's the trigger on the Benjamin Legacy?

March 13, 2005, 02:51 PM
As has been pointed out, even 60 yds is going to be a marksmanship challenge with almost any 'conventional' airgun, IMHO.

The comparatively low mass and relatively poor aerodynamic shape of the typical airgun projectile should make getting consistent hits at fifty yrds and beyond difficult. By no means impossible-just difficult.

But once you'd acquired the requisite skill at 'doping' wind and trajectory compensation, you'd arguably be able to call yourself 'one helluva decent shot'.

FWIW, I have an RWS M-48 in .22 with a good quality 2X7 variable 'scope mounted on it. The typical 12-15 gr. pellet leaves it at 796 to 831 f/s according to my CED cronograph. While not very impressive by high-bucks, precharged, 'exotic' projectile standards I believe that it's quite representitive of what a moderately priced, high-performance air rifle is capable of doing.

While I'd have ethical problems with trying to take 'game' animals with it past about 40 yds. it's more a function of knowing my own limitations when it comes to being able to deliver a clean headshot out there than anything else.

I'm sure that it'd deliver a pellet with enough remaining energy to break a clay target 90 yds away. I'm not real optimistic about how often I could put it on one :o

March 13, 2005, 02:57 PM
You could opt for an RWS Career 707 in .22 producing 80 FPE at the muzzle. Get an FX hand pump and you're good to go.

March 13, 2005, 04:56 PM
If it was easy, it wouldn't be much fun, would it? ;)

After a bit more poking around, I'm leaning towards the RWS Model 48. One of the many benefits of membership in my club is we get to buy goodies at the wholesale price; the 48 is listed above my preference, but let's see what it will really run me.

That Career 707 looks very nice, but I want to spend my lunch hour shooting, not pumping (after the weekend, there are lots of unbroken birds laying around, I've gone through several boxes of 22 before I had to get back to the office). Who knows, maybe the airgun bug will bite me...

bad LT
March 13, 2005, 07:24 PM
Another vote for a large caliber RWS rifle

March 13, 2005, 10:18 PM
Who knows, maybe the airgun bug will bite me...

Unfortunately (fortunately?) it's a lot easier than you think. Be careful! ;)

March 13, 2005, 11:04 PM
These were low powered target guns and the small steel ram was knocked over nicely.It'll break clays or knock down the small rams at that range--but you have to remember that 45 yards is chosen to be roughly equivalent to 500 yards for centerfire silhouette or 100 yards for rimfire silhouette. Using the same equivalence, shooting at 60 yards with an airgun is roughly equivalent to shooting over 660 yards with a centerfire or around 135 yards with a rimfire. 45 yards is pretty different from 60 yards when it comes to spring-piston airguns.

Looking at the trajectory for a .20 Crosman Premier (the most aerodynamic pellet I'm aware of that is currently on the market) starting out at 800fps shows the following.

First number is @ 45 yards, second is at 60 yards.
Drop from bore: 6", 11.1"
Time of flight: .18 seconds, .25 seconds
10mph Wind drift: 2.3", 4.1"

If the gun is zeroed @ 40 yards, you can expect the following trajectory:

-.5" @ 45, -1.3" @ 50, -2.3" @ 55, -3.3" @ 60, -4.8" @ 65, -6.4" @ 70, -8.2" @ 75

A less aerodynamic pellet such as an RWS Superdome in .22 launched at the same velocity would give you numbers like:

First number is @ 45 yards, second is at 60 yards.
Drop from bore: 5.6", 14.6"
Time of flight: .18 seconds, .3seconds
10mph Wind drift: 4.9", 10.8"

If the gun is zeroed @ 40 yards:

-.85" @ 45, -2" @ 50, -3.5" @ 55, -5.5" @ 60, -7.8" @ 65, -10.6" @ 70, -13.8" @ 75

You won't really get to choose what pellet to use--most airguns have very noticeable preferences for certain pellets. You can hope that your gun will like a very aerodynamic one, but that may not be the case. My Beeman R1 in .20 caliber won't shoot the .20 Premiers very well, so I have to shoot the H&N FTTS pellets which are great pellets but don't have nearly the ballistic coefficient of the Premiers.

With the .22 Superdomes, mis-estimating the range by as little as 5 yards can result in a 2" elevation error at 60 yards. You might want to buy a laser rangefinder as well.

I love airguns, and I'm not trying to dissuade you--I just don't want you to buy an expensive airgun and be disappointed with its performance because you had unrealistic expectations.

I've made an over 100 yard shot with my 600fps Beeman R7 in .177. (With witnesses! ;) ) It felt really good even though there was considerable luck involved. With my .20 R1, I can plink satisfyingly out to 50 yards or so, but if you stretch the yardage too much, the satisfaction wears off--missing isn't nearly as much fun as hitting...

March 14, 2005, 05:29 PM
Thanks for the comments and all the info! I went to the range today with my Valtro to blow off some steam and took a couple pics. Apologies for the quality, but camera phones are somewhat limited (and I'm not Lunde when it comes to photography ;) )

First pic is looking over the canyon at the pile of birds. Range from the shooting position where I'm standing to that bush in the middle lasered at 44 yards. This pile is from the trap house that is used most often and where the vast majority of the birds I'll be shooting are located. Wind runs up the canyon from the right to the left.


Second one is panning to the right of the first picture. Big blob of birds in the middle is 65 yards, with that other one under the tall tree at just under 90 yards. On a calm day, maybe...


And in case there is any doubt as to why there were hundreds of birds in the first pic just waiting to be broken, I submit the following:


Note that it was hit twice in this pic, and another bullseye is out of the frame to the right. This is still-shiney fresh, like done over the past weekend. :rolleyes:

Hot brass
March 15, 2005, 10:54 PM
The RWS 48 is a very good choice. Also check out the Beman line.

John C
March 17, 2005, 04:32 PM

I didn't notice your location when I first read this post, but I saw the pictures and thought that the trap house looked familiar! I usually shoot down at Coyote Creek, but after I start a new job in Cupertino, I'll probably start shooting up at Los Altos.

If they only allow airguns and shotguns, why not scope a .410 and use slugs?

-John C

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