You’ve been shooting for a while. You’ve got your handy dandy spring-powered airsoft gun but you want something better. The spring-loaded piece just isn’t cutting it anymore.
What can you do? It’s time to upgrade your rifle, of course. It’s time to invest in a PCP airsoft rifle. But how do you do that?
You can go the Google route, doing all the research yourself and sifting through ten or twelve contradictory opinions for the truth. That can be really time-consuming.
Or, you could simply read this article. I’ll discuss what a PCP air rifle is, how to pick one, the safety concerns these rifles bring and the proper operation of one of these intriguing guns.
I’ll end the article with some reviews of the best PCP air rifles on the market.
Top 3 PCP Air Rifles Compared
|Crosman Benjamin Discovery Pre-Charged Pneumatic PCP Dual Fuel .22 Air Rifle and Pump||$349.98||Buy on Amazon|
|Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Pellet Air Rifle||from $410.12||Buy on Amazon|
|Ruger Blackhawk Combo air rifle||$75.52||Buy on Amazon|
What’s a PCP Rifle, Anyway?
Unlike CO2 or spring-loaded air rifles, a PCP or (p)re-(C)harged (P)neumatic rifle features a large reservoir that is filled with charged (or pressurized) air.
The method for getting air into the gun differs from gun to gun.
There are guns you pump up by hand, ones that must only be pumped once, and precharged ones that you have to have a special tank and pump system for.
All of these various weapons have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s jump right in!
Types of PCPs
There are several types of PCP out there. They can be categorized by the method used to get the compressed air into them.
Multi-stroke Pneumatic Airguns
The most common kind of PCP is the multi-stroke air gun. As the name suggests, charging the air inside this gun requires you to pump the trigger eight to ten times.
These guns are often used by beginning airgun enthusiasts, as you must pump them up after every shot.
It is also necessary to grab the middle of the gun when pumping, using your other hand in opposition to the pumping action. This can be quite awkward if your gun happens to have a scope mounted.
The advantage to this type of gun, however, is that the power is variable. For example, if you are shooting at a small lawn pest such as a gopher, or if your neighbor’s dog is on your property and you want to scare him off, you can vary the power of your gun by pumping either more or less air into the reservoir.
If you pump less air, the pellet will move more slowly as it leaves the barrel, meaning Fido will only get a sting on the rump instead of being hurt.
Many advanced shooters prefer the single-stroke pneumatic to the multi-stroke. Again, like the name suggests, this gun requires only a single press of the cocking lever to get it ready to fire.
People love these guns because they are consistent and accurate without a lot of recoil.
On the downside, they don’t get much power. However, they are not really made for power. They are excellent at about ten meters, though.
The third type of pneumatic is the precharged type. This gun will give you the best of both worlds. You can get a lot of power, from low to high and everything between.
These guns are easy to cock, accurate, versatile and a lot of fun to shoot.
Getting air into these guns requires a trip to your local scuba shop. They will fill you an 80 Cu. FT tank at 3000 PSI, or a carbon fiber tank at 4,500 PSI.
All you have to do is siphon some of the air out of the tank and into the gun’s reservoir with a special hose that has a pressure gauge.
Pre-charged pneumatics come in a variety of configurations, so there is bound to be one that fits your needs.
There are sports guns for pest control, guns for plinking and target shooting, and even competition level ones that are good for fieldwork and ten-meter events.
Advantages of PCP
There are several advantages to using a PCP rifle. Perhaps the most obvious is that there doesn’t need to be a long receiver with a moving piston. Also, reloading a rifle of this type is almost noiseless.
When you fire a PCP rifle, the only thing that moves is the air inside. This makes its firing just as noiseless as the reload.
The air movement, along with the fixed barrel design, also increases the accuracy of each of your shots.
Also, PCPs come in a variety of different configurations. You can find single-shots, multi-shots, lighter guns, heavier guns and everything between.
Because these guns are so readily available, you can easily find silencers, bipods and other add-ons for them.
Though PCP rifles are powerful and extremely accurate, they also have a few major disadvantages. For one, you need to recharge them.
That’s right, you need to recharge that air reservoir. If your hunt will be taking more shots than your air reservoir can handle, you will have to bring the special pump along for the trip, which means more that you have to carry.
Further, if you continue to shoot after those usable shots are gone, the pellets will still fire. However, the air pressure and volume will decrease. This can greatly hinder the accuracy of your shots.
Buying Your Own Air Gun
So, you’re ready to buy your own PCP air rifle? Finding the whole process confusing? Don’t worry. I’m here to help.
Before you go to the rifle store or click on that window to the online gun-buying site, take a minute to think.
What sort of things are you going to be using this gun for? If you plan on plinking or are a beginner, a multi-stroke air rifle might be best. If you are wanting to actually hunt, take a PCP.
Whichever you choose, it’s always important to remember what you want in a rifle.
Try It Out
A lot of towns have airgun clubs. If your town has one of these, you can go and try out a variety of guns, allowing you to see which one is right for you.
After all, you might think a heavier PCP with all the bells and whistles is your necessary gun. However, that may not be the case and you might find something lighter to be better for your needs.
The next thing you need to check out before buying an air gun is the caliber. What caliber do you actually need? The three most common calibers are .177, .22 and .25. Each of these calibers has its uses.
.177 air guns are perfect for target shooting. That caliber of ammunition is about the same size as a steel BB.
In fact, some guns chambered in .177 can actually fire both pellets or BB’s. However, if you plan on changing ammunition, you need to either read the gun’s owner’s manual or talk to an expert first.
The .22 caliber pellet is bigger and a bit slower than its .177 counterpart. However, it packs more punch on impact.
They also tend to be less accurate, making them inappropriate for target shooting or plinking. Instead, this caliber is used more often for small game, including rabbits if you go for headshots.
The least purchased common caliber of an air rifle is the .25 caliber. These rounds are even bigger and hit with more of a punch.
However, the accuracy is decreased. If you are a dedicated small game hunter, however, this might just be your ideal caliber.
Now that you have bought your air rifle, it is important to briefly cover some safety information. This section could keep you from getting badly hurt.
Before you fire any gun, even a pellet gun, it is important to read the owner’s manual. These are not toys.
Do not let small children touch the gun, and even with older children, adult supervision is required.
Remember that though this gun does not fire bullets, it still shoots at a fast enough velocity to take down small game.
Always keep your gun’s muzzle pointed away from you. NEVER point a gun of any kind, either loaded or not, at another person or animal.
Never assume an air gun isn’t loaded. Treat all air guns as if they are loaded at all times. This could keep you, your pets, your friends or your children from getting badly hurt.
Always wear shooting glasses. They will help protect your eyes.
Don’t Load Too Soon
If you are going to own an air gun, it is important to unload it after use and to keep it that way until you plan on using it. That way, you don’t run the risk of someone accidentally getting shot.
Safety Keeps You Safe
Your air gun has a safety switch that prevents it from firing. Always keep the safety on until you get ready to fire. That way you’ll know nothing can go wrong.
Always know the danger distance, the distance your ammunition can travel. Also, make sure that your target has an adequate backdrop.
Be careful to scout out anything your ammunition might hit if it goes through your intended target. Also, never shoot a target if someone is behind it.
Getting Your Gun
Before you take your gun from another person or from storage, make sure it is unloaded and the safety is off.
Reading is Fundamental
There are plenty of warnings and instructions that you receive when you own a gun of any type. Read and follow all warnings and instructions carefully and fully.
Best PCP Air Rifles Reviewed
Now that we have covered what a PCP is, the advantages and disadvantages, things to know before you buy, and safety precautions to take, it’s time to dig right into the reviews!
Crosman Benjamin Discovery Pre-Charged Pneumatic PCP Dual Fuel .22 Cal Air Rifle
The Crosman Benjamin Discovery is a .22 caliber air rifle to be reckoned with. It gets a velocity of 900 FPS, plenty enough to take down a rabbit or other small game.
Unlike most PCP’s this one is dual fuel. This means it can use both CO2 cartridges and 2000-PSI compressed air tanks. This means you don’t have to run to a Scuba store every time you need a recharge.
This gun also comes with its own pump. You can recharge it yourself, no matter what fuel you choose. As a small note, if you intend on using CO2 you will need an inexpensive CO2 adapter which is sold separately.
You should also be aware that this gun is a single shot. If you wanted a multi-shot gun, this is not for you, but it is an amazing value and highly accurate, for all of you who want a single-shot. Also, it is loud, so noise might be an issue.
Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock Pellet Air Rifle
The big brother of the Discovery reviewed above is the Benjamin Marauder. However, unlike the Discovery, this is a multi-shot gun. All you multi-shot gun owners, this is your gun.
The stock is usable, no matter what your handedness. It features an internal shroud to increase silence when firing.
The gun takes air at 3000 psi and the reservoir has a quick-connect male adapter. You will need a female adapter to use a scuba tank or hand pump with this gun.
Another advantage of this rifle is that it will take .177, .22 and .25 ammunition. With .177 and .22 the gun will get thirty-two shots per tank. At .25, the number of shots drops to sixteen.
This is the most amazing gun. Not only is it silent and accurate, but it also features a bipod, sling mount, fifteen inches of Picatinny rail space and a two-stage adjustable match trigger.
The gun takes 2000-3000 PSI of air pressure and comes with one magazine.
Any scope will work with this gun. However, you will need weaver mounts as it has a weaver rail. Also, it can be upgraded with aftermarket AR parts to make it completely yours.
Ruger Blackhawk Combo air rifle
If you don’t have a budget for the expensive PCP rifles, this is the one for you. It’s affordable but packs a lot of punch for the price.
This gun is .177 caliber, and gets a 1,000-fps velocity. Unlike most guns, this one even includes a scope for you. It’s a 4X-32 scope, so no zooming, but it’s amazing that it comes with one at all.
This is the perfect gun for messing about, plinking and getting rid of those pesky rodents.
Buying a good PCP air rifle can be the next step up in combat.
Now that you have read this article, you know what types of guns there are, what you need before you buy one, and the safety precautions you need to take when handling a gun of this caliber.
If you are still looking for the perfect PCP, I’ve put in my recommendations for the best of the best.
What are you waiting for? Get ready to take the next step up!