Posts Tagged ‘firearms’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report is in response to what blog reader David Enoch said happened at this year’s Malvern airgun show. He said several firearm shooters attended — I assume for the first time — hoping to find out something about airguns, since firearms have recently become more difficult to shoot. That refers to the general difficulty of obtaining ammunition.
Presumably, these shooters want to know if airguns can augment their shooting experiences. That’s what I intend to address in this report.
The short answer is — YES — airguns can shoot just like firearms, but not out as far as you may want to shoot. But let’s qualify that, shall we? I shoot at a firearm range that has separate ranges for 15, 25, 50 and 100 yards. There’s a separate berm on the 100-yard range, where shooters can engage targets at 200 yards, if they desire.
The huge bulk of shooters shoot on the 15- and 25-yard ranges. Maybe 75 percent of all shooting is done there with handguns, with the slight edge going to the 15-yard range. When they come over to the 100-/200-yard range, they mostly shoot rifles, and about 99 percent of their shooting is at targets on the 100-yard berm. There’s a steel gong at 200 yards, and about 10 percent of the shooters will take a few shots at the gong after they’ve fired 25-50 rounds at 100 yards. Putting an actual paper target at 200 yards is an extremely rare occurrence at my range.
In my 65 years, I’ve shot on over 100 different ranges — both public and private — and the private range I now shoot on is very representative. I’ve been to ranges with 300-yard berms and to several that go out to 1,000 yards; and the bulk of the shooting on all of them was still done at 100 yards.
I say that to put this report into perspective. I know a lot of shooters who own super-magnum rifles such as a .300 Winchester Short Magnum and even .338 Lapua, and even they all shoot at 100 yards. They may talk about long-distance shooting and some of them may shoot long distances when they hunt; but at the range, the bulk of their shooting is at 100 yards.
One more thing is the rimfire shooters. They’ve always been closer to airguns than those who predominantly shoot centerfires, and perhaps many more of them made the crossover years ago when air rifles started to challenge rimfires at 50 yards. But one drawback has always been in the category of repeating air rifles. While good repeating air rifles are not hard to find, they do cost a lot of money compared to, say, a Marlin model 60 or a Ruger 10-22. However, when the cost of a brick of .22 rimfire ammo tops $60, as it now does for anyone who doesn’t camp out at the local big box store, then it doesn’t seem to matter as much that a good repeating air rifle will cost $400 and up. And these repeaters will also deliver the same good groups as the single-shots, so there’s very little to complain about.
Air rifle distances
When I started writing about airguns in 1994, 50 yards was a very long distance for an air rifle. It’s still pretty far if you shoot 10-shot groups; but for 5-shot groups, 50 yards is starting to become very reasonable. One-hundred yards is the new 50-yards for accurate air rifles. That also means that distances in the field have stretched, as well.
Here in Texas, we hunt prairie dogs — ground-dwelling rodents that build mounds and dig destructive holes that can break the legs of running animals unlucky enough to step in one. Prairie dogs live in groups called towns that can have thousands of mounds and occupy hundreds of acres of territory. This territory is typically dry scrubland that doesn’t support many head of cattle, so when a dog town moves in, it represents a big loss to the rancher.
So, prairie dogs are pests of the first order. As long as the hunter can guarantee the safety of livestock and people in the surrounding area, getting permission to shoot is usually pretty easy. Imagine, if you can tell the landowner that you’re shooting something that doesn’t even carry past 500 yards! What a plus that is?
The problem in the past was that no airguns were powerful enough and accurate enough to reach out to prairie dogs; because when you get within about 100 yards of them, they get skittish. It can be done, of course, and I’ve done it. I’ve gotten as close as 25 yards to a prairie dog following a long, slow approach and an even longer wait…but that was rare. A hundred yards was much more common. And with an AirForce Condor, I had the perfect rifle to reach out those 100 yards and get the dog.
Some airgunners are using smaller-caliber big-bore guns for prairie dogs. Airgun hunter Eric Henderson has been successful with a Quackenbush .308 out to as much as 185 yards. Now, that’s some shooting!
What airguns can’t do
Airguns are not loud, nor do they recoil much. So neither of those firearm experiences can be duplicated, and that may dissuade some shooters.
And airguns are not made in the same way as certain military arms such as Garands, SMLEs or Mausers. So, if the tactile experience is what the shooter is after, there are no airguns that can give it.
Finally, an airgun isn’t a firearm, and that, by itself, bothers some shooters. For some people, it isn’t a matter of hitting the target or trigger control — it’s knowing that they’re firing a .357 magnum that defines their shooting experience. For them, only the actual firearm will deliver the goods.
But for all those shooters who just want the feeling of a good sight picture and precise trigger control, the size of the hole downrange isn’t that important. I’m in that group, so I understand that the act of doing is more important than the definition of what’s being done. For all who like to shoot for these reasons, airguns are a wonderful way to keep squeezing the trigger.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
While I was at the courthouse awaiting jury selection the other day, I was reading a favorite gun book, Yours Truly Harvey Donaldson, edited by David R. Wolfe and published in 1980 by Wolfe Publishing Company, Prescott, Arizona. In the book, Wolfe assembles letters and articles written by Harvey Donaldson, one of America’s top shooters, and cartridge developers. He is best-known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp cartridge, but he actually worked on dozens of different centerfire cartridges over the 89 years of his fruitful life. And he was a schuetzen shooter on top of all of that. Schuetzen rifles are single-shot rifles with incredibly accurate barrels that shoot lead bullets at low velocities. They typically shoot at 100 and 200 yards, either offhand or rested on a bench. The best of them have been known to put 10 bullets into a group that measures under one-half inch at 200 yards, which is a challenge that’s difficult to equal with modern arms today.
So, Donaldson knew how to shoot. And that’s the connection to today’s report. I read a paragraph that Donaldson wrote for an article that appeared in American Rifleman magazine in May 1936 – Rest Shooting and Schuetzen Loading:
“The secret of fine rest shooting is to hold the rifle so it will be free to recoil in the same way for each shot. I like to have my rifle come straight back, and when I see the crosshairs rise toward 12 o’clock in a straight line above the bull, I know that all is well and I can expect a good group. If the shooter will carefully perfect his holding so as to get this effect, the matter of making small groups will come much easier.”
That’s a good description of the goals of the artillery hold airgunners use, with one exception. Donaldson describes firearms that, while their bullets don’t travel very fast (never over 1,400 f.p.s.), still leave the muzzle before the major vibrations and movement of the gun begins. With a spring-piston airgun, the heavy steel piston has already jumped forward violently and then come to a sudden stop before the pellet begins to move. Vibrations in the gun have already started well before the pellet leaves the bore, which is why airgunners have to take this special hold even farther than Donaldson describes.
Important point — please read and understand!
Remember this — Donaldson was talking about firearms when he described his hold. So, the basic tenets of the artillery hold apply to firearms as well as to airguns. I have known that all along, but I haven’t harped on it because it really doesn’t matter to most shooters. A hold like this is only important to those who want the absolute last bit of accuracy potential from their firearms. Some of our blog readers who have competed with firearms, like Victor, understand the importance of hold consistency without my saying anything. They might call it something else, like follow-through perhaps, but we’re speaking about the same thing. For the rest of the shooters who are just plinking with a .22 rimfire or shooting anything offhand, it wasn’t important that I drill down to the absolute bottom bedrock fundamentals of shooting to explain my points. Either they understood it without me commenting or it wasn’t important.
But I’m going on record today and saying that an artillery-like hold, or at least a repeatable hold that allows the firearm to recoil in the same way every time, does have a positive influence on the accuracy of a firearm as well as a spring-piston airgun. And I’m also going to say that the artillery hold has a positive effect on other types of airgun powerplants — including the precharged pneumatic (PCP).
It’s still true that a PCP is much easier to shoot accurately than a spring-piston gun, but only with a proper hold will any PCP be capable of delivering its full accuracy potential. Because PCPs do not vibrate very much, nor do they recoil, the benefit of a consistent hold gets lost in the noise. Most good PCPs shoot very well regardless of how they’re held.
What is special about the artillery hold?
Okay, we know that the consistency of the hold is important to accuracy. But is the artillery hold different than what Donaldson describes in the passage above? Yes, it is. Donaldson rested his schuetzen rifles front and rear. The barrel of his rifle rested on the forward rest and the buttstock rested on the rear rest. There’s foam rubber between the barrel and the rest, but my point is that Donaldson does not rest the rifle on its forearm.
To be honest, there are photos showing benchrest rifles rested on their forearms, too, so it can be done either way, but the barrel rest was by far the more common in these older times.
Donaldson shown with a rested schuetzen rifle in the 1930s. The barrel is resting on foam rubber on the front rest. Photo from the book, Yours Truly, Harvey Donaldson, Wolfe Publishing, 1980.
What’s special about the artillery hold is that we don’t normally rest the rifle directly on sandbags or other rests. Instead, we rest it on our hands, which are placed on the rest. The flesh of the hand cushions the rifle in some unique way that even sand cannot. There are some gel-filled pads that seem to work as well as the hand; but when you examine them, you find that they feel quite a lot like the flesh of your hand. There’s something about the consistency that a spring-piston air rifle needs in order to have repeatable recoil and vibration patterns.
What you rest the rifle on is important, but so is where you rest it. I often have to try sliding my off hand back and forth under the stock, from the triggerguard to out as far as I can hold it — searching for a point where the rifle responds the same with every shot. Sometimes, I never do find the right place, and then I resort to resting the stock on the backs of my fingers and even directly on the sandbag. I don’t use the backs of the fingers unless absolutely necessary because it often hurts. And the number of airguns that can be rested directly on a sandbag and still shoot well is very small, although the TX 200 is one that can.
The point of this report is that the artillery hold is nothing new, and I didn’t invent it. It was already very old when I picked a quirky name for it, so airgunners would remember it and be able to talk about it. This hold is one of the fundamental tools in a good shooter’s kit. You can ignore it, but do so knowing what you’re giving up — because this is the “secret” to shooting a recoiling spring-piston air rifle well.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is both an object lesson, and a summary of what we’ve been studying for so long — the fact that ballistics, though often difficult to understand, are also precise and repeatable. It may not sound like that until I summarize at the end; but trust me, this is a lesson for all airgunners.
As the title says, this report is about my new AR-15. If you’re just finding this report for the first time and are interested in the AR, you owe it to yourself to read the first three parts of the report, linked above, before reading today’s message.
It was another very calm day at the range — perfect for testing a little experiment I’d cooked up. As you know, I do not shoot factory ammunition of any kind in my rifle. I did prove that it will function with standard factory 55-grain Remington .223 rounds in the last report, but the accuracy was horrible. I put 10 shots into about three inches at 100 yards. So I use the word “function” here to connote that the rounds fed through the magazine and action smoothly, as designed. I would never consider shooting them, other than for this test!
My load has been a 77-grain pointed bullet and a load of Varget gunpowder. That has demonstrated the ability to put 10 shots into less than one inch at 100 yards on many occasions. But another bullet — a 68-grain Hornady Match hollowpoint — produced the best 10-shot group I ever got with the rifle. It measures 0.562-inches between the centers of the two bullet holes farthest apart.
Ten bullets went into 0.562 inches at 100 yards.
So, I dreamed up a little experiment. I would shoot another group with the same load, only this time I would also do some other things to improve the group. For starters, I would only select cases that had the same headstamp. Different companies make .223 ammunition, and their cases differ a little. Even though they all meet the specifications for the .223 Remington case, there are tiny variations that occur from the differences in the manufacturing processes each company uses. Add in the possibility of different materials at the beginning of the manufacturing process and you get small variations. The specifications allow for this, as long as the gross tolerances and performance specs are satisfied.
These cases were picked up off the ground at the range, so they came from several different manufacturers and were made at different times. They’re not uniform at the lowest level.
Reloading cases with different headstamps, therefore, sets up the possibility for small variations in performance. Those differences probably don’t matter to a deer hunter; but to a guy trying to put 10 bullets in the same place, they can matter a lot.
So, I pulled 10 cases with the Federal Cartridge headstamp and set them aside for special treatment. Then, I selected a second lot of Federal cases and put them into a second group. A third group was comprised of cartridges with random headstamps.
Next, I trimmed all the cases to the same length — 1.760 inches. To this point, I hadn’t trimmed a single case, and semiautos like the AR-15 are known for stretching their cases.
Following that, I reamed the inside of the necks of the 10 special FC cases. I then loaded them with the 68-grain bullet and Varget powder that had produced the best group. The other cases I loaded with 77-grain bullets and Reloader-15 powder that has also shown a lot of promise. I wouldn’t call them control groups because they were reloaded with a different charge and bullet, but I was certainly interested in how well they did.
The moment of truth!
After warming the barrel with the 10 mixed cases (which got a 1.225-inch group), I started shooting the select cases with the good bullet and reamed case necks. The second bullet went into the same hole as the first. So did the third. When the fourth bullet enlarged the hole only a little, I suspected I was finally onto something. Shot 5 didn’t seem to make the hole any larger and I almost stopped shooting at that point. Never in my life had I ever put 5 shots from any rifle into 1/8 inch, which was what I estimated this group to be through my 30x scope sight. But fair is fair, so I pulled the trigger on shot 6. It went into the same hole, but enlarged the group noticeably. It was now about 1/4 inch between centers.
I was on a roll, and what a story this was going to make. So I lined up the crosshairs and fired shot 7.
“Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.”
[From the poem Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer, 1888]
Shot 7 landed apart from the first six and thumbed its nose at me through my powerful scope. So, I put my head down and finished the group. Two more shots were also apart from the main group and had the ironic audacity to land together, as if to say they were in the right place and all the rest were wrong. And one bullet managed to nick the main group, enlarging it by a considerable amount. In the end, I’d put 10 shots into .859 inches — a decent group; but when compared to the 0.198 inches of the first 5 shots, not that respectable.
The first 5 rounds went into 0.198 inches at 100 yards. Seven of the 10 shots went into 0.43 inches. But the 10-shot group measures 0.859 inches because of those 3 shots that strayed.
Here was yet another group that contained within it a smaller group of respectable size. But why had at least 3 of the 10 bullets gone so far astray? Hadn’t I done everything in my power to make these cases identical and as perfect as possible?
I had to wait till I got home to sort the 30 cases because my eyes were not good enough to discern those with the reamed necks. They were reamed on the inside and now the tiny scratches were filled with burned powder ash. But under the magnifying hood and strong lights at home I found them, one at a time. They all had the tiny scratches from reaming. But there was a problem. There were only 7 cases with the FC headstamp on them. None of the rest of the FC-stamped cases showed the signs of having been reamed. I looked among the odd headstamps, and there I found the remaining 3 reamed cases. Somehow, I’d mixed them up during the reaming operation and the non-FC-stamped cases got mixed in with the others.
Three! An interesting number, because it matches the number of bullet holes that are not in the main group. And that’s today’s lesson. It’s not a lesson about how to do something — it’s a cautionary tale about what not to do. That’s what we learned today. You can’t be too careful when you test things, and you have to check things twice and even three times before you pronounce them as good.
That is what I failed to do this time. And you know what comes next, don’t you? I have to rerun this test and next time make sure everything is done correctly.
I’ll make a prediction. If I do everything correctly as I’ve said here, I predict that this load will be able to put 10 rounds into a group that measures under 1/2 inch at 100 yards.
We shall see.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, I have some news about my buddy, Mac. Many of our long time readers know him from the work he’s done on this blog. Mac has been ill for several months and hasn’t been able to go to work for quite a while. He’s getting some medical tests done, but the prognosis doesn’t look real good according to his doctors. Mac and his wife, Elissa, can use your prayers.
Now, on to today’s report.
I was out at the range with my new AR-15 this past Tuesday. For those who aren’t familiar with what I’m doing, this series is about me acquiring a firearm I’m totally unfamiliar with and learning how to use it well. I have to go through the same confusing research on the internet and in magazines as a new airgunner who’s trying to make sense from the conflicting reports he reads about the airguns. Since I’m more familiar with airguns, I thought this unfamiliar firearm would be a way for me to identify with the new airgunner.
Today, the scope of this report expands to include a second rifle — my new Weihrauch HW52 in .22 Hornet. Here’s the situation. This is the fourth .22 Hornet I’ve owned, and my shooting buddy, Otho, has owned about a dozen Hornets in his lifetime. Until now, we’ve been unable to get any of these rifles to shoot. They just will not put even 5 rounds into a group smaller than about 1.5 inches at 100 yards.
Like the AR, I’ve researched the Hornet on the internet and what I found was a lot of people having the same problems we’ve been having. But mixed in with the complaints are a few writers who claim to shoot half-inch groups at the same 100 yards. These guys have given their load data, so it’s been possible (or almost possible — I’ll get to that in a moment) to follow in their footsteps. But in two years, I haven’t been able to get any of my rifles to give me a consistently good group.
You know that my standard for a group is 10 shots — not 5. That’s why I made the remark in yesterday’s report about talking with the guy at the range about group sizes. As I told him, anyone can get lucky and put three bullets close together. Sooner or later it will happen — even with the most inaccurate rifle! I’ve even seen people shoot 10 shots, then circle 3 that are close and call that a group! But to put 10 consecutive shots into a close group is an entirely different matter. A gun that can do that is a gun that can hit where it’s aimed.
So, I was on the range with my HW52 falling block .22 Hornet and a new batch of loads trying, yet again, to put 10 of them into a tight group. This time, however, I made a mistake. I forgot that I’d mounted a new scope on the rifle many weeks ago. After the first fowling shot at a different target, I shot three shots at the 100-yard target and wasn’t able to see the bullet holes. Well, the scope is only 10X, so I can barely see .22 bullet holes at 100 yards anyway. I thought they might have landed on the black lines where they would be impossible to see. But after 3 shots I remembered that the scope was new and I hadn’t boresighted the gun!
This was the day I tested my HW52 in .22 Hornet. I was looking for that elusive sub-inch group at 100 yards.
My spotting scope told the whole story. Not wanting to believe my eyes, I walked downrange to look at the target close up. Sure enough, not one bullet had hit the target.
So, a quick bull was placed at the 50-yard berm, and I boresighted the gun (single-shots are often so easy to boresight!). I proceeded to sight-in with factory ammo. Five shots later, I was close enough to shoot another group of factory ammo at 100 yards. Those five rounds landed in 1.25 inches — a good sign for what was about to happen. I was ready to shoot a real group. But I had only reloaded 10 rounds of the particular load I was interested in, and three had been fired already. So this would have to be a 7-shot group. Oh, well!
Long story short — I had a difficult time believing what happened next. Through the scope that can barely make out the bullet holes, it appeared there were just 2 holes on the target, and one of them was growing slightly larger with every shot. Was I really doing this with a .22 Hornet?
After the final shot I walked downrange again, and this time was rewarded with what I have been seeking since 2009 — a great group with a .22 Hornet. True, it’s only 7 shots instead of 10, but five of those shots have landed in a group measuring 0.296 inches. And all 7 shots made a 0.70-inch group. Compared to all that has gone before — this is real progress!
Want to know what I did that was different? All the research I’ve done has pointed to maximum loads of Lil Gun powder. Everyone says it’s the best for Hornets, but they all specify loads that are compressed. The heaviest load I’ve yet seen was 14 grains of powder — a load I cannot get into a case even when there is no bullet! I’ve tried loads up to 12.5 grains, which is about all the powder I can get into a case and still be able to seat the bullet. Lil Gun generates very low-pressure in a Hornet, making these heavy loads safe; but if you can’t even seat the bullet, it doesn’t make any difference.
This time, I tried going the other way. I used a load that is so light there was room in the case to seat the bullet without compressing the powder. I used 11.5 grains of Lil Gun powder that probably sent the 40-grain bullet downrange at 2,500 f.p.s. or so. But no problem because all the bullets seemed to go to the same place.
Finally, a decent group with a Hornet at 100 yards. There are only 7 bullets in this group, and 5 are in 0.296 inches. All 7 make a 0.70-inch group.
I’m not finished, because I need to return to the range with 10 more loaded rounds and shoot a complete group. But things do look promising. If I were a person who likes 5-shot groups, I’d be finished now, and guess which 5 holes I would pick? Do you think they’re representative of the accuracy of this load in this rifle? I don’t. This is a very good load, but those other two holes show a truer picture of what it can do.
I swear what I’m about to tell you is true. The only reason I even tried such a low load in this rifle is because of another experience I once had with a .177 Beeman C1 carbine. I couldn’t get it to group, so I held the gun as loosely as I could — just to see how bad it would get. That was the day I discovered the artillery hold. And now I will add this .22 Hornet experience to the pile. Heck, by the time I’m 90, I might actually know something!
The title of this report says it’s about my new AR-15, and it is. After finishing with the Hornet, I pulled out the black rifle and shot two groups of a promising load. Do you remember that tight group that I shot in the pouring rain last time?
This 10-shot group was fired during a pouring rainstorm. It measures 0.835 inches between centers.
I had 20 more .223 rounds loaded with the exact same load, so I fired 2 more groups this day. The wind was virtually still, so it was ideal for shooting. The groups are both good, but not quite as good as the one shot weeks ago.
Ten shots are in 1.340 inches, but 7 of them are in 0.380 inches. Read on to see what I think is happening.
Here is the second 100-yard group from the AR. The load is identical to the one that shot the first group. This time, the whole group measures 1.081 inches between centers, and 5 of those shots are in a group measuring 0.336 inches.
So, why are these two groups that were shot on a dead-calm dry day so much larger than the group that was shot in a downpour? I have some thoughts about that.
Thoughts about why my groups aren’t better
When I loaded these cartridges, I noticed that several of the primer pockets were very loose. So loose, in fact, that the primers fell out of two of them. But I continued to load them anyway. Want to know how to make a primer expand to fit an enlarged pocket? Just put more pressure on it. It will expand in diameter as you squash it down farther than it wants to go. Think that might have some affect on the group size? It sure will since the priming compound will be crushed and will ignite at a different rate.
And why were my primer pockets so loose? Didn’t I tell you that my reloads created lower pressure than standard factory ammunition? If you look back, you’ll see that I did tell you that. But I don’t know how many times these cases have been reloaded. You see, all my brass thus far has been stuff I picked up at the range! No way to know how many times it’s been reloaded — if any at all.
But the salient fact in that last paragraph is that I’m using range brass. None of the headstamps on my cartridges are the same — or if they are, it’s only by coincidence! It’s as if I were to build a race car with a junkyard motor and then expect to run it in NASCAR. Or, dump a tin of pellets in a sandbox and pick them back out to use in a 10-meter match! In other words, there are a whole raft of things I’m doing wrong with my reloads, and yet they still give me great results. What would happen if I did everything right?
Does this rifle shoot factory ammo?
At least one reader asked me if my AR could shoot factory ammo in the semiautomatic mode because I’ve been loading these cartridges to a length that prevents their cycling through the magazine. I could care less if the gun does or doesn’t cycle, but the question piqued my curiosity enough to put 10 rounds through the rifle just to see. All 10 cycled through the magazine and action perfectly in the semiauto mode, and they all landed in a 3-inch group at 100 yards. Garbage in, garbage out.
This is a very long report, but I wrote it for the new airgunner who feels confounded by all the technology, buzzwords and other stuff that doesn’t make any sense the first time around. If you read all the parts of this report, you’ll see that’s exactly how I felt when I got into ARs. And I hope that by watching me struggle around with this rifle, new airgunners will be encouraged that they’re not alone and that things can be worked out in time.
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by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I periodically get inquiries about which airguns are best for self-defense. These generally come from countries other than the U.S., though I’ve had some come in from this country, as well.
The inquiries come from two directions that I would like to address today. The first group thinks that certain airguns look so realistic that they should have the ability to stop or to deter violence just because they’re present. Let me be very specific. I’m talking about the very realistic-looking handguns like the Walther CP99, the M1911A1 pistol and the Beretta 92FS.
These are very realistic guns, make no mistake. But the premise the people are using is flawed. They think that if they’re able to display a realistic-looking gun, any danger will be averted. They’re counting on the dangerous people having the same common sense they have. After all, if they saw a gun they would feel threatened. They respect guns, and they imagine that others do the same.
Well, they don’t! Most criminals and bad people have either a low sense of respect for things like guns, or they figure that you will not have the nerve to follow through on the threat you seem to be making. In other words, these kinds of people are not threatened by real firearms, either. The realism of your pellet pistol is lost on them.
The other thing about criminals is they aren’t always sane or in their right minds. Either they’re deranged and will ignore what rational people see as a threat, or they may be so high on drugs or alcohol that they can’t reason. Either way, they’ll behave in irrational ways and the idea they can be threatened is either foolish because they don’t care or dangerous because it provokes them.
Defensive gun training
They teach you in a concealed handgun course to never threaten with your gun. If you pull the gun, be ready to use it immediately. In fact, in most places it’s illegal to show a concealed handgun in public. Either shoot or don’t shoot, but never threaten with a gun!
The only defense use a realistic airgun has is to train the shooter to use the firearm it mimics. You can learn how to draw the gun, how to control the trigger and how to breathe when you shoot with a realistic airgun. But that’s it. Take it no farther because a pellet gun is not a self-defense weapon.
What about powerful airguns like big bores?
The other group that considers using airguns for self defense has looked at the power an airgun can deliver. They see the big bore airguns and read about people taking deer and wild hogs with them, so they wonder why they can’t use them for protection.
Here’s the reason — a deer will never stalk you and wait till your guard is down to kill you. Not that deer can’t kill humans — they certainly can. But they normally don’t try to. Shoot a deer and it runs away almost every time.
Now, substitute a grizzly bear for the deer and ask the same question. Would you use a powerful air rifle to hunt a grizzly bear? If you do, you’re foolish because a grizzly bear will try to kill you if you don’t kill him first. Even a wild hog has been known to charge a hunter after being shot, which is why most hog hunters carry a large-caliber sidearm to back themselves up.
And a big bore airgun only has a few shots before the air pressure drops so low that the gun isn’t useful. So, if you don’t have a perfect first shot you’re quickly headed into some very risky territory.
Nothing is ever guaranteed
And even firearms aren’t always enough. Think you have enough gun? Maybe, but don’t bet on it. Every big-caliber gun has failed to kill in some circumstances. There was an intruder who took a 240-grain jacketed bullet from a .44 Magnum revolver in his left eye and he fell down a flight of stairs, then got up and walked out of the house. Police found him dead by his car around the block, but that’s not the point. The point is, even Dirty Harry’s gun wasn’t enough to drop him in his tracks.
No doubt there’s someone somewhere in the world who needed a second .50-caliber BMG round to put him down for keeps.
Play for keeps
If you have to use deadly force, make certain that it’s really deadly. Be prepared to go all the way or don’t go in that direction to start with. You are far better off using a tactical flashlight and some kind of club than to pull a pellet or BB pistol and have your bluff called.