Airforce Airgun Rundown
By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting & Shooting Editor
I’m not sure why I’m so enthralled with airguns. For most purposes, good ole brass and powder is better, but there’s something alluring about the simplistic beauty of powering a deadly projectile by compressed air.
AirForce Airguns of Ft. Worth, TX has been building precision, adult PCP (pre-charged, pneumatic) air rifles since 1994. It has basically skeletonized its guns by building them around only the necessary components—the barrel, cocking system, trigger and air reservoir. The result is a simple yet functional design that looks very different from a traditional rifle.
AirForce’s claim to fame is its air regulation system, which is key to an airgun’s accuracy (the air pressure released by each trigger pull must be consistent) as well as its efficiency, or how many shots it will shoot before depleting the reservoir. Many AirForce guns feature a dial so the user can easily choose the rifle’s power (fps) versus efficiency. (Nobody wants to refill air tanks after only a few shots.) And AirForce has its system down. Also—and this is huge—most of its rifles are available in various calibers from .177 to .25. The larger caliber pellets offer much greater energy and less wind deflection. If you are planning to buy a precision airgun, I’d strongly consider a larger caliber like .25 or at least .22—.177 caliber is for kids.
The only downside to this style of air rifle is that while pre-filled air tanks can be bought at sporting goods stores, the most cost-effective method of refilling a tank is by hand with a hand pump–pain in the ass—or by purchasing a high-pressure air-compressor, which if you’re a sportsman with kids who play paintball or if you’re a SCUBA diver, I’d highly recommend anyway.
Here are a few of my favorite AirForce models:
This is the model I own. I’ve got it in .25 caliber and as such I can hit and expect to kill small game targets past 50 yards. The trigger is wonderful. When practicing I can dial the power down to around 600 fps and get many, many shots on one fill; the rifle is also quiet. Dialed to max, the pellet zings at over 1200 fps; while it’s certainly lounder and produces a supersonic report at this FPS, its power, at over 90 ft.lbs., is nasty. $685
This rifle is available in .50 caliber, and when launched at 1100 fps it features energy around 750 ft. lbs. For reference, that’s similar to a .44 Magnum. But frankly where this beast shines is when used with the heaviest, 622-grain pellets that have adequate energy for head shots on big game animals (at close ranges) yet remains under the supersonic velocity threshold so that it’s quiet. $1250
This AirForce features an adjustable velocity dial (from 400 fps to 900) and is available in .25 caliber, etc.) yet it’s 24 inches long and weighs just over 3 pounds. That means I can easily keep one in my ATV, my hiking backpack or even on the drink table on my patio. And the latter is where I think this model would be used most, because airguns are legal in most jurisdictions including suburban neighborhoods where squirrels and beer cans are plentiful. $430
Pros: great fun, accurate, powerful, legal in many jurisdictions where firearms are not so placing wagers with your buddies and shooting off your back porch won’t be the reason you go to jail
Cons: tanks must be refilled