Air rifle accuracy depends on many different variables. Some view accuracy as the ability of the gun to place shots in the same place consistently. Others prefer consistently tight groupings anywhere within a target. Many argue that accuracy relies on the experience and skill of the shooter. However, someone who owns and consistently fires one rifle becomes accustomed with that gun and has adapted to the characteristics of the weapon accordingly. The characteristics that factor into accurate shooting include the barrel, the ammunition and the sights of the air rifle.
Consider the Barrel Characteristics
Once the gun fires, the barrel guides the projectile before it leaves the gun. This part of the firearm affects the twisting rate, bore friction and the deformation that occurs on the projectile’s base and sides. The twist rate describes the number of inches the ammunition travels through the barrel while completing one revolution or spiral. The greater the number of twists, the more stabilized and straighter the projectile travels. The size of the projectile is another factor. While an airgun adequately stabilizes a heavy pellet, smaller pellets in the same gun become over-stabilized, which may lead to stripping within the barrel. As lead particles stripped from projectiles line the barrel, twist rate becomes affected, which affects accuracy. Stripping also changes the uniformity of the barrel over time.
Accuracy also relies on a bore that has the same circumference throughout the barrel. The bore is commonly affected during the manufacturing process. Press-fitting barrels increases the likelihood of creating constrictions, which impedes uniformity. The height of the lands within the barrel also must have uniformity. Otherwise, the barrel either imparts too much or not enough friction, which will also affect the twist rate and thus the accuracy. Bore smoothness is another factor. Tiny ridges left during the rifling process create unexpected stress and affect the twist rate.
While the barrel may appear straight on the outside, the bore hole inside may not be completely straight. The accuracy of the bore depends on the manufacturer. An example includes companies that turn a barrel on a lathe after creating the bore. This action stresses the steel, which may alter the internal bore when the barrel heats after firing.
Barrel vibration also contributes to the accuracy of an airgun. While some prefer to shorten the barrel to counteract the affect, this method reduces the velocity of the projectile. Attempting to stifle the natural vibration, especially in spring guns, will decrease the accuracy of the shot. Some air rifle manufacturers now incorporate adjustable muzzlebrakes that alter vibration depending on a specific load.
The airguns manufactured today predominantly shoot pellets. However, not all air rifle pellets are created equal and learning the difference is key to finding quality ammunition. Pellets made in China are by and large considered sub-standard. These products are commonly found at gun shows and flea markets and sold along with Chinese airguns. Avoid both the guns and the pellets.
Crosman pellets are considered some of the best on the planet. However, the pellets are characteristically smaller compared to other brands. With the exception of Crosman Premiers, the pellets are made specifically for repeating mechanisms found in gas and repeater guns. In spring guns, Crosman pellets do not adequately seal the bore. The Daisy pellets, made in Spain are also inexpensive and highly recommended.
There are also a number of private brands on the market. While different gun owners have their favorites, determining which brand works with your gun remains a matter of trial and error. After finding a particular brand that works for you, do not rely one, single retailer. The same individual or outlet may or may not continue carrying the favored brand of ammunition. Find out as much as possible about the manufacturer and try to locate several retailers.
Correct Use of Sights
Sights remain an importance aspect of accurate shooting. Iron sights are historically the most common and consist of a single blade centered on the front of the barrel. The rear sight features an upright V or U shaped notch at the rear of the barrel. Before the invention of adjustable sights, accurate aiming required that the shooter line the blade within the notch in the position that created the perfect shot. A course sight entailed seeing the blade centered, but slightly above the rear sight. Conversely, fine sight required the shooter to view the blade slightly below the horizontal line of the rear sight. If shots appeared left or right of the center of the target, the shooter then adjusted the windage. This required moving the blade to the right or left within the notch. As the gun owner became more accustomed to shooting the gun, sighting became automatic.
Adjustable sights have mechanisms that allow shooters to maneuver the front and rear sights to obtain the desired shot. Moving the rear sight forward or backward, heightens or lowers the shot. The windage adjustments involve moving the front sight left or right to alter the shot right or left.
Basic iron sights evolved into the aperture. Often referred to as peep sights, the rear sight consists of a hole within an iron frame or a rounded window through a lens. Through the hole, the shooter then lines up the front sight. This type of sight offers more precise focus whether aiming at targets close-up or at a distance. The sights work best when the target is well-lit.
Today, many air rifle enthusiasts prefer some type of scope sight. Unlike the previous sights, an air rifle scope merely requires looking into the scope and centering the cross-hair display over the target. Not having a front sight, adjusting the scope requires making the horizontal and vertical alterations on the scope itself. Depending on the type and quality of the scope, and the type of gun, adjustments are made for shooting ranges that vary from 7.5 yards up to 150 yards. However, ensuring accuracy with a scope on an air rifle requires using an apparatus designed especially for airguns. These scopes are designed to accommodate the jarring movements associated with air guns.
If you are looking for air rifle scope reviews then check our new scope comparison page.