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Iceni Marksmen Buying Advice

Buying A Gun

The Golden rule: If you do not already own a gun, don’t buy until you have visited a club, and never make a rush purchase decision. The Club Members have a lot of experience and can advise you well on what and what not to buy. Between the members we have a wide variety of guns, which people will let you handle to find what fits for you, as everybody is different in requirements. Remember the shop will be keen to sell you what they have on the shelf.

Buying new, Advantages: Buying new has the advantages of getting a warranty and service backup. New guns are also less likely to have faults, and if they do its straight back to the shop with them.

Buying new, Disadvantages: The VCR (Violent Crime Reduction) bill means that guns need to be bought face-to-face from a registered firearms dealer and cannot be posted. Item will lose value, and probably hold only around 60% of purchase price once used for any length of time.

Buying 2nd hand, Advantages: Cheaper prices. Ease of purchase. You will have a wider choice of guns. Items may be available that are no longer in production.

Buying 2nd hand, Disadvantages: Requires knowledge of pricing and equipment to make the best purchase. Backup relies on the seller, and warranties are often not transferable to the new owner. Previous history beyond current seller can be unknown. Seller may be not aware of faults. Item may not be suitable for either the seller or buyer.

So, the safe bet is to spend some time at the club, get as many opinions as you can. Think carefully about your current and future requirements. Get recommendations on a good gun shop and only purchase when confident.

Airgun Calibres

.177 Advantages: The .177 has the flattest trajectory which means targets are easier to hit if miss-ranged. It can be used for hunting, plinking and target shooting. The vast majority of target shooters use this calibre meaning the gun has more applications so resale value will be higher. For the most choices, .177 pellets are cheaper than .22

.177 Disadvantages: An over exaggerated perception of over penetration and less 'stopping power 'in a hunting environment, but this is something only a highly experienced hunter would be able to perceive, and not relevant to the target shooter.

.22 Advantages: This calibre is best used in today’s rifles as a hunting choice. It has some advantages over .177 in certain situations, but these are not relevant to our clubs website, and further information can be found from the links page.

.22 Disadvantages: Some target shooters do very well with the .22 calibre, but that’s more for the Hunter Field Target discipline. .22 has a very pronounced and “loopy” trajectory that means range-finding ability must be very accurate. Generally speaking, pellets are more expensive.

.20 Advantages And Disadvantages: This Calibre is not as common as the others. It’s a half way house between the flatter trajectory of the .177, and the hard hitting power of the .22, but the choice and general availability of the pellets makes this a bit of a specialised calibre.

Safest bet for target and general shooting is .177


Types Of Airgun

Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP’s)

Advantages: A PCP runs from a self contained compressed air cylinder, that when charged can provide an average of 40 to 100 shots depending on the gun, before charging is required again. They require little effort to cock, and the triggers are usually lighter. A lot of PCP’s are lighter than other guns, so are an excellent choice for younger shooters. The main advantage of the PCP is it’s a recoilless gun, which greatly aids accuracy. For this reason the majority of target shooters choose to use a PCP.
Some PCP’s also offer a multi-shot capability by using a magazine fed system.

Disadvantages: A PCP requires some method of being charged, such as a diver’s compressed air cylinder or hand pump. Hand pumps can be very hard work due to the high pressures involved. The costs of this additional equipment need to be factored in to the purchase price of the outfit. PCPs can be temperamental or more delicate, and can be subject to power fluctuations with the outside temperature. Due to the higher complexity of PCP’s, their cost can be higher, which is usually reflected in their quality.
With a magazine fed rifle its easy to get carried away, meaning more shots are taken. To avoid an empty magazine, you need to remember how many shots have been taken. A magazine can be a common problem of inaccuracy as magazines can suffer from misalignment. Target disciplines require the removal of magazines when moving from point to point. A magazine gun often requires modification back to fire a single shot. A magazine can also restrict scope position.

Safe bet: Single shot.

Spring Guns

Advantages: A spring gun is a self-contained unit, so no additional charging equipment is required. Shooting a spring gun is fun due to the nature of the recoil, which is more like a cartridge style firearm. A good quality spring gun is usually less expensive than a quality PCP, with no further equipment to buy.

Disadvantages: The guns require an effort to cock, which some younger shooters may find difficult. The recoil of a spring gun means it’s harder to shoot accurately, even though many are just as physically capable of being as accurate as a PCP. New guns can take a time to settle in. Scopes need to be able to withstand the recoil, or they may easily break. Scope mounts need to be good quality in order not to slip. A spring gun is often heavier than a PCP.

Gas Ram

A gas ram is basically the same as a Springer, but a hydraulic ram assembly has replaced the spring. It has all the pro's and cons of a spring gun, however the gas chambers can not be easily maintained at home as a spring system. The gas ram also tends to have very “snappy” recoil, and potential purchasers would be advised to try before buying. You also only get a small choice of manufacturers.


CO2 is generally used for multi-shot pistols, but a small number of rifles do exist. The guns are powered by disposable cartridges of Carbon Dioxide, so although self-contained do require the purchase of the gas. CO2 rifles are also recoilless, but tend to have a low power output. The CO2 system is also very susceptible to outside temperatures causing large shifts in power. Because of this, although they make a good “fun” gun, they are not noted as being suitable for target shooting.

Safe bet: Single shot PCP or Quality Springer.


Telescopic Sights

This can be one of the hardest buying choices due to the vast array of different options available. As much of your budget as possible should be considered for your scope. A variety of choices and specifications at many price points mean that a purchase needs to be carefully considered. Many scopes need to be specifically designed with airgun ranges in mind or able to take the recoil of a Springer. A scope requires knowledge to set up for optimum use. Also to figure into the purchase is a quality set of mounts. Many people have made the mistake of buying an expensive gun and scope, only to fit them together with the cheapest mounts available.

As Iceni Marksmen is a Field Target club, I will discuss the requirements for this discipline, as they all differ. The largest magnification you can afford should be considered, for this reason. One of the primary skills of field target is to be able to range a target effectively. Having a scope that has what’s called an “adjustable objective” or AO for short does this. In simple terms this is a focus ring on the front or side of the scope, which is turned until the target is in sharp focus. At that point a scale on the scope will indicate the range.

The higher the magnification of the scope, the more accurate its range finding capabilities will be. Some people can accurately range find by eye, so a lower power scope is perfectly usable.

Another consideration should be given to the reticule within the scope, which in basic terms is the shape of the cross hair within the scope. The most useful scopes for air rifle use contain more than one aim point, with the most common being a “Mil Dot” design.

Again, the best advice that can be given is to visit the club and have a look at what people use before committing to a purchase.


Stock design/styles

Sporter Stocks

Advantages: With a sporter style you have a large choice of availability with a wide variety of applications. These are often ambidextrous, and one size fits many people. As a general rule they are cheaper.

Disadvantages: The lack of adjustments may mean stock becomes limiting for target disciplines, but it’s a good starting point.


Target Stocks

Advantages: The adjustable features of a target stock allow better fit to the individual. This will produce better eye to scope alignment.

Disadvantages: They are a lot more expensive to buy. They are normally handed. They require set up knowledge and will require adjustment between different shooters.


Collapsible Or Takedown Stocks

Advantages: A takedown style stock allows the gun to be made small for transportation. They are also lightweight.

Disadvantages: They are generally quite expensive. They provide limited adjustability. They are usually too light. Inconsistency of the fitment can lead to inaccuracy for the shooter. They tend to be less comfortable to the shooter than sporter or target stocks.


Other Accessories To Consider

PCP charging kit

Divers Air cylinders

Advantages: They are easy to use. You can get many gun refills from one cylinder charge. Certified cylinders will hold a significant amount of their purchase price on resale.

Disadvantages: High pressure can be dangerous if mis-used. It requires care and maintenance of the equipment, and air cylinders need inspections. The original purchase of the equipment can also be expensive. You need to consider the cost of refill, and accessibility to re-fillers.


Air Pumps

Advantages: No cost to refill your gun, or requirement to find a re-filler for your charging equipment.

Disadvantages: Considerable effort is required to fill a gun, and they are almost the same purchase price of a cylinder. They are also not popular, which will affect resale price.

Safe bet: Air cylinder, normally 300 bar. 7 Litre size gives the best compromise between size, weight, cost and refill amounts.


Gun bags

Soft Cases

Advantages: It will protect a gun from damage and the elements. It’s required when transporting a gun. Additional pockets may be useful

Disadvantages: They are not suitable for posting guns, in such a case as returning to manufacturer for service or repair.

Hard Cases

Advantages: They offer better protection than gun bags. A hard case can disguise the shape of a gun. They can be useful for posting guns.

Disadvantages: They are heavier and more awkward to carry. They can be Expensive. A gun may only fit certain models. Less pockets for accessories.


Other Considerations

You will need a shooting cushion, or some kind of seat, as the majority of shots are taken from a seated position.
A good pair of boots is strongly advised, as it can get muddy at times if its been raining.
Normal outdoor clothing for the time of year is essential, as nothing will ruin your enjoyment more than being cold or wet.

These are just some basic guidelines. The best advice is to come along to the club and have a chat with us, and see what people use.