It was evening in Sunbury, PA when Sandra arrived home to find an intruder ransacking the place. The man was wearing a black hoodie, jeans and tan boots – and had a TV in his arms.
Sandra said she thought the man was going to shoot her, so she took matters into her own hands. Grabbing a .22-caliber pellet gun, she fired twice at the home invader…
She hit the intruder once as he fled out the back door. According to Sandra…
“I walked in and saw him holding my 50-inch flat screen TV and I told him he was going to have one chance to get out and I fired a warning shot. He didn’t listen so I shot him in the leg.”
Now, a BB gun or pellet gun definitely wouldn’t be my first choice for a home defense weapon, but it’s better than nothing. And there’s no doubt that air guns have evolved since the days of Ralphie’s Red Ryder.
In fact, there are many reasons to own an air gun besides home defense. Air guns have the advantages of being very quiet, easy to shoot, and the perfect training weapon for new shooters.
With that in mind, here is a look at different types of ammo, calibers, and models to consider before buying an air gun. Ammunition can be grouped into three main types: Pellet, Ball Bearing (BB), and Slug.
Pellet. By far, the most popular type of ammunition for any air gun is the pellet. The pellets are made from lead or a combination of several metals.
They’re available in a few shapes, consist of a head (where the majority of the mass is) and a hollow tail. You can get pellets in several different calibers, and they come packed in tins of 400 – 500.
Ball Bearing (BB). BB ammunition is usually made of lead or steel. BB’s are small spheres.
But since they’re round, they spin once fired and can drift off-center quickly. So, they’re only useful for short distances. The most common caliber for BB’s is the .177 caliber.
Slug. Slugs are similar in shape to the BB versus a traditional pellet. Slugs are uncommon unless you are purchasing a high-end, high-velocity model. But, they tend to be more accurate and have a greater range.
You can buy air guns in various calibers, including:
.177 Caliber. The most commonly used pellet is the .177 caliber pellet. It’s an ideal round for casual shooting and training, but is only accurate up to a range of around 30 feet.
However, pellets are much cheaper (sometimes 25% of other calibers), and you get more of them in a tin.
.22 Caliber. The .22 caliber has more mass, therefore slightly better stopping power, and is used more for hunting.
However, the .22 weighs around twice as much as the .177, so it requires a lot more power to get the thing going and doesn’t have any great distance advantage.
There are some other niche calibers, but only a handful of air guns use them. These include .25 and .30 caliber ammunition. But both of these rounds are uncommon.
Now, if you are in the market, here are a few models of modern air guns you may want to look at…
Crosman Recruit Air Rifle. The Crosman Recruit Air Rifle is perfect for someone ready to trade in a beginner air gun for something slightly more powerful.
This .177 caliber pump action air gun can shoot BBs at around 680fps. It’s also incredibly light because the stock is made of a synthetic material. The Crosman Recruit sells for about $75.
The Benjamin 392 Air Rifle. The Benjamin 392 is an old-school air gun with modern upgrades. The manufacturers used every material to its fullest, so even though it barely has any plastic parts, it still isn’t very heavy.
The .22 caliber pump action air gun shoots at 685 fps, and can pack a punch with very little recoil. More than that, it’s surprisingly silent for a .22 caliber.
The only drawbacks: the iron sights aren’t great for shooting long distance, and the pump action gets a bit hard to manage towards the final pumps. The 392 sells for about $175 new and is a well-built air gun.
Crosman P1377 Classic. The P1377 is a .177 caliber pump action. The model originally came out in 1977 and has been successfully tweaked over the years.
While it may not be as powerful as more modern guns, the lack of force does have some advantages. For example, there’s barely any recoil to the gun, so it’s easy to get consistently accurate shots.
Plus, the gun is nearly silent, so you don’t have to worry about your neighbors complaining. Lastly, its small size also makes very easy to carry around since its more designed like a pistol instead of a rifle.
Basically, it’s a pistol made with a longer barrel so you can pump the air gun. The P1377 sells for $60 new.
While it’s preferable to have a real firearm for self-defense, air guns are reliable, easy to use, and can save your life in a pinch.