Thursday, May 9, 2019

Airforce Airguns - Is PCP Worth the Cost?

Airforce Airguns - Is PCP Worth the Cost?

A few years ago I wrote a few reviews on the Airforce Airguns and loved the features Airforce’s PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) line delivered, but what about from a start-up cost and long term perspective? Initially most shooters new to the premium side of airguns may be a little sticker shocked at both the initial price of any of the premium PCP guns and also all the required initial support equipment. I can assure shooters, the cost, accuracy, and convenience is worth it if you are an avid backyard, hunter, and airgun shooter.

QUICK REFILLS - With the the more typical springer (spring or gas spring piston) airguns, the shooters cocks the gun, drops in a pellet, shoots, and repeat the process. On PCP airguns, the gun is either filled with a special high pressure hand pump (which is a workout) or a quick scuba tank refill (about 2 seconds of stress free reflection on life), generally a lot of shots can be taken between refills and the shooter can just keep feeding pellets and shooting before going back for a refil. Shooting a PCP airgun like the Airforce lineup becomes more like just continually feeding a single shot firearm and less like a trip to the gym with enough arm movements from cocking to signal most aircraft. In a hunting situation, PCP airgun follow up shots are far more stealthy, faster and generally wildly more accurate. 

MULTISHOT - What I have enjoyed most is that I can shoot for fifty or so full power shots between refills, walk over to my scuba tank ($15 for a refill at my local scuba shop), connect the line, and in a few seconds I am ready to reshoot at full power. If I really am not that particular on power levels and just plinking or junk bird/rodent shooting, I can continue to shoot for a few hundred shots before refilling. The convenience of the refill with the scuba tank is really amazingly. For the larger calibers such as .25 to .50 pellets, more frequent refills are required to deliver appropriate power levels.

POWER FLEXIBILITY - The other big benefit is the adjustability of the pressure levels via Airforce’s on airgun power wheel which goes from neighbor friendly backyard shooting noise levels on setting 0 to power levels that are typically far outside the abilities of springer guns at level 10+. The on-board air cylinder can be charged to maximum for a lot of power and high number of shots or lower power levels if quieter shooting is prefered. The on-board power setting can also further tune that pressure as well. The versatility in power is one of the benefits of Pre-Charged Pneumatic airguns and one of my favorite capabilities. The TalonSS with a 1000 PSI charge on lowest setting is a bit quieter than you average Daisy Red Ryder BB gun while still delivering a enough pop from a .22 caliber pellet to drop rodents and junk birds within the confines of most yards. With a full power 3000 PSI charge, both guns have more than enough power for consistent 50-yard accuracy and the TalonSS delivers upwards of 25 ft/lbs of muzzle energy and the TalonP can deliver a whopping 55+ ft/lbs. These models are not even Airforce’s big bore high power hunting models which can deliver upwards of 500-ft/lbs of energy

ACCURACY - Many will argue that there are a host of super accurate airguns on the market, but the Airforce guns equipped with Lothar Walther barrels are just phenomenally accurate beyond what anyone would imagine. Single hole 25-yard groups are common and aspirin sized groups at 50-yards are typical once you find the ammo that works well for your selected power level. My favorite pellets for the TalonSS are .22 Predator PolyMag 16.0 gr and for the TalonP JSB Match Domed Diabolo Exact King .25 Cal, 25.39 Gr pellets. Though I have been a pellet gun shooter for over 40-years, I have never had as much fun with the precision shots I am able to deliver with either of these guns. 

COST VS FUNCTIONALITY VS QUALITY - The Base Airforce TalonSS (Suppressed) models are priced just under $700 and the TalonP (Suppressed) just under $500. Add in optics, mounts, universal fill adapter for a scuba tank and a scuba tank and the first time shooter has invested over $1200 in the initial setup. Airforce also has kits available which include everything except the air tank for just under $1000.

The initial setup of any PCP rifle will be more than spring piston but the above advantages deliver something a spring piston gun cannot. With that noted, nearly every PCP airgun I have handled and shot has been at the high end of quality and workmanship and the Airforce models have lead the pack in the US on quality since introduction. My blue anodized TalonSS is one of my prized guns. The other point is that these are not “just airguns”, because to safely handle, meter, and deliver pressures up to 3000 PSI, they have to be extremely high precision. The customer service also has to be exceptional and with the small problems I have experienced, Airforce has delivered great support.

This cost tier may not be for every shooter, however the Airforce airguns has been on the marketing since 1994 and provend both their exceptional quality and high reliability for a lifetime of use with very little maintenance or replacement parts. There is a payback model if you are trying to justify this in your head and for your wallet, but you have to look at the cost of similar accuracy delivering .22LR Rimfire round like Lapua Center-X which can exceed 20-cents a round. That payback model is 20-cents per .22LR round X 20 shots per day X 200 days a year shooting = about a two year payback for displacing .22LR shooting. I personally look at the investment from a perspective that I am able to shoot in my backyard any time I want without disturbing neighbors which is delivering me more time shooting.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON PCP AIRGUNS

I will on occasion pull out my pump and spring airguns typically to just recheck zeros, however once you start to shoot PCP airguns, you never want to go back. The power range adjustability, insane accuracy, quality, convenience, quick shooting, and zero recoil have all made my TalonSS and TalonP my go to airguns.

MY MODS
I initially purchase both the TalonSS and Talon P in the kits that included optics and fill accessories. The Condor and many other Airforce models are more powerful, however both of these models features suppressors which does make them quieter. The TalonSS being incredible quiet. There are a few modifications I have made along the way. Generally I shoot on a very low #3 power setting on my TalonSS with frequent 1000 PSI charges. This delivers a shot which is more than enough to drop junk birds and rodents in the backyard that is about as loud as a quit cough and the sound of the click on the trigger. The Airforce optics included in the kits are really very good but huge. I upgraded to a bit more clarity to Nikon Prostaff, EFR Target Rimfire 3-9 variable scope. I lost the multi-color reticle, and some power that the Airforce optics delivered, but I drastically decreased the overall optic size while drastically improving clarity and increased field of view across the magnification range.



No way around it, TalonP is freaking loud even with the integrated suppressor. With that pop comes a ton of power (55+ ft/lbs) that will match and potentially beat a .25ACP handgun round. I typically just leave this at power level #10 with a 2500 PSI charge with a 25-yard zero for larger nuisance rodents we have in our area. A single snap of the TalonP’s report is loud but not enough to get lights to start turning on in the neighborhood and is more than accurate and powerful to get the job done on the first shot. I added an option TalonP tank stock to give me a bit more comfort behind the scope. I found the original optic mounts a little high for the size of the TalonP and remounted the Airforce Optic with Nikon Medium Rimfire rings. A lower power optic was considered, however due to the precision accuracy, the original 3-9 power Airforce optic was retained.



On both guns I added a home-made 10-round adhesive back foam pellet holder on the left side of the gun. If there was one thing I would love to have is an auto feeder for the Airforce guns. This simple foam add on at least puts 10-rounds right at my fingertips for fast follow up shots and is an effective and secure pellet holder that I crafted from spare ½-inch foam.



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