Article submitted by Michael.
Brief History of Air Guns
Air guns have been around for about 500 years and they are a great alternative to firearms. They can be used as entertainment or for pest control and small game hunting and modern models use one of the three available types of power source: spring-piston, compressed gas, or pneumatic.
Air guns are also used in sportive competitions such as Field Target or the Olympic 10 m Rifle. They are also more powerful than airsoft weapons and use different types of pellets. I felt the need to add this explanation as many people get them confused.
Today I’ll take you on a short trip down memory lane and I’ll talk about the history of the air gun.
The first historical record of an air gun is dated back in 1580 and you can even see it at the Livrustkammaren Museum in Stockholm. This time is also recognized as being the start of the modern air gun.
Still, before it got to what we know today, the first models used a pump to fill the air reservoir. Until the 19th century, people used air guns to shoot large game and they even used them in warfare (take a look at the Girandoni air rifle). These guns supported a .30-.51 caliber and reached a speed of 650 to 1000 feet per second.
Given the time and the fact that firearms weren’t at their best time, air guns were considered superior. For instance, an air gun wasn’t affected by the weather (if the gun power would get wet it was rendered useless), and it was quieter so it wouldn’t disclose the shooter’s position – a feature that made them great for an armed conflict.
Time for Glory
As the air gun proved so effective in the battlefield, both France and Austria had sniper detachments equipped with air rifles. The Austrian forces even developed a weapon that was about 4ft long, weighed 10 pounds, and supported a .51 caliber, called the Girandoni air rifle. The rifle had a tubular magazine and could hold up to 22 rounds. This gun had the power of a modern .45 ACP caliber pistol.
The Modern Times
As the firearms developed, the air rifle lost in terrain, but it’s still used for the level of energy it delivers. During the 1890s, people started using them for competitive target shooting and the sport became quite popular. Even more, over 4,000 associations and clubs were founded during this time all over Great Britain, but Birmingham was the main center.
Today we still use air guns for competitive sports and for hunting and I think it will be a long time before the air gun will be rendered obsolete.
Air guns vs. Airsoft Guns
Many people (especially beginners) tend to consider that airsoft guns and air guns are the same. While there are some similarities in design and in popularity, the two types of guns are very different.
A quick look on goog gun will tell you that airsoft weapons are safe to use in war games and even children can play with them. Well, air guns are a lot more powerful and they use metallic ammunition, not plastic pellets like airsoft models. Because of this, air guns can’t be used to shoot at people or property – they do inflict damage and can be lethal.
You should also know that both types are legal to own in most areas and they are great for practicing your shooting skills and keeping your hobby alive. Still, the history shows us that air guns were the first ones at the table.