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Air Gun History


Air guns date back to the 1500s and were very popular during the 1600s and 1700s until cartridge bullets were perfected.  In those days they were preferred over black powder rifles because; 1. They did not produce large clouds of smoke, that blinded the shooter.  2. They could be loaded faster than  black powder guns. 3.  You did not have to worry about getting the black powder wet.  4. You did not have to worry about getting burned. 5.  They were quiet and did not scare away all the rest of the game when hunting. 

They came in big/small calibers and were used for hunting big game as well as small game.  In the  1600s/1700s there were calibers starting at .30 cal. and up to .51 caliber air guns.  They were pneumatic (pump) air guns and some were effective up to 150 yards.  One of the advantages was, that after pumping the air reservoir tank (air tank) anywhere from 100 to 1000 times with a hand pump (depending on the air gun) these air guns could produce 20 shots as a repeater at speeds from anywhere between 650 fps and up to 1,100 fps on one charge.  

These air guns were more expensive than black powdered guns.   Some models came with two barrels and were especially made for Nobility or for the high class rich people in those days and were very expensive.    One being a shotgun barrel and the other a high caliber barrel.

Due to the fact that high powered air guns were both silent and deadly, they were feared by many, Nobility tired to keep these air guns out of the hands of commoners (the poor).  Air guns even saw battle, a Austrian Army used a air rifle designed by Grandoni in 1779 that shot 20 rounds of .44 cal. bullets at speeds as high as 1,000 feet per second.  They did battle against Napoleon's Army and even though the Austrian Army was out numbered and lost the battle, the Austrian Army armed with air guns demoralized Napoleon's Army, Napoleon's Army had a great number of casualties.  Air guns were so feared by Napoleon's Army that any enemy soldier captured with a air rifle was executed as a assassin.

One of the most famous air guns in history is the .36 caliber air gun that Lewis and Clark took along with them on their expedition of 1804-06.  They took it along for hunting, just in case the black powder got wet and also used it to impress the Indians, the Indians call this air rifle, "The smokeless thunder stick.".

After cartridge bullets were perfected and became popular the large boar caliber rifles started to fade away, smaller caliber spring piston rifles became popular for target shooting.  

Today there has been a come back of high powered, large caliber air guns.  This is partly due to the fact that after the 2nd World War firearms production was prohibited by the occupying Allies in Germany, which caused Germany to turn to air guns for hunting.  With the new technology produced we now have spring piston air guns on the market that pass the 1,000 fps mark and we also have large boar caliber pneumatic air guns on the market today.  Below is a fine example of a new technology high powered spring piston air rifle, the Super Max 1000/B-21, 1,000 feet per second in caliber .177.  It is so powerful that it can shoot a pellet right through a 3/4 of inch thick panel of plywood. To purchase a high powered air gun, try Amazon, pick the product "sports&outdoors" and type in the other box "pellet guns", then click "Go" to get your discounts on all brands of air guns.


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