The History of Air Rifles
Some might think that the air gun (which includes air rifles, pellet guns, air pistols and any other weapon that uses gas or compressed air to force a projectile at high speeds) is a recent invention but the truth is, air guns have been around for centuries. In fact, the blow pipe, which is used to send sharp darts usually tipped with poison, has been around for much longer than that and uses the same basic technology.
Also, most modern day air rifle owners don’t realize that the preferred form of weaponry in the 16th century was the air gun. Although they had guns in the 16th century, they were loud, smelly and required the manual lighting of gunpowder. Most nobles and other folks with money used air guns for hunting. They were expensive then, but they were also quiet and could be used in wet conditions, unlike the arquebus, which was the firearm of choice until the musket came along.
In the 18th and 19th centuries the air gun became quite popular among soldiers. They had a number of advantages over the musket when it came to combat. For one thing, they were quiet and didn’t have a muzzle flash, so you wouldn’t give away your position when you fired. They also would work in the rain and were easier to load, which resulted in faster shooting.
The air rifle got a big boost in the 50’s and 60’s, as they were advertised heavily as toys for kids. At the time, kids idolized frontiersmen like Davy Crockett and nearly every kid wanted one, as shown in movies like A Christmas Story and books like The Great Brain Series. Today, air guns compete with paintball guns, but both are used widely, mostly for sport or group competitions, but occasionally for hunting as well.
Clearly air rifles have come along way in the past centuries. Never before have we seen such a great selection of rifles and air rifle scopes avaliable. Some of the big names like Hatsan, Benjamin and Gamo provide rifles that would make previous generations very jealous. I have also seen a tremendous amount of new enthusiasts starting to purchase air rifle accessories online. Be cleaning kits, targets or anything else the air rifle industry is alive and well. I can’t wait to see what new innovation we can expect to see. My favorite would be the joining or air rifle scopes and night vision goggles.