What is a PCP Rifle?
A pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) airgun uses breathable air as the propellant which is compressed into an air tank located on the gun. This air is compressed in the PCP rifle’s air tank to a pounds per square in (PSI) typically between 2700 and 3000 by using a high-pressure hand-pump or a specialized tank. Once the tank on the gun has reached the desired pressure, the gun is ready to be fired with a simple pull of the trigger. Each time the gun is fired, a short burst of compressed air is released. This pushes the ammunition out of the barrel.
A Brief History of PCP Rifles
Arguably, you could say that air guns have been around since man discovered that you can shoot things from a hollow tube by blowing into it from the other end. The first ancestor to the modern air rifle dates to the mid-1500s. This gun, called a bellows gun, used a bellows to compress air into an existing cylinder of the weapon. It is the earliest surviving air gun and is located in the Livrustkammaren Museum in Stockholm.
During the 18th century, sharp-shooters from Tyrol used the Girandoni air rifle in the Austrian Army. They favored these rifles for their accuracy and lack of gun smoke or muzzle blast. These rifles proved to be hard to maintain and frequently malfunctioned and they fell out of use around 1815.
One of the most famous American rifles using compressed air was manufactured in Philadelphia and was used by Lewis and Clark in their expedition through the west. Captain Lewis used this 31-caliber pneumatic rifle mainly for hunting.
The development of the air rifle spread to the East from Europe. In 1820 to 1830, a Japanese inventor named Kunitomo Ikkansai created a model that used technology he acquired from Dutch models.
During this developmental time,most compressed air rifles were at a disadvantage to firearms. These early models were expensive to produce and complicated to maintain. Almost all compressed air rifles were removed from battle and relegated to being used for hunting and sporting events.
PCP Rifles Today
The modern PCP rifle is known for being one of the most accurate air guns and is highly sought after. It is portable and simple to refill once your air starts to run out, without the need to carry around multiple CO2 tanks. All you need is a special high-pressure hand pump and you can shoot all day. It is one of the easiest rifles to use with virtually no recoil and this makes it the perfect air gun for seasoned shooters and beginners alike.
A PCP rifle can use a higher caliber pellet than a CO2 air gun because the PCP rifle can put more air behind the projectile. This can allow a higher caliber pellet to attain a faster velocity. While there are many factors that determine how many shots you can get from one charge of air such as caliber, the gun’s power and air capacity, these shots typically have less variation than those from a CO2 rifle, especially with a regulator.
The performance of a PCP air rifle is dependent on how much pressure is in the tank, the type of ammunition, and the skill of the shooter. If the air rifle does not have a regulator, you may need to fire it several times to find the right fill level where performance is the most consistent. If your rifle has an air regulator, you simply fill them up and the regulator will manage the pressure for you.
PCP Rifles at Armory
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