Air guns have always been tools more than toys. Tools for hunting, tools for target shooting and tools for war. In fact, air guns may be the most unique gun story of all.
Air guns offered huge advantages over their black powder counterparts. They were quieter, though not as much as you might think, didn't generate huge amounts of white smoke and were much quicker on the follow up shot. Some air rifles could fire as many as 20 times from their pre-charged air reservoirs. In 1779, Austria equipped special units with .44 caliber air rifles capable of firing 20 round lead balls per minute, at velocities approaching 1,000 feet per second.
The most famous use of the American air gun is undoubtedly the Italian Girandoni air rifle used by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in their great exploration of the American West. Air guns in America might have languished forever had it not been for a birthday gift to an eight-year-old Robert Beeman. It was a Daisy Air Rifle, the most successful air gun developed in America.
Since then the adult air rifle market has boomed. Initially the guns focused on their amazing accuracy potential, but technological advances have brought the air rifle back to where it began; a powerful hunting weapon. Big bore air rifles are once again being used to take not only squirrels and rabbits, but bigger game as well. Opportunities for walking the fields with a firearm for a casual afternoon of plinking or target shooting have unfortunately drastically declined. But air guns have opened that door for a whole new generation. What could be a better way than spending a summer afternoon?