Air Rifle History - 'Gun Stories'

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?


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Guns & Ammo TV: Irons vs. Optics

Guns & Ammo TV: Irons vs. Optics

How much of an edge do optics give shooters? In this segment of Pros vs. Joes, Guns & Ammo TV puts Coordinating Producer Jeff Murray against Professional Shooter Chris Cerino.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

In this Guns & Ammo TV segment, Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr discuss the benefits of airsoft training for uniformed professionals and armed citizens alike.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an engineering degree to tinker with; here's a look at some upgrade options to take your Ruger American to the next level, and make it something a bit different. Accessories

Top Ruger American Rifle Upgrades

Philip Massaro - March 15, 2018

Some guns are easier to work with than others, but the Ruger American Rifle doesn't require an...

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a Rifle

6.5 PRC - Magnumized 6.5 Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand - August 01, 2018

The Hornady 6.5 PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) is a "magnumized" 6.5 Creedmoor. It offers...

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market. Handguns

Springfield Armory SAINT Edge Pistol Review

James Tarr - April 17, 2019

Springfield Armory's SAINT Edge Pistol may be the best AR pistol on the market.

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light takes on EDC illumination segment. Tactical

Surefire XSC Micro-Compact Pistol Light: First Look

Jeremy Stafford - September 10, 2020

Small, lightweight and purpose-built for sub-compact carry guns, Surefire's XSC pistol light...

See More Trending Articles

More Historical

In memory of Robert Emary, 101st Airborne, 506th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, I Company. Historical

About My Father (Now with Audio)

Dave Emary - July 15, 2019

In memory of Robert Emary, 101st Airborne, 506th Regiment, 3rd Battalion, I Company.

Designed as a supplemental sidearm in World War I, this .45 ACP sixgun was made to commercial specs and is still a great shooter. Historical

Historical Handguns: The Model 1917 Smith & Wesson Sixgun

Garry James - November 09, 2018

Designed as a supplemental sidearm in World War I, this .45 ACP sixgun was made to commercial...

The Spanish-­made and designed Jo.Lo.Ar. pistol has a silhouette like no other handgun. As ungainly as it looks — especially in the 9mm Largo chambering — it does not feel that bad in the hand. Handguns

Jo Lo Ar - Lever-Action Auto Pistol

Garry James - January 18, 2019

The Spanish-­made and designed Jo.Lo.Ar. pistol has a silhouette like no other handgun. As...

From before the beginning of World War II to its end, the Type 99 Arisaka rifle and Type 14 Nambu pistols served Japan's forces. Reviews

Shooting the Japanese Type 99 Arisaka & Type 14 Nambu

Garry James - August 06, 2020

From before the beginning of World War II to its end, the Type 99 Arisaka rifle and Type 14...

See More Historical

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now