Squirrel Hunting with the Crosman Nitro Gas Piston Airrifle
Jim Chapman
I have long been a fan of the hunting springer,
and have been using one model another to hunt
small game and varmint over the last three
decades. This class of gun offers the hunter  
some distinct advantages; excellent power
suited to any North American small game,
capable of very good accuracy, and they are
fully self contained as the charging mechanism
is an integrated part of the gun. But these guns
have some less desirable characteristics as well;
they take some effort to cock, they cannot be
left in a cocked position too long or the gun can
be damaged, and they can be difficult to shoot
accurately due to the recoil characteristics.
Enter the Gas Spring Piston airgun; the
technology has been around for a while now,
but only recently is it being offered in a
standard production gun. This technology
allows the coiled steel mainspring to be replaced
with a sealed piston containing a volume of
Nitrogen which is further compressed when the
gun is cocked, in effect creating a “gas
spring�. The gas spring does not provide an
increase in the power output when compared to
a traditional mainspring, in fact it may decrease
a little depending how the gun is set up. But it
addressed two of the more serious issues;
substantially reducing the felt bidirectional recoil
and allowing the gun to be left cocked for long
periods of time without damaging the gun.
I have been shooting the Crosman Nitro Gas
Spring piston air rifle for a few months now,
and have found it powerful and inherently
accurate, but as important it is much easier to
shoot accurately than most standard spring
piston guns I’ve used in the field. I’ve
also found that I can shoot this gun off from a
rested position as well, and believe these guns
are less hold sensitive that traditional designs.
There are other consideration that may be
associated with the improved shooting
characteristics such as stock design, and it is
probably a combination of factors. But
somepoints that are clear to me after several
hunts, I can shoot this gun well, it does an
excellent job on small game (I’m using the .
22 caliber), and it is advantageous being able to
leave the gun cocked as I stalk the woods.
On a recent squirrel hunt I drove up to a State
Recreation Area in Northern Indiana, parked my
car off the side of the road, grabbed my pack
and the Nitro, and started working my way
along a clear cut bordered on both sides by
stands of woods. It was 9:30 and the morning
was fairly warm and clear. I walked very
slowly, covering maybe twenty feet in ten
minutes as I listened and watched the tree tops
for any motion. I heard the occasional nut or
branch fall from high in the trees, there was a
lot of mast in the form of walnuts, acorns, and
hazelnuts in the area, but I didn’t hear
anything consistant. Then I picked up on that
typical gnawing sound from high up on a big
oak tree. Walking around while scanning the
upper branches I saw a limb shaking, and after
a short time saw a red bushy tail twitching. I
stepped a couple feet to my left while still
looking at the spot, until I could make out the
whole squirrel. I brought the gun up and laid
the crosshairs right on the head, squeezed off
the shot, and watched him drop to the ground a
dozen yards away, I collected my quarry and
dropped him into my pack and moved on. I
was walking down a game trail not more than
thirty yards on when I glanced up and thought I
caught some motion, but couldn’t see
anything as I scanned the tree. Leaning the rifle
against a nearby tree I used my binoculars,
which hung on a chest strap and scanned the
tree. About halfway up I saw the top of a head
peering down from behind a fork in the upper
trunk. I picked up the rifle and rested on the
limb of a fallen tree, and looked through the
scope as the squirrel shifted his position, taking
away my head shot but leaving me with a chest
shot. I heard the pellet hit and watched my
second squirrel of the morning drop. The Nitro
paired up with Crosman Premier pellets was an
effective combination, delivering both excellent
accuracy and great terminal performance.  
After collecting the second bushytail I
shouldered my gear and spent the last hour I
had hiking the area scouting; seeing a decent
buck, a couple does, a couple turkey and a few
more squirrels. I marked all these areas as
waypoints on my GPS, and will follow up on
them when the appropriate season’s open,
then go back for late season squirrels
The more I’m shooting the Nitro, the more
I like it. I think that this is a gun even those
new to spring piston airguns can learn to shoot
well with a short learning curve. As far as
performance, it does everything I want a
hunting rifle to do.
The terminal performance with the Nitro was very good,
and squirrels hit went down clesanly. Early season squirrel
hunting is a challange, trying to find a shooting lane
through the thick folliage.
I like the ergonomics of this rifle and found it to come
comfortable to shoulder. It is the least hold sensitive
springer I've shot.
The Nitro Gas Spring Piston air rifle is addresses
traditional springer shortcomings.
Five shot group at thirty five yards with Crosman
Premiers. of my tripod shooting sticks.... not bad!!!
cocking effort is comprable between coiled sadn gas
" The Nitro is intrinsically accurate, has
power in line with many PCPs, is not
hold sensitve, can be left cocked without
damaging the gun"
"This rifle may be the wave of change in
spring piston airguns, and the beauty is
most springers could take advantage of
Gas Spring technology in existing designs"
Do Gas Ram spring piston airguns represent
a disruptive Technology ? Time will tell, but
I've got a gut feeling we'll be seeing them
around in growing numbers