At the recent SHOT show, I spent quite a bit of time at the Gamo booth looking over their current products, as well as newer additions to their portfolio. One of the products they were promoting quite heavily was the Raptor pellet, made of a hard, light material that was said to increase the muzzle velocities of most guns by up to 25% percent. I will be presenting a fairly detailed review of testing on several new pellets in a separate article, but the scope of this piece is the companies Varmint Hunter rifle. I wanted a platform to test the Raptor, and thought one of Gamos guns would be just the ticket. So I ordered the rifle, and after a short wait found it sitting on my desk when I returned home one day. The Varmint hunter is based on the Gamos Shadow series of break barrel spring piston air rifle. The gun is dressed in a black synthetic stock, with a compliment of lights, lasers, and optics riding atop it. I have to admit, I’m a traditional kind of guy and have always preferred wood, however this rifles stock does give it a businesslike appearance. I’ll spend a few lines giving some of the relevant specifications and features before getting into my shooting/pest control experience with this gun. The stock is an all weather synthetic material that is available in any color (as Henry Ford use to say of the Model T) so long as you want black.Read More →

On the Road to Texas! Getting ready for the trip from Indianapolis to Midland Odessa I confronted the perennial challenge, how to get all my gear onsite without spending more in excess baggage than the cost of the airfare. I wanted to take three guns on this trip, but outside of the massive safari case used for long overseas trips, none of my cases would conveniently fit three full sized rifles. I finally settled on disassembling the guns removing the actions from stocks and demounting the scopes so that they’d fit into a standard two rifle case. I’d originally planned to carry a couple of small tanks and a hand pump for keeping the guns charged. But while doing some advanced ground work, I went online to look for a paintball shop where I could get the tanks filled, and lo and behold found a dive shop…. In the middle of Texas, go figure! Calling to see if they could fill my tanks, the owner asked if I just wanted to rent tanks instead of hauling my own cross country. He arranged to have three bottles filled and ready, so all I had to carry along was the yoke and fill probes. I was a bit apprehensive without the safety net of even a handpump, but the shop owner had done business with airgunners in the past and assured me they would have everything I’d need. So in the end I got all the gear required packed into my duffleRead More →

As I finished working on the second edition of The Practical Guide to Airgun Hunting, I thought back to why I sat down to write the book in the first place. My primary motivation was to help increase the awareness of the sport, and to provide some guidance for those that would like to give it a try. While the books have met with some degree of success, I wanted to reach a broader audience. And with this goal in mind, I decided to make the book available to all that want it, free of charge. If you’d like to get information on the guns, gear, game, and techniques used to hunt with airguns, this book will put you on the right path. The contents cover everything you need to get started, and if you’re already an experienced airgunner or hunter, there may still be some hints that will be useful. We’re very lucky in the USA, we don’t have many restrictions on airguns, we have a lot of species to hunt, and a lot of opportunities to take to the field. To make the download a bit more manageable the book has been split into two parts; the first focuses on general airgun information and the second part on field applications of this gear. This book will discuss pest control, small game hunting, predator hunting, and big game hunting with many different spring piston and precharged pneumatic airguns. Pass this link around, share it with your friends, and getRead More →

Is the .30 the new .25? When I first started airguning many, many years ago, the .25 was considered something of a novelty caliber. It was said to be inaccurate, ineffective, too expensive, limited to too few models of guns, and too expensive.. Today it’s many airgun hunters favorite caliber, and I have to say if not my favorite it’s very high on my list. A favorite topic of airgunners in general, and airgun hunters in particular is what constitutes the best hunting caliber and projectile. Back in the day, the discussion was the benefits of .177 as opposed to .22 caliber, which often came down to flat shooting vs knock down power and such axioms as .177 for feather and .22 for fur. This debate continued on, while the .25 slowly worked its way onto the scene. My initial experience with .25 some thirty years back was that the accuracy I was getting was only OK, and the spring piston guns that shot them well tended to be giant pieces of hardware. But as I started shooting more pcps that were slowly coming to market with .25 caliber options, concurrent with a wider selection of quality pellets, I started to find myself gravitating towards this caliber. I wasn’t the only one noticing these improved results, and I think it’s safe to say that over the least few years the .25 caliber has earned it’s place as the rightful king of the “standard” calibers. In the modern big bore calibers,Read More →

Hatsan has been building some high performance PCP rifles at affordable prices for the last few years, and more recently has been expanding their product line to incorporate new models, new technology, and new calibers while maintaining quality, performance, and value. I’ve been saying for years that the Hatsan rifles are one of the most under appreciated airguns on the market, but that is changing! I’ve been shooting several of Hatsans guns this season, but today I want to tell you about something I think is exciting, their new Carnivore series mid bore rifles! The Carnivore comes in .30 and .35 caliber versions… The Carnivore is based on Hatsans BT65 QE model rifle, that has been available in standard calibers up to .25 for a couple years now. This is a large gun weighing in at 9.3 lb without a scope, and has a length overall of 48.9″ with a 23″ barrel. The gun uses an ambidextrous synthetic stock with an adjustable comb, an adjustable recoil pad, and textured grips on the forestock and pistol grip. There is another Picatinny mount under the forestock for mounting a light or biopod. The 255 cc under barrel air reservoir has a built in manometer at the distal end. The two stage adjustable trigger is acceptable out of the box, and is a bit heavy with a bit of creep. After I complete testing I’m going to start working on the trigger. The barrel is shrouded and quiets the report down quite well,Read More →

I’ve been living and hunting in Indiana for about ten years now, and have spent a lot of time in the field not only hunting, but fishing, mountain biking, kyaking, and generally rambling around. But not only have I never seen a ground squirrel here, I never heard anybody mention them. So when my frequent hunting buddy Brian Beck called and asked if I wanted to do a pest control shoot for ground squirrels I was all over it. The gun I selected for the day was the .25 caliber Benjamin Marauder with a Niko Sterling scope, using JSB King round-nose pellets. I opted for this gun because it was one of the quieter rifles I had and it was dialed in and ready to go. Next time I’ll probably take a .177 for the flatter shooting characteristics. These animals are much smaller than prairie dogs, but the shots were usually closer as well, in the 30-60 yard range. These are strikingly marked ground squirrels when compared to the gray digger I grew up hunting in California, but it’s amazing how well they blend in. They are very hard to spot when holding still. We were shooting from whatever position was available, standing, sitting, prone, and using whatever support was handy. I didn’t have a bipod on my gun but will next time. ing all over the field. There were a few mounds with squirrels sitting on their haunches prairie dog style, but for the most part the holes wereRead More →

I’d just gotten back from a round of business trips and had a free morning, a new rifle, and a young squirrel season in front of me. So I decided to load up my gear and wake up at 4:30 the next morning for the 1.5 hour drive to a State Forest up north that I often hunt. Even though I have several private fasrms to hunt, I like to hit public land on a frequent basis, enjoying the large tracks of ground to wander over and a need to bring my “A” game. I got to the woods just before daybreak, parked the car, geared up and hiked about a quarter mile into the heavy bush. I found a spot that I knew was amongst several mast producing trees and sat at the base of a tree and waited, while the sun worked its way up slowly lighting my surroundings. In the still morning I heard a gnawing above and heard a tree branch shaking. Watching for about ten minutes I finally saw a squirrel head through a cluster of foliage, and with my rifle propped on a set of solid bipod shooting sticks, lined up and squeezed the trigger on my Daystate Huntsman Classic. A light pull on the trigger which broke like glass, was followed by the squirrel crashing down without a twitch. First one in the bag, which I collected and moved on slowly looking for my next stop. Fifteen minutes later I heard barking ahead,Read More →

These days it’s easy to get caught up in all the talk about high powered precharged pnuematics, or mid and big bore airguns. But springers have been the mainstay of airgunners for most of the history of the modern airgun, and there are still many compelling reasons to use them: they are relatively inexpensive, they are accurate and powerful enough for small game hunting, they are moderately quiet, they are fully self contained, they provide a great platform for learning or improving marksman ship …. and they are a lot of fun to shoot! Hunting Airguns I was recently speaking with an acquaintance that works for one of the big airgun companies, and he remarked that there has been a sustained growth in the North American airgun market over the last few years. He attributed this to the growing popularity of airguns for small game hunting and pest control. Airguns are used extensively for hunting in many parts of the world, especially in regions where private gun ownership is prohibited or where population densities are such that firearms aren’t an option. Many North American hunters are beginning to appreciate that airguns are quiet, inexpensive to shoot, and are capable of delivering tack driving accuracy with enough power to be very effective in the field. The prospective airgun hunter has a couple options when considering an airgun; either a spring piston or a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) power plant being the most widely used. Pre-charged pneumatics are filled from a high pressureRead More →