Well, never been one to avoid a bit of a challenge, and getting ready with my tin hat because this weeks program is bound to put the proverbial cat right in the middle of the Avery or coup, because this week its PCP’s verses Springers, which is best?
Right, I’m sure we’re all aware what the difference is between the two, but just for the new guys to the sport, let me do a brief recap if I may... A springer is probably a more traditional Airgun, after saying that history does show some of the very first airguns, which were used on the battlefield incidentally, were pump up Airguns, which I suppose made them PCP’s. But that aside the springer is the more traditional type, which involves pulling a spring back and releasing it when ready to shoot, which then sends a blast of air behind the projectile in a similar style to using a bicycle pump, but a heck of a lot faster and more powerful. The PCP on the other hand has a reservoir in the form of a cylinder which is usually placed under the barrel and holds a quantity of air that is capable of firing up to around 450 or more shots from a Single charge of air, which comes from an external source such as a pump, air tank or compressor.
So the new guys will be already saying its a no brainer! Up to 450 shots v 1 shot. well hang on let’s take a look at the rest of the pros and cons shall we.
It is a valid point around the shot count, but it does have its trade off. Firstly as we’ve already hinted at, you are going to need an external power source so to speak and a pump is going to set you back anywhere between £30 and £150+ depending on design, quality and manufacturer. This is of course a cost you don’t have to pay out with your single shot springer, and of course you don’t need to take anything else out into the field to recharge it if you use all the air in the gun. That said, if you had cocked the gun 450 times in the field, you will be starting to look like Popeye on one arm by that point, and is probably not a realistic option. Add to the fact that if you need to make more than 450 shots in one outing, you must be doing some serious pest control and would probably better of levelling the place with napalm or something.
So the benefit comes at a price then, and if you change the pump for an air tank because you don’t like the effort that goes into filling a 450 shot cylinder, well, you are up for even more money potentially, and a heavy divers tank that will need lugging around from time to time and will need to be refilled at a further cost periodically at your local gun or divers shop or the like. You could of course go for the compressor option and really push the financial boat out, which will probably result in the need to sell one of the kids to the local chimney sweep… er hang on, this is supposed to be a negative.. better scrap that last comment I suppose. But anyway, you could spend up to £2500 U.K. for a high end compressor.
We will no doubt come back to the cost issue a little later, but for now lets look a little closer at the shot count point. You see most PCP’s are multi-shot and have magazines that will usually have around 10 shots in, more in some cases and less in the higher power guns. This is offset against the Springers usual single shot only, which is loaded directly into the back of the barrel each time you cock the gun. The plus point of this is the lower chance of damage to the pellets when loaded individually, but this is often a thin argument at the best of times as modern quality pcps have excellent magazine systems that very rarely damage pellets. I know, I know, the Gamo system does have multi-shot magazines fitted to its springers and very good quality they are too. But you still need to break the barrel between each shot, which means coming off target at the very least and can be more effort and potentially more noise and slower when out in the field hunting or controlling pests. The PCP on the other hand simply needs cocking with a bolt action or side lever and can remain pretty much on target whilst you do this. Heck there are even semi automatics out there in some countries, Not in the UK though I’m afraid. You can of course have spare magazines in your pocket pre loaded up to carry on shooting if you need to or if you forgot the napalm air strike of course.
Lets look at recoil next shall we, I say recoil, but this isn’t like a 50 cal rifle type of recoil were talking about here, that said a springer will inevitably have more movement because it has moving internals that are creating the pressurised air behind the pellet or projectile. And of course the more powerful the springer the more kick it is going to have. Couple this to the noise of the internals as well as the sound from the end of the barrel, they are invariably noisier than an equivalent powered PCP. You can of course add silencers to most all of these types if they don’t come already supplied with one, but that simply quietens the barrel end and does very little to suppress or moderate the sound from the internals, which a pcp doesn’t really have in the first place. Naturally the more powerful the springer the more noise, the same applies to the PCP, but again not the internals so much. And of course whilst we are talking Power levels, PCP’s can go up to power levels Springers can only dream of, and if anyone out there says otherwise, well ive never seen a 500 ft/lb Springer and I would love to see the size of the guy who could cock that one without some external aid.
So why do some people prefer springers to PCP’s? Well in a strange sadistic way, its because of the above. They prefer the feel of the recoil, they prefer it to be louder and feel they are shooting something that isn’t as clinical as a PCP can sometimes be. Yes there is a bit of a testosterone driven cult type thing to it as well, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing, you know individual choice is what this world is about and its probably better for it. Of course the manufacturers love it too.
That said, it is also proof if it were needed by simply looking at the second hand racks in your local gun shop, you’ll find that you have about 70% PCP’s against 30% springers because people hang on to springers, because they don’t change much in design over time, but pcp’s are being updated all the time and the desire is there for more, bigger and better ones. Hence the higher turnover of 2nd hand pcp’s
Calibre options, this is another changing area at the moment as more and more calibers are becoming available; .177 .20 .22 .25 .30 .45 .50 and more, you will however find there are more calibre options on the PCP side rather than the springers, that said you really only need to be looking at higher than .25 calibre if you are going to have greater that 12 ft/lb of power. Otherwise it’s going to be like throwing stones at the target.
The next thing on my list to compare is around sighting and the use of scopes. You see that movement inside the springer does have a tendency to make your scope creep over time, unless you fit it correctly with the correct mounts, an issue which isn’t as noticeable with a PCP and as such it doesn’t lose Zero as readily or as often.
What about choice then.. well manufacturers are moving more and more towards the PCP’s not because they specifically want to, but its all about demand and supply I suppose, the more people want PCP’s over Springers, then they are naturally going to produce more PCP’s. This then results in manufacturers needing to come up with new and innovative ideas to gain that slice of the higher demand area and take business away from its competitors, from a consumer point of view this is a good thing and a not so good thing, the negative is the amount of money we finish up spending because of the desire to have the latest multi-shot, multi calibre, adjustable powered, regulated, electronically controlled,laminated, polymerised, folding stock, takedown, AR gripped, cappuccino making… ok I lied about that last part, but you get the idea.
This i suppose brings us nicely onto costs and this is pretty much where the Springer takes the laurels this time. You see you can get hold of a pretty decent PCP these days from a round £350-£500 and whilst you could say you can spend that much on a decent springer, you would be right, but your talking a higher end one and in fact you can get a springer from around the £150 mark quite comfortably. and of course you’ve still got to factor in someway of getting the air into the PCP and that can add a considerable amount if you don’t want all that physical exercise you would get with a pump, well that’s probably just me showing my age a little. So you see all those positives around PCP’s do come at a price and for some people its a price too far and a deal breaker, which is fair enough really.
Don’t forget that with a springer you should also have a level of simplicity about the gun and as such should prove itself to be very reliable over time. That is of course if you follow a few simple rules, chiefly don’t cock the Gun and leave it cocked, it will over time ruin the spring and the gun will soon cease to work as efficiently as it did when you first had it. PCP’s on the other hand do need to be stored with air in the Cylinder to help with the life of the seals.
On the reliability front, I’ve found that with any gun if it is going to go wrong it will usually be within the first 3 months, if it is ok after that, they will last for years and years. You do perhaps need to add into the mix the technology that is going into a lot of the new PCP’s including electronic systems etc, which can add a lot of positives to the whole PCP debate, but, maybe they need more time to prove longevity in the reliability question.
So does it sound like I’ve favoured PCP’s or does it sound like I’ve favoured springers? Hopefully it doesn’t sound like I’ve favoured either, more given you the facts as I see them around Both of these types. Which do I own? Well both, naturally, which do I use mostly? PCP’s because that’s what manufacturers produce mostly and considering most of my shooting these days is done for review purposes, then its hardly surprising that’s what I tend to shoot more often. Yeah, but which do you prefer is probably the next question, well I prefer to shoot FAC powered guns when I’m out doing any pest control, and as such PCP’s just fit the bill more with that higher power level and bigger calibres. But there are times that the bigger calibre and higher power level is just too much, in which case I will on occasion use the sub 12 ft\lb springer, that is always ever-ready.
That’s it you can now hit the comments section with your thoughts, keep em clean though, we have a young audience too.
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