Buyer’s Guide to Buying Your First Airgun

By Published On: 28 April 2023Categories: Air Gun

Airguns have been a popular choice for shooting enthusiasts in the UK for generations. They’re ideal for casual backyard plinking, competition shooting, small game hunting and pest control. If you’re delving into the hobby for the first time, it’s important to start with a reliable, affordable model that’s easy to use.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about buying your first air rifle, air pistol or BB gun. We’ll talk you through legal and safety considerations and how to choose the best air gun for beginners.

Using Air Guns Legally and Safely

Before you start browsing air guns for sale, it’s essential to understand UK law surrounding air gun ownership and use. Here is a summary of the key regulations:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to purchase or hire an airgun or ammunition. Those aged under 18 can use an airgun under the supervision of a person aged 21 or over.
  • In England and Wales, air pistols must not exceed 6 ft/lbs of muzzle energy. Air rifles are limited to 12 ft/lbs unless you have a firarm certificate.
  • In Scotland and Northern Ireland, all airguns require a certificate or permit regardless of power.
  • You must only use an air gun on private land with permission from the landowner. All ammunition must remain within the property boundary.
  • You cannot fire an air weapon within 50 feet of a public road or footpath if it will cause a disturbance.
  • If you are using your airgun for hunting or pest control, you can only shoot permitted species. These may vary depending on location, but typically include rabbits, feral pigeons, brown rats and grey squirrels.

It’s also important to handle and maintain your airgun responsibly. Learn how to safely load, unload, and store your airgun, and always shoot in a safe and controlled environment. Consider obtaining legal liability insurance to protect you financially if you’re held responsible for accidental injury or damage.

Pellet Guns vs. BB Guns

As a first-time shooter, the first decision you’ll have to make is whether to choose a pellet gun or BB gun.

  • Pellet guns use pellets, which are typically made of lead or a lead alloy (though lead-free options are available). They come in various shapes, including domed, pointed and wadcutter, each designed for specific uses like target shooting or hunting. Pellet guns are available in several calibres, most commonly .177 and .22.
  • BB guns use BBs – small, round, metallic balls typically made from steel or lead. They are limited to .177 calibre.

Pellet guns generally offer better accuracy, stability and power than BB guns, especially for hunting and long-range shooting. However, BB guns still provide a fun and engaging experience, especially for plinking and casual target practice. They are often much cheaper than pellet guns, making them ideal air guns for beginners.

Air Rifles vs. Air Pistols

Air rifles and air pistols cater to different shooting needs and preferences, so understanding their key differences will help you make an informed choice.

Air rifles are larger, heavier and more powerful than air pistols. They offer better accuracy, stability and consistency, especially when shooting from a distance. This makes them particularly well-suited to long-range target shooting, pest control and small game hunting.

Air pistols are smaller and more lightweight than air rifles, making them easier to handle, store, and transport. They are usually simpler to operate and maintain than air rifles, making them an attractive option for beginners.

Both types of air gun are available at a range of price points. Basic air pistols are typically cheaper than air rifles, making them the best air guns for beginners on a budget. That being said, there are still many great air rifles under £200.

Spring Piston, CO2, Gas Ram or PCP?

In order to select the best airgun for your needs, you’ll also need to consider the power source. Each has its unique advantages and drawbacks.

  • Spring piston or spring-powered air guns use a coiled spring to propel the pellet or BB. They require little maintenance and are self-contained, meaning you don’t need to purchase extra equipment.
  • Gas ram or gas piston air guns are also self-contained units, but use compressed gas instead of a coiled spring. They are quieter and offer a smoother cocking experience, but require more maintenance.
  • CO2-powered air guns use disposable CO2 cartridges to propel the pellet or BB. They provide a convenient, easy-to-use shooting experience with minimal recoil. However, the need to purchase and replace CO2 cartridges can add to the cost of ownership.
  • Pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air guns use a built-in reservoir which is filled with pressurised air. They are a more expensive option that offers superior accuracy, power and consistency compared to other types.

Spring-powered and PCP air guns are both popular among air gun novices. Springers are simple, reliable and affordable, but are prone to recoil and vibration, meaning beginners may find them more difficult to use.

PCP air guns, on the other hand, have minimal recoil and are easier to shoot accurately. However, they are less budget-friendly, and require the additional purchase of an air tank or hand pump to fill the reservoir.

Other Factors to Consider When Buying Your First Airgun

When browsing airguns for sale, it’s important to consider your budget, personal preferences and what you are going to use it for. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Calibre: Airguns are available in different calibres, most commonly .177 and .22. .177 air guns are excellent for target shooting while heavier .22 pellets offer superior penetration for hunting.
  • Build quality and materials: A well-built airgun will provide a better shooting experience and longevity. Look for reputable brands and read reviews to ensure you’re getting a reliable and well-constructed airgun.
  • Price range: Airguns come in a wide range of prices. While there are many affordable options, investing in a higher-quality airgun can provide a better shooting experience. For example, more expensive air guns may feature multi-shot magazines for quick follow-up shots.

You should also look into the available accessories, such as night vision and scopes, mounting systems and sound moderators. Keep in mind that some accessories and add-ons may not be compatible with all air guns.

Looking for Beginner Air Guns for Sale (UK)? Visit The Wolfman

If you’re looking for reliable, affordable airguns for sale, visit The Wolfman. We are the UK’s one-stop shop for air rifles, air pistols, BB guns and shooting essentials.

Head to our online store to view our full collection of air guns from fantastic brands including Gamo, Crosman, Air Arms and more. We also carry a fantastic range of air gun ammunition, optics, gun care products and accessories designed to elevate your shooting experience.

Order today for free delivery and same-day dispatch on all UK orders placed before 11am. For questions about our products or website, contact The Wolfman through our online form or call us on 01473 806 280.

About the Author: The Wolfman Store

After over 30 years experience in the Airgun trade, The Wolfman Store are delighted to announce our new website, enabling us to supply direct to the shooting community for the first time. Combining a vast stock of established favourites with exciting products new to the UK, The Wolfman Store will be striving to provide unparalleled service at the most competitive prices.

Related Products