Essential Airgun Terminology: A Glossary for Beginners

By Published On: 31 January 2024Categories: Air Gun

Diving into the world of airguns inevitably exposes newcomers to a world of terms covering hardware components, shooting sports rules and industry jargon. Learning the lingo helps decode specifications to select gear properly suited for your airgunning pursuits.

Below, we list widespread airgun vocabulary and supply easy to understand definitions of key concepts. Bookmark this handy glossary and master airgun terminology confidently!


The action refers to the firing mechanism generating air pressure to propel the pellet when the trigger is pulled. Common actions include break barrel (cocked by snapping the barrel down), sidelever (cocked by a side bolt), underlever (cocked by a lever under the barrel), and bolt action (cocked by a bolt handle). PCP models utilise highly pressurised air externally supplied to the chamber.


Bedding involves filling the space between the rifle stock and action with epoxy putty or glass fibre to completely immobilise the action for optimal harmonic consistency during firing. Precisely fitted bedding improves accuracy. 


Calibre defines barrel bore diameter, with common airgun calibres being .177, .20, .22, .25, .30 and .357 inch – normally listed in decimals (4.5mm, 5mm, 5.5mm, etc). Barrel quality and pellet head size must match calibre tightly for best precision.

Cocking Effort

This specifies the peak force required when arming the firing action using a cocking lever or break barrel. A lighter cocking effort aids shooters with limited strength, while higher efforts generally produce greater muzzle energy. Reducing cocking force lightens spring piston recoil as well.


Available energy measured in foot-pounds (abbreviated FPE) indicates the muzzle kinetic power of the airgun when fired. This helps determine capabilities for target shooting or hunting applications at various ranges. Match the available energy to your needs.

Free Recoil

Free recoil refers to the rearward kick transmitted to the shooter by the firing action, distinct from cocking effort. High power rifles see substantial free recoil, which must be managed for continued accuracy through damping mechanisms or muzzle brakes to counteract barrel rise after firing.


Parallax arises when a rifle scope reticle and target are not precisely optically matched, causing inaccuracy. Adjustable objective (AO) scopes permit eliminating parallax mismatch, bringing the reticle perfectly into focus across a range of distances for pinpoint shooting.

Pellet Head

This describes projectile tip shape, with common varieties being wadcutter (flat fronted), pointed (spitzers), round nose (domes) and hollow points, with various aerodynamic profiles influencing stability and penetration. Determine the required terminal performance, then match the pellet type accordingly.


High end PCP air rifles incorporate regulators that steady outlet pressure deviations to create exceptionally consistent shot velocities and energies. Fine regulators achieve a very small 20-30 PSI output variance for reliably predictable pellet behaviour.


A barrel shroud encapsulates the muzzle inside a housing to reduce discharged air noise levels and help accelerate pellet velocity. Air stripper ribs often project inward, further focusing the exhaust blast for quiet, high efficiency performance. Shrouds enable friendly backyard practice.

Sling Swivels

Swivel studs installed on a rifle allow fast attachment of a tactical sling for easier carrying over long distances in the field. The sling pivots freely to allow smoothly bringing the optic to eye for stable firing from field positions beyond the offhand stance.

Turret Caps

Scope turret caps are dust covers protecting external windage and elevation click adjustment knobs from dirt or accidental bumps that could alter your rifle’s meticulous zero. Quality caps prevent losing zero between shooting sessions.

Shop The Wolfman’s Range of Airguns

Learning essential airgun terminology enables proper understanding of available equipment to select the right guns for different shooting purposes. Become fluent in core definitions around rifle actions, ammunition and components to make informed airgun purchases.


Once you are familiar with the terminology, explore the wide range of optimally configured airguns offered by The Wolfman. Choose from precisely accurate airgun models by Weihrauch, Air Arms, and  more – all built for pinpoint precision across any airgun discipline.

Contact us today to learn more. Our team happily provides guidance, matching gear to your needs for lasting enjoyment.

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.

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