AIR RIFLES, DID YOU KNOW?
How many of us have an air rifle tucked away in a cupboard? Over the years, I have owned all manner of air rifle, from good old BSA meteors to Chinese cheesy things to top end precharged rifles. It doesn’t matter whether you use them for target practice, plinking or vermin control. They all generally have one thing in common. As a rule of thumb, an air rifle would be either a .177., .22 or .25 calibre.
In the UK air rifles are restricted to 12-foot pounds of energy, any higher and they would need to be on a firearms certificate. Air pistols are restricted to 6-foot pounds of energy but I will talk about them another time. Pellet choice, maintenance and fine-tuning can actually put an air rifle unknowingly over the legal limit. A lot of serious air rifle enthusiasts own a chronograph. With a chronograph, you can try several types of pellet and lube whilst monitoring power levels.
Want a suppressor for an air rifle and it is below the 12-foot-pound level you can quite simply go to a gun shop and buy one, over 12-foot-pounds and you will need a variation on your firearms certificate as it would then be classed as part of a firearm in itself. Complicated huh?
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
How about this for a contrast? If I live in America it is virtually impossible to get a suppressor right? Wrong! Here is the start of a loophole. Air rifles have absolutely no restrictions in place. Let’s take the Dragon Claw 50 calibre air rifle for example, YES! 50 calibre! The good old Americans have decided to make 50 cal air rifles that are fully suppressed. You cant buy a 50 cal suppressor? ah, but it is on an air rifle so it’s unregulated. In a nutshell, you now have a fully serviceable suppressor which you could use on other rifles and yet is deemed as a toy for better use of a word.
POWER AND SPECS
Remember our UK .177 and .22? Right, well, this monster produces a crazy 230 foot-pounds of energy! To put that in context, the average 22 rimfire produces 70 foot-pounds of energy. The specs for this gun are below, remember it is completely unregulated too.
SOUR GRAPES OR COMMON SENSE
Sour grapes? No, to me, this seems a mighty big loophole in US gun law. Let’s market a 50 cal air rifle capable of shooting a 500-grain projectile through a rifled barrel at power levels similar to 3 times that of a rimfire rifle, add a fully serviceable 50 cal reflex silencer and class it as a glorified toy! I am an avid shooter and gun lover but even I can see there is a problem with this scenario. Even a sub 12 foot-pound air rifle is deadly but to sell a 50 cal air rifle and have it totally unregulated is to me, ludicrous. With all the craziness surrounding gun laws in both the UK and USA, something needs to be looked at again.