When I first discovered the power of modern-day air rifles about eight years ago at an outdoor show in Waco, I was amazed at their power and accuracy. John McCaslin, president of Airforce Airguns, invited me to the Airforce Airguns booth and indoor range to shoot one of his companies .25 caliber PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) rifles.
I think John could see that I was eager to learn more, and I was invited to visit the company’s plant in Ft. Worth, where I found myself thoroughly enjoying a totally new (new to me) style of sporting arm. After the first shot, I came to the realization that air guns had come a long, long way from the pump up model I used as a youth growing up in northeast Texas.
My new rifle was a tack driver, and I used it for rabbit hunting that winter with great success. At the time, neither squirrels nor any other game animal could be legally hunted with an air-powered rifle.
Some of my friends asked me, “Why the interest in shooting these air guns when a $200 .22 rimfire works just fine?”
My answer was that I found learning about a new method of harvesting game was great fun. I later learned that my interest in shooting and hunting with these PCP airguns was shared with thousands of other hunters across the country, and their numbers are increasing at a steady pace.
I later became the Hunting Editor for "Airgun Hobbyist," the only glossy magazine in the country that I am aware of that is devoted strictly to shooting and hunting with airguns. When I took on the assignment, I was far from an airgun expert and still do not consider myself as such. But I had a passion for hunting with my rifle that pushes its bullets by the power of air rather than powder.
My articles focused on hunting with airguns rather than the technical aspects, as I felt those topics were better left to other writers better versed in the subject. My job was shooting and hunting with airguns and relating my hunts to the readers. This I have done with a relish!
A few years ago, Airforce Airguns introduced the ‘Texan,’ the first production big bore air rifle. I was honored to be one of the first folks to shoot and test the rifle under actual field conditions before the Texan went into production.
This ‘off the shelf’ .45 caliber big bore air rifle pushed a big 350-grain bullet fast enough to develop an astounding 500 foot-pounds of energy. I continued to enjoy shooting my .25 caliber rifle, but I loved having an air rifle with the power to harvest big game.
During the first fall/winter using my Texan, I harvested several wild hogs and exotics, including an aoudad, which is considered to be one of the most wary of big game animals.
A few years ago, Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners voted to allow air rifles for hunting squirrels. When the commissioners and Texas Parks and Wildlife officials learned that modern-day PCP rifles can and do cleanly harvest big game animals, they voted to allow whitetail deer and other big game animals to be harvested with big bore airguns.
We are now going into the second hunting season where big bore airguns are legal, and more airgun hunters will be taking to the woods and fields this deer season armed with a rifle that is proven to be more than up to the task of cleanly harvesting big game animals.
Earlier this week, I made the trip to Airforce Airguns headquarters to take delivery of what I consider the ultimate production air rifle for hunting big game. The engineers at Airforce took the basic ‘Texan’ rifle that charged to 3,000 psi and equipped it with a re-vamped valve and tank that fills to 3,625 psi. The new style Texan, named the Texan LSS, now develops an astounding 754 foot-pounds of energy, shooting a 520-grain lead bullet at 754 fps.
After taking many big game animals with my original Texan pressured to 3,000 psi with a 350-grain bullet developing 500 foot-pounds of energy, I just didn’t see the need to change to the heavier bullet. What I did like is the increased 121 foot-pounds of energy and flatter trajectory I will get from my tried and proven 350-grain soft lead bullet.
Being a long time bow hunter, I have always considered getting close to game an exciting aspect of the hunt. Thirty yards is the maximum yardage I will shoot when hunting with a bow. With my Texan, I found myself consistently harvest hogs and exotics out to 75 yards and sometimes a little farther. I know I could have made farther shots on game using my mil dot scope — I often practiced on targets out to 100 yards — but felt more comfortable making closer, high-percentage shots. With my new Texan LSS, I am convinced shots out to 125 yards are very doable.
So if you have been mulling over the idea of learning about and possibly shooting and hunting with these modern-day air rifles, I would admonish you to go ahead and give them a try. As a sportsman, airgunning has given me yet another outdoor sport to become knowledgeable of and have fun with. I still enjoy bow hunting a great deal but now find my hunting time split about equally between the bow and big bore.
My hat is off to McCaslin and the entire team at Airforce Airguns. Don’t know what is next on their drawing board, but I’ve come to expect great things from these folks that designed and produced the very first ‘production big bore air gun.’
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton with outdoor news from your area via www.catfishradio.org