How Do PCP Air Rifles Work

How Do PCP Air Rifles Work

pcp air rifles working

When looking for an air rifle, it is essential to understand how the gun operates. Different types of air rifles use different powerplants to fire. Spring piston, CO2 gas, and pneumatic (pump or pre-charged) are three of the most popular. To understand how pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles work, you need to know the differences in pneumatic powerplants.

Types of Pneumatic Powerplants

All pneumatic rifles have one of two main types of powerplants: pump or pre-charged. Both have become increasingly popular with air gun enthusiasts, with PCP being the most popular, and each style has its pros and cons. No matter what type of pneumatic powerplant you choose, they provide hours of fun hunting, plinking, and target shooting.

Pump Air Rifles

Pump rifles are designed with a lever that fills an internal reservoir with pressurized air. Once the reservoir is filled and has sufficient pressure, the trigger is pulled to fire the ammunition. The trigger pull releases the stored, pressurized air, which propels the pellet out of the barrel.

Pump air rifles generally come in single-stroke and multi-stroke, and each kind has its unique usages. With a single-stroke gun, you need only cock or pump the rifle one time to fire. This rifle style can work for everyday plinking and target shooting but is not as good for hunting.

Multi-stroke airguns are better for hunting as the pressure can be controlled more consistently and have a greater power capacity. If you want more pressure, you pump the gun more. If you do not need high pressure and are just out doing recreational shooting, you will pump the gun fewer times.

Pre-Charged Pneumatic Air Rifles

PCP rifles are the most popular option for air rifles. These rifles use pressurized air from an outside source instead of a lever to fill an internal reservoir. Popular external sources include scuba tanks, hand pumps, and compressors explicitly designed for the rifle.

There are two types of PCP rifles, regulated and unregulated. When the trigger is pulled on either type, it releases the hammer, driving it into a plunger in front of the firing valve. This valve gets pushed open and releases a set amount of pressurized air from the tank. Once that air is released, the pressure from the tank closes the valve.

With unregulated PCP air guns, this process is straightforward. The hammer opens the valve, the air escapes, and the pressure seals the valve shut. This process repeats until all the air in the tank empties. While the length of the barrel helps to maximize the expansion of the gas, because the air is coming directly out of the tank, it can cause the gun to vary slightly from shot to shot. Shots at the beginning of the cycle when the air tank is fresh will vary from shots at the end, where the tank is running low.

Regulated PCP rifles solve this problem and ensure that pressure in the tank is consistent. The regulator is positioned between the tank and the hammer and is basically a second air reservoir. It has its own valves that regulate the pressure in and out and produce the same pressure from shot to shot.

Pros and Cons of Pump and Pre-charged Pneumatics

Both pump and pre-charged air guns have their place. Pump air rifles are generally less expensive and great if you want to spend the day out target shooting, plinking, or hunting small game. They are easy to use and do not require an external source for air.

While not as accurate or robust as a PCP rifle, these single-shot rifles are perfect for the more casual or beginner shooter.

Pre-charged pneumatic rifles are ideal for avid hunters, professional target shooters and better suited for higher precision, power, and accuracy.

One advantage of the PCP gun over the pump style is that when the trigger is pulled, the firing valve does not allow all the pressurized air to escape at once. This allows the user to fire multiple times before having to refill. They are designed to have less recoil and greater accuracy than other air rifles on the market today.

PCP Rifles from AirFire Tactical

At AirFire, we are proud to be the exclusive importer of Aselkon premium PCP air rifles. We offer competitive wholesale pricing.

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