Air weapons: The quickest growing, quietest trend for hunters

The majority of hunters opt for the most efficient weapons possible, which for ages, has meant larger bore centerfire rifles. But now, a growing demographic of hunters is thinking outside the traditional lines of hunting and venturing into the silently booming market of air-driven weaponry. Companies like Velocity Outdoor, Umarex, Sig Sauer and even Stoeger are riding that new hunting wave, while major gun manufacturers such as Remington, Marlin, DPMS, Colt, Walther, and Springfield continue putting their logos on airguns. As traverses the SHOT Show floor in 2019, the shift is evident from more of a rarity to see air driven weapons on display to now finding them at every turn. Here are some of our favorites for hunters to explore.

Benjamin Bulldog

Benjamin Bulldog at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The Bulldog big-bore bullpup air rifle is chambered in .357 and fires 145-grain eXtreme bullets created in conjunction with Nosler. That partnership moves airguns out of the backyard tin can and vermin realm and into deer, predator, and even African big game hunting. The Bulldog features integral sound suppression, a sidelever bolt reversible for lefties, full-length picatinny top rail, five round magazine, and can fire 10 shots at 800 FPS per fill. MSRP on the Realtree camo Bulldog is $899. We fired the Bulldog at Machine Gun Vegas and were impressed with the accuracy, low noise, and overall ease of use.

DPMS SBR Full Auto

DPMS SBR Full Auto at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Yes, you read that correctly. The SBR is a fully automatic air rifle. This recently-announced CO2-driven short barreled launces BB’s faster than you can fill the mags, with a rate of fire over 1,400 rounds per minute. Limited only by its current 25-round magazine, this SBR joins a similar version branded by Bushmaster last year. Both weight and features mimic the SBR’s legit AR-style centerfire rifles. MSRP will be $199.99.

Fortitude Gen 2

Fortitude Gen 2 at 2019 SHOT Show 2019. (Kristin Alberts/

The Benjamin Fortitude by Crosman on display at SHOT is supposed to be a new-and-improved version of a long-lasting, bolt action PCP air rifle available in either .177 or .22 caliber. The two chamberings fire at 950 FPS and 800 FPS, respectively. Both are capable of up to 90 shots on a single air charge. A ten-shot rotary magazine is quickly loaded with pellets. The shrouded barrel features fully integrated sound suppression, making this rifle much quieter—and even more fun—than granddaddy’s old Crosman. MSRP is set at $299.99, a reasonable price in comparison with similar PCP guns on the market.

Umarex Hammer

Umarex Hammer at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Big game hunters rejoice. The .50 caliber Umarex Hammer pushes a 550-grain slug at 760 FPS and generates 705 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Smaller bullets come out even faster. Though shooters needn’t wear hearing protection when firing the Hammer, the gun does give a significant “push” of recoil. The carbon fiber air tank holds 4,500 PSI of compressed air, granting three full-power shots and two at lesser oomph. The Hammer is built in the USA, and though its new, it has already taken big game animals around the world. (4050)

Stoeger XP4

The XP4 at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The XP4 is a .177 caliber, single-shot, recoilless platform pistol. The single-pump pneumatic pistols are available in either black or green synthetic. A two-stage trigger comes standard, as do ambidextrous controls and fiber optic sights. The XP4 is advertised to fire alloy pellets up to 410 FPS. MSRP is a reasonable $89.

Stoeger S4000E

S4000E at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Stoeger doubled-down on new offerings at SHOT 2019. The S4000E is a suppressed, Gas Ram system break-barrel action available in either .177 or .22 caliber. Velocity is measured at 1,200 and 1,000 FPS respectively. Other sweet features include a two-stage trigger, fiber optic sights, and an ambidextrous safety. MSRP is set at $149 for the bare rifle and $179 for a scoped version.

Air Venturi John Wayne Lil Duke

Air Venturi at SHOT Show 2019. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Air Venturi recently acquired rights to produce air guns using the likeness and name of The Duke himself, John Wayne. This spring-piston driven, large-loop lever action .177 caliber rifle fires BB’s at 350 FPS.  In addition to this signature rifle, the company also produces a number of other John Wayne issue airguns, including a sweet 1911 CO2 BB pistol with a true blowback action and functioning grip safety.

Benjamin ReCharge Filling Station

Benjamin Recharge filling station at SHOT Show 2019. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

If the smaller Benjamin Traveler compressor cannot keep up with your big bore airgunning needs for re-filling those PCP weapons, Velocity Outdoor may have just announced the most serious filling station on the market. This is the Benjamin ReCharge, a high-pressure 4500 PSI air compressor similar in size to a tower computer.

Sig Sauer MCX Virtus ASP

Virtus ARP at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Naturally, the Virtus ASP is a replica of Sig’s centerfire Virtus rifle line, and even wears the same grips, M-LOK rail, and 30-round magazine.  A 3,000 PSI air tank sits in the position of a standard AR buffer tube and grants up to 200 shots per fill.  The PCP Virtus ASP is .22 caliber and is expected to begin shipping in late Spring.

Sig Sauer P365 ASP

P365 ASP at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

New first leaked last year of a replica airgun version of the hot, new Sig pistol of the same name, but until now, a working version had yet to be seen. The P365 ASP is a blowback, CO2 driven 4.5mm BB pistol. Though we don’t expect to see these hot rod air pistols shipping until later this year, they generated plenty of interest.

Daisy Red Ryder Model 1938

Daisy Red Ryder at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

The classic Daisy Red Ryder is still alive and well since its introduction in 1940. The wood furniture, saddle ring, and leather trim all remain true to the original. The “new” Red Ryder shown here holds 650 .177 cailber BB’s and fires at 350FPS with its lever-cocking, spring-air system. No matter how many years pass and how much technology improves, the Daisy Red Ryder design continues to win the hearts of young and old alike.

Winchester Big Bores

Winchester Big Bores at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

We found Winchester’s new pair of big bore air rifles under glass at the Gamo booth at SHOT. When Gamo acquired the Daisy brand, Winchester came along for the ride, and 2019 is their year for updated big bores. This pair is shown in .35 and .45 calibers, top and bottom.  They are PCP guns, with the gauge near the base of the pistol grip. We got our hands on the .45 caliber and it feels like a well-built hunting gun, but without some range time and more details, it’s all speculation.

Pioneer Air Bow

Pioneer Air Bow at 2019 SHOT Show. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Based on Benjamin’s American-made PCP platform, the Air Bow has created its own category of hunting weapon. Full-length arrows and broadheads are driven completely by air, at a blazing speed of 450 FPS. Best of all, the Air Bow can be easily cocked—and decocked—with two fingers.  Powered by 3,000 PSI of compressed air, the Air Bow allows eight shots before a refill. Though debates rage on over where the Air Bow fits in the regulations of archery, muzzleloading, rifle, or simply airgun seasons, each state allows the Air Bow’s use for different species of game.  Meanwhile, professional hunters like Jim Shockey have claimed big game around the world with the Air Bow.  (3756)

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