The New GL43 General Licence
Budgeting, what’s that? That's doing something within financial means. If little money is available to splash about after food, car, home bills that means using brains first before planning on spending out on anything else. Hobbies come last and are way down the list for most people.
Today some airguns can cost a small fortune. Some people think they should spend out on the best to get the best results. Worse, some people have a weird aversion to using secondhand and only buy new as they believe it’s got to be new to be any good. So to budget shooting and cheap airguns.
Most budget airguns made abroad are sometimes unfairly considered less good. As for second-hand items, seeing the low prices that some budget airguns sell for on the used market may make some people think that they couldn't possibly be worth buying. Should we on the other hand not be spending out loads to get the best kit? Life isn’t that simple.
XS78 Co2 - gas guns always beat budget blues
Some imported airguns are pound for pound superb value, especially when compared to the silly high prices for some new airguns here. Remember also some airgunning basics, a well used but looked after gun, run-in by a previous owner can be much smoother to use than a new one out the box. That's worth more to real airgun shooters than a warranty with legal comeback. For some, it's easier to buy old and interesting, which okay can mean caked in rust, but if an antique isn’t on the agenda there are still plenty of good usable older airguns out there that don’t need a bank loan.
Any homegrown old BSA after a clean down will give all the accuracy and power needed for UK shooting. Another foreign favourite is the pneumatic pump-up made in China known as the B45-3. Available in .177 and .22 these are multishots, pneumatic with no recoil, and as a shorter carbine are lightweight. With no foot pump or dive bottle to lug around, it’s simply a case of pumping the lever to charge the valve as on the more famous Sharp Innova design. With around 4-5 times being average for these to fullest power, the option exists to practice indoors on fewer pumps. What's not to like, nearly forgot, these come with phenomenal accuracy for free. Sure pellet testing any airgun is always good but the accuracy on these can be astonishing. No idea what they cost new but it wasn't ever much, and a well-used example can cost less than a bag of chips as this one here literally did.
B45-3 Pneumatic – budget mulitshot marvel
Granted this and some others in this group can be a little rough around the edges but as working guns, there are no concerns about getting these damaged in the field. Try that with something costing ££££’s that looks like it fell off the back of a circus wagon.
Another fantastic budget buy that could have just as easily been American but is again from China is the XS78. Blued steel, bolt action, twin 12g Co2 and based on the classic Crosman 160 design from the ‘60s. There have been many variations over the past 25 years but any version 78 new or used is man enough for most tasks. Just remember to buy the gas capsules in bulk to keep the costs down to a minimum. Add some aftermarket custom parts that may cost less than a spare magazine for some air rifles, then a custom stock that makes any cheaper budget airgun just seem sweeter.
Stepping up a gear, there are some stunning used air rifles from yesteryear available at a very reasonable cost. For example a 1990's Titan or later Falcon PCP, all with deep rich bluing, contrasting brass parts included for free, and if fortunate with nice, really nice walnut stocks. Single shot and multishot too especially on the later Falcons which also feature their own unique barrel silencers with integral fill points.
Falcon PCP - innovative fill point and silencer now so very affordable
So with pneumatic and Co2 covered what about springers? A walnut stocked Air Arms Prosport with a pro tune surely? Well yes, who wouldn't want one but an ageing earlier 1980's sidelever Jackal or a Webley Tracker would happily be a close second and at less cost. Don't forget the more recent well made Chinese springers that have flooded the market for very good reason – they are superb value. Chatting with a young farmer about rabbiting, he dragged one of these from out of his cowshed a plain break barrel thing. Untuned, open sights, power around 8ft/lb max, used with only cheap budget pellets as that's all the local agricultural supply shop had… he would come back every outing with a bundle of rabbits. Proof in the pudding or is that in the rabbit pie.
As the trend towards tightening our belts even tighter may be the new norm there will be many more good used guns coming onto the market. Just take a look here on Gunstar in the Airgun sales section for some fantastic airguns used and also new that don’t cost a king's ransom. Remember nobody has ever needed to spend out a fortune for any airgun to enjoy this amazing hobby.