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Gas Piston versus Spring

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    bwaber
    Participant
    Member
    Accuracy: +1

    Does anyone have a preference for spring or gas piston types?
    Does the gas ever leak out of the gas piston eventually? Seems like it would….
    I am new at this and need some advice from experienced guys.
    I am thinking of a Gamo Mach 1 .22 to buy. Any thoughts on this??
    Is Benjamin “nitro piston” better than Gamo?
    Wal Mart has Gamo whisper fusion elite for $226.00. Is it any good?
    Also Umarex Ruger Impact .22 made in china for $140.00. Does anyone use this one??
    How does “break barrel” work, there must be a seal there so the pressure don’t leak out when you fire it.

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    ironlion269
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    United States
    Accuracy: +31

    @bwaber – man, what a bunch of loaded questions!  I was in your position not long ago, having paid no attention to the airgun world in decades.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far; others on the forum with more knowledge and experience can chime in wherever they have more to say.

    1. I have owned and shot modern magnum spring rifles (Hatsan Mod 95, Hatsan Edge, Hatsan Mod 87, Crosman Optimus), Nitro Piston Gen1 rifles (Crosman Fire NP, Benjamin Titan GP), and a Nitro Piston Gen2 (Benjamin Summit NP2).  All of these rifles are considered “low-end” springers in that they all come in under the $200 mark and are made for higher-power hunting and plinking.  Note that air guns made for the European market tend to be much lower powered; in the UK the guns must not exceed 12 foot-pounds of energy (fpe) at the muzzle, while American guns try to double that.  Based on the guns and prices you state in your post I can say that spring powered guns in the sub-$200 range can be very powerful, accurate, and durable – as well as noisy (even with moderators and/or shrouds on the barrels), jumpy, hold sensitive, and require patience from the shooter as he learns to hold them properly (look up “artillery hold” on YouTube for more on that hold issue).  Gas piston/strut/ram guns tend to be as powerful yet have a smoother cocking and shooting cycle, making them less hold sensitive and arguably easier to quiet with moderators and shrouds.  I prefer the gas pistons but plenty of shooters better than me swear by the spring piston rifles.  Sorry, you just have to take the plunge and discover which it is you prefer.
    2. No leakage problems that I’m aware of in general.  I’m sure there’ve been a few defect gas cylinders come down the lines but by and large the gas springs are totally proven.  The idea for them came from the auto industry where they’ve been in use for decades, after all.  A rock-solid technology, to say the least.
    3. Gamo rifles have a devoted and vocal following as well as a hard-core group of haters.  Same with most of the makers outside of a few select manufacturers in Europe who’ve been doing air guns right for over a Century.  My opinion (and that’s all this next part is) is that a first spring rifle should be something that doesn’t require expert airgun technique to shoot well.  The Mach 1 is a great rifle that demands a pretty substantial level of experience to shoot well.  By the way, I do encourage your choice of a .22 since that is a really good all-around caliber for plinking, pest control, and small game hunting.
    4. Gamo has “inert gas technology” IGT, Crosman/Benjamin has “Nitro Piston” generations 1 and 2, Umarex has “reactive system” gas rams, Hatsan has “Vortex” compressed air cylinders, BSA has “gas ram technology” GRT, and on and on and on…  The gas pistons seen in all of these guns had their start in the Theoben gas spring developed in the late 20th Century, and all of them perform as springs admirably.  As with the gun manufacturers, the gas springs have adherents and detractors.  Personally I am a fan of the Nitro Piston clan, but really enjoyed the Hatsan Vortex I owned and have seen a-MAZING video of the BSA guns with gas springs.
    5. Again, the Gamo guns can be terrific shooters but they can also prove problematic like any mass-produced device.
    6. With the Gamo, Umarex, Benjamin, and just about any other gun your friend is YouTube.  Not every gun has reviews and shooting demos out there, but so many do!  Do a search on “air gun review” and take a long weekend to peruse the results!
    7. Break-barrel rifles are a wonderfully simple design for air guns.  The air chamber, where the air is instantly pressurized and forced out of a small hole (air port) and into the barrel, occupies the back half of the gun’s action assembly; it’s the metal tube that actually resides in the stock.  The piston and spring (steel or gas) sits within the air chamber tube and occupy the back two thirds of the chamber.  The barrel is on a hinge at the front end of the air chamber, sitting on the outter side of the air port.  It locks into place with some kind of locking mechanism (ball bearing or wedge-shaped catch, each under spring tension) so that the barrel entry (breech) is in line with the air port.  There is indeed a gasket or o-ring around the breech of the barrel, called the breech seal.  This used to be a leather seal in all cases, though most modern air guns have moved to rubber or some other synthetic for longer life and greater material consistency.  Some “springers” lock up so tight that you have to slap the upper barrel to snap open the break, allowing you you cock the gun using the barrel as the cocking lever and also providing access to the breech for pellet loading.

    There is so much more going on in each of these sections… all I can say is keep asking questions, at least handle some of these guns (even if you can’t actually cock and shoot them) so you get a feel for weight, balance, ergonomics, etc… and, from me to you, don’t spend a fortune on your first gun.  Spend enough to buy a quality plinker and target hunter and then shoot it, shoot it, SHOOT IT.  Then shoot it some more.  You will discover what you like and what can live without.  

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    Deleted Account
    Accuracy: +0

    One big difference in break barrels is springer’s versus gas rams. If you’re going to hunt with it, the gas ram version of the break barrel is better insomuch as you can load it once and leave it that way until you see what you’re hunting. No spring to damage. I bought the Crosman Optimus .22 for my youngest son that wants to learn to hunt. For $101.68 on Amazon.com, it has the same power range as the Hatsan Striker 1000(x or s) .22, but weighs about 1 1/2 pounds less. When hunting, carry weight is definitely an issue. Getting a shoulder sling that’s comfortable to you will be a blessing! I have a Benjamin Trail NP XL725, a .25 caliber Nitro Piston (thus, the NP designation) that, with scope, weighs about 10.8lbs! It has a lot of pressure to cock it (pushing 40ft lbs), but hits hard for everything up to mid-size game. It also has a welded-on Weaver/Picatinny rail to mount the scope more solidly in place, compared to the usual dove-tail. I consider it to be the bottom rung of the big-bore ladder. Hey, it’s shooting a 1/4 inch diameter projectile weighing, on average, from about 19.91gr to 31.02gr. That’s heavy for a pellet. There are bigger ones, of course. But I think .25cal is plenty for starting off in the big-bore arena. I got mine for $225.98 on Amazon, a $300 rifle.
    ​The Hatsan Striker 1000x .22 I have was on sale at midwayusa.com for $95.99. I swapped a Hammers 3-9x32AO mildot scope on it for the Optima 3-9×32 for another $53 and weighs about 8.6lbs. Way better scope to withstand the unique ” back-n-forth” recoil of break barrel rifles. This rifle has great balance and is very accurate and not very pellet-picky. Mine broke in with about 115 shots. The break barrel’s unique recoil is the reason for the artillery hold, and all it’s permutations. Here’s some pics of the rifles I’ve mentioned;
    Crosman Optimus .22 with Winchester 3-9×32 scope on UTG high mount-

    Hatsan Striker 1000x .22 with Hammers 3-9x32AO mildot scope-

    ​Crosman-Benjamin NP XL725 .25cal with Centerpoint 3-9x40AO mildot scope-

     

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    Windmill01
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    Australia
    Accuracy: +16

    Barber I agree with the comments above. A cheap gas ram for your first airrifle is the best way to learn to shoot air rifles in general in my opinion. I have two Benjamin Trails and the gas rams are still operating as new with over 18,000 pellets through them. They are not as hold sensitive as spring rifles and for the money have as much power and accuracy as comparatively priced springers. Plus in my experiences the ram out lasts a spring in that price range.
    As stated by iornlion there are many experienced and knowledgeable airgunners in this forum and are willing to offer assistance, so good luck and have fun shooting whatever you choose.
     

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    EMrider
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    Member
    United States
    Accuracy: +7

    I’ve tried both and much prefer a steel spring.  The shot cycle is not as harsh and steel springs are easier to change and/or service when necessary.  A quality steel spring should easily give you more than 10,000 shots and I have some that are well above 20,000 with very consistent power.  Replacement springs cost about $15-$20 max.  If a gas ram begins to leak, your total replacement cost will be quite a bit higher.  

    Modern steel springs can be left cocked for many hours (days in fact) with no negative effect on spring longevity or power.  The notion that only gas rams can be left cocked is just marketing hype.  

    There is a reason that the vast majority of the more expensive springers built in Germany and the U.K. continue to use steel springs.  They are proven, durable and relatively inexpensive to replace if necessary.

    R

     

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    JoeWayneRhea
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    United States
    Accuracy: +245

    +1.   And a BIG 1 With EMRIDER !!!  I have rebuilt quite a few spring guns and honestly leave one cocked for several hours or overnight to get the spring stable ….My personal gun has o er 25,000 shots on the spring and its been left cocked for long stretches many times  
      And simple fact is , spring power everything else being equal is more accurate… Less heavy stuff flying about when the trigger trips 

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    EMrider
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    United States
    Accuracy: +7

    Yep, I’m sure the accuracy edge goes to steel springs.  For springer FT, competitors always seem to use steel spring guns like the TX200, pro sport, hw97, LGV, hw98, etc…….  No question they would be using gas rams if those had an accuracy advantage.

    My somewhat cynical view (aka, realism) is that gas rams are a product of marketing departments, not engineering departments.  A 70+ year old technology like steel springs just isn’t snazzy enough to create the buzz that marketing departments always want.  Meanwhile, the engineers are fine because steel springs do their job quite well.

    R

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    JoeWayneRhea
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    Accuracy: +245

    EMrider id give you another + for that but it won’t let me . Salesman sell the sizzle , not the steak :)

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    scrane
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    United States
    Accuracy: +15

    What kind of cocking effort goes into the gas ram? Linear like a springer, or progressive like a SSP or bicycle pump?

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    EMrider
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    United States
    Accuracy: +7

    “JoeWayneRhea”EMrider id give you another + for that but it won’t let me . Salesman sell the sizzle , not the steak :)

    
Exactly Joe, and I fell for it myself. My first serious airgun was a Gamo Whisper (laughably misnamed) in .177.

    I paid extra to have PA install a gas ram instead of a spring after reading a bunch of marketing hype. Altogether, I spent about $330 on that gun.  It was harsh, over powered, loud and inaccurate.

    Now I realize that I got suckered and could have bought FAR higher quality guns for the same price, in particular the RWS34 or the B26.  Today, you can even grab an hw95 for that price. 

    Live and learn 😄

    R

     

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    Brazos
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    Member
    United States
    Accuracy: +4

    Spring without a doubt.  But spend enough to get a good rifle.  At least a RWS34 or a HW95.  You will be glad you did.

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    ironlion269
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    United States
    Accuracy: +31

    Feeling quite the contrarian tonight, I’ll buck my betters and say gas spring for the OP.  I agree that the high-end springers, both break barrel and cocking lever types, are primarily steel spring driven.  That said, the OP is “new at this” and is already being herded toward the priciest part of the pasture.  I say “whoa there, dogie!” and consider the following: the top-end manufacturers (BSA, RWS/Diana, Weirauch) are all offering their best and brightest with gas spring technology now.  You may say that’s just to get in on the action stirred up by the salesmen selling sizzle but the truth is those titans of airgun manufacture are putting up those gas spring guns against their long beloved springers as comparable shooters – not a step taken lightly.  Where there’s sizzle there’s fire, and somebody’s sacred cow is getting roasted.

    My experience with steel spring vs. gas spring in the budget minded end of the air gun pasture is that the gas spring is far smoother, more forgiving, and just plain easier on the shooter.  To get comparable civility in a steel spring gun you must move your price point somewhere north of $300 unless you want to deal with the resale market and the risks that come there.  I’ve read the arguments put forward on this forum that advise beginners to “save up your money and a really great gun that will last a lifetime”, all the while pointing the newb toward the German and British guns.  More and more, those same posts now push the PCPs as the ideal guns to buy since they provide greater power, long-range accuracy, and pure shooting enjoyment.  Of course, that way lies madness in my opinion, with ever steepening curves of cost over accuracy.  Not my tumbler of Diet Dew, if you take my meanig.  

    I take the OP at face value: new to air guns, wants to make a wise buying choice, reach for the high end stuff without forgetting you wear work boots and jeans at work and play.  I stump out to my shooting chair with my Crosman NP in .177 with nothing more than my rifle, some pellets, maybe a shooting table and bag rest, all just to chase that beautiful quest < The 1/2″ CTC shot group at 75 yds > using a common, mass-produced, dull-as-dirt american springer.  And still I can carry on lively, scintillating discussions of mutual loves in the sport as well as push around some thorny issues that may yet crack open and shower us with unlookedfor wisdom, j

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    Windmill01
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    Australia
    Accuracy: +16

    Iornlion +1, I own a Walther LGV in 22 cal and it’s very accurate but having said that my Trail in 22 cal is just as accurate and at further out. The Walther cost just over $1000 AUS with UTG scope and my Trail with scope a third of the cost. As far as weight is concerned the Walther with hollow synthetic stock and scope comes in at 4.4 kilo. The Trail with wood stock and scope comes it at 3.7 kilo. No heavy stuff flying around in the Trail.
    The Trail in 22 cal is just as pleasing to shoot as the Walther, they both have a smooth cocking action, both are equivalent to me in hold sensitivity and the Walther is a bit more quiet. The spring rifles quoted above are very fine rifles indeed but they are at the higher end of the market.
    I have owned springers that are equivalent to the cost of my Trails and they were very hard to master. In my opinion for value for money and shooting experience it’s very hard to go past a gas ram  but having said that a RWS34 wouldn’t be hard to shoulder either.
    Bwaber as you can see there are definite differences out in the air gunning world but the most important thing is to enjoy your shooting, it can be very relaxing plinking away in the back yard or it can be very frustrating trying to figure out what is going wrong. Have fun working it out. Ps buy a gas ram they are bloody good for the money.

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    Jonnes
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    Accuracy: +37

    Having owned multiple gas ram and springer rifles, I can tell you this from experience. A gas ram shoots without any twang, is snappier and cocks easier. A springer might have twang, but is a hell of a lot easier to maintain and even tune. Do I prefer one over the other? Actually, no. In fact, the best springer air rifles I’ve owned (and still own) are the HW77 and the Air Arms TX200, and these things are awesome! I ended up selling my Diana 340 N-tec and buying the HW77 and TX200 in it’s place (had a really good deal!). Is there a difference in accuracy? Nope, although a gas ram is a tad bit less hold sensitive, due to the lack of the torquing movement that a spring has. But that’s something that can be solved with a couple of Delrin washers. Keep in mind that accuracy is for the most part determined by the barrel and pellets you use, and the shooter of course.

    One other thing to consider is that springs are a lot cheaper and easier to replace, even when the rifle is discontinued. With a gas ram, you might end up with a rifle that’s useless when the gas ram dies on you. Not an issue for the short term, but one none the less.

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    ironlion269
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    United States
    Accuracy: +31

    First of all, my apologies to all the readers of this thread for my last post.  Not that I don’t believe in what I said, but my sleep medication (yes, actually diagnosed with a severe sleep disorder and must take prescribed meds each night) kicked in right in the middle of that post.  I kinda went all Hunter Thompson there toward the end.  My bad.

    @jonnes, you are on target as always… I do note in addition that the “sizzle” being sold by the gas spring guys includes the factoid that gas springs have been in continuous, heavy use for decades in other applications and have been noted by engineers everywhere for durability, reliability, and just plain bad assness.  I have a differing opinion on the maintenance argument but that’s more of a toMAYto/toMAHto kinda thing.  As I said to another forum member, when the Apocalypse comes and society melts like Oprah on a Nutri-System diet it’ll be the air gunners who lead the survival of the race.  And at their head, proudly marching out of step and continually turning their heads as they scan for mutant squirrels, semi-sentient possums, and vicious tattooed gangs of biker prairie dogs (good over open flames) will be the low-end gas springers.  Mark my words.

    I’m with Windmill01 on this.  To plunge into the air gun pool I still recommend a proven gas springer for ease of learning, budget considerations, and sheer enjoyment of shooting. Oh, and the whole Apocalypse thing.  ‘Nuf said.

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    Jonnes
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    @ironlion269 that sucks mate, no apologies needed. ;) 

    I agree with you, In the end it’s all about having fun. Personally I haven’t owned a gun long enough for it to become an issue. Actually, that’s not true. I’ve owned Webley Hurrucane for 32 years, found it after it had been lost sitting in a box for 20 years or so, cleaned it up, and it shot like the day I bought it. But down the line, a gas piston (or spring) will probably last longer than the average time I usually own a gun.  

    With regard to a WTSHTF scenario, I honestly don’t think a mutant squirrel gives a rat’s furry brown bahookie if it gets acute lead poisoning from a springer or a gas ram. If a pellet hits it’s nugget at 600+ f/lbs, it’s game over for the critter, unless they he wears body armour of course, then you have a challenge. No, honestly I’m more concerned about those glow-in-the-dark nuclear mega toads. You still need powder burners for those!  :P 

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    Deleted Account
    Accuracy: +0

    Another good thing about my Benjamin Trail XL is that it also comes in .177 NPXL1500, .22 NPXL1100 and the Trail NP2’s as well. The Trail XL725 has a tight-tolerance sort of double click to it when cocking I find reassuring. I think it still kicks hard for a magnum .25, but it also hits quite hard!  It is a 1/4 inch diameter projectile, after all. Other than what’s been said of gas rams, I don’t feel they’re any different than the good springer’s accuracy-wise. That may change with experience? But I must agree, gas rams are a bit higher on the totem pole so far. Looking at the Hatsan’s on line again, I’m still wishing I’d have bought the Vortex version of my Striker 1000x .22…

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    SquirrelWar2
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    Seeing a Nuclear Mega Toad would definitely be a SHTF moment! Lol. 😄

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    Deleted Account
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    I think that less furry mega squirrel will be missing part of his noggin’ when that .25 cal pellet hits it @ 30-40 yards. And them ant steaks ain’t lookin’ appetizin’ yet. Anyway, either a good quality springer or gas ram will get the job done in high fashion. But the gas ram they claim can stay loaded a long time with no damage. Idk if I wanna trust the same of my springer’s yet?

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    JoeWayneRhea
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    United States
    Accuracy: +245

    Old Spooks target I just shot with a spring rifle with 18,000 shots on the spring and the piston buffer ( not a guess but actual count ) do that with a nitro piston …Drops the Mic , Pivots and walks off the stage :)

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