Multi-shot airguns seem to cost a lot more than their single-shot equivalents. Is it worth paying more for the convenience of fast follow-up shots? Mat Manning gives his considered opinion ...
Paying more for a pre-charged airgun with a magazine-fed firing cycle is probably justified if you intend to use it for hunting.
When a fast second shot is required to finish off wounded quarry, the extra speed of being able to cock and reload the gun with the throw of a bolt or sidelever is useful. Also, when shooting rats at night, that quick loading mechanism is so much easier than having to grope around in your pocket for a pellet and then trying to fumble it into the breech when you can’t see what you are doing.
Single-shot airguns do have their advantages, though, and the main one is that they tend to be a little more accurate. It seems that most multi-shot airguns cause a tiny amount of damage to soft lead pellets. The impact this has on accuracy is barely noticeable until you tackle targets at extreme range or when pellets are fired at high velocity from a high-powered air rifle. For this reason, I do sometimes use my FAC-rated airguns with a single-shot tray. I’m quick at reloading them but it is a knack that has taken years to master.
Why do airgunners use a single-shot tray with FAC-rated airguns?
A reader asks: I’ve noticed that some shooters use a single-shot tray with their FAC-rated airguns, even if they are shooting with a multi-shot model. Why don’t they use the magazine and take advantage of always having a rapid follow-up shot at the ready?
I am one of those shooters, and the decision is based on accuracy. Most of the FAC-rated airguns that I’ve used — and I’ve used quite a few — have tended to produce tighter groups when using a single-shot tray. The difference is usually only minor but it is noticeable, and I think it suggests that magazines cause a tiny blemish to the pellet as it is fed through.
My guess is that the slight damage isn’t enough to compromise accuracy at legal-limit power levels but is sufficient to destabilise pellets when they’re travelling at higher speed. Though the decision not to use a magazine does mean that it takes a second or two longer to load-up for follow-up shots, I like the reassurance of knowing that my first shot should always be right on target.