Is it important to have adjustable power on an air rifle? Mat Manning advises

Air rifle muzzle energy

Q:I am planning to buy a new airgun and have noticed that quite a few models have adjustable power. Is it important to be able to turn air rifle muzzle energy up and down?

A: Adjustable output is more beneficial on FAC-rated airguns, especially if you intend to use slug-type ammunition. A lot of the ammunition used with high-power airguns is more accurate when used at a specific velocity and adjustable power will enable you to get that right.

The feature is less useful on sub-12ft/lb airguns. Maximum output obviously has to be set below the legal limit and it could be argued that it is useful to be able to turn the power down even lower when shooting in the garden or for controlling pests around farm buildings. In my opinion, full power is safe in both these scenarios if used with common sense and suitable backstops. Remember that the pellet’s point of impact will shift every time the power is changed, so you need to re-zero after making any adjustments.

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Air rifle rules

  • You must know where the muzzle of your air rifle is pointing at all times
  • Never point your air rifle where it is unsafe
  • Following the air rifle code of practice and show respect for the countryside
  • Always make sure that there is a safe backstop
  • Do not take chance shots or shoot beyond your abilities
  • Your air rifle must be powerful enough to achieve a clean kill of the quarry
  • Do not attempt to shoot anything beyond 30 metres
  • Buy an air rifle suitable for what you will use it for, whether that is hunting or shooting targets.
  • Maintain your air rifle properly
  • Always choose pellets designed for the job in hand, whether hunting or target shooting.
  • Check pellets before loading to ensure that they are not damaged