Book Review: Air Rifles: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide

I’ll say from the outset that I’m less familiar with air guns than “traditional” guns. Air rifles, to me, have always fallen into the christmas_story_markwith_airrifle_bbguncategory of a BB gun, the “Red Rider” type that Ralphie wished for in the classic movie, A Christmas Story. A “rifle” that kids use as a precursor to getting a rimfire rifle, something they can use to understand the principles of gun safety while knocking soda cans over with an air-powered BB.  This book, along with some independent research, shattered my preconceptions of the air rifle. As it turns out, the air rifle has a rich history and a variety of applications. As much as it hurts to admit, the air rifle may be a valuable tool in skirting gun control laws.  As bleak as it may sound, plinking around with an air rifle may be the only option in the future.

In any event, let’s dispense with the gloom and doom and get into the world of air rifles. Exploring the details of miscellaneous weapons types is always fun.  It’s even more fun when it brings you back to the days of plinking around the backyard as a kid.


The modern air rifle, in case you’re unaware, is vastly different from its predecessor. The first air rifle, it seems, dates back to around 1580 air_rife_book_markwith_survivaland now sits in a museum in Stockholm.  After a bit of cursory research, I learned early, advanced air rifles were used for hunting wild boar and deer.  Of course, these rifles were a bit more hardcore than your traditional BB Gun.  In fact, old air rifles were used in military applications as well.  Today’s more modern air rifle can do just that in a survival situation.  And with what seems like ever-increasing risks of additional gun control measures and expensive ammunition, the air rifle makes sense to add to anyone’s collection of survival firearms.   The book covers air rifles from start to finish. All types are covered: CO2 powered guns, spring guns, multi-pump pneumatics, single-stroke pneumatics, and pre-charged pneumatics. The book then moves into the many types of projectiles (more than a novice might think).  For preppers, there’s even an entire chapter devoted to “The Survival Springer”.  These include models of all types and price ranges.  The book also covers sights, scopes, velocity, accuracy, range, targets, training tips, and accessories. Truly, this book seems to cover everything on air rifles.

Related: Back to Basics – Rifle Accuracy 

After reading “Air Rifles: A Buyers and Shooter's Guide” by Steve Markwith, I’m much more familiar with the versatility of the air rifle and have a newfound respect for them. I’m even itching to buy one (or two) now.  The modern air rifle could serve as an excellent, low-cost training tool for people that live in more suburban environments where shooting bullets off your back deck is less of a… neighborly thing to do.

Likes & Dislikes 

Rich in photos and description, Markwith’s conversational yet informative writing style from his Survival Guns - A Beginner's Guide holds true here, too. This should be a go-to book for, as the title suggests, anyone thinking about buying an air rifle or anyone that shoots one. I don’t care if you’re a beginner or an expert air rifleman, there’s something in this book that will help.

Also Read: The Evolution of the Black Rifle 

My biggest complaint is that, like Survival Guns, the images are informative but are presented in black and white. The book would be richer if they were in color. The writing is better than the image presentation. $12.95 seems fair for the paperback, but $7.95 for a Kindle version feels a bit high. I generally prefer paperback anyway, particularly where this one is in 8×10” size, but Kindle buyers should be able to get this book for something more like $5.95.

The Verdict 

If you’re new to air rifles, or are even a moderate user, there’s something of use for you here, I’m certain of it. This book would, however, best serve the individual that’s thinking about getting an air rifle, because the money spent on the book up front would save you money many times over by both helping you choose the right air rifle to suit your needs from the outset, and also help you get the most out of it.

Photos by:
Christmas Story

Prepper Press

Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joel’s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Air Rifles: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide”

  1. I kind of think of air rifles (or pistols) as low level training tools, similar to kitchen knives as opposed to hunting knives. I wouldn't have one in my BOB or INCH bags/gear because space will always be at a premium, anything can break or be lost, and as a offensive/defensive weapon, well, most if not all air rifle would probably fall way short! Also, the really large caliber, high velocity air rifles are also very high priced. An AR with a suppressor (or similar platform) will be a much better choice IMHO!

  2. "As much as it hurts to admit, the air rifle may be a valuable tool in skirting gun control laws."
    Patently false.
    The best way and only of "skirting gun control laws" is to protest loudly, and be willing to match the "authorities" escalation to the point of violence. Now THAT "hurts", but is the only way.
    BTW, the folks in washington, or even the local cops, ARE NOT THE AUTHORITIES!!!!! WE ARE!!!

  3. Thank you for your review Mask Puhaly:
    I consider reading and research before I buy, once a model is found most web sites have more information and pictures as well as technical information to help a prospective buyer. I myself have no interest in airguns but they are equal to the task they are made for. A recent view of many Youtube videos shows some are as or more powerful than 22 short or LR and models in larger calibers are capable of taking medium size game like hog and deer. in some areas where laws may be strict or "fire" arms or there is a personal interest a few books can conceal knowledge that might have a great bearing on what someone should buy.

    Example from firearms a friend loved the 22 hornet, got one only to find it is very hard to reload accurate ammo over factory new.
    had they known that it could have changed their choice of caliber or bothering to buy reloading accessories and just bought factory ammo. as well if your going to hunt larger game you want the proper velocity and caliber to do the job also accessories can cost as much as the air rifle itself looking for complete rigs or previous generation/ model on a sale could save some coin.

  4. Thanks for the read Mark.

    I've always considered air rifles more closely related to gun powder rifles than spring powered BB guns. Compressed gas pushes the projectile down the barrel whether pressure is created by pumping a handle, stored in a tank or the explosive change from a chemical reaction.

    On the other hand, in the survival arena I tend to lump the air gun in with the compound bow and the slingshot. The air gun has serious limitations as a defensive weapon especially with multiple attackers. And like the bow and slingshot, in most cases, the air gun requires two hands to operate efficiently as well as when on the move.

    I look forward to reading your review when you do get one.

  5. I own two Air Rifles in .22 caliber. One a Remington nitro Piston and the other a Spring powered version. first, they are both very heavy and will only shoot one pellet at a time. Good work out cocking and shooting. They are good for learning rifle safety, fine tuning your practice skills and inexpensive to shoot. Like everything else, the more expensive pellets are more accurate. But, they are expensive! My Remington Nitro Piston cost more than a new Ruger 10/22, but it did come with a decent scope. For the money, I would skip the air rifle and just go for the Ruger or similar .22 LR rifle. Less expensive, more shots and can be used for small game hunting.

  6. I'm a avid air rifle shooter. No this is not a training tool. It's a real life option for many situations. While you would never use it in self defense, it can and will put supper on the table, and do it quietly. But back to using it as self defense, once again don't recommend it……. but when your slinging a 22 cal pellet at 1250 fps it stings…..alot


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