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Spring vs Co2 vs Pneumatics (PCP)

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Ah yes, the great debate amongst shooters... Which power source is the best? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but the answer is... More difficult than you think.


The reasoning to this may become apparat as we go along, but trust me. If you are looking for your first gun, or perhaps you want to add a new one to your collection, you will want to read this.


Firstly let us establish the key element to your choice. Money. Yes, the dirty word that many are still scared to talk about; however with that being said, knowing your budget is the key jumping-off point to what you can afford. I should also mention that along with this budget, you must also factor in your long term budget; namely how much are you willing to spend in the long run.


Imagine owning an air rifle is much like buying a car.

  • Spring is buying the car outright, what you see is what you get. Just put fuel (ammo) in and you are away.

  • Co2 is like leasing your car. Not a lot upfront, but can get pricy in the long run.

  • PCP is much like financing a car. A large upfront payment, however in the long run you get more for your money.

Spring Vs Co2 Vs PCP Over time
Short Term Vs Long Term Airgun Ownership

If you are planning on shooting regularly, PCP is the most cost-effective relative to what you get. Spring doesn't (generally) cost as much in the outlay, but are harder to shoot as quickly, so your regular shooting is lower. Co2 rifles give you the convenience of a PCP, but the price of Co2 compared to that of an Air Tank refill is vastly different.


So now we have gone over the basics, it's now time to discuss the money. We will be using a generalised price to give you a rough guide on costing.


Average costs

Firstly let's use some basic values:

Pellets average at £0.04 per pellet

Co2 Capsules: ~£0.2 Per shot

Air Filling (Not including hardware): ~£0.01 Per shot

Servicing on average costs £130


Spring rifles cost on average £400

Co2 rifles cost on average £350

PCP rifle cost on average £750


Accessories such as scope and carry gear cost on average £250

Filling accessories for PCP cost on average £200 + £60 every 5 years for cylinder test.


Initial outlay cost

Let's now look at the average cost of each power source. Please note where you see the tilde (~) this denotes an estimate as costing changes depending on bulk and purchase prices.


Spring

Rifle: £400

Accessories: £250

500 Shots: £20

= £670


Co2

Rifle: £350

Accessories: £250

500 Shots (including propellant): ~£30

= ~£630


PCP

Rifle: £750

Accessories: £250

Filling equipment: £200

500 Shots (including propellant): ~£25

= ~£1225



After 5 Years

Based on the initial outlay cost and shooting 500 shots every month.


Spring

Initial: £670

Shots x30,000 Pellets: £1200

Service (Suggested for spring weapons every 5 years): ~£130

= ~£2000


Co2

Initial: £630

Shots x30,000 Pellets: ~£2500 (Co2 is purchased in bulk. ~£7200 if purchased per canister)

= ~£3130


PCP

Initial: £1225

Shots x30,000 Pellets: ~£1560

= ~£2785


Conclusion

Based on 5 years of ownership spring reigns supreme as the most cost-effective with Co2 being the lowest.


However, for a lot of people enjoyability is quite important. Spring and PCP tend not to be realistic and models within the propellant categories are normally very similar in performance and looks ("All PCPs look similar). Unlike PCP and Spring weapons (with a few exceptions) Co2 weapons can be made to look realistic offers cool features such as self-indexing and chain mags; all of which make Co2 the most enjoyable to shoot. The Sig MCX Canebreak is one of our firm favourite rifles. Its build quality coupled with rapid-fire capabilities thanks to its self-indexing chain mag results in immense fun not achievable with a single shot rifle.


So hopefully this has shed some light on the great debate. If you are looking for a fun rifle for occasional plinking, look no further than the Co2 rifles. For practical low-cost rifles look at the original standard of spring powered air guns. Finally - if like many others - you get hooked on the sport and plan to shoot often, PCP is the best of both worlds offering practicality and value.





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