Airguns have a long history, almost like firearms. Depending on your source, the first airguns date back to the 1400s, but more precise evidence links them to the year 1580.
The first air rifles have been widely used by wealthy aristocrats for hunting and later in the seventeenth through the nineteenth century as military weaponry. These airguns were designed as a hassle-free option for muskets with complex reloading procedures and were sensitive to weather conditions. Of course, these first air rifles had nothing with Daisy Red Ryder or your grandfather’s airgun.
The most famous was the Girardoni air rifle from the late 1700s, manufactured for the arsenal of the Austrian military. The air rifle fired .464” (11.75 mm) caliber round balls at velocities up to 900 fps, producing up to 117-foot-pounds.
Unlike single-shot muskets, the Girardoni air rifle was a repeater with a tubular magazine that held 20 rounds and a riveted iron reservoir designed as a stock.
While these weapons were just fine for guerrilla warfare as well as hunting, there was less interest in them during the 19th century. However, the real boom of pneumatic guns was experienced at the end of the 20th century when advanced technologies and materials provided the capability to make air guns with impressive specs.
So, in case you’re in a hurry, and don’t want to get into the details, here are the best air guns for self-defense you can get today:
|Sig Sauer MCX .177 Cal Co2 Powered (30 Rounds) Air...||531 Reviews||Check Best Price|
|Glock 19 Gen3 .177 Caliber BB Gun Air Pistol||Check Best Price|
|Hatsan Blitz Full Auto PCP .25 Cal 970 fps 41 FPE...||Check Best Price|
Lethality of Air Guns
Even though many people consider airguns playthings these days, they are certainly not toys, regarding their power and reliability. Though maybe not the ideal defensive weapon, today’s airguns are a viable option for home protection and self-defense.
That said, many airguns generate enough power (53 foot-pounds of energy – fpe) to penetrate the human skull or through the car doors and cinder blocks. Typical examples are the .30 caliber full-auto rifle Hatsan Blitz with 53 fpe (72 Joules) and the .25 caliber semi-auto rifle AEA Precision HP Assassin with 55 fpe (74 Joules).
The most powerful PCP guns pack a really deadly force piercing the Level 3A body armor or punching as hard as the .45 ACP bullets at short range.
Some big bore airguns, like the AEA Zeus, chambered in .72 caliber, can develop an astounding 1,600 fpe (2,169 J). It is well above the AK-47, which generates 1,502 fpe (2,036 J). With such sizeable maximum power, you can hunt big-bodied game such as bear, bison, wildebeest or kudu.
When talking about air handguns in the form of pistols and revolvers, obviously, the BB balls and diabolos haven’t the potential of the bullets fired from the real .357 Magnum or traditional high-powered rifle.
However, even air pistols with velocities of 400+ fps can penetrate 3-4″ soft tissue. When fired multiple projectiles at an intruder’s head, air pistols can be more effective than tactical knives, electric stun guns or pepper spray.
After all, the rifle-style airguns are much better than their pistol counterparts because using air rifles for self-defense and home protection makes your chances even higher due to the more stopping power.
What Are the Basic Types of Air Guns?
Air guns can be divided generally into three main categories based on their cocking action and operating mechanism.
Along with the most widespread spring piston air guns, we have a pretty popular bottle of compressed gas air guns (CO2) and the most advanced Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) air guns.
While the springers usually need to break the barrel to load a gun and CO2 Powered air guns use a CO2 cartridge as their power source, the pneumatic air rifles use high-pressurized air in a chamber compressed up to 3,000 or 4,000 psi (200-270 bar) to propel the pellet out of the barrel.
What Your Air Gun is Intended For?
We can also classify air guns by application to several categories.
Recreational shooting or plinking with air guns is a very popular sport in most countries, followed in popularity by using air rifles for competitions. Hunting with air rifles is also represented in some countries where the .22 and larger caliber air rifles are preferably used for vermin and pest eradication.
Speaking of home protection and self-defense, you can rely on air guns built with a big game in mind. The larger air guns chambered in .357, .40, .45 and .50 calibers can generate up to 500 ft-lbs of energy, making them capable of taking a wide variety of game.
Since these big-bore air rifles will effectively kill coyotes and large-size game up to boar or javelina at 50-75yrd, there is no reason to use them for self-defense.
Best Air Guns for Self Defense
Sig Sauer MCX .177 Cal Air Rifle
- Operating system: 90 gram CO2 - CO2 and pellets are not included
- Ideal for training and practice
- Patented 30-round magazine
Though air rifles are generally considered unsuitable for defense as large, heavy, and unwieldy weapons for apartment-size battlefields, several compact models are designed explicitly for close-quarters battle (CQB) scenarios.
One of them comes from the reputed name in the gun industry – Sig Sauer. Besides firearms, this giant in the arms business enlarged its portfolio in 2015 with gun optics, suppressors, ammo, airguns and numerous other gun accessories.
With a long tradition in firearm manufacturing, the Sig Sauer has offered a series of air guns, simulating the performance and handling of the real SIG arms for more economical training and practice.
Recently I purchased the Sig MCX.177 Cal air rifle, an ultra-realistic replica of the Sig MCX line of semi-automatic military firearms. Like its gunpowder cousin, the Sig Sauer MCX Air Rifle has the semi-automatic capability, but instead of firing 5.56 or .300 Blk cartridges, I load this airgun replica with .177 caliber pellets.
My new Sig Sauer airgun is powered by a CO2 gas that uses an 88- or 90-gram CO2 cartridge. The CO2 operating system provides a maximum muzzle velocity of up to 575 fps that, paired with a 30-round pellet magazine and quick-follow-up shots, gave me a “dangerous toy,”
Unlike my real MCX with adjustable stock, the large CO2 tank is in a fixed stock and enables consistent shooting for around 180 – 200 shots.
My Sig MCX rifle comes equipped with an 18″ rifled steel barrel and has an overall length of 34 inches, making it pretty handy for tight spaces in my condo.
I put it on the scale and found it weighs about 8 pounds with the CO2 cylinder. The Sig Sauer MPX .177 cal is heavy for air rifles, but with overall weight distribution and balance, it fits perfectly in terms of realism and tactical training.
Like any of my regular “black rifles,” the MCX is based on aluminum upper and lower receivers. The synthetic handguard will accept most aftermarket AR platform furniture.
My Sig airgun comes with a Picatinny rail topped with iron sights, but you can opt either for the versions with a red dot sight or an LPVO scope.
Being a 1-to-1 carbon copy of my real steel Sig Sauer MCX Rifle, the Sig airgun comes with all standard AR-15 controls. It includes a fully working ambidextrous selector and charging handle, drop-out magazine, and flip-up front and rear sights. Ahead of the trigger guard is the magazine release which is unfortunately right-handed only.
My air rifle came with a heavy trigger pull of about 8 lb 11oz designed to mimic the firearm version.
The MCX magazine with the 30-round internal belt is the most intriguing part and, by some authors, considered the worst part of this air rifle system.
I was initially concerned because this multi-shot semi-auto replica rifle’s 30Rds Roto Belt pellet magazine requires a solid tabletop and somewhat careful handling and loading.
Compared to other CO2 rifles, the SIG MCX is an expensive air rifle but very durable and reliable. As I found in the maker’s manual, the life expectancy of this SIG air rifle is estimated at approx. 15,000 shots.
If you are fun of the carbine-length military rifles, you’ll love how the CO2-powered MCX feels in your hands.
For me, the Sig Sauer MCX air rifle is an excellent firearms training tool, but like most air guns, it can serve well as a self-defense weapon in an emergency.
GLOCK 19 Gen3 .177 Caliber BB Gun Air Pistol
- 15-Shot, .177 Caliber Bb Air Pistol
- Powered By A 12-Gram Co2 Cartridge (Co2 Not Included)
- Shoots .177 Caliber Steel Bbs At Up To 410 Fps
While most BB air guns can give hours of entertainment, the Glock 19 CO2-powered pistol isn’t only good for shooting in the backyard. Like its firearm counterpart, which I possessed for several years, this air gun is compact, but with an overall length of 7.25 inches, it has even more reduced dimensions than the real G19 (7.36).
This BB Glock pistol is loaded with 16 steel .177 caliber BBs and fully loaded and weighs 25.6 ounces, while the real thing has a loaded weight of 30 ounces.
The most important feature is the operating system. While many BB pistols are trying to imitate the blowback mechanisms of centerfire semi-automatics, this Umarex Glock 19 CO2 BB gun is a non-blowback replica.
If you can live without a blowback system, you will get a higher shot count, more power, better accuracy and a lower price.
I checked the velocity with a chronograph and measured that this Glock fired steel, 5.6-grain BBs at a muzzle velocity of up to 420 feet per second with a muzzle energy of up to 2.2 ft/lbs (3 Joules).
Using a single 12g CO2 cartridge housed in the grip, I can shoot about 3 magazines of BBs before the initial velocity drops down to 300 fps.
It is equipped with a Picatinny rail at the front of the frame, which is ideal for flashlights and lasers.
As an officially licensed copy of Glock 19, the Umarex BB version offers great realism, iconic design, and reliability of the Glock 19 Gen. 3.
On the negative side, some users complained about the heavy and creepy double-action trigger, just like the genuine Glock.
As for purchasing the most CO2 replicas, you must be 18 years old to buy this Glock BBs gun.
Hatsan Blitz Bullpup Full Auto PCP
- IN THE BOX: 1 x Hatsan Blitz Full Auto PCP .25 Cal Air Rifle; 1 x Pack of 100x Paper Targets; 1 x...
- Select Fire Action – Semi- or Full-Automatic. Fully Shrouded, Precision Rifled and Choked Barrel.
- Large 580cc Carbon Fiber Bottle. Combo Scope Rail (11mm and 22mm). High Capacity SwingLoad Magazine.
When a Turkish Hatsan company introduced the model Blitz a couple of years ago, I was finally convinced that an air rifle could be used for home defense. This PCP gun has earned its place as an alternative home defense weapon due to the capability of firing in full auto mode and its big .30 caliber (7.62 mm) bore.
I recently purchased a newer bullpup version, but except for the shorter overall length of 35″ vs. 45.2″, all other features are the same, like a full barrel length of 23”.
This 7.62 mm caliber power monster is fed by a 16-round spring rotary magazine which I can empty in 0.89 seconds. It means that the rifle fires at a cyclic rate of 1,075 rounds per minute.
The rifle comes with a 580cc carbon fiber bottle located on the forearm allowing for 100 rounds or six of these rotary magazines. In addition, the bottle function as a carrier for 3 Picatinny accessory rails.
The .30-caliber select-fire Blitz propels a 44.75-grain pellet at a max velocity of 730 fps and generates more than 53 ft-lbs of energy (71 Joules).
The .30 caliber spherical pellets or slugs have enough power to take down a medium-sized game, like an adult coyote, up to 75 yards.
I like the modern, tactical appearance of the Blitz with dual mounting options for a 9-11mm dovetail and 22mm Picatinny rail.
The gas-operated cycling mechanism uses a piston system placed in the barrel shroud, which also serves as a protective layer for the barrel.
On the negative side, the rifle cannot use left-handed shooters due to the bullpup design. Some owners complained about a plastic 1-piece carry handle with open sights, but I pulled it off and mounted a scope for better accuracy.
I have trained extensively in pistol, rifle, and shotgun combat. I won’t go into a lengthy evaluation of the tests nor will I make arguments against someone’s logic to use an air gun for self-defense.
People are welcome to their opinions. My belief is that if you make the decision to go armed, you should be mentally and physically ready to permanently stop any threat.
An airgun isn’t going to achieve this goal, and this is my opinion and my belief.
I just won’t recommend to anyone that carrying an airgun under any circumstances is acceptable. I understand that there are many places where it is prohibited to carry a concealed or open carried firearm.
I deal with that routinely since I also carry everyday. I choose not to go to most of these places unless I am absolutely forced.
I will say that to someone’s argument that they don’t want to be caught in a gun free zone without any sort of protection because that is where bad guys tend to go is a little skewed. If the bad guy is coming to a gun free zone because he wants to be able to shoot people where he is relatively sure no one else has a gun, having an airgun to defend yourself is a good way to get yourself killed.
Last update on 2023-03-27