Gas Ram Nitro Piston Air Rifles
Gas ram Nitro Piston air rifles are an increasingly popular type of airgun. Benefits normally advertised for gas ram guns include the ability for the gun to remain cocked for long periods without causing deterioration (useful when hunting, for example) and a longer life than a conventional metal spring. On the downside, they are usually somewhat harder to cock than an equivalent spring piston air rifle.
Gas ram air rifles are also often known as Nitro Piston airguns. In fact, “Nitro Piston” is a trademark held by Crosman Corporation and applies strictly only to Crosman and Benjamin gas ram guns, although it’s widely used to describe any manufacturer’s gas ram power plant.
They are powerful, accurate and require no power source apart from the shooter to cock them. Many achieve the magic 1,000fps (or more) muzzle velocity, beloved of pellet gun company manufacturers. And they’re generally not expensive for what they offer.
Like spring piston airguns, gas ram guns have a break barrel action which is cocked in one pull of the barrel down to the catch point, then loading a pellet before swinging the barrel back up to shoot. All of these airguns shoot one pellet at a time, they’re not multi-shot.
For most of us, these are an excellent type of pellet gun for hunting and they can be fine for plinking and informal target shooting.
So why is it that they generally have such high (bad) RateAGun scores?
Well, they’re usually large and heavy. Cocking is tough and can require too much effort for some shooters. Unlike some other types of airgun, they recoil – both backward AND forward when fired. This means they require a special, light hold that is completely unintuitive to many shooters. Spring pellet guns require great consistency to shoot accurately, most are demanding on the shooter’s technique.
You can learn how to shoot spring air rifles accurately from this video Spring Air Accuracy.
That forward recoil can also destroy non-airgun rated scopes, so gas ram air rifles cannot be used with firearms scopes. They need very strong scope mounts, too.
Gas ram Nitro Piston air rifles are similar in almost all respects to spring/piston airguns, except for the mechanics of the internal power plant. Many gas ram air rifles were previously available with spring/piston power and upgraded by the manufacturer to gas ram. A very small number of gas ram air pistols are also available.
Gas ram air rifles can be great fun to shoot, but be sure you’re prepared to learn to shoot them in the manner they demand!
The heading photograph shows the Benjamin Trail NP Nitro Piston air rifle.