Here’s How To Use An Airgun Hand Pump – Part One

This article about using an airgun hand pump first appeared in the Umarex USA blog. It gives some great tips on how to use a High Pressure Air (HPA) hand pump for filling PCP airguns.

Thanks to Umarex USA for allowing HAM to re-publish it here in a slightly modified form!

Choices, Choices…

So you’re just about to buy your first pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) airgun. Fantastic, you’re going to have a ton of fun!

As you’ve already found out, owners of pre-charged airguns need High Pressure Air. So how are you going to fill that beautiful new PCP air rifle?

Scuba tank, hand pump, or specialized electric compressor?

Below, specialist HPA compressors are more expensive than a HPA hand pump.

A scuba or carbon fiber tank can put air in your high-pressure air rifle quite well, but it needs to be re-filled eventually. Trust me, if that’s your source of HPA, there WILL come a day when your buddy with the nitrogen tank or big compressor is out of town. And the dive shop will be closed, too.

Below. Big HPA tanks are expensive too…

The PCP hand pump though never runs out of air. You’ll have endless refills of HPA if you are prepared to put in a little pumping effort!

The choice is yours and may be dictated by your budget. An airgun hand pump is about the lowest-cost way to have that HPA on-tap whenever you want.

So here are some airgun hand pump basics and tips for those of us that aren’t quite ready to spring for a compressor or big tank…

Below. Hand pumps usually will require a little assembly – like this one from Umarex.

How To Use An Airgun Hand Pump

Airgun Hand Pump Tip 1 – Take it Easy

Like any mechanical device, HPA hand pumps respond best to considerate use. As you’ll soon discover, they become hot as they are used – just like any other system that compresses air.

One of the biggest reasons a hand pump will fail is because it wasn’t allowed to cool down after a five-minute session.

So be sure to take breaks not just for your own heart rate, but for the pump! Do not pump longer than about five minutes. Then let the pump cool down for about 15 minutes between 5 minutes sessions.

Below. Keep your feet on the base plate while pumping.

How To Use An Airgun Hand Pump

It’s recommended to bleed the air from the pump after each session to remove more of the heat. This also helps remove some the moisture that collects in the base of the pump.

Keep an eye on your airgun’s pressure gauge. Many PCPs can be refilled or topped off in five minutes or less, if you don’t let the remaining pressure drop too low. So a single pumping session can often be all you need after your initial fill.

Airgun Hand Pump Tip 2 – Watch Out For Moisture

Any time you compress air you will get water out of it. More so in humid climates! Even on the “driest”, hottest days there IS moisture in the air. It’s just a fact of life!

If you have a garage air compressor you know that it has a drain valve on it to get rid of the water in the tank. (Unfortunately it cannot provide anywhere enough pressure to fill a PCP. Sorry.)

So, adding a moisture filter adapter to your air pump is a great idea. It can help remove moisture from the air that you’re compressing into your airgun.

Below, this cost-effective moisture filter kit can be added to the Umarex hand pump.

HAM recommends a moisture filter as cheap insurance to keep as much water vapor as possible out of the gun. This will prevent possible – let’s make that probable – internal corrosion.

And don’t forget to change the desiccant beads every few months too, especially if you use your hand pump regularly. Replace every 4 months (or 2-3 in humid climates).

This Hard Air Magazine article shows what moisture can do to your PCP airgun.

Airgun Hand Pump Tip 3 – Pumping To Higher Pressures

You might be able to put maximum pressure in your Gauntlet (3,000 PSI), Umarex AirSaber (3,650 PSI) or Hammer (4,500 PSI), but it’s not necessarily easy! There is most certainly some effort is involved. And it intensifies as the pressure builds…

If you don’t mind a workout in five-minute intervals, that hand pump can be a great way to fill a PCP gun!

The beauty of regulated PCPs is that you don’t have to pump them all the way up. Just get them beyond the set pressure of the regulator and keep it topped off. (The .177 and .22 cal Gauntlets are kings here because they use an unprecedentedly low regulator pressure of 1,150 PSI.)

Below. The Gauntlet’s very low pressure regulator.

For airguns that don’t have a regulator, like the Umarex AirSaber, determine the amount you’re willing or able to pump to. That might be 3,200 PSI. If you’re hunting with it then learning the POI of your first three shots at that pressure will put food on the table.


Check out Part Two of this story here.