A Deep-Dive Into a Few Big-Bore Air Rifles

Today’s air rifles are capable of taking some of the biggest game on the planet, and your customers will want to know about these three models.

A Deep-Dive Into a Few Big-Bore Air Rifles

It wasn’t very long ago that if people heard the term “air rifle,” most probably thought of a pellet gun they played with as a child, or maybe that much-coveted Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock that Ralphie got as a gift in the movie A Christmas Story. How things have changed!

Modern air rifles are far from the child’s “toy” of yesteryear — much sleeker, far more powerful and packed with performance features previously only available in a true firearm. In fact, many companies now make big-bore air rifles that can be used to effectively hunt deer-sized game and larger, as well as coyotes and other four-legged critters.

In fact, according to Justin Biddle, vice president of marketing at air gun maker Umarex, 2022 should be referred to as The Year of the Air Gun Hunter.

“That’s due to the fact that never before have there been so many air guns made for the hunt,” Biddle said. “Umarex alone has introduced six air guns that range from .22 caliber to 20-gauge and span the gamut of small game to big game.”

Don’t think, however, these rifles shoot those old-fashioned pellets that you used to shoot with your old Crosman that took 10 pumps to reach decent velocity. Big-bore air gun hunters use high-tech cast projectiles that are quite heavy compared to a conventional pellet. If you choose to get into this game, plan on stocking some hunting projectiles along with rifles.

Now, let’s take a look at a few big-bore air rifles that hunting retailers might want to consider carrying in their inventory.

Umarex Hammer
Umarex Hammer

Umarex Hammer

This .50-caliber model might just be the most popular big-bore hunting air rifle on the market today. And there are good reasons for that: It is powerful, accurate and easy to operate, while also coming in at a very attractive price point.

In the power category, it is capable of shooting a 550-grain slug to generate over 700 ft./lbs. of energy (fpe). Most hunters use a 320- or 350-grain slug generating nearly 600 fpe. It has a two-round magazine that auto indexes when you operate the bolt and has taken everything from wild hogs to American bison and even Cape buffalo. The Hammer holds 4,500 psi of air in its 24-cubic-inch air tank, which is good for three shots.

According to Umarex, the high level of energy and three full-power shots delivered by the Hammer is achieved through its proprietary, patent-pending Lightspeed valve. The innovative engineering used to design this internal mechanism coupled with a .510-caliber, 550-grain lead slug is the recipe for making over 700 fpe at the muzzle. Almost as impressive, it only takes about two pounds of effort to operate its straight-pull bolt. This short, effortless action is all it takes to cock the rifle and advance the magazine to the next shot. 

As far as appearance, this air rifle looks like something straight out of the future. The stock is made from Nymax, an advanced polymer that withstands the rugged trials of outdoor hunting and shooting, and Umarex uses the familiar Magpul MOE grip. The air rifle’s 43.75-inch overall length is far shorter than one might expect with a 29.5-inch barrel length with full-length composite shroud. To make it easy for the user to add optics and accessories, Umarex includes an 8.5-inch Picatinny rail on top with 20 slots, along with three M-Lok-compatible slots in the forearm

MSRP for the Umarex Hammer is $899.

Gamo TC45
Gamo TC45

Gamo TC45 and TC35

Another futuristic-looking big-bore air rifle is the Gamo TC45. This rifle is made primarily for hunting and flings projectiles downrange with plenty of killing energy.

Weighing in at 8.7 pounds, this air rifle has a 24.25-inch barrel that looks even longer. Overall length is 49.5 inches, so tiny it isn’t. Powered by a pre-charged pneumatic pump (PNP), it can launch pellets at velocities up to 900 fps and do so without making a whole lot of noise, thanks to the integrated sound suppressor on the end of the metal-jacketed rifled steel barrel.

The TC45 is a single-shot air rifle, so extremely quick follow-up shots aren’t necessarily easy. But with its adjustable two-stage trigger, which comes from the factory set at about 3.5 pounds, hunters can tailor it just the way they want and feel confident that when they squeeze off a shot, a second one likely won’t be needed. The TC45 also features a tactical rail for mounting optics and an ergonomic tactical stock for getting a good cheek weld before taking a shot.

This rifle is also available in a .35-caliber version with many of the same features. A smaller rifle, it measures 39 inches long and weighs in at only 6 pounds. It sends a 190-grain pellet at about 1,000 fps, yielding about 170 fpe. Interestingly, this rifle can deliver up to 30 to 40 shots on low power, while still delivering exceptional energy and consistency. In the end, the TC35 is a versatile big-bore air rifle capable of taking a wide range of medium-sized game, varmints and predators, as well as great fun on the range.

MSRP for both the Gamo TC45 and TC35 is $900.

Winchester 70-45
Winchester 70-45

Winchester 70-35 and 70-45

For your customers looking for a big-bore hunting air rifle with a more traditional look, the Winchester 70-45, produced by Daisy/Gamo, might just fill the bill. The Model 70-35 is a .35-caliber air rifle with a six-shot magazine that is operated with a smooth slide lever action that requires very little effort to operate. The traditional beech wood stock with grip and forearm checkering answers the call for traditional styling. The Model 70-35 delivers exceptional consistency across two magazines, generating up to 132 fpe with 81.02-grain pellets or various cast ammo options. This big-bore air rifle is a good choice for those planning to hunt medium-size game, varmints and predators out to 100 yards, or just for enjoyable target shooting at the range. The manufacturer says this air rifle is capable of producing groups 1-inch-or-better groups at 50 meters and 3- to 4-inches-or-better center-to-center groups at 100 meters.

The Model 70-45 is designed for hunters in pursuit of larger game. This model retains the same styling as the 70-35, includes a five-shot magazine and pushes a 138-grain, .457-caliber cast pellet or other cast projectile up to 200 fpe. According to the manufacturer, this air rifle is capable of 1-inch-or-better center-to-center groups at 50 meters and 4- to 6-inch center-to-center groups at 100 meters.

Both of these air guns feature side-lever cocking and an adjustable two-stage trigger for increased accuracy. They also both feature a 320cc air cylinder fillable to 230 Bar (3,335 psi), a shrouded barrel for basic noise reduction and an 11mm dovetail scope mount for use of a magnified optic.

The Model 70-45 and 70-35 are made to shoot any .45-caliber or .35-caliber pellets. Of course, buyers will need to try a variety of projectiles to decide which fits their purpose best and shoots most accurately through their individual gun, so keeping a good supply of ammo on hand will likely lead to additional sales.

MSRP for the Winchester 70-35 and 70-45 is $900.


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