Crosman Successful by Pushing Air Rifle Capabilities
- October 14, 2015
- By Brian Lovett
Years ago, shooters who wanted a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle had to spend four figures to order one from overseas or have a gun custom-built. Nowadays, they can find high-performance PCP air rifles online, in stores and in retail catalogs for a few hundred dollars.
Needless to say, the air rifle market has advanced beyond catering solely to youngsters and esoteric hobbyists. Many modern PCP models are legitimate hunting guns, and retailers and consumers have taken notice.
“Technology advancements like PCP and our Nitro Piston break-barrel powerplant have advanced airguns to the point that they are serious alternatives to rimfire in terms of cost, performance and maintenance,” said Chip Hunnicutt, marketing manager for Crosman. “There is no ammunition shortage or price hikes for airgun pellets, so shooters see them as a great way to maintain their enjoyment of the sport. Retailers are benefitting from their popularity as well through better margins and value.”
PCP air rifles provide greater accuracy and power, especially in larger calibers. They have an onboard air reservoir filled to about 3,000 PSI, whereas an air compressor from a hardware store maxes out at about 180 PSI.
Hunnicutt said the American PCP revolution began about seven years ago, when Crosman introduced the Discovery.
“At the time, PCP was not a widely available platform in the United States but was extremely popular in Europe,” he said. “The prices of European-built PCP guns began in the thousands, so we recognized an opportunity for an American-built, low-cost PCP. The Discovery is a single-shot bolt-action that is available today in .177 and .22 calibers for under $300.”
The market took off from there, as witnessed by Crosman’s current top-selling PCP gun, the Marauder. Now in its second generation, the gun comes suppressed, with a full shroud and sound baffles. It has a reversible bolt and a height-adjustable comb on the wood- and synthetic-stock versions. It features a rotary magazine with 10 shots for .177- and .22-caliber models and eight shots for .25-caliber. This year, Crosman added two Marauder variations in Realtree Xtra and Max-1.
Before the Marauder, Hunnicutt said, airgun comparisons focused on velocity. However, Crosman began to push the capabilities of the rifle for hunting. The .177 Marauder shoots a bullet at 1,100 feet per second with 21 foot-pounds of energy, which Crosman rates as being suitable for squirrels to 35 yards and turkeys at 20 yards. The .22 reaches 1,000 fps with 31 foot-pounds of energy, and it’s rated as being suitable for squirrels to 65 yards and 30 yards for turkeys.
“The .25-caliber Marauder shoots 900 fps, which seems slow in the airgun world, but it generates 50 foot-pounds of energy, making it eligible for hunting turkeys at 40 yards, coyotes at 35 yards and 100-pound hogs at 25 yards. Squirrels? If you can see them, the .25 can knock them out of a tree from over 75 yards. And all the ranges may be extended by a capable shooter.”
Crosman also offers a pistol version of the Marauder, with a shoulder stock to turn it into a carbine. The Marauder Woods Walker version adds a CenterPoint optic to that package. Then there’s the Bulldog .357 rifle, designed for hogs and deer. It shoots a 145-grain Nosler bullet that reaches 800 fps and generates almost 200 foot-pounds of energy, making it good for deer to 50 yards, coyotes at 75 and large hogs to 60.
Despite recent advancements, Hunnicutt said air rifles continue to be great tools for introducing youngsters to shooting. Modern PCP guns just let more adults join the fun.
“Adult airgun shooters used to generally be enthusiasts who find them a joy to tinker with through tuning and homegrown modifications,” he said. “That group is still there and stronger than ever, while the appeal has expanded to those not so much interested in a new hobby as they are for a capable tool that gives them a huge bang for the buck.”
Of course, shooters also demand that high-performance airguns feature top-of-the-line appearance. “Being a Realtree licensee provides a premium status for our products,” Hunnicutt said. “When we suggest hunters take our products ‘beyond the backyard,’ not just any pattern supports such a bold statement. It has to be Realtree.”