Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Google search engine
HomeAir Gun 101Air Gun 101: What You Should Know about Air Rifle Barrels Before...

Air Gun 101: What You Should Know about Air Rifle Barrels Before Buying

Have you ever heard the phrase: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”?

The Chinese must have been very sincere in emulating this proverb.

I recently spotted one counterfeit brand that threw me to the floor.

Whoever thought of parading Microsoft as Michaelsoft must be a very funny fellow.

What happened to patent laws?

Anyway, that’s what happens to many other brands, at least as seen in the following:

  • Dolce and Gabbana – Dolce and Banana
  • Nike – Mike
  • Johnnie Walker – Johnnie Worker
  • Game Boy – Game Child
  • Starbucks Coffee – Sunbucks Coffee – Stars & Bucks Coffee
  • Playstation  – Polystation
  • KFC – KFG

Anyway, this is not an anti-counterfeit campaign.

We’re here to talk about air rifle barrels.

Ever wondered why there is much consistency on Lothar Walther barrels as opposed to other barrels?

Or to start on the same ground, what is the barrel of your air rifle?

Does it really matter if it is from the US or Germany or South Africa or China?

Let me answer these questions one by one to demystify the misconceptions surrounding airgun barrels.

The function of the barrel

The air rifle barrel essentially guides the ammo from the moment the trigger is pulled to the moment it flies out into the air.

It usually takes the shape of a rounded tube and is made of high-strength metal.

The hollow space inside the shooting tube is what we refer to as the bore

This has a specific internal diameter, the most popular being .177, .20, .22, .25, .357, .45, and .50 –  in short, the air rifle caliber.

=> For more on differences between .177, .22, and other calibers, see this post

Most air rifles involve propelling the ammo by means of rapidly expanding gases.

The expansion of these gases is usually explosive in nature, and that’s what fires the pellets with such high velocity.

It follows then that the barrel must be strong enough to contain these expanding gases, be it nitrogen, air, or CO2. 

The chamber

This is the compartment at the rear end of the barrel where the pellet sits in readiness for firing.  

The Bore

This is the hollow interior of the barrel.

The ammo accelerates through this part once the air rifle is fired. 

To stabilize the ammo while still within the barrel, manufacturers designed the coveted rifled barrels.

These have a series of helical grooves around the internal diameter of the barrel. 

As the ammo surges forward, it spins along the longitudinal axis of the bore and is more likely to maintain a straight trajectory.  

Smoothbore rifles are those that don’t contain riflings .  

The muzzle

This is the front end of the barrel through which the ammo exits the barrel.

The muzzle needs to be expertly machined so as to ensure the great accuracy of the rifle. 

Visualize a scenario where there are tiny gaps around the pellet as it jets out of the barrel.

The pressurized gases are likely to destabilize the ammo and veer it off the intended trajectory . 

Factors influencing the accuracy of air rifle barrels

1. The rifling method

As already mentioned, a rifled barrel is more advantageous than a smoothbore barrel in terms of maintaining a constant projectile.

This is the very start of the ballistic flight and it needs to be correct. 

One thing you need to note is that the rifling size and configuration affect the twist rate of the barrel.

This refers to the distance the ammo must travel for it to rotate once.

There exists an optimum twist rate that makes the projectile most stable.

Too low a twist rate will affect the stability of the projectile – and the same is true for too fast a twist rate. 

2. Steel used

Not all steel is of the same quality.

You can expect what will happen if the barrel is made from low-quality steel.

The machining quality of the riflings, as well as the muzzle, will be compromised, and this will affect the stability of the projectile.

3. Rifling speed

The faster the rifling process the poorer the end quality of the product.

Some manufacturers are known to rush through the process so as to lower production costs .

The worst-case scenario is having the barrel of the gun explode when firing pellets.

Your investment will vanish in your own eyes and you risk fatal injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a rifled barrel?

A rifled barrel is one whose hollow interior incorporates longitudinal notches as opposed to being smooth.

This helps to stabilize the pellet or BB as it accelerates along the barrel.

2. Do air rifles have rifled barrels?                

Of course, yes.

But not all of them do.

Rifling is a technology that requires high-capital investments to achieve.

Not all manufacturers are willing to spend so much money on their production process.

So quite a lot of air rifle models have barrels that are not rifled.

3. Should I oil my air rifle barrel?                

No! Please don’t.

There is a great possibility of the oil finding its way into the bore of the barrel.

When you fire a pellet, the high friction may cause the oil to combust .

When this is repeated with every shot, the airgun seals get damaged with the high heat and the gun stops working.

Instead of oiling, use a cleaning rod.

Also, consider firing a cleaning pellet once in a while. 

For the exterior of the barrel, take care not to expose it to moisture as it may rust.

Immediately you realize that water has splashed on the barrel, clean it with a dried piece of cloth.

Purchase some rust protection spray for added protection. 

4. Rifled vs Smooth Bore Barrel?

How much more accurate is a rifled barrel than a smooth bore barrel? Watch the video below to find out:

5. Is it bad to dry fire an air rifle?

Dry firing refers to shooting the air rifle without a pellet in it.

Some air rifles are specially designed to allow dry-firing.

This is especially seen in target shooting airguns, which it is expected to dry fire time after time as you test the trigger and trigger pull.

If this is the case, the manufacturer will state it plainly in the user’s manual.

However, some other guns, especially the spring-powered airguns, can suffer great damage through dry-firing.

The seals can be easily damaged through dry-firing.  


You now know what a good air rifle barrel looks and feels like.

Do not stop for any old thing that you find out there.

Quality matters for the longevity of your airgun and your safety. 

Sometimes it may be difficult to differentiate between good quality steel and low quality steel.

Ensure that you read detailed and honest air rifle reviews before you make the final purchase decision. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Sean Campbell
Sean Campbellhttps://airgunmaniac.com/about-autor-sean-campbell/
Sean Campbell’s love for hunting and outdoor life is credited to his dad who constantly thrilled him with exciting cowboy stories. His current chief commitment involves guiding aspiring gun handlers on firearm safety and shooting tactics at the NRA education and training department. When not with students, expect to find him either at his gunsmithing workshop, in the woods hunting, on the lake fishing, on nature photoshoots, or with his wife and kid in Maverick, Texas.


    • Hi Sam,

      Welcome to the exciting world of shooting sport, There are 5 types of air guns in the whole world.

      They are spring powered, gas piston, precharged pneumatic (PCP), variable pump, and CO2 air guns. You can read more about it here.

      Depending on what purpose you are using air guns for, like pest control(squirrels, rabbits, etc) or small game hunting, for plinking, or for hunting big game, you can choose the right gun for your own need.

      Feel free to take a look around our site, if you have any question just let us know.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -
Google search engine

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Sean Campbell on Ruger Air Hawk Review
Max Power on Ruger Air Hawk Review
D Williford on Ruger Air Hawk Review
Reg Walker on Weihrauch HW90 Review
Sean Campbell on Gamo Big Cat 1250 Review
Sean Campbell on Ruger BlackHawk Review
Robert Anderson on Daisy Red Ryder 1938 Review
Tim Knight on Ruger Air Hawk Review
Wayne Summers on Beeman QB78 Review
Thomas Ellis on Gamo Coyote Review
Dennis McDonald on Crosman Nitro Venom .22 Review
Harry Meyen on Diana RWS 48 Review
robert connelly on Ruger BlackHawk Review
Sean Campbell on Hatsan 135 QE Vortex Review
Thomas Ellis on Gamo Coyote Review
Air Gun Team on Ruger Air Hawk Review
Lastromantribune on Benjamin Trail NP .22 Review
Glasgow celtiic on Ruger Air Hawk Review
David E Bumgardner on Hatsan 95 Walnut Stock Review
Ali Ostrowski on Daisy Red Ryder 1938 Review
Krimat Mouloud on Gamo Big Cat 1250 Review
Mark Greer on Gamo Big Cat 1250 Review
Roy A Adams on Gamo Big Cat 1250 Review
angelkelly on Benjamin Titan XS Review
angelkelly on Benjamin Titan XS Review
Sean Campbell on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
Sean Campbell on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
angelkelly on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
GRADDY RICHARD on Benjamin Titan XS Review
GRADDY RICHARD on Benjamin Titan XS Review
Kevin Campbell on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
James field on Air Rifle Comparison
HILBERTO MALDONADO on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
EURIS ESPINOSA CANDELARIO on Black Ops Junior Sniper Combo Review
deadman ladydie on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
Terry Clark on Crosman 1077 CO2 Review
angelkelly on Benjamin Titan XS Review