Gas vs Spring Piston: Which One Is Better?

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Today, you can find 5 different types of air rifles available in the industry.

They are – spring pistons, gas pistons, PCP air rifles, variable pump guns, and CO2-powered air rifles.

All of these rifles have separate ways of functioning, various benefits, and limitations. 

In this guide today, we will mainly cover the two most popular air rifles and compare gas vs spring piston. So, without any further ado, let’s get into it!

Spring Piston and Its Working Procedure

A spring piston is one of the most popular and simplest rifle types. In fact, many rifle beginners opt for spring pistons due to their simplicity and ease. 

To understand more about spring pistons, let’s see how they work: 

  1. Inside the gun chamber, you will find two main components – coiled spring and piston. 
  2. The coiled spring undergoes compression when you cock the gun. 
  3. The spring compression causes the air behind the piston to get pressurized. 
  4. Now, as you pull the trigger, the spring gets decompressed. This causes the piston to move forward.
  5. As the piston moves forward, the trapped air is released at high pressure.
  6. The pressurized air then causes the pellet to come out of the muzzle at full speed.

Hence, in this way, the spring in the piston facilitates the movement of the pellet outside of the air rifle. 

Gas Piston and Its Working Procedure

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated and advanced version of a spring-piston, then you can opt for a gas piston.

A gas piston has a very similar mechanism to a spring piston. Yet, there is one difference that instead of a coiled spring, there is a gas-filled cylinder present in the chamber. It works in the below-mentioned ways:

  1. When you cock the gun, the already pressurized air in the gas cylinder gets more compressed. 
  2. The air inside is compressed at very high tension and pressure.
  3. So, when you finally release the trigger, the pressurized air forces the pellet out of the gun. Hence, this leads to a more swift mechanism compared to spring piston. 

Now, how does this minor change affect the performance between the gas piston and spring piston? For this, you need to understand their differences. 

Gas Pistons Vs Spring Air Rifles: Basic Differences

The most basic difference between a gas piston and a spring piston rifle is that a gas piston consists of a gas-filled cylinder whereas a spring piston rifle consists of a spring. Simple? Simple. 

So, in the case of a spring rifle, the air is compressed with the help of a coiled spring. In the case of a gas piston, it is a gas-filled cylinder.

Due to this major difference, you may find other differences in the accuracy, velocity, and other factors of both guns. 

Accuracy: 

The accuracy definitely affects the performance as it determines the ability of the gun to hit the target. 

If you wonder which air rifle is more accurate than the other, you need to know two things. First – gas piston rifles are known to be more accurate due to faster lock times. Yet, they are only accurate enough for beginners. 

Contrarily, more experienced gunners often find that spring piston air rifles offer more (or at least the same) accuracy as gas pistons. 

So, if you’re a beginner and want an accurate gun, choosing a gas piston is a good idea. But, if you’re more experienced, then a springer would definitely work more accurately.

Velocity: 

Even though gas pistons offer pressurized air with more force, spring pistons offer faster velocity. 

Many gun enthusiasts find that a spring piston with .177 caliber pellets can offer a velocity of around 1250 ft/s. On the other hand, a gas piston offers around 1000 ft/s velocity. For .22 caliber pellets, the velocity is near 850 ft/s.

You can choose either one depending on your requirements. But, if you want an air rifle with more velocity, a spring piston is better. 

Shot Cycle: 

If we talk about the shot cycle, then the gas piston rifle has a sharper shot cycle. This means that the gas release is quite rapid. Hence, the piston moves forward very rapidly. 

Also, as per other shooters, you can shoot over 10,000 shots with spring pistons without losing the power. The number increases to 20,000 shots if you own a quality spring piston. 

Contrarily, with a gas piston, the shot cycle is just 3000. So, it is quite a lot less compared to spring pistons. 

Noise: 

If you’re looking for a gun that is neighborhood-friendly and backyard-friendly, then the noise is an important factor. It is also important if you wish to practice a lot. 

Gas rams or rifles have an advantage over spring pistons when it comes to noise. Here’s why: spring piston rifles have a coiled spring that could lead to more sound when the pellet is released. 

Thus, spring rifles aren’t exactly backyard-friendly. Keep in mind that the sound may dampen with use over time. 

On the other hand, gas pistons mostly come with a ‘Sound Suppression Technology’ that dampens the sound. Here, the gun chambers are enclosed with the help of a fluted shroud. This prevents the sound from escaping the gun and thus, reduces the noise significantly. 

So, if you don’t want noise, you can opt for a gas piston rifle. 

User-Friendliness:

The user-friendliness of both the gas and spring pistons depends on your skillset. 

For instance, gas pistons are more user-friendly for beginners compared to spring pistons. It is because you can lock the gas piston more easily. This may also result in more accuracy. 

As gas pistons have less noise compared to spring pistons, beginners can use them for training purposes too. The cocking effort is also easier here. 

Spring piston rifles are better-suited for experienced gunners. These rifles require you to have proper artillery hold skills. 

Artillery hold basically stands for the ability to holdyour rifle so lightly that it can recoil in any direction. Developing this skill may take time which is why spring pistons may become less user-friendly for beginners. 

(For more on the best air rifle for beginners, see this post)

Air Rifle Usage:

Depending on the usage, you can decide which piston rifle suits your requirements. 

Spring pistons are usually more suitable than gas pistons for long distances. They are also better for hunting or target shooting. It may be because spring rifles offer more velocity compared to gas pistons. These rifles may also be used in competitions, as they did in the Olympics before. 

Gas pistons are more suitable for pest control, small game hunting, and plinking. It is also an ideal option for those wishing to strengthen and train their shooting skills.

(For more on the best air rifle for squirrels, see this post)

Maintenance:

The maintenance requirements of both gas piston rifles and spring piston rifles are quite similar as they require less maintenance. 

For spring piston, keep in mind the below-mentioned points: 

  • It is essential to lubricate both the spring and piston in a spring piston to ensure a smooth shot cycle. 
  • Make sure the spring piston isn’t cocked as this may cause wear out. 
  • Make use of lubricating oil for piston seals but it should be only around one to two drops. 

As for a gas piston, the rules remain the same. But, you may not be required to lubricate it as often as a spring piston. 

Price Range:

There are certain things you need to keep in mind when you’re opting for either a gas piston or a spring piston. First, the initial buying costs, and second, the repair costs. 

Spring piston air rifles are usually more on the expensive side. They usually start at $200 but the good-quality ones may cost more than that. Contrarily, gas piston air rifles are on the cheaper end as they normally cost less than $200.

However, spring pistons are extremely easy to repair and fix. So, the repair costs won’t be too much. But, it can cost a lot to get a gas piston fixed. 

Gas Piston Vs Spring: Which One Is More Popular?

Both spring piston and gas piston air rifles are quite popular amongst gun enthusiasts. 

The only difference is that gas piston air rifles are more popular amongst beginners. this is because these guns are comparatively easy to use. They’re also cheap and backyard-friendly which makes them excellent for training purposes. 

On the other hand, experienced gunners prefer spring piston air rifles over gas piston air rifles. It could be because these air rifles offer excellent accuracy and shot cycle if you have the right skills. 

Pros and Cons of Spring Piston vs Gun Piston Air Rifle 

Let’s check out some of the pros and cons of gas piston air guns vs spring piston air guns. 

Spring Piston: 

The spring piston air rifle is an excellent one with its fair share of pros and cons. Still, it is a great air rifle type for experts and skilled people. 

ProsCons
  • Extremely accurate if you know the right technique.
  • Easy and inexpensive to repair and maintain.
  • It offers fast velocity and impactful power. It also has a great shot cycle.
  • It’s comparatively harder to use a spring piston air rifle. It also has more recoil. 
  • Initial buying costs are high.
  • It is loud and hence, not the best for neighborhoods or backyards.

(For more on the best break barrel air rifle that hits like a champ, see this post)

Gas Piston: 

The gas piston has an advanced mechanism compared to spring rifles. Yet, is it worth it? Let’s check the pros and cons for that.

ProsCons
  • As it is easier and faster to lock a gas piston, it may offer accuracy to beginners.
  • Quite cheap and pocket-friendly. 
  • Backyard-friendly due to less noise. 
  • Offers an easier and smoother cocking mechanism.
  • Not as accurate as spring piston rifles.
  • Repair costs may be extremely high.
  • Lower velocity compared to spring piston and sharp shot cycle.
  • Can be stored as there are no spring fatigue issues.

Final Verdict: Gas Piston or Spring Piston – Which One Is Better? 

Both gas piston rifles and spring air rifles cater to different types of gun enthusiasts. So, if we compare gas ram vs spring piston, some differences are clear.

For instance, you may opt for gas pistons if: 

  • You’re a beginner wanting to train. 
  • You want a cheaper gun option. 
  • You want to use a gun for plinking, pest control, and small hunting games. 
  • You want a backyard-friendly gun.

On the other hand, you may opt for a spring piston if: 

  • You’re a more skilled person with a proper artillery hold. 
  • You want more accuracy, speed, and shot cycle. 
  • You don’t have any budget restraints. 
  • You want a gun for proper hunting, target shooting, or even competitions. 

So, depending on your requirements, choose either one!

End Note

Gas piston and spring piston air rifles are two of the most popular ones. Both of them are efficient, great for hunting, and more cost-effective than other options.

However, you need to consider your requirements, to know which one would suit your style better. Consider this guide as your roadmap and choose the best gun only!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Which Lasts Longer In Storage – Spring Piston Rifle or Gas Piston Rifle? 

If you’re planning to store your gun, it is preferable to get a spring piston rifle as gas one may not last long. Moreover, if there’s any damage, spring rifles are cheaper to repair and maintain. 

How Long Do Spring Piston Rifles and Gas Piston Rifles Last? 

Spring rifles and gas piston rifles may last for more than ten years if they are kept under good conditions and used properly. Yet, you may still have to maintain them well for a great performance. 

Keep in mind that according to a lot of hunters, gas piston rifles last less compared to spring rifles.

What Is An IGT Gas Piston Rifle? Is It Better Than Spring Piston? 

IGT or inert gas technology pistons or gas ram pistons consist of an inert gas-filled cylinder instead of a spring piston. It may be considered as an advanced version of spring piston but both of them have their set of pros and cons. 

For instance, gas piston rifles are easier to cock whereas spring pistons offer better accuracy and velocity.

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.

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