In the air gun market today, there are many air rifles made with nitro-piston technology
Even the best-selling lists on gun retailer’s sites have a bunch of nitro-piston air guns at the top
In this post, we will take an in-depth look at the nitro piston air gun so you will know whether you need one, whether one is right for you, and whether you should buy one at all.
When do nitro piston guns come to the market?
The very first air gun made with nitro piston technology was the Nitro Piston Short Stroke (NPSS).
It was introduced publicly for the first time in the summer of 2009 by Crosman Corporation.
Crosman had this technology licensed under the name Crosman Nitro Piston TM and used it for gun manufacturing in a wide range of air rifles.
How it works?
A nitro-piston air gun is a spring gun without a spring.
Instead of using a coiled spring as the power plant, it uses a nitrogen-filled cylinder.
The nitrogen in this cylinder is already kept under pressure and you put more pressure on it when you cock the gun.
The air is held under tension until you pull the trigger.
When that happens, the pressurized air expands and propels the piston forward.
The piston, in turn, comes abruptly at the air-transferred port.
The compressed air has nowhere to go but behind the pellet, as the chamber is sealed completely.
As a result, the pellet is pushed out of the barrel due to the driving force of the compressed air.
Advantages of nitro piston air gun
Nitro piston guns do have plenty of advantages in comparison with spring air guns. Here they are:
First, a nitro piston air gun is lighter than a spring air gun.
This is a real advantage for the guys in the field all day who carry their guns around.
Second, the nitro piston produces much less recoil than the traditional spring gun.
When you shoot a spring air gun, the spring extends, causes strong vibration to the barrel in all directions, and generates lots of recoils.
With a nitro piston gun, the nitro piston extends smoothly and has less effect on the barrel so it has much less recoil.
The minimal recoil of a nitro piston gun gives us several benefits.
First, since the recoil is inconsiderable, a nitro piston gun requires less practice to hold the gun properly.
Second, because of very little recoil, most shooters (even the average skilled shooters) can shoot accurately with minimum effort.
Third, with the spring gun, if you don’t hold your hands in the same place every time you shoot,
A quarter of an inch in the difference of hand position can mean a half of an inch in difference in Point of Impact (the point the pellet hits the target).
However, since there’s less recoil, when you are in the field and have your gun on a bipod or other shooting rests (rock, tree, etc),
There is virtually no effect on POI EVEN if your hand positions change over the shot cycle.
Third, a nitro piston gun fires 55 % faster than a coiled spring gun and 15% faster than a simple gas piston.
It means that a nitro piston has a faster lock time (the time the pellet remains in the barrel until it is discharged)
And a faster lock time means better accuracy.
Fourth, a nitro piston is not affected by the weather.
With a spring gun, the main coiled spring is lubricated with grease.
When the weather gets cold, springs get harder and tougher.
So it slows down the gun and makes it hard to cock.
With a nitro piston, the nitro cylinder is lubricated with high-tech lubrication
So it operates almost the same regardless of the outside temperature.
Fifth, a nitro piston can be left cocked for days.
With a springer, if you left the gun cocked for a long time, the spring would lose its strength which leads to a reduction in the gun’s power and accuracy.
But with a nitro piston, you can leave it cocked for as long as you like. Nothing wears out.
And a little thing to note is that even though you can leave the gun cocked, you still have to shoot, cock, and de-cock the gun every few months to prevent the seal from getting bonded with the bore.
Sixth, since it doesn’t have spring torque like a spring air gun, a nitro piston gun is very easy to cock with only 28 lb of required cocking effort.
Seventh, a nitro piston produces 70% less noise over the shot cycle than a coiled spring gun.
This type of air gun is absolutely quiet and is great for field hunting where stealth is needed.
Eighth, a nitro piston is more long-lasting than a spring air gun.
The general rule is not to get spring compression over 50% to remain its reliability.
But in the air gun world, it is not uncommon to make the compression up to 100% to maximize performance.
This weakens the spring and shortens its lifespan.
However, with a nitro piston, it doesn’t care about compression. Nothing here affects its life.
That’s why the life cycle of an average spring gun is only 5000 shots while the nitro piston can easily get 10,000 shots before it loses power.
Bonus: Fred Eichler, the most interesting bowhunter in the world, is excited about Benjamin and Crosman’s cutting edge new nitro piston break barrels here:
Disadvantages of the nitro piston
Although the nitro piston has lots of advantages, it does have some disadvantages.
First, if the spring of a spring air gun is damaged or defective, it still works to produce some velocity.
If the gas ram fails, it doesn’t work at all.
But if the gas ram does fail, it will fail in the first few weeks after you buy it so you can return it anytime you want.
Second, it’s hard to find a replacement nitro ram if you want to service and modify this type of air gun.
There’s no way you can purchase an after-market nitrogen strut.
However, these disadvantages are really minor.
Understanding precisely what nitro piston technology is, and its pros and cons give you more information and confidence in the search for the best air rifle that fits you most.
If you want to enjoy smoother cocking, quietness, less recoil, high accuracy, and less maintenance for the gun then a nitro piston gun is for you.
However, if you want to buy a gun to service and modify it for better performance later, you shouldn’t put the nitro piston air gun in the potential buying choice list.