Spring Vs PCP Airguns

Spring-powered and PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) air guns are two different types of air guns that operate using different mechanisms. In this post, we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What Does Air Gun PCP Stand For?

PCP stands for pre-charged pneumatic (PCP). The term pre-charged refers to the stored air canister or tank that is attached to the rear of the stock or below the barrel. Pneumatic applies to the compressed air that propels the round out of the barrel. This is released when the trigger is pulled which sends the pellet or bb out at high speed.

PCP Air Gun Components

The basic components of a PCP airgun include:

  1. Air Tank: A high-pressure air tank or cylinder that stores compressed air, typically at a pressure of 2000 to 4500 psi.
  2. Fill Station: A device used to fill the air tank with compressed air, either by using a hand pump, a scuba tank, or a high-pressure compressor.
  3. Regulator: A device that regulates the pressure of the air released from the air tank to ensure consistent velocity and accuracy.
  4. Valve: A mechanism that releases a controlled amount of compressed air into the barrel when the trigger is pulled.
  5. Barrel: The part of the airgun through which the pellet is fired.
  6. Trigger Assembly: The mechanism that controls the timing and release of the compressed air from the valve when the trigger is pulled.
  7. Stock: The handle and shoulder rest provides a comfortable and stable grip on the airgun.

When the airgun is fired, the compressed air from the tank is released through the valve and into the barrel, propelling the pellet forward.

What Are Spring Powered Air Guns?

A spring-powered air gun, also known as a spring-piston air gun, is a type of air gun that uses a coiled spring to generate power. When the gun is cocked, the spring is compressed. When this spring is released upon squeezing the trigger, it forces compressed air into the chamber, sending the pellet or bb down the barrel.

Spring-powered air guns are known for their simplicity and durability and are often used for backyard plinking, target shooting, and small game hunting. They are also relatively inexpensive and do not require additional equipment like compressed air tanks or CO2 cartridges. However, they can be more difficult to shoot accurately than other types of air guns, and they require more effort to cock and load between shots.

Spring Powered Air Gun Components

The basic components of a spring-powered air gun include:

  1. Spring: A coiled metal spring that is compressed when the gun is cocked, and released when the trigger is pulled.
  2. Piston: A metal piston that is propelled forward by the compressed spring, forcing a blast of air through the barrel.
  3. Barrel: The part of the gun through which the pellet is fired.
  4. Trigger Assembly: The mechanism that controls the release of compressed air from the piston when the trigger is pulled.
  5. Stock: The handle and shoulder rest provides a comfortable and stable grip on the gun.

The Power of PCP Vs Spring Air Guns

PCP Air Gun Power

PCP air guns can store large quantities of air at high pressures. They can reach up to 3000 PSI in some models, giving them a lot of energy to send the pellet downrange.

In general, PCP airguns can produce muzzle velocities ranging from around 400 to over 1000 feet per second (fps). The most powerful PCP airguns can produce muzzle energies of up to 100 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) or more, which makes them suitable for hunting larger game.

The power of a PCP airgun can be adjusted by regulating the air pressure in the tank and the amount of air released through the valve. This can be done using a regulator or by adjusting the hammer spring tension, which controls the amount of air released by the valve.

For more information, check out What Can An Airgun Penetrate?

Spring Air Gun Power

The power of a spring-powered air gun is often measured in terms of muzzle velocity, which is the speed at which the pellet or BB leaves the barrel. Muzzle velocities of spring air guns can range from around 200 feet per second for low-powered guns to over 1,000 feet per second for high-powered guns.

The power of a spring-powered air gun is determined by several factors, including the strength and length of the spring, the weight and shape of the pellet or BB, and the velocity of the air as it is released through the barrel.


The most powerful, and accurate air rifles tend to be PCP powered. However, large-caliber spring air guns can also be very powerful.

In fact, high-powered PCP air guns are capable of shooting larger caliber rounds at higher velocities. This is because the compressed air stored in the tank is going to provide more power than can be created by a compressed spring.

The caliber and weight of the pellet used can also affect the power of the air gun. Heavier pellets will generally produce more power and better accuracy, but may also be slower and have a shorter effective range. Lighter pellets will generally be faster, but may also be less accurate and have less stopping power.

PCP Vs Spring Airgun Accuracy

Spring-powered air guns can be accurate at 25-50 yards, but PCP air guns can reach further and allow for tighter groups on target. In general, PCP airguns are capable of achieving high accuracy at distances of 50 to 100 yards or more. When used by a more experienced shooter, a PCP air gun will have the edge.

The accuracy of both PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) and spring airguns vary depending on several factors, including the caliber of the gun, the weight and shape of the pellet, the quality of the barrel, the sighting system, and the skill of the shooter. They are also more powerful when the air tank is full.

Accuracy can also be affected by external factors such as wind, humidity, and temperature. Wind can cause pellets to drift off course, while changes in temperature and humidity can affect the pressure and density of the air in the gun, which can impact accuracy.

To achieve the best accuracy with an airgun, it is essential to use high-quality components, including pellets that are the correct size and weight for the gun, and to practice proper shooting techniques, such as a consistent trigger pull and adequate breathing and stance.

    PCP or Spring: Which is Better?

    So, which is better? There are definite pros and cons to each of these types of air guns, including:

    PCP Pros:

    • Low recoil
    • Low noise
    • Good for hunting medium or large game.
    • Can include a sound suppressor
    • Can use multi-shot magazines

    PCP Cons:

    • Extra equipment for recharging is required.
    • Requires special maintenance and repair procedures.
    • More expensive than other types of air guns.
    • Extra air bottles are needed during long outings or hunts.
    • Affected by air temperature (but less so than C02).
    • Seals can become worn and leak, requiring servicing.

    Spring Pros:

    • No air or gas refilling required
    • Not affected by temperature
    • Less expensive
    • Good for pest control

    Spring Cons:

    • More recoil when shooting
    • Noisier
    • The spring can become fatigued, requiring replacement.
    • Less powerful than PCP airguns.
    • Less accurate than PCP airguns.
    • Cocking can be difficult for some users.


    Ultimately, the choice between spring and PCP airguns depends on your intended use and personal preferences. If you are looking for a more affordable and low-maintenance air gun, a spring-powered unit may be a good choice. If you want maximum power and accuracy and don’t mind the additional cost and maintenance, a PCP airgun may be a better fit. Remember, the skills of the shooter and the quality of the gun will play a large role in how effective it is at hitting the target.

    Once you have decided which type of airgun to buy, the next step is to practice using it. For more, see our post How To Make Your Own Air Gun Range.

    To Close

    Both spring and PCP airguns have their advantages and disadvantages, and the choice between the two will depend on your specific needs and preferences. But make no mistake, they are both dangerous weapons and need to be handled with responsibility and care to keep the shooter and those around them safe.

    Lawrence the Airgun Ranger