What is an Air Pressure Gun?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An air pressure gun, also known as an air gun, is a gun which uses compressed air or gases as a means of firing projectiles. Air guns have been in use for centuries in a wide variety of settings, and they continue to be very popular today. They vary in strength and utility from toy guns designed for play which shoot soft projectiles to guns capable of dealing out serious injury. Regulations pertaining to air guns vary, with some regions of the world having minimum age requirements and other safety restrictions to ensure that they are used safely.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The air pressure gun can work in a variety of different ways. Some have a spring loaded trigger which compresses air to fire a projectile when pulled. Others require users to pump the gun, or to insert a cartridge of gas which is used to power projectiles. Some air pressure guns connect to an external source of compressed air. This is in contrast with a firearm, which uses a propellant such as gunpowder to generate the energy to fire a projectile.

Various projectiles can be loaded into an air pressure gun, including metal, plastic, and wooden projectiles. They come in numerous calibers and designs. Some air pressure guns are specifically designed to be used in nonlethal settings such as crowd control. The BB gun is a well known example of an air pressure gun which is often the first weapon owned by someone learning about guns and gun ownership.

In some regions, the design of an air pressure gun may include indicators to show that it is an air pressure gun, and a nonlethal weapon. These indicators are required for safety, so that people know what they are picking up when they handle a gun, and also for the benefit of law enforcement. Law enforcement officers will respond differently to a situation in which a gun is present if they know that the gun is nonlethal.

There are numerous uses for an air pressure gun, ranging from weapons training to specific situations in which an air pressure gun may be a better choice than a firearm. Although many air pressure guns have reduced danger when compared to firearms, they can still be risky. It is important to receive proper training to learn about how to handle and maintain an air gun, and people should take care to wear eye and ear protection when handling such weapons.

As a final rule of thumb when it comes to firearms safety, people should get into the habit of only aiming a gun at things they intend to shoot, whether they are handling a relatively safe air pressure gun or a semiautomatic firearm.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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