Are air rifles the latest evidence of pandemic-fueled gun sales?

The market for ammunition is in a precarious position for firearms owners so much so that many are laying down conventional guns to pick up air rifles.

Since early 2020, there has been an increase in demand for firearm ammunition which led to a shortage and subsequent increase in air rifle purchases.

The main difference between air rifles and firearms is the propulsion of the bullet. Firearms get their power from gunpowder whereas air rifles are powered by compressed air. Since an air rifle only needs a projectile, there are fewer components involved in firing and therefore ammunition is less expensive.

For example, 500 pellets of .22 caliber air gun ammunition, is about $20. The same box of 500 rounds of .22 caliber firearm ammunition is about double at $40.

Richard Turner has been with Umarex USA in Fort Smith for 15 years and is president of the Chaffee Crossing plant.

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The Umarex/Walther manufacturing facility in Chaffee Crossing seen Saturday, Jan.  23.

“A firearm utilizes a cartridge and powder and normally, from that standpoint, you’re putting your round which is a cartridge, powder and a bullet or projectile and in that round and the ignition of powder actually creates the power going out,” Turner said. “On an air gun, we generate a burst of air behind a lead projectile.”

Air rifles are less powerful than traditional firearms, but people can still use them at the range and hunting.

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