AR15 Airgun Training

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Dustin Ellermann

The cost of ammo seems to only increase and never fall.  Those of us who shoot competition, hunt regularly, train for defensive situations or just enjoy shooting feel the hurt the most.

Fortunately there are alternatives to keep cost down and shooting skills up.  I’ve covered the advantages of dryfire training in the past, but here is how you take it to the next level.DOD-FEB-Ellermann-ARAirgun-pic-2

Previously I’ve covered Next Level Training’s Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger (SIRT) training pistol that projects a laser beam when you fire it.  Since the success of the SIRT pistol NLT introduced the SIRT AR-Bolt.  The laser bolt replaces your existing AR15’s bolt carrier group and with the help of a magnetic plunger that sits on your trigger group the bolt fires a green laser when you pull the AR trigger.  You can fine-tune the laser to the exact point of impact to match your optic and safely train away.  This setup is perfect for perfecting your trigger control for multiple shots as well as developing muscle memory with your carbine and even point shooting.  The laser gives instant feedback to where your shots would have hit.  I find this perfect for high speed training that is useful in 3 Gun competitions as well as defensive scenarios.  The only disadvantage to the SIRT bolt is that your trigger pull is modified in order to get the reset so you won’t have the exact trigger training.

But in order to train with my beloved Geissele trigger I recently tested out the Crosman MAR177, which is a .177 caliber pre-charged pneumatic airgun upper for any standard AR15 lower.  Designed for National Match competition shooters it is the size, weight and feel of a 20” AR15, but of course it shoots plentiful inexpensive .177 caliber pellets.  To charge the onboard tank you can hook it up to a 3,000 PSI scuba tank or use a special handpump.  Since I don’t have a tank I went the pump route and after about 100 pumps you’ll have almost 3,000 PSI stored up in the small tank and will be ready to fire at least 150 rounds.  The rotary magazine holds 12 pellets and you load each shot by cycling the AR style charging handle.  I was impressed with how incredibly quiet the pellet rifle was and also with the accuracy.  The rifle claims a velocity of 600 FPS and my chronograph clocked it at an average of 595 FPS with a standard deviation of only 5; it was surprisingly consistent.  At 10 yards with the included open sights I had no problem keeping a 0.25” group dead center.DOD-FEB-Ellermann-ARAirgun-pic-4

The MAR177 is a great setup for practicing your precision rifle shooting.  It’s quiet enough to fire inside your house with the proper pellet trap setup.  It gives an excellent platform for practicing from a variety of shooting positions and making single shots count.  The advantages of this upper is you get to train with the exact same trigger since it uses your existing lower and you actually get ballistic feedback even if it is on a smaller, closer scale.  It comes with a removable sights and picatinny rail so you could place an optic on it, but if you give it further thought we all could use more iron sight practice.  The only disadvantage for the pellet rifle is that you much to charge it every time as if it were a single shot, but the cost savings, precision, and accuracy training greatly outweigh this one drawback.

The SIRT bolt starts at $139 and the Crosman MAR177 retails at $650.  At first this could deter some shooters but when you consider the potential ammunition cost savings it could work to your advantage.  Find our more at www.crosman.com and for the SIRT bolt use “topshotdustin” for 10% off at www.nextleveltraining.com

5 comments

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  1. Mike Douglas

    This is actually a really interesting product. Ill have to look into the costs of making a bb gun range in my backyard though, yet thats not a big deal. Great article, i look forward to reading more.

  2. Marcus Fry

    I’m and air gunner and I think this is a great idea. But I do have a major issue that it only shoots at around 600 fps. I would really consider it if it could shoot up to 750-800 fps. It would be also great if there was a .22 pellet version that would shoot around 650-700 fps.

  3. Mike

    You would not notice much of a difference between 600fpd and 800fps unless you useda hevier BB.

    The light weight BBs have more radical flight tragectories the faster you push them.

    There are .22 caliber pellets that can be used in varios rifles. However, you will not get a signifacant advantage by going that route.

    • Marcus Fry

      @Mike. I totally disagree. 1st off I was referring to pellets, not BBs (accuracy is an issue for BBs). For a light pellet like a .177 (7 grains or so) all you have going for you is speed, especially if you want to hit something with authority or are hunting squirrels, or want longer shots. It takes breaking the speed of sound to really mess up a pellets accuracy (depending on elevation, that’s around 1100 fps). Yes, match quality pellet guns do tend to keep at 500 to 600 fps, but there is NO SHORTAGE of pellet guns that are very accurate at 800 plus fps. As for .22 pellets you are basically doubling the mass (about 14 grains) of the pellet and hitting with a larger contact area. Rather have a .22 at 600 fps than a .177 at 750 fps. In this case the .22 gives you an least an extra 3 ft lbs of energy over the faster .177. Perfect example of this is your classic Benjamin/Sheridan multipump pneumatic: at full pump the Benji in .177 can reach around 800 fps (9.95 ft. lbs), while a one in .22 (13.14 ft. lbs) can reach around 650 ft. lbs. The .22 pellet is more efficient, and also more resistant to cross winds. In the small power world of air guns (never mind the more powerful, big bore PCPs), these differences do matter. Both can easily take out a squirrel with a head shot. I would not want to attempt that with a .177 at 600 fps, it’s doable but you are taking a chance. It seems Crosman went for shot count instead of velocity with this AR15 conversion. Having a .22 version also allows you to attain higher pellet velocity before you start losing accuracy by going too high in velocity, and at the same time you are dumping a lot more energy on the target due to the greater mass of the .22 pellet. This is also why some very accurate and powerful airguns come chambered in .25 caliber . Amongst others, I have a Benjamin Discovery in .22 that shoots at 800 fps, it’s super accurate and super lethal to squirrels and racoons.

      • Mike

        You do realize this is referring to traing and not hunting right?

        As stated.. “You will not gain a significant advantage by going that route.”

        This means from a practical standpoint. Why spend all the money and effort training with that level of equipment if your not going to gain much,if any, of an advantage?

        If one were to put that same time, effort , and money into training with a cheap .22 rimfire they would gain more than they would with a quality air rifle/pistol setup.

        I use air pistols,even airsoft pistols, to practice stand your ground scenarios. I then use .22LR to practice transitioning techniques, and trigger controle, depending on the platform.

        Therefore, from a training perspective a few hundred FPS isnt going to matter.

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