Last December (which feels like a freakin' lifetime ago), I bought the Sig Sauer P365 Air Pistol from the FLGS (Fine Local Gun Shop) with the intent of setting up a little practice range in the garage. Little did I know that in a few months' time, the “nice to have” for a plinking option would become the only practical one available during “Zee Pandemic,” but whatever.
Given what I’ve worked out so far since then, I could wax rhetorical on the “interesting peculiarities of air guns vs firearms” and “the tradeoffs of designing for verisimilitude vs reliable functionality,” but I’m not a (bench) doctor nor do I play one on TV.
I could also rant at length about how I should have read the less-than-stellar customer reviews of the BB gun before making the purchase, but it’s somewhat late to cry over spilt idioms. For whatever reason - manufacturing inconsistencies, questionable design, bad roll of the acquisition dice - the unit that I got was a bum one. I don’t think I managed to get more than one metal ball out of the barrel at velocity from a full load of 12 shots, and half of those 12 jammed anyway. Feh, grumble, and I’d put the P365 Air Pistol away in its box.
Fast forward a few months, and after purchasing a significantly more expensive Precision Super Target which works like a champ, I called Sig Sauer customer service on a whim and see what could be done about the sad little P365 BB gun. The CSR (customer service rep, i.e., the person at the other end of the phone) was fantastically helpful and provided me a FedEx shipping label with which I could send in the air pistol for evaluation and repair. A couple of weeks later, I get a brand new replacement unit delivered to my door. And this one works!
Here’s a few magazines of BB’s fired at a pellet trap from 5 yards away. Compared to what I’m able to do with the Precision Super Target, this looks more like a shotgun buckshot pattern. On the other hand, a steel BB in a shorter, smoothbore barrel does not behave the same as a pellet in a rifled barrel of more than twice the length.
Making use of the scaled down USPSA/IPSC targets, I’d went for another round of practice the other day. Starting off easy at 4 yards, aiming pretty high, as I’d noticed that the air gun tends to shoot pretty low.
Seems like a reasonable group on a make-believe 12 yard simulation. Let’s back up a few feet, six to the “body” and six to the “head” for a 15 yards simulation:
The “head” shots definitely are grouping lower, and I’ll have to keep that in mind when practicing next.
The “no doy” conclusion to our tale is that shooting a air pistol is definitely not the same experience as a firearm - but you still need to practice the Four Firearm Safety Rules. Still, it’s nice to be able to practice with a tool that makes an honest effort at simulating the recoil and reset of a firearm, and it’s even nicer to have a unit that works properly.