THE “W” WORD!
(And the "A" Word, too!)
I really believe that the Brits, and some others, are asking for problems by referring to regular modern airguns as air WEAPONS. In America we generally are trying to eliminate the use of that word in reference to our regular airguns. WEAPONS are things that one would select for offensive or defensive purposes. With some special exceptions, most modern airguns certainly are not something that most persons would select for such purposes. A lot of people, and governmental bodies, wish to severely regulate WEAPONS. In court cases involving airguns we generally will not allow the use of the W word, on the basis that is inflammatory and prejudicial to the jury and judge. We do not need the legal and macho implications of the W word.
The same considerations pretty much also apply to the "A" word: "ARMS".
When we were first introduced to airguns such as the British Theobens and the Argentine Shark, and later the prototypes of the Beeman RX and Crow Magnum, which use air, or other gas, as the mainspring, we borrowed the term "gas-ram" to refer to their power mechanism. We have since adopted the more modern term of "gas-spring". It had become clear that the gas-ram term is both inappropriate and misleading. New airgunners, and even some rather experienced ones, were confused as to what sort of mechanism was meant by gas-ram. The ideas of gas ramming a pellet or of a plunger ramming against a pellet came to mind, but certainly neither is the case. The gas-ram term led many, even some who should have known better, to think that guns with such a mechanism did not even belong to the well known category of spring-piston airguns! It was proposed that shooters with such guns should not be allowed to enter shooting events for spring-piston or piston airguns. Of course, these are spring-piston guns in every sense of the term. They just use compressed, captive gas as a mainspring instead of a compressed piece of metal. Both use the same sort of piston to compress free air behind a projectile.
If we were to consider gas-ram as a logical term, then we should consider substituting "spring-ram" or "metal-ram" for airguns which use a metal mainspring. The gas-ram term seems to have been coined by one of the inventors of this mechanism. Much as I respect each of the involved inventors, I think that we should completely abandon the term. Let's make it clear and simple: there are both gas-spring and metal-spring versions of spring-piston airguns!
Robert D. Beeman
12 December 1994
Published by Airgun World in England in 1995 and U.S. Airgun in USA in 1996.
Last Year I Couldn't Spell Airgunner, Now I Are One!
How do you spell airgun and what is an airgun? Well, that depends. It is correct to refer to these elusive objects as "airguns" or "air guns", but we are trying to standardize on using the term as one word: "airguns". (Sometimes we intentionally mix the spelling for the sake of computer indexing.). And, the industry generally lumps together all guns which use compressed gas as "airguns". Thus, for the sake of convenience, and a lot of governmental indexing, "airguns" would include guns which use air, carbon dioxide, freon, and other gases (which are not produced as the result of explosive material) as the propelling material. Spring-piston airguns use air just as a cushion between the piston and the pellet, indirectly transferring the energy of the true propelling force, the mainspring (gas or metal) and correctly are considered as airguns. True spring guns, which use a spring, bow, or other elastic material to directly pass their energy to the projectile, are uncommon and really are not airguns. They would best be called "catapult guns". They include a pistol formerly made by Daisy, rubber-band guns, etc. - and begin to overlap the definition of slingshots and crossbows.
These definitions can be pretty important when it comes to the law. A firearm is a gun which propels a projectile by means of expanding gases generated by the explosion or rapid burning of chemical material. We should be very careful never to confuse the definitions of airguns and firearms. However, just that has been done by many lawmakers - so it is possible that a given law considers an airgun as a firearm - simply because that particular law defines them as such. But then the forces of infinite governmental wisdom have defined silencers as firearms - so we should not be surprised - just eternally vigilant. Sometimes the definitions truly can get a little confusing. Is the Mexican gun which uses a blank cartridge containing explosive material to drive a piston which in turn transfers its energy to a projectile via a cushion of air, just like a spring-piston airgun, an airgun or a firearm?