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When it comes to air rifles, there are certain brands, models, and companies that are simply better than the rest of the air rifles on the market. Air rifles like the Gamo Big Cat 1200, the Crosman Nitro Venom Break, and the Benjamin Titan GP are all great examples of quality air rifles.
But does where your air rifle come from have any effect on the quality and performance of the air rifle or does it boil down to the company and model of the air rifle that you are purchasing?
There have been many debates in the air rifle community over which is more important in the craftsmanship of the air rifle: company, model, or location of manufacturing.
This always begs the question: “well, shouldn’t this be about how the air rifle is made and how well it performs? What about velocity, which is one of the most important features of an air rifle? Does history or legacy have any impact on the question of the best air rifle?”
While all of these questions are perfectly valid and understandable, they are, in essence, the same question with different words.
The question that every air rifle owner or the user wants the answer to is which air rifle is the best.
Now whether the best air rifles come from Germany or China is a different question. Which air rifle is the best eliminates geographical, analytical, and manufacturing information and simplifies the question to “is this air rifle good?”
What makes an air rifle good (thus the criteria for what makes a Chinese air rifle good,) is pretty standard. The air rifle should have a powerful velocity and a high fps (feet per second,) so that the air rifle is powerful.
The air rifle should also have good and smooth action, meaning that the action of firing off the air rifle should be easy and not require too much strength or pressure on the trigger.
It should have a nice aesthetic, easy reloading, and be able to prove itself around other air rifles. Your air rifle should have a combination of strength, power, and grace to take down vermin, game, or hit the bullseye on a shooting target.
Whatever you think the most important feature of an air rifle is is typically personal. Air rifle owners have specific ideas about their air rifles that either make their rifles fantastic or terrible. One person might like to have a shorter range air rifles, while another may prefer a longer distance air rifle.
It also depends on what you are using your air rifle for. If you are using it for hunting, long-distance is usually better. It is for target practice you might want something that can switch between the distances. If you plan on shooting vermin, the short-range is fine.
This is where personal preference can get in the way of coming to a group consensus about which air rifles are best.
This is why is hard to say if Chinese air rifles are any good.
What are the Characteristics of Chinese Air Rifles?
The characteristics of Chinese air rifles are essentially the same that you would see on other air rifles. However, the majority of the older models of Chinese air rifles have beautiful wood bodies, with gorgeous finishes.
Unlike other air rifles that were being manufactured a few decades ago in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the Chinese air rifles were made to look appealing. This may have impacted their ability to perform, but more on that later.
The older versions of Chinese air rifles have some really beautiful full-stock bodies that have been carved and smoothed to fit easily in the hand of the user. Unlike other old air rifles, the Chinese air rifles were meant to be beautiful then powerful, rather than powerful first.
This might be why air rifles became ugly looking when coming from other countries who manufactured the rifles. In Chinese culture, and most of East Asian culture, beauty is not just about appearance, but the flow of the design.
So where the design might not be optimizing the action or velocity, is trying to convey a smooth and continuous line that never falters.
The beauty and grace of both old and new Chinese air rifles are what draws many new customers. Many people have reported being entrapped by the grace and figure of the older Chinese air rifles.
It is hard to find a modern-day air rifle that reflects the same care for design and image as the old Chinese air rifles did.
It might be, for this reason, that Chinese air rifles are often overlooked when it comes to the list of the best air rifles on the market today.
Although they are beautiful, they usually are not considered the best.
How is the Performance of a Chinese Air Rifle?
The performances of Chinese air rifles in the 70s and 80s were mediocre.
Most kids and teenagers bought them because air rifles were trendy but expensive. The Chinese models were cheaper than the models and companies that were manufacturing in other countries, so people found that a cheap alternative to fit in with the crowd and get started on their air rifle dreams was with a cheaper Chinese version.
For a while, that is how it was.
However, as the industry began to create more and more competition for itself across multiple countries and age groups of customers, the Chinese air rifle industry took a step towards creating air rifles that were at the same caliber as their competition.
This meant that the prices of the air rifles would increase, due to more technology being introduced and more advanced systems getting involved in the air rifles.
The increase of price meant that most people, sadly, left behind the beautiful air rifles made by the Chinese in favor of air rifles made elsewhere that already had a solid reputation for providing quality air rifles for the prices they had.
The Chinese air rifle industry had grown its name as a cheaper option that was not the best performer on the field. So naturally, when the price for Chinese air rifles went up, folks just assumed that the technology inside the air rifles was the same as before.
People did not want to pay more for an air rifle they thought was going to be a poor performer. This was not the case, however, because many people who have picked up old Chinese air rifles have seen that they are very well made with power, grace, and performance all on their side.
Which Chinese Air Rifles are the Best?
If you are shopping around for an older Chinese air rifle that has the same beauty and history indicated above, a great option would be the SMK xs 19. A review for this Chinese air rifle explained that the accuracy, power, and condition of the air rifle is great.
This air rifle owner also indicated that they could not find a fault or flaw with this air rifle.
In the same family of air rifles, there are the Chinese SMK xs 208 and the SMK xs 20, but the SMK xs 19 was preferred over the xs 208 and the xs 20. For smaller air rifles in this same SMK xs family, there is the SMK xs 12.
More modern Chinese made air rifles that people seem to enjoy are the Benjamin Nitro Venom and the Stoeger ATAC, which are both made in China.
It is important to note the difference between an air rifle made in China and an air rifle that was designed by a Chinese company. They bring different results.
For example, one customer said that he was not in love with the Benjamin Nitro Venom or the Stoerger ATAC, but these are not considered 100% Chinese air rifles. These are air rifles that were not designed by a Chinese company, therefore making them not real Chinese air rifles.
These two (the Benjamin Nitro Venom and the Stoeger ATAC,) are only manufactured and produced in China. This makes them Chinese air rifles because they were made in the country of China, but not real Chinese air rifles which would be any air rifle designed, made, and sold by a Chinese company.
In the modern-day, many air rifles are considered to be from China, because China is a country with a huge production and manufacturing industry. Many companies, regardless of what they are producing, will ship out their manufacturing to China, because it is much cheaper there and there are looser factory regulations.
The workers are legally allowed to get paid less than factory workers in other countries, making it easy to save big corporations money by exploiting international labor law loopholes.
So when someone says that they do not like the way their or someone else’s Chinese air rifle works, be sure to check the brand and company to make sure that it is actually a real Chinese air rifle.
Issues with Chinese Air Rifles
There are a few things that most people who purchase original or vintage Chinese air rifles experience that can put a damper on their situation and their appreciation for their air rifle.
One reason is the fact that early Chinese air rifles were made cheap. They were made cheap so that they could be sold cheap so that the industry would grow and money would enter the companies and the Chinese economy.
What the issue is with this plan is that the air rifles were not well made, although they looked very beautiful. Just because they had a beautiful polish or finish on the wood stock body does not mean that the finish or polish used was a good one.
The finish on vintage or older Chinese air rifles is often reported to be chipping, peeling, or has wood filler in it was because it got damaged since the finish could not provide any protection to the wood stock body of the air rifle.
Another issue many people find with vintage Chinese air rifles is the condition of the metal components of the air rifle. Lots of customers of these types of guns say that the metal is dull and damaged because the material or metal that was used in the production of these air rifles was not high quality.
A lot of these types of air rifles had polished metal pieces when they were first produced, however, over the years and all the wear and tear on the components of these air rifles can make the metal dull.
This is not necessarily an issue that stems back to the Chinese air rifle industry or production and/or creation process, but it goes back to the air rifles being fairly old at this point.
To summarize, it is hard to tell you definitely whether Chinese air rifles are any good or not good at all. Owning or purchasing an air rifle is a very personal choice and you should not always listen to what others have to say.
The best way to find out if a Chinese air rifle is any good, is to get your hands on one, vintage or new, and experiment with how it works. Find out what you like and do not like, and use that information to your purchasing advantage.
For example, the Benjamin Nitro Venom is one of the most widely loved air rifles on the market today, but one person who bought it did not think it was all that and a bag of chips. It is crucial that you pick the model and brand of the air rifle that you like, Chinese or made in China or wherever, and get your hands on it to try it out.
You might love the way the air rifle looks on the screen or in the case at the shop, but you could hate the action, the trigger, or any other assortment of aspects. Make sure you are trying it before you are buying it. Good luck on your hunt for an air rifle!
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