During the 2022 Louisiana Legislative Session, the state’s lawmakers passed a new law which came into effect allowing pre-charged pneumatic devices to be used for deer hunting, with certain restrictions on caliber and other regulations.
Apparently, there wasn’t a rush to put the new law to use by most deer hunters, even though this technology has been around for a while.
“We didn’t really see much interest in it, and still haven’t,” said Hunter Simmons of Simmons Sporting Goods, one of the largest sporting goods dealers in the south. “These guns are certainly powerful enough to kill a deer, but there are also some issues with how to charge them up and you have to have some accessories to go with them to make them work consistently.”
These aren’t hopped up versions of the Red Rider Air Rifle that little Ralphie dreamed of in the movie, “A Christmas Story.” We are talking about a pre-charged pneumatic device in a caliber big enough to effectively take down a deer, or even larger animal.
“I know one hunter who has used these devices for years and killed all kinds of big animals on safari in Africa, so they are proven to be effective,” Simmons said.
Pre-charged pneumatic devices, air guns that fire projectiles such as arrows or bolts, may be used by hunters only during the modern firearm season in Louisiana. This new law began with the 2022-23 season and is regulated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries just like other wildlife and fisheries laws. The Louisiana Legislature approved the use of these devices during the 2022 session.
According to the LDWF, pre-charged pneumatic devices include air guns with un-ignited compressed air or other gases that are mechanically pressurized without involving any chemical reactions.
The device must fire a projectile of at least thirty caliber in diameter and at least one hundred fifty grains in weight with a minimum muzzle velocity of eight hundred feet per second or any combination of bullet weight and muzzle velocity that produces muzzle energy of at least two hundred fifteen foot pounds of energy. Arrows or bolts must have well-sharpened broad head points.
You never know
There are several makes and models of these type of guns by several manufacturers, Simmons said. He deals mainly in Crosman, which makes the top-rated Benjamin Marauder. Other top-rated guns include the Weihrauch HW110K, Hatson PileDriver, BRK Ghost, FX Impact Galatian III Carbine, BSA Goldstar and more. If you plan on deer hunting with one, it’s important to note that minimum of thirty caliber.
“I think more and more people may try these, but they won’t replace firearms in the mainstream market, that’s for sure,” Simmons said. “But you never know. We never thought crossbows would be so popular, but look at how many people use them now. I think Louisiana was a few years late getting in on that trend.”
According to Crosman, the idea of pumping air into a large reservoir in a rifle (pre-charging it) and allowing only part of it to escape each time the rifle is shot has been utilized for a very long time. The advantages of pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifles are obvious. Reloading is rapid and essentially noiseless, only air moves at the time of firing, and there is no need for a long receiver in which a piston can move.
The reservoir may be left filled when stored so the rifle can remain ready for use. These types of air rifles are generally very fast and accurate as a result of their fixed barrel design. The fact that only air moves when the rifle is shot also contributes to outstanding accuracy and minimal recoil. They are also much quieter than normal firearms.
There are also disadvantages to pre-charged pneumatics. The main disadvantage is that the reservoir of a PCP air rifle must be filled in some way, most commonly with a compressor or by means of a special pump. If you use a hand pump, a large number of strokes are required to fill a reservoir to the required pressure of 2,000-3,000 psi. After the reservoir is filled, up to 25-30 shots can be shot without having to recharge the reservoir. Another disadvantage of these types of air rifles is that unless the filled reservoir has enough compressed air for a sufficient number of shots for the hunt, a pump must be brought along. These rifles are also pricey.
Most sporting goods dealers are well versed in what is available and the laws concerning their use. But like everything else outdoors, the user is responsible for making sure equipment is legal. If you plan on getting involved with PCP shooting, do your research on both the guns and the applications of the laws surrounding their use.
If you have questions concerning the legal use of these devices in Louisiana, you can also contact your local LDWF regional office at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/contact-us.
Air rifle history reaches back relatively far, all the way back to 1886. The first recorded BB gun was invented by William F. Markham. Markham’s invention was made of maple wood and powered by a spring piston, using 0.180-inch lead shotgun birdshot as ammo — which was measured as “BB,” between the sizes B and BBB.