How Many Times Can you Pump a BB or Pellet Gun?


Alrighty, you just got your hands on a BB gun for the first time, you’ve figured out how to pump the thing, and now you are ready to tackle the back yard with it. But, you should probably be sure you know how many times you can pump it before you break anything.

Most BB guns only require one pump. These BB guns usually compress a spring that is used to power the gun. Multi-pump BB guns fill a reservoir with compressed air each time you pump it. They usually require at least three pumps, and no more than ten.

What you need to understand about why these guns require different numbers of pumps has to do with how they get the BB’s to move out of the barrel.

What is the Average Number of Pumps Needed, and Why?

This table is a fair sample of the different airguns that require pumps to operate. As you can see, all springers only need the one pump to ready their springs, but almost all multi pump airguns require somewhere between three and ten pumps to work.

AirgunNumber of Pumps Needed By Airgun
All Springers1
Crosman Recruit3-10
Crosman PumpmasterOpens in a new tab.3-10
Winchester 77XS Opens in a new tab.3-10
Daisy 880Opens in a new tab.2-10
Benajmin Multi-pump Air RifleOpens in a new tab.3-10

So why do some airguns need multiple pumps? Well, simply put, the methods used to generate the compressed air needed to propel the projectile are different. Lever action guns need only one pump, and multi pump guns need… multiple pumps. More on that later.

The classic Red Ryder is a great example of a BB gun that needs only one pump. This gun works by compressing a spring that is then used to move air through the gun, bringing the BB with it.

When you pump the lever, which is usually under the gun, it squeezes that spring, and locks it in place when the action is finished. You might notice that the lever is limp after you pump it, and that is because there is no spring trying to push against it any more.

When you squeeze the trigger, that releases the spring, and then the spring stretches back out really fast, driving a piece in front of it that seals against a chamber around the spring. This piece then compresses the air in front of the spring, and that air moves the BB.

Some big boy air rifles work with the same principles, just a much stronger spring.

Multi pump airguns do not do that at all. They do use compressed air to shoot the BB’s, but there is no spring that creates the air pressure needed to move our BB.

Instead, you pump air directly into a chamber by using some kind of handle on the gun. Usually, that handle will be part of the grip, but sometimes it will very clearly and distinctly look like something you are meant to grab and move more.

Each repeated pump progressively pressurizes the gun, and then you release all of the potential energy you pumped in there all at once when you pull the trigger.

Multi pump air guns have limits on the number of pumps you can put into them, and that limit is usually ten pumps. There are exceptions to that rule, with some being able to handle twelve pumps, but those are intended for higher performance.

If you pump more than your guns limit, you risk breaking things, and that not good. I think that you want your mobile gym to remain fully intact for as long as you need it.

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