Multi Pump Airguns VS. Break Barrel Springer Airguns: What’s Better?

Alright, you’ve decided to get into the airgunning world, and having made the decision to jump in, you want to make an informed leap, so, which is better? Multi pump or a break barrel springer?

Break barrel springers are more powerful and quicker to charge than a multi pump, but are more expensive to produce. Multi pump airguns are much cheaper to produce, offer variable amounts of power, and have a fixed barrel design that contributes to accuracy.

Okay, so what makes springers perform generally better? What makes multi pump favorable in other circumstances? Stay tuned to find out.

What are the Advantages of a Springer Airgun?

When you cock a springer airgun, you will notice that it takes more force to cock than a multi pump one would take. That is because all of the energy that you are loading into the gun is being loaded at once. Multi pumps are called multi pumps for a reason after all.

What this translates into is a much quicker reloading time than what a multi pump would take.

I decided to time myself and see what the difference would be, and what I found was a ten second difference between the speed it took me to break the barrel on a typical springer, load the pellet and close the chamber, and what it took me to load a pellet into a typical multi pump, close the chamber, and pump just five times.

It consistently took me seven seconds to load the springer, and consistently seventeen seconds to load the multi pump, curiously, even when I tried to pump up to the full ten pumps. If that doesn’t sound like a terrible difference to you, we probably aren’t looking at it the same way.

If my experience is typical, it will take you over twice as long to load your multi pump airgun, which means whatever you are hunting has more than twice the time to run and hide.

The repeated action of the pumping I found is also more taxing on the arms than the single cocking action of the break barrel even though the individual pumps were not as hard. I’m no fitness expert, but I guess that if you want to get large arms, hunt with a multi pump.

Springers will also usually boast more power than a multi pump will at full strength. You can typically expect your springer to attain around 800-1000 feet per second, the one I was shooting with was firing at around 850 fps with an 8.44 grain pellet (which is the most ideal speed for accuracy), which comes out to about 13 foot pounds of energy.

If you are not familiar with the concept, foot pounds of energy, usually noted with ft lbs, but also some times fpe, is the amount of kinetic energy that your pellet has as it leaves the gun. This will give you a better idea of what the gun is able to do to an animal or other target than fps will, though speed is a good benchmark.

About 13 ft lbs is typical of a springer, and is more than enough to take on any small game that comes your way, and will even allow you to wrastle with some bigger animals, but please don’t go trying to take on a deer with either of these guns, you won’t get the job done.

The multi pump airgun that I was shooting with, at full strength, all ten pumps, clocked in at 622 fps, with the same pellets as the springer was using, 8.44 grains, which comes out at a little over 7 ft lbs, still enough to tackle most small game, and almost any pest that you will come across (typically small game and pests take about 4 ft lbs of energy to kill humanely).

This amount of energy and speed is also typical of multi pump airguns.

What are the Advantages of a Multi Pump Airgun?

A multi pump airguns do have some advantages over a springer however that make them great for specific niche adventures.

Firstly, another name that multi pump airguns go by is the variable hand pump. This isn’t the advantage, but does hint at it. Because you can select the number of pumps that you put into the gun before each shot, you have much more control over the energy delivered to the animal or other target that you are shooting.

Control over energy also means control over penetration. If, for any number of reasons, you don’t feel like over penetrating your target (a perfectly reasonable desire), then you can reduce the number of pumps between shots, which will give you less energy per shot. That can come at the risk of not delivering enough energy to your target.

This quick table will show you the energy outputs of the Crosman Recruit at various pumps, so that you can know what to expect while shooting. Multi pumps usually need between three pumps and ten pumps, usually capping out with ten being the safe limit.

Number of PumpsMuzzle Velocity in feet per second Calculated Muzzle Energy in ft lbs
Kinetic energy can be calculated by this equation: KE=.5m*(v^2) where m is mass, v is velocity, and KE is kinetic energy. It takes about 5 ft lbs to kill a rat effectively.

Although the Crosman Recruit can be considered an entry level airgun, this is pretty typical of what you can expect out of a multi pump airgun. This level of control is something you cannot have in a springer airgun. They have one setting: full power.

That’s totally fine, I like full power, but if I am in a barn shooting rats, and I do not want to risk damaging something too much if I miss, or risk having my pellet punch through the animal, then a multi pump airgun would be more advantageous to have than a springer.

This typically lower power than a springer also makes them better for teenagers to start out on, as an accident with a multi pump, though still can be severe, will not be as bad as an accident with a springer.

One other advantage that your multi pump may have over a break barrel springer is accuracy. Provided that your multi pump is properly rifled, it will prove to be more accurate than a break barrel springer will.

Why? Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, because the barrel of a break barrel springer is not fixed, it will well… move around of necessity. This constant motion of breaking open the barrel and closing it means that you won’t know if your barrel is a millimetre off or not.

Wow, a whole millimetre, I know, but what that translates to down range is looser groups at further ranges quicker than a fixed barrel gun. This difference is typically negligible, and some of the most accurate airguns have been break barrel springers, but the accuracy will become more apparent quicker than in another gun.

There are models of springers that don’t break the barrel, opting for a side or underlever action that opens a sliding breech, keeping your barrel fixed firmly in place. Sig Sauer has a model of break barrel springer that is able to go back into place exactly, every time.

Springers also generate the compressed air they need by well… using a spring. That means that there is a mechanical motion inside of the gun when you pull the trigger. Normally, with an airgun, you open a valve, but with a springer, you allow a part to move. That part has mass, which means it has inertia, which means it will push the gun around as it moves inside of the gun.

So springers don’t just have a kick back (which usually isn’t much), their kick back is kind of finicky. If you don’t know the proper technique, you can destroy your accuracy. Hold the gun loosely, and with your forward hand, have the gun rest in your open palm. This will allow the gun to move how it needs to to keep the accuracy right.

You may also like to know that the best speed for accuracy with a pellet gun is about 850 fps, and a multi pump will rarely, if ever, break 700 fps.

Rememeber how I said that provided your multi pump is properly rifled, then it will prove more accurate than a springer? I said that because some times, a multi pump will not have rifling in the barrel, which improves accuracy by placing spiraling grooves inside the barrel that spin the projectile, giving it accuracy, and instead have a smooth bore.

Sometimes multi pump guns can fire both BB’s and pellets. If that is the case, then they need to be made to accommodate the BB’s, and they do that by either not rifling the barrel, or making the rifling particularly tough. The soft lead of pellets is easy on a rifled barrel, where the hard steel or sometimes copper of BB’s will scratch and cause unnecessary wear on the barrel over time.

The fact that multi pump guns have the option of also shooting BB’s can be another advantage for you, as BB’s are cheaper than pellets are. In fact, multi pump airguns are usually much cheaper than springers are, often coming around $50, where springers are often four times that price.

What Gun Would I Use?

Personally, I prefer to shoot the springers for target practice over the multi pumps. Their quicker reloading speed combined with the fact that they usually reach the right velocities to have the best accuracy, but come with the added challenge of managing the special recoil of the spring, means that that is my preferred option, generally.

If I were in an open field, say on a farm, and shooting pest birds, the springer would be the preferred option, as it will do well at dispatching the birds, and over peneration in those environments is not a huge risk.

If, however, I were in a barn, and were shooting smaller pests and was afraid of damaging something should I miss or over penetrate, then I would opt for the multi pump.

If I were on a tighter budget and didn’t care about performance, I just wanted something to shoot soda cans with, then a multi pump would also work well for that purpose.

Tanner Rydalch

Hey there, I'm Tanner. I grew up in Idaho, where there is plenty of space for shooting. I think Airguns can be a lot of fun and are a great introduction to firearms.

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