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An air gun is also known as an air rifle can be a pistol (air pistol), or shotgun that fires projectiles by means of compressed air or other gas, in contrast to a firearm which fires projectiles by means of a burning propellant. Most air guns use metallic projectiles as ammunition. A few use arrows. Air guns that only use plastic projectiles are classified as airsoft guns.
Although airsoft rifles may look and feel somewhat like the real thing that's where the similarity ends. Airsoft guns are non-lethal because they only fire a 6mm plastic pellet. These are available in variety of weights as well as in glow-in-the-dark and paintball variants and are ideal for tin can or home target shooting.
The neat thing about airsoft rifles are that you can own just about any rifle or assault rifle you can imagine - from the old Thomson submachinegun to the far more modern H&K G36 special ops assault weapon. You can buy a standard sighted rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, sawn off shotgun, assault pistol and also standard carbines. Heck you can even own the Marine M-41A assault rifle from the Alien (TM) movies - it's a modifier kit for an M4 airsoft rifle but having this option is still incredible and a real bonus for the airsoft fans who also love sci-fi.
Once you've picked the model you want you then need to choose what type of firing system the gun will have. Airsoft guns can be purchased in spring, gas and AEG (airsoft electric gun) variants with AEGs offering the highest firing rates and usually the highest pellet velocities. Certain spring powered airsoft rifles can outperform electric airsofts in single shot power however - so bear this in mind when you're buying your new gun. Spring powered are the cheapest, gas powered are next up from there and finally AEGs top the table in terms of cost (but also in terms of features and fun).
Words can't really express the feeling of excitement you feel when you get your first air rifle gun. There's hours of fun target and tin can shooting ahead of you. Have fun with your gun and stay safe!