We’re not above stealing someone else’s political slogan concept if it serves a noble purpose. Oh, and this rallying cry might be the first ever on which we can all agree. Ready? Hint: it’s related to airgun compressors.
MAAA – Make Air Affordable Again
If you can look past the fact that our new maxim sounds a bit like the bleating of a cow-sheep mutant or maybe a strained and tortuous call for one’s mommy, I think it’s a goal that all of us air gunners can get behind, right? I mean really, we’re surrounded by an infinite amount of free air, yet we have to pay through the nose to get it squished down into the compressed form that modern airguns require to do their thing.
I’m not taking cheap shots (pun fully intended) at airgun companies. I know it’s hard, and expensive, to stuff air into a bottle at pressures one hundred times greater than that of my 2004 Toyota Sequoia tire. What I am doing is jumping on the bandwagon that the airgun industry has already set into motion – Making Air Affordable Again.
Talking to a major airgun company executive at SHOT Show this past January, I was thrilled to hear that one of their top engineering priorities is to develop air compressor solutions that bring costs down into the couple hundred dollars range. Getting that low will take a bit more time, but already we’re seeing big innovations that make at-home air compression much more affordable. One sure thing about technology in virtually any product category is that, over time, functionality goes up while the price comes down.
Already this year we’ve seen announcements from at least three companies for new compressor products well below the traditional four-figure price point. Not only that, the new offerings are small, compact, and perhaps most importantly, powered by both household current and 12-volt DC. That means that the new compressors aren’t chained to the garage or basement at home, but can be run from a car battery, 12-volt lighter outlet, ATV battery, or even a riding lawnmower.
Let’s take a quick look at three of the new offerings.
Crosman / Benjamin Traveler Airgun Compressor
The Benjamin Traveler by Crosman is a portable compressor unit designed to use at home or in the field. The compressor features a short power adapter cord that allows direct attachment of alligator clips like you find on jumper cables. That makes the temporary connection to a vehicle battery simple. If you want to use 110v household current, the same adapter cord allows connection of an external power converter.
The fill hose has a female Foster quick-disconnect fitting common to many airguns. That’s because the Traveler is best suited for direct fill. It’ll also handle filling of smaller tanks up to .6L. The traveler can generate pressures up to 4,500 psi, and the unit features an automatic shutoff to avoid draining your battery and preventing the compressor from overheating.
Air Venturi Nomad Airgun Compressor
The Air Venturi Nomad is a small and compact solution that offers a whopping 4,500 psi of air pressure. About the same size as a shoebox, it’s just 7.7 inches wide, 10.3 inches long and 5.7 inches tall. It weighs 17 pounds, so it’s no big deal to toss in the car or ATV for a range outing.
The Nomad is designed to fill airguns directly although there’s no reason you couldn’t use it to fill small reserve tanks too. As such, it will operate on 110v current at home but also on 12 volt systems like cars, boats, and ATVs.
While you should closely monitor filing, the Nomad does have an automatic pressure shutoff, temperature gauge, and manometer.
According to the Air Venturi folks, you can expect fill times like the following.
- Benjamin Marauder Pistol (65cc): 0-3,000 psi in approx. 3 minutes
- Diana Stormrider (100cc): 0-3,000 psi in approximately 3:45 minutes
- Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC (231cc): 1,450-2,900 psi in approximately 5:30 minutes
- Ataman M2R Carbine Ultra Compact (130cc): 0-4,350 psi in approximately 8 minutes
- Evanix Rainstorm (250cc): 0 – 3,000 psi in approximately 9 minutes
- Airforce Texan (490cc): 0-3,000 psi in approximately 17 minutes
MSRP: $549.99. Available in May 2018.
AirForce Airguns E-Pump Airgun Compressor
The AirForce Airguns E-Pump shares the same 4,500 psi output and AC/DC operational features with the Benjamin Traveler and Air Venturi Nomad, so it’s perfect for filling airguns at home or in the field.
It’s a little larger than the other options, weighing in at 40 pounds but according to the manufacturer, generates little to no heat and offers extremely quiet operation. If you’re looking for a more house-friendly option that won’t frighten the dog, perhaps this is the right option for you.
The E-Pump has an onboard pressure gauge and an adjustable cutoff switch although AirForce recommends monitoring the unit during all fill operations. The filling hose is fitted with a female Foster quick-disconnect common to many airguns and tanks. If your gun uses a probe or other connection interface, it’s easy enough to adapt from a Foster.
MSRP: $899.95. The AirForce E-Pump is expected to be available by mid-April 2018.
These portable compressor solutions aren’t intended to take the place of larger and more capable models. As portability is the primary design feature, you’re going to make some tradeoffs. Fill speed won’t be as fast, and while these units have in-line moisture catches, they’re probably not going to match the dry air capabilities of those full-size $1,300 models.
The new breed of portable compressors are most certainly going to expand the market for pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) airguns. Priced to appeal to individual users, these offerings can also serve the needs of small teams, camps, and other group air gunning activities. We love to see competition in this segment as it will quickly benefit the consumer as companies strive to offer more capability for less money.