I’m a PCP airgun snob. It’s a problem I’ll readily confess but, if I’m to be brutally honest, I’ll never try to get over it.
There’s something about the smooth and quiet action that appeals to me. No strange mechanical noises or sensations. And its inherent multi-shot power capability. Oh, and the ability to tune power and ammunition for the desired result. And last, but not least, the solution is just plain elegant. To me, it’s the shawl-lapel tuxedo of airguns. Storing pre-compressed air in the handgun or rifle allows the user to focus on shooting, not charging. It’s like the centerfire world. After you load a firearm, it’s ready to go until the pre-installed ammunition supply is exhausted. It’s the same with PCP.
Of course, the challenge is getting all that compressed air into the airgun in the first place. One affordable way to do that is to use a high-pressure hand pump. Like a bicycle pump on steroids, this solution works but will give you a serious workout between shot strings. I suppose if you want to practice precision shooting while your heart rate is 425 that could be a benefit. Another option is to use interim storage devices, or air cylinders, to tote around a copious supply of 3,000 to 4,500 psi air. These cylinders can fill a handgun or rifle dozens of times, depending on their capacity. You’re still left with the problem of how to fill the filling cylinder, so it’s a bit of a circular logic solution. Most accept the need to make a periodic visit to the local dive shop or paintball center. The last option is to invest in your own air compressor. This is the ideal solution except for one minor detail. Historically, these have been priced in the four-figure dollar range. Even though we gleefully drop a grand or so on smartphones, that’s a tough pill to swallow for a shooting accessory. Why we cling to that logic I can’t explain.
Over the past year, we’ve seen several affordable air compressor products hit the market. When I say “affordable” I’m talking about the three-digit price range instead of four.
Take for example the Air Venturi Nomad II 4500 PSI Portable Compressor. There are a lot of words in its name, but for good reason. If you guessed that it delivers the practical airgun maximum requirement of 4,500 pounds per square inch, you’d be right. Oh, and it delivers dry air (healthy for your fancy PCP airgun) thanks to its inline moisture filtration system. The inserts are disposable, but plenty come with the unit to get you started.
The portable part (and of course the aggressive $699.99 retail price) are what make this unit special. It comes boxed with a sturdy canvas carrying case equipped with generous compartments for other accessories. There’s a place for the included alligator clips and cable for 12-volt system use. Yes, this little guy runs off 110/200 and 12-volt power systems, so you can power it from your car, boat, or ATV.
What it lacks in size (an epic benefit for sure!) it makes up for in features and function. The Nomad II has a pressure gauge with an easy-to-set maximum fill pressure dial. I just topped off an FX Wildcat Mk II which takes a maximum of 230 Bar. After rotating the dial to 230, I hit the “GO” button and watched. Sure enough, when pressure hit the 230 mark, the unit stopped delivering air. You should always monitor the filling process as you’re dealing with big pressure, but the shut-off feature is handy to be sure. Speaking of power, there are two “on” buttons on the Nomad II. The first powers the unit. The second starts the compressor itself. I found this feature handy as the cooling fans, lights and status indicators run when you’re not filling.
There are a couple of other niceties you won’t find on other portable compressor models. There is a moisture drain on the bottom and an oil fill port—silicone only please! One of the more significant hidden features is the internal power supply. There’s no extra box to lug around if you want to run off home power. Even still, the entire unit is not much bigger than a 12-pack of canned beverages.
Last but not least is the led lighting. Like a souped-up hot rod, this compressor has a blue LED light system under the chassis. So the light seeps out from under the bottom as you’re using the compressor. Hey, it’s all the rage in street rods and sweet boats, so why not?
Portable units like the Air Venturi Nomad II aren’t designed to fill large air cylinders; they’re designed for direct fill of PCP air rifles and pistols. That’s OK because, with its 12-volt power options and easy to carry size, you don’t need a reserve tank anyway. While the company published estimated fill times for many guns (below) from dead zero to topped off, that’s a rare scenario in practical use. Once you take a new airgun out of the box and start using it, you won’t let it drain to empty anyway—you’re just topping off when the pressure drops a thousand psi or so. Given that, you can count on just a few minutes for the fill required to resume shooting.
If you’re a PCP airgun shooter, this is one of those must-have wish list items. It’s still not inexpensive, but considering that you’re getting a lifetime supply of free air (after the initial purchase) it’s a bargain. It wasn’t long ago that this type of functionality cost as much as a used Jeep.
- Adjustable auto-shutoff
- Pressures up to 4500 psi
- Integrated LED lights on underside of the unit for low light use
- Capable of running off of a 110V or 220V outlet or 12V car battery
- Power supply for electrical outlet use is built into the unit
- Compressor includes carrying handle
- External Lubrication Port (Use Silicone Lubricant only)
- Jumper Cables included
- Hose w/ integrated moisture catch and female QD fittings
- Noise level while running is 92 dB.
- Dimensions: 10.6″ L x 8″ W x 7.9″
- Weight: 19.6 lbs
- Ships with travel bag for easy transportation
Approximate fill times:
- Benjamin Marauder Pistol (65cc): 0-3000 psi in approx. 3 min
- Diana Stormrider (100cc): 0-3000 psi in approx. 3:45 min
- Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC (231cc): 1450-2900 psi in approx. 5:30 min
- Ataman M2R Carbine Ultra Compact (130cc): 0-4350 psi in approx. 8 min
- Evanix Rainstorm (250cc): 0 – 3000 psi in approx. 9 minutes
- Airforce Texan (490cc): 0-3000 psi in approx. 17 min