What is a Nitro Piston Air Gun – 6 Advantages You Must Know

By Charles •  7 min read

In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at what is a nitro piston air gun. This includes its essential traits, how it operates, and the advantages and disadvantages of owning a nitro piston gun over a spring gun.

Table of Contents

What is a Nitro Piston Air Gun?

A nitro piston air gun is a break barrel gun that uses nitrogen as the power plant instead of a coiled spring. The nitrogen-filled cylinder is kept under extreme pressure until the trigger is pulled. Then the pressurized air thrusts the piston forward and pushes the pellet out.

What Is A Nitro Piston Air Gun – A Little Background

The Crosman Corporation (the creator of this technology) was founded in 1924 by Frank Hahn and enjoyed first success with its 12-gram CO2 Powerlet, which became a template for basically all CO2 air guns manufactured in modern times.

In 2009, Crosman signed an agreement for the exclusive license to make and sell Vortek gas piston technology, calling it the Crosman Nitro Piston. This technology was said to provide a wide array of benefits, such as little recoil, better vibration dampening, lower decibels, and improved shooting accuracy, among others.

what is a nitro piston air gun

The first nitro piston gun released by Crosman was the Nitro Piston Short Stroke. Then, in 2014, Crosman introduced the Nitro Piston 2. This new gun has a great number of advancements. The first advancement includes reduced vibration (thanks to the insertion of a brake mechanism at the end of the stroke). In addition, they eliminated of all metal-to-metal contact to further suppress noise and wear.

What Are The Advantages Of The Nitro Piston Air Gun Over A Spring Air Gun?

When you first get your hands on a nitro piston air gun, you’ll immediately notice the difference when compared with ordinary spring air guns. Let’s elaborate on the pros:


When compared to spring guns, nitro piston air guns do feel much lighter. This might be due to the absence of a steel spring, which, while not unbearably heavy, can get taxing after a while.


Recoil is the backward movement that is felt by the shooter as the bullet is shot. This happens because the bullet will exert a force in the opposite direction that is equal to the one propelling it forward. Some will describe it as a “jump” or “bounce” that is experienced with each shot.

With nitro piston guns, recoils will be much less pronounced, for the piston extends more smoothly than the spring and doesn’t produce as much vibration on the barrel.

This perk will enhance the shooting accuracy and feel of the gun. Not only that, but you won’t need to worry as much about the recoil affecting your Point of Impact (the point at which the projectile hits).

Firing Speed

The nitro piston is said to fire shots roughly 50% faster than a coiled spring gun, and 15% faster than an ordinary gas piston. Additionally, thanks to its faster lock time, you will be able to fire faster and with more precision.

In addition, many coiled spring guns have a stiffer trigger pull. This means the trigger meets more resistance due to the spring and because the grease that is used to lubricate the mechanism hardens.

With nitro piston guns, this is much less of a problem thanks to their high-tech lubrication.


You’ll feel much less strain when cocking a nitro piston gun, as it only requires about 28 lb. of cocking effort. Spring coil air guns demand a bit more than this.

Additionally, when you cock a spring gun and leave it cocked for a prolonged period, the spring will eventually lose its strength as it basically adapts to the new position. The gun’s firing power suffers as a result (and, consequently, also the accuracy).

To give an idea of what this means, cocked spring air guns can lose approximately 5% of velocity in over 4 weeks of being left cocked. Moreover, a quarter of the firing power can be lost after 3 months.

The nice thing about gas is that it doesn’t wear out over time when left in an enclosed area. This means you can leave your nitro piston air gun sitting somewhere cocked and it won’t affect the velocity at all.

However, it’s always advisable to shoot or unload and un-cock the air gun after every use.  Not only is this a safety factor, it also helps to avoid getting the bore and the seal stuck together.


Due to the friction of the spring mechanism, a spring fired air gun will generate at least 70% more noise than a nitro piston air gun.

Life Cycle

Nitro piston guns can fire up to 10,000 shots before losing their prime. The typical spring gun starts showing its age after 5,000 shots due to the spring weakening, especially as air gunners make 100% compressions for better performance.

What Are the Disadvantages of Nitro Piston Air Guns?

I was hard-pressed to find any disadvantages of nitro piston air guns in relation to common spring guns. The pros severely outweigh the cons. Nevertheless, make no mistake, cons still exist.

Gas Ram Failure

Flawed spring air rifles can still work (somewhat), while a defective gas ram won’t work at all.

Replacement Ram

Nitro ram replacements and nitrogen struts are hard to find in the event you’d want to do some modification or service on these types of air guns.

Final Thoughts – What Is A Nitro Piston Air Gun

You can’t really go wrong with nitro piston air guns. The list of advantages far outweighs the disadvantages, and those disadvantages are relatively minor.

This is not to say that there may not be comparable or even better gun technology, but for your basic air gun needs, a nitro piston air rifle should exceed your expectations.

What Is A Nitro Piston Air Gun – Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does A Nitro Piston Last?

Nitro piston air rifles are a type of air rifle that uses a gas piston to power the projectile. Nitro pistons are known for their longevity, with some shooters reporting 10,000 rounds or more without any issues. As with all things, however, proper maintenance is key to getting the most life out of your nitro piston. Make sure to clean and lube your gun regularly, and inspect it for any signs of wear or damage. With proper care, your nitro piston air rifle should give you years of shooting enjoyment.

How Does A Piston Air Rifle Work?

A piston air rifle works like a spring powered rifle, except that the power source is a coiled metal cylinder, or “piston,” rather than either compressed gas (Nitrogen) or a mechanical spring. In the modern version of this mechanism, the power for cocking and recocking is provided by an integrated form of pneumatic booster based on a small, high-pressure air reservoir.

When the shooter pulls the trigger, the sear releases a catch that allows the piston to drive forward. This compresses the air in front of it and forces the projectile out of the barrel. As the piston moves back, it draws fresh air into the gun from behind the barrel. This recocks the gun, ready for the next shot.

What Is A NP Air Rifle?

A NP Air Rifle is a type of air rifle that uses compressed air to fire projectiles. These rifles are often used for sport shooting and hunting. Some models can also be used for pest control.

Which Is Better Nitro Piston Or Spring?

Both Nitro Piston and Spring have their own advantages and disadvantages. Nitro Piston is known for being quiet, while Spring is known for being more powerful. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.

How Long Can You Leave A Break Barrel Air Gun Cocked?

You can leave a break barrel air gun cocked for an indefinite amount of time, but it’s not recommended. Doing so can wear out the seal and damage the gun. As a general rule, it’s best to cock the gun just before you’re ready to use it.


Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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