AGD was my go to when I coached an air rifle team. Pyramyd is also pretty good in their selection. I know what you mean about the springers - they recoil forward, or feel as if they do. I have no real problem with them, but you do have to shoot a little different than conventional guns. Thanks for input.
Actually springers have a double recoil. They first recoil forward, then when the piston hits the stop, it recoils rearwards. This is why they destroy scopes that are not specifically designed for them. A high dollar scope that will last forever on a diet of level 2 45/70 loads will give up the ghost fairly quickly if put on a springer.
Also because of the unique recoil of a springer you should familiarize yourself with the artillery hold. It’s exactly what it sounds like. If you have ever watched a howitzer fire, that’s exactly what a springer does. And it’s how you need to let your springer operate when it is in your hands. A springer locked into a lead sled usually gives poor accuracy.
As to caliber, it really depends on what you are hunting. I have taken many squirrel, rabbit, and starling with the 177. But you are correct, a misplaced shot can leave a critter to run away and become lost. I think you will be happier with something between 20 and 25 caliber. Before the great fire of ‘99, one of my favorite small game rifles was the Benjamin Sheridan Blue Streak in 20 caliber.
Today, I have no pneumatic air rifles, mine are either gas or spring / piston driven. And I stick with 177 or 22 caliber. Simply because of supply. I can get the .20 and .25 pellets, but I have to go to a dedicated sporting goods store to get them. That means at least a 1 1/2 hour round trip drive for me. (Yes, I know I can order on line) I can pick up .177 and .22 pellets at the local Wally World ( 30 minute drive round trip) or the local hardware store that’s literally within walking distance.
As to velocity? I look for at least 1000 fps with the 177 and 800 fps with the 22 if I am going to seriously hunt with them. My favorite today is the RWS 48 .22 caliber which is rated at 900 fps. I have taken everything from squirrels to whistle pigs and raccoons very effectively with the rifle.
FWIW, the RWS 48 is a springer, but it’s not a break barrel, it is a side lever. Much easier to use than a break barrel. I would suggest you look into a side lever rifle.
Finally, the springers are known for dieselling. Be sure to use oil to keep the seals supple, but a dab will do you. Too much and the spring piston guns act just like a cylinder of a Diesel engine. The compressed super-heated air will ignite the excess oil and produce a report not unlike the Winchester Rim-Fire cartridge.
hope this helps @histed