Air Power for the Apocalypse: SIG Air’s ASP 20 Break Barrel Air Rifle

SIG ASP20 break barrel airgun

The American made SIG Sauer ASP20 is the most advanced break barrel system in the world. SIG’s new high-performance gas-piston break barrel air rifle delivers great terminal energy and accuracy with minimal cocking effort. Available in .177 and .22 calibers, this rifle can do anything a .22 LR firearm can do quieter and cheaper with less regulation.

Break barrel rifles are typically cheaper to buy and shoot than other designs. Their big appeal to me is all you need are pellets and your rifle. No air tanks, external pumps or gunpowder. The energy comes from you, the shooter, and is renewable.

Thanks to the SIG engineers in Newington, New Hampshire, your as yet unborn great grandkids should be able to shoot this rifle. With the ASP20, you can hunt small game such as squirrels and rabbits out to 40 yards depending on your pellet choice and marksmanship.

SIG ASP20 Cocking Mechanism
Photo courtesy of SIG

The ASP20 is powered by a gas piston cocked before each shot. SIG claims that their proprietary GlideLite cocking mechanism cocks at 33 lbs. versus a 50 lb. cocking force in other similar guns. The barrel folds at the action and you cock the ASP20 by grasping the stock and barrel. 

The large action and short overall length brings the pivot point closer to your body, reducing the effort required to cock. This is pretty easy for one round, but after shooting one hundred pellets over a couple of hours I felt like I was leaving chest and arm day at the gym. Most people don’t shoot like this and when hunting it would never be an issue.

Because it is an air gun, the ASP20 is unregulated and comes with an integral suppressor. Having seen some rough places going through rough times, the ability to quietly hunt small game with cheap and easy to store pellets is very appealing.

For extreme preppers, you can even make your own pellets. Lead is easy to work with no other heat source than a campfire. Molds are easy to make, you can make a Pellet mold out of a pair of cheap pliers, and with some molten lead, produce your own ammunition.

I tested this gun with a variety of pellets, some of dubious origin which are not far removed in quality from homemade. These Diablo pellets were bought in a bazaar in Afghanistan and functioned well. When using less than quality pellets your accuracy may suffer significantly, I suggest a stock of SIG pellets.

Made in somebody’s back yard in Iran

Townsend Whelen had it right when he said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” The guys at Newington feel the same way. SIG makes their own precision barrels at SIG’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

SIG engineers developed a proprietary breech-locking system to consistently align the barrel to the action. This eliminates barrel droop and improves accuracy by bringing the barrel back to a consistent precise position for each shot.
Photo courtesy of SIG

ASP MatchLite Trigger

No matter how inherently accurate the rifle, you need a good trigger to get the best performance from your gun. The ASP MatchLite trigger is smooth and adjusts to the shooter’s needs. The straight trigger blade is carefully balanced and has a nice feel to it. 

The pull weight of the two-stage trigger is easily adjustable using a setscrew at the rear of the compression tube. It can be set to break at one of eight different pull rates – from 2.5 to 4 pounds in 2-ounce increments. The length of the stage one pull is also adjustable and can be eliminated if desired.

The new SIG Matchlite trigger is clean and smooth. Drawing provided by SIG Air.

Trigger adjustments can sometimes lead to dangerous situations. The ASP20’s Matchlite trigger keeps everything safe by limiting adjustments to within a box of acceptable high and low settings. The trigger pull weight adjustment screw bottoms out when turned to the limit in one direction and turns without effect when it reaches the other limit. This keeps you from unintentionally establishing unsafe parameters while still giving you full control to set the pull weight where you like it.

Shooting and Accuracy

The ASP20 in .22 far exceeded my expectations for accuracy. I was told by the rep from SIG that the ASP was a different kind of cat, but I have a suspicious nature. I shot hundreds of rounds in my basement and at 10 yards, it makes one hole, even standing unsupported with cheap pellets.

I took it to the range. My first surprise was when two different shooters came down the line to look at my ASP20 and said “Is that the new SIG? I am thinking about buying one.” I shot at 25 yards and confirmed my zero. The group was very good, even though there was a gusting wind up to 12 mph.

One trick I learned from SEAL sniper Rich Hansing at Tridentis Tactical, don’t shoot up the center of your target when you are shooting tight groups. If you shoot a hole in your aiming point, it changes your sight picture.

As I moved my target out to 50 yards, the .22LR rifle guys said, “You can’t shoot that far with an airgun.” Turns out that they were wrong. In spite of my fumbling and the wind, it held surprising groups at 50 yards with SIG Wraith Ballistic Alloy pellets. I take ownership of the flyers.

The range and the size of the game you can take is limited and the break barrel is single shot, so if you miss then you might not get another shot. With the accuracy inherent in this system, you won’t miss very often.

The SIG ASP20 has a permanently attached integral silencer.

Silencer

The ASP20 is 45.6 inches long overall with 13.9-inch pull. Ergonomics are excellent and the controls are all ambidextrous. The 13.8-inch barrel has a permanently attached integral silencer. This ASP silencer uses a central spindle with a core divided into three segments, each wrapped with felt. The gas piston in this rifle is very quiet, making the ASP20 one of the quietest spring-piston airguns ever.

The sound of conventional air rifles can range from very quiet to almost as loud as .22 Long Rifle. When a pellet is pushed faster than the speed of sound, it produces a sharp “crack”.  I prefer .22 caliber air rifles because they can shoot a larger, heavier pellet, retaining energy while not exceeding the speed of sound.

An ambidextrous safety is located on the stock outside the trigger guard.  The safety location makes it easy to engage using either hand.

Scope

The SIG SAUER Whiskey3 ASP scope is a special model specifically designed to fit the ASP 20 air rifle. The magnification range is from 4 to 12 power using a 44mm diameter objective lens. The second focal plane reticle is calibrated in Mils.

SIG’s Whiskey3 ASP Scope has simple controls to make precise adjustments. The European style eyepiece provides precise reticle focus.

My rifle came with a Whiskey3 scope already mounted. There is a Picatinny rail laser welded to the top of the spring tube to prevent distortion. The mount is precise and solid providing a consistent base to eliminate scope creep. The extreme bi-directional recoil of air rifles is a huge challenge for scope makers.

The first thing you notice about the SIG SAUER Whiskey3 ASP scope is the pellet drop compensation turrets. Ballistically matched to SIG pellets, it allows the shooter to dial in the distance to the target. Once you have sighted in with the desired pellet, you can dial the turret to the distance to your target and put the crosshairs on the desired point of impact or you can use hold offs from the reticle for faster reaction.

The power ring ahead of the eyepiece makes 4 to 12 power zoom quick and easy. Low power lets you see a lot, high magnification focuses on what you need to see.

Index marks on the objective bell provide adjustment for parallax from 7 yards and to infinity. This provides a crisp reticle and supports a crude range finding capability. The Whiskey3 ASP is certified for waterproof (IPX-7 rated for complete immersion up to 1 meter) and fog-proof operation.

Hunting

If you are going to use an airgun for hunting, you must understand energy transfer. Both an air gun and firearm use energy to take down game. Force equals ½ the mass times the velocity squared.

This means that a specific combination of mass (bullet weight) and velocity will transfer a specific amount of energy to game to take it down. Heavier bullets and/or greater velocity allow you to take down larger game at longer distances. Bullet design can also affect energy transfer.

A high muzzle velocity does not make a better air rifle. The muzzle energy is a more accurate gauge of the effectiveness of air rifles. Accuracy and retained energy are better with a heavier projectile leaving the barrel at subsonic speed and they are quieter.

Powered by a gas piston, the .177 caliber ASP20 delivers 20 foot-pounds (ft-lbs) of energy with a muzzle velocity of 1021 feet per second (fps) using an 8.64-grain lead pellet while the .22 caliber delivers 23 ft-lbs of energy and a muzzle velocity of 841 fps with a 14.65-grain lead pellet. 

Shot placement is very important when hunting and headshots are the most humane way to take game. Both .177 and .22 caliber air guns can take small game, which caliber is preferred depends on your situation. The .177 caliber ASP20 air rifle is suitable for small game such as squirrels, crows, and rodents while the .22 caliber model can handle slightly larger animals such as woodchucks and groundhogs.  

Features – SIG Sauer ASP20 Gas-Piston Breakbarrel Air Rifle

Gas-Piston

Breakbarrel

Weaver/Picatinny Rail

Black Synthetic Stock

Integrated Suppressor

2-Stage Adjustable MatchLite® Trigger, 2.5-4 lbs trigger pull

GlideLite™ Cocking Mechanism

Wedge Lock Breech System eliminates barrel droop

All these features add up to a best in class break barrel air rifle that lives up to SIG’s reputation for quality and technological innovation. The ASP 20’s cocking effort, advanced trigger system, integral scope mount, precision barrel and lock up provide team up for exceptional performance and fun shooting on a budget. It’s ideal for hunting small game such as squirrels and rabbits out to 40 yards depending on your pellet choice and marksmanship.

MSRP $389.99

For more information visit SIG Sauer website.

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About the author: Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Neil Schmidt August 28, 2019, 10:11 am

    Mark: thanks for such a well-written article. Comprehensive and with good photos. Since I am in the market for my first pellet rifle to QUIETLY handle pests on our 2-acre property in Arizona, I’ll take a close look at the ASP20.

  • Stephen Stuckert’s August 27, 2019, 6:41 am

    Where can I order one of these for $389.99 ?

  • Chuck August 26, 2019, 12:19 pm

    Any idea of the ring height on this setup? Looks like a high or medium. I may just get one.

    • Ted October 9, 2019, 7:30 pm

      Medium with a one inch rings and you’ll be great

  • Altoids August 26, 2019, 9:07 am

    I’ve had an RWS / Diana .22 breakbarrel for years. Used it for dispatching pesky ground squirrels.
    Very effective, powerful, accurate and not a toy!
    Looks as if this SIG rifle contains some fairly significant improvements.

  • Jack D Hopkins August 26, 2019, 5:40 am

    I am overseas now, but will be back in Texas by mid September. I am interested in the .22 in black synthetic. Even though I now it is not necessary, I am an FFL (HOPSGUNSHOP). Would like more info on this weapon as well as pellet prices.
    Thanks fellow patriots,
    Jack

  • Will Drider August 23, 2019, 9:57 am

    Sigs air guns are the result of Sigs Parent Company buying an Air Gun Company. Then they merged technology and some manufacturing. There have been good Reviews for their CO2 pistols too. FWIW: This is not your avg Wally mart airgun.

    I use a “Springer” rifle as skills warm up gun a day prior to shooting long gun at the Range.

  • Jon August 23, 2019, 7:18 am

    Nice rifle.
    Wish mine had a trigger like that.
    Most break top air rifles are not very accurate due to the lock wearing and becoming sloppy.

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