In the 17th century, air guns, in calibers .30–.51, were used to hunt big game deer and wild boar. These air rifles were charged using a pump to fill an air reservoir and gave velocities from 650 to 1,000 feet per second (200–300 m/s). They were also used in warfare; the most recognized example being the Girandoni Military Repeating Air Rifle.
At that time, they had compelling advantages over the primitive firearms of the day. For example, air guns could be discharged in wet weather and rain (unlike matchlock muskets), and repeatedly discharged faster than muzzle-loading guns. Moreover, they were quieter than a firearm of similar caliber, had no muzzle flash, and were smokeless. Thus, they did not disclose the shooter's position or obscure the shooter's view, unlike the Black powder muskets of the 18th and 19th centuries.