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SMK Supergrade 208 Air Rifle Series

SMK Supergrade 208 Air Rifle Series

There’s no doubting the timeless appeal of the good old spring-piston airgun. Ultra sophisticated pneumatic designs maybe stealing the headlines and pushing the boundaries with regards to technology, but the traditional ‘springer’ still takes some beating for pure enjoyment.

Break-barrel designs are arguably the most enjoyable of the lot, since their inherent, no-nonsense configuration delivers simple, stress free shooting, and it’s no surprise that most shooters’ first experience of the world of airguns, was with just such a design..

The SMK Supergrade Series

And so to my quartet of rifles under the spotlight this month, which all hail from the SMK Supergrade 208 Series. SMK is short for Sportsmarketing, which is an impressively large operation based in Colchester. They have many different product ranges in their portfolio, and this ‘208’ range are full-powered adult proportioned rifles, catering for the shooter on a tight budget. Since all four of my test rifles have an identical spring-powered action at their heart, we’ll study the pros and cons of their respective furniture first, before casting an eye over the mechanics.


SMK XS208 Deluxe Sporter

Weighing in at 7.3lbs the XS208 Deluxe Sporter offers a conventional, rather conservative hardwood stock configuration, but with an extended, not to mention stylish fore-end, and rubber butt pad, it’s not wanting in the visuals department. Rather snazzy plastic fibre optic open sights come fitted to this model, which are very precise, and a real asset if this rifle is purchased as a beginner’s gun. Often overlooked in the rush for glassware, open sights offer can offer valuable lessons in the art of shooting, if the time can be taken to use them. Fibre optics provide tiny fluorescent fibres that make use of any available ambient light. The shooter is presented with a sight picture appearing as one fluorescent orange dot at the muzzle between two tiny green dots at the rear, and the end result is highly effective.


SMK TH208 Thumbhole Sporter

Weighing in at 8.4lbs, the TH208 Thumbhole Sporter is significantly heavier than the previous rifle, and as the name suggests, the woodwork here includes an ambidextrous thumb-through design. The raised cheek-piece is defined on this model, with a ventilated (albeit a little hard) rubber butt pad. The fore-end is near identical to the ‘Deluxe’, save for a panel of rather shallow chequering on the sides, but if thumbholes appeal to you, then this is your model. In place of the sights with this version, comes a very sleek looking muzzle weight, which fixes to the barrel via twin grub screws. The added weight upfront adds real poise, and basically counterbalances the density of the stock at the butt. 


SMK SKL208 Skeleton Hunter

Next up - the highly unusual SKL208 Skeleton Hunter, and this has to be my personal favourite. Whilst it may look a little utilitarian, the cut-away profile section results in the centre of balance being so much further forward than the others. For my style of shooting, this rifle just sit on the target, and with this version also tipping the scales at 8.4lbs, the wobbles are minimized too! That tasteful muzzle weight is again used on this model, and with blanking studs replacing the open sights, the end result is a highly distinctive rifle.


SMK SYNSG Supergrade

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The final version in my line-up is the SYNSG Supergrade, and yes, you can be forgiven for thinking it looks familiar. A virtual clone of a certain German sporter, the black synthetic stock really does look the part, and with crisp chequering and flowing lines, it genuinely feels good in the shoulder. The synthetic compound is nicely moulded and pleasant to touch, suffice to say that this rifle has a good start from the off.


What They All Have In Common

The action fitted to each rifle includes a full-length 19inch barrel, which personally I always prefer over any shortened carbines, for both improved balance and extra leverage when the actions are cocked. It’s that downwards stroke of the barrel, don’t forget, that compresses the main-spring and drives back the piston, so anything that reduces that effort has to be a good thing in my book!

A manual safety catch sits to the rear of the cylinder, just above a pseudo two-stage trigger, which is par for the course on a rifle such as these 208 derivatives. Take up the first stage and gently pull through a rather long creepy second stage, and the shot releases. Hardly the best of units, but it would be churlish to expect much better, given the astonishing retail prices of these models.

Cocking the action and compressing the mainspring was surprisingly civilized, although some luck will be involved in just how smooth a particular example is over another. My testing began with SMK’s own Spitfire brand of pellets, and whilst these would help keep costs down, in my opinion, it’s worth paying a little bit more for superior pellets, unless the rifle is bought for pure plinking fun, that is. Chronograph testing revealed just why.

Over ten shot strings, the Spitfire pellets returned 36fps of variation, whereas this spread was slashed to a highly creditable 12fps when Falcon Accuracy Plus pellets were chambered. With fairly mild manners (i.e. no spring twang and moderate recoil), these Supergrade ‘208’s gave a good account of themselves.

Expect groups of around 1.25 inch at 30yds and you won’t be disappointed.

Conclusions

With these Supergrade 208 derivatives, SMK has all bases covered, and if you’re in the market for a full-powered budget rifle, bristling with features, at a knock-down price, then get down to your local gunshop and make the Grade!

Velocity using .22 Using Falcon Accuracy Plus:
High: 645fps
Low: 609fps
Average: 640fps
Spread: 36ps over 10 shots

Velocity using SMK Spitfire Pellets:
High: 42fps
Low: 630fps
Average: 633ps
Spread: 12fps

PRICE: £139.95 / £199.95 / £199.95 / £139.95

gun
features

  • Model: XS208 Deluxe Sporter / TH208 Thumbhole / SKL208 Skeleton / SYNSG Supergrade
  • Type: All budget break barrel spring/piston rifles
  • Calibre: All .22 on test/.177 available
  • Weight: 7.3lbs / 8.4lbs / 8.4lbs / 7.3lbs
  • Length: 45.5inches / 45inches / 45.5inches / 45inches
  • Barrel: 19inches / 19inches / 19inches / 19inches
  • Stock: Beech Sporter / Beech Thumbhole / Beech Skeleton/ Synthetic Sporter
  • Energy: 11.5ft/lbs / - / - / 11.9ft/lbs
  • Trigger: All 2-stage factory set

14 Comments

  • I think I ought to qualify my last comment a bit, I'm not criticising the rifle per se, these are remarkable value for money, and actually quite well built, certainly better than a lot of the Hatsan/Stoegers/Webley valuemax etc, it's just that a lot of the reviews infer, either by where they are posted or more overtly, that these are suitable for hunting, and I would suggest, if you wish to be humane about it and not have to finish off wounded animals that you spend a bit more on a more accurate weapon unless you are intending to just get rid of squirrels in your back yard. Even if you wish to stay with the simplicity of a springer there are far more accurate ones out there, albeit at a higher price point, I think after having to break a few squeaking rabbits necks and fluttering pigeons you may regret not spending an extra hundred., know what I mean grin

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    Dom Rivers
    05 Feb 2014 at 04:17 PM
  • Hmmm, unconvinced by this rws 34 knock off, as I was by the XS18/19/20 Weihrauch clones, the one thing all of these reviews have in common is a shortage of range on the accuracy tests, "expect one and a quarter inch groups at 30 metres" says it all about the barrel and trigger quality and takes one of these straight out of any form of humane hunting given the kill zone on a rabbit is roughly three quarters of an inch and about half an inch on a woodpigeon.......ultimately what are these for then?, full power would suggest hunting, but as accuracy is absolutely everything hunting with a sub 12ft/lb rifle and these don't have the critical ability over 20 metres or so then surely its just a heavyweight tin can buster?....(and theres nothing wrong with that). All I can suggest to anyone lucky enough to have a permitted shoot is to save up another £50 or so and scour the classifieds for a secondhand HW80/77/97/95 which will half this things group sizes and make a far more humane hunter at the typical 30 to 35 metres.
    AS a rough and dirty measure of a rifles ability to hunt (and your own) stick five two pences down at the furthest range you want to hunt rabbits at, knock them all down and you're good to go, miss one, bring them in 5 metres and try again, when you can consistently do it, that is your hunting range, woodpigeon?, do it with pennies......I think by the time you can knock five one pences down with this you way as well hit the woodpigeon with it.

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    Dom Rivers
    05 Feb 2014 at 04:01 PM
  • I've got to say ive got an smk th208 and a gamo cf30 and i cant really spot much diffrence between them for power. I think i will be putting a number 2 titan tune kit in it tho as i want to make shore i have the power i need when i need it. Ive heard the spring in the smk's are rubbish... And as for look the smk looks just as good as the gamo if not better.

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    joe
    31 Oct 2012 at 04:50 PM
  • That skeleton stock looks very flimsy to me, I bet it wouldn't take much of an accident to snap the butt right off!

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    Dale Machin
    10 Sep 2012 at 01:52 AM
  • The rifle should be more than capable of killing rats and ferals at 20 metres. As long as you shoot them in the brain it's lights out every time!

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    Troll Hunter
    10 Aug 2012 at 12:11 AM
  • I have been using air rifles for many years and i am asking is the thumbhole powerful enough for vermin kill i.e. feral pigeons and rats at 20m range with .22 thank you

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    James Delo
    09 Aug 2012 at 11:45 PM
  • hi all i am a complete novice apart from some fun pre paint balling where we al wore our bikers leathers and helmets and shot each other with air pistols -mind you this was 1980 and i was 18 ,paint balling had not even been invented then.our leathers kept us safe enough.i used to use a webley premier II pistol,which i still have today.but after hearing about possible food shortages and such like in the future i began to think about ways to kill for food and vermin control on my wifes large vegetable plot,which as ben ravaged by various winged beasties !and rabbits.
    so i did some research,bearing in mind i am on a tight budget(now being retired due to a broken spine,i watch the pennies.
    so i found a great gunsmiths in south cave,east yorkshire; Mike Wigglesworth.i spoke to him with my budget and he recommended the SMK synsg and a hawke 4x32 sport hd scope.all this plus a good gun bag plus barrel oil and 2 tins of hobby pellets(.22)500 for fur and 500 for feathers.all for £190 all in.not a bad deal i thought.
    so ,as it is some 30 odd years since i last fired my webley,i have been target shooting in our large back garden with my webley 1st just to get the feel back.i must say the smk in black with the scope does look and feel very much the ideal gun i was thinking of.i live in hornsea,and i hear there is a very good club at nearby Rise.any thoughts re this club anyone ?
    also,any tips for improving my shots,is this gun really good enough for vermin kill.can i also use it for sports shooting as i would love to get into club competitions etc etc.or would i be laughed out them with this budget rifle.how elitist is the rifle world anyone ?or is it open and welcoming to all levels ?any emails please ,would be really helpful.richard pievaitis

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    Richard Stephen Pievaitis
    24 Mar 2012 at 03:11 AM
  • ive seen on lots of air gun forums saying how bad the thunderbolts are id probably use air arms diablo field 177. would it still be good and is there any trigger upgrades and what pellets would you suggest

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    bill medow
    06 Dec 2011 at 08:58 PM
  • Hi Peter Meek Professional pest controller done a review and chronoed a .177 with ThUnder bolt pellets . he was shooting rabbits at a range of 30 metre head shoots chrono shows 1007 fps at 11.26ft/lb and crossman premiers at 697fps @ 11.33ft/lb he does recomend this for hunting and was old school with .22 hunting but says the .177 one shot one kill head shots inpressed him at 30 metres . he said if you use thUnder bolts give the bore a real good clean to rid of all lead residue ,
    hope this helps

    kenny

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    kenny
    29 Nov 2011 at 04:12 PM
  • These air rifles are certainly powerful enough for hunting at normal sub-12ft/lbs distances, but you would have to try one yourself to make up your mind as to its suitibility for your purposes.

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    Pat Farey
    25 Nov 2011 at 10:30 AM
  • hi i have a logun solo but i love shooting spring airguns and im interested in buying the skeleton hunter for hunting game are they good enough

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    bill medow
    07 Nov 2011 at 09:34 PM
  • Well spotted Chadilac. It should read;

    Velocity using .22 Using Falcon Accuracy Plus
    High: 642fps
    Low: 630fps
    Average: 633fps
    Spread: 12fps

    Velocity using SMK Spitfire pellets
    High: 645fps
    Low: 609fps
    Average: 640fps
    Spread: 36ps over 10 shots

    Default profile image
    pat farey
    16 Mar 2011 at 05:38 PM
  • I think you guys made a little mistake when given the specifications.The part where your talking about the pellet type and spread. I think you just need to reverse it. Thats all.

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    Chadilac
    16 Mar 2011 at 07:39 AM
  • Bought SMK SYNSG for £110-00. On the whole quite pleased with it.

    On having it Chronographed at a local gun shop was a little disapointed that the result was only 8ft/lbs

    Default profile image
    John Racster
    13 Oct 2010 at 07:05 PM


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