SMK Supergrade 208 Air Rifle Series
Mark Camoccio gets to try out a whole range of air rifles from Sportsmarketing; the SMK Supergrade 208 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
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.
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!
|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|
|Velocity using .22 Using Falcon Accuracy Plus||High: 645fps
Spread: 36ps over 10 shots
|Velocity using SMK Spitfire pellets||High: 42fps
|Energy||11.5ft/lbs / - / - / 11.9ft/lbs|
|Trigger||All 2-stage factory set|
|RRP||£139.95 / £199.95 / £199.95 / £139.95|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates