Air Arms Pro Sport
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- Last updated: 28/12/2020
UK airgun manufacturers Air Arms has a long reputation of producing award-winning air rifles and the unique under-lever action Pro-Sport is no exception. This stylish design is often termed as having the appearance of a ‘centrefire stalking’ rifle. That’s as maybe, but it’s undeniable cosmetically appealing and one that oozes quality from butt to tip.
The ‘Pro’ tested is in beech furniture, but a dimensionally identical walnut option is also available. At first glance, what stands out is the high comb and right hand, roll-over cheekpiece, thick ventilated rubber butt pad and of course a sleek full forend with its stylish, fluted tip. Handling the rifle shows its true colours especially just how well-proportioned the design is as we shall see!
Although angled upwards the comb and cheekpiece are so well shaped it allows the user to mount a low profile, compact optic, or even a large objective lens model requiring high mounts. It still gives correct eye-scope alignment, while offering the all-essential comfortable head position. This is particularly noticeable when looking from the rear where the cheekpiece can be clearly seen to sweep over from the shooter’s perspective in quite a long ‘smooth curve’ until it reaches the top high angled back peak.
The drop-down pistol grip has a rosewood end cap and white wood spacer, while the neck at this section is quite narrow in comparison to the rest of the stock, making for a very comfortable hold. The forend is quite substantial, relatively lengthy with a smooth profile and does a superb job of holding that flush-fitting, under-lever. For grip, a generous amount of high definition laser-cut, (skip line) chequering is applied on the pistol grip and forend. Visually, decorative floral cut borders cosmetically complement the overall look of these grip aids.
We’ve become spoiled by the modern hi-tech ease of a PCP, especially a multi-shot. Once a magazine is in place, you cycle the action and that’s pretty much the mechanics of the matter. Now a spring gun is a completely different animal altogether. You have linkages, pins, catches, sliding and unavoidable, metal-to-metal contact. Truth is there’s a lot of mechanical shenanigans going on inside, even for just the cocking stroke.
So, what has Air Arms done to ease the burden? Simple, they’ve re-jigged and modified the linkage lever from underlever to piston head so the cocking stroke is not as strenuous. There’s a lot more to it than that, just look at the detail picture of the linkage arm and you can clearly see how well engineered it is, then again this goes for all components of this rifle. To open the action, you first need to put your forefinger into a gap in the front underside of the forend at the very front of the under-lever. This allows you to release the alloy lever from where it sits neatly in its full-length recess in the underside of the stock. Once freed, it flicks down approximately 3”, so you can now get a solid grip on it to draw it down and back to fully cock the rifle, which has quite a lengthy travel.
Upon engaging with the sears, this operation also automatically sets the trigger safety and anti-beartrap mechanism. The Pro-Sport’s piston runs on sets of synthetic bearings positioned at the front and rear of the spring tube, with another set installed on what is known as the compression slide. This results in a smooth cocking and firing cycle, but it still takes a bit of ‘heft’ to cock, needing that final tug at the end of the stroke to engage the sear and safety mechanisms previously mentioned. The sliding breech will also now have slid back exposing the very roomy loading bay, upon which you can also see the underside of the stock. You can now see a generously sized cut-out, so if by chance you fumble and drop a pellet, it will fall through the woodwork to the ground and not into an inaccessible area to potentially cause a problem.
The trigger on any full power, spring gun is a high-stress component, yet still needs to operate smoothly and release shots clean and consistently time after time. As other airgun writers have said many times in the past the CD (Computer Designed) trigger unit is one if not the best found on any spring-powered rifle currently in production. The 2-stage adjustable unit has a well curved, setback, gold plated blade and combined with the grip position and slim neck design a high level of shot release is soon and easily achieved. The automatic safety button ‘pops out’ to the left of the action when the rifle is cocked and is ideally positioned to be disengaged by the side of the thumb of your shooting hand.
The Pro-Sport has lengthy, deep-set dovetails along the top of the cylinder for scope mounting, with 3-arrestor stud holes. However, they shouldn’t be needed as recoil is minimal due to the smooth firing cycle and much of the mechanical action of the piston hitting the front of the compression cylinder is deadened by the weight of the rifle.
I scoped up with an MTC 3-12x44 Mamba Lite and as mentioned previously, the design of the cheekpiece allowing for such a ‘low profile’ optic to be used for those who like to mount their glass as low to the barrel bore as possible. Pushing the tape to 41.25” and weighing in at 9.5lb un-scoped the rifle feels heavier than it is but balances perfectly on aim. This more than proved itself in accuracy, as in the .177 calibre here on test, it was producing ragged ¼” groups at 30 yards. Also, muzzle report is surprisingly low due to the full-length, steel, shroud that conceals the 9.5” long Lothar Walther barrel internally holding baffles and expansion chambers.
Although the Air Arms Pro-Sport has been around for quite some time and even though many other under-lever action rifles have come along (and just as many ‘gone’ since its launch) it’s certainly not showing its age. Undoubtedly the unique styling, extremely high quality of engineering and superb overall performance has resulted in it attaining ‘classic status’. Bottom line: it’s a manual air rifle that looks set to remain a firm favourite with ‘springer’ shooters for years to come.