Air Arms S510
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
OK; it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Air Arms S400 model (PCP) - and I’ve bored many an unfortunate person with the story. Mine was originally bought as a lightweight hunting gun, but I just couldn’t quite believe how accurate it was - and it soon took pride of place as my competition rifle of choice.
The model on test here is a variation on the theme, built around what is ostensibly the 400 action, yet featuring as it does, several fundamental differences, that clearly define the S510. Most striking among them is of course the side-lever cocking action, giving this model a completely different feel, plus the full-length barrel shroud, which gives the 510 a ‘bull barrel’ look. So let’s take a close look at the merchandise, and see just why it has proved such a firm favourite since its introduction.
Whether you’re a fan or not (and undoubtedly brand loyalty plays its part in the airgun world), Air Arms have managed to carve out a real niche for themselves; offering high quality, precisely machined rifles, that offer a high level of inherent accuracy. It’s a rare criticism that would claim an Air Arms to be too heavy, and most models produced by this British manufacturer, are best described as easily manageable. This S510 tips the scales at a modest 6.4lbs for example, meaning, even with a scope on board, the total heft is kept within reason. Given this rifle’s field credentials, it means the user shouldn’t tire too easily over an extended hunting foray either!
In keeping with many of the larger manufacturers these days, woodwork is outsourced, in order to keep abreast of large orders, and with Minelli in Italy, the current stock maker for Air Arms, quality is assured. Take a close look at this S510, and there’s no doubting the eye catching design. Delicious grain pattern combines with subtle styling, and the end result is both pleasing to the eye, as well as highly functional. Fine fleur-de-lys, laser-cut chequering, and rosewood capping on the Schnable forend and pistol grip, means this model is nothing if not pretty! A prominent and well defined cheek piece shows intent though, and let’s face it - Air Arms are all about performance when it comes down to it.
One look at the latest machinery at Air Arms’ Sussex-based factory, and it’s clear that they are a hi-tech, modern operation. The S510 is a perfect example of their craft, with precisely machined CNC components coming together, to form a rifle of real class. This model features a multi-shot action, with their renowned 10-shot magazine at its heart. Like the S410, the feed system is supported by a side bracket, with absolute rigidity with true alignment being the result. Where many magazine-fed designs have excessive play between the mag and the action, no such reservations exist here - meaning the pellet should be free to make a true and accurate transition from magazine to chamber in the process. Filling the magazine is simplified too, since the central revolving drum can rotate in either direction; again unlike many awkward, fiddly rivals. Pellets are simply pushed head first into each chamber until the drum is full; it’s as simple as that!
Let’s face it, design flair is a feature of Air Arms, and their lofty position in the market place is fitting recognition of the way they operate. Traditionally their inclusion of top engineers and shooters at the development stages has paid dividends, and long may it continue.
Take the charging process for example. Compressed air is not something to be toyed with, so the inclusion of a totally safe charging adaptor, supplied with each gun, is a reassuring feature. The brass cup just fits over the valve’s T-bar and simply locks by twisting.
Ingenious and, Yes Simple Too!
The side lever is an exquisite piece of design too, and works in much the same way as the company’s highly successful and sadly discontinued EV2 target model. What’s termed ‘over centre engineering’ sees the lever perfectly tensioned to snap closed, once it passes over a certain point of its travel. The actual pressure required to pull it back and cock the action, is minimal too, with single finger operation proving the point. Cycling the lever cocks the hammer, and indexes the magazine for the next shot, and on test, the system performed without a hitch. Indeed, the super slick, silky operation, is a credit to the Air Arms design team.
Shooting the S510 is a reminder of the continual refinement that has taken place across the Air Arms’ S400 range and upwards. The two-stage trigger unit has been improved and tweaked as part of that process, and whilst the test rifle’s was set slightly heavy on the second stage, I know for a fact that this unit can be set up to please most shooters, with some judicious adjustment. OK; it’s not full blown match spec., but it comes pretty damn close, with the minimum of components! However, one thing that has not changed is the rather basic, cross-bolt safety set within the blade itself. Adequate I would be the first to agree, but isn’t it about time they had a re-think and made something a little more sophisticated?
Firing the S510 is, for the record, a very civilized experience. As it stands, the muzzle report is fairly muffled, as the shroud channels some of the spent air back and out, through the small vent holes visible at the breech end. However, if maximum noise reduction is required for ultimate hunting performance, then a standalone silencer can be screwed into the female thread at the muzzle, once the stylishly fluted screw cap has been removed.
As far as usable shots go, expect around 80. That’s the figure Air Arms actually claim from their recommended fill pressure of 190bar, and my test gun came in bang on the mark, with 80-shots within a highly creditable 26fps. As usual though, bearing in mind the traits of an unregulated action, experimentation with lower fill pressures may well tighten consistency further.
Accuracy with any product from this esteemed manufacturer should be a forgone conclusion, and my test gun didn’t disappoint. Typical super tight groups measured just 0.3” at 35yds, which proves the point. On a personal note, I found this S510 just a little light at the muzzle, but the addition of a silencer, would help in this regard too.
The S510 gives Air Arms a further option in their line-up, to appeal specifically to shooters who favour the shrouded barrel look, and with that exquisite side-lever action, and faultless multi-shot mechanism, a unique air of refinement prevails. Does it do anything that the S410 doesn’t? Well not a lot, but it just goes about it in a slightly different way. In short, another winning rifle from this top British brand. GM