Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter
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- Last updated: 19/05/2017
Sussex based Air Arms couldn’t easily be accused of being a manufacturer that rests on their laurels, and their current line-up of airguns is testament to a talented design team that are intent on maintaining a fresh look. Gradual evolution of tried and tested products, is of course part of the mix, but the gun under the spotlight here, the S510 Ultimate Sporter, is also a classic example of the company’s forward thinking.
Hard to believe, but this is actually my first encounter with the Ultimate Sporter, and it really is a head-turner. Best described as a dedicated hunting machine, this is one for the connoisseur, with a mouth-watering specifications list.
Just look at what’s on offer! Fully adjustable laminate woodwork, Q-Tec silencer fitted as standard, fully shrouded, high-quality Lothar Walther barrel, renowned two-stage trigger, sling swivel studs, accessory rail, ultra-safe charging valve, a silky-smooth side-lever, and of course Air Arms’ proven multi-shot magazine system.
Attention to detail is the name of the game then with this model, but inevitably, first impressions are overwhelmed by that eye-catching laminate sporter stock. Cut from a bonded blank, formed from different coloured layers of wood, the finished stock reveals golden brown, blue and grey, and as anyone who knows about laminate will tell you, the snazzy looks are purely a bonus, as it’s all about stability in extreme conditions. Take this model out in rain, or super cold/ hot weather, and the stock will remain warp free, which brings peace of mind, and consistent performance.
But the benefits don’t stop there, as Air Arms design this stock to be fully adjustable where it matters. The cheekpiece section sits on a ball joint, so can be angled, but it can also be cast/set off to one side. These adjustments need some careful input of course, and take time, but height is also adjustable just by slackening off the main Allen bolt on the reverse side of the butt. This means that the stock can effectively be adjusted for perfect eye/scope alignment, rather than the shooter having to compensate, with strained muscles and an awkward stance.
Likewise, the butt section, where length of pull can be increased or decreased by the addition or removal of small spacer blocks. The buttpad itself (perfectly shaped and nicely ‘grippy’), can be set for height too. Looking to the forend, that extra deep section just forward of the trigger, will be a big help for standing support, but the inclusion of an accessory rail and sling studs as standard on this stock, really does illustrate commendable attention to detail.
Air Arms, as a brand, are wellrespected in terms of quality of engineering, from their state of the art CNC set-up; this S510 Ultimate Sporter is best described as slick in its execution. Traditional chemical bluing is applied to the finely polished main compression cylinder, whilst everything else gets a matt black, non-glare finish – smart and robust, and super practical in the field, where of course this rifle belongs.
Fitting a scope is simple enough, although consideration, as with most multi-shots, has to be given to clearance over the top of the magazine housing. Get that right, and it’s time to charge the system, via a dedicated pump or a diver’s bottle. Either way, the swish valve cover just needs to be unscrewed at the front, and the cylinder can then be charged to 190- bar, as prescribed by Air Arms. The S510 action, on which this model is based, isn’t regulated, so I would always recommend spending some time with a chronograph, to arrive at the optimum pressure, for the best run of consistent shots. In my experience, somewhere between 170 – 180-bar, but it will vary gun to gun. Charging incidentally, is via the ‘T’ bar valve design, which has to be seen as the safest on the market, since the airline literally locks in place for the duration.
With air on-board, it’s time to fill the magazine and the Ultimate Sporter is generously supplied with two. Air Arms manufacture their own magazines in-house, and I have to confess to being a huge fan of the design, given how simple, yet reliable they have proven to be, on a variety of models over the years. It’s a 10-shot rotary magazine cassette, and it comes as 10-shot, irrespective of whether you specify .177 or .22. To fill the magazine, pull back the side-lever, cock the mechanism, and take the magazine from its slot within the action. Now drop a pellet head first into each chamber in turn, as you manually rotate the inner drum. Push the full magazine back into its slot within the action, until it snaps flush against the side plate, and we’re ready to go.
With the cheekpiece and butt height all set to my liking, it was time to take to the range and see, firstly how it felt to shoot, over an extended session, and secondly, what sort of performance figures in terms of accuracy and consistency, it could muster.
In use, where the magazine really scores, is in its simplicity.
The central drum isn’t springloaded, or restricted to one direction of travel; which in practice, means it can be manually rotated in any direction at any time. You can also see which chambers still hold a pellet through the clear top of the casing, and the magazine itself can be removed at any time from the gun. Its simplicity combined with precise manufacture, makes everything feel slick, and that, combined with the ultra-subtle side-lever cocking, gives this Ultimate Sporter a superior air for sure. Over-centre engineering means that the smallest lift of the side-lever has it jumping to work. A further light pull back and the hammer is cocked and the next shot in the magazine indexed. Close the lever, squeeze the two-stage trigger, and we’re in business. I still don’t like the safety button being right in the middle of the trigger blade, but I’m nitpicking. It’s manual, so just ignore it!
That super concave rubber pad really does feel reassuring in the shoulder. The subtle curves and full-length finger grooves formed on each side of the fore-end, feel ultra-comfortable too. Indeed, my only slight negative concerns that rather long, raked pistol grip. I have large hands and reaching the trigger felt fine, but I reckon some shooters with smaller hands may find it more of a stretch to trigger. Just something to watch, and as with any purchase, a ‘hands on’ session in the local gunshop will pay dividends.
And so, to the stats! From a 190-bar pressure fill, I managed 85 shots. However, there were a few low ones to disregard at the start, and the usual velocity tail off at the end of the charge. Strip them out of the equation, and a more realistic figure would be 70 highly usable shots within 22fps. And with that level of consistency, believe me, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice any difference in point of impact. Again, as mentioned, experiment with slightly lower fill pressures, and that band of consistency will be there from the off.
Accuracy wise, I posted groups that could support a pellet at 25-yards, and clusters measuring just over quarter inch c-t-c over 35-yards. Excellent stuff, and with a super muted muzzle report, courtesy of the Q-Tec silencer and shrouding, we are talking all the performance required for success in the field.
In short, this S510 Ultimate Sporter is one impressive machine. It’s built to be one of the best hunting airguns out there, and there’s no doubt Air Arms have achieved their aim. Ultra-refined in just about every department, and super accurate. The perfect blueprint indeed for the ultimate sporter!