Air Arms S510TC Carbine
- 4 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
Many before me have already tested the S510TC and given their opinions on everything from looks to handling. I’d wager all realise this is a ‘landmark’ rifle, but how it’s received by the public will either have it rocket up the PCP league table or slide back to be consigned to the airgun history books. The latter is something I hardly think likely, as Air Arms didn’t invest so much R&D, plus time and money, to create and produce this rifle on a whim.
The ‘TC’ was shown at both the Shot Show and IWA last year but the company wanted to be 100% sure they’d got everything right before going into production. Well, they had to let it happen sometime and Bill Sanders, head-honcho at Air Arms, finally green lighted the ‘TC’ for launch earlier this year.
This is a special rifle release for not only Air Arms but the UK airgun industry in general. Other manufacturers I’m sure will be keen to see how this radical design multi-shot PCP will get on in what is a very busy market place.
Air Arms needed a high shot count rifle to match offerings from Daystate, Theoben and others. But they have said a firm ‘no’ to utilising a single large ‘buddy bottle’ up-front to hold the compressed air. This is the major reason why they designed this alternative ‘twin-tube’ layout for a high shot count rifle in both 12ft/lb and FAC power levels. From a 200-bar ‘maximum’ fill of the twin-cylinders, expect over 110 shots in .177 calibre and a massive 160 in .22 calibre - remember this is the carbine version as well!
Poplar is Proving Popular…
The stock design is based on the new ‘Super-lite’ series, which is made from poplar wood. The .22 calibre test rifle was the Hunter Green stock version and featured a high ambidextrous cheekpiece, ergonomic tapers, twists and curves for both weight saving and it also has some highly attractive cosmetic flourishes.
Both chequered panels at the grip have a buff colour background, the company logo is more prominent, its outline highlighted using the colour design which can also be seen on the un-chequered ‘splinter’ forend - a shotgun term for a sliver of wood that passes under the side-by-side cylinders for support and gives the leading hand a forward hold if needed. As a matter of interest, they’ve accommodated for the twin cylinders by cutting from the top of the original stock forend down 5/8” then have stayed at this level to run forward until reaching the semi-Schnabel tip. The change in depth is positioned 20” from the back of the ventilated black rubber butt pad, I specify this as it gives some indication of the ratio that the 14 ¾” long air reservoirs (including end caps front and rear) have in relation to the rest of the stock and action.
Adding a Scope and Moderator
Holding the S510TC Carbine, which weighs 6.8lbs un-scoped in the palm of one hand shows the inherent point of balance is quite literally bang centre of the rifle. After realising this I chose a top quality and sensibly sized Bushnell Banner 3-9 X 40 scope. Once I’d also fitted the dedicated silencer up-front, I shouldered the TC a few times and the balance was unaffected by the additional hardware.
As it grew in length with a silencer fitted, the bull barrel shroud has a modified ‘primary silencer’ used on their single air reservoir S500/S510 series which will be made available across the board. This for me was great news, as the TC carbine went from an overall length of 37 ½” to 44 1/8” after screwing in the generously sized silencer. That’s too much for my liking, but thankfully in the majority of cases I’d hunt just as successfully not using a secondary unit, as the primary suppressor held in the barrel shroud tames muzzle report to a level I feel is more than acceptable. In fact, don’t be fooled into always thinking you need to have a deathly quiet report to hunt successfully or be less equipped for the ‘real life’ field work you’ll encounter – you’re not.
Being based on the S510SL action, means that the TC has a neat, slick smooth side-lever action running a very reliable Perspex fronted 10-shot removable magazine, crisp 2-stage adjustable trigger unit with manual safety and has a useful air gauge underneath.
The main change in the workings and from an engineering and cosmetic aspect is that air is taken from the two parallel forward air reservoirs so it can ‘double-up’ its air capacity, in turn affording the shooter many more full power shots. The single air gauge on the underside of the stock indicates there’s only one filling point – and it’s under the screw cover capped left hand ‘tank’. This fill point is Air Arms tried and tested cinted inlet valve. The rifle takes a while longer to fill, as you’ve got two air reservoirs to fill. The cap on the right cylinder does screw off but behind this the reservoir end is just blanked off.
Twin Cylinders or Big Buddy Bottle?
While watching the air gauge during filling, it did feel a tad unusual glancing back at the twin cylinders. I’m sorry if I’m harking on about it, but once you get used to the twin air reservoirs, they’re no more prominent than the large buddy bottles found on many other established high capacity air rifles.
The company realised they couldn’t use a pair of steel air reservoirs as seen on the single cylinder S400 & S500 series. It’d work, but the balance and weight would be all wrong. So the alternative is aluminium, but not just any ‘ally’. In discussions with a specialist German manufacturer, it was deduced the reservoirs would need to be manufactured from a limited choice of alloys and they both favoured the same option. This is 7075 aluminium and each billet would have to be ultrasonically tested before, during and after manufacture. Also, they’d have to draw the tubes over extrusion – the latter’s the common method of manufacture. They’re high pressure tested to such a level that you’d not want to be anywhere near, such is the ‘load’ they’re subjected to. They are also ‘fatigue tested’, a procedure involving filling and emptying the tubes thousands upon thousands of times. The end plugs and union piece at the rear are also made of 7075 alloy. The internals of the rifle are also re-worked to allow the internal air flow to work to the optimum level of performance given the larger air supply held within.
The good news is that the 15.5” steel barrel is also of the same high quality, sleeved by a shroud and threaded to take the optional secondary moderator.
With the high quality Bushnell scope on-board the rifle, I shouldered it, checking the eye-relief needed. At this point its low weight and handling showed promise, so with the ‘twin tanks’ juiced up and the magazine loaded, it was time to see what the fuss is all about.
An initial ‘niggle’ I had with the rifle is the simple fact that the pairing of the reservoirs means the distance from their outer edges is far wider than the ‘step-down’ splinter forend. Now some might not mind this, but for many like myself on first using the ‘TC’ as they would any other rifle the leading hand will more likely than not cup the underside of the forend and discover you’re actually holding the sides of the air reservoirs. A problem, potentially yes, a tragic mistake certainly not, as this is a rifle that I feel will appeal to a large sector of the shooting public and for those who want this rifle it’s no hardship (as I soon discovered) to adapt your leading hand hold to suit. Yep, like or loathe it – this is the alternative option for a higher shot count on a PCP powered air rifle over a front or rear mounted ‘buddy bottle.’ Some concessions have to be made!
Zeroing and testing soon had me re-thinking my gun handling technique – not a bad thing as you can get blinkered. This rifle delivers the goods fine style - you just need to guide the pellet where it needs to go.
Another thing to remember is that you’re using the same top quality 2-stage trigger unit with manual safety, one of the best auto-load removable magazine units and a side lever cocking action that works well.
Personally, I see this as a more specialised rifle, I’m sure some will disagree, but I feel that die hard Air Arms hunters will stay with their standard S410’s or 510’s – but for how long? Who can blame them as those rifles are time tested and proven - especially the former. However, the potential I’ve noticed after experiencing the ‘TC’ is that I was drawn continually back to this rifle after testing. I’d pick it up for effortless and lengthy target sessions. In the time I had it, I chanced my trigger finger on live quarry in some very wet conditions. Why did I find myself choosing this over other rifles in my armoury to whack woodies and a few rabbits during a break in the weather? The reason has to be that it’s good… in fact it’s very, very good and just think – I’m the lucky boy whose going to test the FAC version - as soon as Air Arms give the Hi-Power model the green light that is…
PRICE: £853 including magazine and fill adaptor