Air Arms TDR
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
I’ve been a huge fan of Air Arms’ S400 model for many years, to the point of boring anyone who’ll listen (yes, you don’t want to get stuck with me in a lift!); but there has been major justification for my outpourings! Despite being originally designed as a hunter, this model quickly built up a reputation for superb repeatable accuracy, and handling that simply belied its modest price tag. I’m well known for being obsessed with outdoor airgun HFT (Hunter Field Target) competitions, and I would throw money at the problem if I felt that paying thousands of pounds would secure me some wins. Yet the fact that I keep coming back to my old favourite, speaks volumes for the way these guns perform.
The S410 TDR (Take Down Rifle) is an extremely clever variant on the theme, being based around the S410 multi-shot version of the 400, yet offering an action that can be dismantled or assembled in seconds. Designed as perhaps the ultimate in take-down hunting rifles, the TDR just stops you in your tracks with the ingenuity of it all. Read on, and you’ll see what I mean.
All the features of the standard S410 are here, such as a genuine two-stage trigger, 10-shot magazine, consistent power plant, and the entire gun is supplied in a neat padded carry case, along with an Air Arms factory silencer.
Like it or not, there are times when we may need to keep a low profile, so as not to attract unwanted attention, and in this scenario, the TDR is just about perfect. The carry case supplied, measures just 25x13”, and with chunky straps built in; meaning it can be slung on the back, with no one any the wiser as to the contents. The zip-up case is padded, and features three specific moulded sections inside – for the silencer, the rear stock section, and of course the main action! The clever part comes with the way that the case makes provision for the action complete with a telescopic sight attached. More importantly, this means that when the rifle is stowed away, then reassembled, there will be no loss of zero, as the scope stays put on the action.
‘Clever’ is a word that keeps reoccurring with the TDR, and the way the action assembles is a case in point. Firstly, the silencer just slides over the barrel, and is retained by a knurled bolt that tightens in place. Then the rear stock section is offered up, and the three prongs at the rear are located into their respective holes in the action. At this point, just apply a small amount of pressure to locate the internal thread, and start turning the locking wheel at the top of the butt pad. You’ll see the gap slowly closing, until everything is firmly pulled together, and then locked into position.
Air Arms have kept the legalities water tight too, as it might appear to some that the TDR could be used without its butt like a pistol. However, this full, 12 ft/lb PCP would be illegal as a handgun, due to its energy level. However, it’s so designed and built that it cannot mechanically function without the butt being fitted to the action, with the above mentioned three prongs being a dedicated feature. This is an inspired move, and in practise, everything is incredibly slick and works a treat!
Before we can take to the range, there’s just some minor preparation to undertake. First, that main compression cylinder needs to be charged. Unscrew the front valve cover, and attach the air supply, be that from a divers air bottle or dedicated pump, using Air Arms’, super safe, ‘T-Bar’ valve adaptor supplied. This is still the safest system on the market, since the airline simply cannot disconnect during the process once literally locked into place. For the record, Air Arms also fit an in-line 20micron air filter to the valve, so excess dirt and foreign bodies should be kept out of the mechanism. Air Arms recommend a fill pressure of 190bar with the TDR, and whilst this often seems too high with standard S400 actions in my experience, on test here, it was all pretty textbook (see range report).
Air Arms’ own magazine system, all made in house at their Sussex factory incidentally, is refreshingly simple, since the inner, 10-shot drum of the cassette can be turned in either direction, at any point. No Heath Robinson procedures here, just simple, straight forward reliability. Push a pellet head first into each chamber until the mag is full, and then pull the silky bolt rearwards to cock the action, push the magazine into the slot in the breech block until it locates against the side plate, and then finally push home the bolt to load the first pellet. Subsequent cycling of the bolt will index each pellet in turn.
Operation is fairly smooth, and on test, the magazine worked without fault. However, it has to be noted that, in keeping with many other PCP’s on the market, this system can double load if a half hearted approach is adopted. Be positive on the cocking stroke, and this system will work reliably time after time.
What makes the TDR stand out from several other take down or tactical-style rifles that I’ve shot over the years, is the way that there’s very little compromise in the design. Yes you can break it down and store it into a handy sized carry case, but in seconds, it’s back assembled as a full blown hunting rifle, with some neat features. The concave butt pad fits the shoulder well, but the large expanse of walnut cheek-piece is super comfortable; as is that drop down, stippled pistol grip section. On the former item the underside of the cheek piece is hollow and can store, two loaded magazines inside; clever and practical! The forend feels fine, but here, I would recommend that it extends maybe another couple of inches. I have long arms admittedly, but just occasionally, a fully extended fore-arm was close to touching metal around the cylinder, which seems unnecessary to me, given the mere ounces that this sliver of additional wood would surely add to the overall weight.
I’m quibbling maybe, and as it stands, the TDR is one hell of a performer. Of course, having the standard genuine two-stage trigger unit lifted from the 400 series on board here, is a good starting point, and other than that naff safety catch (surely the trigger blade is a bad place for a safety anyhow?) everything works a treat. Collar someone to set-up this unit correctly, and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.
In terms of shot count, Air Arms specify the TDR as capable of 40-shots in both calibres, so my recorded 48- shots from the 190 bar fill pressure was spot-on. 14 fps total spread was impressive too, using Air Arms’ own Diabolo Field pellets, and from a bean bag rest, and with a view to proving the raw accuracy potential, I recorded several, genuine, ¼” centre-to-centre clusters, over 30 yards, with the same Diabolo Fields, and also RWS Superfields incidentally; proving the TDR was hardly pellet fussy. What also impressed were groups around ½” shot from the kneeling position at the same range. For standing, however (never easy at the best of times, I would have to add more front weight, to suit my stance.
If throughout the course of this test, it has come across at any point that I like this model, then you’d be right. Handle a TDR, and you’ll see what I mean. Quite simply; the best take down rifle on the market. Incredible portability and versatility- yet in seconds, full on performance in a super civilized package, from one of the top brands currently available. Did I tell you it was clever?
PRICES: £728 inc. silencer, 10-shot shot rotary magazine, filling adaptor, and padded carry case
CONTACT: Air Arms, 01323 845853
High 554 (using AA Diabolo Field)