Mark Camoccio looks at some rather classy air rifles; which one would you choose if your lottery numbers come up?
As in any sport, there are plenty of opportunities to do it ‘on the cheap’ so to speak, and for many airgun shooters on a budget, that’s obviously a good thing. But what if funds are not an issue, and just what is on offer at the upper end of the scale, to tempt aficionados and serious enthusiasts alike? Well, under the spotlight here, are a selection of some of the key head turners currently available; all designed to perform at the highest level, for those prepared to invest in the best.
List the top airgun brands, and top German manufacturer, Anschutz, just has to be included. Yes, their reputation was originally made in the indoor 10m target arena, but over the last couple of decades, they have become more prominent in the outdoor airgun disciplines. Several specialist outfits have produced full-power conversions over the last couple of decades, and with two World FT titles being taken by Airmasters converted model 8002's in this time, popularity in the Anschutz name remains high. Anschutz now produce their own FT version of their latest PCP, the '9015 One'model, and this offers incredible adjustment from the stock, featuring an aluminium chassis, with separate cheek, pistol grip, and fore-end components. A top-flight trigger, and floating stainless steel barrel are also part of the spec. Not cheap, but extremely well made.
Contact: RUAG Ammotec. ruag.co.uk
Weihrauch's spring-powered HW98 is surely one of the most appealing models in their line-up; and is best described as a cross between a target rifle and a sporter. There's a heavy bull barrel, break barrel action, and of course the Rekord two stage trigger; but that semi-target woodwork, complete with an adjustable cheekpiece, adjustable butt section, and drop down stippled target grip, all come together extremely well. Take the time to set the stock for personal preference and correct eye/scope alignment, and you'll notice the difference. Build quality and standard of finish are well up to Weihrauch's usual standards too, making the HW98 a high-grade sporter, built to perform.
Contact: Hull Cartridge Co. hullcartridge.co.uk
Air Arms Pro-Sport
Accepted airgun genius, Ken Turner, designed the Pro-Sport, and whilst it is based around the TX200 action, it's fair to say that it resembles a properly made BSA Airsporter, as it carries a perfectly recessed cocking lever, and has an equally streamlined profile. As such, this model is not only a glorious piece of performance art, but surely one of the best looking airguns available. Weight is significant, at 9.5lbs, but this upmarket spring piston airgun is brimming with clever features. A concentric piston means efficient in-line air flow, whilst the piston itself runs on nylon bearings, eliminating metal-to-metal contact. The result is a classy sporter that feels factory tuned, straight from the box. Fixed barrel accuracy is a major asset, and here, we get a 9.5inch shrouded barrel, creating that most satisfying bull barrel look. Excellent engineering; mirror finish bluing, and top-class accuracy – enough said.
Price: £512- £578
Contact: Air Arms. air-arms.co.uk
Rapid Air Weapons TM1000
Rapid Air Weapons, or RAW as they are known, are very solidly built, with trademark over-engineered, chunky components all part of the appeal. Their TM1000 model made quite a stir from the off, with a few wins in HFT competitions, but what I like is the relative simplicity of the layout, with an ultra-robust breech block, and direct feed to the barrel. The delightfully slick side lever is a match for anything available, and the trigger unit is precise and light, with a nicely broad blade. The laminate stocks, apparently made in-house at the Rapid factory, are particularly impressive, and can be supplied with either a butt hook or rubber alternative, yet walnut stocked versions come in cheaper, trimming the RRP significantly. Recent upgrades to this model include a 'Titanium Skinned' barrel and titanium cylinder as standard. Black actions are coming in, and carbon fibre shrouds are also an option. Note: As an import from the States, final retail prices are dependent upon the exchange rates and duties applicable at the time.
Contact: Michael Tawn Airguns. tawnadoairguns.com
BSA R10 SE CCS
The super sleek R10 model really has come of age, and this special version has some clever features. It's a multi-shot bolt action, regulated pneumatic, with a 10-shot magazine, 200cc on-board buddy bottle, two stage semi match trigger and that deliciously stylish walnut stock. This R10 SE CCS has a trick up its sleeve, in that it is designed to allow for the shroud to be easily added or removed, that's the CCS bit, denoting 'Customer Configurable Shroud'. All the necessary parts are supplied along with the rifle, and it all adds to the appeal for those that like to customise. Shroud and silencer, or just the silencer? You decide, giving the R10 SE CCS great versatility. Noise suppression and accuracy are pretty well identical, in either guise, so it's largely a cosmetic exercise at the end of the day. That said, it represents clever marketing from BSA, since the system allows for easy modification, giving a dramatic new look, so effectively two guns in one!
Contact: BSA Guns. bsaguns.co.uk
Daystate Red Wolf Serie Rosso
Daystate are well-known for a long line of Special Edition PCP models, but the Red Wolf Serie Rosso is arguably their most impressive to date. Just 200 of these rifles are to be made, and at £2499, it does represent a significant investment. Miss the boat however, and a standard version awaits, with much the same performance. There's a super slick side lever to cycle the Daystate 10 shot magazine system, whilst the barrel is treated to a carbon fibre shroud. An on-board buddy bottle means that there's a huge shot count (up to 480, dependent upon calibre), whilst power delivery itself is via MCT (Mapped Compensated Technology) originally developed for the Pulsar program. Electronic wizardry doesn't stop there though, as there is also an electronic trigger. But of course, it's the Serie Rosso's stunning red and grey laminate stock, that grabs all the attention; with its adjustable cheek piece element and adjustable butt pad. To celebrate this model’s status, there's also a highly distinctive red protective hard case, certificate, and battery power pack, so quite a package.
Contact: Daystate. daystate.com
Air Arms FTP900
Whilst the company's classic and sadly discontinued EV2 continues to hoover up silverware on the FT circuit, the flagship FTP900 has made its own mark in this hotly contested arena. Replacing the EV2 was never going to be easy, but that stunning fully adjustable laminate target stock, designed by three times World FT Champion, Nick Jenkinson, and a host of on-board features as standard, makes this eye-catching beauty look great value for many against several more conservative rivals. At 11lbs in weight, it's not for the faint hearted. Get past that, and the technical features stack up nicely; such as a shrouded barrel, muzzle brake/air stripper, fully adjustable match grade trigger, and of course that exquisitely designed side lever and breech block. The FTP900 looks utterly stunning and is indeed an exercise in fine engineering; and with a string of wins across both HFT and the Field Target circuit, including a World HFT Championship, this flagship clearly has what it takes.
Price: £1767/ £1874
Contact: Air Arms. air-arms.co.uk
FX Airguns (based in Sweden), have consistently offered innovative products, and their Impact model has to be one of the boldest offerings yet. It's technically a full bullpup PCP, yet it somehow offers a more streamlined appearance than many rivals. What we are talking here is versatility, and when you hear the specification, you'll appreciate what's on offer. There's a specially constructed buddy bottle, carry case, cassette style magazine, two-stage trigger, two on-board pressure gauges (one for the regulator, one for residual pressure) an adjustable silencer, Picatinny rails, side-lever cocking action, adjustable butt pad, SmoothTwist barrel, adjustable power, regulated action with adjustable regulator pressure on FAC versions, safety catch, a choice of action finish in silver or black, and finally, the option to switch barrels, pellet probes and calibres! All too much for some, who may break out in a headache just hearing that spec! But for those that enjoy fiddling, and tweaking, the Impact holds huge appeal.
Contact: ASI. a-s-i.co.uk
Daystate were absent from the FT scene for a few years, as they concentrated on other sectors of the market, but 2017 saw their return to great fanfare, with the Tsar model – a joint project with Russian brand, Ataman. Designed to be a full-blown Field Target machine, this pre-charged pneumatic is suitably sophisticated, aimed at connoisseurs, eager to fight for silverware. The distinctive slim-line laminate stock offers an adjustable anatomical pistol grip and cheek-piece, along with a multi adjustable butt hook assembly. There's a fully adjustable stock raiser too, whilst a stainless steel, Lothar Walther barrel is another classy touch, capped off by a sleekly designed muzzle brake. Ataman's valve and regulator are utilised, and the result is an impressive machine, designed specifically for outdoor tournament shooting.
Contact: Daystate. daystate.com