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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
With the shadow of the Olympic Games looming large on the horizon, interest in the featured discipline of Match Air Rifle, is set to increase. Whilst shooting over 10 metres may sound rather basic, remember that the top exponents can regularly hit a bull the size of a pin head at this range. Like any sport, maintaining this performance time after time, requires a level of dedication, with regular practise and the right mental approach, all playing a part within a strict routine. But there’s something else too. With shooting being an equipment based activity, results are unavoidably dependent upon the quality of the rifle, and with top (predominantly German) match rifles, leaving little change from £2000 these days, any budding Olympic champion needs to first sign away a significant sum of hard earned cash.
This kind of outlay can preclude many beginners from getting involved in the sport in the first place… yet gaining access to the ladder has just became a whole lot easier.
Gunpower are better known for their rather militaristic, not to mention futuristic looking Stealth sporting rifles, which sell extremely well (especially in the United States incidentally). Their new ‘Edge’ model, on test here, is an obvious departure from their staple output, yet I am happy to report that this new model is a delightfully straight forward and well thought out product.
The Edge is a no-frills entry level target rifle, and if you look closely enough, it shares a large section of the aircraft grade aluminium chassis from other Gunpower rifles; giving it that distinctive brand identity, which is no bad thing. That’s where the similarity ends however, with the Edge offering a hatful of features, all designed to point any novice target shooter in the right direction.
Basically, what we have here is a rifle crammed full of features which you would expect to find on a full-blown match rifle, yet retailing at a fraction of the cost. Here just £499 buys you a fully adjustable PCP, dedicated to the cause, coming complete with Diopter sights - all included in the asking price. All that’s missing, as with any PCP, is the charging gear, which obviously has to be factored in to the overall equation. Allow another £100-£200 for a dedicated pump or compressed air bottle, and the Edge still looks great value for money.
So let’s take a look at what’s on offer, and then see how this rifle actually shoots in its natural environment.
Best described as ‘modular’, some minor assembly is required when the rifle is first removed from its padded carton. Hardly overly taxing though. Simply screw the cylinder cheek-piece assembly into the rear of the main action, hand tightening the thread at the end. Then, using the Allen keys supplied, set the adjustable fore-end hand rest to the desired position. The same is required of the butt plate. In practise, nipping up the screws initially with the fittings in an approximate position, is the best option, with finer adjustment possible once the rifle has been shouldered and the correct target stance adopted. Bear in mind that the rear butt plate can be set at any point along the aluminium bar (in this case coloured red), and that the fore-end rest can be set anywhere along the 12inch long under-rail, and it becomes clear that this Edge model has considerable versatility built in.
Being able to fully adjust the dimensions of the rifle, for length of pull and so forth, is a huge advantage, guaranteeing the comfort of all who try it. In reality, if the ‘fist-up’ supporting hand position is adopted (when shooting standing) then the forward rest will almost certainly be set to the rear of its travel, providing a stable base just forward of the trigger. For three positional (3P) shooting, kneeling shots may well necessitate a longer reach up the front rail. Suffice to say - all bases are covered.
Gunpower have opted for a totally ambidextrous configuration, with the rather basic moulded pistol grip, still managing to be comfortable, if a little plain. Ditto for the wrap around cheek-piece, but the really clever part is the bolt arrangement, which can be switched from right side to left side in a couple of easy moves. Just remove the rubber cover, then, using a coin, unscrew the cocking knob from its metal anchor. Rotate the anchor to the opposite side of the action and carefully reverse the procedure. Gloriously simple, yet giving the Edge even greater appeal across the board.
Match shooting requires specialized sights in the form of an open foresight (complete with interchangeable elements), and what’s termed a ‘Diopter sight’ at the rear. The sights included with the Edge, are extremely good, offering a very acceptable sight picture. The robust fore-sight housing contains a circular plastic element which can be changed for a slightly different spec by simply unscrewing the rear of the hood to release the plastic insert.
As for the Diopter, my initial attempts at adjustment made little difference, until I slackened the main side bolt to alter the height of the sight body. Subsequent adjustments then fell into place, but not having shot with a Diopter for many years, the complete lack of any instructions appertaining to the sight didn’t help matters.
One glance at the side profile of the Edge reveals an extremely long sight base, which is always a good thing. Add to that the fact that pellets are fed directly into the barrel’s rifling, enabling the shooter to feel either a sloppy or overly tight pellet fit, and I’d say the Edge is comfortably ticking the right boxes.
A cut-out channel to the side of the breech is clearly labelled, offering three anchor points for the bolt; push the bolt forward, then pull all the way to the back, and the rifle is read to fire; push up to into the top slot, and the action is parked in the safe position; push forward and down, and the trigger can then be dry-fired. In this position, utter safety comes for the sliding breech staying forward, thus temporarily disabling the air supply. All clever stuff.
Fill It Up
Charging the Edge is via a Daystate style valve, to be found at the rear of the cheek piece assembly. Bearing in mind the relatively short on-board air cylinder, around 100 shots from a 200bar pressure fill is pretty impressive, although of course the necessary low power level is a clear advantage in this scenario. 16fps variation over 95 of those shots is stunning however.
Not so stunning is the trigger, which despite a cursory mention in the instructions, I found to have little meaningful adjustment. In use though, I found it perfectly acceptable, and certainly no barrier to decent scores.
Indeed, with the rifle zeroed from a bench, it was clearly time to assume a proper target stance and evaluate overall user friendliness in this demanding discipline. Over the prescribed 10metres, I shot at official air-rifle target cards, and my first two cards were nothing short of remarkable. Not having shot ‘target’ for years, I had little expectations, yet with this rifle set up to suit, it just felt right from the off.
With highly gratifying results shining back at me, I was left with the distinct impression that Gunpower have something of a winning product on their hands. It wasn’t just the end targets that impressed, but the way in which the path was smoothed along the way, encouraging good results
Top target equipment giants Gehmann clearly share my view, having signed up to distribute the Edge, in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France, so Gunpower are clearly being taken seriously.