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- Last updated: 29/12/2020
A recent flurry of new models from Hatsan has been turning a few heads, and on test here is the Vectis, which it’s fair to say, doesn’t just follow the crowd! Extensive use of plastic will already have many enthusiasts turning out their light so to speak, and first impressions are of a less than sophisticated air rifle. So bear with me on this one, as the Vectis can’t be so easily dismissed!
Receiving a parcel with one of the other new models from Hatsan- the Nova Star, in the same box, was never going to help the cause, as the Nova is arguably their best-looking airgun to date. With the Vectis clad almost entirely, from muzzle to butt, in black plastic, it was never likely to impress. If you really can’t abide military styling on an airgun, then that’s perfectly understandable- the Vectis won’t appeal; end of.
Yet for those that do enjoy an injection of fantasy, and take a generally more relaxed approach, it’s time to put all that negativity to one side, and embrace what this airgun is really all about; fun shooting on a budget.
Just £268 secures this rifle as seen, so I think we can all agree, we’re talking bargain money for a PCP. Admittedly, that bold styling will divide opinion, but it is clearly greater than the sum of its parts, so let’s peruse the fairly radical spec sheet on offer.
The Vectis (the Roman name for the Isle of Wight incidentally), offers a PCP action, a short cylinder, fully plastic shrouded barrel, integral barrel diffuser, probe style charging, moulded synthetic stock, removable and foldable fibre-optic open sights, two magazines (12 shot in .22 and 14 shot in .177), a charging adaptor, instruction booklet and a spare seals kit. I have, of course, left the best till last- that Winchester style cocking lever; and it’s this feature that really dictates the play.
Once in your hands, the ergonomics and configuration immediately become apparent. The forend is unusually long, which means the leading hand feels comfortable and supported by the flared moulding, complete with finger grooves, yet still stays clear of the accessory rail positioned underneath. Staying with the moulded stock, the soft rubber pad is excellent but the cheek piece, whilst perfect for the open sights, might be slightly low for scope use. I’m nitpicking here though, as a non-adjustable stock obviously keeps costs down and will always be something of a compromise.
As it stands, that raked thumbhole and grip work well, and my hand fell naturally into place. With hardly any metal on showyes even the majority of the action is plastic- build quality is never going to be a selling point with this model. Features such as the 2-part plastic scope rail (Picatinny style) will always look fairly crude. That said, the Vectis has a solid feel overall, and once you just take it for what it is, it’s a valid and appealing design, well-executed.
Charging the onboard cylinder to the prescribed fill pressure of 200bar is done using the charging adaptor supplied. With this fitted onto the airline, be that bottle or pump, the probe then needs to be pushed into the inlet valve, which sits at the front of the cylinder. Hatsan fit a neat plastic plug that sits inside the valve, to keep out dirt, and initially, I found myself grumbling that the plug was too short to grip and pull out. The solution is of course obvious. Just insert the adaptor probe, and the plug pushes out the other side.
At this stage, I would always advise caution, and to check that the probe is still fully inserted a short way into the charging regime when a small amount of pressure has already built up. Slowly build to 200bar and shut off and bleed the airline. Replace the plug, and it’s job done.
Two plastic-bodied magazines come supplied, and loading the mag requires the front clear cover to be twisted anti-clockwise, all the way around. Then gently holding against the spring pressure, insert one pellet skirt first into the one exposed hole in the back. Then load pellets one at a time head first from the front, until the mag is full.
Obviously, the rather unusual open sights are a key feature with this rifle, so don’t rush to fit any glassware. I was keen to see just how well this PCP could group straight from the box.
Fibre optic sights have been around a good while now, and the principle, for those unfamiliar, is for the fluorescent element to pick up ambient light and create a bright sight picture, even in fairly gloomy conditions. Both the foresight and rear sight are self-contained units, which can be clamped anywhere along the top rail, or removed altogether, which is a novelty in itself. The configuration of the Vectis means that everything can be set up to give a really long sightline, which always aids accuracy.
The rear sight is effectively a peep sight, with a small aperture and a bright green dot either side. It’s fully adjustable with dual finger wheels for both elevation and windage and has graduation markings too, to help keep track. Centralize the rear circle with the red foresight, and you’re in business. Further novelty comes with the way both sights can be neatly folded down out of the way, and in use, the sight picture was excellent.
Cycling the action with the right hand can be done with the gun in the shoulder, although the cocking effort is a little more than expected, so not quite as fast-fire as I was hoping for. That said, technique and familiarization plays a part and I was still getting plenty of shots off and having a wail of a time on the range. Cycling the lever, cocking the action, and indexing the magazine, all worked perfectly. There was not a single blip throughout my test period.
The feel of the trigger was a little inconsistent, sometimes feeling almost like a single-stage, then having a small amount of movement but with a pretty light release. I would say it’s still above average, and pleasant to use. On the test rifle, the safety catch failed to fully engage once the action was cocked, so if you really feel the need to use a safety, just apply before hand, which is probably the safest route anyhow.
The muzzle report is quite appealing, with more of a muted metallic ring, probably from the hammer, rather than any significant crack of air blast. This will be partly due to that muzzle diffuser, seeing the pellet pass through no less than five sectors.
With some highly encouraging groupings to show for my efforts, I finished with the impression that this rifle was inherently accurate, offering plenty of reward when I took my time. Slow deliberate grouping with the open sights, shot over 25-yards, returned clusters just marginally larger than an inch, which is pretty damn good in my book. Groups half that size are possible if you go to the trouble of clamping a scope in place; but with those super cool open sights ready and waiting, I’m not sure I’d bother.
In terms of shot count, I managed just under 40 shots within reasonable consistency, but if you don’t mind the velocity variation, then you’re good for 90+. (See performance info)
All well and good then. So we’ve confirmed that the Vectis is a capable piece of hardware. But ‘slow and deliberate’? Really? I think not. Get down to a practice range, plant this rifle in the shoulder, handle that Winchester style lever and cycle the action just as fast as you can, and even with the open sights, the spinners will fly.
Radical styling and great fun, and why the hell not. Nice one Hatsan. A bit of alwight indeed!