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Keep Costs Down

Keep Costs Down

Just how much do you have to spend for half decent results if you fancy getting involved in outdoor airgun competition? The full answer to that question is complex and if winning silverware is the ultimate goal, then full investment in high end equipment will understandably be tempting. However, for many who aren’t prepared to go to such lengths, or are working to a budget, then a simpler approach is necessary. With hundreds of airguns now available to the enthusiast, selecting something simpler and cheaper, yet still capable of serious performance, can be a shrewd move. Undoubtedly, throwing cash at the problem unlocks some sophisticated features to help the cause, and that’s what match rifles are all about. Take that route and you’ll need to stump up the necessary investment, which is somewhere between £1300 and £3500. But many more basic models can still be highly competitive in the right hands. Doing one’s homework, hard practice and familiarity with the kit can close the gap significantly. Listed here are five such models, which can give a good account of themselves, yet still come in at a fraction of the cost of full-match rigs. Just remember that all the following are PCPs and require external charging gear, which needs to be factored in. Expect to pay an additional £100-£150 for either a divers bottle and gauge or a dedicated airgun pump, and you won’t be far out.


Price: £475 (guide)

Gamo’s first dabble in the world of pre-charged pneumatics was launched a few years back and it still looks exceptional value at the sub £475 mark. With Spanish brand Gamo and BSA under joint ownership, all PCP actions are manufactured by BSA in Birmingham. This means a quality BSA barrel and a tried and tested layout. Stocks are made by Gamo and the end result is a serious airgun that hits the market at a super competitive price point. The Coyote shows a multi-shot magazine system, yet for competition use, I would opt for a single-shot adaptor, for more precise loading and added safety when attending a competition venue. The chequered beech stock feels supremely comfortable and very supportive in the aim, although dimensions are admittedly for the larger hand. A highly acceptable trigger release is possible courtesy of the SAT2 (smooth action trigger) mechanism, and with good balance and a pleasing standard of finish, this model is unlikely to disappoint. Commendable accuracy on test, in a well-thought-out package, makes the Coyote an attractive proposition for sure, and a perfect starter rifle for anyone looking to get involved in outdoor competition. Overall, serious performance and it’s still one of the cheapest multishots around. Expect 60-100 shots depending on calibre and 1/4” (6mm) c-t-c groups at 30 yards.

Contact: BSA - www.bsaguns.co.uk



Price: £599 (guide)

Inevitably, all eyes have switched to the black Varmint version of this model, with its thumbhole synthetic stock, and this is admittedly a tasty airgun. However, the original beech-stocked Rotex RM8 still remains a slickly presented PCP and something of a bargain with Walther’s pedigree. There’s a totally free-floating barrel, threaded muzzle brake, neatly profiled safety catch, decent 2-stage adjustable trigger, recessed manometer, scope rail and very usable bolt action. There’s also an unregulated, compressed air design with a 200cc buddy bottle at its heart, plus an 8-shot rotary magazine. One glance at that super-swish ambidextrous sporter stock and it’s not hard to see where some of the RM8’s inspiration has come from and given the success of BSA’s R10 MK2, who can blame Walther for going down a similar route? The swell of the forend is the giveaway, but those shapely contours and finely chequered panels are accentuated nicely. As for the drop-down grip and thumb shelf, the designers deserve special praise. The deep laser cut chequering is particularly well executed, with the full wrap-around panel covering almost the entire underside of the forend. I would screw a silencer in place as this model is fairly noisy, but the handling is impressive nonetheless. Expect 70-100 shots depending on the calibre and better than ½” (12.5mm) c-t-c groups at 30 yards.

Contact: John Rothery Wholesale - www.bisley-uk.com



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Price: £840 (guide)

Check out the latest Weihrauch catalogue or peruse through any product list, and this model has seemingly ceased to exist. Yet, a call to UK official importers, Hull Cartridge, confirmed that the HW101 single-shot model can still be supplied, but is dealt with as a special order to the factory. Interesting marketing aside, Weihrauch’s big secret remains a tantalizing prospect, as the cheapest HW100 option and a seriously capable rifle to boot. The regulated HW100 series has proved highly popular and the main action configuration has remained largely unchanged from the original specification. However, a singleshot version not only appeals to competition shooters but simplifies manufacture, which in turn, keeps costs down. The same perfectly weighted side-lever is here, as is the superior trigger unit, which despite a plastic blade, still feels ultra-refined. Single-shot feed means the pellet is now rolled across the loading channel and pushed home with the lever/probe. Otherwise, all the key features remain. Weihrauch’s own threaded barrel is here, there’s a removable main cylinder and also the probe system of charging, complete with a dust plug. The downside is the lack of stock options. However, the beech configuration shown offers great support and handling, so largely academic for serious enthusiasts of this top German brand. Expect 50-140 shots depending on the cylinder length and the calibre, plus 0.3” (8mm) c-t-c groups at 35 yards.

Contact: Hull Cartridge – www.weihrauch.co.uk



Price: £550 (guide)

Gunpower’s particular brand of styling and utilitarian specification has found a willing army of fans, both in the UK and around the world. These specialist tools are all built around a similar pre-charged, yet unregulated pneumatic system. The Shadow is a UK power limit version (FAC-rated versions available) and was originally introduced for the American market, since it incorporates a full-length integral silencer within the main body, to satisfy US legislation. Part of the Gunpower blueprint is that chunky buddy bottle, doubling up as the cheekpiece, and it’s this slightly quirky, almost Star Trek look, that gets mixed reactions. Beneath that striking profile though, lies a serious airgun. A 490cc buddy bottle should mean a large shot count, although results on test have varied somewhat, so personal experimentation and research are required here. The 3-part stock configuration and breakdown action brings versatility, but add in direct feed to the barrel, a bolt action design, a 2-stage trigger, plus comprehensive accessory rails, and there are plenty of features to mull over. OK, granted the trigger is fairly simple and the safety catch fairly crude, but those are details that fans of these rifles are prepared to overlook. The muzzle report is minimal as those internal baffles work their magic, and overall, it’s a satisfying and rewarding shooting experience. The shot count can vary, so expect 50-200 shots and 0.5” c-t-c groups at 35 yards.

Contact: GunPower - www.gunpower.net



Price: £649 (guide)

The S400 was only ever designed as a hunting rifle, yet success in FT and HFT has given this classic airgun almost legendary status, way above its station. Air Arms are renowned for listening to top shooters and engineers, before taking detail onboard, and that’s just what happened with the S400 project. Designed originally in collaboration with 3x World FT Champion, Nick Jenkinson, this well-made sporter has stood the test of time and survived a few upgrades. More elaborate stocks are available but the standard beech sporter configuration keeps costs down for those who want simple reliability and serious performance, all for minimal outlay. The S400 is a single-shot PCP featuring a quality Lothar Walther barrel and a competent 2-stage trigger. A silky satin bolt is the signature feature, but Air Arms’ state-of-the-art CNC machinery plays its part in the consistency of finish and manufacturing overall. Reputations are hard won and this manufacturer has an enviable record in outdoor competitions, be they FT or HFT, and the S400 has played a big part in their fortunes. Charge carefully to the prescribed pressure, as with any unregulated model, and good consistency and blistering accuracy are all but guaranteed. An all-time classic airgun then, relatively simple, yet superbly effective. Expect 60-100 shots depending on the cylinder length and calibre, plus 1/4” c-t-c groups at 35 yards.

Contact: Air Arms - www.air-arms.co.uk

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