Norica Spider GRS
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
As gas-ram frenzy grips the nation, an increasing number of manufacturers are testing the water, with their own take on Theoben’s original theme. Expired patents have left the door wide open, and few are resisting the chance to try their hand at this innovative twist on the traditional style airgun. Replacing the mainspring of a conventional, spring-powered airgun, with an air or gas strut-type system, gives the gun different characteristics, and it’s this departure from the norm, where the appeal lies.
Spanish manufacturer Norica, are one such name to invest in this area, and this new Spider GRS (that’s Gas Ram System to you and me), is the result! So far, gas-ram models have centred around a break-barrel action, and the Spider is no different in this regard. Visually, from a side-on profile, there’s no indication that this model is a gas-ram. Take a peak underneath, past the cocking linkage however, and you can just see the solid silver tube of the gas strut, where spring coils would normally show. Build quality is fair, including some reasonable chemical blueing; evenly applied to the metalwork, and use of plastics is sparing and fairly subtle. That curved cylinder end block passes on looks alone. The synthetic stock features some stylish contours and detailing, the semi target style grip and well defined cheek piece, combine to give this model a distinctive look in the rack. More positives come with that extended forend, and soft ventilated butt pad. Not so good is that rather cheap looking silver Norica logo.
Fibre optic open sights come as standard, which do give a good bright sight picture, yet the rear unit requires a screwdriver to adjust. Better no adjustment wheels than no sights at all! Of course, and I for one, will always appreciate what an asset open sights can be for beginners in particular! Don’t run before you can walk, is a key rule in shooting, so learning the basics at the early stages can really pay dividends later. The red element foresight is an integral part of that stylish moulding at the muzzle, and this of course doubles as a cocking aid.
Norica fit a small arrestor block to the rear of the scope rails, (a welcome feature across their product line-up) so scope creep should be eliminated, as the rear mount is effectively prevented from moving under recoil. At 45.5” long, this is a full length model and a longer barrel again brings greater leverage where it matters.
Cocking the action requires very little effort, and this is where the gas-ram scores as the stroke is super smooth and free from, what we call in the trade, ‘graunch’. No spring means no metal to metal scraping noises as the piston engages, and the GRS system is very impressive in this regard. Barrel lock-up is positive too and despite the rattling of the single-piece cocking linkage, the operation feels good.
Norica are hardly renowned for their triggers, but the one fitted here performs perfectly well. OK; it is basic, and again, that’s par for the course in this price bracket. There is creep, and yes, it does have a particularly long first stage, but overall, if I took up some of that initial sear movement, I could predict the release point, which is important. Final pull weight on the second stage wasn’t excessive either. An automatic safety catch is featured, which is that tab just forward of the trigger, and whilst its position is slightly too far forward, it’s a minor irritation. For the record, the mechanism can be de-cocked too, by holding the barrel down, releasing the safety, and slowly allowing the tensioned barrel to return to its original position.
As for the firing cycle, the characteristics of the gas-ram include an ultra fast lock time, which in the case of the Spider, is felt as a quick snap; with none of the ‘twang’ associated with spring-powered designs. This action is pretty noisy however, and certainly on a par with a comparative springer specification. Shoulder the Spider though, and felt recoil is fairly modest. That semi target grip feels good, whilst the full length forend again aids handling. Slightly sharp edges felt from its underside is a distraction, yet all things considered, I couldn’t help but like this gun!
As for accuracy, I managed groups of one inch over 30yards, with a variety of ammo, which is fair for this grade of rifle. Kinetic energy in the region of 10.5 ft/lbs and velocities showing admiral consistency, (18 fps variation over 10-shots using JSB made pellets), proved the point. For the record, velocities were also close to those specified by the manufacturer; which is always reassuring.
Currently offered around the £249 mark, complete with a 3-9x40 Mountmaster scope, the Spider GRS has to represent good value for money. That scope wasn’t submitted with the test model incidentally, but previous samples have been fine!
There’s something about the styling of this rifle that really appeals. But more importantly, a super smooth, relatively easy cocking stroke and a firing cycle free from spring twang, makes for a satisfying rifle to shoot.
That snappy shot release is maybe a little frantic, but it’s not overly violent, compared to some other gas rams I have tested over the years. Whether the Spider GRS is an advance over spring systems is of course debatable, and I would have to say that little separates the two systems in terms of down range accuracy. What is certain though, is that the firing cycle is distinctly different to a traditional springer; and for that reason alone, this type of gun holds much appeal for many.
PRICE: £249 inc 3-9x40 Mountmaster scope
CONTACT: Highland Outdoors, 0845 0990252
Velocity Using Air Arms pellets (10-shot string)