SMK TH78D Thumbhole Deluxe CO2 sporter
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
Although CO2-powered airguns came ‘off ticket’ over a decade ago, it amazes me that the vast majority of guns that run this system are either pistols or fun-guns. A notable exception, however, is SMK’s new TH78D Sporter – a full-powered sporting rifle designed unashamedly for the hunting field.
Twin CO2 Capsules
CO2 format offers all the combined a
dvantages of spring guns and precharged pneumatics, but without any of their disadvantages. For instance, unlike a springer, you can keep a CO2 gun cocked for as long as you want, without having to worry about mainspring fatigue. A CO2 gun is pretty effortless to charge up, too. No cumbersome charging gear’s needed, nor manual stirrup-pumps to break your back as with a PCP. You just drop in a self-contained gas capsule… or, in the case of the TH78D, two!
You need two of the standard 12-gramme CO2 gas capsules because the TH78D’s returns upwards of 11ft/lbs of power at the muzzle. The capsules locate in the under-barrel chamber, and once you remove the cap and drop in the first capsule, neck-down, you follow up with a second, neck-up. Gassing up is easy; you hear a hiss that signifies the CO2’s released once you’ve tightened up the piercing cap.
Anyone who knows much about gas guns will be aware that this set up will give around four or five times more power than the single capsules produce out of pistols – yet, courtesy of its slow-release valve, SMK’s twin-capsule hunting rifle still returns around 50 shots per gas-up.
Down On The Farm
As with all CO2 guns, the actual power and shot output will vary dependent on the pellet type and ambient temperature, but I’ve not found the system to be a problem over the months that I’ve been using the TH78D for pest control work at my local farm.
I’d been ordered to thin-out the rats and feral pigeon. This type of vermin control calls for a fast-handling sporter, and I couldn’t think of a better gun for the task than the TH78D. It’s very light, beautifully balanced and its deluxe thumbhole stock makes it handle like a dream. In fact, having shot many hundreds of rounds through this rifle since I first began testing it months ago, I’d go so far as to say this is the kind of rifle you’d want if you were a professional pest controller!
It’s a fast-handling gun, too. Not just because of its manageable weight and beautiful balance, but also because of its delightful, ultra-quick bolt-action. Once lifted from its lock position, the bolt – which is gold-anodised to match the rifle’s trigger blade – is easy to pull back and has a very short throw.
Once the bolt’s fully drawn, the channel of the loading bay opens, allowing a pellet to be dropped in. This then gets ‘breached’, and the firing hammer cocked, once you return the bolt and lock it down.
The open sights, which feature a red fibre-optic foresight and a fully-adjustable rearsight with green fibre-optic inserts, are pretty decent in my book – but in my opinion this gun warrants a scope, which requires you to remove the rearsight to make room. I opted for an SMK 3-9 x 40 Mil-Dot which proved how the totally recoilless firing cycle of the CO2 system really makes the TH78D perform with pin-point precision.
Although most of my farmyard ratting work never required a shot more than 20 or so yards away, I took a woodpigeon at 33 paces with the TH78D. It flew into a grain store opposite the hay barn I was in and, taking full advantage of the mil-dot reticle, I was easily able to drop the bird from distance with a perfectly executed head shot.
Its rifled steel barrel means you can group your shots very tightly even at extreme ranges and the TH78D’s three-way adjustable, single-stage trigger is perfect for getting the best from both rifle and shooter.
The safety catch, at the front of the trigger guard, is manual and perfect for hunters. You point it forward to fire, back to engage it, and an arrow points to either ‘F’ and ‘S’ to let you know its status.
Put In a Thumb
I loved the rifle’s thumbhole stock – the reason for the model’s ‘TH’ suffix. Its grip is beautifully sculpted to fit into your palm, and its right-hand Monte Carlo cheek-piece is ideal when you rig up a scope.
Besides its perfect sporter shape, it’s also beautifully presented, with my test rifle showing a rich ‘red’ finish that highlighted the underlying grain a treat. Thanks to its height-adjustable butt pad, it’s practical, too.
The pad is nicely ridged and curved to nestle naturally into your shoulder, it moves up or down to give the best gun fit. I found that by not over-tightening the keeper screw, I could alter it ‘on the fly’ with the rifle in my shoulder. This helped when shooting at an upward angle – I simply slid the pad up to its top position, which dropped the butt and brought the gun on line with the target.
A Good Deal
With CO2 capsules costing just around 75 pence each and the rifle on sale in gun shops for only £179.95, I reckon SMK’s new TH78D must be one of the deals of the decade. I said earlier it’s a rifle that would suit professional pest controllers down to the ground – but it’s also such a beautifully finished gun that I’d want it in my gun cabinet for pride of ownership alone!
This test report has been adapted from an article that appears in Sportsmarketing’s new, 164-page Catalogue, which is available on request.