Theoben Evolution Carbine
- 14 Comments
- Last updated: 30/01/2017
First launched nearly eight years ago to give the public a more affordable gas ram rifle, nobody could have envisaged how popular the Theoben Evolution would eventually become. Due to various internal and external upgrades it has taken the place of the now discontinued Fenman and Sirocco 2000.
I remember testing the first incarnation of the ‘Evo’ and even back then was impressed by the rifle to the point that I purchased one to replace the Fenman I’d sold due to adverse financial circumstances at the time – things don’t change much do they?... But enough of my woes, as since then the rifle has blossomed and become the most popular single shot mechanical action the company produce.
Theoben now offer the ‘Evo’ in various options including two barrel lengths and three stocks and that’s not including the dedicated leftie walnut that’s also available. The model on test is the Carbine version in the walnut right hand ‘roll over’ layout. As a matter of interest over the years I’ve owned several Evolutions in various configurations and calibres. The .22 example here on test is my latest acquisition and one I’m quite certain I won’t part with; as I really do appreciate how efficient this particular ‘gasser’ is in the field or around the farm buildings.
The light coloured, nicely grained, walnut stock boasts a high, right hand, roll over cheek piece with a thick ventilated black rubber butt pad. The slim drop down pistol grip is comfortable to hold and also features a generous thumb channel on the right hand side should you wish to adopt the ‘thumbs up’ hold instead of over.
The forend has been crafted to offer a deep, flat, slab-sided profile. From the trigger guard its length visually morphs into a rounded and more substantial section that sweeps upwards curving to end in a slimmer forward section with a rounded semi-Schnabel tip. Generous panels of fine chequering are applied at the grip and forend, and this particular stock offers superb balance for its short action, making the rifle feel very solid and comfortable in the hold.
Cocking any gas-ram powered rifle gives a satisfying feel of precision engineering and the Evolution is no exception. Lock up at the breech is solid requiring the tap of the palm of your leading hand to allow the barrel to break free. Once unlocked using the chunky Vortex silencer as an aid it isn’t that difficult to cock. At 7.5” the carbine barrel is very short so you can see why the moderator serves a dual purpose.
Once cocked, you load a pellet directly into the quality, German-made tube and swing it back up, using the momentum of the movement to help lock the barrel solidly back into position. The rifle’s name always suggested all manner of upgraded features and new modern technological design. No surprise then that inside the deep blued action the acclaimed Zephyr piston crown with its air channelling grooves and other technical gubbins helps to give an even smoother flow of air and firing cycle.
Perfectly Placed Pellets
The compression chamber still houses the famous ‘HE’ (High Efficiency) ‘lightweight’ piston mechanism that counteracts the ‘bounce’ effect you get with a spring or gas-ram rifle as the piston comes to the end of its travel, resulting in much lower and manageable recoil. In other words after the smooth trigger release, you have a quick lock time, a nudge of recoil and the end result is a precisely placed pellet.
From its inception and launch Theoben decided to fit a new design of trigger unit, appropriately named after the rifle itself. Also they binned their integral mounts in favour of more traditional dovetails; they’re lengthy and deep cut into the top of the air cylinder. In my opinion both helped this rifle make its mark and have certainly helped keep it popular to this day.
The 2-stage adjustable trigger unit has a smaller manual safety blade set inside the guard. This is ideally positioned for pushing forward using the front of your forefinger to disengage when ready to take a shot. If your target disappears from view or for some other reason you decide to hold off taking the shot, you can easily reset the safety with the forefinger of your shooting hand. I’ve had various optics on this rifle but over the last few years I’ve settled on a Weaver Grand Slam 1.5 – 5 X 32. This compact scope compliments the Evo superbly and after years of use this combination still consistently gives tight clusters out to 30-yds using .22 calibre Crosman Accupells.
Incidentally, there’s a definite knack to firing a gas-ram powered gun, as of course there is in shooting a spring gun. Granted the rifle doesn’t have the recoil of a springer but it does have a definite movement on firing. Rather than being felt as the ‘shudder’ that certain full power springers deliver, what little recoil there is can be best described as very fast and ‘snappy’ - a trait of the power source that needs to be taken into consideration when shooting. The rifle originally was fitted with an Evolution silencer, now it’s the improved Vortex version. This reduces muzzle report to the trademark dull ‘thock’ that always whispers the fact you’re shooting a Theoben gas-ram.
Over the years I’ve pondered about changing to the thumbhole stock, but although that configuration is usually my first port of call, for some reason the standard furniture just ticks all the right boxes for the action it holds. To sum up the Theoben Evolution with this ‘barrel length’ and stock design is still one of the finest made, fastest handling and accurate mechanical single-shot carbines on the market – and when you consider the spring-driven competition I reckon that says a hell of a lot for the ‘Evo’ don’t you?
• A class of its own
• Smooth and efficient power delivery
• Just right