Theoben Rapid MkI
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
Virtually every airgun hunter will know of the Theoben Rapid MkI, whether it be by ownership or by reputation, as this is the rifle that single-handedly made multi-shot pre-charged pneumatics (PCPs) the most sought after air rifles for hunting.
A few years back I was surprised when Theoben re-launched a new version of the Rapid MkI. The ethos behind the decision was mainly due to the fact that the MkII and MFR models were making it look outdated, both externally and more importantly internally, therefore its overall performance and popularity were on the wane.
It wasn’t until I received this rifle for review that I realised Theoben have made a very clever move, as you can now have the time proved Rapid multi-shot action and team it up with different ‘key components’, specifically your silencer of choice. So in effect, for the first time on a PCP, they aren’t keeping it all in house. Actually that’s an over simplification of the situation, so let us start by looking at what hasn’t changed - that being the time tested magazine system, the action that runs it, and of course the integral scope mounts.
When you purchase a ‘new’ Rapid MkI you get a single-shot loading clip. Now from the start I feel this a tad unfair. This means if you want to use the rifle as a multi-shot you already have to buy a magazine as an optional extra, and quite frankly as the reputation of the rifle was built on the fact that it was a multi-shot hunter then already things, albeit financially, have changed. However, getting away from ‘costs’, the action that runs the Perspex fronted, removable ‘sprung’ magazine is still the same short throw side mounted cocking bolt. It’s certainly changed for the better in size, but in essence it’s the mechanism that many hunters prefer as it works, and it’s almost foolproof.
For air storage, the Rapid MkI uses the slim and relatively lengthy 280cc buddy bottle. From a 200-bar fill you can expect approximately 150 full power shots in .22 calibre and 130 in .177 calibre (as given by the rifle on test).
As Theoben offer so many options I feel this rifle scores highly, as you can virtually have the rifle ‘tailor made’ to suit your preferences. You can choose to purchase the Rapid MkI in either an ambidextrous sporter style walnut stock or ambidextrous thumbhole walnut with adjustable cheekpiece and sliding rubber butt pad. Incidentally, the stock on the test rifle stock was a prototype, all features are the same on production models except that this one hadn’t been fitted with a sliding butt pad. Fortunately it wasn’t needed as for test I fitted a Lightstream 4.5 – 14 X 44AO in the integral mounts. This meant I didn’t need to alter the cheekpiece or butt pad (if it had been fitted!). I mention this because the ability to raise the cheek piece and lower the butt pad will be beneficial when using a scope with a large objective lens, and therefore it will need to be fitted into the integral mounts using the ‘mount raisers’ which Theoben can supply for this rifle as an optional extra.
The height adjustable cheekpiece is so well crafted that when in the ‘closed’ position you can only just see the definition of the adjustable section. Also it deserves to be given a true ambidextrous moniker, as the company have thought to offer two thumb channels running up either side of the stock. So right or left hooker you have the option of a thumb thru or thumb up hold. This in itself is a first - and a welcome addition too.
The rest of the stock is familiar thumbhole Theoben with an integral - yet now more stylish looking - trigger guard and a tapered slab sided forend ending in a slightly larger tip, due to the fact that it goes over the rounded section of the buddy bottle’s neck. That means there’s enough woodwork for your leading hand, so it doesn’t need to hold the cold metal of the bottle. The pistol grip is nicely proportioned and boasts two twin panels of deep cut chequering.
Everything in Moderation
Now back to options. When you purchase the Rapid MkI as standard it comes with a slip on Vortex silencer. You can if you prefer choose to purchase the rifle with the 16” barrel ½” UNF screw cut so you can fit a silencer of choice. Or you can purchase the rifle with what the company term as their ‘long series’ silencer. Again either as a slip-on version or with the rifle muzzle screw cut, should you decide to change silencers for some reason.
I was so intrigued by the mention of the new silencer that I asked Theoben could they supply it with a screw fit Long Series model, so I could test it on other rifles and also try my favoured silencers on the Rapid. Suffice to say the Theoben Long Series silencer proved to be one of the best silencers I’ve experienced on an air rifle.
Incidentally, as the new can measures a very dominating 10” in length I was surprised it only had the rifle push the tape to a manageable 43.75” in overall length. Also the fully rigged rifle on test equally surprisingly only tipped the scales a tad over 7lbs in weight, making it very easy to handle and balance was spot on.
At The Range
Releasing the shots is the now proven MkIV trigger unit. This adjustable 2-stage mechanism is by far one of the biggest improvements Theoben have made across the range of their PCP rifles and with the manual safety blade sitting just in the right position for operating with the trigger finger, everything is made simple for safety and a precise pellet release.
Accuracy was stunning with the .177 calibre test rifle producing one hole groups shooting rested at my zero of 30yds. Pushing out further to 40, then 50-yds and those holes became tight clusters. Incidentally the standard rifle is unregulated, but again, you can have one made for you with a regulator as an option. However, even Theoben themselves say if you’re looking to go that route then you should really be thinking Rapid MkII and I wholeheartedly agree.
My verdict. Initially on paper the new MkI gives you the best any Rapid could give. After test I’d say it actually does, and with so many options to choose from if the Rapid action is the one that shakes your tree then the Theoben Rapid MkI is a rifle worthy of serious consideration.
Walnut ambidextrous thumbhole sporter with adjustable cheekpiece and sliding rubber butt pad
£689 for Thumbhole version with screw cut barrel and long series silencer