Theoben’s Rapid Tactical TTR1
- 5 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
When Theoben took the airgun world by storm with the ground breaking Rapid 7, all those years ago, few shooters could have appreciated just how far the ‘buddy bottle’ system would go.
Several decades down the line, and the company’s award winning favourite has certainly stood the test of time. Many hardened hunters regularly put their faith in the brand, and the fact that several on-line fan clubs exist to pay homage to the Rapid lineage, serves as evidence indeed, that this Cambridgeshire company understands its customer base.
Buddy bottles may not be to everyone’s taste, with the shooter usually left to grip the cold steel of the bottle itself, as it acts as the fore-end. But whilst I can’t help finding this mildly irritating, many just revel in the undoubted advantages that the system throws up.
Where the majority of conventional PCP’s come supplied with a fixed main cylinder, buddy bottles of the type utilized by the Rapid, can be quickly removed, offering several advantages. Firstly, with any PCP, periodic safety checks should be part of the routine. Buddy bottles, as independent pressure vessels, so can be easily taken to a test centre without disturbing the rest of the rifle’s action.
Secondly, these bottles normally afford a huge shot count, and with some compact designs even allowing for a backup bottle to be carried, hundreds of shots can be taken before the shooter need concern him or herself with finding an air supply.
For many then, the Rapid system represents something of a God send, and with the marque’s run away success, it’s been little wonder that Theoben have tweaked and evolved the model, offering it in a wide variety of guises to suit.
With the on-going trend for all things Tactical showing no sign of losing momentum, Theoben are understandably registering a strong interest in this sector of the market. Their TTR1 (standing for Theoben Tactical Rapid MkI) had a big impact from the start, and my test model here is one of the very latest versions of this modern classic.
With the ‘Tactical’ label normally denoting an ultra dedicated hunting action, mated to a black, often synthetic stock, my test model, sits as something of a contradiction- since the stock is fashioned from – walnut! Prospective customers can of course opt for black furniture if they so wish, but if the grain pattern of my example is in any way representative, then I would strongly recommend the more traditional route.
Sheffield Steels the Show
When I tested the very first prototype of the ‘Tactical’ back in 2007, the stock was formed from a super dense, specially sourced composite. After some supply issues however, alternative arrangements had to be made, with the result that Custom Stock, based in Sheffield, now produce the stock on behalf of Theoben, from traditional timber. Having now handled their work extensively over the course of my test period, I have to report that both fit and finish are excellent.
For Tactical, read Practical, as the underlying principles behind the buzzword relate to functionality leading the way. Full adjustment in the weather protected stock, and an array of neat features incorporated into the blueprint at the design stage, are what these rifles are really all about.
Features such as an adjustable rubber butt pad make all the difference, and this alone can have a considerable affect on down range performance. Since consistency stems from correctly mounting a rifle in the first place, the ability to adjust and thereby affect the sightline in relation to the mounting of the rifle in the shoulder, is a point not lost on more experienced shots. This stock goes the whole hog, so to speak, since it offers in addition, a fully adjustable cheek piece. I suppose a minor criticism is in order since the butt requires adjustment via a screwdriver and the cheek piece needs an allen key. Keeping both adjustable via the same allen key would simplify any field operation, yet I concede that many will simply set-up then leave well alone in any case.
Satisfyingly angular styling gives this Tactical stock a distinctive profile, with the swelled fore-end concealing an accessory rail, to take flash lamps, tripods and suchlike. An integral trigger guard is formed in the wood too, whilst a full drop-down target pistol grip, coupled with a generous thumb shelf, affords supreme trigger control.
Whilst the woodwork is sealed with a thick matt coating, all the TTR1’s metalwork is treated to an anti-glare coating too; in keeping with the ‘practical hunter’ design brief. Whilst this may lack the luxurious look of traditional bluing, the parkerized /powder coated look can only be of benefit in the field, where prey can be all too easily be spooked, and of course that non reflective look extends to the sleek Vortex silencer.
Theoben’s engineering integrity is nowhere better illustrated than around the classic bolt action. A chunky ‘Tear Drop’ bolt locates within its slot, with a slick and robust ‘back and down’ action to cock the hammer. Then ‘up, forward and down’, to chamber the pellet.
Theoben’s tried and tested 12 shot magazine in the .22 calibre supplied, maybe slightly less robust than some designs, yet once loaded and installed, is supremely smooth in operation. Loading the magazine requires the front clear casing to be turned anti-clockwise against light spring pressure, until the first aperture is exposed. A pellet is then carefully inserted, making sure it doesn’t fall all the way through. Once this first pellet is in place, the drum is held in position, and all subsequent chambers can be filled in turn. The full magazine can now be pushed into its slot from the left hand side of the action, once the bolt has been drawn back. Pushing the bolt home will index the first shot, and the fun can begin.
In keeping with other rifles in the range, loading can also be single shot when a ‘single shot adaptor block’ is inserted, or multi-shot when the magazine is in place. The cocking and firing cycle is simply one of the slickest out there, and this factor coupled with the exceptional standard of finish, surely accounts for much of the brand loyalty enjoyed by this company.
My only real negative observation of this rifle concerns the mounts. Theoben take the bizarre step of giving the mounts set fixing points on the breech block, screwing them into place. There are no dovetail rails, so the shooter has no choice in the mounts position. Admittedly, most scope set-up should be fine, but this arrangement is slightly limiting, and in my view unnecessary.
Charging these Rapid rifles has never been simpler, with the new valving allowing the bottle to be instantly removed without all that business of having to shoot off air before disconnection - an irritating requirement of old. Further peace of mind comes in the knowledge that an internal particle filter is also fitted, in a bid to keep the system free from foreign bodies.
Theoben fit this model with the acclaimed MFR regulator, with the result that shot count and shot to shot consistency are fairly stunning. I called a halt over the chronograph after 150 shots, recording an excellent 14fps total spread using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, yet having shot several of these actions, I can certainly vouch for the manufacturers claim of 300 from this .22 model.
Sound suppression was excellent from the highly effective silencer, whilst accuracy was as expected, superb, with the exceptional 2-stage MKIV match trigger playing its part. The flat faced blade, coupled with a highly sophisticated mechanism, makes for quite the best trigger to emerge from the Theoben factory. With an ongoing programme of subtle technical improvement, it should come as no surprise that these rifles and their derivatives, now feature fairly regularly in Hunter Field Target results; testament indeed to the overall performance to be expected.
This TTR1 also proved to be anything but pellet fussy. Milbro Ultra pellets, on trial at the time of this test, proved highly compatible with the barrel - tearing tight clusters at both 35 and 45yds, and with sub half inch groups from the ubiquitous JSB (AA Diabolo Field) brand recorded at 45yds, I retired in the knowledge that Theoben indeed have another potent performer on their hands.
Rifles with Attitude
In the Rapid Tactical models, we basically have field rifles with attitude. Whilst my original reaction at a Tactical rifle being offered without black furniture, was to considerate it something of an anomaly, my opinion has distinctly changed throughout the test period. If evidence were needed that Theoben were connecting with their target audience, it came from a local source - as a clubmate and satisfied Rapid MKII owner, took one look at the Tactical, handled and shot the rifle, then professed his desire to have one. If the calibre had been right, I would have been straight on to the manufacturers then and there, to seal the deal.
Undoubtedly these rifles have immense appeal, and with some clever design, Theoben have managed to offer the discerning enthusiast a top class British made hunting rifle, with a level of versatility rarely matched.
CONTACT: Theoben Ltd. Tel 01353 777861 www.theoben.com