Pete Wadeson gives us his top picks for spring and gas-ram hunting rifles…
Although the market is dominated by PCPs, mechanical action air rifles (spring and gas-ram powered) are still popular for hunting, either for newcomers or lovers of recoiling guns. There are a few ready to go combos in the list meaning with some models you get a scope and mounts included in the price. To save on repetition, all rifles have smooth cocking and firing cycles and the inherent accuracy potential is impressive and therefore suitable for any general 12 ft/lb airgun hunting situation.
Air Arms Pro-sport
This under-lever is available in beech or walnut furniture. It features a high right-hand, roll-over cheekpiece, thick ventilated rubber butt pad, slim neck and a pistol grip with rosewood end cap and white line spacer. High definition, laser-cut, skip-line chequering is utilised. Unique, is the fact that the under-lever, when closed, sits flush in a dedicated recessed channel in the underside of the stock. During the cocking stroke, the Stainless-Steel sliding breech moves rearwards, exposing the loading bay and, once fully cocked, the auto trigger safety mech engages, plus there’s an anti-beartrap mechanism. The 2-stage adjustable CD (Computer Designed) trigger has a curved, setback ‘gold plated’ blade and gives a superb level of shot release. Muzzle report is low, due to internal baffles and expansion chambers in the full-length barrel shroud and manageable recoil.
£599 Beech, £669 Walnut
Contact: Air Arms, 01323 845853 www.air-arms.co.uk
Air Arms TX200MkIII
Available in Beech or Walnut, the stock boasts a high, right-hand, roll-over cheekpiece with a ventilated, thick rubber butt pad. It features a slim neck, steep drop-down pistol grip with a rosewood end cap and white line spacer. The slab-sided forend is nicely contoured ending in a semi-Schnabel tip. Panels of high definition, laser-cut chequering are in the usual places. The under-lever unlatches quite easily from its retainer housing under the barrel and two concentric ‘bands’ at the front aid grip for cocking and a rubber gromet under the barrel prevents noise upon returning the lever back to the original position. While operating the under-lever to cock the rifle, the Stainless- Steel breech cover slides back revealing the loading bay plus the automatic trigger safety engages.
The 2-stage, adjustable CD trigger unit releases shots crisp and clean, while muzzle report and recoil are relatively low. There’s also an HC (Hunter Carbine) version available, which as the name indicates is shorter.
£479 Beech, £549 Walnut, £569 L/Hand Walnut
Contact Air Arms, 01323 845853 www.air-arms.co.uk
Blaser AR8 professional success
This is the result of making an air rifle that copies the Blaser R8 Professional Success centrefire rifle. The synthetic, ambidextrous stock with ‘Anti-Slip Coating’ features a shallow cheekpiece, relatively low comb plus full rubber butt pad. The cheekpiece also has a rubberised compound ‘overcover’ for comfort. It boasts an elongated thumbhole, pistol grip with palm swell plus generous panels of stippling and a colt’s foot base. The slim forend shows stippling on both sides and tapers to a Schnabel tip. A raised rail accommodates scope mounting, and the stubby barrel has a hefty muzzle weight, which doubles as a cocking aid for the N-TEC (Nitrogen Piston Technology) gas-ram system with an auto-trigger-safety at the rear of the cylinder. The 2-stage adjustable trigger releases shots. Recoil is typical of a quality gas-ram and report is only heard as a dull thud. There are two versions available; standard full-length with open sights or the model featured. And specific to T & J.J McAvoy Guns, which is bundled with a Richter Optik 3 – 9 x 50AO IR scope, 2-Piece mounts and a good quality lined gun slip.
Contact: Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 www.shootingsports.edgarbrothers.com
BSA GRT company offer lightning XL SE
Using BSA’s GRT (Gas Ram Technology) the Lightning is available in two ambidextrous stock options of beech and black – the latter having a ‘non-slip’ rubber over-mould. It features a high cheekpiece, thick ventilated rubber butt pad, slim neck, thumb shelf and steep drop-down pistol grip. The forend has a thickset profile that becomes much trimmer and slimmer as it tapers to the tip. Grip is provided by panels of chequering in the usual places. BSA’s Maxi-Grip Scope Rail stops any vibration on firing being transferred to the optic. The 2-stage adjustable trigger is a precise mech and a lever- style, manual safety is positioned above and to the right. Recoil is felt as a ‘nudge’ in the shoulder and the slim, full-length sound moderator (with internal baffles) that shrouds part way back on the cold hammer-forged barrel tames report. The silencer end cap unscrews revealing a ½” UNF thread to accepts all popular cans.
SRP: £319 for Black or Beech
Contact BSA Guns Ltd 0121 7728543 www.bsaguns.co.uk
The ambidextrous beech wood stock boasts a medium height cheekpiece plus ventilated thick rubber butt pad. The lengthy slim forend has a rounded underside while panels of chequering adorn both this and the grip. The open sights consist of a thickset raised foresight blade and fully adjustable metal rear sight unit. Upon drawing back the under-lever, the Stainless- Steel breech cover slides back, revealing the loading bay, plus, the automatic trigger safety engages.
A lengthy raised rail accommodates scope mounting and its 2-stage adjustable trigger (TO6) has a curved metal blade; plus, the safety is ideally positioned at the rear of the cylinder for the shooting hand thumb, without adjusting your hold. Muzzle report is acceptable, and recoil manageable.
Contact: Edgar Brothers 01625 613177 www.shootingsports.edgarbrothers.com
Webley stingray hunter overshroud
The polymer thumbhole stock boasts a medium height, right hand roll over cheekpiece and rubber butt pad. The steep drop-down pistol grip has a thumb channel; plus, there are panels of chequering in the usual places. It uses POWR-LOK™ mainspring technology that helps quell vibration, so giving a smooth firing cycle. The super-efficient moderator fully shrouds and extends beyond the barrel and uses a reflex chamber plus others that incorporate extra baffles and acoustic felt cages. The 2-stage, adjustable Quattro trigger mechanism is a well-designed unit, which has a set-back, gold-plated blade. The auto-trigger safety is positioned at the rear of the action so can be disengaged with the thumb without adjusting your grip.
Contact: Highland Outdoors www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
Gamo maxxim elite tactical
This multi-shot is available in either beech with height adjustable cheekpiece or black tactical furniture. The ambidextrous synthetic features a medium height comb and Gamo’s SWA rubber butt pad with red line spacer. The neck and steep drop-down pistol grip are slim, while the forend fills out slightly, ending in a rounded off tip. Panels of raised stippling are found in both areas. The RRR scope rail ensures no-transference of stress to the optic upon firing. It comes supplied with a Gamo 3-9 x 40 scope and a one-piece high scope mount. The auto-loading mechanism sits above the chamber area and offers a 10-shot removable magazine. Breaking the barrel indexes the magazine and loads a pellet. The SAT2 CAT, 2-stage, adjustable trigger breaks crisply and utilises an in-guard manual safety lever. The rifle is a gas-ram, using Gamo’s IGT (Inert Gas Technology). Recoil is low and muzzle report equally so, thanks to the Whisper Maxxim Integral Sound Moderator that covers the barrel.
SRP: £279 Synthetic or Beech
Contact: BSA Guns Ltd www.bsaguns.co.uk, www.gamo.com
The ambidextrous beech stock has a relatively low, yet well-defined cheek piece with a slight hog’s back comb, plus a full rubber butt pad with black line spacer. The slim neck has a shallow thumb shelf, while the pistol grip boasts a palm swell. The forend is both slim and quite deep with a nicely rounded underside; this and the grip have panels of chequering and stippling applied. Although having a scope rail, it also has a set of iron sights consisting of a hooded foresight (choice of using 4 interchangeable elements) while the metal rear sight is fully adjustable. The 2-stage, adjustable Rekord trigger with auto-safety is standard, recoil and muzzle report are low making this a very appealing lightweight carbine.
Contact: Hull Cartridge Co 01482 342571 www.hullcartridge.co.uk
Walther LGU master pro
The LGU has been up-graded and now has an ambidextrous walnut stock, high cheekpiece plus adjustable rubber butt pad. Chequering is generously applied to the steep drop-down pistol grip while the relatively lengthy forend has a reasonable length of scalloping along the mid-section to aid grip. Upon operating the under-lever, a stainless-steel sliding breech cover reveals the loading bay and the auto-trigger safety positioned at the rear of the action engages. The action and firing cycle are very smooth, due to the Company’s Silent Spring Technology (SST) and Vibration Reduction System (VRS). The hollow muzzle weight has a removable end cap, allowing the fitting of an optional ½” UNF threaded silencer adaptor. The 2-stage adjustable trigger is precise, and the safety catch is ideally positioned for operating with the thumb of the shooting hand. Recoil and muzzle report are low, making this a desirable, adult-sized hunter!
Contact John Rothery Wholesale Ltd 0121 643 4900 www.bisley-uk.com
The ambidextrous beech stock has a medium height cheekpiece with rubber butt pad and black line spacer. The pistol grip is a solid design with a shallow rake. Deep-cut chequering is applied here, while the lengthy, slab-sided forend has a nicely curved underside. Unlike the standard and carbine variants, the HW80KS does not have open sights, but you can still purchase the other versions of the rifle. The trigger sears engage positively, and the familiar automatic safety button pops out from the left rear of the air cylinder. The Rekord, 2-stage, fully adjustable trigger operates crisp and clean.
Recoil is low and the HE silencer does a very fine job of quelling muzzle report.
Contact Hull Cartridge Co 01482 342571 www.hullcartridge.co.uk
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