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Best of the Best

We look at the top airguns, rifles and shotguns from 2022


    Daystate's Huntsman has had a successful production run in one guise or another, and for traditionalists that really don't want electronics to be a feature of an airgun, it remains a go-to mechanical model in Daystate's line-up. The Revere specification, switching from a bolt to a sidelever to cock the action, was an inspired move, but the very latest Safari Edition is now a permanent model alongside the original. The dramatic stock is the result of a unique wood removal process that leaves a distinctive roughed-up look. 'Raised Grain' is what they call it, and with the addition of panels of stippling around the pistol grip, and three more panels on the underside of the forend, there's certainly plenty of grip on offer! Get past the dramatic visuals and the key feature is of course that adjustable cheekpiece. The cheek section contrasts nicely with the stock as it gets treated to a soft touch, rubberized skin, whilst the black rubber butt pad is suitably soft, but surprisingly, non-adjustable. All the features of the Huntsman Revere are transferred over, and for that, read a comprehensive spec sheet. The action is Huma regulated, there's a full-length shrouded barrel, the muzzle is screwcut 1/2” UNF, there's a 2-stage trigger, two manometers, a new style magazine, a single-shot tray, a filling adaptor, a rocker-style manual safety catch and a side-lever action. On test, both accuracy and consistency were top-drawer. It's simply a great airgun offering top-class technical performance in a radical but highly practical format.

    Contact: Daystate www.daystate.com

    Price: £1220 (guide)

    Reviewer: Mark Camoccio



    Cometa has had a Fenix 400 model in their line-up for years and this traditional spring-piston powered break-barrel design has served them well. The Fenix remains a full-power adult sporter, but the introduction of the USC (Ultra Short Carbine) means there's never been a greater choice of models available. With just a few inches of barrel visible between the end of the silencer and the breech block, it's clear that a super short barrel is all part of the remit. It shows an all-metal construction, save for the trigger blade itself and the trigger guard, so everything feels solid, wellmade and assembled with care. As for the features included, there's a factory-fitted silencer, auto safety catch, an adjustable 2-stage trigger, rubber recoil pad, Cometa's own barrel and even an adjustable breech bolt complete with keeper screw. This model can be specified in Walnut but when we tested the 400 USC, it was the Grey Black Laminate stock that came supplied. To all intents and purposes, it's ambidextrous, as there is actually a right-hand dedicated cheek swell on the left side of the butt, yet in use, it's so subtle that it doesn't exactly interfere with the aim if you happen to be a South Paw. Of rather more interest is the excellent adjustable cheekpiece, which can easily be set to the desired height. Overall then, a satisfying piece of hardware aimed at the hunting fraternity.

    Contact: Anglo Spanish Imports - www.a-s-i.co.uk

    Price: £375 (guide)

    Reviewer: Mark Camoccio

  • NORICA N.A.C. 1911

    NORICA N.A.C. 1911

    Norica has been in the game a while and the N.A.C.1911 pistol is a splendid example of what they do best. Designed to visually resemble the famous 1911 Colt .45 Government pistol, arguably the most popular battle sidearm ever produced, this Norica gets enormous appeal by association, from the off. The distinctive profile is very authentic, right down to the dummy slide release catch and pressure grip safety. The quality of finish is very pleasing indeed and that's largely due to precision moulded components, whilst overall feel benefits from a sufficiently high metal content, mainly in the top half. The result is a pistol that not only seriously looks the part, but sits beautifully in the hand, since it weighs in at a satisfying 1.8 lbs. As for the power source, unsurprisingly the pistol utilizes one 12-gram CO2 capsule, stowed inside the grip. There's a German-made rifled barrel, double action trigger mechanism, multishot system and a manual safety catch. More good news comes with the fact that this pistol is to be shot pellet only, making it safer and infinitely more accurate than inferior BB fodder. As for the multi-shot system, contained within the dummy magazine, the revolving clip has twin 6-shot rotary mags at each end, so 12-shots after a quick mid-turnaround. Accuracy was well up to the mark on test and with 144 shots from a single CO2 capsule, performance overall gets a big thumbs up. Great fun and a whole lot of pistol for the money.

    Contact: Edgar Brothers - www.edgarbrothers.com

    Price: £120 (guide)

    Reviewer: Mark Camoccio

  • BSA R12 CLX PRO CARBINE (Walnut)

    BSA R12 CLX PRO CARBINE (Walnut)

    The arrival of a new flagship PCP from BSA was always going to grab the headlines, and the R12 CLX Pro did just that when it arrived mid-2022. Designed to look unmistakably like a BSA, their new baby does perhaps follow the lines of its predecessor a little too closely. Yet the slick new side-lever action puts it in a different league. At the heart of the R12 lies the new CNC-machined receiver, referred to by BSA as their 'mono block platform', and this includes a coloured indicator to show the action is cocked and ready. The mouth-watering woodwork, made by Minelli, follows their usual pattern, but this time it includes a new style of chequering and is also alleviated to take a larger buddy bottle if required. All the fine detail is here, and whilst it looks beautiful in walnut, the stock can also be ordered in striking Black Pepper Laminate. In operation, I love the way the new side-lever is spring assisted, so it flicks backwards automatically, completing 2/3 of its movement before the final pull is needed. The shape and feel are just spot on. BSA claims 280 shots from the standard buddy bottle and our test of the first 108 shots over the chronograph, to gauge the efficiency of the regulator, showed a total spread of just 12fps, using BSA's own Goldstar pellets straight from the tin. That's quite superb. Factor in great accuracy and this piece of head-turning hardware is one classy hunting machine that's fit for purpose.

    Contact: BSA Guns -www.bsaguns.co.uk

    Price:From £1215

    Reviewer: Mark Camoccio



    Accuracy International is a brand with few equals on the world stage and it’s especially nice to see homegrown rifles excel. After decades of success with AX rifle variants, as well as the AT, the AT-X sought to blend the action concept with a specific competition-styled chassis, making the rifle a go-to, out-ofthe- box performer ideal for this rapidly expanding market. The barrels are still interchangeable, the bolt has three lugs for a 60º lift and they lock into the action’s abutments above a twin column, rapid-loading magazine that's loved by competitors. The bolt handle ergonomics are as close to perfect as can be described, with a fast action and now, a competition-derived 2-stage trigger that is to my mind, faultless in performance, adjustability and positional versatility. The stock features all likely needed adjustability for length of pull, recoil pad height and angle. Plus, the cheekpiece is adjustable threedimensionally for perfect gun fit and scope alignment. Let’s not forget AI’s own cutrifled barrels and we end up with a rifle that although not within my personal needs, is a fantastic shooter that deserves every success. Multiple Cerakote colour options are available and with an onboard Allen key to perform minor and major modifications in the field, its militaryinspired mechanical origins seep through to what has become a far more delicate rifle with staggering PRS and long-range capabilities.

    Contact: Sportsman Gun Center www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk

    Price: £4761.99

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin



    Bergara’s take on the Ruger 10-22 concept was a really pleasing rifle to use and although Ruger themselves have similarly updated the core action design of their own factory offering, Bergara seems to have added a little more visual panache with a carbon fibre wrapped barrel, as well as closer action tolerances and a decent trigger. The Picatinny scope rail overhangs the barrels reinforce, enabling greater scope mounting space for tactical, precision or even night vision devices. More versatility is added by the adjustable length of pull system that uses spacers, plus the vertical pistol grip and hand stop in front of the recoil pad. The rifle simply becomes a far better ergonomic proposition than the older straight-hand stocks with low cheekpieces, which were designed in the days of iron sights for plinking only. This rifle is suitable for shooters of all sizes, young and old. It shoots well on target, fouls minimally and remains compatible with Ruger’s 10-22 10, 15 and 25-round capacity magazines, as well as those from any aftermarket manufacturer. Bergara’s carbon barrel is accurate and consistent, plus there are no heating issues. It also remains fully floating in a stiff polymer stock that has QR sling stud anchor points on the sides as well as conventional studs, front and rear, for long-term accessories like bipods.

    Contact: RUAG Ammotec UK - www.ruag.co.uk

    Price: £960

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin

  • CZ 600 ERGO

    CZ 600 ERGO

    CZ’s new 600 series rifles took a little longer to hit the market than expected, but since some people seem unable to follow simple instructions and instigated a recall, I didn’t feel justified, we had to be patient. But it was worth waiting for them because they represent a superb balance of modern manufacturing techniques and materials at an affordable price point with guaranteed performance. The Ergo is perhaps my favourite as it is a cost-effective, yet still desirable rifle for both mechanical and ergonomic reasons. I reviewed one in .308 with a 6-lug bolt for a 60º lift. It showed a superb single-stage trigger with repeatable weight adjustments that are easy to perform as desired. There’s a twin-column, 5-round magazine that can be locked into the rifle. It also accepts rounds single-fed. The safety catch sits behind the trigger guard, slotting through the stock upward for SAFE and downward for FIRE, with secure bolt locking capability as well. Accuracy is guaranteed as sub-MOA and the rifle had no problem meeting this guarantee with most ammunition types. The barrel was threaded, so fitting a moderator was easy. Although now threadlocked in position for dealer-only exchange, the barrels and bolt heads are interchangeable, so the rifle will last a lifetime. I loved the light but still stiff stock with ambidextrous thumbhole grip, and for the money, this gun is a relentless performer, it just wants to be shot and enjoyed in whatever calibre or action length you specify.

    Contact: Sportsman Gun Center www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk

    Price: £1262.99

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin



    As well as all of its other features, the Hardy stands apart for me as the first carbon barrelled centrefire rifle that has really impressed me and earned my trust. Call me a sceptic, but wrapping a steel barrel that heats up in a differentially rigid thermally insulating jacket is always going to be a challenge, and that’s before we even discuss the concept of barrel harmonics for precision. Hardy seems to have managed all of these and combined that tube with an action that although not immediately visually innovative, certainly shows creative engineering during clinical inspection. A 5-lug bolt shows a helical arrangement, making it almost screw-closed like a threaded screw to ensure consistent, tight headspace. It also exerts plentiful primary extraction on the reverse cycle, as the same design gradually, rather than abruptly, hauls the expanded hot brass cartridge from the chamber. The carbon stocks are geometrically quite 'longrange'in appearance but still lightweight, creating a precision hunting rifle that won’t strain your back on a mountain adventure and will still deliver the bullet at hundreds of metres. Barrels can be swapped in minutes, a torque wrench is included for repetitive precision and the lugs lock into the barrel, not the action, ensuring repeatable precision. It might look like a Remington 700 but is everything one of those never was or ever likely to evolve into.

    Contact: Highland Outdoors www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk

    Price: £5699.99

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin



    I certainly enjoy a break from the normal bolt-action rifles and although Blaser and Merkel produce some great straight-pull offerings, several others seem to miss the point, making a functional action while being ergonomically weak. Haenel’s Jaeger NXT is not a totally innovative concept, but it is a very wellmanufactured one at an affordable price. I loved the fact its bolt is like a regular turnbolt, yet just the head is rotated by an axle that runs the length of the shaft. This axle shows a bevel gear concealed within the bolt’s shroud, coupled to a similar gear at the base of the bolt handle. This offers an external appearance very similar to a turnbolt handle, but it rotates longitudinally not laterally, so with only one plane of motion, becomes a straight-pull action. It’s relatively compact, plus still shows plentiful primary extraction force and acceptable bolt stroke for the intended cartridge. Even in a long action .30-06, the bolt shroud wasn’t poking me in the eye if I kept my head on the stock while cycling the action. The stock is a mid-brown laminate that's stiff, with a true barrel free-float and swivels fore and aft for sling attachment. The looks are modest, and so is the price but this is an exceptional performer. It shot small groups on target and would be a fine rifle to hunt with, in either fastfire scenarios or quieter, sedentary positions, when the action’s quiet operation is an appreciable benefit.

    Contact: Viking Arms www.vikingarms.com

    Price: £2100

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin



    Many shooters want a simple, effective, tough rifle with unquestionably reliable performance and modest looks, without excess cost. I can’t think of a better gun. Coming in below £1000, this rifle lacked nothing in blued format but is now available in stainless steel for a hard-working lifespan. The Mauser/Sauer genes are obvious and this rifle uses the same magazine as its siblings for fast reloads. This is coupled to a fast-running, 3-lug, pushfeed bolt with a 60º lift and ideal handle geometry. In use, extraction and ejection are both strong. The triggers on these rifles are crisp and adjustable and the stock ergonomics mean taller shooters won't swamp the rifle. The polymers used are durable, without flaky surface finishes. There is no resonance or reverberation transmitted through the stock on firing and with Remington 700 compatible action bridges, the scope mounting options are endless. My .308 test rifle showed an elegantly profiled, 22” hammer-forged barrel with a neat crown, 17mm diameter at the muzzle and a 15x1 thread for a moderator. This swells to 28mm, threading into the 35mm external diameter of the action. I love the M18, honestly. It offers performance, affordability and accuracy, plus adheres to the Mauser ethos of being a fine rifle, for anyone. It's a pure hunting tool.

    Contact: Blaser - www.blaser-group.com

    Price: £995

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin



    The Vudoo Three-60 is perhaps the ultimate rimfire rifle. Although many precision rimfires are derived from prone target or biathlon heritage, the Vudoo is pure USA Remington 700, yet with intelligent design aspects to warrant its price. The 'Three' in the name is the number of lugs on the bolt, with '60' being the lift angle. This ultimate .22LR gun offers a custom cut barrel and an American Rifle Company XYLO stock suited to multi-position, precision shooting. However, it's equally capable of handling extreme long-range courses of fire. Equipped with a 40 MOA Picatinny rail and 20 MOA Spuhr scope mount, this thing lives for distance, so much so, it wouldn’t quite zero at 100m with the supplied optic, but will stretch out beyond 500m, where the ammunition choice becomes the ultimate focus. A custom barrel is en route with a 1:6.5” twist rate to stabilise monolithic copper projectiles, as handloading is quite possible for this rimfire. I cannot wait to re-encounter this rifle as its specification evolves and bring you more content. It’s very expensive, but virtually beyond question in terms of accuracy and precision on target, with a lightweight Bix 'N' Andy trigger that's incredibly delicate, plus the bolt operation is unbelievably slick. The adjustable recoil pad, cheekpiece, length of pull, exotic materials - this thing was just beyond normal, and with a barrel tuner to customise harmonics, the group sizes at realistic ranges for the cartridge’s ballistics were notably tuneable!

    Contact: Extreme Ballistics www.extremeballistics.co.uk

    Price: £6850

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin

  • GUNCRAFT .22 WMR AR-15

    GUNCRAFT .22 WMR AR-15

    When you want to shoot quickly in dynamic competition environments, the .22LR has been the go-to semiauto rifle calibre in the UK for decades. That’s not to say it's the ultimate though, as it’s bigger .22WMR brother is also legal, just not regularly seen. I had the opportunity this year to review the Guncraft .22WMR AR-15 and what a hoot it was. custom-cut the muzzle velocity and triple the energy, this is a realistic target tool due to its proven accuracy, yet it's not to be totally discounted as a pest control rifle, if speed and energy are your requirements. One of the best features is the improved cleanliness of jacketed .22WMR ammo over .22LR, without lead, grease and lube shaved off bullets leaving a residual mess in the action. This rifle shows an aluminium upper and lower, with a notable handfitted feel to minimise action tolerances. It’s far more like a .223 than a .22LR AR in handling character and recoil feel. The heavy bolt has been customised to tune action cycling for the greatest reliability. The controls are familiar to AR-15 users, with many external parts interchangeable due to the modular design. The magazine’s feed lips are 3D printed for optimum feeding, the follower enables last round hold-open of the action and even the bolt face and extractor claw have been customised to offer greater reliability and durability.

    Contact: Guncraft - www.guncraftltd.co.uk

    Price: £1750

    Reviewer: Chris Parkin



    Berretta has produced a very interesting over-and-under shotgun called the Ultraleggero. The new gun has such good balance that even with its lightened features, you can still use 30” barrels, which is the preferred length these days. The Ultraleggero replaces the Ultralight and comes in 12-gauge with 26”, 28” and 30” barrel lengths. 20-gauge versions are to follow as well as a lady's model. The Ultraleggero action is constructed with hardened steel (not aluminium) and is skeletonised with milled slots to lighten the sides and bottom of the action. These milled-out recesses are not left open but are fitted with polymer inserts that feature a floral design. No compromise has been made to the integrity or strength of the action and this Beretta is still capable of shooting thousands of high-pressure rounds. The Steelium Optima Bore HP barrels show a nice and slim 6mm wide rib, which is ideal for game, as it sights beautifully with the steel foresight and does not obscure the game whilst in the aim.

    Interestingly, to further reduce weight, this shotgun has no mid-rib. The rear stock shows grade 2.5 dark walnut with a very nice matte, oilrubbed finish, which is much better for field use. Plus, it's easy to touch up when scratched. It too has had the weight-saving treatment, with the cavity being increased in size without affecting the integrity, so you save 129-grams compared to a similar Beretta shotgun.

    Contact: GMK Ltd - www.gmk.co.uk

    Price: £2550

    Reviewer: Bruce Potts



    The 940 Pro Field is the sporting version of Mossberg's 940 JM PRO, which is a boxready, semi-automatic practical shotgun that supersedes the older 930 JM PRO. The improved gas system will now run up to 1500 rounds between cleans and will function reliably with a wide range of quality ammo. To promote rapid operation, the bolt can be manipulated via an enlarged bolt handle, plus the bolt release button is also bigger. There is also an ambidextrous tang-mounted safety catch. The gun comes in 12-gauge only (3” chamber) with a 28” barrel and bears the fleur de lys proof mark, thus demonstrating that it can be used with steel shot. Externally, the barrel shows a matte finish and internally, it is chrome lined. Three flush-fit chokes are supplied (IC, M & F). Significant improvements have been made to the butt stock, as the user can now add spacers to increase the length of pull from 13” to 14 1/4”. Also, the shotgun comes with plates that can be used to alter the rise or drop at heel from a .375” rise to a .250” drop. Although it looks pretty simple on the outside, Mossberg's hard work inside means that this is one of those guns that proves you do not need to spend a lot to get great performance. It costs around £1000, you can adjust it to fit you and it delivers the goods down range with ruthless efficiency.

    Contact: Viking Arms - www.vikingshoot.com

    Price: £1015

    Reviewer: Ed Jackson



    Browning’s Maxus semi-automatic shotgun has earned itself a big following, due to its fast action design and reliability with a large range of cartridge types. The gun has now had a makeover. Options include walnut or synthetic stocks, silvered or black actions, as well as camouflaged and carbon fibre finished stock surfaces. Barrel lengths are 28” or 30”, with 3” chamberings. Naturally, they are all steel proofed. The rib shows a 6.5mm width along its total length and a single red Hi-Viz sight at the muzzle. 5x Invector Plus chokes are supplied (CYL, ¼, ½, ¾ and FULL). Overall, the combination of the Invector Plus chokes, back boring and extended Vector Pro forcing cone, means superior patterns and reduced recoil. There is a new oversized bolt release button on the right of the receiver and Browning's Power Drive gas-operated system offers 18% less recoil, 44% less muzzle jump, 19% faster bolt speed and 24% faster lock times. Also, the Speed Load Plus system means that you can chamber the first round straight from the magazine without having to manipulate the bolt manually. I have always had a soft spot for the Maxus. Being a semi, it's more appealing to me and that fast action is impressive in the field. Add to this the new subtle features, the reduced felt recoil and the great patterns, and you certainly have a winner.

    Contact: Browning Europe en.browning.eu

    Price: £1405

    Reviewer: Bruce Potts



    Following the success of the Kofs Sceptre range of over/under shotguns, there's now a new steelactioned Zenith. It's well-made and priced, plus has a well-balanced feel. Also, it's quite light. It shows a multi-choked barrel and this SXE version comes with ejectors. Typically, being Turkish, you have a well-crafted and quality walnut stock too, proportioned so that large or small-statured shooters find it easier to shoot. It's available in various versions and calibres and will prove popular with the shooter that needs a shotgun for not only game but casual clays or vermin too. The model pictured wears a set of 28” barrels (different lengths TBC) and they provide a good eye/sightline length which helps with the natural centring of the shot. This is further helped by the thin, 7mm rib with a uniform serrated top to reduce reflections, plus there is a single brass bead at the muzzle for correct sighting without covering the target too much. The muzzles accept flush-fitting chokes and the gun comes with five as standard (C, IC, M, IM and F). Kofs shotguns are a classic example that you can get value for money and still have a gun that feels, handles and looks twice its price. This steel-actioned Zenith shot very well during testing and produced some really tight patterns that more expensive shotguns would be envious of! It's this performance on target and the good handling characteristics of this Zenith that really matter.

    Contact: Sportsman Gun Centre www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk

    Price: £649.99

    Reviewer: Bruce Potts