Pete Wadeson says: ‘take your pick’, as he looks at the best spring and PCP field rifles for more serious hunting duties
One of the major facets of airgun shooting, is how diverse the selection of rifles is that we can choose from to pursue our preferred disciplines. There are few, if any areas of the sport that this applies to more than in the realms of hunting and/or shooting for pest control. The former more often than not can be taking a few for the pot and the latter can be as simple as trimming the numbers of a certain pest species to reset the balance of nature. However, it can, in extreme cases, be a pest control duty, where you’re undertaking a serious cull.
A typical scenario being where and when feral pigeons need evicting from a roost site undesirable to humans, or similarly rats are in plague proportions. Also, there are rifles here to suit all tastes, preferences, personal physique and even the depth of your pockets. So, without further ado, here are tens guns; of spring/gas-ram powered and pre-charged pneumatic that I really rate to suit the aforementioned parameters.
AIR ARMS S510TDR
The only take-down rifl e in this round-up and the most discreet to transport to any location. Available with a non-regulated or regulated action and an FAC version, it breaks down into three separate sections. When assembled, the walnut forend is separate and attached to the action/mainframe, while the medium height cheekpiece is isolated on the rear assembly, which also holds a sliding height adjustable rubber butt pad. It has a steep, drop-down, fully stippled pistol grip and the very short forend quickly tapers upwards plus has an accessory rail integral to the forend. To conform to the law, it will not function unless the butt section is connected. It takes a 190bar fi ll and returns 55 shots in .177 calibre and 70 in .22. There’s also a neat air gauge deeply recessed into the underside of the forend. The sidelever cocking mechanism runs the Company’s time-tested 10-shot Perspex fronted magazine. While the semi-free-fl oating Lothar Walther tube is fully shrouded, the sleeve also containing a primary silencer unit. The 2-stage adjustable trigger unit features their ‘thru-blade’ cross bolt safety button. Another plus is the company’s highly effi cient Q-Tec calibre specifi c can comes already screwed onto the muzzle. A synthetic stocked option is now available.
SRP: £949 including ABS carry case
BSA SCORPION SE
Three ambidextrous stock options are available of Beech, Realtree Xtra and a synthetic Black Tactical, all differ slightly but the beech has an angled back and well-defined high cheekpiece, ventilated black rubber butt pad, slim neck, thumb shelf plus a steep drop-down pistol grip. The forend tapers upwards with a flared lower ridge and to further aid grip, panels of fine but aggressive stippling covers the key areas front and rear. A 232bar fill gives 65-shots in .177 calibre, 100 in .22 and 25 calibre. An air gauge is also deeply recessed in the underside of the forend. The Bolas bolt runs the 10-shot, self-actuating, removable magazine held in its housing by a retaining catch. It has an uninterrupted flat receiver for scope mounting and the 2-stage adjustable ‘Enhanced Function’ trigger mechanism has a manual safety lever positioned top right. The free-floating Cold Hammer Forged Barrel has a screw cut muzzle to accommodate a silencer of choice. Accuracy potential and shot to shot consistency are aided by a selfregulating valve system and ‘fast-strike’ hammer.
Price £625 - £689
BSA GRT LIGHTNING XL SE
Simply denoted ‘Black’, to dissociate it from the Beech model, this version has a very durable and ‘non-slip’ rubber over-mould. The ambidextrous stock features a relatively high cheekpiece, ventilated, black rubber butt pad, slim neck and drop-down pistol grip with palm swell. The forend has quite a thickset profile, which quickly becomes much trimmer and slimmer as it tapers slowly upwards towards the end tip. It also has panels of chequering along both sides of the and the pistol grip. For optical fitting, it has BSA’s patented Maxi-Grip Scope Rail and the Cold Hammer Forged Barrel comes ready fitted with a slim full-length sound moderator. If you need even more sound suppression, the silencer’s stylish rounded end cap unscrews to reveal a ½” UNF thread. The 2-stage adjustable trigger unit has a lever style manual safety positioned to the top right of the action.
The GRT nomenclature marks this break barrel as one of the company’s models that uses their Gas Rifle Technology powerplant and as a gasser has few rivals.
Type break-barrel gas ram
£339 for Black or Beech Model
The ambidextrous, synthetic thumbhole stock features a well-defined, high cheekpiece, thick ventilated black rubber butt pad, very slim neck and steep drop-down pistol drip. The slim medium length forend ends with an angled back rounded off tip. There are two panels of very fine stippling on either side of the fore section and a single large panel is applied at opposing sides of the grip.
The strengthened steel air reservoir has a forward-facing air gauge (manometer) on the very front, while the fill point is hidden and protected underneath a black coloured plastic friction fit front collar/sleeve. A 232bar fill returns approximately 70 full power shots in .177 and 80 in .22 calibre. The teardrop shaped cocking bolt runs a version of BSA’s 10-shot removable self-actuating magazine.
The SAT2 - 2-stage adjustable unit features an in-guard manual safety blade set forward of the well curved main blade. The Cold Hammer Forged Barrel is supported by a synthetic barrel band and a stylish small ported muzzle break protects the barrel’s ½” UNF standard screw cut muzzle threads.
GAMO HPA MI IGT
The HPA comes as a combo bundled with a Gamo 3 – 9 x 40WA scope, one-piece mount and what is termed a dual-mount bipod. The ambidextrous synthetic stock features a height adjustable cheekpiece, SWA (Shock Wave Absorbing) black rubber butt pad, a slim neck and a steep drop-down pistol grip while panels of very fine stippling are found on either side. The forend is very slim and almost covered on both sides with the same style of stippling used on the grip, plus there are two short runs of Picatinny style rail on either side for the bipod. The IGT (Inert Gas Technology) powered break barrel action has a set of Hi-Viz open sights as well as their acclaimed RRR (Recoil Reducing Scope Rail). The SAT2 2-stage, adjustable trigger unit has a manual safety lever that sits in-front of the main blade inside the stock’s integral trigger guard. The Whisper Maxxim Dual Sound Suppression unit fully encases the barrel and even extends forward where you can see the big-calibre style vented muzzle break.
Type break-barrel gas ram
Price £269 including scope, mount & bipod
HATSAN FLASH QE COMBO
This is another rifle that comes in combo format, in this instance rifle, 3-9 x 40 scope, mounts, gun slip and a handpump. The Flash QE (Quiet Energy) skeletonised synthetic thumbhole stock is ambidextrous and features a medium height cheekpiece, drop-down pistol grip, plus full rubber butt pad. The forend has a well-rounded underside and has a short run of Weaver style accessory rail. There are also generous panels of very fine stippling either side of the forend section and pistol grip. A recommended 200bar fill gives 70 - 80 full shots in .22 calibre and there’s an air gauge in the underside of the stock. The action has a run of Picatinny style and 11mm dovetail rail and the side-bolt runs a 14-shot Perspex fronted sprung magazine unit. The 2-stage adjustable Quattro trigger unit has a manual safety lever positioned directly in front of the main blade. The fully shrouded barrel and integrated sound moderator are extremely efficient and are strengthened by a sturdy ABS band.
WEBLEY STINGRAY HUNTER OVERSHROUD
The polymer thumbhole stock boasts a medium height, right-hand, roll over cheekpiece and full black rubber butt pad. The steep drop down pistol grip has a thumb channel plus panels of chequering on both it and the slim, deep-set, forend and grip. The rifle uses what is termed POWR-LOK™ mainspring technology that helps ‘quell’ spring vibration resulting in a very smooth firing cycle. Up front, there’s a super-efficient moderator system, which is the first to combine air rifle, rimfire and centrefire suppressor technology. It fully shrouds and extends beyond the barrel and uses a reflex chamber plus other chambers 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 effect blade. Also, the auto-trigger safety is positioned at the rear of the action, so can be disengaging with the thumb without adjusting your grip.
Type break-barrel springer
WEIHRAUCH HW97KT SYNTHETIC
Available in many options, the HW97K has been a company mainstay and is still their flagship under-lever action springer. The synthetic models boast an ambidextrous stock with a semi-hogs’ back design and relatively high thickset cheekpiece, black rubber pad, large elongated thumbhole with a steep drop-down pistol grip. The grip has opposing stippled panels, while the relatively slim, yet lengthy forend has two more set along either side. The under-lever sits neatly below the barrel, held securely in the closed position by a large sprung stainlesssteel ball bearing end catch and when operated the auto-sliding breech retreats into the action for loading. The highly acclaimed Rekord, 2-stage, adjustable trigger unit with auto safety is a mainstay on virtually all of the company’s mechanical action rifles. The trigger blade and adjustment screw being gold anodised certainly give it a touch of class. Also, the up-graded and efficient ‘primary’ integral silencer tames muzzle report to a very acceptable level. There’s also a ‘Stainless’ action version available in the same stock design.
Type under-lever springer
Prices £432 in blued action £483 with ‘stainless’ action
WEIHRAUCH HW100KT SYNTHETIC
The HW100 is available in many models, but this is the only variant in synthetic furniture. The ambidextrous, olive green stock has a medium height cheekpiece, adjustable full rubber butt pad, elongated thumbhole and steep drop-down pistol grip. The slim forend ends in a scoopforward tip that almost covers the lower section of the air reservoir. There are black, soft-touch inserts, one straddling the cheekpiece and single panels on both sides of the grip and forend. A recommended 200bar fill returns approximately 50-shots in .177 and 75 in .22 calibre, while there’s a forward-facing manometer (air gauge) on the end of the air reservoir. The sidelever runs a 14-shot, drum magazine that’s secured by a serrated outer edge retaining catch. The action has also been designed so you can’t double load the rifle. The 2-stage, adjustable, match grade trigger unit has a manual safety lever positioned at the top right-hand side of the action block. The semi-free-floating tube has a ½” UNF screw cut muzzle with the company’s own ‘HE’ (High Efficiency) silencer ready fitted.
Price £900 includes 2x magazines, 2 x fill adaptors and air reservoir ‘bleed unit