Mark Camoccio takes a look at all things airgun at the BSS
Starved of shows for some while, just the thought of the British Shooting Show was enough to set off an involuntary chuckle. Admittedly, Storm Eunice tried to poke her nose in, but she couldn’t stop this one! Here are my highlights, and as usual, due to space limitations, apologies for any omissions.
The Air Arms S510T Tactical model, shortlisted for best airgun at the show, was on display. As for the muchanticipated XTi-50 flagship, the launch date is getting ever nearer according to company MD, Claire West. Now expected tail end of the season 2022! An ultrasophisticated regulated PCP action, complete with stabilizer system, muzzle brake and all the extras as standard. It will be available with full FT spec stock, as an HFT version (simplified Hamster and shorter grip) or interestingly, action-only. There will be a choice of truly dazzling match stocks too!
Contact: Air Arms - www.air-arms.co.uk
Raytrade is the new UK distributor for Aselkon, and this Turkish brand produces a variety of spring piston models and PCPs. Of the more aesthetically pleasing is the Emperador LS, and it certainly caught my eye. A full-length, blued barrel shroud just looks the part. Add in an adjustable match trigger shoe, side-lever cocking, plus that oh so classy walnut stock and we have a great looking PCP that looks a serious proposition.
Contact: Raytrade UK - www.raytradeuk.co.uk
BSA had all their rifles on display, but the gun causing the biggest stir was their prototype version of the BSA Ultra CLX – the 160. Stephen Greenacre, Design Engineer at BSA, was on hand and he was clearly proud of their new baby, which has all the great features of their excellent relaunched Ultra, but in a side-lever format. Having handled it, I can't see them not putting the 160 into production.
Contact: BSA Guns - www.bsaguns.co.uk
Cometa has recently revamped their range and that includes spring-powered airguns as well as an ever-growing number of pre-charged models. ASI's stand had a good selection and one that stood out was the new Fenix 400 USC Laminate - a really cool customer, with USC standing for Ultra Short Carbine. Laminate stocks are popular and the grey/black sporter stock fitted to this break barrel even features an adjustable cheekpiece.
Contact: Anglo Spanish Imports - www.a-s-i.co.uk
FORM RIFLE STOCKS
English stock maker, Form were at the show and it's not an exaggeration to say that the sheer craftsmanship of their work stopped me in my tracks. Apparently, sales of their custom made Chieftain stocks have really taken off and many customers are fitting these to quality springers such as the Weihrauch HW97 and Air Arms TX200, transforming handling at a stroke. The grey/black stock (pictured) had everybody drooling.
Contact: Raytrade UK - www.raytradeuk.co.uk
At Highland Outdoors I saw the rather flashy, Diana 54 Airking in striking red/ grey laminate. Sales and technical guru, Ryan Charlton showed off a new brand of airgun from Turkey - Effecto. It's aiming fairly and squarely at shooters who appreciate a great finish and build quality. The Effecto PX-5 Pro shows a full shrouded barrel, bolt action and laminate or timber furniture. Next up was the Trigger Cam System, which works in conjunction with a scope, where the shooter can not only relay the image seen to a mobile phone but also record footage.
Contact: Highland Outdoors - www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
Hatsan's range of airguns is very large and the latest version of their Factor FDE - the new Factor K, was at the show. As the name suggests, it's a carbine version. A sizeable buddy bottle and tactical rear stock with full adjustment will tick the right boxes for many, but there's also a raft of options over which to ponder - action finish, blacked or sand and carbon fibre bottle or steel.
Contact: Edgar Brothers - www.edgarbrothers.com
Hawke is always a big player at the show and UK Sales Director, Jamie Ransome, was in a buoyant mood, with the brand having just won 'Optics Product of the Year Under £1000'. The FFP version of the new Sidewinder had won it, and that was some achievement given the level of competition. The Airmax range has been revamped, with the illumination now side-mounted to leave room at the rear for night vision. Also, a new 34mm body Frontier range is coming.
Contact: Hawke Optics - www.hawkeoptics.com
Anschutz has been a top-end mover in the airgun scene for years, and their 9015 model is aimed at the serious competition shooter. Alongside the familiar target specifications, there was a new Benchrest version on display, with a dedicated, adjustable, wooden bench rest style stock. For owners of the other 9015 models, supplied with factory fitted aluminium chassis stocks, RUAG, the UK distributor, can now offer an attractive new laminate stock option. This stunning grey/black design includes an adjustable comb and butt section.
Contact: RUAG Ammotec - www.ruag.co.uk
SPORTSMAN GUN CENTRE
There was a buzz in the air on the Sportsman stand, as the FX Impact MK3 had just won the Airgun of the Year 2022 award. Understandably, this modular super-gun was there, with many models from the highly innovative FX stable. Sportsman also markets the incredible Fat Boy Silencers, made by Donnyfl in the USA, and this 3-part creation is intended for FAC airguns. The modular, 3-part design is priced at £173.99 (Main Unit), £51.99 (Extender) and £38.99 (Muzzle Brake), so serious kit for a serious job.
Contact: Sportsman Gun Centre - www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk
The Weihrauch stand is always exciting and this year there was plenty to see. Newly revised woodwork for the HW90K sees chequering and stippling combined, whilst the specialist HW98 break-barrel now gets a neatly threaded bull-barrel with removable section. Pride of place though was the new HW100 derivative - the ADJ LAM, denoting an adjustable laminate stock, biathlon side-lever, Picatinny rail and an adjustable butt and cheekpiece. It's one hell of a gun.
Contact: Hull Cartridge Company – www.weihrauch.co.uk
AirMaks are a relatively new name to the airgun scene, and pride of place here was the tactically styled, Katran C, with aluminium chassis, adjustable wooden cheek and drop-down grip sections. It's a regulated multi-shot action and given that it's manufactured in the Czech Republic, it utilizes a CZ barrel. Real versatility and practicality come with the folding stock design and light weight overall.
Contact: Blackpool Air Rifles - www.airgunbuyer.com
Word on the street here was all about the new Italian designed springers from Stoeger. The RX20 is a break-barrel model, available with either a wood or synthetic stock, and features include a flared synthetic suppressor assembly. The RX40 is the latest full power fixed barrel model. It comes complete with fibre optic sights and an attractive synthetic foresight/catch assembly. Both models have a distinctive and classic Stoeger look, but that, as you'll see, is a definite plus point.
Contact: GMK - www.gmk.co.uk
Umarex has had huge stands at the last few shooting shows and their vast range of replica-style CO2 powered airguns, made under license, always attracts big crowds. Of interest this time around was the brand new Umarex Reign MKII, which is a super-compact carbine version of their popular-pint sized bullpup. Release for this model, I'm told, is imminent.
Contact: John Rothery Wholesale - www.bisley-uk.com