Mark Camoccio shows us his top ten airgun choices and accessories
MARK LIKES Mark Camoccio shows us his top ten airgun choices and accessories Just like Julie Andrews, Mark Camoccio introduces us to a few of his favourite things Airgun silencers have been around for a while now, and many follow much the same format. The basic principle is of an expansion chamber, allowing for compressed air behind the pellet to rapidly expand and dissipate into this void, muffling the sound, and allowing it to continue on its way, unruffled, to the target. I'm a huge fan of the Phantom Moderator, developed by Hugh Earl and Phoenix Airguns, and it's an intriguing design that offers great sound absorption, as well as practicality. The outer body is carbon fibre, whilst a central core is formed from injection-moulded synthetics. The inner configuration offers an anti-clockwise helical coil, which offers a reverse thrust to the spent air, as it exits so disturbing the pellet less. With no soft material to absorb moisture, the design stays waterproof, and the beauty of the Phantom is that it can be quickly stripped to its four constituent parts for cleaning. Just unscrew the metal section at the rear, pull the inner section clear, and split in half. In use, this moderator is super quiet, very light, (approximately 3oz), and reassuringly practical. Fitting is via a standard ½ x 20” UNF thread.
Contact: PAX Guns; www.paxguns.co.uk
OK; many airgun pellet pouches exist on the market, but the Rangesports version does actually show a well thought out design and I have used one in competition for many years. Constructed of highly durable 1000 denier Cordura nylon, they are fitted with a magnetic front fastener, meaning that it can be closed one-handed, more useful than you may think, especially in the heat of competition against the clock! An adjustable neck cord is another great feature, allowing for it to be kept clear of muddy terrain, when worn round the neck and shooting from the prone position. In addition, a two-way rubber fitting on the reverse allows for a strap to be fitted to allow rifle mounting, or it can be run through a small belt, all very handy and adding to the versatility. Who said all pouches are the same? The standard pouch is still great value at £10.95, but a special feature of Rangesports is their ability to personalise shooting gear with known logos or even bespoke designs. So, for an optional additional £4.95, your choice of design can adorn the front of the pouch. A worthwhile investment, and ideal for clubs etc. Nominal postage is charged but this is still a bargain, and a brilliant product.
Contact: Rangesports; www.rangesports.com
Hunter Field Target and Field Target requires the competitor to take on the elements and try and hit targets down range, when conditions are not always favourable. It doesn't take much to deflect the humble airgun pellet, when the going gets rough. So, the idea of a windicator, where a length of wool or string hangs from a gun-mounted arm, and then blows at an angle, to show wind strength and direction, has become very popular with many competitors. Of course, you can always add some cheap bit of twine to the gun to do the job. But if you're serious about shooting, then why not do it properly, with a beautifully made Windicator from Rowan Engineering? CNC machined from 6082 aluminium, their Windicator can be supplied in either natural aluminium (silver) or black-anodised. They can either be specified as an over barrel fitting, or with a cylinder clamp, dependent upon the make of airgun. The S400 version shown here, fits to the cylinder, whilst several other specs are listed that take the barrel route. Either way, the swing-out, spring-loaded arm and precision clamp, add an air of subtlety that all helps confidence in the field. Check out their website for full details.
Contact: Rowan Engineering; www.rowanengineering.com
PREMIER PLUS SHOOTING GLASSES
Protecting your eyes should never be taken lightly, and certain scenarios dictate the use of protective eye gear. Mess around with fast fire, repeating BBs for example and some sort of eye protection is a pre-requisite. As an airgun product tester, my job obviously necessitates power checking at close range over an electronic chronograph. With that set-up, ricochets are far more likely than in normal shooting scenarios. Being asked to lend a hand at a recent indoor pistol promotional event for scouts, also found me reaching for safety glasses and, in these close-range situations, it is very difficult to eliminate ricochets altogether.
The Premier Plus specification includes the main frames, five different coloured lenses, wide nose grips, and an additional prescription lens holder. The glasses come supplied in their own neat zip up case, with individual soft slips for each lens, as well as a belt clip to keep everything somewhere to hand. All the lenses are constructed from 2mm, optical grade, lightweight polycarbonate, and are impact resistant. They also come specified as UV400, offering maximum protection against UV rays. All in all, these are professional, and super comfortable to wear.
Contact: Top Gun Clothing Co; www.topgunclothing.co.uk
NEOPRENE SHOOTING GLOVES
Like so many aspects of our sport, choice of kit can be a matter of taste; but for me, Jack Pyke’s Neoprene Shooting Gloves take some beating for winter comfort. They feature a colourful English Oak/Woodland camouflage pattern and the neoprene material is just so practical for a variety of reasons. A Velcro wrist adjuster is part of the design; as is a full grip area across the palm and thumb on each glove. Tiny rubber dots create an aggressive pattern, and the overall effect works well. All importantly for shooting gloves, the trigger finger (again on either hand) can be exposed in an instant, via a small slit. Velcro fastening dots then allow for the index finger section to be held back and out of the way. There’s no slit for the thumb (for handling airgun pellets), but this can be easily added by the user if deemed necessary. Overall though, the feel of the waterproof neoprene is extremely comfortable, giving these gloves an edge over many more expensive alternatives. Sizes from small to XXL.
Contact: Jack Pyke; www.jackpyke.co.uk
AIR ARMS S400
As one of my all-time favourite airguns, the Air Arms S400 just had to be in my Top 10 kit list. I've owned five or six now, in various guises and the standard model still represents a superb investment in simple quality. It's versatile too and a gun you can grow into, or build around, adding extras for increased sophistication. It's a single shot PCP from a top British brand and is still arguably not only the best rifle in its price range, but the cheapest entry level PCP that is capable of winning outdoor airgun competitions. Bear in mind that this model was originally designed as a compact hunting rifle and it clearly speaks volumes for what's on offer, and the way this stalwart of their line-up remains so popular across disciplines; taking more than its fair share in FT and latterly Hunter Field Target competitions. Quality Lothar Walther barrels, a competent, 2-stage trigger, and good consistency when charged carefully, are all we can ask and the S400 delivers. There is a multi-shot version for those so inclined, but for me, it's single shot every time. An all-time classic airgun then, relatively simple, built for field use and superbly effective.
Contact: Air Arms; www.air-arms.co.uk
RELOADR PELLET/ POWDER SCALES
As Field Target and Hunter Field Target become ever more competitive, the serious shooter needs an edge and here, in this arena, weighing pellets is all but essential. Even the very best ammunition used can vary slightly, tin to tin, and batch to batch, and keeping variation to within plus or minus 1/10th-grain, is well worth doing. It's all about peace of mind, and absolute confidence in the equipment at the top level, and those competitors that are prepared to go that extra mile, are often the ones that emerge victorious. The Reloadr RLD-20 High Precision Digital Powder Scales from Henry Krank & Co Ltd, are just the job and the set comes very neatly packaged in its own plastic storage case, along with tweezers, weighing pan, weights and batteries. They feel solid and refined in operation and are a vital tool for those of us that want to push performance that little bit further. Weighing pellets may not be everyone's idea of fun for those long winter nights, but for peace of mind, it really does make sense. Take that route and this 'Reloadr' set is hard to beat, for such a modest outlay.
Contact: Henry Krank; www.henrykrank.com
SHOOTING CHRONY ALPHA
Whether checking consistency of competition kit, pellet testing, or tuning a rifle, we need to make sure that we stay legal, and the chronograph is the vital tool for these requirements. The Shooting Chrony, is a particularly neat design, and takes the form of a metal framed body measuring 7.5x3.75x2.5”. The box is hinged, and the two halves simply open out to form the base. As with most chronographs, the key lies with two sensors, over which the projectile passes, starting the clock at the first, and stopping it at the second. With the Chrony, they are exactly 1ft apart. The unit comes supplied with diffuser screens, which simply snap together and, via metal rods, are pushed into place at each end. These help deal with bright sunlight which can affect performance, but I have to say that I have used one of these for many years for my main testing, and it has proved extremely reliable and easy to use.
Contact: Sportsman Gun Centre www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk
Accessories can often seem overkill to the uninitiated, but it really is no coincidence that Target Shooting Gloves have been so popular for so many years. Indoor, Olympic-style airgun shooting for example, requires the competitor to stand for long periods of time at the target, whilst supporting a relatively heavy rifle. A purpose-designed, padded glove offers support and comfort in the right place and helps to cushion the whole set-up. Live disciplines, such as 3-Positional, also requires the shooter to adopt positions, which are made all the more bearable with the right gear and a glove has become an integral part of any serious shooters kit box. Move to the outdoor arena of air rifle Field Target Shooting and, latterly, Hunter Field Target and the worth of a target glove is becoming increasingly recognised, both for comfort, and to reduce pulse. Sure Shot Airguns supply a variety but use their full finger FT model and the quality is impressive. 100% leather lining, combined with a wool, viscose, and polyacrylic outer gives it a quality feel, and with a deep rubber grip top surface, palm and elasticated cuff, the design is spot-on.
Contact: Sure Shot Airguns www.sureshot-airguns.co.uk
If you take your shooting seriously, then the old adage of; ‘don’t spoil the ship for a haporth of tar’ still holds true. In other words, if you have invested in a quality scope and a top class rifle, it is pretty foolish to then join the two with cheap mounts that have been made down to a price; especially when the best are still hardly going to break the bank! Sportsmatch remain a world class brand in this field and I have fitted nothing else to my competition kit since the mid ‘80’s! Still manufactured in Leighton Buzzard, these Britishmade mounts are produced on CNC machinery, using aircraft grade, high tensile aluminium, and the precision that comes from such a strictly controlled regime is impressive. Whilst they do now offer an array of fully adjustable options, I tend to use their fairly standard two-piece sets and have just found them reassuringly well made. Top class build quality, from a top class company, you will not be disappointed!
Contact: Sportsmatch www.sportsmatch-uk.com
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