Blackpool Air Rifles
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- Last updated: 16/12/2016
Founded in 1986 by Lloyd Schober, Blackpool Air Rifles or ‘BAR’ as it’s commonly referred to has now become one of the North West’s premier Airgun Retailers. Upon entering the double fronted well-appointed shop, you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer amount of guns on display – both new and used.
Double sided gun racks run along the centre of the shop, others line most walls and there are even wall racks behind the spacious serving area prominently displaying the latest models of springer and PCP. There’s a huge selection from Weihrauch, Air Arms, BSA, Gamo, right up to very high end FXs, Steyrs and many others. Not surprisingly Daystate PCP’s have a strong presence, BAR long being an approved stockist. However ‘Head-BAR man’ Lloyd is quick to put this into perspective:
“I don’t favour any manufacturer over another. I admire anyone that is progressive, gives customers a good after care service and of course make quality airguns. This applies to other brands but in my opinion Daystate have that canny ability of making very desirable air rifles that people really do want. Don’t get me wrong, they make mistakes and have small problems like any other manufacturer but their willingness to continually improve and their professionalism makes all the difference.” As we chat, he picks up the latest Daystate Regal to let me inspect, as he feels it’s in a class of its own and one of his favourite airguns of all time! Sales reflect his sentiments as it’s currently the best-selling Daystate here.
I’m told Weihrauch and Air Arms are extremely popular at the moment also Hatsan are doing very well and in BAR’s opinion they’re getting better all the time…
Bullpups and Eadicals!
They’ve taken a great interest in the influx of new PCP bullpups coming to the UK, being one of the first retailers to stock the FX Indie and Bobcat ‘pups’ as well as the tasty offerings now available from Evanix and Kalibrguns.
“My customers are looking for new things and the new Bullpups coming out are very interesting.” Lloyd says without hesitation. “We’re very impressed with the Kalibrguns – in fact I‘ve just bought myself an Evanix Rainstorm.”
Scopes and Accessories
All major brands of scope are stocked -with Bushnell, Hawke Sports Optics, Nikko Stirling, MTC Optics and smaller companies such as Falcon Optics and Lightstream all proving to be popular.
As for accessories, the shop stock a comprehensive range of everything an airgunner could want or need. From gunbags to silencers, a huge brand choice of pellets, targets, charging kit, chronos… it’s all here. Clothing isn’t as abundant, but a select choice of garments from Deben, Deerhunter and Jack Pyke of England are always available.
BAR also seems to have a few exclusive accessories not readily seen in other outlets. In the past this was Ginb stocks, the Indonesian custom stock maker – however, I’m quickly informed of recent changes.
“We used to, but we only have certain Ginb models (check website or phone for details) left. When they’re sold that’ll be it, because unfortunately Ginb are closing. The Charlie Da Tuna GRT-III Trigger blade (Author Note: this is a retrofit blade that replaces the original Gamo/Theoben unit found in many air rifles both springer and PCP - expect a full review soon), is very popular at the moment. The replacement gas ram units we supply for many springers are still very much in demand. Also we’re proud to work with and stock V-Mach products, such as tuning kits and a few more items.”
That nicely leads me to the very high standard of gunsmith services available here as Sean (sales and in-house gunsmith) can tune a springer to your requirements, fit a V-Mach unit, gas-ram and much more. Contact Sean or any of the knowledgeable team of sales staff including Heath, Andy and Mike to discuss your requirements and get a quote.
The Dark Side
Most retailers have now embraced Nightvision equipment, especially now we have plenty of proven Digital devices. The original Nite-Site NS-50 was arguably the one that really caught the general hunter’s attention and it was no different here. Lloyd feels the technology is moving forward so fast it’s difficult to predict what the future holds. However the Nite-Site and new variants are ones he feels will continue to appeal and certain models of the Pulsar brand of Digital NV scopes from Thomas Jacks Ltd are always in demand. Even though there’s been a noticeable downturn in sales of traditional lamping kit, there are various brands and models on the shelf as there’s “definitely still a market for them” Lloyd adds.
Moving Sharply Along
Compared to most other gunshops, there’s a very comprehensive range of knives, multi-tools and also the RUI brand of large Tactical Knives. He comments on this aspect.
“Fewer people stock knives but there are still enough enthusiasts to justify having a decent range. Some like knives - like others like art. If you enjoy owning or collecting anything why should you have to justify that? The RUI knife range is superb quality and we sell a lot to those who appreciate the quality and in a collector’s eye - beauty.”
The shop’s website is very impressive – known on the search engines as ‘Airgun Buyer’ it’s regularly updated to show the latest news on everything airgun related. Weekly Specials, Regular up-dates on products being launched or that are now in stock. Also the many used items (Rifles, Scopes, etc…) that are on the site including an image to show condition. I enquire if this makes up/or has become a major part of the retail business?
“It does but I enjoy keeping the website and Facebook page up to date, it keeps it interesting and it keeps us close to and involved with our customers.” He replies. “I’m still an enthusiastic shooter myself so I like finding out about new products and keeping up with industry news. We still always have a very busy shop so I class it as part of the overall picture. Facebook especially has been really good fun to do, if you visit our page you’ll see why.”
Before leaving I ask Lloyd for a parting word or two on how the technological advances in air rifles and of course scopes/nightvision has changed/or influenced what the general airgun shooter buys?
“We try to stock most of the products on the market as long as the back-up, reliability and performance to cost balance are right. The general shooter has a much wider range of guns to choose from now and if we stock a wide variety, they’re more likely to come to us to see them with the caveat that we test everything we sell first - if its rubbish we don’t give it shelf space.”
Give BAR a try
I can hardly believe it’s over 10yrs since my first ‘official visit’ for GunMart and although the airgun scene has changed dramatically – it’s good to see the ethos here at BAR remains the same.