Mark Camoccio extols the merits of the‘have gun will travel’ policy, with a look at the top take-down rifles
There’s something quite satisfying about an airgun that can be quickly taken apart and stored safely in a dedicated carry case. An obvious asset where easy storage or transportation is concerned, but there is also a case to be made for those times when we just may wish to keep a low profile. Consider the scenario of obtaining a shooting permission, only to find the neighbours are anxious or even hostile towards your activities. OK; we have a perfect right to be there but arriving with something that does not even look like a big and obvious gun bag, can make sense on occasions.
Under the spotlight here are several models which can be quickly dismantled and assembled and with some clever design work, they all impress in different ways. The odd one out is of course the Umarex RP5 Carbine, since its skeleton stock isn’t actually designed to be removed. As such a neat piece of kit though, I couldn’t resist its inclusion here, since, like the others, it still comes supplied in its own compact carry case and is all about the fun factor.
GUNPOWER STEALTH MKIII
The Gunpower Stealth is aimed at a certain sector of an increasingly demanding market, that will of course divide opinion. The design is probably due an upgrade (features such as a rather crude trigger and safety do it no favours), yet having shot one extensively, I can certainly vouch for the serious performance offered. It’s assembled in seconds, by screwing on the rear-mounted buddy bottle, which acts as the butt. There’s a rudimentary butt plate that can be adjusted for length of pull (LOP) and everything works, in a minimilist manner. Styling is basic, yet the slide open breech and single shot feed, is not only efficient, but has a unique and endearing charm about it. Shot counts should be huge but haven’t always delivered in sub 12 ft/lbs versions, (around 130 on test in .22). Yet serious accuracy, and that effortless operation, all help explain this brand’s continued popularity, and near cult following Stateside. Of course, association with their legendary Texan model, using a stretched version of much the same action, generating around 700 ft/lbs, won’t do any harm to sales! Unorthodox and utilitarian in its styling and construction for sure, but the Gunpower Stealth’s simple, stress free appeal is undeniable. The carry case is a soft-type and does not retain the components that securely.
Contact: Gunpower; www.gunpower.net
The AT-P2 is a PCP pistol that produces around 4-5ft/lbs, keeping it the right side of the law when the detachable butt is removed. Inside the case, we get the multi-shot action run by a side-lever positioned on the left, an adjustable, telescopic butt, filling adaptor, a complete spare set of seals, 2 x 10-shot rotary magazines, and silencer. Dovetail rails allow the fitting of either a rifle or pistol scope, or even a red dot. Hatsan utilise their rotary magazine design here, lifted from their AT-44 rifle, and with a floating barrel, 2-stage trigger, pressure gauge, open sights and ergonomic target grips, there’s plenty to get excited about. These are nicely shaped, so, adding real feel and control to this model. In addition, the polymer butt can be adjusted to individual lengths of pull (LOP) or mentioned, quickly removed altogether. The AT-P2 then, is the only gun in our line up here, that can be shot, either as a pistol, or with the stock snapped in place, as a carbine. Effectively two airguns in one, with totally different handling in either guise. Bold styling, reasonable standard of finish, a hatful of features, and half decent performance. Later versions now come with the QE ‘Quiet Efficiency shroud and integral moderator, but the same versatile format remains. Shot count approximately 80 in .22 calibre
Contact: Edgar Brothers; www.edgarbrothers.com
Best described as highly original, the Fast Fire10 is a multi-shot, that not only has a genuinely unique feel to it, but probably the fastest cycling action on the market. The unique styling, and large buddy-bottle complete with plastic butt/sleeve, are two of the basic observations on first inspection, but look closer, and the rifles true nature becomes apparent. The clever bit is that the pistol grip is actually the cocking lever that cycles the action, and with the grip already in the hand, running through a 10-ten shot magazine is fast. The sensation of the grip going slack on firing, is slightly disconcerting, but operation soon becomes second nature. We’re talking solid, sturdy construction here, with two main constituent assemblies (receiver and bottle), plus the silencer, contained within a compact, 19x16” carry case. A practical matt black finish is applied to the action, which makes sense, contrasting nicely with the black of the polymer stock sections. Both the pistol grip and forend are made from this material, and these parts are not only precisely moulded, but have a pleasant silky feel to them into the bargain. In short, this is one hell of an airgun, that opens the door to specific types of competition, tailored to the hardware. Shot Count- 130 approx. in .22 calibre from 190cc buddy bottle.
Contact: Pax Guns; www.paxguns.co.uk
FX VERMINATOR MKII
FX are one of the most radical brands on the market, with a variety of unusual configurations and cutting-edge features, to excite their growing army of fans. Unorthodox and quirky, but the quality is hard to fault. The latest Verminator MKII is a buddy-bottle fed, multi shot PCP, with an impressive specification sheet. As for the take down aspect, the bottle comes off, as well as any additional silencer. The carry case has padded, cut out sections, which allow for the constituent parts to be stored snugly away, as well as some extras for accessories; the design has clearly been thought through. So, just what sets the MKII apart from the original? A full length barrel shroud is now fitted, which gives the rifle that chunky look. Probably the most fundamental change, concerns the replacement of the old two part action, with a single piece design. FX are the masters of black synthetic furniture, and the Verminator sports a superbly comfortable handle, which incorporates a full drop down pistol grip. The moulding is precise, and the material is soft, reassuring, and almost warm to the touch. The stylish, integral trigger guard and deep forend all add to this rifle’s stark profile, but more importantly, they feel right too. The large 400cc buddy bottle sits inside another moulding; this time forming the cheek piece and butt pad assembly, and with the pad being adjustable on its axis, via two Allen bolts, it can effectively be set to suit the individual. FX now fit their smart and beautifully finished receiver from the Royale range of rifles, and the result is that the Verminator MKII has a high class feel to it. Smoothtwist barrels are fitted and there’s also a power adjuster allowing settings at 7 to 9 ft/lbs, or full power. Add in that slick side-lever, and this model can’t fail to impress. Shot count: over 350 at full power!
Contact: Sportsman Gun Centre; www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk
AIR ARMS S510 TDR REGULATED
The TDR (Take Down Rifle), was a slick piece of kit when it first hit the shops in S410 guise some years back. Now it’s been fully upgraded and it’s fair to say a great design just got even better. Now based around the S510 action, it gets a smooth side-lever system, barrel shroud, and the option of a regulated action. Increased case dimensions mean some of the low-profile appeal has gone, yet the big plus is that the new Q-Tec silencer included, can now be left on and packed away in situ. Add in the winning combination of a quality 2-stage trigger, Lothar Walther, match grade barrel, consistent power plant, and great Air Arms build quality, and this latest incarnation is hard to resist. They quote a conservative shot count with this model, but we’ve had around 95 from a .22 regulated version, all with a total spread of just 12 fps. Further plus points come with the refreshingly simple, 10-shot magazine design, with the ability to store two in the cheekpiece comb. The piece-deresistance has to be the ingenious way the gun takes down and stows away. Three probes connect with the rear of the action, along with a threaded core, and a small wheel is then turned to pull the two assemblies together. To keep it legal, the rifle will not function unless the butt is attached. It’s a triumph of precision CNC engineering, adding to the immense appeal of this model. But where the TDR really scores is the way that, when fully assembled, it just handles like the pedigree rifle it is, with no compromise along the way. Widely regarded as perhaps the Rolls Royce of take-downs, it really is a fantastic airgun.
Contact: Air Arms www.air-arms.co.uk