So here we are again! Happy holidays everyone! Except this festive season is a little bit different, because not only are we rounding out the year but we’re also closing the chapter on another decade.
So, to celebrate this rare occasion, we’re kicking off a monumental Gear of the Year collection of stories, presenting our best buys of 2019.
So whenever you’re considering a new gun, optic or shooting accessory, you need to know that it works really well, is a pleasure to use and represents great value for money. Here are just some of the items that have impressed us over the past year!
AIR ARMS S510 ULTIMATE SPORTER R
It’s hard to improve on the original Ultimate Sporter when it comes to slick shooting and stock adjustment, but with the addition of a regulator, Air Arms has made a brilliant airgun even better.
The original sidelever-driven multi-shot PCP was blisteringly accurate, but the Ultimate Sporter R takes it to another level. The ‘R’ may stand for ‘regulator’, but with an adjustable butt pad, cheekpiece and flawless metalwork, it could easily stand for ‘refinement’ too.
ATA Arms has a huge catalogue of bolt-action rifles and shotguns, and the Turkish firearms manufacturer has now added this air rifle to the list – a precharged pneumatic called the Airborne.
This PCP is driven by a sidelever and has a magazine capacity of 12 pellets in .22 calibre. It’s also produced in FAC format with a muzzle energy of around 31 foot pounds from which you’ll get a very impressive 95 shots from a starting fill pressure of 220 bar.
DAYSTATE RED WOLF SAFARI
The Safari is an evolution of the Red Wolf, using new-generation electronics to generate extra high-power, all controlled by a wooden stock with a highly textured finish.
The Safari is available in .177, . 22, .25 and .303 calibres, with power levels up to 80 foot pounds. Daystate’s Accuracy Research Team (ART) has developed a special barrel with polygonal rifling to provide increased accuracy at longer ranges.
DIANA 340 N-TEC LUXUS
The Diana 340 N-TEC Luxus is, as the name implies, a more luxurious version of the basic 340 N-TEC gas-ram break-barrel, wearing a walnut stock and a gold-plated trigger blade.
The rifle comes with a set of open sights and is fitted with Diana’s separate scope rail. It has a long barrel, making it muzzle-heavy, but this feature helps keep the gun on target, and the ergonomics of the stock make it extremely pleasant to shoot.
BROCOCK COMPATTO SNIPER HR
The Brocock Compatto Sniper HR is a compact PCP that delivers high-end performance at a competitive price – and that performance is assisted by the high-quality Huma regulator that sits inside.
Shot-to-shot consistency has been enhanced, and shot count has also been increased to around 140 super-consistent shots in .177 calibre and more than 150 in .22. The unregulated Compatto was already a very good airgun, and Huma’s magic touch has made it into a great one.
BSA R-10 TH
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the iconic R-10, BSA released the R-10 TH, which features a new thumbhole stock with an adjustable cheekpiece – and the rifle’s biggest shot count yet.
The Minelli stock is made of walnut, while the wooden cheekpiece has a soft-touch finish. The larger 280cc buddy bottle delivers up to 340 shots in .22 calibre and 280 shots in .177. BSA’s fleet of hunting rifles now has a new flagship.
FEINWERKBAU 800 x
Feinwerkbau has become renowned for its target shooting rifles and pistols, enjoying many successes on the international stage, and one of the German manufacturer’s latest guns for sale is the 800 X match rifle, which is officially imported into the UK by Surrey-based target shooting specialist Centra.
As well as having a highly adjustable stock that can be fine-tuned to ensure a perfect gun fit for the shooter, the 800 X promises a super-short lock time as well as a high-precision trigger. A black and silver version is also available.
FX IMPACT MKII
FX’s revamped Impact MkII is a high-end bullpup that boasts a big magazine capacity, hefty shot count, quiet operation and, perhaps best of all, ssome very impressive levels of accuracy.
This functional Swedish airgun is solidly built, but it is also incredibly refined to shoot. Its compact proportions are assisted by an extendable barrel shroud that offers the shooter whisper-quiet operation.
The air reservoir is 25% bigger, and in all of our tests, the MkII delivered great shot-to-shot consistency with a variation of just two to three feet per second.
The Venari isn’t just a hunting rifle – it’s a complete package including a scope, mounts, moderator and bipod. But while this gun is an excellent starter rifle offering great value for money, the Venari is also a rifle that can grow with the shooter as their experience increases.
As they gain in confidence, they’ll find they are able to exploit the full potential of this competent PCP, which offers great accuracy, good handling and a robust stock that will stand up to abuse in the field.
HATSAN HERCULES BULLY
The Hercules Bully is a semi-bullpup that comes with Truglo flip-up open sights, something rarely found on a PCP. If you don’t want the option of shooting with irons, then the generous Picatinny rail provides enough mounting room for pretty much any optic you can imagine.
Driven by a sidelever action, this multi-shot PCP has a magazine capacity of 17 pellets in .177 and 14 in .22. Another great feature is the fact that it can’t be double-loaded by mistake.
KRAL PUNCHER JUMBO
The first thing to strike you about this sidelever-operated multi-shot rifle is the ambidextrous thumbhole stock made of Turkish walnut.
The barrel is encased in a fat shroud, adding to the Jumbo’s purposeful looks. But the name ‘Jumbo’ actually refers to the size of its elephantine buddy bottle, delivering a higher shot count. Offering good accuracy potential at an attractive price, the Kral Jumbo does indeed ‘Puncher’ above its weight.
STOEGER RX20 S3 SUPPRESSOR
US gun-maker Stoeger headed across the Atlantic and landed in Europe when it created the RX20, because this distinctively different gas-ram has been developed and styled by Italian engineers.
The RX20 S3 Suppressor Combo comes equipped with fibre-optic sights as well as an optional telescopic sight with pre-fitted mounts. But the features that will catch your eye first are the ambidextrous shotgun-style black synthetic stock and the striking barrel shroud.
ZBROIA KOZAK FC
The Kozak FC is a great little bullpup from Ukraine which features an action that’s been moved back in the stock for easy reloading – and it feels great in the shoulder too.
The action is an exceptionally smooth sidelever, which drives a rotary 12-round magazine. The stock is available in either black or brown ash, and the barrel and air cylinder come in two configurations for lighter weight or higher shot count – but either way it remains truly ‘FC’ – Fully Compact.
WEIHRAUCH HW100 BP
Weihrauch finally has a bullpup version of its super-successful HW100, but rather than simply pushing the standard action further back into the stock and adding an extended trigger linkage, the BP has a super-crisp trigger that really aids accuracy.
The German gunmaker has made sure everything functions flawlessly, while staying true to the excellent original. The BP comes in regular and carbine lengths, either one being a brilliant choice for hunters wanting a compact, tough and accurate airgun.
WALTHER ROTEX RM8 VARMINT UC
The fast-handling Walther Rotex RM8 Ultra Compact is a serious choice for hunters who are looking for recoil-free performance without breaking the bank, while offering a noticeably shorter package than the full-length original.
The Varmint UC measures just 91cm with the supplied silencer fitted, and is ruggedly built and quite refined. It may be Ultra Compact, but it certainly isn’t lacking in terms of accuracy either. The original RM8 set a new standard for affordable PCPs and the addition of this compact carbine broadens that appeal still further.
If you want some extra ammo capacity for your multi-shot rifle then Pneumatic Ballistics could well have the solution you’re looking for. Among its many innovative products – it even makes its own PCP – you’ll find a range of aftermarket 10- and 20-shot double magazines designed for several different air rifles as well as a few exotic ones, like the now out-of-production Logun S-16.
ROWAN ENGINEERING ADJUSTABLE FOREND AND PALM SHELF
Rowan produces a vast range of aftermarket parts to enhance both the function and form of numerous airguns, and one of Rowan’s most adaptable components is a forend mechanism and palm shelf for FT and other types of target rifle.
It’s fully adjustable in height and angle to give optimum support. The locking tension can also be adjusted and it has and improved T-rail clamping. It’s available in several configurations including the full package of the mechanism itself plus mounting components and palm shelf.
Check back soon for part two of Gear of the Year!