Best of 2012

Voting is now closed, your nominations have been counted – and the bubbly is on ice. It’s time for the results of the 2012 Airgun Shooter Awards.

BEST NEW SPRINGER: Gold – Walther LGV, Silver – Stoeger X20S, Bronze – BSA Lightning XL SE

It was released to great fanfare last autumn, attracting more attention than a production  springer has for many a year – so it’s no surprise that the Walther LGV takes the top spot here. Many shooters who’ve sampled the German gun have likened its action to a customtuned springer, and though its price tag had some dealers sweating, it seems the LGV has been a runaway success with readers, if not necessarily at the tills.

101_Walther LGV Competitio copy

In last year’s Best New Springer category we noticed that the Stoeger X20S had racked up a fair few votes, despite its release date falling relatively close to the deadline – so  it’s no surprise to us that it’s come runner-up. This amazing value-for-money airgun has excelled, attracting first-timers and seasoned shots with its modest price tag that includes a hi-tech silencer and scope.

This year, due to the volume of votes received, we’ve extended our Awards to include a bronze medal – and that goes to… the ‘Special Edition’ BSA Lightning XL. In 2012, we heard that the Birmingham-based manufacturer is recommencing some production work on home soil, so here’s hoping we’ll have an all-British gun appearing in – perhaps even  topping – this this category for 2013.

Narrowly missing out on the top three was a duo of Hatsan rifles – the Striker 1000S and Model 85 – reflecting the increased influence that Turkish-made guns are having in the market, with their no-nonsense, highly affordable wares.

 

BEST NEW PCP: Gold – Daystate Wolverine 303, Silver – BSA Ultra SE, Bronze – BSA R10 MK2

It’s the rifle that everyone’s been talking about, and it really stole the show as far as 2012  went. That said, the number of votes for the .303 calibre Daystate Wolverine presumably heavily outweighs the number of actual UK owners of the 100ft/lb behemoth – but then  Airgun Shooter’s digital editions do sell worldwide, and this is a rifl e designed specifically for the US market. It’s near impossible to find fault with anything this legendary British manufacturer puts out, and this walnut-stocked giant continues the theme of quality.

At least the silver and bronze prizes were claimed by rifles we see out in the field every week. The updated, Ultra SE from BSA is a legendary, compact sporter – and its new bolt-action feature was enough to earn it the silver medal… just ahead of its stablemate, the BSA R10 Mk2.

Making this category a clean sweep for British gunmakers, is the buddy-bottled, multishot R10 Mk2. This PCP is no stranger to success; its regular appearance in our Airgun 100 Index is a testament to its high sales figures in the pneumatic arena – and it seems the crack Birmingham gunmaker finally delivered the gun that was promised with the ill-fated original model.

 

TOP SPRINGER: Gold – Air Arms TX200, Silver – Weihrauch HW97, Bronze – BSA Lightning XL SE

The 2013 gold and silver medal-winners are a direct mirror image of last year’s pole  positions, proving the old adage that if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These long-time favourites still do the business today, despite having done the rounds for many years now.  Fixed-barrel underlevers like the German HW97 and the British-made Air Arms TX200 seem  to clinch it when shooters look for that extra bit of accuracy in the springer category.

301_TX200 copyAgain, BSA proved what a formidable outfit they are by registering yet another medal – bronze for the updated BSA Lightning XL SE break-barrel. As successful as 2012 clearly was for the Birmingham-based gunmaker, it’ll be particularly pleased with this award – because the Top Springer category understandably amasses a large number of diverse votes.

Notable mentions must go to the updated Air Arms Pro-Sport and Weihrauch HW77,  while both Hatsan and SMK received a large degree of support from Airgun Shooter readers – perhaps the lack of a definitive model in their range meant their votes were spread too widely to register in the top spots?

 

TOP PCP: Gold – Daystate MK4, Silver – Air Arms S410, Bronze – Weihrauch HW100

401_Daystate MK4is-S NEW S copyNo real surprises here in our opinion. In its various guises, the computer-powered Daystate MK4 has reclaimed its Top PCP title, despite coming up against some stiff opposition – including its own mechanically-driven stablemates, the Air Ranger and Huntsman. Although many initially shied away from the electronic technology, it seems that the performance of Daystate’s Map Compensated Technology (MCT) – which controls output consistency and lock-time – has won over both field and target shooters.

And the other medals go to formidable rifles, too. Dealers have reported that Weihrauch’s HW100 has enjoyed perhaps the best year since its release, with stock supplies in many cases not being able to satisfy demand – a serious indication of its popularity. Perhaps, then, that’s why it got pipped to the post by the stalwart Air Arms S400/410? Or perhaps it’s because you’ll seldom see such elegance and quality in such an affordable package?

 

TOP CO2 RIFLE: Gold – Umarex Airmagnum 850, Silver – Crosman Ratcatcher, Bronze – SMK XS78

Though there aren’t that many CO2 rifles out there, each of the medal-winners in this  category has earned a legion of admirers. In fact, so evenly spread were the votes, it went right down to the wire as to how first, second and third places would be awarded. The Umarex AirMagnum emerges as a worthy winner for the second year running, though. This CO2 rifle really does deliver in the accuracy stakes, and many airgunners have been impressed by the high shot count per canister.

Crosman’s long-standing stalwart (and wonderfully named) RatCatcher takes runner up – a gun the Airgun Shooter team has sampled on a few ratting permission of its own.  As a lightweight pest control tool, this mid-power carbine really does take some beating, particularly given it costs less than £150. SMK takes bronze with its XS78, though the XS79 and QB78 were also in the running – and we were unsure whether or not to pool the votes and give them the gold medal. After talking with dealers, however, it was felt the rifles were suitably different to be considered on a standalone basis… so for bronze, read also 4th and 5th places to the dominant SMK.

 

TOP GAS-RAM: Gold – BSA Lightning XL GRT, Silver – Gamo Shadow IGT, Bronze – Hatsan 60S-G

2012 was an interesting one in terms of the gas-ram arena. With Theoben’s patent now lapsed, many more manufacturers took up this unique power plant – foremost among them being BSA which takes gold with its GRT model of the famous Lightning CL break-barrel, which now sports an improved trigger and integral silencer.

Gamo – ironically distributed in the UK by BSA Guns – were hot on the heels in the shape of the synthetically stocked Shadow IGT, which is considered the flagship of the impressive Gamo IGT line-up.

601_GRTXLSEcopy

And to make it  a very Euro category, Turkish gunmaker Hatsan takes bronze with the ‘G’ or gas-ram version of their top-selling Mod 60S break-barrel. Under the driving force of distribution giant, Edgar Bros, our poll suggests that Hatsan is really picking up momentum. Interestingly though, the British inventors of the airgun gas-ram, Theoben, missed out completely. We think, perhaps, going in to liquidation shortly before voting began had some bearing – though the Theoben story is far from over.

 

TOP PISTOL – CO2 OR PNEUMATIC: Gold – Webley Alecto, Silver – Umarex Walther CP99, Bronze – Gamo Compact

701_Webley Alecto copyIt’s been pretty clear for a while now that the Webley Alecto really is top dog in the pump-up pistol world. As pneumatics go, pump-ups do seem more popular than their precharged cousins – but the Webley still had a tough run of competitors from the CO2 stable.

Umarex is best-known for its pistols, and the Walther CP99 was the people’s choice this time round, narrowly edging out its Colt 1911 and Beretta M9 colleagues. As we mentioned with SMK’s line-up, the Umarex CO2 range is so diverse, the votes get spread more thinly between specific models.

But it’s the Gamo Compact – another long-standing model – which round off the winning trio, with a deserved bronze for the Spanish pneumatic that sports walnut style, semi-target grips.

 

TOP PISTOL – SPRINGER: Gold – Weihrauch HW 45, Silver – Webley Tempest, Bronze – SMK25

801_HW 45 copyThe HW45 is one of several guns to retain its title this year – which goes to show that when a manufacturer really gets it right, the airgun-byuing public will repsond. Mind you, we don’t think WEihrauch have ever really disappointed in terms of quality, certainly not when it comes to this over-cocking, full-power handgun.

Just as the HW45 has been around for years, so too has the iconic Webley Tempest overlever, which takes silver, ahead of a much newer (and we know to be big-selling) Model 25 break-barrel pistol from SMK. The results show that when it comes to spring pistols, compacts get your votes. The days of huge BSA Scorpion pistol appear to be long since gone.

 

AIRGUN OF THE YEAR: Daystate Wolverine 303

How ironic that the rifle that gets your overall Airgun of the Year vote is one that was designed for export as an experiment in ‘what can be done’… and is only available to UK shooters who possess a firearms certificate.

Daystate takes the glory with the Wolverine 303. From the moment news of this .303 calibre beast broke, with extremely clever pre-release marketing by the company to boot, everyone and their brother seemed to be talking about it.

201_Wolverine copy

Airgun Shooter went to te official world unveiling of the rifle – an experience not afford to many new releases – and the buzz was quite electric with many viewing the Wolverine as, quite simply, one of the greatest engineering achievements the airgun industry has seen to date.

With no flashy electronics inside, the FAC-rated supergun operated at a whopping 100ft/lb, which extends a hunter’s range well beyond what airgunners have previously been accustomed to. It even uses its own .303 calibre ammo, developed for its specially-made Lothar Walther barrel by munitions manufacturer, JSB.

Many airgunners can only dream of 100ft/lb stopping power courtes of a 50-grain pellet – and indeed, we feel that most of the voters in this category were just that; dreamers. After all, only 10 per cent of readers hold an FAC – and even then, finding a spare £1,400 to spend on a Wolverine 303 is a big ask.

Your voting leaves us in no doubt that PCPs are the most sought-after rifles, if not the mainstay of the gun shops’ income – the models that polled in the top six were all of this configuration. In no particular order: HW100, S410, R10, MK2, Ultra SE, Daystate MK4.

But perhaps, if more of you could acquire this gun, you would. Status of the number one airgun is therefore entirely justified. Daystate’s innovation are constantly pushing the technological boundaries of our traditional pastime – and as Englishmen, we’re proud to aware the prestigious Airgun of the Year 2012 title to… the Daystate Wolverine 303.

 

TOP CAMO PATTERN: Gold – Jack Pyke English Oak, Silver – Realtree APG

1001_JP Jacket - Hunters E copyCamo has advanced a graet deal in recent year, with affordable, photorealistic, high definition designs appearing on all manner of garmets and accessories. Jack Pyke has led the way among patterns unique to British flora, which may be why English Oak nudged ahead of the ever-popular Realtree APG highdefinition pattern in your votes.

 

TOP GUN LIGHT: Gold – Tracer LEDRAY, Silver – DEBEN Tri-star Pro

Deben, with both gold and silver, has outfoxed its opponents in the lamping stakes this year. Though your choices reflect two different off-shoots of lamping, the LEDRAY being an elegant tactical flashlight and the Tri-star Pro being a more traditional looking gun lamp. Both share a common theme of being  ultra lightweight, though – so perhaps gone are the days of the giant cyclops-like gun lamps for airgun hunting?

 

TOP KNIFE: Gold – Gerber, Silver – Opinel

1101_IMG_8743 copyWe had such a deluge and variety responses here that we opted to name manufacturers instead of individual models, with Gerber and Opinel pooling the greatest number of votes. Chalk and cheese, really – the simple elegance of the wood and steel Opinel designs, versus Gerber’s cutting-edge materials and blades.

 

 

 

 

 

TOP SCOPE: Gold – Hawke Sidewinder 30, Silver – MTC Genesis

A huge variety of models meant a huge spread of votes in the scope category, but two models did rise to the fore: Hawke’s Sidewinder 30 sidewheel range and the Genesis from MTC Optics – both popular choices among hunters and target shooters alike.

1201_Hawke copyTOP PELLET: Gold – Air Arms Diabolo Field, Silver – RWS Superdom

Here again, your votes seemed to recognise a diverse range of preferences, so the winners take their medals by only slim margins. We’re not that surprised, though – AAFs and Superdomes have for many years been the choice of field and target shooters alike… and in all other calibres.

 

TOP NIGHT VISION: Gold – Nitesite NS50, Silver – Pulsar Digisight N550

Night vision is an increasingly popular part of the airgun hunter’s arsenal, and the innovative new NS50 from NiteSite – essentially a camera module placed over the scope’s eyepiece, which shows through an external LCD monitor mounted above the scope – is clearly what you night-hunters are aspiring to right now.The hi-tech Pulsar Digisight N550 takes silver – a fully digital rifle scope-cum-NV unit that takes rifle scopes well into the 21st century.

1501_NS50 copy

 

ITEM YOU CAN’T DO WITHOUT

When we asked you to vote for your favourite overall kitbag item, we didn’t factor in quite how divisive this could be – and it seems every shooter considers a different item invaluable. With such erratic voting, we are therefore unable to bring you an outright winner – but we’ve selected a number of them for a dream kit-bag feature scheduled to appear soon in Airgun Shooter.

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