Gear of the Year: The best buys of 2020

Airgun shooters of all disciplines demand the same thing – guns and gear that perform really well, while representing great value for money. Here are a few of our top choices, suiting a wide range of budgets, that will help you fulfil your potential where it matters – on target.

Optics

Hawke Sidewinder 30 SF 4.5-14×44

Rifle scopes are being packed with more features to meet the increasing demands of the modern air rifle shooter, typefied by Hawke’s brand new Sidewinder 30 SF 4.5-14×44.

This precision scope is perfect for multiple shooting disciplines as it’s parallax-free from nine metres to infinity, assisted by an index-matched rangefinding sidewheel. It has locking turrets with 1⁄10 milliradian clicks, plus a witness window giving you an instant visual guide to your elevation turret’s position.

Where to find it? www.uk.hawkeoptics.com

Pao F1 5-20×50 IR PA First Focal Plane Riflescope

The F1 5-20×50 IR PA First Focal Plane Rifle Scope from Professional Airgun Optics may have a long name, but it’s backed up by a long
list of features including two-piece mounts, a sunshade and flip-up lens covers. 

This is a telescopic sight package that delivers a lot of bang for your buck, and because it’s a first focal plane model your aim points will always be the same, regardless of the level of magnification.

Where to find it? www.shootingparty.uk

Sportsmatch Mounts

If you want your rifle and scope combination to deliver their best then it’s essential to connect them together using high-quality mounts like those from Sportsmatch.

This company offers a range of both one- and two-piece mounts of various heights to fit numerous sizes of scope, fitting both dovetail and Picatinny rail systems. Sportsmatch also has a number of fully adjustable mounts to ensure you can zero your rifle without running out of elevation adjustment.

Where to find it? www.sportsmatch-uk.com

Element Optics Helix 6-24×50

Elements Optics Helix scope

Shooters wanting to squeeze the maximum amount of accuracy out of their rifle will find plenty to like in the Helix, especially the positive turrets, clear reticle and versatile range of magnification.

It comes in a choice of two reticles with matching turret adjustments, has a side parallax control, resettable turrets, a zero stop feature, a throw lever for the magnification ring, a sunshade, and both bikini-style and flip-up lens covers – an impressive package.

Where to find it? www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk 

MTC King Cobra 6-25×50 F1

This first focal plane optic will appeal to shooters who want to tackle targets at longer ranges, but need the versatility to engage targets at shorter ranges too.

With its decent glass, illuminated reticle and well-designed turrets, the King Cobra combines solid performance with some great features such as the flip-up magnetic lens covers. The rear one even has a magnifier to help you read the elevation dial should you want to dial your shots.

Where to find it? www.mtcoptics.com

Moderators

0DB 110C and 160S

The 0dB (pronounced zero dee bee) range of silencers consists of two models, the 110C (110mm) and the longer 160S (160mm). Both are made from CNC-machined high-grade aluminium.

The moderator tubes are ventilated and finished in a stainless steel mesh which helps reduce the noise of the shot. Both the 110C and 160S are available in a variety of colours.

Where to find it? www.0dbsilencers.com

Huggett Astille

Huggett moderators have a reputation for being solidly built and near-silent, as well as being aesthetically bold and beautiful. The company has taken that reputation to dizzying new heights with the uniquely shaped Astille.

Matt black anodised spacer rings sit either side of the main chamber, but brass, red, blue and silver spacers are optionally available. If its space-age looks aren’t enough to tempt you, the Astille promises superior sound-deadening qualities and increased accuracy potential.

Where to find it? www.huggettmoderators.com

Weihrauch HW XL and XL-K

For years, the standard Weihrauch moderator was the benchmark by which all others were judged, but that’s all set to change with the release of the brand new XL and XL-K, which promise to be the quietest the company has ever made.

The longer XL model measures 195mm, while the shorter XL-K variant is 132mm. Both are finished in a matt black anti-glare finish and are threaded standard 1/2” UNF to fit most airguns.

Where to find it? www.hullcartridge.co.uk

Rifles

Air Arms Ultimate Sporter R

This air rifle is a solid performer and simply oozes quality, and the inclusion of a regulator in the Ultimate Sporter R brings another degree of refinement to an already brilliant airgun.

The engineering and finish of the metalwork are flawless, and although the stock is ambidextrous, there’s plenty of potential to tweak it to achieve the perfect fit thanks to the adjustable cheekpiece and butt pad. 

Where to find it? www.air-arms.co.uk

Ataman BP17 Micro Bullpup

Russian firm Ataman has taken the bullpup concept one step further in creating the BP17, which must be one of the shortest regulated PCPs ever made.

This pup has a length of 605mm, while the Lothar Walther barrel measures 370mm, delivering a higher shot count while reducing the gun’s length and weight. Shooters will be rewarded with a high-quality and highly accurate miniature marvel.

Where to find it? www.sureshot-airguns.co.uk

Cometa Lynx SPR

Cometa has extensive experience in the manufacture of spring-powered air rifles, and the Spanish gunmaker has put this experience to good use with the Lynx SPR, a regulated multi-shot PCP that’s been equipped with a cold hammer-forged barrel.

One thing we really rate here at Airgun Shooter is gun fit, and the ambidextrous stock, which has an oiled finish, comes equipped with a height-adjustable cheekpiece so you can better attain perfect alignment with your scope.

Where to find it? www.a-s-i.co.uk

Daystate Delta Wolf

The Delta Wolf is probably the most advanced airgun on the planet, equipped with a touch screen and electronic internals to give the shooter a huge degree of adaptability and control.

While this rifle marks the pinnacle of almost two decades of research and development into electronic airguns by Daystate, it has a lot of other clever features, such as quick barrel and calibre change, a sidelever action and a new, higher-capacity magazine system.

Where to find it? www.daystate.com

Brocock Sniper XR

With its solid build quality, good looks and precise performance, the Brocock Sniper XR is a truly great airgun that’s equipped with a slick sidelever system and an enhanced firing cycle.

These may only sound like small changes, but they make a big difference as they really improve the function of the rifle. If you want a compact airgun that’s not only accurate, but is a real joy to shoot, put this on your shortlist.

Where to find it? www.brocock.co.uk

Feinwerkbau 800X

Feinwerkbau is renowned for its target shooting rifles and pistols, enjoying many international successes, and one of the German manufacturer’s most advanced guns is the 800 X match rifle, which is officially imported into the UK by Centra.

As well as a highly adjustable stock that can be fine-tuned to ensure perfect gun fit, the Feinwerkbau 800 X promises a super-short lock time and a high-precision trigger. A black and silver version is also available.

Where to find it? www.centra-uk.co.uk

BSA R-10 TH

BSA’s latest R-10 has a thumbhole stock with an adjustable cheekpiece, and it also offers a higher shot count of 280 in .177 and 340 in .22 calibre – all from a 232 bar fill.

The TH includes the same features that make the sporter-stocked SE so great, including a multi-adjustable butt pad and two magazines. It goes without saying that the TH is every bit as accurate as the SE, while offering enhanced gun fit.

Where to find it? www.bsaguns.co.uk

FX Impact MKII Compact

FX Airguns has a reputation for getting the bullpup design dead right, and the engineering and finish of this neat little airgun are absolutely flawless.

As you would expect from a bullpup that bears the “Compact” moniker, this gun’s standout feature is its diminutive size. It measures up at a very stubby 640mm from end to end and weighs just over 2.7kg. Just like the standard MkII, the rifle looks very minimalistic and handles brilliantly. 

Where to find out? www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk

Gamo GX-40

Gamo’s GX-40 is a capable air rifle that happens to be inexpensive, and the no-frills nature of this affordable pre-charged pneumatic doesn’t mean it’s at all lacking when it comes to performance.

Choose the right pellet and you’ll be rewarded with a level of mid-range accuracy that far exceeds the asking price of this budget rifle, making it a brilliant all-rounder in the field, at the range and for plinking in the back garden.

Where to find it? www.gamoguns.co.uk

Stoeger XM1

Airgun shooters may be familiar with US gunmaker Stoeger’s RX20 gas-ram, and the company has now released the XM1, Stoeger’s first pre-charged pneumatic. 

The XM1 is available in .177 and .22 calibres, and it’s wallet-friendly too as it comes supplied with a 3-9×40 scope, mounts and a sound moderator. The RX20 is a rifle that was developed and styled by Italian engineers, and that unique look has carried over to the XM1.

Where to find it? www.gmk.co.uk

Hatsan Nova Tact Compact QE

Hatsan’s Nova Tact Compact QE is certainly tactical, and while it describes itself as being compact it still manages to pack in an enormous 500cc air cylinder along with a 585mm Quiet Energy barrel, which incorporates a silencer that is very effective.

Hatsan is known for making some fine barrels, and the one on the Nova Tact Compact QE helps deliver levels of accuracy that belie the rifle’s budget pricing, making it one strong performer.

Where to find it? www.edgarbrothers.com

Walther Rotext RM8 Varmint UC

The Walther Rotex RM8 Varmint Ultra Compact is shorter than the original, measuring 91cm with the supplied silencer fitted and a stubby 79cm with it off. It’s robust without feeling cumbersome, and is a solid performer in terms of accuracy.

The level of engineering and quality of design make a mockery of the price as this gun will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with many more expensive rifles when it comes to performance.

Where to find? www.bisley-uk.com

Check back next week for the second part of our Gear of the Year guide

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