Andy McLachlan reaches for the stars and treks over to his gun shop to see if the hunting-focused Vulcan 2 can cut it as a target rifle
I remember reading Mat Manning’s review of the Airgun Technology Vulcan 2 semi-bullpup rifle in issue 117 of our magazine, and wondering if this gun would be capable of producing target-standard accuracy. Mat certainly seemed impressed with the gun’s ability to drop individual pellets on top of one another at 30 metres.
For those of us more used to traditional target rifles that in most cases morphed from German 10 Metre guns, the thought of using a different configuration often leads to negative thoughts, as the bullpup layout does appear alien to those of us used to long guns with a traditional layout.
Just because a gun does not resemble what we would normally associate with either indoor or outdoor target shooting, it does not mean that its different stock layout precludes it from success.
I own a few precharged pneumatic rifles that are all capable of extreme levels of accuracy downrange. In addition to a Steyr Sport LG 110 which I use for outdoor HFT competition, I also use a Daystate Red Wolf for benchrest competition purposes.
Both the Steyr and the Daystate can produce group sizes of single pellet diameters – providing that the weak link in the set-up, namely me, is able to correctly pilot the trigger release and follow-through of each individual shot correctly, every time.
As I am not a robot (at least I don’t think I am), things like pulse, parallax error and lack of concentration are why we cannot achieve perfect accuracy with every shot.
Any non-perfect shots, presuming of course that we are using the gun’s preferred diet of ammunition, will be very much down to shooter error as the guns we use these days really are that good.
I find that the electronic trigger release on the Red Wolf allows the shooter to make the most of their skills, as the mega-quick electronic pulse that activates the gun’s solenoid-operated hammer means the time the pellet is in the barrel following shot release is minimised in comparison to a mechanical trigger. This means that the shooter is far less likely to pull the shot as the pellet makes its way down the barrel.
The Steyr also possesses an excellent and genuinely match-grade trigger – a trigger unit that can be finely tuned for both first- and second-stage release, often allowing final release via a pull weight of single-figure ounces. Although not recommended for trigger fingers in the hunting field, this light release minimises any movement imparted by the shooter as the gun is fired.
This type of trigger unit allows the shooter to position the blade to suit the position of their trigger finger, which ensures a comfortable and repeatable release of the shot.
The match trigger unit is also far less likely to possess any trigger ‘creep’. This is how we describe any unit that does not allow for a sharp and instant release, as the trigger sears slip and prolong the release, which in bad cases means that the shooter cannot be sure precisely when the shot is about to go. Not good for accuracy!
Shooters considering a gun for target use will take into account any potential purchase possessing things such as known accuracy of the model, trigger consistency, weight and if we are honest with ourselves, just what the better shots all appear to be using.
Sadly, if we cannot afford a brand new and expensive target rifle, many of the examples for sale have unknown levels of maintenance. This does not mean that all second-hand target rifles might not be in the best condition, but it is critical to identify any routine maintenance and internal adjustments that have been carried out.
As with any mechanical object, dismantling the sensitive internal action componentry is best left to those possessing the required levels of skill and understanding.
Just be sure that any gun you consider has a known history – rogues are out there due to the less than skilled attempting to maximise individual gun performance.
I will now introduce to you a gun that has not been designed purely as a target rifle, but, I imagine, as a hunter.
The Airgun Technology Vulcan 2 is a bullpup – at least, the one I have just purchased is anyway. Mine is not the Tactic version that Mat used for his review, but the shorter version without the adjustable cheekpiece. Bullpups I have owned in the past usually possess quite a high sightline.
This means the shooter is faced with the centreline of the scope being higher than normal from the centreline of the gun barrel. What this means is that it is easy to induce the accuracy-killing scope cant when the gun is not being held in the perfect vertical plane.
This does nothing for accuracy, so many shooters fit spirit level attachments to their scope to make sure everything is levelled up perfectly prior to shot release.
This detracts from full concentration upon the scope sight picture, and increases the time prior to firing. Not good in the hunting field. A canted gun will throw its shots to one side or the other of the intended point of aim depending on which way the gun happens to be leaning at the time of the shot.
A rifle laid out in a bullpup configuration possessing a low sightline allows for easier accuracy as it is far less likely to result in those wayward canted shots downrange. Looking at the attached images of my new Vulcan, you will notice that the scope is relatively close to the centreline of the barrel, which when I started researching the gun as a potential purchase was very much a positive consideration.
The gun is certainly not cheap at around £1,300. However, I am very impressed with the high standard of build. This is not a gun that will fall to bits, that’s for sure.
It appears to have an almost bomb-proof construction, with its matt-finished action and barrel shroud suiting it well. The walnut stock is well finished and appears to have had a coating of lacquer to protect it from the elements.
For a rifle in a bullpup configuration, and due to the length of the rod required to attach the trigger blade to the mechanism itself, the trigger is surprisingly crisp.
It is not of match standard, but allows predictable and creep-free two-stage shot release. Cocking the gun illustrates the quality of design, with all the working parts clearly over-engineered and everything fitting together perfectly.
Downrange the gun was a revelation! The hammer-forged CZ barrel was clearly up to the job and allowed the production of genuine single-hole groups at my chosen 40-yard zero range from a sandbag when bench-rested.
Wishing to see if I was able to keep the group sizes together well beyond the limits of an outdoor HFT course’s 45-yard maximum, I shot some groups at 53 yards and was once again impressed with the gun’s ability to shoot very tight group sizes. In addition to that undoubtedly excellent barrel, the gun’s regulated action allows for single-figure velocity variations over the chrono.
I just used some 8.44 grain JSB Exact that I currently have in stock and didn’t even consider trying another pellet as I was so impressed with the results.
Further investigation may result in me discovering an even more accurate pellet contender, but I very much doubt if my own levels of skill will be able to improve much upon what I am currently achieving.
It is always a leap of faith when we buy such an expensive item that may, or sometimes may not, be up to the job. In this case, the Vulcan 2 bullpup is without doubt the most accurate and nicest shooting rifle with this configuration that I have personally owned, and I have owned a lot! If you are in the market for a gun like this, I would strongly suggest that you take a look at one.
To summarise, a superbly well engineered gun with a good trigger and excellent barrel. Highly recommended!