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A lot of shooters make the mistake of dismissing CO2-powered airguns as being little more than a compromise between a cheap springer and a PCP, but Mat Manning reckons they’re missing out.

Mat’s been testing the Umarex 850 M2 Empire Kit, finding it great fun to shoot, surprisingly accurate and powerful enough to tackle live quarry at sensible distances.

Mat’s also been out after dark with some NV kit to to fight back against an infestation after wintry weather forced an influx or rats onto the farm. Richard Saunders has also been doing a spot of nocturnal hunting, this time targeting some rabbits that have been making a nuisance of themselves among some polytunnels that are being prepared for the growing season.

For a long time, our sport has been dominated by a relatively few brands hailing, in the main, from Western and Northern Europe with a few interlopers from the other side of the pond, but Richard’s been looking at four contenders from Eastern Europe to find out how they compare.

Mike Morton, meanwhile, has been lifting the lid on pellet preparation to find out whether this arcane art really can make a positive and practical difference downrange. Will washing, weighing, lubing and sorting pellets by head size really improve accuracy? His results may make you think again!

Mike’s also been shooting the Hatsan Hercules Bully – a pugnacious-looking bullpup PCP that can be scoped up or fitted with iron sights. And he’s been slipping into, but not slipping up in, a pair of Ariat Conquest Explore hunting boots to find out whether they can conquer the worst of the British weather.

Target shooter Andy McLachlan examines why female airgun shooters tend to do really well at their chosen sport. He also highlights the incredible levels of skill displayed in the 2019 UKAHFT season – and looks ahead to what’s in store this year.

All this is capped off with our Airgun Answers section, where we tackle your shooting-related queries about dealing with dings, calling the shots and how to ensure your trigger is safe – using a mallet!

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