Mat Manning is kicking up a storm as he gets to grips with the Norica Storm X – a budget-busting break-barrel that boasts a host of handy extras.
Basic break-barrel springers are a brilliant way to get into airgun shooting and, for a lot of people, they may actually be all the gun someone could ever need.
Apart from being affordable, these airguns tend to be fairly low-maintenance and don’t require any costly extras – just the thing if you like to keep your shooting simple.
The Norica Storm X is one such airgun. It retails for a modest £229.99, and that price includes a scope, mounts, gun bag and silencer. It’s an impressive package for the money and, most importantly of all, is built around a solid and reliable rifle, as we discovered during testing.
MAKER: Norica, Spain (www.airriflesnorica.com)
TEST GUN SUPPLIED BY: Pellpax (www.pellpax.co.uk)
MODEL: Storm X
TYPE: Spring-powered break-barrel
CALIBRE: .177, .22 (tested)
OVERALL LENGTH: 1,114mm
LENGTH OF PULL: 380mm
BARREL LENGTH: 454mm
WEIGHT: 3.3kg (without scope)
SAFETY: Automatic, resettable
Proportions and finish
The Storm X measures just over 111cm from muzzle to butt with the silencer fitted, and weighs around 3.3kg unscoped. There are no open sights, so the supplied scope is an essential addition.
Mounted up, it takes overall weight up to about 3.8kg, which is still very manageable. It is certainly an adult-sized airgun, but it’s not too cumbersome: balance is good and it feels very comfortable in the shoulder.
Right-handers will be pleased to know that this airgun has a dedicated right-hand stock, which I think makes for a noticeably better fit than an ambidextrous one – unless, of course, you’re left-handed.
The handle is made from beech, and has what’s described as a vaporised finish. I think it looks very nice and should appeal to traditionalists; it’s not too shiny and shows a nice amount of grain.
The design of the stock is both handsome and functional. The chequering is pretty neat for a gun of this price, and there are well-positioned patches of it on either side of the pistol grip and forend. The handle is very well proportioned and the long forend gives you plenty to hang on to with your leading hand.
The pistol grip has quite a gentle rake, but still facilitates decent trigger attack. There’s even a nice little scallop for your thumb at the rear of the cylinder if, like me, you like to shoot thumb-up.
The clearly defined cheekpiece is sufficiently high for scope use, even with relatively high mounts like those supplied with the kit, and the soft vented recoil pad gives lots of cushioning – not that this gun kicks very much.
Build quality is too often sacrificed for gimmicky extras on affordable break-barrels, but I’m pleased to confirm that is not the case with this one. All of the engineering appears to be very tidy, the metalwork is finished to a good standard and everything feels reassuringly robust.
The cylinder is machined with rails to accept dovetail scope mounts, and there’s also an arrestor plate to ensure that the supplied two-piece mounts don’t creep once you’ve tightened it all.
Features and accessories
The scope included with the kit is a 3-9×50 Pro Shot model and, like the gun, it’s straightforward and simple to use. Its optical quality is more than sufficient and the crosshair is of the Duplex design.
I like the zoom feature and plenty of shooters will appreciate being able to wind the magnification up to 9x when extra precision is required. You need a key or a screwdriver to turn the windage and elevation turrets, and they turn with very positive clicks.
There’s no ignoring the large silencer that adorns this Norica’s barrel – it’s of a reflex design, so it doesn’t add too much length. It’s hard to judge just how effective a silencer is on a spring-powered airgun because you have your face close to the sound of the mechanism when you shoot.
Stand downrange and it’s easier to gauge what difference the silencer actually makes; with this one it’s actually quite significant. The Storm’s oversized silencer also serves as a chunky handle to grip onto when you’re cocking the gun.
The cocking stroke does take a fair bit of effort, but then this is a full-power airgun knocking out muzzle energy of over 11ft-lb. It is smooth, though, and there’s none of the disconcerting grating or grinding that can be a ‘feature’ of lower-priced springers. Loading is direct to the breech, and the sprung ball lock-up mechanism feels very secure when you snap the barrel back into place.
Heave down the barrel to cock the spring, and the stroke also engages the automatic safety catch, which is manually resettable. The catch is positioned just in front of the trigger blade, which is not the safest place for it to be as far as I’m concerned.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to reach and is very positive in operation. The gun is safe when it’s in the rearward position, and you nudge it forward when you want to shoot.
I think it’s unfair to expect too much from the triggers on more affordable airguns, but the two-stage unit on the Storm X is surprisingly good. It has a plastic blade, but it’s well designed and doesn’t seem to hinder performance in any way.
The first stage has just the right amount of weight and travel, and comes to a very clear stop before the second stage breaks extremely predictably and with no creep.
Performance on the range
Given time to get used to the hefty cocking stroke, I found the Storm to be a nice gun to shoot. The firing cycle is pretty fast and smooth, and it’s free from the excessive reverberation you can sometimes get with affordable springers.
The crisp, predictable trigger really does add to the shooting experience, and enabled me to consistently notch up decent groups with the .22 calibre test gun. Average five-shot groups at 20m were within 25mm, and I’m sure this gun would be able to improve on that given a longer running-in period.
Combined with the Storm’s solid power output, the performance I was able to achieve should make it a reliable tool for controlling small pests out to 20m, but it really excelled as a plinking gun.
It was absolutely clobbering spinners and tin cans out to 30m and beyond, and given time to get the knack for rapid cocking and reloading, I was able to tumble groups of targets very quickly.
For the asking price, the Norica Storm X kit is a great package, especially when you consider that it includes a scope, mounts and that seriously meaty silencer. Crucially, it’s a kit that’s based around a robust and reliable airgun.
If you’re in the market for a versatile gun and scope combo that won’t break the bank – or your back – this offering from Pellpax is a very strong contender.
The Airgun Shooter verdict:
Look & feel: 8
Build quality: 8
Sighting up: 8
Overall Score: 79