Mat Manning takes the Remington Express out on the range – and discovers that you don’t have to push your budget off the rails to land a decent entry-level airgun
Test gun supplier: Sportsmarketing
Model: Remington Express
Type: Spring-powered break-barrel
Calibre: .177 and .22 (tested)
Overall length: 1,153mm
Length of pull: 375mm
Barrel length: 475mm
Weight: 3.4kg (unscoped)
Safety: Automatic, resettable
Power: 11.3 ft-lb
Low-cost break-barrel springers offer an easily accessible passport into the world of airgun shooting. These affordable rifles shift in huge numbers, but their performance varies greatly. Many are a false economy and fall way short of the mark when it comes to accuracy and build quality, while others far exceed their modest price tags.
The Remington Express falls firmly into the latter category. Not only does its £159.95 retail price buy you a very handsome full-size air rifle, knocking out power close to the UK legal limit, but you also get a scope and mounts thrown in. And, after spending a few weeks shooting this remarkable spring-powered rifle, all I can do is wonder how its maker managed to cram so much performance into such an affordable package.
The Express may be a cut-price airgun, but it doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to looks. It has the lines of a classic sporter; its nicely grained ambidextrous hardwood stock is adorned with a long forend and a comparatively low cheekpiece.
Despite its modest price tag, this is very much a gun for adult shooters – my 12-year-old son could just about cock it, but he needed the support of a bench to shoot accurately. It measures up at a lengthy 1,153mm from end to end and tips the scales at a medium-weight 3.4kg without the scope mounted.
When it comes to gun fit, the Express nestles very comfortably into the shoulder and comes naturally on to aim when using the open sights. That long forend accommodates a wide variety of holds and the rake of the pistol grip set me up nicely for the trigger. The thumb scallops could perhaps be more deeply recessed, but I was comfortable enough when shooting thumb-up.
There are panels of chequering on either side of the forend and pistol grip. Apart from adding a pleasing aesthetic to what would otherwise be a fairly blank slab of wood, they also assist with getting a secure purchase on the Remington’s handle. The butt-end of the stock is finished with a neat black rubber recoil pad, which helps to soak up the slight kick from the gun’s firing cycle.
The standard of engineering exceeds what I’d expect to find on an airgun at this price point. The Remington Express appears to be very tidily constructed throughout, and the blue/black finish of the metalwork is on a par with plenty of guns costing twice the price.
FUNCTION AND FEATURES
The Remington Express has a very smooth cocking stroke – thanks in part to the leverage provided by its comparatively long barrel. After thumbing a pellet into the breech, the barrel swings back up into the closed position where it’s retained by a ball-type lock-up. I put hundreds of pellets through the Express during the test period, after which there was no hint of any play in the retaining mechanism.
Cocking the spring activates the automatic safety catch located at the rear of the cylinder. The button pops out on the left-hand side when the safety catch is engaged, and you simply push it in when you’re ready to shoot. The catch can be reset by pulling pack the small lever on the left side of the mechanism – the appendage looks a little untidy on a gun that is otherwise very neatly finished, but it functions perfectly well.
Triggers can make or break an air rifle, and the two-stage unit on the test gun was good straight from the box. The first stage was fairly light and short, but I couldn’t fault the weight and length of travel on the second stage – and it broke with no discernible creep. For those who can’t resist the urge to tinker, trigger weight can be adjusted by means of an easily accessible screw behind the blade.
The metal trigger blade is very well designed. It has quite a defined sweep, but the grooved front edge has a wide, flat face that gives plenty of feel when you’re unleashing shots.
Fibre-optic open sights come fitted. The red front element sits squarely inside the notch of the rear element, which is flanked by two green dots, without the irritating gap found on a lot of fibre-optic sights. There’s adjustment for windage and elevation on the rear element – both dials on the plastic mechanism turn smoothly and with clear stop points.
The supplied 4×32 telescopic sight features a Duplex-type reticle, and a screwdriver, coin or key is required to adjust the 1/4 MOA windage and elevation turrets. It’s not the greatest of optics (nor would I expect it to be), but it’s sharp enough to shoot fairly precisely at 12-30m. The low two-piece mounts that come with the kit aren’t as chunky as my usual choice for a recoiling airgun, but they held fast during my range testing sessions.
There was a lot of dieseling over the first hundred or so shots, which is not unusual. After burning off the excess factory lubricant, the test gun settled down to produce a muzzle energy of around 11.3ft-lb, smoothly and consistently. Over the chronograph, I recorded a spread of under 20fps over a string of 10 shots – pretty good for an affordable springer.
Felt recoil was negligible, and the easy cocking and firing cycle, combined with the gun’s good balance and predictable trigger, made for consistent and enjoyable shooting on the range.
The Express didn’t seem particularly pellet-fussy, although the .22 calibre test gun produced its best results with H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. It was an absolute joy to shoot with the open sights, and I managed frequent sub-20mm groups at 15m.
Attaching the telescopic sight gave precision a further boost, and although the cheekpiece may fall short for anyone who upgrades to a scope with a larger objective lens, it was high enough to provide good eye alignment when using the supplied low mounts. After zeroing in, I went on to notch up sub-30mm groups at 25m when shooting rested. That may not sound very impressive to anyone who shoots with an expensive PCP, but we’re talking about a sub-£160 break-barrel.
The Express’s downrange power and accuracy make it suitable for close- to mid-range pest control – though I reckon 25m would be its absolute ceiling. You can push it further than that on the plinking range: I was whacking 40m spinners with surprising consistency.
This low-cost springer should serve as a worthy starting point for anyone looking to take up airgun shooting – and many will stick with it once they’ve seen what it can do. It delivers a lot of bang for your buck, and a lot of fun while you’re at it.
Look & Feel: 8
Build Quality: 8
“Don’t be fooled by its price tag – the Remington Express is a full-power springer with good looks and solid downrange performance. A capable backyard plinker with accuracy to tackle live quarry out to mid-range, it’s a cheap airgun that should make its owner very cheerful”