From time to time the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com send me a care package of guns and other goodies that they think I might like to play with and test. Usually the package contains the latest offering from various airguns manufacturers.
Recently, though, the AoA gang surprised me by sending an air rifle that I had been aware of ever since I became interested in adult precision air rifles over a decade ago but had never seen or shot . . . the RWS Model 48.
Now that I have handled and shot an RWS 48, I must admit that I am really astonished that there isn’t more buzz about this air rifle on the online forums. It really is a very nice gun that performs quite well. More about that in a little while. First, let’s take a walk around the RWS Model 48.
The RWS Model 48 is a sidelever single shot spring piston air rifle. Available in .177 or .22, it stretches 42 inches from end to end and weighs 8.5 lbs without a scope. At the extreme aft end of the 48 is a soft rubber recoil pad that is attached to the ambidextrous hardwood stock with a white plastic spacer. The stock is completely unadorned with any checkering, slots, grooves, or other decorations. The fit and finish is very pleasing to my eye, and with the exception of the cocking lever being mounted on the right side of the rifle, it looks like it could be shot equally well by right or left handed shooters.
The pistol grip has a moderate slope to it and forward of that is a black trigger guard that surrounds the black metal T06 trigger. Forward of that, the forestock is smooth and tapered. Underneath, toward the end, a large screw helps to secure the action in the stock. Forward of that is the barrel, at the end of which is a molded plastic muzzle brake that also serves as a mount for the blade-type front sight.
Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver and a notch-type microadjustable rear sight. Behind that is the breech. A silver metal breech block slides back when the cocking lever is pulled back to allow loading of pellets. Further back is a dovetail for mounting a scope, and at the back end of the receiver is a push-pull safety. That’s it – the RWS Model 48 is simplicity itself.
To ready the Model 48 for shooting, grab the end of the side cocking lever (I usually prop the gun on my thigh with the muzzle pointed vertically) and pull it down and back until it latches (it takes just under 40 pounds of effort). Insert a pellet in the breech. At this point, the cocking lever is locked in the full back position to prevent the breech from inadvertently snapping forward and injuring your fingers. Before you can return the cocking level to its original position, you have to press down a small metal tab on the left hand side of the breech, otherwise you can’t close the breech.
Take aim at your target, ease the first stage out of the trigger (this takes about 1 lb. 8 oz. of pressure), and begin squeezing the second stage. At about 2 lb. 9 oz., the shot is goes down range.
The RWS Model 48 delivers a serious turn of speed, launching .177 JSB Exact RS 7.33 gr. pellets at 1058 fps average (18.22 foot-pounds of energy) and JSB Exact Heavy 10.34 gr. pellets at 853 fps average (16.7 foot-pounds). The report is about what you would expect from a springer of this power: a WHACK that sounds a bit like someone hitting a board with a hammer.
The accuracy is also what you might expect from a springer of this power. From a rest, at 25 meters (27 yards), I put five JSB Exact pellets into a group that measured .875 inch edge to edge, or just under .7 inch center to center. That’s certainly good enough for defending the garden.
I tested the RWS Model 48 with the Vortex Crossfire II 4-12 x 40 AO scope aboard, and I’ve got to say that I continue to be impressed with these Vortex scopes. They are bright, clear, and appear to be very solidly built. The model I tested features the Dead-Hold BDC reticle, which provides multiple aiming points. Even more impressive than the construction and the reticle of this Vortex scope is the warranty: an unlimited, unconditional lifetime warranty through Vortex Optics. Clearly, the folks at Vortex believe their scopes can withstand whatever punishment we airgunners can dish out.
I mounted the Vortex using an RWS 1-inch Lock Down Mount that is specifically designed for RWS air rifles. It offers two anti-recoil pins, a very secure grip on the scope rail, and .025 inch elevation to compensate for the barrel deflection in RWS rifles. If you’re going to mount a scope on an RWS rifle, I highly recommend this mount.
In the end, I liked the combination of the RWS Model 48 and the Vortex Crossfire II scope. It’s a flat-shooting no-frills fixed-barrel combo that should provide years of shooting fun.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott