Lately I have been testing some inexpensive air rifle/scope combos. The Hatsan 95 Combo is one of those. But before we get into that, let’s back up for a moment and take the 30,000-foot view.
In the online forums, it would appear that some airgunners simply don’t “get” the idea of the price/performance curve. It can be thought of as a graph in which you plot the price of a product on one axis and the performance of the product along the other axis. For almost every single product I can think of, the price/performance curve shows that, in general, you get what you pay for; that is, the more you pay, the more performance you get. (There are, of course, occasional exceptions, products that provide exceptional performance at a modest price, but these are rarities.)
Another way to look at this concept is in terms of tiers (this is quoted from a recent issue of SHOT Business magazine, if you want to read the whole article, you can see it here: http://shotbusiness.org/the-new-world-of-airguns/ ):
- Tier 1, $20-$200 – These are the pump-up, spring-piston, and CO2 air rifles and pistols you are likely to find in big-box discount retailers and the airguns the public is most likely to know about. Familiar brand names in this category include Crosman, Daisy, Sheridan, and Gamo.
- Tier 2, $200-$500 – These are the better made pump-up and spring-piston air rifles as well as less expensive PCP airguns that are sometimes carried by independent sporting goods shops. These are, by and large, “legacy” airguns that get passed from generation to generation. Familiar brands in this tier include Benjamin, BSA, Gamo, RWS, and Weihrauch.
- Tier 3, $500-$3000 – These are the top echelon, elite performers of the airgun world. Comprised mainly of PCP rifles and pistols, this category also includes very high end spring-piston rifles. These airguns that will have the guys at the gun club drooling with envy, especially when your airgun customers outshoot them. Familiar brands in this tier include Air Arms, Air Force, Anschutz, Benjamin, Brocock, BSA, Daystate, FWB, FX, RWS, and Weihrauch.
Bear in mind that these tiers are generalities, designed to help independent gun dealers get their heads around why they should carry airguns, but typically in Tiers 2 and 3, you can expect very good to outstanding quality, and you can expect to pay commensurately for the privilege.
Tier 1, however, is much more of a mixed bag, and it’s in Tier 1 that we find the Hatsan Model 95. Available in three calibers (.177, .22, and .25), this is a single-shot spring piston air rifle that stretches 44.3 inches from end to end and weighs 9 lbs. 1 oz. with the scope that comes as part of the combo attached. I tested the .177 version. Two things struck my eye when I pulled the Model 95 out of the box: the Turkish walnut stock and the gold-colored metal trigger. The result is a very nice looking air rifle.
At the back end of the Model 95 is a soft rubber butt pad which is attached to an ambidextrous walnut stock. The modestly-slanted pistol grip has checkering on either side. Forward of that, a black trigger guard surrounds the trigger. Moving forward again, the forestock is checkered on either side, and underneath you’ll find a slot to provide clearance for the break barrel cocking linkage.
At the muzzle end of the barrel is a molded polymer muzzle brake which also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight. Moving aft, you’ll find a green fiber optic micro adjustable rear sight on top of the breech block. Moving back again, the receiver has dovetails to allow mounting a scope, and near the aft end of the dovetails is a metallic scope stop that prevents the scope from moving backward along the scope rail when the shot goes off. Finally, at the extreme aft end of the receiver is a push-pull type safety. Other than the 3-9 x 32 non-adjustable-objective scope, that’s all there is to the Model 95.
To get the Model 95 ready to for shooting, grab the muzzle break and pull it down and back until the cocking mechanism latches. I estimate this takes a bit over 30 lbs of effort. Next, insert a pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, click off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. At 1 lb. 3.3 oz. the first stage comes out of the trigger, at 4 lb. 14.2 oz., the shot goes down range. The Model 95 launches 7 grain hobby pellets at 995 fps for 15.4 fp of energy at the muzzle.
The report is typical for a springer of this power, and the powerplant generates some vibration, but it is more heard than felt by the shooter. Hatsan says that the Model 95 is equipped with something called the Shock Absorber System, but I was unable to find out more about this system from the factory website. While it does not make the Model 95 recoilless, it certainly is not an unpleasant springer to shoot.
The Model 95 Combo, though, it not without problems. The scope and its mounts are basically junk. I had two scope mounts fail while testing the Model 95 (www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me replacements), but that is not the crucial problem. The scope, being non-adjustable-objective, cannot be focused. At 3 power, I could not see clearly at 13 yards, at 9 power, I could not see clearly at 20 yards. This made accuracy testing extremely problematic. I might have been the victim of unit-to-unit variation, but the scope that came with this sample was – flatly – useless. I would recommend either mounting a better scope or going the simple route and use the fiber optic open sights that come with the Model 95. (For the record, the good folks at Airguns of Arizona recommended to Hatsan that they either include a decent scope in the combo or don’t include a scope at all.)
I mounted a good scope – a Vortex – and tested the Model 95 for accuracy. Eventually, I was able to achieve at 5-shot group, shot with JSB Express pellets, at 32 yards that measured 1.1875 inch from edge to edge. That’s just a hair over 1 inch CTC. Now while that is hardly superb accuracy for a springer at that range, it is certainly sufficient for clearing the garden of pests at 100 feet.
In the end, the Hatsan 95 is a decidedly mixed bag. The scope and mounts are dreadful. The rifle itself, however, is nice looking and pleasant to shoot. The accuracy is not stellar but sufficient for plinking and pest control in the back yard at modest ranges. I’ve heard rumors that the .22 version is more accurate than the .177. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to test one in the future.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott