About Gordon Smith

By day I’m a mild-mannered manager of Critical Accounts at a large Enterprise Resource Planning company. By night I use my cat-like reflexes and Ninja skills to fight crime. No – wait, I’m exercising poetic license here. I don’t actually fight crime. Truth-be-told, I never had cat-like reflexes and no Ninja skills either. What I do have is a passion for all things airgun related. Over the past several years I have been dragged into the 21st century kicking and screaming, but now it is time to expand my comfort zone and jump into this whole blogging/social media business. My plan is to inform in an entertaining and enlightening way while adding to the general body of knowledge involving airgunning. A little background: My older brother had a Daisy model 25 that was well broken-in and he was an excellent shot. He taught me the basics and I coveted that rifle of his. My folks finally thought that I was mature enough to have my own air rifle by my 13th Christmas and so I became the proud owner of a Daisy model 1894 “Spittin Image”. Those were the beginnings of my life-long love affair with contraptions that sling projectiles downrange. I’ve now logged over 60 years on the planet and still have that Daisy. Actually, I believe it is in better shape than me, although it is 13 years younger… I enjoy the technical aspects of the airgunning game and tend to write from that prospective. I’ve competed in organized events a few times; however, the chance to attend formal matches is limited in my neck of the woods so competition will never become a forte of mine. Long ago and far away I taught Industrial Arts – yep, a shop teacher. I left the education game with all 10 digits intact and with my mechanical aptitude/curiosity alive-and-well and that is where my penchant for the technically oriented writing comes from. It has served me well as it led to a position as the Field Editor for Airgun Hobbyist magazine, currently the only hard copy and color format airgun magazine of U.S. origin. My articles have also appeared in a few other national publications in recent years. I appreciate the opportunity that Airguns of Arizona is entrusting me with and hope that you enjoy my humble contributions. Until next time, get out there and exercise that 2nd Amendment right! Regards, -Gordon

Posts by Gordon Smith

Umarex is a leading purveyor of BB and pellet firing replicas of famous firearms and this example is a licensed copy of the popular P30 series from Heckler and Koch that is actually manufactured in Germany by HK for Umarex.  Like its firearm counterpart, it is a polymer pistol sporting a metal slide. However, this is not a blowback pistol as the slide is non-reciprocating.  It does separate, with the front section sliding forward upon depressing what would be the slide release lever on the actual firearm.  Once the slide is open, either a metal 8-round rotary magazine or a BB adapter can be inserted into the gun.  To shoot BBs, the plastic “BB adapter” supplied with the gun is inserted in place of the rotary pellet magazine and 15 BBs are loaded into the drop-free magazine.

P30 with magazine & accessories

This pistol operates in both single and double action modes and has a functional exposed hammer.  The P30 is listed as being a semi-auto because the internal workings line up the next shot automatically and ready the gun for firing, but to shoot in single action, the hammer must be manually cocked each time.

While the P30 is a faithful reproduction in looks and feel, right down to the picatinny rail on the dust cover, the only controls that operate as on the original are the ambidextrous magazine release incorporated into the trigger guard and the de-cocking button at the rear of the slide, next to the hammer.

To ready for firing, a 12-gram CO2 capsule is inserted into the drop-free magazine after rotating the magazine base plate 180 degrees clockwise.  A small knurled wheel at the base plate of the magazine is rotated to “snug up” the capsule and then the magazine base is rotated counterclockwise to pierce the capsule.  The gun would then be pointed in a safe

P30 Magazine with base plate in open position

direction and the trigger pulled to make sure that CO2 was flowing and the gun would fire before loading it with ammo.  Note that, with this gun, if the manual safety near the rear of the slide is engaged, it blocks the valve so you might think the CO2 capsule has not been pierced as trigger pull is not affected by the manual safety.

Nice features of this P30 replica include a 3.3-inch rifled steel barrel, vertical groves in the face of the trigger, front and rear sights that are drift adjustable for windage, a hard-plastic foam-lined case plus the inclusion of two 8-round pellet magazines and a small plastic tool for seating the pellets to the same depth.  Additionally, it is a quiet shooter compared to other CO2 pistols I own, making this model “backyard friendly”.

Umarex rates the P30 at 360 fps for pellets (grains not specified) and 395 for BBs.  Since I prefer not to shoot BBs through barrels with shallow rifling, I can only report my results from the pellets I used.  My findings are based on a 90+ degree day at well over a mile above sea level.  Using H&N Excite Plinking pellets weighing 7.3 grains the average fps was: 304.9 and with Predator GTO lead free wad cutters at 5.5 grains the average fps was: 278.1.

The P30 wasn’t stingy with the CO2, yielding only 45+ full power shots per capsule.  It was fun to shoot and with the two magazines provided, was quick to reload for a full 16 shots, however, keep the pistol level and over your shooting bench when opening the slide to insert or remove the 8-round pellet magazines as they will easily fall out otherwise.  The trigger pull averaged 3 pounds in single action and a very heavy 11 pounds in double action.  Not unmanageable, but it was more pleasurable to shoot by manually cocking the hammer for each shot.  Accuracy was acceptable for a nice plinking airgun at ranges out to 20 yards.  All-in-all, I liked the way it shot and the solid, comfortable feel in your hand.  If you are into the replica airguns at all, this one would make a nice addition to your collection.  MSRP on this model runs in the $225 range and it can be found on the AofA website www.airgunsofarizona.com

for a considerable savings.

For the plinkers in the audience I wanted to cover a fun little item that is an accurate enough replica to be valuable as a training arm as well – the Walther PPK/S from Umarex.  This is an all metal semi-auto replica of the pocket .380 firearm.  As Walther is part of the Umarex family, this little 1.2-pound replica BB shooter sports the Walther logos and is a pretty exacting copy.  The only deviations would be the non-functional safety on the left side of the slide (an actual safety is located on the right side of the frame) and in the case of my slightly older version, a protruding thumbscrew used to pierce the 12-gram CO2 cartridge.  Newer models no longer have the thumbscrew, replacing it with a threaded plug needing a hex wrench, and this gives a more realistic look.

Umarex Walther PPK/S with grip panel and magazine removed.

A 15-round drop-free stick type magazine forms the “pinky ledge” that would be part of the magazine on the real deal. The CO2 cylinder sits behind the stick magazine under the left grip panel which is held in place with spring clips.  The pistol operates by single action and Umarex rates the gun at velocities up to 295 fps.  I experience less velocity because I live at higher altitude but was unable to measure the fps due to a malfunctioning chronograph.  BBs still hit with some authority and in no way diminished the plinking fun that can be had with this little pistol.

The non-adjustable trigger was very nice with a smooth pull that averaged around 2 ½ pounds.  The face of the trigger is grooved like it is on the firearm and after a slight take up it travels about ¼ of an inch before dropping the hammer.  As this is a blowback action gun, some CO2 is bled off to cycle the slide and prepare the next shot.  After the last BB is fired, the slide locks back, but only partially.  Still, it is somewhat realistic and prevents the waste of gas by pulling the trigger on an empty magazine.  The pivoting safety switch on the right side is made of plastic and disengages the trigger when in the downward position.  There is a small cutout in the right grip panel so the lever needs to be slightly depressed to move upward, revealing a large red dot and readying the pistol to fire.

Sporting a 3.5-inch smooth bore barrel, a high degree of accuracy cannot be expected but if you keep your targets to within 25 feet or so, you’ll put plenty of BBs on soda cans, pinecones and other reasonably sized targets.  This pistol was pretty conservative on its gas use so I was able to get up to 90 shots before the pressure dropped to where the slide would not cycle.  It is possible to get additional shots with a fair amount of punch by simply manually cocking the hammer each time thereby getting the most of the CO2 cylinder.

Close up of left side markings on the Walther PPK/S.

Having excellent balance and feel in the hand, plus a very nice trigger for this price range, the PPK/S is a lot of fun.  The MSRP is around $85 and it comes with a 90-day limited warranty.  Umarex USA has a good reputation for warranty work should you need to make use of it.  Check out this model [http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/bb-pistols/walther-ppk/s-bb-co2-pistol/] and other licensed copy CO2 pistols which are available on the Airguns of Arizona website at: www.airgunsofarizona.com.

Beretta Px4 Storm air pistol showing the safety lever

This Umarex licensed copy of the Beretta Px4 Storm, a 1:1 BB/Pellet firing copy of the original firearm released in 2004, is a black polymer pistol with a metal slide.  It features blowback action and a single or double-action trigger mechanism utilizing an exposed hammer to activate the valve.  Sights are fixed and the slide stop and manual safety levers are molded in/non-functional.  However, Umarex did provide a manual safety on the right side that requires a 2-step action to engage/disengage it.  A long lever has a ribbed bar inset into its face that must be depressed and slid rearward slightly in order to be able to move the safety lever either upwards to disengage and reveal a red dot, or downwards to engage.  Interestingly, if the hammer is back when engaging the safety lever, it will safely be dropped.

CO2 cartridges are inserted in the grip after rotating the false magazine floorplate clockwise 270 degrees and removing a small backstrap panel.

False magazine floorplate is the piercing knob

Insert with the neck pointing upwards and the base of the cartridge rests on a curved plastic wheel that can be rotated to snug the cartridge up against the piercing pin.  Returning the false magazine floorplate back to its original position pierces the cartridge, taking guesswork out of the piercing operation.  Pellets are held in a stick magazine that rides in the grip just in front of the CO2 cartridge.  It is ejected from the grip by depressing the functional magazine release button found in the usual location on the left side just behind the trigger guard.  Be certain your hand support hand is in position to catch the magazine as it is forced out by spring pressure.  The magazine is a double-ended affair with rotary pellet chambers on either end each holding 8 pellets.  Count your shots or you may wind up wasting CO2 before you realize you need to drop the mag and insert the other end as there is no mechanism to lock the slide back after the last pellet has been fired.

A number of replica CO2 guns on the market bleed off some CO2 in order to simulate recoil and cycle the slide.  However, this Beretta model really offers some kick!   Partially because of that harder recoil/blowback action, I averaged 4 ½ magazines (72 shots) per cartridge shooting only slow fire.  This pistol does not disassemble or field strip like some replica CO2 guns are capable of.  Indentations on either side are the location of the takedown buttons on the firearm, but there are no such buttons on the CO2 version.  Still, those indentations make a nice tactile area for resting the index finger when it is outside the trigger guard.  A short rail is provided on the dust cover should you want to mount a flashlight, laser or training device such as Laser Ammo or MantisX.

Firing in double-action for the first shot averaged a trigger pull of 10 pounds, 4 ounces.  Of course, the hammer is cocked after that first shot and the trigger pull drops off to an average of 5 pounds, 6 ounces.  The trigger pull is long and a little gritty, but I anticipate that will improve as the gun is broken in more.  Trigger break is crisp and remarkably good for an air pistol in this price range.  Shooting in single-action mode, I was getting good accuracy from standing shots using various lead and alloy pellets at 10 yards.  The best accuracy seemed to be with the SIG Match Ballistic flat-nosed alloy pellets which weighed in at 5.2 grains.  They averaged 398.8 fps at a mile above sea level out of the 4.1 inch rifled steel barrel.  I am hesitant to fire steel BBs through these dual ammo guns as the rifling is shallow so I stick with pellets.  Umarex USA rates the Px4 at 380 fps using pellets.

The Px4 Storm with magazine and backstrap removed

This little pistol was fun to shoot and accuracy was on par with other semi-auto replica pistols.  It would be an excellent training replica for holster drills and dry-fire practice.  There were no feeding problems or malfunctions.  While the MSRP lists at $110, here is a direct link to the Airguns of Arizona page where the Px4 Storm lists for $79.95: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/co2/beretta-px4-storm/.   The warranty offered with the pistol covers the buyer for 90 days.

With the last blog I gave the five-cent tour of the Daystate Renegade .22 and it is a striking PCP bullpup airgun that worked flawlessly.  In this segment I’ll let you in on how it performed with me behind the trigger.

Close up of the well designed Renegade bullpup stock

As far as first impressions when shooting this model, I liked the slightly tacky feel of the stock.  I’m not sure of the thinking behind it, but the forearm is made of a hard polymer, which is slicker, but the recesses on either side allow for a firm grip.  Being able to adjust the cheekpiece as well as the buttpad was very beneficial as well and makes all the difference when setting the gun up for your chosen optic.  The AR style pistol grip was very familiar and made activation/deactivation of the manual safety very easy and convenient.

As covered in the previous installment, the Renegade is equipped with a hybrid trigger that is both mechanical and electronic and it was sweet.  It averaged a pull weight of 1 pound, 5.4 ounces and was incredibly smooth, positive and predictable.  At that pull weight I did not mess with it as I found it to be just right.

I paired the Renegade with a Sun Optics USA 5-30x56mm scope which added 30 ounces to the already substantial 8 pounds of the Renegade, but it was worth it.  The 30mm tube required large rings so I had to utilize an adapter on the dovetail rail that added height which actually worked to my advantage.  The Sun Optics scope was clear as a bell with using a glass etched micro mil-dot red/green illuminated reticle.  Low profile turrets provide 1/8 moa adjustability and there is a parallax side wheel adjustable down to 10 yards.  This nitrogen-filled scope retails around the $450 range.

Renegade .22 with 5-30x56mm Sun Optics scope

As for shooting, the rotary magazine is easy to load, even with fat fingers like mine.  There is a provision for reversing the magazine so it can be loaded from the right.  It slides easily into position and a strong rare earth magnet draws the magazine into perfect alignment with the bore.  Additionally, the Renegade comes with a single pellet loading tray, also embedded with rare earth magnets to hold it in perfect alignment.  I set up targets at 25 yards and filled to 2000 psi after every 5 shots.  Shooting several different weights of lead and alloy pellets of different brands let me know that this bullpup preferred medium weight lead pellets and the brand that came out on top for me were the RWS Superdomes at 14.5 grains – 5 shots touching but stringing horizontally; still able to be covered by a quarter.  Next best were H&N Baracuda Hunters at 18.21 grains – again, 5 shots able to be covered by a quarter.  I’m sure better accuracy could be wrung out of this bullpup with more practice time.  It did not like 9.9 grain RWS Hypermax pellets as I could not get them to group well.   Even though I was not using a full complement of air (only 2000 psi), the pellets it liked were still chronographing at 825 to 869 fps providing for up to 28+ foot pounds of energy.

I can confirm that the new Daystate models are coming with a 5 year transferable warranty now and the Renegades now rolling off the assembly line also have a laser built into the forearm and there is a Huma regulated version available as well.  www.airgunsofarizona.com not only imports the Daystate lineup, they can fix you up with any accessories you might need from big Daystate compressors to targets and pellets.  For those who like the bullpup configuration, the Renegade should definitely be something you check out.

Daystate is pretty much a household name in Great Britain and has an excellent reputation on this side of the pond as well.  Based on my initial impressions of the Renegade, it is easy to see why.

My loaner was the .22 caliber synthetic stocked model in the green color.  It is also available in .177 and .25 calibers and in a black synthetic stock.  Setup for a right-hander, I understand they can be ordered for left-handed shooters.  The barrel is 17 inches with an overall length of 30 inches.  A little on the heavy side for a synthetic stocked bullpup at almost 8 pounds, but you can’t deny it is solidly built.  The buttpad is adjustable vertically, as well as for cant, by use of a metric hex wrench.  The onboard cylinder volume is 300cc and the max fill pressure is rated at 230 bar (3300 psi).  It comes with one 10 round rotary magazine and in a hard plastic carrying case with a dense foam interior that is fitted with a little “headroom” for an optic if it is not too large.

Daystate Renegade showing 10 round magazine

The synthetic stock has a rubber feel to it which is very nice and should be impervious to just about anything.  Inlet into the stock on both sides are contrasting black plastic chevron-looking “swooshes” that give a little flair.  The buttpad is a hard rubber and not sticky as some of the buttpads coming on air rifles today.  At the bottom of the stock is a hard plastic, hollow pistol grip that is stippled to give a non-slip grip.  At the bottom of the grip is an access door that flips open to allow for storage of hex wrenches, extra batteries or whatever.  The stock is actually a two piece affair with the fore-end being a synthetic “shroud” that covers the air reservoir and also provides a recessed area for gripping with the support hand as well as a 3 inch section of picatinny rail for mounting a bipod or other attachment.  At the tip of the fore-end is a large threaded aluminum cap that protects the male foster fitting.  The fully shrouded barrel has a threaded end cap for additional sound moderation, although it really isn’t necessary as this .22 Renegade was very quiet.  Atop the barrel shroud sits a stylish rail with 11mm dovetail grooves for mounting optics and a built in bubble level.  Additionally, there is a curved polymer cheek rest that is adjustable forward and back.

The heart and soul of the operation is the hybrid trigger.  The actual trigger is a smooth-faced metal job and very substantial looking with a cross-bolt safety button located directly to the rear of the trigger.  Adjustable for first and second stage travel and pull weight via access holes in the trigger guard it is Daystate’s new hybrid trigger system.  Those familiar with bullpup configurations know they have suffered from stiff, gritty triggers due to the nature of the trigger being well in front of the action/breech and the complicated linkages involved in tripping the sear.  In their Pulsar line of bullpups, Daystate used a fully computerized electronic trigger.  With the Renegade, they combined the mechanical Harper Slingshot Hammer system as used in the Wolverine model plus electronics that transfer the trigger’s movement via a wire to a small solenoid.  Dubbed the Hybrid Trigger Unit (HTU), it instantaneously releases the sear with the press of the trigger, which can be set to a hair-trigger pull if desired. The system is powered by one 9-volt battery which requires the stock to be removed in order to replace it.

Built for the U.S. market and not restricted to the British 12 foot pound limit on energy output, this particular rifle is considered a Magnum 22 capable of an output of 34 foot pounds.  There is also a high power version with a longer barrel capable of up to 50 fpe.

A 3 year warranty came with this loaner gun; however I understand that all of the new Daystates now come with a 5 year warranty.  Will have to check that out and report back in Part II.  The current price on the www.airgunsofarizona.com website is: $1559.00.  The HP version goes for a hundred dollars more.

 

Please Note:  I need to make a correction to last month’s blog regarding things seen at the SHOT Show.  I mentioned Gamo’s introduction of their TC35 and TC45 big bores.  I noted they would come to the market in the $500 range.  I was only off by half.  These big bore PCPs will retail at $999 each.  Sorry for any confusion I may have caused.

A tiny view of the SHOT Show floor

Man, 2018 already…at least one of the best things about that is the SHOT Show rolled around again!  This marked the 40th year of the show and it was another banner Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trades event.  Sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, it is the largest trade show held at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas.  Some fears about the show being negatively affected by the recent tragedy there were not realized it came off without a hitch so allow me to share some of the things coming to stores and the www.airgunsofarizona.com website later this year.

Of note at this year’s show was the plethora of HPA air compressors from all of the big name companies.  A complaint from shooters that have shown an interest in pre-charged pneumatic airguns is the high cost of getting into that realm of the sport.  This year’s offerings of compressors (and low cost hand pumps) is taking a little of the air out of that argument (pun intended).  Naturally, some smaller, lower priced compressors may take longer to fill a cylinder or need to be run in shorter intervals due to heating concerns, but are a welcome addition.  Retail prices ranged from around $500 to the $1000 dollar mark.

Speaking  of costs to get into PCP airgunning, all of the major manufacturers also rose to meet that objection and have models that allow the first time buyer to get into the sport for as little as 199 bucks.  Watch for future blogs as some of these models become available for testing and evaluation.  Of course, an air source will still add to the startup costs, but HPA hand pumps are now breaking below the $100 mark as well.

Big bores were still alive and well with Umarex unleashing the .50 caliber Hammer this year after some modifications that delayed its coming to the market last year.

Umarex released the .50 Hammer

Developing 700 foot pounds of energy, the Hammer is touted as the “most powerful production airgun in the world”.  I had a chance to fire it last week and it packs a bit of recoil when launching the heavy slugs.  Gamo also stepped into the big bore arena this year with two models, the TC35 in .35 caliber and the TC45 in .45 caliber.  Both are all black guns with tactical looks and will retail in the $500 range.

Airforce Airguns big announcement for the show was their merger with Rapid Air Weapons.  The merger will allow RAW access to Airforce’s large, modern manufacturing facility and reduce delivery backlogs on orders.  As an added bonus, Airforce gained rights to Theoben designs and has plans to reintroduce them to the market.

Many readers of this blog may only shoot pellets, but an interesting accessory announced by Air Venturi is their new frangible BB.  It contains some steel in its composition so it will work in guns with magnetic feed systems, but disintegrates on impact.  These frangible BBs are lighter so produce higher speeds than all steel BBs.  They should become available in the second quarter of the year.

As usual, there were many more things to see at SHOT, which showcased many new and innovative creations and bodes well for the future of our little hobby — as long as we all do our part to encourage young people into the shooting sports.  Rest assured, as I can get my hot little hands on some of these new items, I will get that info out by way of these blogs.

I introduced you to the new Hatsan Barrage in .22 last month and am following up with observations on how it performed on the range.  As far as functioning, there were no misfeeds or problems as long as the pressure in the reservoir doesn’t drop below the threshold where the semi-auto action cannot cycle (below 100 bar).  I did find the trigger pull gritty at first but this has eased a little as the gun became more broken in.  The trigger pull remained around the 7 pound point even after additional break in of the rifle. A wider trigger blade would have made the rifle a bit more pleasurable to shoot over longer sessions.  If there is any adjustability to the trigger pull, it is not spelled out in the manual and would require removal of the action from the stock and I did not go there.

The Sun Optics CQB Tactical scope I paired with the Barrage worked beautifully on this semi-auto pellet launcher as well as giving the overall package an AR type of look.  The multi-adjustable ambidextrous stock made repeatable shoulder and cheekwelds easy and afforded quick, accurate placement of shots when firing this rapid fire rifle.

I ran several different pellet shapes and weights through the Barrage at 20 yards, all with excellent results.  The favorite load was the H&N Coppa-Spitzkugel, a pointed copper clad pellet weighing 16.4 grains.  The results were a hole that could be covered with a quarter with 8 of 10 shots touching each other.  Its second favorite load was the H&N Baracuda Hunter, a domed hollow-point pellet weighting 18.21 grains. The 10 shot group fell within 1 1/16 inch at its widest point.  As for average velocities with these two pellets using 2000 psi average reservoir pressure for each series, the Coppa-Spitzkugel averaged 872.2 fps with an extreme spread of 9.95 and the Baracuda Hunter averaged 841.8 fps with an extreme spread of 13.40.

Being a PCP the semi-auto action is not impacted by rapid firing like you would experience with a CO2 powered airgun as the propellant does not have to convert from a liquid state first.  Velocities remained relatively constant in rapid fire sessions.  This translates to a bunch of lead flying downrange quickly, increasing the fun factor as you watch dirt fly and targets fall.  I noted a variance in the tensioning of the transparent magazine covers so some user adjustment may be necessary with the 3 mags included with the Barrage to avoid feeding malfunctions.

The retail price appears to have dropped a bit from the $1299.99 I reported in my last blog. Please check with our friends at www.airgunsofarizona.com to get specific pricing info.  Hatsan has become serious contender in today’s PCP airgun marketplace and the feedback I hear about their technical support is that it is top notch as well.  If you are a serious airgun hunter and would like the ability to have quick follow up shots on your quarry, the Hatsan Barrage would be a formidable addition to your gun cabinet.

We live in a great time for airgun enthusiasts.  Regulatory oversight in the U.S. is relatively minimal and manufacturers are constantly working on “the next big thing” in attempting to capture the elusive interest of the consuming public.  This is true for Pre-Charged Pneumatic airguns as well and up to now PCPs generally have been single shot or magazine fed bolt actions.  I’d like to introduce you to a new semi-auto: the Barrage, a Turkish made 12-shot repeater in .22 caliber or 14-shot in .177, from Hatsan USA.

The Barrage has a non-removable 500CC under-barrel reservoir that can be pressurized to 3000 psi and drive a 19+ grain lead pellet at more than 900 fps out of its 19.7 inch precision rifled steel barrel.  That equates to approximately 30-plus foot pounds of energy; plenty for taking small game and eradicating pests as long as that is legal where you live.  Be certain to be familiar with all local laws and game regulations!  At $1300 retail, it would be a shame if authorities show up to confiscate your air rifle because of an infraction.

Side fills via a male probe

Having the large reservoir provides the shooter/hunter plenty of full power shots without having to carry a supply of air when going out for a fun afternoon.  A small pressure gauge reading in bar units is built into the curved foregrip of the forearm and is deeply inset.  It is well protected, but a little difficult for old eyes to use.  The reservoir is filled by a male probe inserted into the fill hole on the right side of the receiver.  Some HPA (High Pressure Air) that drives the pellet is bled off near the muzzle to cycle the action, similar to a gas impingement firearm.  The bolt handle reciprocates upon firing and the bolt is held back after the last round by a block in the magazine.  The fully shrouded barrel utilizes Hatsan’s “Quiet Energy” technology to reduce the sound signature from a sharp crack to a popping noise.  Keep in mind the HPA coming out as the pellet exits is still going to make some noise so hearing protection is a good idea and eye protection is a must as with any projectile launcher.

Multi-adjustable stock with magazine holder

The Barrage is a fun air rifle that doubles as a serious hunting/training tool.  At over 40 inches in length and 10.1 pounds, it is a bit of a beast, but balances in the hands well.  The Barrage incorporates modern styling in a black, advanced polymer ambidextrous thumbhole stock.  The ambidextrous stock has adjustability features such as an extendable buttpad for length of pull and can also be set for elevation and fit angle for the optimal shouldering of the air rifle.  Another is the adjustable comb to provide the best alignment of your eye with you chosen optic.  Hatsan even incorporated storage insets for 2 of the 3 included magazines.  There is a bullpup version – The Bullmaster – with dimensions closer to the AR platform (30.9 inches) and utilizing the same length barrel, which could be useful as a training tool and allow practice with pellets costing pennies versus .223 ammo.  A removable front sight and rear sight that mounts to the picatinny-style rail are included; both with Truglo fiber optics.  The picatinny-style rail is milled into the black anodized aluminum receiver and accepts both 11mm and 22mm bases.  The forearm sports a 3 inch picatinny bottom rail for mounting a bi-pod, light or other accessory and also incorporates the front sling swivel.  I mounted a compact Sun Optics CQB Tactical Precision Prismatic sight with illuminated reticle for my testing.  If you choose to mount a traditional rifle scope, additional clearance is needed for the rotary magazine.  The trigger guard is amply sized and the smooth-faced metal trigger is comfortable.  The trigger is not adjustable and smoothly broke at an average of 6 pounds 15 ounces with about ¼ inch travel before engagement.  The safety lever sits in front of the trigger and is pushed away from the trigger when ready to fire.  I found it a bit short and its shape was not conducive to easy manipulation.  My 2 cents: I’d like to see Hatsan revamp this manual safety.

The Barrage comes in a hard plastic foam lined case and Hatsan USA warranties it for 1 year.  More details on how the Barrage did at the range in the next installment.  In the interim, you can reach out to the knowledgeable folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com for more info or to get your hands on one of these powerhouses.

Barrage rail with tactical style sight mounted

The author taking his best shot…

The Extreme Benchrest competition for 2017, sponsored by AofA, is now in the history books.  Held October 12th – 16th at the Rio Salado Sportsmen’s Club facilities in Mesa, Arizona, this is the third year at this venue and the largest one so far with over 150 competitors coming from 9 different countries and all over the U.S. to compete.

Begun 7 years ago as a natural offshoot of the powder-actuated discipline, the EBR has blossomed under the guidance of Robert Buchanan and his incredibly hard working group at Airguns of Arizona.  The move to R.S.S.C. 3 years ago signaled an expansion to a larger venue that would serve the event well.  As the Host Club for this event, the R.S.S.C. runs the Indoor 10-meter air pistol event in an air conditioned building equipped with 8, 10-meter lanes and an electronic scoring system.  The airgun division of R.S.S.C. is the fastest growing arm of the 6000+ member organization.

The 4 days of competition consisted of an American Field Target shoot, 25-meter event – including a Springer Class component, Speed Silhouette shooting at proportionally reduced metal animals set up at 4 different ranges, a Big Bore Benchrest/Steel Challenge 200 Yard event for airguns up to .34 caliber and another for over .35 caliber, the 75 Yard Extreme Benchrest and the 100 Yard Extreme Benchrest finals.  Sportsmen’s and Pro Class divisions shot in the EBR and there was an Open Class for one of the Speed Silhouette events.  In all but the Big Bore Benchrest/Steel Challenge, any pellet airgun up to .35 caliber may be used with almost all competitors using PCPs and .22 to .30 caliber being the most common.  Manufacturer’s guns on the line consisted of various models from: FX Airguns, Crosman, Air Arms, RAW and Daystate plus a few others.  Only mass-produced pellets may be used, no slugs or cast bullets; and there are no weight or power restrictions on the airguns.  The exception is the Big Bore/Steel Challenge event which requires the use of cast bullets/slugs.  The youngest competitor was a young man that appeared to be about 7 or 8 years old.  The youth are the future of our sport/hobby and the ones who will carry the torch to keep our firearms heritage intact.  They deserve our support and it was encouraging to see the young shooters on the line during the competition.  Notable names from the airgunning world in attendance were:  Fred Axelsson, owner of FX Airguns, Ted Bier of Ted’s Holdover — a regular competitor at the EBR and winner of the top honor last year, Steve Archer of Hard Air Magazine as well as Giles Barry of The Airgun Gear YouTube channel and Andrew Huggett of Huggett Precision Products (Suppressors).

Got medals?

All prizes and medals were awarded at a banquet held on Sunday afternoon with the top Pro Class shooter bringing home a cool $5000.00 for his efforts.  Additionally, raffle prizes were drawn after the luncheon with an estimated value of the combined goods totaling over $25,000.  Sales of raffle tickets help to support next year’s EBR.

Everything ran like clockwork, a testament to the year of hard work that occurred since the last EBR.  Safety was the primary consideration and I never saw so much as a cut finger.  Shade tents were available and water provided, as well as several Omega air tanks behind the firing line for free refills.  The Precision Airguns van was there offering competitor’s emergency mechanical help on their guns.

Big time purse

Shooting, auctions, raffles, shooting, prize money, comradery, shooting, good food, old friends and meeting new ones, and more shooting.  Do these guys at AofA know how to have a good time?  You bet!

For results of the 2017 competition or for information about next year’s EBR – when it becomes available, navigate to www.extremebenchrest.com.  Additional details are available from the folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com.