Archive for the ‘Airguns’ Category

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

Years ago, two brilliant minds came together and invented a barrel technology. They worked out the finer details and put into production a design that became known as Smooth Twist, after the method and style of the finished product. The process involves precision steel tubing, cut and machined to extremely high tolerances and is then put through a proprietary process which imparts twist to the inside of the barrel from the outside without cutting, harming or disturbing the smooth finish of the bore. This technology spins and stabilizes the pellets when fired, but does not cut or harm the pellet, making it less susceptible to wind turbulence. And, like anything new in the gun world, it was received with much resistance and nah-saying by the industry and shooting public alike. But then something started happening to change those opinions…the barrels started winning long range competitions!

Rumors, theories, and conjecture lost their way when the results started recording, and FX Smooth Twist barreled rifles started to take top seats every year at Extreme Benchrest for the 75 and 100 yard competitions.

2017 was no exception, in fact FX upped their game on proving their barrel tech has what it takes. 29 shooters in the top 20 of both classes (40 total between Pro and Sportsman) placed using a Smooth Twist barrel in an FX air rifle! That’s nearly 75%! Check out these results:

Looking at this chart you immediately think, “Yeah, but almost everyone shot with an FX, so of course FX won out!” Good observation. But take a step back and look at the overall qualifying results to see the spread of shooters who competed to make the finals and you see that FX consistently rose to the top.

Now, let’s pause and give a hand to every single shooter at EBR.  They all did well in competing in this difficult competition and the shooters who came out on top deserve the bulk of the recognition. The rifle is simply the tool of choice, but a good shooter will choose the best tool by their own standards, and the results show where each competitor put their trust.

Back to the FX product now, and they deserve a good deal of respect. The 2017 results are amazing, but they aren’t simply an anomaly. The 2016, 2015, 2014, etc results show FX, with their Smooth Twist barrel technology, are onto something good!

Are they the best for long range accuracy? That is up to you to decide, because nobody can tell you what is “the best”. Grab an FX Airgun with a Smooth Twist barrel and find out for yourself! This writer can say, with experience, that FX/Smooth Twist barrels are among the most consistent shooting rifles/barrels he has tested.

 

Until next time,

Get Out and Shoot!

 

Here’s a little video illustrating the Smooth Twist barrel technology:

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.

So how did the Cricket fare in my informal shooting tests?  Pretty well — as you would expect from an airgun in this price range.  Because it does not come with any optics, the bigger variable magnification scopes can quickly add some weight.  By itself, the Cricket at over 7 pounds feels heavy to me for its size, but it is a solid little rifle that balances well in the hands.

The Cricket trigger was – in a word – smoooottthhh.  One of those triggers that surprises you when it breaks, which is desirable so you can concentrate on the myriad of other items you are checking off in your brain when taking a shot.  The wide blade metal trigger is adjustable, but requires the shooter to remove the action from the stock, which I don’t do with the guns loaned to me, so the trigger I shot was strictly as it came out of the box.  The trigger pull broke at a little over a pound.  As mentioned in Part One, there is no manual safety on the Cricket so extra care is in order whenever handling this rifle.

The Sun Optics scope paired with the Cricket was the 5-30x56mm Ultra Variable model with illuminated reticle and parallax adjustment down to 10 yards.  This scope was right at home atop the Cricket and offers phenomenal magnification and a clear field of view in part because a larger 30mm tube.  The glass etched reticle is described as a Micro mil-dot and it provides multiple aiming points for holdover and windage corrections.   I did not shoot in low light conditions so didn’t make use of the illuminated reticle, however it offers both red and green options with 5 different brightness settings.  It also came with flip-up lens covers and is covered by a limited lifetime warranty.  It added 30 ounces to the overall weight of the package.

The 300 bar reservoir provided plenty of full power shots, in the range of 3 full magazines before topping off.  The Cricket could digest anything that fit in its rotary magazine, including Predator International’s long Polymags.  This one liked the Rifle Brand Super Mags at 18.36 grains giving an average speed of 928.2fps for 35 foot pounds of energy.  The best grouping was with RWS Super H-Points in 14.2 grains.

A unique feature with the Cricket is the ability to have the magazine advance either manually or automatically.  For automatic indexing upon cocking, the magazine bolt is retracted to insert the magazine and then pushed straight forward.  If you see the indexing pin engaging with the recess of the magazine cog, you’ve done it correctly.  If you wish to advance the magazine manually, simply push forward and down when returning the magazine bolt home.  The purpose?  Mainly for giving the shooter the option to dial to an empty chamber when de-cocking or avoiding double loading pellets.  A hunter using the Cricket could also load multiple weights and styles of pellets for different game in the same magazine and dial up whatever the situation called for.

There always seems to be a tradeoff — you can’t please all of the people all of the time — and the drawback to bullpups is the cocking handle having to be at the rear of the stock.  So if you prefer the compactness of bullpups, you most likely have to break cheek weld and/or your grip in order to cock the rifle.

KalibrGun Cricket .22

The Cricket is an elegant European designed bullpup made with precision craftsmanship and this little gun would fit nicely into any collection.  To make that happen, contact the fine folks at Airguns of Arizona: www.airgunsofarizona.com.  For questions on the Sun Optics scope, you can reach them at: www.sunopticsusa.com.

CORRECTION:  In the first installment I discovered that I mentioned the Cricket “should be capable of 900+ foot pounds with lead pellets”.  Obviously, my proof-reading skills left me completely when I was doing a final read through.  Of course, what I meant to say was that the Cricket is capable of 900+ feet per second with lead pellets.  My apologies for any confusion.

AoA: We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK, out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavour of life there. Here is his latest post.

Old friends re-appear after a long absence.

Summer 2017. It’s been a week of sweltering 90F temperatures by UK standards, particularly as our houses don’t have air conditioning.

Meals are taken outside, under the shade of our decades-old Allington Pippin apple tree. This is especially enjoyable when friends drop round for a bite to eat.

So, it was in this dappled shade, that we were delighted to meet up again with Ben Taylor, airgun guru and, of course, half of the original Theoben airgun company. Theoben rifles are still much sought after today. I used to work alongside Ben but, since he’s retired, he’s spent a lot of time on his BMW 1300 motorbike. He was just back from attending the Moto GP in Spain.

And that was the starting point for an amazing story. While in Spain, Ben met a British airgunner who lives there. They had been chatting previously about airguns, and 2 had piqued Ben’s interest quite considerably. One of them was Ben’s very own engraved Sirocco .20 calibre that he had used around 1985/86. Its condition was ‘almost as new’; its serial number is #1000. The other rifle was one of his famous and rare Metisse air rifles: No.8, in .177 calibre.

Ben then told us the fantastic tale of the Sirocco. Many years ago, when the company was at its base in Cambridgeshire in Britain, Ben was just closing up for the day when an Aston Martin swept into the car park and a man leapt out. He said he wanted an air rifle. “I’m afraid they’re all built to order and we have none spare.” Undaunted, the visitor said, “what about that one then?” pointing to Ben’s own rifle on the rack. Ben said, “It’s mine, and anyway you can’t afford it”. But Aston Martin drivers are a determined bunch! “I’ll give you a thousand pounds for it,” ($1800 in those days and about 5 times the going rate for a rifle then). The reply was typical of the Ben we know and love! “Would you like it in a box or a bag?” That was the last Ben saw of the rifle for over 30 years. Ben's Taylor's Sirocco

Ben Taylor with SiroccoSo, it’s astonishing that the Sirocco has re-surfaced after all these years, purely by chance. And of course, Ben couldn’t resist buying it. The Metisse looks like it has never been shot, and Ben bought that too.

Ben Taylor's Metisse

But it’s also typical of Ben, that when he got home to the UK with the rifles, and when he had done admiring them, that, as he said to us, “I’m not really sure why I bought them, as I really, truly, have retired from air rifles.”

So, we’re not surprised that they’re now up both for sale at over £2,000 for Sirocco and over £3,000 for the Metisse. As for retirement from airguns? Somehow, we’re not surprised he’s planning on coming to Extreme Benchrest this year!

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

Larry Piercy has crisscrossed the United States spreading the word about airguns.

Larry Piercy is on his way from Old Town, Maine, where he has been visiting the Old Town Trading Post, to Pennsylvania. Peering out through the diner’s windows in the pouring rain, I can see the custom van he drives, tricked out with Precision Airgun Distribution graphics, and the plain white enclosed trailer behind it that is nearly as large as the van itself.

The entity that most airgunners think of as Airguns of Arizona is actually two companies. There’s Airguns of Arizona, which retails air rifles, air pistols, pellets, scopes and related gear through a shop in Gilbert, Arizona, and the internet, and there’s Precision Airgun Distribution, which imports airguns from various manufacturers around the world and provides them to dealers throughout the United States.

Piercy is National Sales Manager for Precision Airgun Distribution, and his job is to support existing dealers and to introduce potential customers (mostly gun shops) to the wide world of adult precision Airguns. Over the past two-and-a-half years, he has literally been from Maine to California and from Florida to Washington and a lot of places in between.

He observes that 90 percent of potential airgun dealers want to learn about the technology and handle the guns. The Precision Airgun Distribution van is set up as a rolling show room so they can do just that.

The Precision Airgun Distribution van is a rolling showroom of goodies that would have most airgunners drooling.

“They are shocked at the technology and the accuracy of the guns,” Piercy says. “Most have no clue about the world of adult precision airguns, so a lot of what I do is education, giving prospective dealers an idea of the full range of airguns.”

He adds, “I run into basically two types of people: those that really enjoy the outdoors, hunting and shooting. With them, I emphasize that airguns can expand the places that you can do hunting and shooting, and that airguns are often a good solution for nuisance wildlife control in places where firearms would be inappropriate.  And then there are the business people, and there you emphasize the profit to be made and the increase in the base of the business.”

“Of course, there are some who don’t want to take time to learn about airguns. Most are either new in the business or they have been at it forever and don’t want to change.”

There are long guns aplenty . . .

In his travels, Piercy has learned to talk with all kinds of different people, and there are geographic differences. “In Vermont, they expect you to shoot the breeze for a while before you get down to the purpose of your visit, but in California, they want none of that; they expect you to get right down to business.”

. . . parts . . .

“When it comes to visiting existing dealers, that’s always a call I never mind making. Dealers really appreciate that we stop in and to see how they are doing. If we make arrangements in advance, a lot of times they will notify their customers, and the customers show up. That’s always fun.”

. . . and a small workshop.

He adds, “Dealers will share issues they might be having. We take a look at how we can meet their needs, so they are successful and we are successful. If we can do something about the issue, we will. If not, we get back to them and let them know why. I really enjoy those calls on the dealers, and a lot of times afterwards they place an order.”

He notes that one of the dealers – Holland Shooters Supply in Powers, Oregon – uses airguns to train people for thousand-yard shooting with firearms. After a day-long “chalk talk” about the intricacies of long range shooting, half of the following day is spent shooting with airguns where the instructor can observe the students’ technique without the problem of recoil.

A third element in Piercy’s job description is to represent Airguns of Arizona at airgun shooting events. “There’s an old saying that if you want people to show up at an event, provide food. Well, if you want airgunners to show up at your van, provide air.”

Toward that end, there are two compressors aboard the van. One is electric, and the other is powered by a six horsepower Subaru engine. In addition to a wide variety of air rifles and air pistols, the van carries a number of parts (including o-rings) as well as a selection of tools and a small work bench.

At lower right, you can see the two compressors aboard the van.

“There have been at least two times at national or regional events where I have been flagged down by an airgunner in distress even before I got parked,” Piercy says. “One required a complete teardown of his gun just two hours before the event and the other had blown an o-ring. In both cases, I was able to get them to the firing line on time.”

Piercy with the new FX Crown in .25 caliber.

Reflecting on his job, Piercy says, “I like it. I get to meet a lot of neat people, seeing a lot of things you don’t see from the air. This current trip has been a long one, and I’ll be more than ready to get back home.”

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

If you’re not familiar with KalibrGun products, let me introduce you to their popular Cricket bullpup Pre-Charged Pneumatics.  Available in .177, .22, .25 and .35 calibers, this European designed and manufactured airgun utilizes a CZ hammer forged barrel coupled with an ambidextrous thumbhole straight-line stock to make a compact, accurate and elegant shooter.  KalibrGun Valdy EU s.r.o. is located in Prague, Czech Republic and has been making quality airguns for around 7 years now.  Offering only PCP bullpup and pistol designs, they have carved out their niche in the airgunning world.  Combining a very efficient valve system in their compact and light weight package with their 17.5 inch CZ made 12-groove barrel, you can expect superb accuracy from the Cricket.  Two stock materials are offered: a beautiful oil-finished wood and a synthetic model.  My sample was stocked in wood, and the clean ergonomic lines

Magazine stored in clever built in holder

were inviting as well as utilitarian by incorporating 4-fold out magazine holders held closed by magnets to prevent accidental opening.

The pistol grip is hand-filling with roll-marked or pressed checkering for added purchase.   The forearm is wide, but because of the shape which allows the fingertips to wrap around, it is very comfortable.   A thin, slightly contoured and ribbed black rubber buttpad separated by a tasteful white spacer caps off the butt of this bullpup.  Mated to this attractive stock is a black anodized aluminum receiver and 280cc non-removable air reservoir with a built in manometer that reaches up to 350 bar.  A rotating collar on the air reservoir exposes the fill port where a brass male probe, included with the gun, is inserted.  Also included with the Cricket are two rotary magazines.  In .177 and .22 the mags hold a generous 14 rounds and are deep enough to accommodate Predator Polymags or other hunting tipped pellets.  In .25 they hold 12 rounds and in .35 they hold 9 shots.

Rounds move from the magazine into the breech via a very smooth slide lever, and they are sent on their way by squeezing the wide smooth-faced, non-adjustable aluminum trigger blade.  There is no manual safety of any kind on the Cricket I tested, but I understand a rotary type safety has been incorporated in the newest models.  The Cricket can be de-cocked easily whenever the need arises.

The front 10.75 inches of the barrel are shrouded, and do an excellent job of moderating the sound.  When shooting silhouettes or other metal targets, the sound of the pellet hitting will generally be more noticeable than the sound of the discharge.

The Cricket is sold without optics, but provides 8.75 inches of picatinny rail for mounting your own optic.  I mounted a Sun Optics USA 5-30x56mm Illuminated Reticle (green and red) to my sample Cricket using Burris 30 mm aluminum rings and will let you know how it performs in the next installment.

Weight of the Cricket in walnut is 7.75 pounds and the optic I chose added almost 32 ounces.   Overall length is 27.375 inches.  In .22 this Cricket should be capable of 900+ foot pounds with lead pellets, equating to approximate 30 foot pounds of energy.  The Cricket comes with a one year warranty and can be serviced by my friends at www.airgunsofarizona.com.  The Wood stocked version runs approximately $1540.00 without optics and the Synthetic model comes in approximately $1365.00 without optics.  Stay tuned to this blog for further review.

Late June 2017. We’ve had a week of glorious sunshine in the South … temperatures in the 80s and a real feeling that we’ve shaken off the cold and blue skies, and summer is heading for Home Farm.

Rain or shine, our bird feeders are mobbed from dawn to dusk. They all take their turn, and, apart from the blackbirds, there’s not too much squabbling. It’s all very British. Then in drops a gang of long tailed tits. Everyone else scatters as they attack the food, hanging every which way on the fat-balls and peanut holders. Then, they are off before you have time to wipe your nose and pull your ear.

Last weekend it was sunny and warm enough to bring out butterflies, bees and a magnificent 4ft long female grass snake which made her way across the front of the house towards an old compost heap where she must have some eggs. It was also warm enough to have a barbecue with some friends. We set up targets in the garden for a bit of airgun fun (airfun?). In pride of place on the ‘range’ was my old Webley Hurricane pistol, handed down by neighbour Stan, a retired Polish WW2 fighter pilot who lived 3 fields’ distance away. Stan was a hoot, There were always laughs, stir, commotion and tales from his old Spitfire days! Stan would concoct his own lemon vodka at home. It was the best. So was he. Anyway, we crowded round the air pistols to choose our ammunition. I’m a big fan of airgun darts at gatherings like these as they’re great fun for all ages. I always buy a minimum of 5 packs of 10 multi coloured darts so I end up with 10 red, 10 blue, and the same numbers of green, black and yellow. It makes it easier for people to have a decent number of their own single competition colour. There’s talk, as usual, of ‘darts affect barrel rifling’ – this is a myth in my opinion. Ask anyone who claims this just how they know it and you’ll hear something vague such as “Oh, well, everyone knows that…”. Well, I’ve never found the slightest damage to barrels which, after all, are made to withstand all manner of wear and tear. It’s the mohair flights which have most contact with the barrel. So, I say load up – and take aim. Our visitors found them a lot more accurate than they thought…and a lot more fun!

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

Upon crossing the bridge into Arkansas from Oklahoma on U.S. Highway 64, you’ll find yourself in Fort Smith, an historic city with roots going back to a Wild West town on the edge of the Indian Territory.  This is the home of Umarex USA, Inc. and Walther Arms, Inc.  They are subsidiaries of the German firm of Umarex, a conglomerate involved in the airgun and firearms industries since 1972.

Umarex USA/Walther Arms U.S. Headquarters

If you are unfamiliar with the Umarex name, my bet is you are familiar with some of the airguns in their extensive lineup — airguns such as the faithful CO2 BB firing copies of historic firearms in their Legends line, or the awesome replica of the famous Colt “Peacemaker” in both BB and pellet firing models.  The lineup goes on to include break barrels, CO2 and PCP offerings with names like Hammerli, Ruger, Beretta, HK, UZI and, of course, Walther as well as a few other major names in the industry.  Umarex has licensing agreements in place with each of them in order to use the name branding of those companies and/or produce practically exact duplicates of their famous firearms.  Of course, Umarex also produces airguns under their own name that cover all levels of airgunning from entry level to high-end in price ranges that fit just about any pocketbook.

I had the great pleasure of visiting with Umarex USA’s Director of Marketing, “JB” Biddle at their plant when I was in Fort Smith recently.  JB graciously spent the entire afternoon providing me with an in-depth tour of their expansive facility.  Currently the plant is a distribution center, Consumer Services call center and repair depot that opened in Fort Smith in 2010.  The original 117,000 square foot plant was expanded in 2013 to accommodate the opening of the U.S. headquarters of their sister company; German firearm manufacturer Carl Walther Waffenfabrik, in this location.  The expansion was necessary to comply with strict U.S. firearms regulations on storage and tracking of all components considered firearms by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Some assembly of firearms is taking place at this facility in relation to the repair/recall service.  Plans are in the works to bring more manufacturing in-house from overseas and existing floor space already exists for this expansion.  Offices on upper floors house Sales and Marketing for U.S. operations of Umarex and Walther as well as the Elite Force airsoft subsidiary.  Currently, 90+ full-time employees keep this operation humming.  Some part-time staffing helps during rush periods as well.  Included in that figure for full-time employees are four gunsmiths, one being a master gunsmith.  The repair center was quite impressive with rows and rows of drawers containing tens of thousands of inventoried parts.  An interesting tidbit I learned was that they have provided service on guns made in the late 1800s that passed through the repair center.  Their R&D/Engineering department was equally impressive boasting a large 3D printer capable of producing a full size stock for evaluation as well as an optics center where scopes could be tested/evaluated for quality control.  Of course, all the other necessary measuring and testing equipment was present along with a small airgun test firing range.  The Call Center folks were busy as I passed through and JB commented how each member of the team “lived and breathed” airguns.

Optics testing table in R&D lab

The culmination of the tour was a visit to their 2 lane, 50 yard indoor firing range.  Multiple airguns and firearms were made available to me for test firing and the afternoon flew by too quickly.  One of the guns fired was the new Gauntlet PCP, considered an “entry level” PCP because at $299.00 w/o optics, it provides a welcome addition in that it will be a great help in getting more folks into PCPs that might have held back due to the high costs of PCPs plus the needed accessories for filling them.  Don’t let the price point fool you, this new PCP is an accurate shooter with many bells and whistles on it that you could expect to pay a lot more for.  I really enjoyed shooting the Gauntlet and then they handed me the MP40, a faithful BB firing copy of the WW2 German “machinenpistole” submachine gun.  Running off of two CO2 cartridges loaded along with 90 BBs into the stick magazine, the MP40 allows for full-auto firing.  I had a ball quickly empting the magazine in short order.  Other items fired during our session included the Octane Elite and the Forge air rifles along with the Strike Point single-shot pellet pistol.  All worked flawlessly and, like a kid in a candy store, I wanted to take all of them home!  Look for more in-depth reviews in future blogs.  A couple of the Walther handguns in 9mm were also provided and while I was setting up for the next airgun I was to shoot, some police officers from a nearby town were trying out the pistols before my turn came.

Parts galore

I feel very privileged that being involved in the media opens doors like this so that I can be invited to visit operations like Umarex USA/Walther, Inc. and describe them to readers.  Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest in Umarex products and you’ll check them out on the Airguns of Arizona website: www.airgunsofarizona.com.

Umarex USA indoor range

Brocock Compatto Target

Brocock announce an exciting addition to the Compatto line up.

The new Compatto Target – a regulated Hunter Field Target version of the popular Brocock Compatto.

Developed in conjunction with the Dutch firm of Huma, who over the last 5 years have become renowned for their high-quality precision regulators, the new Compatto Target adds an increased shot count as well as better shot to shot consistency for the more discerning shooter.

By using the highest quality materials such as aircraft grade aluminum-bronze, chrome-moly steel and precision Belleville springs, the Huma regulator has been specially developed in a joint venture to be combined with the patented sling shot hammer system. This combination is able to reduce shot to shot variation to a 1% fluctuation, yet both are proven and reliable systems allowing Brocock to give two years between services.

Depending on the market, the Compatto Target is fitted as standard with the latest ‘anti slip’ soft touch stock finish.

Brocock Compatto Target Diagram

The Compatto Target has been developed to compete in Hunter Field target competitions and at sub 12 foot pounds will deliver 115 shots in .177 caliber with a shot to shot consistency of only a few feet per second – or as good as your pellets will allow.

Caliber

Power ft/lbs

Shots/Fill

177

12

115

22

12

125

22

27

30

25

28

30

Brocock Compatto Target Angle

The new Brocock Compatto Target will be available in the USA soon!  Meanwhile, for the existing Compatto owners, check out our Huma Regulator for Brocock Compatto .177 and .22. We can offer custom install services as well.

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!