Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport

In this exclusive interview, Herr Hans Weihrauch – the owner of Weihrauch Sport – talks to Stephen Archer. We met most recently at the 2018 Extreme Benchrest competition in Arizona. Here’s how the conversation went…


Stephen Archer: When did you first start shooting and who taught you to shoot?

Hans Weihrauch: That was quite a long time ago! At about the age of 10-12 years, I started shooting with an air rifle. My father was a member of a shooting club and took me to a German “Schützenhaus”, shooting on a 10 Meter target range. Shooting instructors taught other young guys and myself how to hold the air rifle and to aim at the paper targets.


Stephen Archer: What was your first airgun and do you still own it?

Hans Weihrauch: I started this kind of shooting with a HW 55 match type air rifle. This rifle is still standing in my gun cabinet. I still own it and I am proud of it!

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport


Stephen Archer: What is your favorite type of shooting now?

Hans Weihrauch: I shoot 50 Meter English Match in cal. .22 Long Rifle as well as some Field Target competitions.

I find Field Target shooting very interesting and challenging. Shooting at various distances, in different directions on one lane, in different shooting positions and in a limited time frame is very demanding for every shooter.


Stephen Archer: Please tell us a little history about the Weihrauch company?

Hans Weihrauch: Our family tradition in working in the gun trade started in the late 1890s. In 1899 our great-grandfather founded his first company to produce hunting rifles. Over the following decades the company grew and a lot of different models followed as well as other products like pedals and cranks for bicycles and hydraulic door closers.

In 1939 the first airgun, an air pistol, was introduced, but due to World War II it never got into production. There is at least one prototype still existing. I’ve seen it myself, but unfortunately it’s not owned by us any more.

In the early fifties of the last century the first air rifles HW 50 and HW 35 were launched. A lot of different models have followed over the years!

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport


Stephen Archer: Can you tell us a little about the company today. For example, how many people work at Weihrauch-Sport? How big is your factory? Is everything made in Germany?

Hans Weihrauch: Nowadays our line of air guns offers a wide variety of different models. More than 100 employees produce air pistols and air rifles in a huge number of versions in our premises at Mellrichstadt in Baveria.

All our products are “Made in Germany”. Our major focus is quality and craftsmanship. All manufacturing is undertaken using state-of-the-art machinery. We aim to offer our customers the best possible products!

Below. The Weihrauch factory.

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport


Stephen Archer: Always, the machining and finish of both wood and metal parts is beautiful on Weihrauch airguns! How do you achieve such an outstanding level of craftsmanship?

Hans Weihrauch: Germans have the reputation of being perfectionists. So we happily try to meet our customers expectations! This reflects to all the metal and wooden parts.

The stocks and grips are supplied by outside vendors according to our exact specifications. The metal parts are produced by ourselves in-house. Our workers are proud to produce such products that are well-known all over the world.


Stephen Archer: Does Weihrauch-Sport manufacture the barrels for it’s air rifles?

Hans Weihrauch: Most of our barrels are produced in-house. This gives us constant quality control monitoring on each barrel during the whole production process, right up to final test shooting. In this way we can always guarantee our quality standards on each production step of the barrels.

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport


Stephen Archer: Most Weihrauch air rifles use the spring/piston system. Only the HW90 uses a gas ram. Can you explain why gas rams are not used in more Weihrauch air rifles?

Hans Weihrauch: As always, different systems have advantages but also disadvantages. Our spring piston systems work very well. Nevertheless we are always working and improving our air guns to reach the best possible quality to fit our customer needs. We have a lot of customers who love our spring piston air guns and also our gas ram HW 90 model.


Stephen Archer: Weihrauch manufactures both underlever-cocking and break-barrel spring/piston air rifles. Can you give your opinion on the benefits of each design?

Hans Weihrauch: Yes, we are producing both versions, break barrel and underlever cocking.

For decades the break barrel rifles have been the main product. They are easy to handle and everyone knows how to manage, load and shot, them. This system is ideal for beginners and for “just for fun” – shooting.

We then launched the HW 77. This new design conquered the Field Target Shooting scene and was copied several times. The scope mount and the barrel/receiver components are one unit and built a stable and fixed system. This design is valued more by the serious and experienced shooter.

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport


Stephen Archer: Here at Extreme Benchrest we see almost everyone shooting PCP air rifles. Do you see PCPs as the big future trend for your company, too?

Hans Weihrauch: The EBR event is a special and unique event for shooting taking place in the USA.

The shooting demands are on longer distances and for special disciplines like for example the Extreme Benchrest up to 100 Yards, Extreme Field Target or the Speed Silhouette. There definitely the PCP rifles have their big advantage and will be also the future trend. It is a growing scene and market.

For the “normal” shooter these PCP products are quite expensive, especially with all the necessary charging equipment. He will probably step into the shooting scene on a lower level according to his budget and his aim. And sometimes compressed air isn’t available at all places. Perhaps later he will also join other disciplines.

Therefore we are offering our wide range of air guns in various versions and for different purposes. So nearly everybody can find a suitable product for their needs from Weihrauch.

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport


Stephen Archer: Can we expect to see any new air rifle designs from Weihrauch in 2019?

Hans Weihrauch: We are constantly working to improve the quality of our products. So permanent developments and amendments are implemented into the production process of the different models.

Furthermore we are also thinking on new projects. Just recently our newest PCP air rifle – the HW 110 ST – was launched in a special carbine version.

Herr Hans Weihrauch Talks About His Company, Weihrauch Sport

Also in 2019 you can expect something new from Weihrauch. But… wait and see!


Stephen Archer: Hans, thanks for this great interview! I’m sure this will be of great interest to the huge number of Weihrauch enthusiasts around the world. I look forward to seeing you again next year in Nuremberg for the IWA Show and in Las Vegas for the SHOT Show.

Hans Weihrauch: Steve, I look forward to it!

Accu-Tac has redesigned all of their bipods and will no longer be offering the old style. They’ve also slimmed down their selection to only their best selling models.

A lot of benchrest shooters use the old FC-5 or FC-10 models due to their wide stance. But, they only had the option to pan. If you wanted cant/tilt, you were forced to choose from models with a narrower stance. The newly designed FC-G2 offers BOTH pan and cant! Also, they’ve changed the legs. The older models had longer legs. The new model has shorter legs but, they have the ability to extend.

Their base model, the BR-4, now sports the new legs and the re-designed center hub. Basically, the only thing that remains unchanged is the way the legs attach to the center hub and the way they lock in. When comparing the new to the old, it looks like they reversed the center design. But, they’ve done more than that. The way the cant system locks has been redesigned to a more reliable, easier to use system.

The new system incorporates an easily accessible lever style lock that’s easy to access and easy to use vs the old systems winged thumbscrew. Also, the lever is spring loaded. So, if you don’t like where it’s sitting once locked, give it a “pull and twist” and it will click into another spot.

The quick release thumb nut has been replaced with a hex head screw that sits inside a recess. In order to adjust rail tension, you move the lever to the unlock position, push it, and spin the hex head.

The new legs are wider, thicker, and have the ability to extend vs the old thin style with no adjustment. The feet are much larger too and re-inforced with support cups.

 

When comparing the FC-G2 vs the old FC-10, right away I notice the difference in leg height and thickness. I also notice how the picatinny attachment sits higher when compared to the hinge point of the legs. Overall, I thinking his system is going to work out better than the old tall models.

Another subtle difference I noticed is that the quick release lever no longer conflicts with the hub frame. The old model, you’d have to pan to the side in order to release the lever all the way but, the new one clears the hub without any interference. This is a big deal if you’re a “Set it and forget it” type of shooter.

All of the other upgrades I mentioned above, about the BR-4, also apply to the new FC-G2.

As an added feature, the legs of all Accu-Tac bipods, both old and new, are interchangeable (except the HD-50). Also, the old legs will fit on the new redesigned center hubs and vice versa.

The LR-10 and SR-5 have also been upgraded but, not to the degree that the FC-G2 and BR4 have. The new hub is the same as the BR-4. However, the legs have longer leg extensions with more notches that are closer together.

So, let’s say you want the taller legs on the wide body. For now, the only way to do that is to pick up the FC-G2 and either an LR-10 or an SR-5. For arguments sake, let’s say you picked up an LR-10. You’d actually end up with the ability to have an FC-G2, LR-10, BR-4, and an unavailable model – a tall FC10-G2, due to Accu-Tac’s ability to easily swap legs.

I see these bipods showing up more and more at competitions. They work well, are made in the USA, and are designed to be very strong! I would highly recommend adding them to your collection. The new models will be available soon!

Happy Shooting!

Tom

Springer air rifles can be very accurate and versatile for uses ranging from plinking to hunting.  However, loading pellets singly for each shot can be a bit of a fumble-finger exercise, especially when needing to make a follow-up shot on a wounded animal.  The Turkish company of Hatsan offers their solution as the new SpeedFire Vortex, a multi-shot break-barrel utilizing a 12-shot rotary magazine in .177 caliber. The mechanism used to automatically load a pellet during the cocking cycle is called the EZ-Load Action System.  It sits above the barrel/receiver joint, adding enough extra height to force the use of a high front sight.  The front sight consists of a U-shaped saddle with a bright orange TruGlo fiber optic rod in the center.  When optics are used, or to protect the front sight when it is not in use, it folds down into a protective channel.  The rear sight has green TruGlo fiber optics to help with obtaining a quick sight picture and it is micro adjustable for both windage and elevation.  The SpeedFire also comes equipped with a picatinny rail, which interestingly incorporates an 11mm rail running along the top.  The rail features a dampener technology designed to absorb some of the shock generated by springers, helping to protect optics mounted to the rifle.  Additionally, the SpeedFire ships with an Optima 3-9x40mm scope and rings.

I found the SpeedFire to be a soft shooter for a springer, no doubt partially because of the proprietary SaS, or Shock Absorber System, built into the gun.  However, the cocking force is such that this would not be a rifle for a youngster.  Having twelve pellets at the ready is a great feature but can be a workout when firing all twelve pellets quickly from the Rapid Performance Magazine (RPM).  An automatic safety/anti bear-trap mechanism activates each time you cock the SpeedFire, but unfortunately this multi-shot technology does not protect from double loading pellets if there is an attempt to cock the gun a second time.  If you experience this condition, then you must remove the magazine and gently push both pellets out with a cleaning rod.  The Owner’s Manual does not go into any detail on how to safely remove pellets from the barrel, which would be helpful, since the multi-shot mechanism covers the breech during the cocking cycle in its process of automatically loading a pellet.

Hatsan technologies such as the Quattro adjustable match trigger, Vortex Gas Piston, and SaS are all built in to this rifle.  It also sports some suppression, although it is not the “Quiet Energy” suppression found on other Hatsan guns.  It is lightweight at almost 6 ½ pounds without a scope, but it is a long gun at 47 inches.  Trigger pull out of the box was about 5 ½ pounds and is fully adjustable with the included allen wrenches.  My sample rifle shipped without a scope and I haven’t had it long enough to fully break it in.  It still produced good groups out of the box even though I was using open sights with aged eyes.

Hatsan rates the velocity of the SpeedFire out of its 14.5-inch barrel at 1000fps and it lists at an MSRP of $199.99.  The warranty on the SpeedFire is a one year limited.   It is also available in .22 caliber and if you’d like more information, please contact our friends at Airguns of Arizona.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

It’s my strong conviction that – even now – people spend too little time thinking about pellets!

Many airgunners I know spend endless time and effort on their air rifle, but more-or-less take the pellets for granted. In fact, there’s much to be gained by a careful choice of pellets, as we’ll read in this post…

They’re Great Value.

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets are manufactured by JSB in the Czech Republic specifically for Daystate.

These dome head pellets have been selected and tested to work reliably in Daystate PCP air rifles without further selection. They are intended for use in high-powered, long range PCPs fitted with Lothar Walther barrels.

As these pellets are used to test guns at the Daystate factory, that would clearly seem to be an strong validation of that claim!

However, as you would expect, they also work well in many other air rifles, too.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 caliber pellets are priced at $16.95 for a tin of 500. This makes the cost of each pellet 3.4 cents. This is surprisingly cheap and makes these pellets an absolute bargain!

As a heavy domed pellet, these Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign pellets are normally used for hunting and other general shooting. Of course, JSB has an outstanding reputation for producing quality pellets. So – combined with the Daystate name – expectations are high for the Rangemasters.

Detailed Test Results.

We tested these pellets in considerable detail and here’s the results…

Achieving a consistent head size is a major aim for most pellet manufacturers. For the Sovereigns we tested, it was extremely well controlled. No less than 88% of the tested pellets had a head diameter of 5.52 mm, with a very few outliers – only 0.01 mm (that’s less than 4 Thou) smaller or larger – on either side of this as you can see from the chart below.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

The actual average weight of the pellets we tested was 15.88 Grains. This is within 0.02% of the claimed weight of 15.9 Grains. Very close indeed!

So, the average weight of the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets we tested was very, very close to the claim at 15.88 Grains. However, only 6% of the tested pellets actually weighed 15.90 Grains.

Ten percent of the tested pellets weighed 15.91 Grains. This was the most common weight, as we can see from the chart below.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

The lightest pellets tested using our “laboratory grade” milligram balance weighed 15.65 Grains. The heaviest 16.07 Grains. That’s a variation of 2.7%.

Twenty percent of the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets we tested measured 7.46 mm in length. The shortest pellets measured 7.41 mm, the longest 7.59 mm, that’s a spread of 2.4%.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

Such consistency in manufacturing is a major cause of both consistent muzzle velocity and accuracy.

As a  part of this comprehensive pellet-testing procedure, we washed the pellets and weigh the amount of dust that’s an inevitable by-product in the manufacture of lead pellets.

The tin of Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets we tested contained 0.23 Grains of dirt. That’s 0.046 Grains per 100 pellets, or 0.00266% of the pellet weight. That’s extremely low and another indication of quality manufacturing!

Downrange Performance.

We tested the actual Ballistic Coefficient for these pellets using a Labradar Doppler radar system and found it to be 0.029. This is exactly the same figure as claimed by Daystate. It’s also relatively high for a .22 caliber domed pellet and indicates strong downrange performance.

Due to the high BC of these pellets, they retain 70% of that initial Muzzle Energy out at 45 Yards. So, it’s clear that the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets are suitable for hunting at long ranges, especially when fired from a powerful PCP air rifle, as intended.

Packaging.

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 Grain .22 caliber pellets are packed in a push top tin. There’s a disk of foam inside the tin so provide protective padding during transport. The large diameter tin matches the volume of the pellets and padding well, so no rattling is heard when the full tin is shaken.

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

I’ll go on record as saying that I much prefer screw-top pellet tins. I tend to have unintended disasters when opening push-top tins and one happened to me during this test!

Of course, that’s the reason to decant your pellets into one of those beautiful leather Wilkins pellet pouches before you go shooting…

Let’s Talk Pellets - A Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign .22 Cal Pellet Review

And, of course, the Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign pellets are, of course, very far from the only ones that ship in push-top tins!

Summary.

Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign 15.9 grain .22 caliber pellets combine good manufacturing consistency with a below-average price.

The head diameter, in particular, was extremely consistent. These are also very clean pellets.

That’s a great combination. If you’re shooting .22 caliber and not using these pellets, they’re definitely worth trying.

But even with such good manufacturing quality, it’s clear that all pellets are not absolutely identical. If you’re looking for match-winning performance, it’s definitely worth washing and sorting your pellets, even when you’ve found the “perfect” pellet for your gun.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

At the time of writing, there is a variety of upgrade possibilities available for the Diana Outlaw air rifle or soon will be…

Diana has taken a very enthusiast-friendly approach to their new regulated PCP air rifle. And you can benefit from it to make your Outlaw really your own. Some of these accessories are not available yet. However, check with AoA to find out the latest information on availability.

 

One. A Complete Manual For The Diana Outlaw.

Hard Air Magazine has produced a complete manual for the Outlaw that contains just about everything you want to know about your new air rifle. It’s available from Airguns of Arizona!

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

“Choosing and Shooting the Diana Outlaw” is a 94-page book full of useful information. It includes tips on filling, scope mounting and choosing pellets. In addition, the book covers maintenance and re-building details.

Now you will know what to do with all those tools and O rings that were included with your Outlaw!

 

Two. The Outlaw Enthusiast’s Kit

Precision Airgun Distribution – the US distributor of the Outlaw – has also developed an interesting upgrade kit for this air rifle.

The Diana Outlaw Enthusiast’s Kit comprises no less than 32 upgraded parts and tools. It allows the enthusiastic Outlaw owner to make a number of improvements to his/her gun. And all the information you need to use it are included in the “Choosing and Shooting the Diana Outlaw” book.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

All parts are higher quality replacements for those shipped on the gun. The screws and pins are all stainless steel and the O rings, US-made of VITON material. All parts are matched to original Diana Part Numbers for easy identification.

Using this kit you can…

– Upgrade the trigger and cocking lever pins. These precision-ground, oversize pins replace the factory parts and are much less likely to fall out by accident. The trigger pins also provide more consistent operation.

– Upgrade the stock bolt and other assembly screws throughout the gun with high quality stainless steel replacements for a more pleasing, professional appearance.

– Install a non-rotating cocking handle upgrade. Simply cut the rubber tube to length. This reduces double-loading problems caused by fingers slipping off of the cocking lever.

– Replace the barrel seal – two sets for each caliber are included. In addition, superior pointed, barrel adapter setscrews are provides, together with replacement barrel adapter O rings.

 

Three. Upgrade The Buttstock.

Diana plans to offer an alternative buttstock for the Outlaw. This stock is manufactured in Italy by Minelli and offers a more sophisticated design than the standard factory part. It will also be completely interchangeable, with no modifications required to fit it to the Outlaw’s action.

Diana’s replacement buttstock has a more rounded, flowing design. It’s stylish and offers possibilities for a more comfortable and consistent hold for the shooter.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

The rake of the stock’s wrist gives improved positioning the the trigger hand. The swelled, checkered forend will be easier and more comfortable to grasp, while the higher comb will give a better and more consistent cheek weld.

These are important benefits!

Anything that gives you a more comfortable shooting experience leads to greater consistency of positioning yourself against the gun every time you take a shot. And greater shot-to-shot consistency on your part increases the practical accuracy of your shooting. This can make a stock upgrade an important benefit for many shooters.

 

Four. Check Out The Trigger.

Many owners will be happy with the feel and operation of their Outlaw’s trigger.

However, a trigger upgrade is being developed by Diana and this will be regarded as a welcome improvement for owners using their gun for Field Target and other competitive shooting.

However Diana has designed a Match Trigger for the Outlaw. Again, this is a direct, drop-in replacement for the trigger that shipped with your Outlaw. It’s a significant difference!

Diana’s Match Trigger includes setscrew adjustments for both first and second stages of the trigger travel. These are the tiny setscrews visible just ahead of the trigger blade.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

Another adjustment possible with the Match Trigger is that it’s possible to move the trigger blade itself forwards or backwards. This provides flexibility for you to select the most comfortable and convenient trigger position. After all, we don’t all have fingers of the same length!

Adjusting the trigger blade position is a simple affair. Just use a thin-bladed standard screwdriver to slightly loosen the trigger blade. Adjust the position to your liking and re-tighten.

In testing, I found the Match Trigger to be a valuable improvement to the Diana Outlaw. The greater number of adjustments helped me tune trigger release exactly to my liking. It also provided a lower and more consistent pull weight.

 

Five. Add A Huma Regulator.

Understanding the Outlaw’s popularity, the Dutch regulator specialist company Huma has introduced an upgrade for the Outlaw’s regulator.

The Huma regulator is a high-precision assembly, made largely of stainless steel and brass. It provides you with the ability to adjust the regulator pressure of your Outlaw to match the requirements of you, or your favorite pellets, or both.

The factory regulator is pre-set at a pressure of between 130 and 150 Bar (1,880 to 2,170 PSI).

The Huma regulator upgrade comes pre-set at a pressure setting of 135 Bar (1,958 PSI). However, this setting can be changed easily and – unlike the factory part – the Huma regulator gives you a scale showing the different output pressures. Rotating a setscrew allows you to set a specific regulator output pressure.

Setting a higher regulator pressure will give you higher FPS and less consistent shots per fill. Within reason, of course.

Upgrading the Diana Outlaw PCP Air Rifle

To install this forthcoming Huma regulator, you’ll find full details in the “Choosing and Using The Diana Outlaw” book, of course!

 

As you can see, there’s lots of ways you can have fun upgrading your Diana Outlaw air rifle. Have fun!

The SIG Sauer Advanced Sport Pellet (ASP) line was launched in early 2015 and has now been rebranded as SIG Air in a move to better reflect Sig Sauer’s commitment to become a major player in the airgunning arena.  SIG Air released this .177 blowback version of their P320 in early 2017.  This is the pistol selected as the new sidearm of the U.S Army (as the M17).  Available in black or Coyote Tan, this 1-to-1 replica will not only appeal to collectors, but shooters wanting an inexpensive training companion to the actual firearm.

SIG Air P320 with 30 round belt magazine

Manufactured in Japan to exacting SIG Air standards, it is designed to be close to the weight of the original and have a similar trigger pull weight (about 6.75 pounds on the trigger pull and overall weight of 2.2 pounds).  The realism and build quality of this pistol is very good with a nice, wide polymer trigger, non-adjustable white dot sights and 2 ½ inch picatinny rail section on the underside suitable for adding flashlights, etc.  It lends itself as a training tool for breath and trigger control as well as re-holstering drills, etc.  The drawbacks would be the non-functioning slide lock and take-down lever and this model is not field-strippable.  Also, the actual P320 provides interchangeable grip panels for adjusting the pistol’s width to fit the owner’s hand.  Not so with the SIG Air P320.

The stick magazine rides in the front of the grip ahead of the CO2 cartridge chamber.  It springs out smartly with a press on the magazine release found in the same location as the firearm.   The unique thing about this magazine is that it is belt-fed and holds 30 rounds of either pellets or BBs.  The Double Action Only trigger exhibits a definite “stacking” feel through the firing cycle due to the process of advancing the belt-feed mechanism, but this subsided slightly as the pistol and magazine went through the break-in period.  The P320 sports a rifled 4.75-inch barrel and I prefer not to shoot BBs through rifled barrels, but this is a dual ammo pistol if you prefer to shoot both.  BBs would definitely be easier and faster to load, but at least you have 30 rounds available before you have to think about reloading.  I put both flat-nosed wad cutters as well as pointed pellets through the P320 and other than leaving a couple of “failures to launch” behind in the magazine, it fed well.  Testing on a 75 degree day at 6200 feet in altitude, I was getting around 80 shots per CO2 capsule.  A big cautionary note here: the all metal slide blows back with authority, however, by using a portion of the CO2 to cycle the action it lowers the shot count per CO2 cartridge.  As with any CO2 powered airgun, too low a pressure will cause a pellet to lodge in the barrel leading to a condition that could prevent removal of the magazine.  Since this gun is not field-strippable, a serious jam could require the pistol to be shipped back to SIG Air for repair.

Accuracy of the P320 was reasonable for a gun in this price range.  I would call it “plinking accuracy” and totally suitable for keeping rogue soda cans from becoming a threat.  Rated by SIG Air for 430 fps, my results were more sedate at 340 fps using 8.5 grain H&N Excite Spike pointed pellets.  Still it was a great little plinker and appeals to the collector in me.

The MSRP on the P320 is $119.99 and it comes with a one-year warranty from SIG Air.  For more information on the P320  check out this page on the Airguns of Arizona website.

 

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

I first saw this interesting new air rifle at the annual IWA exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2017. Then it was called the Nova Vista HP-M1000. It impressed me as one of the two most innovative airguns introduced at that show. The other was the FX Crown!

Below, that’s Mr Zhu, the designer of the Nova Freedom, showing me “his baby” at that show.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Now this multi-pump PCP air rifle is available in the USA. It’s being imported by the distributor American Tactical and you can buy it from Airguns of Arizona. Its name is the Nova Freedom.

Firstly An Overview.

Of course, the idea of a PCP air rifle with a built-in hand pump is not new. Other air rifles have been produced in the past with a similar basic benefit – not needing to carry a separate tank or pump with you to refill your PCP air rifle in the field. The FX Independence springs to mind, of course.

However, the American Tactical Nova Freedom is a new model with some distinctly different engineering and it’s selling for just $379.95. Both .22 cal and .177 caliber models are available.

Below a Leapers Bugbuster scope is a good match for the Nova Freedom.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

The manufacturer is claiming some pretty impressive specifications for this air rifle. Apart from the built-in handpump, the American Tactical Nova Freedom can be filled from a HPA tank. Maximum fill pressure is 3,600 PSI.

There’s an adjustable, two-stage trigger and two power levels settable by a rotating knob.

Pellet feed is via a Marauder-style 10-shot magazine or single shot tray with side lever cocking. And yes, the 10-shot magazine is very similar to that found on the Benjamin Marauder and Umarex Gauntlet. In fact, they’re interchangeable.

Muzzle velocity for the .22 cal version is given as 900 fps or 700 fps – depending on power adjuster setting. In .177 cal, the claim is 1,000 fps or 800 fps.

 

Before Going Any Further…

Yes, the Nova Vista is inexpensive.

Yes, it’s rather “blocky-looking”.

Yes, it’s not designed or manufactured in Europe.

But don’t knock this one until you have tried it!

It is in fact a very capable all-round air rifle that – I believe – will surprise you with its capabilities.

Real World Shooting.

As supplied, the Nova Freedom is hard-hitting and accurate with mid-weight and above lead pellets.

If you’re hunting, set the gun to High Power and be prepared to pump every 5 or 6 shots. We found it produced 29.7 Ft/Lbs in .22 caliber with JSB Jumbo Exact pellets. That’s 965 FPS, higher than the manufacturer’s claims and very decent power!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

Before shooting it, I expected the Nova Freedom to be rather “clunky” and unsatisfactory to shoot – entirely because of the built-in pump. But that’s actually not the case.

In fact, I found it comfortable and very stable to shoot offhand by holding on to the pump handle and bracing my upper arm against my chest, as shown in the photographs. The pump handle can be locked closed to avoid inadvertent operation in this kind of of use.

For target shooting or plinking, Low Power still gives plenty of FPS and a remarkable 20 good shots between pumping.

 

Pump And Trigger.

The built-in hand pump definitely works!

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

This means that owners of the American Tactical Nova Freedom can do without the cost and inconvenience of a separate HPA hand pump. In addition, it can be filled from an external tank or HPA hand pump if required, however, if you prefer.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

It also means that the user is able to re-fill the Nova Freedom while in the field. This overcomes the inevitable air anxiety (“Do I have enough air?”) that every PCP owner has experienced at one time or another.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom we tested had a trigger pull averaging 2 Lbs 10 Oz.

This trigger is a two-stage design, but the first stage was almost undetectable, feeling more like a little slack on a single-stage trigger. However, the trigger release was quite predictable and consistent. And it can be adjusted…

Adjustments for sear engagement, pull weight and pull length are all accessed from outside the gun using an Allen wrench. The instruction manual supplied with the Nova Freedom gives clear instructions for making trigger adjustments.

The American Tactical Nova Freedom - A New Multi-Pump PCP Air Rifle

 

I’m Convinced!

If you like this concept, there’s nothing else to touch the Nova Vista in the market at anywhere near the price. The only downside is a slight increase in bulk and weight compared to a conventional PCP.

Try it. I think you’ll be impressed too!

Stephen Archer is the Publisher of Hard Air Magazine.

If you have an aversion to snakes I’m going to ask you to buck up and read on so I can relay info on one of the MTC scopes named after vipers.  MTC Optics is a British scope maker around for about a dozen years now and part of the corporate group that owns Breda shotguns and Daystate airguns.  It is a company that was started by shooters to provide optics for shooters by a man named Gary Cooper.  The model I’ve worked with is the Mamba-Lite in a 4-16x42mm configuration with a low-profile side turret for parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity.  The body is a 1-inch aluminum tube sporting a matte black finish and the scope weighs in at 20 ounces.  The Mamba-Lite offers multi-coated optic glass for brighter edge-to-edge viewing and a red illuminated reticle. The scopes are made to MTC’s exacting quality standards and designed for use with any caliber.  Normal scope care is all that is required for maintenance; such as cleaning the outside with a soft cloth and using high quality lens cleaning products.

The reticle design is called the SCB2 (mil) and stands for: Small Caliber Ballistic Reticle (type 2) but can certainly be used with larger calibers and is especially appropriate for long range applications as the reticle is in the second focal plane so the mil spacings remain “true” at the highest magnification.  Additionally, ½ mil aiming points have also been incorporated into the reticle.  Only the center of the reticle is illuminated and operated by a microswitch on the parallax turret under a waterproof rubber button.  Minor pressure on the button for 2 seconds turns on the power and there are 6 illumination levels that get brighter with each press of the switch.  Turning off the power is accomplished by pressing the button and holding for 2 seconds, retaining the illumination setting for the next time it is powered up.  Something they appear to have left out, however, is an auto-shutoff so remember to check illumination is off before you store your rifle back in the safe.

A feature I particularly liked were the Patent Pending spring loaded, rotatable flip-up lens covers.  Sometimes fumbling with lens covers that close by snap fit or friction fit can be frustrating and even require two hands to open in order not to pull the covers completely off the scope.  Not so with these covers.  They also stay open at your choice of 90 or 180 degrees and can be locked down in the position you choose.  Why this is important involves the other nifty feature incorporated into the rear cover – a magnifying lens.  When flipped to the 180-degree position, it provides an easy to read heads-up display of whichever turret markings you have it aligned with.  Of course, if using it on a center fire rifle you would be well-advised not to leave the rear cover open to the 90-degree setting as heavy recoil may lead to an unwanted scope bite.

Pricing from www.airgunsofarizona.com is $399.00 and the scope comes standard with a 1-year warranty.  That can be extended to Lifetime, per the U.S. website, by registering it with the manufacturer within 30 days of purchase.  AofA also carries the Sportsmatch scope rings recommended by MTC.  Sportsmatch U.K has been making scope rings for over 45 years and these aluminum rings retail at $37.00.

The Mamba Lite is a quality scope made by MTC Optics

First Of All, Someone Threw Down A Gauntlet…

Around a year ago, the Umarex Gauntlet started shipping. That was a big deal because – for the first time – a regulated, magazine-fed, shrouded PCP air rifle was available at the ground-breaking price of $300. Well, actually $299.99.

Cue for some rapid developments in the low-price PCP airgun world!

Now we see one of the first responses to the Gauntlet thrown down by Umarex. It’s the Benjamin Fortitude air rifle.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

As with the Gauntlet, we have a $300, regulated PCP which delivers 60+ shots per fill, uses a 10-shot magazine feed and offers backyard friendly sound levels. Both have similar muzzle velocity capabilities and reassuring multi-year warranties.

So which should you choose? That’s a great question!

Let’s Look At The Fortitude In More Detail…

The Fortitude looks something like a cross between a Benjamin Maximus and a Marauder air pistol, with a regulator built-in. You can see how it compares to the Maximus in the photograph below. (Both air rifles are the same length, perspective makes that look less obvious).

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The breech looks very similar to that of the Marauder air pistol. However, there’s clearly some differences as the Fortitude uses the 10-shot Marauder rifle magazine, rather than the 8-shot mag from the Marauder pistol.

Crosman has always had a core competency in re-using existing parts to build new products. Why design something new when there’s a perfectly satisfactory part already in existence? That’s very sensible engineering, so it would be no surprise to find that the new Fortitude uses many parts that have been proven in previous models. Doing so reduces development time and risk, while keeping costs down.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Compared to the familiar Marauder air rifle, the Benjamin Fortitude is a much lighter, less bulky air rifle. It weighs about 2 Lbs less than the Marauder rifle and just 5 Ozs more than the single-shot, unregulated Maximus. This means that it feels light and handy to shoot.

As with all other Crosman and Benjamin PCPs, the Benjamin Fortitude is manufactured in the USA at the Velocity Outdoor headquarters in Bloomfield, New York.

Velocity Outdoor? That’s the new name for the company formerly known as Crosman Corporation. Don’t worry about it, the Crosman and Benjamin airguns you know and love are still the same…

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The Benjamin Fortitude we tested shot at around 750 FPS with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain pellets – in .22 caliber, of course. That’s just under 18 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy. The gauntlet we tested gave 805 FPS, 20.75 Ft/Lbs with the same pellets.

These JSB pellets also gave the best accuracy of any we tried. Few will find that a surprising result!

And the Benjamin Fortitude was impressively consistent. In fact it gave the lowest average Standard Deviation FPS of any air rifle we’ve ever tested. At any price!

So does that make it better than the Gauntlet? Well, that depends…

First The Fortitude.

The Fortitude is a much smaller, lighter air rifle than the Gauntlet. It has much better natural pointing capability and is a breeze to carry on a hunt.

The Fortitude is manufactured in the USA. The Gauntlet is built in China. For some that will be a big deal, for others not so much.

The Benjamin also has a 5-year warranty, compared to the 3-year coverage of the Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet Strikes Back.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Unfortunately the Fortitude needs a stock with an adjustable cheek piece. I got a chin weld, not a cheek weld when shooting it! The Gauntlet has an adjustable comb to the stock which is much better.

And the Gauntlet’s trigger is also superior. True, it needs some adjustment but this is easily done with setscrew adjustment of pull weight, sear engagement and overtravel all available once you pop off the stock.

The Fortitude’s trigger is non-adjustable and the sample I tested had an average pull weight of five and a half Pounds. Ouch! Yes, there are some fixes for this to be found online, but it’s starting waaaay behind the Gauntlet.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

And then – although both have heavy bolt actions – the Gauntlet’s is much easier to operate. The bolt handle is longer and larger, there’s more space to avoid skinning your knuckles on the scope and the pull effort is less.

The Gauntlet is slightly more powerful also.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

For $300, both the Fortitude and the Gauntlet are great choices. It’s almost too close to call. Your decision will depend on which features are most important to you.

It’s great to have choices!

 

Stephen Archer is the publisher of Hard Air Magazine.

Extreme Benchrest is coming! The 8th annual Extreme Benchrest Competition will be held from Oct 11th-14th at Rio Salado Sprtsman’s Club in sea, AZ. This is the premier airgun competition of the year drawing in top shooters, manufacturers, and airgun celebrities from around the world. All will be competing for over $19,000 worth of cash and prizes as well as the coveted title of Extreme Benchrest Champion!

 
This years Extreme Benchrest has a few exciting changes from previous years. The new “One Gun” competition is being introduced. This award will be given to the competitor that has the highest combined scores over 4 different events using the same gun/scope/caliber. A shooter will really have to be “one” with their rifle to win this! Also, the 25m competition has ben replaced with a 50yd competition. Some other rule changes relate to the speed silhouette competition which should keep it very exciting for everyone!


Are you going this year? If so, I’d like to share a few tips that I’ve learned over the years. Whether you’re a spectator or a competitor, bring sunscreen, a good hat, and a good pair of sunglasses. Eye protection is required at all times around the shooting range and you will get asked to leave if you don’t have some type of eye protection.
There will be places to sit in the shade and Airguns of Arizona rents a great big outdoor air conditioner to help keep everyone cool.
Bring some extra pocket money. There will be cold drinks and lunch for sale during the competition. And, don’t forget about the raffle! You don’t have to be a competitor in order to enter into the raffle. And, you could win something really great!
If you want to take a sneak peak at how the competitors are doing during the match, you’ll want to have a good pair of binoculars or spotting scope.


Past years have always been pretty hot with 90º to 100º temperatures. Be prepared to be out in those temperatures all day.
As a competitor, I have found a few things that have made competing a little easier and more convenient. First on my list would be a fold up cart that I bought from Walmart for about $50. It really helps to have something to tote your shooting bags, rests, and rifles from the parking area to the benches all at once.
Next on my list would be a butt pad. The stools provided by the range for us to use are sometimes not tall enough and they’re certainly not padded for comfort! Having something soft to sit on can make your competition time a lot nicer.
Pellets! Bring plenty of pellets. The Airguns of Arizona store is closed during the competition. So, if you run out of ammo to shoot, it could put you in a pretty bad situation. Most shooters will be happy to lend a helping hand to a fellow competitor but, it’s best to avoid running into a situation like that.
Bring a towel. The benches we shoot off of are made from trex decking and it can be nice to have something soft to lay your elbow on or to lay your rifle on during casing and un-casing. Also, if you didn’t bring a butt pad, you can fold it up and use it for a seat cushion.


If you’re using a mechanical magazine, I’d suggest bringing at least one spare. You would be surprised at how often unexpected breakdowns happen at competition! The Airguns of Arizona van will be there with an assortment of tools and some parts. They are there to help everyone to keep shooting and having a great time!


There will be plenty of air at the competition. So, you don’t have to bring your own bottle unless you want to. Personally, I have always brought my own bottle so that I can practice all I want at the practice range, and so that I don’t have to wait for one of the community bottles to become available. Airguns of Arizona will have a few compressors at the range. If you decide to bring your own bottle, they’ll be happy to refill you. Thanks AoA!
A small cardboard box can come in handy as a makeshift practice target. Sometimes, you just want to set up your own target at a certain distance and having a cardboard box to shoot at can make it quick and easy.
I also try to save up a decent amount of “unexpected spending money.” You might see something at Airguns of Arizona, before or after the event, that you just can’t live without. 😉 I can tell you from personal experience that exact thing happens to me every year! lol
I hope to see you all there having a great time!
Happy Shooting!
Tom