Air Arms S410 sidelever - Part 5
by B.B. Pelletier
An announcement before we begin. Pyramyd now has the Beeman P1/HW45 pistol shoulder stock back on the shelves. It comes in a choice of four different woods - walnut, cherry, oak and birdseye maple - and I'm told that some types are in very short supply, so act quickly if you have a preference.
Today, we'll take our last look at the Air Arms S410 sidelever PCP rifle. Scott298 asked me to shoot it at 75 yards for you and I agreed. Let's see how that went.
Setup for long-range air rifle shooting
You don't just switch from a 50-yard zero to 75 yards by adjusting the scope. Pellet drop is too great even with a super-powerful magnum to do that. And, with the S410, I was already pushing the limit of the elevation on the scope, so I had to make a correction to the adjustable mount. Fortunately, I had used B-Square adjustable rings to mount the 6-18x Swift scope, so all I had to do was adjust them higher in the rear.
Unfortunately for me and for this report, I live in an area where the wind never stops blowing. We get almost no calm days here, and shooting at long range with a pellet rifle demands a calm day. On the days when the wind was calm enough, I was doing other things I couldn't cancel, so it took a lot longer to get the weather needed for this test. Wind of even 5 miles per hour can blow a pellet off-target by 5" and more at 75 yards, even when the rifle shoots very fast and you use heavy pellets.
The day I finally selected was not dead calm. There are fewer than 10 such days every year where I live, and they aren't even days. They are short pauses during a weather change. I've caught them before, but only by luck. The day I finally settled for had a light breeze of 3-5 mph with intermittent lulls. I tried to shoot only during the lulls, but sometimes the wind was blowing at the target but calm where I was. When that happens, you do the best you can.
I had to test a lot of pellets before I found the right one
I brought several pellets, because what's accurate at 35 yards isn't necessarily the best at 75. Once I got the rifle striking close to the bullseye I didn't bother adjusting the zero, because I was racing the clock before the wind picked up. The Crosman Premiers that did so well in Part 3 refused to group for this test, so after about 7 attempts, I switched to JSB Exacts. They did better, but still gave groups of two inches and larger, so I switched again. The Logun Penetrator 20.5-grain pellet is not one I tested earlier, but it was next. For the first three rounds, I thought I had a winner. Then, shot No. 4 opened to 1.392" and it was over. The group ended at 1.741". I didn't try them again.
Kodiaks to the rescue!
Beeman Kodiaks were the best pellet in this rifle on this day. The first several groups were promising, at around 1.5". Then I put all my technique together and waited for perfectly calm air. The best 5-shot group of the day measured 1.069". It's not a bragging group, to be sure, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. I then shot two more confirming groups that measured less than 1.5" and wrapped things up. It took more than three hours to get these results, as I am leaving out all the setup work required to get on paper at 75 yards.
Is the S410 accurate at long range? Certainly. Is this the best it can do? Absolutely not. On a perfect day, that best group size could probably be reduced by at least 40 percent. Am I going to do it? No.
The question you have to answer is whether shooting at long range is something you want to do. Your rifles have to be sighted in for that range, which makes them useless for anything closer, so this is a sport you are either dedicated to or you don't do at all. If you just want to try your luck at it, though, you can make a dark aimpoint on a large sheet of paper and allow 12-18" below that for the pellets to register. That way, you can keep your 0-50 yard zero and still play at the longer ranges.