by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
It’s taken me awhile to get back to this pistol because I injured my hand, so I couldn’t fill the Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol from the hand pump for a couple of weeks, but last Friday I was at it again — probably for the last time. You may remember that I discovered that the AT P1 likes a fill pressure of 3,200 psi — which is sort of ironic in light of several recent reports I’ve done. This time, I used the Hill pump to fill the gun to that pressure to see if there are 10 good shots on a fill. That was the problem before — the circular clip holds 10 pellets, but the gun didn’t seem to want to shoot more than 7 of them on a single fill of air.
I decided that instead of wasting time with a lot of different pellets, I would concentrate on the one good pellet that I knew gave the best accuracy. That’s the Beeman Kodiak. First, I filled the gun to 3,200 psi, then loaded the clip and inserted it into the gun. Someone asked me how I held the gun to shoot it, given that it’s scoped with a Leapers UTG 3-9X40 AO rifle scope. The eyepiece has to be held within 2-3 inches of the eye in order to see the image. There’s a way to hold the gun that uses the scope as one of the handles, and that’s what I did. I photographed it for you, so you can see it as I describe the hold.
I hold the back of the scope at the eyepiece and let my hand separate the rear of the scope from my sighting eye by the required distance. My hand is pressed against my safety glasses to maintain the separation. The weight of the pistol rests directly on the bag, so all my other hand does is keep the pistol steady. With this hold, I can squeeze the trigger without moving the gun.
This hold is one I learned while shooting the LD Mark I pistol from Tim McMurray. That’s a Crosman Mark I Target pistol that Tim converts to add a longer bafrrel, a CO2 tank hanging down from the grip and a rifle scope mounted on top — just like this one. With the LD, I rested the external tank on my chest and held the scope like you see here. That gave me near-rifle accuracy.
The result is a steady hold — especially when you consider I’m shooting only 25 yards. I don’t recommend holding a recoiling firearm pistol this way, but you can get away with it on a PCP.
All targets were shot at 25 yards. The first target looked very good until the final shot. I could see that the pistol was grouping low and to the left, but all I was interested in was the size of the group. It could always be moved later with a simple scope adjustment. The group that formed looked very encouraging until the last shot, as I said. I could clearly see that one go high and into the center of the bull, ironically enough. But when I walked downrange to examine the target more closely, it wasn’t as good as it had seemed. A line of four shots appears to the right of the main group, and they’re strung vertically up to the center of the bull. The last one is the highest one. I never saw the other 3 shots in the string, so they could have been any of the preceding 9 shots. All I could see through the scope was the large group that formed at 7 o’clock on the edge of the bull.
I guess this first target took the wind from my sails. It was no better than any of the previous targets shot with this pistol. My idea that a higher fill pressure would keep 10 shots in a tighter group was bogus. But I still had time on the range, so I thought something else was in order. I adjusted the scope higher and to the right just a little, to correct for where the Beeman Kodiaks had grouped. Then, I loaded the gun with 10 JSB Exact Monster pellets. The Monster pellet weighs 25.4 grains, making it even heavier than the .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak. And it’s a JSB. I wondered if this might be the pellet that turns things around for the AT-P1 pistol.
Alas, it wasn’t. It turned things around, all right, but not for the better. The pellets were all over the place! In the end, 10 of them printed a group measuring 1.933 inches at 25 yards. It’s more of a full-choke shotgun pattern than a group shot from a rifled barrel!
Now, I was really downhearted. I switched back to the Kodiaks and give them one final try. The gun was, again, filled to 3,200 psi, and 10 more pellets went downrange. This time, the results were not as good as the first time. Ten pellets made a group that measured 1.211 inches between centers. It was higher on the target and also centered better, which proves my earlier statement that the group can always be moved by adjusting the scope, but things were not getting better.
Outcome and final evaluation
I put a lot of time and energy into testing the Hatsan AT-P1 pistol. The reward was not worth the effort, in my opinion. While I agree that Hatsan does know how to make a fine precharged air rifle, the AT-P1 pistol is not as refined as the rifles they make. It’s too large and too coarse for what it delivers. I wanted it to succeed because there aren’t that many nice PCP pistols to choose from, but the test results do not live up to the hope.
I think that if you’re interested in an airgun like thi,s you should look at the AT-P2 pistol, which comes with a shoulder stock. That way, you won’t have to learn how to hold the gun like I did here. As long as you know how few shots you’re going to get on a fill of air (7) — and you manage that, you’ll be fine.