AirForce Texan big bore rifle: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
I found out after this was published that the scope is not included with the rifle.
This report covers:
• AirForce builds a big bore
• Cocking mechanism
• The trigger is gorgeous!
• Much more to come
The 2015 SHOT Show begins today, and our subject rifle is being revealed to the shooting industry. This is the airgun I have been teasing you with for the past 3 months. It’s a .458-caliber big bore from AirForce Airguns called the Texan.
I first shot this rifle while it was in early development last year. I was impressed by the accuracy, light weight and power; but the cocking effort was difficult. That got fixed so well that this has to be the easiest-cocking big bore on the market. You can cock it with one finger! But I’ll come to that. Let’s look at this remarkable new air rifle.
AirForce builds a big bore
The Texan is a .458-caliber single-shot rifle that cocks via a sidelever located on the right side of the frame. It weighs 8 lbs., 3 oz., which is light for its caliber and power. Given the physics involved, you can expect a fairly sharp kick when the rifle fires. It’s not heavy, but you’ll know something has happened.
The rifle is long, at 48 inches overall. The 34-inch barrel accounts for a lot of that, and I’ll explain the reason for such a long barrel in a bit.
In AirForce fashion, the reservoir is also the butt of the rifle. Although it can be taken off the gun, it normally remains in place all the time. There’s a fill nipple on one side and a small pressure gauge on the other. The pull is adjustable, from 13-7/8 inches to about 15 inches via a sliding buttplate. The buttplate can also be rotated to the right or left for some cast-on and cast–off adjustability.
The frame of the rifle is aluminum, anodized in a non-reflective matte black surface. The long, thin barrel sticks out the front of the frame an additional 9-5/8 inches.
The cocking mechanism deserves some explanation. On the first prototype, there was no mechanical advantage and the sidelever was very hard to cock! I remember thinking they would never get past it, but when I tested the rifle again several months later, the effort had vanished!
The Texan was designed on a computer-aided design (CAD) system. That saves time in many ways. It’s possible to operate some parts while they are still just concepts on the computer when a system like this is used. And, when a design seems good, the instructions to make the parts can be sent electronically from the designer to the CAD-driven machinery that will make them.
This is not new technology, but using it effectively is something that one company might do better than another. AirForce is heavily invested in such systems; and as a result, they don’t spend as many man-hours in the machine shop when it’s time to build something.
After loading a bullet, the sidelever is closed and you get another surprise. The lever goes back with very little effort! Somehow, AirForce has managed to take all of the cocking effort out of the process through perfect leverage! This act of cocking and loading the rifle, which is easier than cocking a Red Ryder BB gun, is so light and smooth that it sells the rifle to many who try it. My shooting buddy Otho told Yvette at AirForce that he wants to buy a Texan as soon as they come on the market.
The trigger is gorgeous!
Another thing that sold Otho on this rifle is the trigger. I can see why! It’s butter-smooth and light. But it’s a 2-stage sporting trigger — not a target trigger that’s adjusted too light. On my test rifle, the trigger broke cleanly at 33 oz. every time.
The safety is automatic, coming on when the rifle is cocked. It can also be applied at any other time. The safety blade comes back through the front of the triggerguard, where a forward flick of the trigger finger can take it off silently.
Much more to come
If you’ve already bought the color edition of Shotgun News that’s on the newsstands right now, you would see my complete report on the rifle. But I’ll put even more in this blog. Over the coming weeks, I’m going to reveal a big bore airgun that’s unlike any I’ve ever tested.
For instance, you can adjust the power, but it isn’t called that. It’s called “tuning for the bullet.” It works differently than any other power adjuster you’ve ever read about, because the valve in the Texan is unlike anything you’ve seen. I’ll get into that in Part 2.
For now, I’ll just say this. If you’ve been wanting a serious big bore airgun, by which I mean one that can take large thin-skinned game of bison and elk size, put this rifle on your short list. When you see the performance, you’ll understand why.
And I know that you want to know how much the Texan will sell for. I do, too.
Finally, there will be those who, upon reading about this rifle, will go off by themselves and start inventing entire new universes to live in. “When does it go on sale?” “Can you swap barrels?” “What other calibers does it come in?” “Can it be made into a shotgun?” And my favorite, “If evil alien machines threaten to take over the earth, will it transform into a giant superhero robot?”
All these things will be answered in good time, my friends. For now, let us bask in the glory of another fine big bore air rifle that’s coming to the market.