Hatsan Hercules QE .45 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Trigger pull
- Sight adjustments
- Only one bullet
- First target
- Second target
- Air still good
- Third target
Wow! This report has taken a long time to write. Today we will see the accuracy of the Hatsan Hercules .45 caliber big bore air rifle.
Several things conspired to make this one take so long. The gun gave me a couple problems in the beginning. One (the fill port cover) was due to my not having a manual, but a faulty circular clip caused another one. I have had this rifle out to the range no less than 6 times, but my forgetting to bring the proprietary Hatsan fill probe caused one of the delays. And the Texas winter this year was a hard one that cancelled many range days. However, I finally got the Hercules out for an accuracy test, and today you will see the results.
The Hercules is scoped with the 4-16X56 UTG Bubble Leveler scope, which I believe is the best buy in an airgun scope today. The optics are clear and sharp, and that internal bubble insures the rifle is not canted with every shot. Now that my cataracts are fixed I can see the bubble very clearly, though it is on the dark side.
I was at my gun buddy Otho’s house, because I needed full control of the range. The first shot was fired from about 15 yards and landed low and left on the target. I adjusted the reticle until the shot was in the bull then backed up to 50 yards for the test.
I did notice this time that the Hercules trigger breaks lighter than I assumed. I equated a big bore with a heavy trigger, but the Hercules trigger is light and crisp. That made it easy to shoot when the crosshairs were dead center in the bull.
The clarity of the scope helped me a lot. Initially I had mounted the rifle on a bipod, but as the range where I shot slopes down, it wouldn’t adjust low enough to get on target. So I used a bag rest instead of the bipod. That was perfect and I could really hold this big rifle still for every shot. That’s where I really appreciated the light trigger!
Only one bullet
If you have read parts 1 and 2 you know that the Hercules has only one bullet it can use. It’s a short .45 caliber bullet that weighs 169 grains, which is light for the caliber. They are sized 0.454-inches in diameter, which is not a size that is commonly available. It’s too large for a handgun and too small for a rifle. I was going to try some Cowboy Action Shooting bullets but they are only 0.4525-inches, and that’s too small to be accurate. In a big bore you want a bullet that’s at least bore sized or one-thousandth of an inch larger. So all testing was done with the Hatsan bullets that they call pellets.
After sight-in I topped off the rifle to 250 bar (3,626 psi) and shot this entire test on a single fill. The Hercules’ 1,000 cc air capacity gives you a lot of shots, and as we will see, the better ones are at the lower pressures.
The circular clip holds seven .45-caliber bullets, so each target has 7 shots. I had the rifle hitting inside the bull after sight-in, but, as you will see, the point of impact moves around as the pressure changes.
The first couple shots landed low and to the left. As I continued shooting, though, the rounds walked to the right, toward the bull. Shot 7 was in the X ring! I thought this boded well for the next clip of seven. The group measures 5.023-inches between centers.
The onboard air gauge showed plenty of air remaining in the gun. So I reloaded the clip with another 7 bullets and started my second round. That one was informative.
The first shot hit the target low — almost off the paper. That was surprising since the last shot of the pervious group had gone through the X-ring. But the next three shots climbed higher on the paper and the final three are in the bull. It isn’t as straightforward as I would hope, but the Hercules is becoming more accurate as the reservoir pressure decreases.
This group is too large to measure with my 6-inch dial caliper, but a ruler shows it to be 5-7/8-inches between centers. If we eliminate that first shot, the other six rounds are in 3.946-inches.
Air still good
I checked the onboard air gauge after this string and the needle was still in the center of the green. Although I have fired 14 shots on the fill, it appeared there were at least 7 more good shots remaining. That’s what a liter of air at 250 bar gets you.
I thought this might be the last clip of bullets I could get on this fill because as the air pressure drops in the reservoir each shot will use what looks like more of it on the gauge. In other words the gauge will now drop faster. As it turned out, I was right about that. But 21 shots on a fill of air is probably the record for a big bore airgun.
Well target three is the best one, but it’s still a bit strange. The first shot hit below the bull, then the second one hit at 9 o’clock on the bull. After that I could see no rhyme or reason where the shots were going. Some went high and others went low. In the end there were 7 shots 4.746-inches apart.
The air gauge needle was now very low in the green. There might have been one or two shots remaining, but not a full 7-shot clip. So, I stopped the test at this point.
I had hoped that this last group would be smaller. It was, but not by that much. I thought there might be a correlation between the fill pressure and the group size, because note how the bullets are now in line with the center of the target. But I have no explanation for the two separate groups — one high and one low. They are both very tight, so it’s exasperating.
This is my last test of the Hatsan Hercules. I find it to be a very large, heavy air rifle. It also offers more shots than any big bore I have tested to this point in time.
I don’t care for the fill port cover that slides open when the rifle is cocked. I would rather have a male Foster fitting so the rifle could be fill like most of my other PCPs.
The trigger is lighter and crisper than expected. There is just one bullet or pellet for the rifle, which limits your possibilities. However, with as many shots as it has, it would make a good big bore airgun for fun shooting.