Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30-caliber pellet rifle: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Pyramyd Air Cup Part 2

Hatsan 135 30 caliber rifle
Hatsan’s .30 caliber 135 QE Vortex is a large breakbarrel — both in size and caliber.

This report covers:

  • Today
  • The range
  • The test
  • Pellet drop
  • Predator Polymags
  • Shooting form
  • JSB Exact 50.15-grain domes
  • Discussion
  • JSB 44.75-grain domes
  • Discussion 2
  • Summary

A lot of time has passed since I did the Part 4 report of the Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30-caliber pellet rifle. I also linked to the Pyramyd Air Cup, Part 2, because that’s where I got to see and shoot Rich Shar’s highly modified Hatsan 135 that’s also a .30 caliber spring rifle. If you don’t read any of the other previous reports I linked to, read that one, because his rifle is the highest evolution of the one I am testing today. It could probably be made as a custom modification, but given what Rich had to do to build it, I think it would cost more than the original rifle by a significant margin.

Today

Today I take this rifle out to 50 yards for you. While there won’t be a lot of targets to look at, I have a lot to tell you. Let’s get started.

The range

Texas had record rains the week before I tested, and a heavy rain just two days prior to my test. My regular outdoor range is in a low area that floods quickly so I couldn’t go there. Fortunately the good folks at AirForce Airguns have several ranges on their property that they allow me to use. However, even these places that are normally dry were soaked with puddles and mud. So I had to set up to shoot very carefully. When all was said and done I shot today’s test at 47 yards, which was the best I could manage, and I was still in the mud at the bench.

Hatsan 135 on range
I’m shooting from my DOA shooting bench, which saved the day! You can’t see it, but my feet are in mud.

The test

I decided to shoot 5-shot groups because the 135’s cocking effort is just too hard for me. And even that was challenging, as you will read.

Pellet drop

I was warned by many shooters to watch out for the pellet drop. The rifle was sighted-in at 25 yards and I was shooting at 47 yards, so I anticipated a 4-inch drop. Wrong! The drop was more like 7 to 8 inches, depending on the pellet. I guess I should have put the scope in a major drooper mount for this test. It was shimmed, but the drop was still so great that there wasn’t enough upward adjustment to compensate.

However, here is the deal. Unless you plan to shoot your .30 caliber breakbarrel at 50 yards all the time, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of a drooper mount. Instead I would limit my shots to 35 yards and less. I almost ran today’s test at 35 yards, because I think the rifle is best-suited to that distance or less. But that would have left many unanswered questions, so I pressed on to 47 yards. I shot at the top bulls and let the pellets drop to the bottom bulls. The groups remain the same, regardless of where they are on the paper.

Predator Polymags

At 25 yards, Predator Polymags were one of the two best pellets, so I started with them. However, I could not get them to shoot at 47 yards! I shot up an entire target sheet just experimenting with them, using different holds, including resting directly on the sandbag. Finally it dawned on me that I was not using a proper artillery hold. When I started doing that, the groups tightened up. Before I show you the Predator group, though, we need to talk.

Shooting form

I have told you that I was in mud at the shooting bench. Every time I needed to cock the rifle, which was every shot, I had to stand up from the shooting bench and step away a little to make some room to break the barrel. Then I cocked the rifle, which is beyond my ability to do with one hand. Perhaps 20 years ago I could have cocked it one-handed, but it now takes two hands to finish the cocking stroke. That effort, plus getting up and down each time had my heart pumping hard. The crosshairs were moving one and even two inches on target for every shot. I tried every trick I could think of but there was still too much movement. So, some of what you are about to see was me and not the rifle — maybe as much as half.

The best group of Predator Polymags went into 2.822-inches at 47 yards. I’m not happy with the group and I note that there are three shots at the upper left that measure 0.874-inches between centers. I think the rifle is more accurate than I am able to shoot it.

Hatsan 135 Predator group
Five Predator Polymag pellets went into 2.822-inches at 477 yards, with three of them just 0.874-inches apart.

JSB Exact 50.15-grain domes

The second most accurate pellet at 25 yards was the JSB Exact 50.15-grain dome. These tightened up a bit for me. Five went into 1.691-inches between centers at 47 yards. This time I got two groups of two pellets that were each touching, with the last pellet off by itself. This was a more vertical group than the Predators gave me, and again I feel I was partly to blame for the group’s size.

Hatsan 135 JSB 50 grain group
The 135 put five JSB 50.15-grain domes into this vertical 1.691-inch group at 47 yards.

Discussion

At this point in the test I was getting discouraged. I know when it’s the gun and when it’s me, and most of this was me. The 135 wasn’t getting a fair shake. And speaking of the shakes, the cocking was wearing me out. The last pellet to be tested was coming up next and it was the one that turned in the largest group at 25 yards. What would it do today?

I had to use a perfect artillery hold for this. I noticed several times that I had been pulling the stock into my shoulder, and that was throwing things off, so I watched that carefully this time. As I noted in the past, this rifle is twitchy!

JSB 44.75-grain domes

This time I shot the JSB 44.75-grain dome that dropped below the aimpoint the most of all three pellets — a full 8 inches! The second shot went right next to the first one though, which surprised me. The third shot went higher than the first two, but it was still close. Shot four landed below the first two, so I really concentrated on the last shot. Shot five went into the group with the first two shots and I had the first decent 47-yard 5-shot group from this rifle! The five shots measure 1.267-inches between centers, which was the best group of the day.

Hatsan 135 JSB 44 grain group
JSB 44.775-grain domes that were the worst at 25 yards were best at 47 yards. Five in 1.267-inches.

Discussion 2

Like I said before, I don’t think I would use this rifle at this distance. I certainly would not hunt with it at long range. A small error in range estimation will result in a gross error on target, even if the scope is set up to hit dead on at 50 yards.

At 30 yards and less, though, this rifle will knock Mr. Squirrel right out of his tree! It hits with a heck of a thump, both because of the power and also because of the size of the pellet.

There is a great similarity between shooting this air rifle and what the buffalo hunters did in the American west in the 1870s. They shot at such distances that if their range estimates were off by only a little they could miss their large targets altogether. The learned techniques such as shooting at the dirt at similar distances, at places that were away from the animals, to see where the bullet was striking, before engaging a buff. They laid down on the ground to steady themselves and also to keep the rifle’s report to a minimum. And their range estimation skills were very refined through constant practice.

Summary

I was surprised by the performance of the Hatsan 135 in .30 caliber. I initially thought it was just a braggin’ rights airgun, but after shooting it I see that it has a definite purpose for hunting. In my opinion this rifle is not for me, but that’s more because of who I am than what the rifle is.

The Hatsan 135 is well made, smooth shooting and reasonably accurate. On the minus side it’s big, heavy and hard to cock. The pellets are expensive, but nothing hits like a .30. So, if you want one, go for it!

48 thoughts on “Hatsan 135 QE Vortex .30-caliber pellet rifle: Part 5


  1. Sorry to hear you were having a workout with this rifle, but it’s the simple laws of physics.

    I have a question.
    When I was young, I was given a hand me down Benjamin 312. I was too small to pump it like my older brother or dad did so I developed my own style.

    I would put it between my legs, rest the barrel against my chest and up to my right shoulder.

    Then open the pump arm, and pull it closed with both hands.
    I always pumped 10 strokes per shot,(I didn’t get a manual with it and didn’t know to stop at 8 pumps)

    I would shoot a tin on a Saturday afternoon.

    When I got a little older I was given a break barrel, I found it easier to cock the same way, pulling the barrel down with 2 hands and the compression tube against my chest.

    Fast forward 35 years, I picked up a nice 312 in trade for doing some computer repair.

    I could pump it like a adult, but always reverted to my old way of pumping.

    My question, could this 2 handed technicque Work for this rifle?


    • 45Bravo,

      That is about what he is doing or at least what I have seen others in videos do. They anchor the butt in the leg / groin area and wrap their arms around this honker and give ‘er all they got. Looks like too much of a workout for me.


      • I will admit to only watching one video on this gun and yes I will agree with you that is too much work.
        if I’m going to shoot for horse power I’m gonna let some type of a gas do my work for me.


      • I would not like the rifle on my leg then try to cock it. I think the best way is to stand up put the butt on the ground against your left foot grab the barrel with both hands and just press it down almost like using a pump. that way your whole upper body is used and you can bend a little at the waist and you never single out any muscle group like just your right arm. I have used that to fire 100 rds or more


        • Mildot52,

          Well, that might be fine for plinking and target shooting but that might not work out well when you are trying to get a second shot on a bushy tailed tree rat. I like sproingers, but I think this is too much for this old, fat, bald geezer to have fun with.


  2. BB,
    If you’re talking squirrel an R7 or R9 will take them all day 30 yds. Look at what happens across the pond with 12fpe.

    This is nutrea, opossum and racoons at 30 yds clean.


  3. BB
    Just got to ask. You said you shimmed the scope and didn’t use a drooper mount. The question is. Do you know if you are towards the up limit of adjustment on the scope turret?

    You know what that does. Maybe the group’s could tighten up more. But also that group that is a bit over a inch is respectable at 47 yards. I believe anyway.

    And yep I think of the Buffalo hunters often when you shooting. Imagine a 8″ diameter dirt clod out at 100 yards with a air gun. Wonder what distance that would simulate to a full size Buffalo.



      • BB
        Then that’s kind of a surprise the gun done that good.

        Wonder what would happen if you screwed the turret back down to the center of it’s travel. Then have a target placed up high on your backer. Then a paper lower and see where the group’s fall and what size they end up being.

        I know your probably done with the work out. But wanted to bring up the point that the gun may actually shoot even better groups if the scope was attended to.


    • GF1,
      While not a buffalo but a bucket. Someone came up with a “Quigley” match. It was calculated that a 1 1/2″ high bucket shaped target shot at 55 yards, equals the bucket in the movie at 550 yards.
      I seem to remember that a 45-70 target rifle and load would have mid range trajectory of 28 feet above line of sight.
      Those folks knew their rif!es.

      T.J.


      • TJ
        Yes they did know their rifles.

        And yep I like that Quigley match. Pretty cool stuff too.

        The feild out at 250 yards is soaked right now from the rain we have got lately. I was shooting my.25 Condor SS yesterday out there. Not that I was trying to hit anything. I was just checking my holds though and was fun to watch it send a stream of water about 10 foot in the air when I hit. And it was a very calm warm day yesterday. Was perfect for it. I didn’t want to stop shooting.



    • GF1,

      I thought of the Quigley Challenge this morning. Another thing is mini sniping. The guys who came up with it calculated that shooting at a 9mm casing at 35 yards with 10 meter air rifles was equivalent to shooting at a man sized silhouette target at 1000 yards with their rifles.


  4. B.B.,

    I am glad to see it do this well at 50. Thank you for the hard work. Looks like a nice racoon size critter getter at 30 and under. A drooper mount and fine mil-dot sounds right.

    Q: Does the bench flip over for left shooters or is there a L and R model? Mine is square at the back with over hang, but have been thinking of going cut-away. Maybe even make one. My bench stays up all year now as it is.

    Good Day to one and all,….. Chris



    • Chris, I just saw your comment from yesterday about a stuck CO2 cartridge in your 2240. Mine do that from time to time, too. With the end cap off, I point the gun at the floor, cock the gun and dry fire. The striker impact knocks the cartridge loose and it slides right out of the tube. Maybe this will work for you, too.


      • Derrick

        Was the CO2 cartridge empty?

        I had this happen once when I left a partially filled cartridge in for a couple of months. Finally removed it with super glue and a shaped wooden dowel. Centrifigal force thumping failed. I am careful to not leave a CO2 cartridge in for more than 2 weeks now but your trick is one I will remember.

        Decksniper


      • Derrick,

        Thanks for the tip. It appeared that the piercing pin/into cartridge was the stick point. That is with Pellgun oil being used. Repeated muzzle thumps on carpet (like 100) finally did it. There is 0% wiggle to the cart. when installed. I will try that next time.

        Chris


      • Derrick,
        My 2260 gets stuck like that. I too discovered your trick of dry firing the gun towards the floor. The c02 cart comes out every time for me doing that.

        Doc


  5. B.B.

    I think I have finally found out why people use PCP’s. I think .30 caliber in a spring gun is just foolish. 8 inch drop at 50 yards-which really is an 8 inch drop at 25 yards due to being sighted in at 25 yards.
    Maybe anything over .25 cal should be left to PCP’s?
    Good report! Hope you are not to sore from all the cocking?

    -Y


  6. BB,

    I know it is just druthers, but no matter how much I like fooling with sproingers, I’d druther carry my .357 RAW around in the woods than this. I guess I have just gotten too old, fat and lazy.


    • RR
      A compressor and good shooting pcp will do that to you.

      And I’m more than good with that.

      Get out the old hand pump once and a while and it makes you remember how easy it is with a compressor. Pcp’s are really enjoyable guns to shoot if you got that compressor.


  7. B.B>,

    I believe the issue of pellet drop with this air rifle is due to the pellets weighing too much for their caliber. Only a few brands make them, and they only make them at roughly 45 and 50 grains. A lead pellet that weighs between 35 and 40 grains should be possible in .30. That would make a significant difference in POI. And the velocity increase should still keep the air rifle above 30 fpe.

    Otherwise consider a hunting-only air rifle that can’t be adequately accurate out to 50 yards. There is an application for it, but it is a pretty narrow niche.

    Michael


  8. Hi BB, I’m glad you mentioned drooper mounts as I was wondering about the diana drooper mount from utg with the scope stop ledge that overhangs the factory rail. I am trying to scope a diana 24 that shoots 550fps with 8.4grain JSB exacts

    I’m not sure if this rifle droops or not. I sighted in at 8 yards with my old centerpoint 4×32 and only required Minor windage adjustment at 25 yards to hit shotgun hulls every shot from the bench which was as I expected. When I tried 50 yards I misplaced my JSB exacts and shot with old style h&n field target long distance 9.1 grain pellets which chrony a much slower 470 fps and my holdover was about 18-24 in I had to sight on the lettering at the top of the target backer to hit a 2 in bill at 50yds a couple times (more like mortar fire and luck for me )

    However I would like to mount a larger scope and found the idea of using a picatinny rail appealing as that’s what is on most of my other rifles.

    1) Would using a drooper mount on a gun that has minimal to no droop have any adverse effects?

    2)What ring height would you recommend for a 44mm objective scope on a diana 24 with utg droop mount?


    • Red Beard Forge,

      No, a drooper mount will not have an adverse affect on accuracy. You just end up with more elevation adjustment. As long as the scope objective bell clears the spring tube you are okay.

      You will need either medium or high rings, unless the drooper is high enough. Then medium mounts will probably work.

      B.B.


    • Red Beard Forge,

      There are some mounts out now that have incremental droop adjustment. You can adjust the mount for your range, leaving the scope adjustments alone.


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