by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Hatsan Speedfire
Hatsan SpeedFire Vortex breakbarrel repeater.

This report covers:

  • I like the design
  • Velocity and power
  • Easy to load
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Discussion
  • H&N Baracudas
  • Feeding
  • Summary

Today we learn about the velocity of the new Hatsan SpeedFire Vortex multi-shot rifle. As you remember from Part 1, this is a repeating breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. The one I’m testing is a .22, but there is also a .177 available.

I like the design

For starters, I like the design of the SpeedFire’s magazine. It doesn’t sit out naked, nor does it stop you from closing the barrel after it is empty. I’m referring to many bolt-action PCP repeaters that cannot close their bolts on an empty magazine. That does prevent you from dry-firing but also forces you to remove the magazine after it is empty. I prefer to be in control of the airgun at all times.

Velocity and power

Today is the day we test velocity and the SpeedFire gives us something to test. The SpeedFire manual lists the muzzle energy of the .22 at 20 foot-pounds and the Pyramyd Air description shows it as 21 foot-pounds. Today we find out which is right. Let’s get started.

Easy to load

My first comment is the SpeedFire rotary magazine is very easy to remove and load. To remove it from the rifle, just press a button on the left side and it pops up. Then loading is a breeze. From one to 10 pellets (12 in .177) go in easily as you rotate the magazine between your thumb and fingers. There is no turning the cover or loading the first pellet upside-down. I like that. It makes shooting single shots a breeze.

Air Arms Falcons

The first pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon. Okay — I have zero experience with repeating breakbarrels, so I’m just going to tell you what happened. I don’t know why it happened — it just did!

In the first string the first 4 shots were slower than expected. This .22 SpeedFire is supposed to be at least a 20 foot-pound rifle, but the first shots with the 13.43-grain Falcon dome were all in the high 600s. If 671 f.p.s. is the speed at which the weight of the pellet in grains equals the energy it produces in foot-pounds, the first 4 shots were around 13+ foot-pounds! Then shots 5 through 10 sped up to over 700 f.p.s. where I expected them to be.

I will show you the first three magazines-worth of shots with Falcons and then we’ll talk.

Shot…….Vel1……..Vel2………Vel3
1…………680……..DNR………692
2…………661……..694………..698
3…………679……..691………..723
4…………666……..701………..695
5…………723……..721………..722
6…………DNR……722………..737
7…………DNR……722………..739
8…………748……..717………..739
9…………749……..746………..741
10………..731……..739………..703

DNR=did not register

Weird, huh? I thought two things. Either the magazine is somehow involved or the SpeedFire just doesn’t like Falcon pellets. I won’t give you an average yet. I switched to the second magazine and shot a 4th string of Falcons.

Shot…….Vel
1………..705
2………..719
3………..695
4………..713
5………..753
6………..764
7………..731
8………..745
9………..766
10………766

Discussion

The second magazine exhibited some of the same slowness characteristics on the first several shots, but not to the same extent. I think this might be a magazine break-in issue.

If I take 720 as the average velocity the Falcon pellet generates 15.46 foot-pounds at the muzzle. However, look at the second magazine. The average for it was 736 f.p.s. See the higher velocities at the end of the string? If we take 750 as the average the energy increases to 16.78 foot pounds. All of this is just conjecture at this point, but I think it’s representative of where the rifle is going.

H&N Baracudas

Let’s look at a heavier pellet — the H&N Baracuda. I had an old but sealed tin of Beeman Kodiaks (same pellet as the Baracuda) that weigh 21 grains even, as all Baracudas did in the past, so I shot them instead.

Shot…….Vel
1………..505
2………..464
3………..478
4………..451
5………..457
6………..531
7………..451
8………..446
9………..536
10………505

Okay, there is something wrong with this particular SpeedFire. The average speed for these 21-grain pellets was 482 f.p.s., which is a muzzle energy of 10.84 foot-pounds. The velocity went from a low of 446 to a high of 536. That’s a difference of 90 f.p.s. I’m ending today’s test at this point and sending the rifle back to Hatsan.

Feeding

I won’t comment on the trigger or the cocking effort today, but I will report that the pellets fed just fine. There was never a bobble. I think the SpeedFire’s loading mechanism works well. I just got one that has a powerplant problem.

A reader asked if the front sight was a problem when cocking the rifle and today I found out that it isn’t. Your hand naturally grabs the barrel behind the sight, so it cocks with the same effort whether the sight is up or down.

Summary

I have already contacted Hatsan and this rifle is going back, along with a sample of Falcon and Kodiak/Baracuda pellets for them to test in it. When I get the replacement I will resume the test with velocity testing.