Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The dinosaur speaks
- My Pro-Sport
- Why the change of heart?
- But .22?
- Why .177?
- What is a Pro-Sport?
- Action is the same
- The safety button may seem iffy
- The action
- Fit and finish
- The trigger
Today I thought I would do something different for a change and talk about an airgun! And, not just any airgun but one I swore to never report on again — the Air Arms ProSport. And not just any ProSport, but one in .22 caliber.
I have tested this airgun in the past. I last tested the Pro-Sport in the summer of 2011. That one was a .177. This one will be different.
The dinosaur speaks
I am a dinosaur — set in my ways and fixin’ to vanish with the next major astroid that hits the earth. I’m saying that I have opinions and despite all I do they often come to the surface. They are doing it today because besides having tested one 8 years ago I have also owned a ProSport in the past.
I liked the TX200 so much that I bought a ProSport at a time when I could ill afford it. I bought it because it was Air Arms’ homage to the Mach II rifle that was hand made by Ivan Hancock. I shot one he made for Trooper Walsh and was so taken by its ease of cocking and ultra-smooth performance that I had to have one. But, if the $500+ for the Pro-Sport of the day was hard for me to swing, the $2,000+ of Trooper’s handmade rifle was entirely out of reach. So I settled, thinking that a company that made the TX200 and the Shamal that I also owned couldn’t go far wrong with anything they made. That was both right and wrong at the same time.
The Pro_Sport I owned was a .177 for reasons I will address in a bit, and I put it up against my TX200 Mark II. I linked to a Mark III above, but in the day when I owned the ProSport only the Mark II was available. Mine had been tuned by Ken Reeves and was one of the smoothest spring-piston air rifles I ever shot until the Mark III TX came out. That new model was just as smooth as my Mark II right out of the box and was a little more powerful, so I let the older gun go and have been the head cheerleader for the Mark III ever since.
My Pro-Sport was about the same power as my Mark II and it was just as accurate. That’s the good stuff. The bad stuff was what it took to cock the rifle. It wasn’t much harder than the TX200 to cock, as measured on the bathroom scale, but the fulcrum for the underlever cocking is in a place closer to your shooting hand, where it FEELS much harder! A couple weeks ago I got mixed up and said it was 10 pounds harder to cock because of the ant-recoil sledge system, but the Pro-Sport doesn’t have one of those. I was confusing it with the TX200 SR (semi-recoiless) that is no longer made.
Why the change of heart?
A few weeks back I was at the range with Jeff Cloud and got to shoot his .177 Pro-Sport that had a Vortek tune. It cocked much easier than I remembered and it shot as smooth as any TX200. Jeff had it tuned to just under 12 foot-pounds, as I recall. I realized then that it was time to evolve, so I shed my spiked tail in favor of being able to run faster bipedally in the upright position.
Okay — here is the other strange thing about this report. I have stayed away from .22 caliber in Air Arms springers (except for the breakbarrel Pro Elite that I owned in both .177 and .22). Why? Snobbery, I guess. To me owning a TX200 Mark III in .22 is like mounting a trailer hitch on a Porsche Carrera Turbo. Yet the Pro-Sport I requested for this review is a .22. So— I’m getting a twofer — a rifle I wasn’t planning to review in a caliber I would never select. And the astroid hit the Moon, granting me a few more millennia!
I like .177 best for this rifle because of the power level. It’s not a mega magnum and can be tuned to be even less, which makes it super smooth. At less than 12 foot-pounds the .177 has a flatter trajectory than a .22, so it’s better for field target. And field target is all I think about when it comes to rifles like the Pro-Sport.
So why did I choose it in .22? First, because I have already tested it in .,177 but more importantly — second, because there are a lot of people who ask me about a TX200 in .22 and I have been snooty to them. This is my chance to set things right.
What is a Pro-Sport?
The Pro-Sport is an underlever spring-piston air rifle whose underlever is concealed within the forearm of the stock. There have been other spring rifles with such a feature like the BSA Airsporter and the Hakim, but they aren’t common. The Pro-Sport’s lever is so well hidden that you have to turn the rifle sideways to see it.
The underlever on the Pro-Sport is aluminum, making the rifle slightly lighter than the TX. In beech it weighs around 9 lbs., compared to the TX that weighs several ounces more. It’s not a light air rifle by any means, but it holds well and probably won’t bother most adult shooters.
Action is the same
Other than the hidden underlever, the action of the Pro-Sport is the same as that of the TX. A sliding compression chamber pushes the piston back to cock the rifle.
The safety button may seem iffy
Because of where the underlever fulcrum is on this rifle, you don’t have a lot of strength left when the rifle finally cocks. It is common for new owners to cock the rifle without setting the safety because of this. Veteran shooters often do it as a matter of practice because few shooters want the safety to come on automatically, but those who do are perplexed when it doesn’t go on. The solution is to cock the rifle with more force than you think is needed and the safety will set every time. If it doesn’t, there could be an over-lubrication issue (too much grease) that is quickly fixed. I will show you how when I take her apart!
Since this is essentially a TX200, I plan to disassemble this one and tune it for you. The TX/Pro-Sport action is one of the simplest spring piston actions in existence, and this is too nice an opportunity to pass up. If you are ever going to tune a spring gun — this or the TX are the ones to learn on. I will absolutely not be going for power in my tune. I will be going for maximum smoothness, and that only comes at powers of less than 12 foot-pounds.
Fit and finish
Like all Air Arms airguns the Pro-Sport is flawlessly finished. The wood stock will fit most people very well, though it has no adjustments. The grip is very vertical, which most riflemen prefer. The wood is finely finished and beautifully sculpted. Even the beech stock is a thing of beauty, but the walnut stock is usually gorgeous, if not spectacular.
The metal is beautifully polished and deeply blued. In all, the Pro-Sport is an heirloom airgun.
Ivan Hancock designed his handmade Mach II trigger based on the Rekord. Air Arms then designed a production model of Ivan’s trigger. I apologize to both Ivan and Air Arms if my facts and timeline aren’t correct but it has been over three decades now and my rememberer isn’t what it once was.
At any rate, the Pro-Sport has the same trigger, which is delightfully adjustable. I will probably write an entire report just on adjusting this one.
The Pro-Sport is sleeker, a little lighter and just as powerful and accurate as a TX200 MarkIII. I would still recommend the TX to shooters because it’s $100 cheaper, but many shooters like the looks of the Pro-Sport so much that the price is not an issue for them. After shooting Jeff Cloud’s Pro-Sport I now know that it can be tuned to cock just as easily as the TX, and that was my biggest reservation before.
I also hope to do some things with this Pro-Sport that I haven’t done before. This rifle will turn out to be a relatively lower-powered .22, and I have a couple of those that are smooth and accurate. My goal is to make this one the best of all.
The Air Arms Pro-Sport is a premium spring-piston air rifle. I have been asked repeatedly over the years to review it and now I am — for the second time. This time it’s a .22!