Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Pro-Sport
Air Arms Pro-Sport.

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
  • Discussion
  • Summary

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.

My Pro-Sport

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.

But .22?

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!

Why .177?

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.

Pro-Sport lever down
The hidden underlever is pulled down and back like this to cock the rifle. The location of the fulcrum makes this harder to do than the TX200 lever whose fulcrum is farther forward.

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!

The action

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.

Pro-Sport walnut
The walnut stock can be striking, but this one is exceptional. They don’t all look this good.

The trigger

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.

Pro-Sport trigger
The Air Arms trigger seems more straightforward and simpler to adjust than the Rekord to me. It can be taken to an extremely fine level!

Discussion

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.

Summary

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!

62 thoughts on “Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 1

  1. B.B.,

    Seems the British have it right in limiting the energy to 12 fpe for springers. I can’t see a way to decrease the cocking effort except by decreasing the energy output. Putting a longer cocking handle would be detrimental to the aesthetics of this rifle.

    Siraniko

    PS: Your spell checker might be different but it appears you misspelled the word twice.
    Section: The dinosaur speaks
    I am a dinosaur — set in my ways and fixin’ to vanish with the next major astroid (asteroid) that hits the earth.
    Section: But .22?
    Last sentence: And the astroid (asteroid) hit the Moon, granting me a few more millennia!


    • 12fpe seems like kind of an arbitrary number though. I have two 97k’s 17 and 22. At this point both are about as smooth as each other. The 17 has a Vortek 12fpe kit, and the 22 a HO kit, at about 17fpe.

      I think the larger calibers can push more energy and keep things smooth. I have a few magnums that are all pushing over 30fpe and are decent. Like a .22 350 magnum and a .30 hatsan 135. Heck even the .25 Benjamin Springer is okay.

      Cocking effort for me isn’t usually an issue, I use two hands and put the stock on my chair usually.


      • Edw,

        As power goes up I see a corresponding increase in weight necessary to keep the felt recoil down. If anybody wants a lightweight springer they will have to give up on energy around 12 fpe I think. Certainly at 14 fpe and above the mass of the rifle contributes in controlling the vibration and recoil. I don’t doubt that a smooth shooting powerful springer can be made, it just requires some additional mass to keep it manageable. Then again it might be too heavy for me to lug around long distances and require me to take up some weight lifting.

        Siraniko


        • For sure.it seems the magnums, and FT rifles are all just a bit under 10lbs naked. The cheaper Springers I have that try to make a lot of power pretty much suck, and should be much lower powered.

          But I do think there is something to a larger caliber being smoother for a given power level. Perhaps the weight of the pellet, or larger transfer port…like I said my 97s are just as smooth, but with one at 12 and the other at 17.


  2. BB,

    Now that is a sproinger! As Siraniko points out, the Brits do know how to put together a sproinger. I had a chance to play with one of these for a little bit at a GTA Fun Shoot. I was almost afraid to touch it. The Air Arms sproingers are works of art. If you are going to own only one, an Air Arms sproinger should be at the top of your list. You may find it hard to drag it out into the woods though.


  3. B.B.,

    Soulless modern blowpipes like the FX Dreamlite leave me cold, but I go weak at the knees for a beautiful springer, and Air Arms sure do make beautiful springers!

    I recall as a youngster being mesmerised by their models in the pages of Airgun World magazine; the Bora, the Mistral, the Khamsin, and most of all, the Carmague (pictured), with its beautiful Tyrolean stock. Those were all the same tap loading sidelever rifle, but with differing barrel lengths and stock designs. The military-styled Jackal Hi-Power was another variation. They were all the stuff of dreams to my young mind, but well out of reach due to legislative, financial and geographic constraints.

    Would be great if you could get your hands on some of those old classics and give them the full B.B. treatment!



      • B.B.,

        I hope you find one at a tempting price. The old Air Arms springers are surprisingly rare on this side of the pond too. I guess their owners tend to hold on to them.



      • RR,

        I wouldn’t be averse to having a Dreamlite either. It seems like a perfectly utilitarian air rifle. Just that it’s a heck of a lot of money to hand over for something that looks like it was cobbled together from some plumbing supplies by MacGyver.


        • Bob,

          It may look like it is cobbled together, but a lot of R&D and design work went into it. Now as for the price, I too have a difficult time scraping that kind of change up. I would probably have to sell my HM1000X to buy one.




      • Siraniko,

        As long as it did not stick past the silencer muzzle it would be real nice and take the shot count way up. Of course if you are hunting you do not need that many shots.

        Something I did not know was that the HW110 series have polymer receivers. Being of the HW100 series it has a metal receiver.


        • RidgeRunner,

          If I read the specs correctly the BT011 HW100 Air cylinder for the Carbine is 220mm long and the BT014 HW100 Air cylinder for the rifle 320mm long. It might not protrude past the silencer but the silencer might interfere with the reservoir.

          Siraniko


    • RR,

      I have a pair of (traditional) Weihrauch HW100S rifles and the .22 is my all time favorite.

      Suppose that a bullpup would be easier to maneuver while hunting but I have never had an issue using a standard length rifle in spite of my preference to hunt rabbits in thick bush.

      I wonder about shot-count on the bull-pups small reservoir – with the standard reservoir, I get about 30 shots on a fill for my .22 and about 70 shots on the .177.

      Wonder why Weihrauch chose the HW100 breech block instead of the newer HW110 block. Guessing that the cantilever scope mount needs a metal base to support it.


      • Hank,

        I’d much rather have the metal breech anywho. I’m not completely sold on all that plastic. My experience is that plastic wears badly at times. The IZH 60 and 61 air rifles with metal receivers are much better.

        I want a small, light, compact air rifle in .22 that will travel easy, carry light and come up quick. I have long desired a Lelya. I have seen a Lelya a dude tacticooled. A nice little skeletonized bugger. Now there is the BP17. The potential is there.


        • RR,

          Just looked up the Lelya to check it out, seen pictures of them before …not my cup of tea.

          Been shooting the Maximus quite a bit – it’s nice and light and with the plastic stock I can drag it around with me while I am working outside and not worry about it. Would be nice if it was a repeater but it is ok as is.


          • Hank,

            I love my (now regulated) Maximus in .22. Like you,… it is my quick “grab and go” gun. I love the lighter weight and it points great. I would have to look at reviews on the Fortitude again,… but magazines can have their downsides. That said,… I would have gone for the Fortitude if both had been out at the same time. Oh well,……

            Chris


          • Hank,

            I myself have been thinking of a Fortitude. I would want to shorten the reservoir, barrel and shroud to just protrude past the end of the stock, making a carbine. Then rework the trigger and install the adjustable striker spring. It would be even lighter and more compact, plus with the regulator and the adjustable striker spring it could be tuned to top efficiency. It would have a lower peak power, but the Fortitude already has that versus the Maximus. If I can get 14-18 FPE from it I would be happy.

            Now the Lelya is already small and light with more power than that. It is a superb truck, pack, hiking air rifle. It is just expensive.


            • RR,

              If I didn’t have a Maximus then the Fortitude would be it for the “drag about” rifle that is always within close reach (you never know when a pack of feral soda-pop cans will attack!) when I am working outside.

              I like that the Maximus is light and convenient to carry (added a sling) but I find myself tensing up during extended off-hand plinking sessions. Think that I am missing the mass that helps keep things steady so I am tensing up to hold it still. I just put a couple of pieces of maple firewood aside for a stock for it – that should fix that eh?

              I prefer full length barrels in spite of their “inconvenience” and always thought carbines looked a bit odd. Heck, if I can manage a 6 foot longbow in the bush a full sized rifle is not going to be a problem. That being said, I ordered my Impact (.22 caliber) with the longest barrel available (700mm) ant the gun is still only 30 inches long – maybe I could get used to a Lelya. Donno.

              Sound like you really like the the Lelya … buy once, cry once – enjoy forever. 🙂 I always say that the cost of the gun (which you keep) is pretty low compared to the cost of the ammunition (which you “throw away” LOL!). IIRC you can swap barrels on the Lelya easily, makes the platform versatile.

              Too damp-cold and windy to shoot outside (winter is early this year) so I think I will do some 10 meter shooting indoors this afternoon.

              Cheers RR!


              • Hank,

                It was kind of nice around here today, so after I worked myself close to exhaustion on the honey-do I broke out my Izzy for a little pistol time.

                I have long air rifles. I was wanting to play with something short and sweet. It could also lay in the truck seat beside me.




        • Bob,

          If you are willing to spend the money, you can design and build a great trigger for bullpups. You may have noticed that many ‘pups are nothing but cobbled together rifles to get into the market. You can usually spot them as they have the cocking mechanism back against your shoulder. They usually have lousy triggers also. I call them 1st generation ‘pups.

          2nd gen ‘pups have had more engineering devoted to them and have the cocking mechanism located above the trigger. The trigger on these are usually pretty good also.

          We are now into the 3rd gen ‘pups. Several companies have been paying real close attention to them, constantly refining their operation and accuracy. The Lelya has become a superb little ‘pup. There is also the BP17. FX has constantly been improving the Impact, etc. and discarding older models that cannot keep up.

          Out of this gen has come the “semi-bullpup”. These are 1st gen ‘pups where the breech has been moved forward from the shoulder, allowing the cocking mechanism to be reached more easily. This also gives them a shorter trigger linkage allowing them to more easily and cheaply be designed to work better.

          If you ever have the opportunity to look at the trigger mechanism of a FWB300 you will be amazed at it’s complexity and also it’s length. “Just” turn it around and you will have an awesome ‘pup trigger.

          If you are not afraid to spend the bucks, you can build nice airguns. But then you have to sell them.


  4. I’ve had all of the Tx’s and ProSports…..let them go to fund other projects, (What was I thinking?)…..But they were all in .177………I am now reconstructing My old collection, only in .22. Your article seems serendipitous, Thank You
    Why .22?……my fingers have a hard time loading the .177 these days.
    I am finding that the Alloy Pellets really perform well…when zeroed at 30yds I’m with in 1 Inch of impact at 10 yds out to 40yds. Sig Sauer and Predator really have stepped up. I,m sure all of this is familar to a lot of people reading this.

    I read your BLOG first thing every day, looking forward to more info on the ProSport, Maybe you can test the Alloy’s when you get around to it for this project



    • Zermat,

      I agree with the point of .22 being easier to load the .177’s. .25’s are even easier to load!!! 😉

      I too am interested in the Sig pellets. Not so much the alloy ones,… but rather their newly launched lead ones. SIG seems to do everything right,.. so I have high hopes. The alloy ones seemed REALLY expensive last I looked. I shoot JSB’s most of the time by the way,.. so I do not shoot the cheap stuff.

      Chris


  5. BB ,

    The Pro Sport is definitely not a weaklings gun ! You have to follow all the way through on the cocking stroke to latch the sear and set the safety. I believe the Pro Sport is the best in 12 ft lb. tune due to the easier cocking effort . The 12 ft lb. kit is good also due to smoother shot cycle and less wear and tear on the internal parts . I have always enjoyed the looks of the rifle . In 22 makes a great small game gun , just a bit heavy for walking/stalking hunting . Oh well my 2 cents worth today .

    Gene


  6. Hey, BB.
    I didn’t think you were snooty to me at all a couple of years ago when I bought my TX200 in .22. Even though I told you I wanted a .22 instead of a .177, you offered to let me shoot your .177 just so I’d know how good the TX200 is as a springer. You’re too hard on yourself. By the way, the .22 is good also. Look forward to your coverage of the trigger.

    On another topic. The new Pyramid Air catalog #16 on page 20 says “How Barrels Are Rifles”. Rifles? Maybe Rifled.

    Pet peeve. Pyramid Air has quit listing all the pellets in the back of the catalog again with this issue. SURE MAKES IT HARD TO COMPARE PELLETS when wanting to decide on several different brands/head sizes. Surely a few more pages in the catalog are not that expensive to print. Just my rant. I brought this up with PA about the last catalog, but they just want to show other products.


  7. B.B.

    Since the Pro Sport and the TX200 are so similar, I’ll be watching this series with great interest!

    I lucked out when I traded my Hammerli AR20 for a .177 TX200 MKIII – that is the rifle shown on the DIY Range Box guest blog. TX200 is all tricked-out with aftermarket parts and (in addition to the standard beech stock) has a beautiful fully adjustable rosewood Ginb FT stock; several 12 ft lb kits were included in the trade so there are lots of bits and pieces to play with.

    I remember the rifle being extremely smooth and calm when I first tried it but I wanted to try it in its factory stock configuration so I put the original spring back in. Curiosity satisfied, I plan on going back to a 12 ft lb set up.

    Agree with Gene – I find the TX200 to be great (stable) for off-hand shooting but find it to be too heavy be carrying around hunting. Looking forward to this blog series as I want to set up the rifle for target and plinking use.

    Hank


    • Hank
      I think the Tx 200 has good balance so it don’t feel to bad when your out hunting with it.

      Try some hunting with a Diana 54 Air King and you will know what I mean. And I have had some heavy pcp’s too.

      What I say is it’s time to start lifting some weights and do some stamina training. Strap some 5lb. weights on each wrist and go about your daily routine. See what happens the next time you go out for a woods walk. It just might surprise you.


  8. BB,
    My ProSport actually shoots an H&N FTT 8.64 gr pellet at 872 ft/sec for 14.6ft-lbs of muzzle energy. Apparently it shoots so smoothly that you think it shoots under 12 ft-lbs!
    Jeff



  9. I’ll take the the .177 Tx right hand beech stock over the .22 caliber Tx 200 right hand beech stock I had.

    But most of all my .177 Walnut left hand stock Tx 200 I have right now is my baby. As in the way she looks and shoots. She’s so smooth and flat shooting and accurate it makes me feel like I’m shooting a nice pcp.

    And don’t get me started on .22 caliber over .177 for hunting because all three of the guns I mentioned took thier fair share of squirrels among the other .177 spring guns and pcp’s I have had over time.

    And BB the gun your reporting on today kind of reminds me of the Walther LGU I had that went to Chris. It was not in the higher power category put it was a smooth shooter too and accurate and cocked easy. It makes me want to try one in .177 just because I haven’t. I wonder if it would be as nice as the .22 LGU I had?


    • GF1,

      The .22 LGU was on par with the .22 TX in all ways. Most days,… they ran neck to neck on accuracy with the LGU winning out more often,…. as I recall. The TX definitely won out on woodwork refinement though.

      Chris


      • Chris
        And what’s funny is the LGU in .22 caliber you got from me was shooting 15.89 grain JSB’s at 595 fps. Don’t know how fast your .22 caliber Tx was shooting but the .22 caliber Tx I had was shooting the JSB 15.89’s at around 705 fps.

        And both compared to be pretty equal in shooting. The LGU was a bit smoother than the Tx though.

        I would like to get hold of a .177 LGU just to see how one would shoot in that caliber. Who knows maybe one day knowing me. 🙂


  10. B.B.,

    Errata:
    In: Why the change of heart?
    …. “I realized then that it was tine (time) to evolve, so ….”
    Also the Trooper Walsh you refer to: “I shot one he made for Trooper Walsh…” could that be none other than Walter Rudolph Walsh, R.I.P. late of Arlington, Virginia? I lived only a short distance from him for many years. A very interesting man to get to know!

    You have almost enabled me into buying a TX 200 MK III a number of times but my case of Darksideitis has allowed me to resist! I will be reading the rest of the Air Arms Pro Sport series with great interest and plan to go back and read the .177 report to be able to compare your current thoughts to your past opinions on the matter. Jeff Cloud’s comment on his smooth shooting rifle shooting “H&N FTT 8.64 gr pellet at 872 ft/sec for 14.6ft-lbs of muzzle energy” will only add to the overall comparison.

    You said, “My goal is to make this one the best of all.”. Does that include TIAT and perhaps some parts upgrades since you were still talking Tar back on the .177 write-up.

    Have fun getting aquianted with her,

    shootski


    • shootski,

      I fixed that error. Thanks.

      Trooper lived is Falls Church, VA. when I knew him. He is a herpetologist who raises venomous snakes for their venom. His father was a three-star general in the Army, and gave him the name Trooper.

      I just checked his Facebook page and his city of residence is listed as Arlington, VA. so you may be right. I never heard that name for him though. I only knew him as Trooper.

      B.B.


  11. This looks like a fine rifle. I had the TX 200 III in .22 and loved it. It does baffle me that given the shortened leverage,.. that they did not make the cocking lever more user/hand friendly. For example,… shorten the TX 200 lever,.. remove some more wood and hide it in the forearm. The set up on this one makes no sense to me. The lever looks just unrefined to me.

    Good evening to one and all,…… Chris

    By the way,… I do not recall B.B. ever trying to talk me out of my .22 TX 200 III choice. It could be??? that I had made enough of an impression at that early stage that he thought it would just be wasted breath/typed words? 😉


  12. I had a TX many years ago and now a Prosport. Like Zermat commented above, I also find these rifles easier to load in .22 cal vs .177. Looking forward to this series.


  13. B.B.

    What are the differences between the Mk 1, 2, and 3?
    Is it just stroke length? I hear that the Mk 1 is the smoothest of all.

    I shot a Pro-Sport at the range, borrowed somebody else’s gun. It is hard to cock!
    Heavy, short and stubby too….

    -Y



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