by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Surprise number 2
- RWS Hobby
- Air Arms Field domes
- H&N Baracuda
- Cocking effort
- Trigger pull
Today we look at the power of the .22-caliber Air Arms Pro-Sport underlever air rifle. When I unboxed it I was amazed that the bluing is as deep and lustrous as ever! Air Arms hasn’t lost sight of what made them the top spring gun company in the world — their quality! Nobody can look at this air rifle and not be impressed! Not only is the bluing deep and flawless, the beech stock is finished just as well. Instead of the skip-line checkering that’s found on a TX200 Mark III these days, the Pro-Sport has a different type of skip-line checkering, and it is a unique variation. It’s laser-cut of course, but I defy anyone to prove it! It looks like genuine hand-cut checkering. I say it has to be laser cut because the rifle doesn’t cost enough to pay for hand-checkering.
The Pro-Sport checkering is a unique pattern of skip-line checkering. The diamonds look like they have been pressed into the wood, but the scroll lines look cut, so I am thinking they did it with a laser.
Surprise number 2
I couldn’t resist cocking the rifle and shooting a pellet. I did try to load a .177 until I remembered that this is a .22. Cocking was hard, just like I remembered, and, although the spring is strong, the main reason for hard cocking is that the fulcrum is located way back near the trigger. Also, this is a brand new air rifle and it needs to be shot some to break it in. After 300-400 shots the cocking should smooth out, though I doubt the effort will decrease. I’m going to measure the effort to cock the rifle for you today.
HOWEVER — and this is a big however — When I cocked it the first time I didn’t pull the underlever back far enough to set the safety! And, when I put the underlever back to be stored in the forearm, it wouldn’t go all the way in! This is very common with a new Pro-Sport.
Is it a little hard to tell the difference between a safety that is unset and one that’s set? That will come with familiarity with the Air Arms spring rifles.
I tell you this because a couple people have reviewed their new rifles on the Pyramyd Air website and criticized them for not cocking all the way and setting the safety. They don’t seem to appreciate that closely-fitted metal parts need to wear in over time before they work smoothly. An analogy would be when you put new street tires on your car. They sound so quiet and feel so smooth on the road. A year later they have hardened up and sound like all other tires. The manufacturer can do nothing about that because if you wanted tires that were always soft and quiet your mileage would be reduced from 60,000 miles to perhaps 5,000 miles — maybe. Nobody wants that. My point is, learn how a quality spring gun behaves as it breaks-in and stop fussing about something you won’t notice in a few weeks.
The Pro-Sport is sleek, there’s no getting around it. Not only is the underlever hidden in the forearm, there is no ratchet mechanism on the right side, because this rifle has no ratchet. There is no annoying three clicks as the sliding compression chamber is withdrawn. But there is still an anti-beartrap, so the rifle cannot be uncocked. Once it’s cocked it has to be shot.
This is velocity day, so let’s get started. I will test it with three pellets — light, medium and heavy.
First to be tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They averaged 760 f.p.s. in the Pro-Sport. They fit the breech about right — not too loose and not too tight. The low was 751 and the high was 764 f.p.s., so the extreme spread was 13 f.p.s. Not bad for a rifle right out of the box!
At the average velocity the Hobby pellet generated 15.27 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The firing behavior for this pellet was smooth.
Air Arms Field domes
Next to be tried was the 16-grain dome called the Diabolo Field from Air Arms. They fit the breech very loose. The average velocity was 616 f.p.s. and the spread went from a low of 604 to a high of 627 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 23 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 13.48 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. And the action buzzed when these were shot.
The final pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda with a 5.50mm head. These fit the breech snug, which is how I like them to fit. This 21.14-grain pellet averaged 580 f.p.s. in the Pro-Sport. The low was 575 and the high was 585 f.p.s., so a spread of 10 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generated 15.79 foot-pounds at the muzzle. Heavier pellets usually generate less power than light ones in spring rifles, so I think from a power standpoint this is a Goldilocks pellet.
The cocking effort measured 48 pounds of effort. The scale’s needle spiked over 60 pounds during this cocking, but that was entirely due to some stiffness in the mechanism — just what I have been talking about. Cock it fast and the effort stays around 48 pounds.
Now, the cocking effort is something you will notice and though it may smooth out it probably won’t get a lot lighter. I hope to do something about that by tuning the rifle for smoothness and lower power. I know lower power is anathema to most shooters, but that usually disappears when they first cock a gun that’s set up right.
The two-stage trigger, as the rifle came from the box, needed 6.7 ounces for stage one and 14.8 ounces to release the sear. Stage two is crisp right now. If I didn’t want to show you the trigger adjustments I would leave it exactly where it is. But the Air Arms trigger is an advance over the Rekord design, drawing on the German pattern and refining it to be more adjustable and sensitive. That will be in the next report, so for today I’m leaving the trigger as it came.
There is a lot to like in the Pro-Sport. The finish is excellent, the trigger is set up right from the factory, the firing behavior is smooth. But there are also things that can be better. The cocking is not only heavy, it’s awkward because of the location of the fulcrum. And there is still some vibration with certain pellets that I’m sure I can get rid of.
Of course the next step will be to mount a scope and test it for accuracy. Then it’s on to the tuning. We have a lot more to come with this one!