Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The plan
- BB’s quick tip
- The test
- JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
- JSB Exact Jumbo
- Beeman Devastator
- JSB Hades
- H&N Baracuda with 5.50mm heads
- The million-dollar group
To my US readers around the world — Happy Thanksgiving!
Today I shoot the first accuracy test with the Air Arms Pro-Sport. It’s the first of many because of all that I have planned for this rifle
After this accuracy test, that I will explain in a moment isn’t a real accuracy test, I plan to tear the Pro-Sport down and tune it for ultimate smoothness. If I can get it up to 12 foot pounds that will be fine, but a smooth-shooting rifle that is light to cock is all I’m after. The energy is a bonus. I’m also going to devote a report telling you how to adjust the trigger. This Air Arms trigger can be adjusted beyond a regular Rekord for lightness and crispness.
I will also use this pro-Sport as a testbed for the Meopta MeoPro Optika6 3-18X56-scope I have been testing on the Air Arms S510XS Ultimate Sporter I have been testing. Meopta thinks this scope is rugged enough for springers, but they don’t have experience with spring airguns, so I volunteered to be a test subject for them. Many people think that the heavy recoil of a .50 BMG rifle is severe, but the two-way recoil of a spring-piston air rifle can be worse. It’s different than firearm recoil and that’s what makes it so hard to handle. The Pro-Sport is smooth enough that I think there will be no reason for concern, but that’s why we test, isn’t it?
Once the rifle is tuned I plan to test it for accuracy again in my conventional way — with 10-shot groups. Today is just getting me a baseline against which to compare. I want to know if this Pro-Sport is as accurate as I have come to expect from Air Arms. If I’m lucky I will also find one or more pellets that are worth testing further.
The Meopta scope is going to be used in a different test soon, so I didn’t want to mount it on the Pro-Sport today. So I mounted the new UTG 4-16×44 AO OP3 Compact Scope that was last used on the FX Dreamlite rifle. This scope is a beauty, and I had it jacked up in the back with shims because the Dreamlite I’m testing is such a massive drooper. So I knew it would be more than good enough for this Pro-Sport. And it was!
BB’s quick tip
The Pro-Sport is a recoiling rifle that needs a scope stop. The scope I’m using was formerly on a PCP that did not need a scope stop, so I adjusted the stop pin up and out of the way. Rather than to take the scope out of the rings to lower the scope stop pin in the rear ring I used a trick I’ve been using for years. I put a separate screw (actually another scope stop pin) in the rear hole on the Pro-Sport, then I slid the rings back to it and jammed it tight before tightening the rings down. Recoil moves scopes and mounts to the rear on rifles like the Pro-Sport, and this pin in the hole prevents that. It isn’t pretty and I wouldn’t leave it there permanently, but for today’s quick test it works well.
This is my quick scope stop. The loose screw is in the back hole on the Pro-Sport, and I have used the fat end of the screw for more bearing surface. The rear ring is pushed against it and eventually the recoil will tighten things further.
Today I shot 5-shot groups from a rest at 25 yards. Only five shots because the Pro-Sport is so hard to cock and also because I wanted to test a lot of different pellets. Until I tell you differently all shots were fired with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag. Let’s get started. Once I sighted in I made no more changes to the scope until the final group.
I shot two shots from 12 feet and determined that the rifle would be on paper at 10 meters. Then I backed up to 10 meters and refined the sight picture with several more shots before backing up to 25 yards.
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
The first pellet I tested was also the one I sighted-in with, the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. Five of them went into a group measuring 0.402-inches between centers at 25 yards. While that is a wonderful group for many spring-piston air rifles, for this one it’s only okay.
JSB Exact Jumbo
Next up were 5 JSB Exact Jumbo pellets. They made a group that measured 0.379-inches between centers at 25 yards. Now we are talking. I expect even better, but this is a pretty good start.
Next I tried a group of obsolete Beeman Devastator pellets. They were a trick hollowpoint pellet that never made it. Five of them made a 0.531-inch group at 25 yards. They are not right for the Pro-Sport, plus they were very hard to load.
The next pellet I tried was the new JSB Hades hollowpoint. This pellet weighs the same 15.89 grains as the JSB Exact Jumbo, so it should perform close to the same, but not in this Pro-Sport. Five went into 0.766-inches at 25 yards. Yes, four of them are in 0.385-inches but I watched them shoot and didn’t get a good feeling that they were right for this rifle.
H&N Baracuda with 5.50mm heads
The last pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda with a 5.50mm head. I had a strange occurrence with this one. The first pellet went to the left of the target, but the second one landed in the black almost three-quarters of an inch away. Then pellets three through five went to where the first pellet hit. It was so strange that I thought perhaps the wrong pellet had gotten into the tin for the second shot. So I shot a 6th pellet — vowing that if it went where the other 4 went I would call it a group. It did and I’m calling it a 5-shot group that measures 0.454-inches between centers. Not great but not shabby, either.
The million-dollar group
At the end of the test I wanted to do something to verify that this Pro-Sport is just as accurate as I believe it to be. So I chose today’s most accurate pellet, which was the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo dome, and I adjusted the sights to get it into the bull. I didn’t want it in the center of the bull, as that is my aim point, and with this super-sharp UTG scope I can see it clearly.
For this group I used the artillery hold instead of resting the rifle directly on the bag. And I learned everything I needed to know from this one group.
The last 5 JSB Exact Jumbo pellets went into as group that measures 0.49-inches between centers. So what? I shot three smaller groups just today. Why is this one so good? I’ll explain.
The second pellet went through the first hole without enlarging it. The little devil standing on my left shoulder told me to take a picture of it and call it a 5-shot group. Fortunately for all of us, the angel standing on my right shoulder won out.
Shot three landed apart from the group to the left. It made the group as big as it is. Then shot four landed above the first two shots and I figured the artillery hold wasn’t working. But shot five passed through the hole made by the first two pellets, giving me a three-shot hole that measures 0.056-inches between centers. That told me two things.
First, the artillery hold is the best hold for this rifle, but I must not have been doing it the same way every time. Second, this Air Arms Pro-Sport air rifle is dead-nuts accurate! It’s just like a TX200 Mark III — and you know how I feel about them!
This is going to be a spectacular series because I’m testing a spectacular air rifle and I’m sparing no expense to doll it up with the best accessories and to tune it for the best results. I’m going to take my time doing this because I want to do it right the first time.
I had a lot of reservations about testing an Air Arms Pro-sport because of my history with them. But after shooting reader Jeff Cloud’s Pro-Sport, I knew they could be tuned to be fantastic. So I relented to the requests many readers have submitted over the years.
The Pro-Sport is a well-built spring gun that’s accurate right out of the box. It’s gorgeous to look at, it has a superb trigger and as you can hopefully see today it is accurate. And, to quote Al Jolson, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”