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Gun test: Air Arms Galahad

PUBLISHED: 16:21 12 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:55 15 December 2016

Worth the wait? Oh yes!

Worth the wait? Oh yes!

Archant

Terry Doe takes charge of the latest from Air Arms – not a bullpup, but the ‘sportpup’

I found the 'sporter hold'...I found the 'sporter hold'...

Since Project Galahad got the green light over two years ago, the preferred moniker for the rifle has been ‘sportpup’, rather than bullpup. Those years were packed with prototype after prototype, seven in all, until the state of sportpup development reached the level we’re at now. I tested several and gave Air Arms my seal of approval two versions before the company was satisfied, so I’m keen to see the finished article.

The rifle on test

My preference was for the black Carbine version over the walnut-stocked Rifle, and it’s the shorter of the models I’ve spent most time testing. I’ve broken with my personal prejudice, though, by opting for the regulated version. I’m not great fan of regulators, especially on legal limit sporters, but after trialling both actions, I’m happy to give the regged Galahad every chance to impress.

...every bit as stable as a more targetised stance...every bit as stable as a more targetised stance

Before I crank up the blessed chrono’ and check that controlled output, let me conduct a swift tour of the pre-charged pneumatic, 10-shot Galahad and its many features, starting with the synthetic, soft-touch stock.

The ambidextrous, thumbhole stock design comes courtesy of my great friend (and a bit of a hero, too), Nick Jenkinson, and it’s been translated into something tangible by Italian supremos, Minelli. The rubberised compound used is incredibly tough, waterproof and warmer to the touch than hard synthetic or wood. I even lobbed the rifle in a fridge for an hour and tested it from cold.

Short and to the point

Lever action. Just apply slight downward pressure...Lever action. Just apply slight downward pressure...

The Carbine Galahad’s action brings its overall length in at a handy 27.5 inches, without the purpose-designed Mini QTec, silencer Air Arms can supply as an optional extra. I’ve left off the mini moderator for this first round of tests, but I’ll add it later and see what difference it makes. It certainly affects the Galahad’s visual impact, so it will be interesting to see what it does for muzzle noise.

The standout feature of the Galahad’s action has to be that side-mounted cocking and loading lever. Not only is this drop-down lever designed around an ‘assisted’ action that flicks it to the vertical at the touch of the thumb, but it’s completely ambidextrous. The lever can be switched from one side of the action to the other using a single hex-wrench, and it takes less than two minutes even for a sausage-fingered wrench jockey like me.

At last, the Southpaws have been given full consideration, sort of. The standard Air Arms removable, rotary, 10-shot pellet magazine has to be inserted and removed from the left-hand side, but I’m sure our sinister airgunners won’t kick off about that.

...and the lever flips down...and the lever flips down

Galahad in action

First job is to install a full 210 bar charge (the non-regulated version charges to 190 bar), via the probe charger, accessed by pulling forward the end section of the rifle’s air reservoir. This section also houses the Galahad’s on-board pressure gauge. Charging should always be done slowly and gradually - and this applies to all PCPs – after which the charging hose is de-pressurised, the probe removed and the sliding end section firmly closed to keep out any particles of crud, the sworn enemy of the pre-charged pneumatic airgun.

On test and using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, the .177 Galahad Carbine returned a fine 108 shots, all within 9 f.p.s. or so of each other, at a muzzle energy of 11.6 ft.lbs. I’m assured the regulated .22 Carbine will serve up 120 shots, and the non-regged .177 a creditable 70 to 80, with its .22 counterpart providing 80 to 90. These are healthy figures but they mean little unless those pellets fly with dependable accuracy.

Now, push the lever forward...Now, push the lever forward...

A level believer

To cock and load the Galahad, you simply apply a little downward pressure to the side-mounted lever and it will sweep instantly to a vertical position. A firm forward push, before returning the lever to its starting position has the rifle ready to shoot. Subsequent shots are a matter of ‘push-return-shoot’ and a shot every couple of seconds is easy to achieve. Achieve it that fast only once, though, because such rapid-fire delivery will never exploit the Galahad’s potential accuracy, and believe me you’ll want to do that.

Accuracy

... then back to its starting position. Easy... then back to its starting position. Easy

The 15.5 inch Lothar Walther match-grade barrel fitted to the Galahad is of the very highest quality. Air Arms has a proven, trophy-winning history, so this company knows a thing or two about accuracy. The smarts from that history have been invested in the Galahad, and it shows.

I managed to find some lovely clean air for three straight days during the main accuracy-testing phase of this test, and I hammered the target cards relentlessly. Time after time, the Air Arms Fields drilled out the most satisfying clusters, right out to 45 yards.

Yes, the once-remarkable ‘one-holer’ has become commonplace these days, but it still brings a smile to my fat old face each time it happens.

For the record, I recorded 12, tip-of-my-forefinger-sized groups of five pellets at 35 yards, and a hat-trick of thumb-sized ones at 50. I’ll carry on hammering the target cards throughout the follow-up to this test, and I’ll keep tabs on the performance of that regulator, but as things stand, the Galahad is doing what it was built to do, and in style.

Mind the gap? Some do, others just get on and shoot itMind the gap? Some do, others just get on and shoot it

Handling

It’s a bullpup, certainly as far as its general handling, point of balance and stability goes. That balance point falls just behind the grip and with a ‘sideways-on’ standing stance, it puts it right down the middle of my body, directly between my feet. You want stable – this is stable. I tried using my slightly camp, pinkie-up target stance to maximise control during my shooting sequence but the Galahad seems just as solid when used in a purely sporting hold, with the leading hand on the fore end.

The cocking and loading system has to count as part of the rifle’s handling, and I can confirm all is well and it’s easy to become familiar with what is something entirely new to we sporting airgun types. Just develop the right amount of ‘push’ and a smooth return of the lever and you’ll get along just fine.

That spirit level is a great little low-tech featureThat spirit level is a great little low-tech feature

Yet again, extracting the most from the Galahad is a matter of setting it up to suit you, paying particular attention to scope position and the pitch of the butt pad. Spacers can be ordered to tweak the rifle’s pull-length, so consider that option, too. A

Verdict

I’m impressed with the on-aim stability of this compact rifle, its build and finish quality, its excellent two-stage, adjustable trigger, the precision of its regulator, the aforementioned accuracy and the way it looks. I see the function behind the form, and this rifle becomes ever more attractive the more I shoot it.

Next time I'll spin a Q-Tec silencer on hereNext time I'll spin a Q-Tec silencer on here

I particularly appreciate the built-in spirit level, and the fact each Galahad is supplied with two magazines. I like the flowing design of the aluminium action block, and how it supports a scope rail that’s not only the correct height, it can be ordered as a Weaver/Picatinny or a standard dovetail at no extra cost.

The three-way – up, down and sideways – butt pad really puts in a shift, and the cocking/loading lever system works flawlessly, once you get used to thumbing it into action. No one should have any problems with the 10-shot magazine because it’s the tried-and-tested example the company has used and refined for years. Keep it clean, don’t treat it mean, and that mag’ will serve you for ages, along with the rest of the rifle.

This knight is charging forward and Air Arms’ no-compromise development strategy seems to be paying off handsomely.

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Air Arms

Model: Galahad

Country of origin: UK

Price: £1,120.50 with regulator (£1,079 for non-regulated model)

Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot/single shot sporter/match rifle

Calibre: .22, .177

Cocking: Bolt action

Loading: Via removable, rotary 10-shot magazine, or single-shot tray

Trigger: 2-stage, adjustable for length of stage, let-off weight and shoe position

Safety: Manual, rotary

Stock type: Ambidextrous, thumbhole laminate, with adjustable palm shelf , 3D adjustable butt pad and cheek piece

Weight: 3.6kg (8lbs) Unscoped

Length: 698mm (27.5 ins)

Barrel: 395mm (15.55ins)

Fill pressure: 210 bar (non-regulated version 190 bar)

Shots per charge: 120 in .22 (regulated), 110 in .177 (regulated)

Variation over 60 shots: 9 fps for .177 on test

Average energy: 11.6 ft.lbs.

Options: Various models, plus choice of Picatinny or dovetail rails, FAC, high-power model, Q-Tec silencer and stock spacers

Beech/non-reg/12ft. lbs./.177 and .22 with Picatinny or standard dovetail: £1,059.00. With reg: £1,120.50.

Black soft touch /non-reg /12 ft.lbs. /.177 and .22: £1,079.00. With reg: £1,140.50.

Walnut/non-reg/12ft.lbs./.177 and .22: £1,180.00. With reg: £1,241.50

All include two, 10-shot pellet magazines plus probe charging adaptor

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