Gun test: Air Arms Galahad SR Carbine
- Credit: Archant
Dave Barham discovers a unique bullpup carbine, packed full of features, when he reviews the Air Arms Galahad SR Carbine
There seems to have been a trend over the past two months – not by choice, I must add, it’s purely coincidental – and I find myself testing yet another bullpup carbine rifle, this time in the form of the Galahad SR Carbine. I’ve wanted to have a go on one for ages, ever since our very own Eddie Jones first started raving about his. A quick call to Claire at Air Arms soon sorted that out.
I must also mention at this point that there is a range of Galahad HR models available, too, which are all FAC-rated from 20 ft.lbs. to 45 ft.lbs. There are four options here, with both standard-length barrels and carbines in both stock options. There’s a .25mm barrel option, too.
The first thing you notice about this rifle is the rather splendidly crafted stock. Unusual in appearance, it’s a design masterpiece. The one I have here is walnut wood, Minelli of course, but there is also a Soft-Touch black stock available.
All the walnut stock models feature the black soft-touch cheekpiece, which is adjustable for height. The butt pads are all adjustable for both left and right pivot, as well as up and down, plus you can add spacers between the pad and stock to give a longer pull if required.
Everything is ambidextrous, right down to the cocking lever, which can be easily moved to either side of the action, but more about that in a minute.
Now then, on to the weight and all things gravity. The Galahad stock is designed in such a way that the centre of gravity is just behind the pistol grip, which lends itself to excellent stability out in the field. I found that holding this rifle was extremely comfortable, especially for elevated kneeling shots as well as standing. It’s the ideal tool for hunting pigeons and squirrels! The design of this stock lends itself to many comfortable shooting stances, though, and it’s particularly suited to sitting with the fore end of the stock resting in the crook of your elbow.
The clever design of the ambidextrous pistol grip is yet another great feature and testament to the Air Arms design team. Not that you’d ever want to, but the design of this stock and grip would allow you to shoot the rifle single-handed with your arm extended, like a pistol – now there’s balance for you!
CHOOSE YOUR RAILS
The rifle sent to me has an 11mm dovetail rail fitted, but you can specify what you want because there is also a Picatinny rail available. The rail is bolted on to the top of the action via a couple of Allen screws, so it’s easily changed. You’ll also notice that there is a tiny ‘spirit level’ at the rear of said rail, which is a nice touch. I’m guessing this is an anti-cant measure to counter the raised sightline profile.
There’s an inverted dovetail rail built into the base of the fore grip, which sits flush to the stock. This can be used for mounting accessories such as a bipod or lamp, if required. I like the fact that it is recessed and flush, if you want to put your hand that far forward when shouldering the rifle you really don’t feel it – the centre of gravity dictates that you hold this rifle way behind this rail, though, where the chequered grip on the stock is.
The fill gauge situated at the end of the air reservoir is classic black and white – no red, green or yellow in sight. It reads up to 250 bar, but I’m reliably informed that you should only fill to around 210 bar. As long as people understand this, then that’s fine, but I’d like to see some sort of ‘warning’ line or maybe just a black blob past the 210 bar mark on the gauge to serve as a warning. It’s not only experienced airgunners who buy expensive rifles.
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The fill port is located underneath the metal shroud at the end of the air cylinder. Simply pull it forwards to reveal the fill port, then push it back when you’re done.
Both the .177 and .22 models come supplied with two of Air Arms’ excellent 10-shot magazines. The very same mag’s they use for the S410 and S510 ranges. They’re foolproof and very easy to load, simply turn the metal mag’ and drop your pellets into the holes – there are no springs or twiddly bits to worry about.
Inserting/removing the mag’ is as simple as I’ve ever encountered, too. Cock the rifle, pull the mag’ and off it pops. Then, push the mag’ back into place and it’s held there by little mechanical metal arm that locks it all in place with a satisfying click. You get two mag’s supplied by the way.
The mag’ position is just right, too. It’s housed just inside the soft-touch cheekpiece, and I found my cheek just under my eye socket nestling comfortably on the edge of the mag’. Again, this little touch really sped up my getting to grips with this rifle. It acts as a sort of indicator when shouldering the rifle and bringing your cheek to the cheekpiece.
TRIGGER AND SAFETY
The Galahad features an Air Arms’ classic two-stage trigger unit. It’s a gently curved blade, which also houses the manual push-button safety, actually built into the trigger itself. It’s a very compact design and easy to use.
The rifle sent to me had a rather long first-stage pull setting – just how I like it, with a clean and crisp second-stage release. After just a few shots, I knew exactly where I was with it. This is all adjustable, though, so you can set it to suit your style of shooting.
THAT LEVER SYSTEM!
Rather ironically, I’ve just been handed a vintage Air Arms Khamsin sidelever springer from old Binners of ‘Kempton Classic Arms Fairs’ fame. During a lengthy conversation at one of his shows I explained to Pete how I used to own a Khamsin many moons ago, and how it was my favourite rifle of all time, but somewhere in my mid-to-late-20s after moving house lord knows how many times, the rifle got stolen. Well, he managed to track one down and passed it on to Terry Doe who presented it to me during one of our Facebook livestreams. (Keep an eye out on the Airgunnermag and Airgunworldmag FB pages for more of those).
The Khamsin is unique in that it has a sidelever cocking action, and to load a pellet into the breech there is a manual lever that you pull up to expose a pellet receptor. You drop your pellet in, then push the lever down to rotate the receptor 90 degrees and position the pellet in line with the breech.
It just so happens that the lever for cocking and loading this Galahad reminds me of the Khamsin, albeit it a completely different system. I’m not sure what to call this lever mechanism, so I’ve termed it ‘forward-lever’. It’s not a sidelever because it doesn’t pull outwards. It does in fact push downwards for 90 degrees, which mechanically works all the way back to the butt of the rifle to plop a pellet from the mag’ into the breech. Push the lever down until it clicks, then pull it back up again and you’re ready to go.
I love it, and it brings back loads of happy memories from my early shooting days.
I spent hours and hours in my back garden shooting the Galahad. It’s extremely accurate, thanks to the inclusion of a regulator and of course the exceptional engineering and design. Toward the end of my first session, I was regularly hitting 1-inch groups of five from a standing position at 20 metres. From the bench it is, as you would expect, pretty much faultless. When I took it to the range, I was hitting the 40-metre knockdowns with more regularity than usual, too.
I haven’t had a chance to take this rifle out hunting yet, but I’m going to get out there later this month with it. I’m not going to prattle on about my testing of the Galahad, I think the rest of this review says it all really!
Needless to say, I’m having a tough time putting it down at present, and I really don’t want to send it back! I’m hoping that Claire will let me hang on to it for a month or two so I can get on my perms with it.
Eddie Jones was right – I love this rifle! The overall aesthetics and feel of it just gives me confidence, and knowing that it’s a British-made Air Arms reinforces that feeling. To be honest, I’m blown away by the balance, even with the large Zeiss 4-16 x 50 scope I slapped on top of it.
The amount of control and enhanced handling is superb. Don’t get me wrong, this rifle is not just a great hunting rifle, it’s also equally at home on the range. Indeed, when I posted a pic of the Galahad and Zeiss combo on my Facebook page, Gary Chillingworth was quick to reply, stating ‘That would be an ideal combo for the new A-HFT discipline at the Range & Country club.’ If you want to know what that’s all about, you’ll have to grab a copy of the June issue of Airgun World.
Hat’s off to the Air Arms design team. I only wish I’d discovered this little gem sooner.
Model: Galahad SR Carbine
Manufacturer: Air Arms
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
Max Fill Pressure: 210 bar
Stock Material: Walnut or Black soft-touch hardwood
Stock Type: Ambidextrous
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Calibres: .177 and .22 (HR FAC models available)
Safety: Manual, ambidextrous
Overall Length: 698mm (27.5in)
Barrel Length: 395mm (15.5in)
Magazine Capacity: 10 shots
Weight: 7.9lbs (3.6kg)
Shot Capacity: .22, 120, .177, 110
Variation (10 shots): 15fps
Average Energy: 11.1 ft.lbs.