Gun test: Hatsan 900X (a sub-£70 air rifle!)

Hatsan 900X review

An inexpensive scope was used for some 30m shooting. - Credit: Archant

Can a new gun costing less than £70 be any good? Pete Evans reviews the Hatsan 900X to answer that question!

To ensure that I keep up to date with airgun developments, it’s necessary not only to read Airgun World, but also to attend as many shows as possible, and drop in on the many airgun forums with which the Internet is ablaze. 

The Internet is unique in as much as it’s a tool whereby an individual is given an instant voice to pass comment on just about anything. Of course, this is a double-edged sword because for every nugget of gold, there will be someone who wants to bring out their grievances and dine out on them at every available opportunity. Putting negativity aside, I have learned much from being a member on several forums, and some of the comments raised have formed a foundation on which to base this month’s musings. 

Hatsan 900X review

This Hatsan proves a valid point – you don’t have to spend a mint to shoot airguns. - Credit: Archant

Perennial comments
There are several comments that surface with frequent regularity and these include, ‘Reviewers never include negative comments on the guns tested’ they do, ‘Reviewers are given the guns to keep’ they aren’t, and ‘The guns reviewed are always pre-charged and cost more than anyone can afford’ - and that’s not true, either, but some will never let the truth get in the way of an agenda.

During the course of this article, I hope to address these points; the answers will not always be explained to the ‘nth degree, but they will be there, I promise. That’s enough preamble – let’s take a look at this month’s ‘not costa lotta’ airgun. 

Hatsan 900X review

You can’t see it here, but the barrel is secured by a screw, rather than a pin – top marks Hatsan! - Credit: Archant

Hatsan 
Hatsan Arms Company, a family-run business based in Turkey has been in the gun-making business since 1976. My previous knowledge of this company involved their range of shotguns, although interestingly, it was a homemade air dart gun that got the ball rolling for this successful company.

Over the last few years, the range of airguns has grown, and is still growing at a rate of knots, testament to which was the fine display by Edgar Brothers at this year’s British Shooting Show. 

With a workforce of 650, all components made in-house, and currently exporting to 95 countries, Hatsan is making waves in the airgun community. Its company motto ‘Serious, Solid, Impact’ coupled with good ‘value for money’ guns, makes it easy to understand how this brand is gaining traction. 

Rather than look at one of its high-end PCPs, I have decided to look at an entry-level springer – the 900X, for which I paid £69 of my own money. I have been hearing positive comments about this gun, so I was keen to see exactly what I got for such a small amount of cash.

Hatsan 900X review

Fibre-optic open sights are effective, and certainly worth using. - Credit: Archant

Conventional design
The 900X is a break-barrel spring gun. The barrel is 350mm in length, with a moderator that doubles as a hand grip for the last 200mm. The moderator is not designed to be removed. It is possible, but this involves prising off the end cap, then undoing a nut, and then using a degree of brute force to shift it. All things considered, it’s probably best to leave it in place. 

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On top of the moderator you will find an integral fore sight element with a fibre-optic bead. As I have alluded, the moderator acts as a useful cocking aid, enhanced by the fact that it has flutes positioned along its length, and a ribbed area on top. As you would expect, the rear sight is adjustable in both planes, and is attached to the barrel rather than the action. 

It’s good to see that Hatsan have seen fit to use a screw rather than a pin to secure the barrel because this will bode well for the future, giving the ability to compensate for wear. Rather than using a nut, the screw is staked in position by a secondary smaller screw, ensuring that it can’t loosen.  

Hatsan 900X review

That arrestor should stop any scope creep; it could do with being a bit further back. - Credit: Archant

Main cylinder
The main cylinder has a diameter of 31mm, scope rails, and a scope arrestor block, which has a choice of two positions, but it would be possible to move it back another 10mm and just use one screw to secure, to make the most of the available rail length. At the rear of the cylinder is an automatic safety catch, which is resettable, and easy to reach from the grip. Sticking with safety features, there is an anti bear-trap device, which works by blocking the trigger mechanism when the barrel is broken. 

This particular model is available in .177 and .22, although some of the other Hatsan models are available in .25; the gun under review here is in .177. Some lighter weight .177 springers do have a reputation for being difficult to shoot accurately, and we’ll have an opportunity to check on this later. All the metal work is finished to a good standard, not a deep blue as you would expect to see on a more expensive gun, but certainly much better than you would expect on a gun at this price point. 

Hatsan 900X review

There is some adjustability for the trigger, but next month I will try to improve matters further. - Credit: Archant

Trigger response
Hatsan fits a couple of different triggers to its springers, ranging from the enhanced Quattro on the 55/60 model, which from my observations is a pretty good unit, through to the standard unit as fitted to this 900X. Even these standard triggers seem to have changed in recent times, the blade changing from metal to plastic, and there might well be internal changes also, which we will take a look at next month.

There is adjustment available from a grub screw through the trigger blade, which alters first-stage travel, and at the rear, a crosshead screw which governs sear engagement. Both are accessible through the trigger guard, and it may be worth noting that the rear screw on mine was screwed completely home. 

On cocking, the trigger engages smoothly, although I suspect that the breech screw 
on this gun is too tight, thus impeding the barrel’s movement. There is a long length of trigger pull before the shot is released, and it does feel a little rough. There could well be something to gain on adjustment, which again, will be looked at next month, and I suspect some polishing on the trigger sears will help matters. 

Hatsan 900X review

A neat butt with a stylish white line spacer, boosts visual appeal. - Credit: Archant

Stock take
Stocks on budget guns can be a bit of a let down, although this is certainly not the case with this Hatsan. It is fashioned from a decent piece of beech, and pleasantly finished in a light walnut stain – it’s a little cracker. 

It’s tapered toward the fore end, a sharply angled grip, with some fine chequering, low comb to accommodate the open sights, completed with a white line spacer between it and the ventilated butt pad. Not only does it look good, but it also comes to the shoulder nicely and allows the tip of the trigger finger to approach the trigger blade at the correct angle. Owing to the lack of a distinct cheek piece, this stock should suit all shooters whatever their handedness. 

I’ve seen some interesting handiwork undertaken on these stocks, including adjustable cheek pieces, and skeletonised butt sections. On a rifle costing this amount, it’s certainly not a bad place to start because if there are mistakes made, it’s not the end of the world. As a whole, this gun seems to have a whole lot going for it, although as always, it is performance at the range that completes the story. 

Hatsan 900X review

Despite having an anti-bear trap it makes sense to hold on to that barrel. - Credit: Archant

Range time
If a gun is supplied with open sights, it would be rude not to use them, so I did exactly that. Setting out some cans with some Air Wrap targets — keep an eye out for a separate feature including these – I blatted away at 20m, which brought back distant childhood memories, and a big cheesy grin to my face. My advice, if you ever want to get back to your roots – bring out an open-sighted springer; it’s the simple things in life that are the most fun. 

Taking a break in proceedings, a 10-shot string over the chronograph with JSB Exact 8.4g disclosed a power of 10.9 ft.lbs., with 13fps variation. It may be that some lighter JSB Exact RS would give a higher energy, but pellet shortages being as they are, I didn’t have any. 

Fitting an inexpensive 3-9 x 40 scope gave an opportunity to push the envelope a bit, to 30m in this case. Using a natural rest, as you might whilst out hunting, I managed 5-shot groups measuring an average of 33mm. It did take a while to get used to the trigger, and I’m convinced that if this could be improved, the overall performance on the gun would follow suit. 

As might be expected on a lighter gun, the firing cycle was a little harsh, not so much as in mechanical noise, but more so displacement. It made me wonder if the gun was fitted with a piston weight and stiff spring. 

Hatsan 900X review

Automatic safety, which is resettable and easy to disengage with its thumb groove. - Credit: Archant

Observations
From what I’ve seen and experienced, this gun offers a great deal more than you would expect from its paltry price tag. I know a few people locally who have bought these guns specifically for shooting rats, and are certainly making good progress in their endeavours. Despite offering a lot, there are areas that we might be able to improve upon, to push its performance – not power – even further. 

To get an impartial view on the Hatsan I asked my wife, who has a pathological hatred of guns, despite taking my photographs every month, how much I paid for the gun. She started at £220, then £200, and finally £180. Now, she’s seen most of my guns and knows roughly how much each costs, so when I told her this one was £69, she was visibly shocked.

Hatsan 900X review

Moderator doubles as an effective hand grip, as well as housing the fore sight. - Credit: Archant

Bargain
Make no mistake this Hatsan 900X is an absolute bargain, get one as back garden plinker, or as a non-to-fussy, shorter range field gun. I’m not sure how long the prices will remain low, but I know that my local RFD is getting a consignment of 40 rifles soon, so I think a .22 could be on the cards for me. 

Contacts
Gun as reviewed purchased from Neath gunshop