Choosing the perfect gun for hunting
PUBLISHED: 11:12 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:12 09 May 2018
Mark Camoccio offers some of his top picks from today's rifles
Previously, we’ve dealt with the ethics associated with hunting with an airgun. Here we conclude the subject, continuing with suitable guns for the task, and a favourite selection of candidates:
Under-lever fixed barrel rifles can, of course, be great hunting guns, but all that extra metalwork can add significant weight, making them awkward and cumbersome to lug around for a few hours in the field. A stake-out situation, where we lie in wait for rabbits near their warrens, for example, could mean lying down, with plenty of support for the rifle. In this scenario, when weight isn’t perhaps so critical, or for the fitter among us, the HW97K, HW77, Air Arms Pro-Sport, or Air Arms TX200 all represent top-class options – competition grade heavyweights in all respects.
On the whole, from the FX Independence, multi-stroke and pump-up airguns failed to have an impact in the UK over the last few years, and some of the more popular models, such as Sheriden Blue Streak, and the Sharp Innova, that were so popular in the ‘80s, have sadly disappeared. So, my final selection of suitable guns focuses on PCPs.
Inevitably, the near recoilless nature of the pre-charged pneumatic makes them ideal for hunting because they are so much easier to shoot accurately. Again, slim-line lighter models aimed at the hunter make sense, as opposed to the super-bulky, target-orientated competition specials.
Deciding on a multi-shot or single shot is one of the biggest decisions where PCPs are concerned, but with the quality of many magazine systems well up to the job, it remains a serious option. A magazine will give you fast back-up shots at the flick of a bolt, and in cold weather, the fact that you won’t have to handle a fiddly pellet in the field can be a real bonus.
Take-down guns were all the rage at one point, but whilst many have disappeared from the scene, one model has stayed the course and proved something of a classic over time. The Air Arms TDR, recently upgraded to the side-lever S510 action, is a superb piece of design and engineering. The rear stock section detaches along with the silencer, and the whole gun stores away in a small carry bag. Cleverly, the action will not fire until the gun is screwed back together, and with full downrange performance uncompromised, it has to be one of the best low profile ‘take anywhere’ hunters available.
Air Arms’ S510TC also makes my list, as another quality pneumatic airgun, with a unique configuration of twin cylinders. It handles superbly and again features the company’s excellent 10 shot rotary magazine system. The Huntsman Regal is the latest version of Daystate’s slimline beauty, and this is another slickly made favourite with the option of single shot or multi-shot capability. BSA’s Ultra SE is fairly unique, given that it’s a totally scaled down action, and consequently, very light and manageable. Weihrauch’s HW100 series is regulated as standard, and like the Air Arms models, available in a variety of stock choices and specs. I would recommend the Sporter stocked models as the walnut configuration is particularly comfortable.
Rapid Air Weapons (RAW) are made in the USA. The HM1000 has a particularly pleasing walnut sporter stock, and this time, a large shot capacity, given the buddy-bottle action. Admittedly, you pay for the privilege, but this model shoots and handles superbly in its natural environment. Finally comes another favourite airgun design of mine, with the FX Independence. This is currently totally unique in that this model comes with a large on-board air cylinder, yet also an on-board pumping lever. You decide if you want to pump up after one or two shots, or recharge after using all 25-30 shots. The pump is super-efficient, easy to operate, and the result is a slick machine, perfectly at home in the field. That brilliant action is also available in bullpup form as the FX Indy – either way, it’s a fabulous piece of airgun design.
The selection of my favourite hunting rifles – a mixture of PCP designs and spring-powered models, therefore reads as follows.
Just remember, take the PCP route, and you’ll need to factor in the cost of charging gear; normally £100-£150.
Selection of my favourite rifles:
Air Arms S510TC from £672
Air Arms S510 TDR £728
BSA Ultra SE £549
Weihrauch HW100SK FSB £849
RAW HM1000 £1,200 - £1,400
FX Independence £1,180
Diana 280 Classic £300
Walther Terrus £260
Weihrauch HW95K £292
I hope that I’ve shed some light on making an informed choice here, but I can’t stress enough the importance of getting down to your local club and getting hands-on with some hardware, before parting with hard-earned cash. There’s usually a great selection of popular models on show, and most shooters are only too pleased to show off their kit, and let you have a test fire. Get a feel for what suits you, discuss why individuals bought a particular model, and then after careful deliberation, you’ll be in a good position to make that informed choice.
Then remember, when you’ve made an informed choice, and finally bought your hunting gun of choice, that’s just the start. Fine tune your approach, and hone those skills, and when your performance begins to come together, and only then, consider taking to the field to shoot live quarry.