Eddie Jones: The highs and lows of some of his favourite rifles
PUBLISHED: 10:47 24 January 2019
"I've looked through my rifles and I'm going to tell you why I see myself choosing the ones that I like."
Many times, I’ve been asked which is the best Air Arms rifle I have, and why. I’ve been lucky to use a few from the Air Arms range since joining them nearly three years ago and unlike most reviewers, I don’t just have the rifles for a short while. I use them regularly over a long period, so I have time to get used to any quirks that I don’t like about them, along with the good qualities that these rifles possess. So, I’ve looked through my rifles and I’m going to tell you why I see myself choosing the ones that I like – and the one that I would not part with for anything.
The first rifle that I was lucky enough to take out on a shoot not long after becoming a part of the Air Arms family was the Ultimate Sporter S510, and it is undoubtedly one of the nicest rifles ever built. For years, the S510 has been a brilliant rifle to shoot. Many of my friends owned one and I loved trying them when we met up. In the walnut thumbhole stock, this rifle just melted into your hands, and I was very envious of those who owned them, so when Claire West talked me through the rifles on offer, the S510 was a no brainer.
However, at the British Shooting Show, when I had a good look at the rifles, rather than go for the S510, I fell in love with the Ultimate Sporter. The stock on this rifle was stunning and the colours were perfect for my hunting, helping to blend in with the countryside and it had more adjustment than any stock that I had seen on a rifle, to make it fit perfectly any user who was lucky enough to own one.
When I first took the Ultimate out on a shoot in my local woods, it performed brilliantly. I had an hour to shoot at targets, and it was like I had used it for years. I was hitting everything I had set up, in no time. I was confident of taking it out for live quarry straight away, and I was proved right by the results I had on the day.
What I first liked about the Ultimate stock was the wide fore end. It fits into the hand perfectly without feeling like you have to grip it too much, and when you couple that with the adjustable cheek piece that will move in any direction, and the adjustable butt pad, it lines up with the scope without any effort at all.
The sidelever is smooth and faultless. Its stable mate, the S410’s bolt action is not my favourite, because if I need to take a second shot, which sometimes happens when hunting, I want to keep sight of the quarry as I load. This is not as easy with the bolt, and the only reason that I wouldn’t use a rifle with it. The Ultimate would not look the part without the fully shrouded barrel and the short silencer either, and when you pull the crisp trigger unit that is on every rifle Air Arms produce in the PCP range, it is truly outstanding.
The next rifle that I used was the awesome TX200HC. Now, this is the ultimate springer, in my opinion. Air Arms have made this rifle not only shoot like a dream, but to look stunning, too. When I first saw this rifle many years ago, I had to have one straight away – it was before I could afford a PCP, and when I tried the TX, its recoil was nothing more than a tap on the shoulder. This rifle transformed my hunting all those years ago. I could hit the target and see the impact due to its low recoil. This helped a lot when I was squirrel shooting because if I missed due to me not aiming correctly, I could see if the pellet had struck high or low as soon as it hit the branch. Previously, with my old springers, it was hard to see the strike due to their high recoil.
The first thing I noticed about the TX200 was the stunning metalwork. Many air rifle manufacturers fail to produce the deep polished look as well as Air Arms, and when you couple that with the beautiful walnut stock, you don’t want to take it out in case you damage it! When you do take a shot with the TX you appreciate the high quality craftsmanship that has gone into it. It is smooth, crisp and straight, and the only reason you might miss a shot is that you take it for granted and forget that to get the best out of any spring rifle, you still have to hold it the same way, religiously. Missing was not a problem with the TX, though.
Cocking the TX is a very smooth action. You get the positive click telling you that the sear and bear-trap are engaged, and this gives you the confidence to insert the pellet into the breech without worrying that you are going to lose your thumb. This was a problem for me with my old TX, but I did get over it and didn’t give it a second thought after a while. The only criticism of this rifle is the weight – it is a lump to carry around all day, but that is because I’m getting old and weak so I can’t blame the rifle, really.
Next is the TDR, another rifle I love to take out, and one that would suit everybody. When I first got the TDR it was in the S410 action. It came in a lovely hard case with a sponge insert cut out in which to fit all the components. Fixing the TDR together is a pleasure in itself. Just think of yourself on a Bond mission as you screw it together piece by piece – it puts fun into your outing before you start.
As with any Air Arms action, it is stunning to look at, the black metalwork is faultless, and the design when put together is one on its own. The TDR is a true lightweight, I love this rifle on hot, sunny days when I can walk around a shoot all day and hardly notice it is in my hands. There is definitely no need for a sling to be fixed on it. Pointing the TDR at any quarry is sublime. It seems to home in on its own, so as soon as your eye is behind the scope, the target is there. You will need to use low mounts, or medium as a maximum, due to the low cheek piece, but once you get used to it, it’s lovely to shoot. I liked this rifle so much I had to get one in my preferred S510 action.
Well I have run out of space to go into this any further, and I still have so much to cover. I will cover the TDR more and the Galahad in both sub 12 ft.lbs. and FAC next time. I’ll also reveal the one rifle that I’d want to keep, if I could only have one.
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