Editor's test: GRS PCP Sporter Adjustable Stock
PUBLISHED: 14:53 28 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:21 28 June 2017
The editor mounts his favourite soapbox - via a study in gun handling efficiency from GRS
Anyone who has endured my endless sermons on proper stock fit and the tremendous advantages it brings, whether it’s within these pages, on the phone, or heaven forbid in face-to-face conversation, will know what this feature is all about. No apologies offered, mind. I’m stupidly passionate about this stuff and I know beyond any shadow of any doubt that what I’m about to write can have a massive effect on your results. Far more so, actually, than most hardware upgrades ever could. Please read on, because this really matters.
The point of it all
Many years ago, I discovered that most of the air rifles I was using could shoot better than I could. I’m not the brightest person in the world, but even I could work out that making those rifles ever-more accurate, consistent and efficient wasn’t doing my shooting that much good, because the guns were just outshooting me by a greater margin.
By now I’d discovered field target shooting and I was using a rifle with a stock built especially for me. Problem solved; at least until I hung up my target glove and went back to my first love of hunting. Why didn’t hunters enjoy the same degree of gun fit assistance as FT shooters? I was constructively outraged, so I began hassling anyone who’d listen, and Air Arms thought I had a point, so they produced the S510 Ultimate Sporter, with its splendid adjustable stock. This rifle has gone on to be a major best-seller, and rightly so, and now there’s another serious option for those who want match-standard control, in a sporting-rifle format.
Look at the main subject of this feature; the GRS PCP Sporter Adjustable Stock, now available from Highland Outdoors to fit the world-renowned Air Arms S400 and S500 series. It’s right-hand dedicated, made from super-stable laminate, lightweight, costs a quid short of £600 and it offers precise, instant adjustment of the cheek piece height, butt pad position and pull-length, at the touch of a spring-loaded button, plus it’s extremely well designed in the first place, with one of the best grip configurations I’ve ever used. This amounts to the ‘big four’ of the main players in proper gun fit and the combined effect of these key features cannot be overstated. To explain them fully requires a bit of in-depth analysis, so that’s where we’ll venture next. As we explore these advantages, the aim is to answer questions before they’re asked, but if you have anything that requires further explanation, please contact me and I’ll do my best to help. Yes, again, I believe this subject really is that important.
The fit factor
Overall, this is about making our rifles fit us, rather than the other way round, and the various aspects of this have pretty much consumed me for the past decade or so. I suppose my status as a ‘non-standard’ human forced the issue, but it’s more than that and by the time this feature is concluded, I’m certain you’ll see a far bigger picture than most do now.
It’s my belief that having a properly fitting riflestock is the single greatest efficiency move most ‘serious’ shooters can make. We come in so many different sizes and shapes, we wouldn’t dream of wearing ‘one size fits all’ shoes, or driving our cars with the seat way out of position, yet millions of us pick up rifles designed for ‘average sized’ shooters and try to adapt ourselves to them as best we can. This ‘best’ is actually second-best … at best. We now have access to more high-quality airgun hardware than at any time in the history of our sport, and it’s time we looked beyond this performance-sapping compromise.
Let’s begin at the back end, with the rifle’s pull length. The pull length of a rifle is the measurement between the centre of the butt pad and the front face of the trigger blade. On a standard stock, this can be anything between 13 inches and 14.5, but whatever it is, it’s better if it suits your particular build. I need a 15-inch pull length and the GSR offers a range of 13.75 to 15.25 inches, which accommodates me perfectly. Without that perfect pull length, I’d be ‘hunching’ around the stock, whereas a smaller shooter would often find themselves reaching for the trigger, rather than relaxing into their most efficient stance. Like every one of the ‘big four’ features, pull length is part of the chain of command that dictates overall efficiency and any weak links have a significant effect. At the level we’re going for with 600 quid’s worth of stock bolted to our rifles, the only weak link must be our technique, and we should be striving to strengthen that whenever and wherever we can.
Cheek piece height
Getting the height of the cheek piece right is all about eye-scope alignment, yes? No. Whilst most of the direct benefit comes from having your head guided into prime position to enable you to look right down the centre of the scope’s lens system – thereby increasing relaxation, reducing muscle tension, and practically eliminating parallax error – there’s another huge plus involved. The fact is, if your head position isn’t perfect, then the rest of your stance can never be.
The shooter’s sighting eye will always seek out the scope’s rear lens and with it a useable sight picture. If head position has to be compromised to do that, or the neck bent out of its ideal shape, then that’s what has to happen because the visual feedback from the sighting eye will override everything else. Yes, we can tweak things a tad via the height of the scope mounts, but with nothing like the precision of the full inch of instantly variable, micro-adjustment afforded by this GRS stock.
Never forget, the whole object of achieving correct gun fit, is to allow us a better chance of exploiting the full potential of our rifles. We’re very much playing catch-up right now, and we need to do all we can to close the performance gap between man and machine. This stock truly helps us to do just that.
Butt pad adjustment
Press the small, stainless steel button that lives in the gap between the butt pad and the stock proper, and the squishy pad can be shifted up and down.
The pad itself is really soft and the high-grip, rubberised compound used absolutely welds the rifle to your shoulder. I’ve never used a conventionally-styled butt pad with such adhesive qualities; it’s a triumph, it truly is.
Editor's test: GRS PCP Sporter Stock
Your preferred butt pad setting also raises and lowers the cheek piece presentation, of course, and it does so by ‘pivoting’ the rifle around its contact with the shoulder. Balancing the fit via the adjusters on the butt should take at least hours, and probably days, as you break free from the compromise you’ve accepted for too long, and settle into a more comfortable, less tense, and altogether more efficient and productive relationship with your rifle.
The GRS designers who created the configuration for this grip obviously incorporated some serious feedback into its production. The grip is angled very slightly to the shooter’s right, and its four finger grooves work perfectly with the sculpted thumb rest to stabilise the trigger hand in fine style. I thought I’d need some sort of palm shelf but I didn’t, because the thumb-scoop keeps everything supported with minimal tension and maximum comfort. This adds up to the ideal conditions for the trigger finger to do its stuff, and we all know how important that is.
This GRS company has been creating these stocks for use in every climate imaginable. This stock won’t warp, crack or break if you clout it with anything less than a lump hammer. The test example arrived in a box that had been ‘tested’ by the delivery company, but the GRS had shrugged off that abuse as it will whatever is thrown at it during a lifetime of hard use. There will be a range of colours available, including a green option which will appeal to hunters.
There’s not a scrap of chequering or stippling to be seen, or felt, but this stock handles with total security, whatever the weather. Again, GRS know about this stuff, and it shows.
Why buy one?
At £599, this stock is a major investment, no doubt about it. This is no mere accessory, though; it’s a hugely positive move and, like the action it holds, it’s a declaration that its owner really does want to be the best they can be. I’m more passionate about the advantages of full-control shooting than I’ve ever been, and using this GRS stock and S510 combination has confirmed my every belief.
Here’s my definitive sign-off statement and I stand by every word of it; I wish every shooter with the desire to succeed, could enjoy the benefits of a stock as good as this GRS model, because what it brings really could change the whole game for them.