Follow-up gun test: Air Arms S510 TDR

It's light, fast, and extremely pointable, accessorised or not.

It's light, fast, and extremely pointable, accessorised or not. - Credit: Archant

The editor gets stuck into the practicalities of the Air Arms S510 TDR

Easy monitoring of air reserves, plus that rail would be perfect for a custom fore end tip.

Easy monitoring of air reserves, plus that rail would be perfect for a custom fore end tip. - Credit: Archant

Have a look at our editor’s first test here.

Unusually for me, I began this follow-up test with a fully-formed plan. It was a simple plan, as befits its creator, but it was all the plan I needed. Basically, I would explore the practical applications of the Air Arms S510 TDR, and see what can be done with it in the real world. My conversations with Air Arms, and with TDR users themselves, had revealed that a proportion of this rifle’s users really enjoy the fact that it’s a takedown. They like putting it together and taking it apart. I can appreciate that, although I also know there has to be more going on with a rifle that costs £889 before a scope goes on it.

There's a strong case for owning a TDR.

There's a strong case for owning a TDR. - Credit: Archant

Again, I consulted my research, and discovered two main stated advantages; convenience and lightness. I can certainly appreciate these, too, and having lived with the test rifle for a couple of months, these are obviously significant features. They’re not the defining reasons for owning a TDR, though. The real deal comes, for me at least, from the fact that the ‘fiddle factor’ of owning a takedown, the ease and convenience of transporting a rifle in such a compact case, and the handiness of a lightweight carbine, is teamed to full-specification, no-compromise performance. Yes, that’s the true foundation of my plan for this feature. Now, let’s see what the S510 TDR has to offer someone who intends to use it to the full.

All-day hunting

First, the lightness of this rifle makes it perfect for long days, or nights, in the hunting field, where a full-weight sporter might weary the muscles and lessen the desire to explore that distant quarry hotspot. Heavier rifles are more stable on aim, but hunting offers a wealth of support options and you are free to choose your stances, as the situation requires. With a bit of thought and control, free-standing shots can be kept to the absolute minimum, replaced by the far more stable kneeling shot, or some of that aforementioned natural support, as afforded by trees, farm buildings and friendly fence posts.

Time to reload - as you can see.

Time to reload - as you can see. - Credit: Archant

The ability to accessorise

When a rifle is fairly light to begin with, attaching the accessories you need to make the most of a particular situation presents fewer handling problems. The arrival of the AC Guns Night Stalker night-hunting system underlined this perfectly, and as you’ll see on page 31, our Airgun Student, Naylor Ball, and I used the S510 TDR as the test bed for this remarkable development. I also tried it – albeit just for a ‘try-out’ - with a Photon unit, a conventional lamping set-up, and a digital NV unit.

The TDR also has a small accessory rail under the fore end to assist the fitting of lamps, lasers, infra-red units, or whatever works for the session in mind. That rail could also be used to exploit the next aspect of TDR S510 ownership.

The filtered air-intake is fully protected.

The filtered air-intake is fully protected. - Credit: Archant

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I’ve always thought the TDR concept was ripe for a bit of DIY customisation, and the rail would make the perfect attachment point for a fore end extension, or alternative design. The base of the drop-down pistol grip qualifies under the same credentials, and if I owned a TDR, I’d make a subtle palm shelf that allowed me to hang my trigger hand on it, rather than need to grip the grip, so to speak. A more relaxed hand offers greater control and low-effort precision, and the S510’s two-stage adjustable trigger unit deserves to be exploited to the full, so it’s a win-win.

The rifle’s cheek piece might benefit from a little padding or even reshaping, if you have the skills and hardware, but I’d definitely start with some of that sticky-on neoprene, until my head/eye alignment was spot on. Trying mounts of varying heights would help with that process, too, and this brings me to my final point.

The tried and tested S510 sidelever action works perfectly in the TDR format.

The tried and tested S510 sidelever action works perfectly in the TDR format. - Credit: Archant

Take it seriously

I’d like to take things right back to the fundamental requirement of any ‘serious’ sporting rifle, and the Air Arms S510 TDR is most definitely that. This rifle, regardless of its other attributes, has to deliver exactly the same superior performance as any of its kind, and nothing must be allowed to get in the way of that.

This means going for the ultimate in terms of pellet selection, gun fit, trigger setting and use, and positioning that carefully selected scope with painstaking precision. Only after these foundation qualities are established, can you make the most of everything else the S510 TDR carries as standard. Basically, this is a high grade sporter that can be taken down, rather than a takedown rifle that can be used as a sporter. There’s a huge difference between those descriptions, and it’s up to the user to define them.

And finally...

I’ve decided that the Air Arms S510 TDR is more than a high grade sporting rifle. It’s all of the things I’ve already mentioned, plus it’s a blank canvas for whatever you want to build into your hunting life. This is an impressively effective airgun straight out of the box, but it has the potential to become anything and everything you need from a sporter. I now know why TDR owners love these guns and why it’s been a consistent success for the company that makes it.


Model: S510 TDR

Country of origin: UK

Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot, takedown sporter

Calibre: .22, .177

Cocking: Side-lever

Loading: Via removable, rotary 10-shot magazine

Trigger: Two stage, adjustable for length of stage and let-off weight

Safety: Manual, in-trigger

Stock type: Ambidextrous, skeleton-type, two-piece, walnut, with adjustable butt pad

Weight: 2.8kg (6.2lbs) Unscoped.

Length: 1030mm (40.5ins)

Barrel: 395mm (15.55ins)

Fill pressure: 190 bar

Shots per charge: Stated 40 in .22 and .177. Test rifle produced 50 in .22

Variation over 40 shots: 14 fps for .22 on test

Average energy: 11.6 ft.lbs.

Options: High-power model

Contact: Air Arms on 01323 845853

RRP: £889

Read more on the Air Arms S510 TDR here.