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Gun test: The many virtues of the Air Arms Galahad

PUBLISHED: 11:19 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 11:19 03 January 2019

This layout certainly makes for a short rifle

This layout certainly makes for a short rifle

Archant

"After several years in the planning and development stage, the Galahad has emerged and it really has to be seen as something of an exercise in engineering, a showcase for the company's talented design team, and an example of just what is possible on modern state-of the-art CNC machinery."

What’s the expression ... ‘late to the party’? Yes, it’s fair to say that Air Arms did rather drag their feet before getting involved in the booming bullpup market, but let’s face it, there’ve been a few false dawns over the years from manufacturers – the odd bullpup special surfacing and then sinking without trace. Temporarily written off as curiosities, the bullpup concept has been increasingly popularised, even legitimised by the military in their quest for shortened, super-fast-handling kit, honed to do a job. By placing the action to the back of the stock, balance, looks and handling are indeed transformed – not to everyone’s taste, admittedly, but to a growing band of disciples, seemingly worldwide, there’s immense appeal.

States calling

Air Arms’ breaking point, was apparently clamour from their dealers in the States, for a bullpup design, carrying the prestigious Air Arms badge on the side, and so the seeds were sown for project ‘Galahad’.

The usual measured, calculating approach from the Sussex-based company was to be expected, but the result is something rather special, that takes on board the thinking behind the concept, yet offers refinement and pedigree in equal measure. After several years in the planning and development stage, the Galahad has emerged and it really has to be seen as something of an exercise in engineering, a showcase for the company’s talented design team, and an example of just what is possible on modern state-of the-art CNC machinery.

Air Arms were late to the bullpup party, but the Galahad is impressiveAir Arms were late to the bullpup party, but the Galahad is impressive

Sport what?

Air Arms’ insistence that their new baby be termed a ‘sport pup’ was a little twee, but get past the word games, and there’s plenty to get excited about. Just take a long hard look at the Galahad and the sheer quality of what’s on offer soon becomes apparent. From the exquisite flowing lines of the woodwork, to that astonishing breech block, it’s clear from the outset that this is no afterthought, where an existing model’s action is just positioned at the back of the stock. The Galahad is a comprehensive, thoroughly researched offering that delivers the bullpup concept with class and panache, whilst allowing the end user to tailor the specification to their needs.

You can specify a full-length rifle action or carbine, regulated or unregulated; there’s the choice of calibres; the stock can be specified in walnut, beech or black soft touch, and the scope rails are also optional – conventional dovetail, or Picatinny. As for my test gun, this came in .22, with a carbine-length regulated action, Picatinny rails and walnut stock. Air Arms also sent me one of their ‘Short Q-Tec silencers’ for the test, and this is a super-compact version, that perfectly complements the Galahad’s proportions.

Fancy a secondary silencer? No problemFancy a secondary silencer? No problem

Features

So, which features come as standard with this all-new action? Well, for a start there’s that distinctive, sidelever cocking system, the standard Air Arms 10-shot rotary magazine, (two are supplied), a fully shrouded barrel with silencer option, thumb-hole stock with fully adjustable butt pad, two-stage trigger, manometer (pressure gauge), and even a small spirit level mounted to the scope rail. At this point, it should be noted that the stock is fully ambidextrous, and in addition, the cocking lever system has been designed to be easily switched from one side to the other; so lefties shouldn’t feel left out.

As for that tasty walnut furniture, it hails from the Minelli factory in Italy, and the quality finish and execution are impressive to say the least. The design itself is apparently the work of three times World FT Champion, Nick Jenkinson, and with a stylish and supremely functional thumb-hole configuration, recessed accessory rail in the fore end, an adjustable, properly concave rubber pad, and that flared supportive pistol grip, handling and control are enhanced.

An accessory rail sits underneathAn accessory rail sits underneath

Same but different

Once you consider the huge investment in state-of-the art CNC machinery at Air Arms, then their capabilities should come as no surprise That said, take a close look at the Galahad’s flowing breech block, and it still draws gasps, for its detail and exquisite execution. Fine engineering indeed, and a bold statement of intent if ever there was one, from this highly regarded brand.

Bullpups require the scope to be mounted far higher than normal because we are sighting above the action, and not behind it, as with a normal configuration. How manufacturers deal with this varies, often with the use of what’s termed an ‘intermount’. With the Galahad, Air Arms have decided upon that spectacular seamless breech block, and with a small spirit level incorporated at the rear, to counteract cant – a problem accentuated given the height of the sight line – it’s all very neatly done. However, there is a significant gap between the fully-shrouded barrel and cylinder that has attracted some negative criticism where the visual profile is concerned, but I don’t see it being a major concern, and the Galahad’s looks are somewhat slicker than many rivals, for sure.

Next time, we’ll get down to business, and see how this exciting new model handles and performs, and it should be an eye-opener.

Note the soft-touch cheek piece and magazineNote the soft-touch cheek piece and magazine

Specification

Model: Galahad

Country of origin: UK

Type: Multi-shot, bullpup-style PCP

Calibre: .177 available, .22 on test

Weight: 8.2lbs

Overall length: 27.5 inches

Barrel length: 15.5 inches Lothar Walther

Stock: Adjustable walnut thumb-hole/soft-touch cheek piece

Power source: External pump or divers’ bottle

Trigger: 2-stage adjustable

Fill pressure: 210bar with regulator

Shot Count: 120 claimed by manufacturer (105 consistent shots on test, before velocity drop)

Velocity: High 559 fps (using AA Diablo Field)

Low 538

Ave 548

Spread 21 fps

Energy: 10.7 ft.lbs.

RRP: £1330 inc 2 ten-shot rotary magazines and filling adaptor. Unregulated version of test rifle £1264

Options: Regulated, unregulated, carbine length, rifle length, Picatinny rail or dovetails, beech stock, walnut, or black soft touch. FAC versions including .25 calibre

Contact: Air Arms

Tel: 01323 845853

Web: air-arms.co.uk

Prices start at £1134.00

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