Gun test: Hatsan Nova Star
- Credit: Archant
Dave Barham reveals the new top-of-the-range sportster from Hatsan
When it comes to top guns, the name Hatsan rarely pops up, but is all that about to change with the release of this flagship model? I must admit I really enjoy doing these rifle tests. You never really know how they're going to go or how the test rifles will perform. Before I started writing this review I didn't know the retail price on the Nova Star, and after receiving it in an email from UK importers, Edgar Brothers, I'm quite shocked. I was expecting them to come back to me with something around the £800 mark, but no, the RRP for this little gem is actually only a tad over £600! With that in mind, it's time to tell you what I think...
The first thing you'll notice about this rifle is the rather wonderful stock. It's made from genuine Turkish walnut and is finished magnificently. I love thumbhole walnut stocks anyway (who doesn't!), but this one just seems to have it all for me.
The adjustable, ambidextrous cheekpiece or comb is a really nice touch, and it's really easy to get it exactly where you want it by simply undoing the two large screws, moving the cheekpiece and then tightening the screws down again. You can actually remove it altogether, so there is the possibility of having it dipped or rubberised if that floats your boat.
The overall feel of the wood and contours of the fore grip feel great, and I found it a very comfortable rifle to shoot with. The butt pad is also fully adjustable in both planes for height and cast.
A real contender
It's clear from the outset what Hatsan is trying to do with the Nova Star. Everything about it gives the perceived idea of quality, right down to the gold-plated trigger and guard. Yes, you read that right!
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The trigger unit is actually Hatsan's 'Quattro Trigger', which is a two-stage, adjustable mechanism with load and travel adjustment. For me, it was great straight out of the box, but then I do like a long first-stage on my triggers.
Inside the box you get two magazines, both holding 12 shots in the case of the .22 model sent to me for review. One of these mag's can be stored inside the stock itself, and you'll notice a handy slot with rubberised 'locators' cut into the underside of the butt directly beneath the cheekpiece.
This is just another little extra that adds to the overall appeal.
Scope for extras
Underneath the stock at the end of the fore grip is a Picatinny rail, which can be used to house a bipod. It's right where you naturally want to place your hand, but not too intrusive. On top of the action there is a rather nifty Picatinny rail, which has been milled for both 11mm and 22mm scope mounts. There's not much that won't fit on top of this rifle - they've got all bases covered.
Speaking of extras, there's a small white carton inside the main rifle box, which holds a complete set of replacement seals as well as the charging adaptor.
That's a really nice touch for those who like to service their own rifles, and a real bonus for those who don't - just simply pass the package on to whoever is going to service your rifle when the time comes.
I like that Hatsan has given this rifle a carbon bottle. Not only does it look the part alongside the walnut stock, but it also helps to cut down on weight and provides plenty of air. This 480cc bottle has a max fill pressure of 250 Bar and gives over 280 shots in .177, and over 300 in .22!
If I had to draw one negative from this rifle it would be the fill port plug. It's really a minor niggle, but I do feel that the plug could get lost out in the field. Chances are that it won't, but it's the one thing I picked up on after messing about with the rifle. The fill port is located at the front of the action and it's on a horizontal plane. The plug simply pushes in/out from left to right or vice versa in order to expose the fill port. Although it has a tiny rubber 'O' ring to help keep it in place, it feels ever so slightly loose and I'd worry That's it though, aside from that little niggle this rifle is pretty much faultless.
I had to check with Google how to load the magazines supplied with this rifle, and my initial thoughts proved correct. Once you know, you know, and it's a really easy affair. It's simply a case of holding the magazine with the clear face toward you and the pointed end up, then grab the clear cover and turn it anti-clockwise. Keeping hold of the mag', turn it over so the grey side is facing you and then drop a pellet in, skirt first. Doing this locks the internal wheel in place. Now you can turn the magazine back over and drop your pellets in nose first whilst rotating the clear cover as you do so.
It sounds more complicated than it is, but unless you've come across this system before, you'll probably need a couple of rehearsals!
The loaded mag' can only be inserted into the breech from the right-hand side, sliding to the left, and once it is in place it works a treat. The super-smooth sidelever cocking mechanism is quiet and effortless.
The Nova Star's barrel is fully shrouded, and I was quite impressed with the sound (or lack of it) from my initial 12 test shots. It's precision rifled and choked too, which provides excellent accuracy. There is a mini-style muzzle brake at the end of the barrel, and this can be unscrewed in two sections. The first can be pulled away to reveal a ½-inch UNF threaded muzzle that can take a moderator. If you remove both sections then this releases the barrel shroud and exposes the barrel.
I spent a lazy sunny afternoon in my back garden getting acquainted with the Nova Star. The more lead I put down the barrel, the more I wanted to shoot it. I was putting ten shots on a 5-pence piece grouping at 25 yards, then inside a 10p at 35, which really impressed me, with Air Arms Field in .22 proving an ideal match for the test rifle.
Like so many rifles, the Hatsan certainly seemed to like the Fields, and I couldn't wait to shift to my extended range in my good friend Roger's garden, where he has all manner of spinners and knock-over targets set up. We spend a good three hours shooting, running the bottle dry in the process - it really is a fun rifle to shoot with.
The real test, though, was going to be out in the field. Roger and I planned to revisit the paddocks where we had cleared out 30 or so rabbits during previous visits. We'd left the permission alone for about three weeks and weren't sure what to expect when we returned, but as luck would have it we spotted five rabbits in the field as we drove down the lane to the paddocks.
However, things didn't quite go according to plan. We dug ourselves into position, and within 20 minutes the heavens opened - it was just one of those freak rainstorms that appeared from nowhere, but that was the end of that! I'm hanging on to this rifle for another couple of weeks, and I'm certainly going to be taking it out hunting to see just what it can do. I have high hopes, such is the accuracy and quiet nature of the Nova Star. Watch this space.
All I can say is 'Well Done' Hatsan. This is a rather splendid rifle to shoot, and given the price tag it's going to appeal to a lot of airgun enthusiasts. I'm genuinely shocked that you can buy the Nova Star for a little over £600, especially with all the added extras in the package.
Distributor: Edgar Brothers / edgarbrothers.com
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
Max fill pressure: 250 Bar
Stock material: Turkish walnut
Stock type: Ambidextrous
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Calibres: .177 and .22
Shots per fill: .177 (280), .22 (300)
Overall length: 1095mm
Barrel length: 585mm
Magazine capacity: .177 (14). .22 (12)
Weight: 3.8kg (8.4lbs)
Energy: Sub-12 ft.lbs. FAC models are available
Variation (10 shots): 11fps