Gun test: Stoeger Rx20 S3 Combo
- Credit: Archant
Dave Barham hits an urban range with this rather funky break-barrel rifle from Stoeger for under £250!
While I was over at the IWA show in Nuremberg recently, with the Air Gunner team, I was guided to the Stoeger stand by our main man, Terry Doe, and ad man, Dan Chart. They were both quite excited to show me a new PCP model that Stoeger had been working on, which by the sound of it could become one of the cheapest PCPs on the market - rest assured you'll be hearing more about this rifle as and when we do.
Whilst I was there on the stand, I happened to glance at this month's 'Big Test' subject, which was being displayed proudly on the wall. I couldn't help but enquire what the RX20 S3 was all about, with its space-age shrouded/silenced barrel appearance.
After a good chat with the chaps at Stoeger, I arranged to have one sent to the office for review, and I walked away intrigued as to how it would perform. Well, after shooting this particular rifle for the past week or so, I can now tell you that the RX20 S3 is a real gem, and although the rifle/scope combo has an RRP of just £250, I have seen it advertised on the interweb for less than £200 - more than affordable for someone who wants to get into airgunning!
That S3 Suppressor!
Silencer, moderator, suppressor - they all do the same thing, but the Stoeger S3 is something different. This new S3 suppressor has been developed completely from scratch, and what sets it apart from anything else out there is the air decompression chamber, which runs along underneath the full length of the 'suppressor' unit.
This chamber is said to enhance further the performance of the air regulation baffles toward the end of the suppressor; it's rather like an added escape hatch that allows some air to remain inside the suppressor for a while, and less air to exit the gun when the shot is actually fired, in turn creating less noise.
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Does it work? Well, yes, I think I have to say it does. This rifle is extremely quiet compared to my other .22 break-barrel springers, with just a solid 'clunk' as the mechanism releases and the shot is fired.
Whilst I'm talking about the S3, I should also mention that it is the first suppressor in the world to have an interchangeable front sight that can be removed, or replaced at will.
Get a grip!
One thing I noticed as soon as I opened the box was a bag full of orange and blue gubbins. When I tipped the lot out onto the table I realised that they were actually sets of interchangeable grips to help customise your rifle. Of course, I couldn't resist taking the provided Allen key to task, and set about changing the grips on my rifle to the rather smart blue ones. Upon further investigation regarding these and the other grips found on the rifle stock, I read that the chequering is also something new from Stoeger, and I must admit the grips do feel extremely comfortable.
'ProAdaptive Checkering' is the first technical result of Stoeger's new 'Human Tech Design' philosophy. They claim it to be 'the most versatile, efficient and progressive chequering developed so far, one of a kind'. The special chequering progression actively and comfortably 'fits' the gun, no matter the environment you find yourself in.
This rifle comes complete as a combo, with a basic 4 x 32 scope and mounts included in the box. To begin with, I played around with the open sights, and the more I shot the rifle, the less inclined I was to fit the scope. I was having a whale of a time plinking on the range, hitting old tin cans, getting more serious on the spinning and reset targets, and just generally having a great shooting session.
The front post sight lights up like a Belisha beacon thanks to it being fibre-optic, and you can change it from the pre-fitted red to the supplied orange in a matter of seconds.
The rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation and windage, and this too has fibre-optics in the form of green dots, one on each side of the notch. The two combine to give a really clear and easy-to-use sight.
Eventually, I buckled and plonked the supplied scope on top of the rifle. I found that I had to remove the front sight because it was interfering with my view through the scope, but the rear sight can be left on the rifle.
After half an hour of doing some more accurate shooting on the range with the scope, I found myself wanting to remove it and get back to the open sights, such is their efficiency and fun factor, but if you wanted to take this rifle out into the field in search of a few rabbits, pigeons or squirrels, which it is more than capable of taking down, then I would suggest leaving the scope on.
Easy to use
The break-barrel mechanism is solid and easy to operate; that initial pull to break the barrel is just about the same as any other, but actually cocking the rifle seemed easy for me, and less of an effort than other break-barrels I have used. I like the fact that it breaks and pulls a way back too. It makes holding the rifle and barrel easier whilst inserting a pellet directly into the breech.
Closing the barrel is easy, too, and it slots back with a solid yet not too noisy 'click'. I'm really quite surprised at just how little pressure is required to click the barrel back into place - it's very, very light indeed.
The safety button is well placed and this resets automatically each time you break and cock the rifle. With your fingers around the pistol grip it's simply a case of pushing the safety button in with your thumb before you take your shot. Simple, and very effective, just like everything else you'll find on the RX20 S3.
The trigger is two-stage and I found the factory setting to be perfect for me, but you can adjust it if you want to.
During my testing I was getting an average of 565fps, which works out to be 11.37 ft.lbs. using .22 Air Arms Diabolo Field 16 grain pellets.
I really like this rifle. Not just because it's different from the norm, but also because it's really well priced and the design concepts actually do what they say on the tin - there are no gimmicks, just sensible, forward-thinking engineering.
That satisfying 'clunk' as the rifle shoots, coupled with the recoil, tells you that you have a real airgun in your hands, and it's very addictive. In recent months, I've been lucky enough to get to grips with some seriously good PCP rifles from some of the world's best-known manufacturers, but there's definitely something a little bit special and 'grass roots' about shooting a decent springer. Whether it's the regression to childhood fantasy, sense of puritanism, or the fact that you actually have to 'work' for your sport by constantly breaking the barrel and loading a single pellet, it appeals to me immensely, and I think it will do to you too.
This rifle/combo is perfect for beginners and hardened airgun enthusiasts alike, especially those who fancy getting back into shooting with open sights - the ones on this particular rifle are some of the best I've ever used. For less (much less) than £250, what have you got to lose? My advice, take the plunge and see for yourself just how much you get for your money with the Stoeger RX20 S3.
Tel: GMK - 01489 579999
Type: Spring-powered break-barrel
Calibre: .177 and .22
Weight: 6.6lbs without scope
Overall length: 44 inches
Barrel length: 14 inches
Stock: Black Multi Grip System
Trigger: 2-stage adjustable T2 unit
Front sight: Interchangeable red/orange fibre-optic
Rear sight: Fully adjustable fibre-optic
Scope rail: Integral dovetail
Average velocity: 565 fps
Average energy: 11.37 ft.lbs.