Review: The GRS Sporter stock for the Air Arms S400/S500
PUBLISHED: 11:39 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:56 20 February 2019
Mark Camaccio takes a look at the GRS Sporter Stock to fit the Air Arms S400/S500 series
Stop for a minute, and consider just how far we’ve come, since the dark days of the 1970s, when airguns were firmly considered second-class, beginners’ tools, and it really is quite enlightening. Today’s airgun shooter is far better informed, and with this newfound knowledge comes a demand for something better. Take a look at what’s on offer to today’s enthusiasts, and it’s heartening indeed to see such levels of sophistication and development. More elaborate design is everywhere, and that can only be a good thing, promoting greater performance, and all-importantly, increased enjoyment along the way.
Get a handle
Internal technical tweaks to an airgun’s action might look good on paper, but it all stands for little if the fundamentals aren’t right. Basically, that comes down to getting a proper grip on the proceedings, and an increasing number of shooters are coming to appreciate the huge benefits of a custom stock.
Several companies have turned their attentions to the airgun fraternity and among these specialist outfits is GRS, who for some time have produced stocks for firearms, but are now aiming their wares at selected airgun models. GRS stocks are made in Norway, and marketed and distributed in the UK by Highland Outdoors.
On show here is the GRS Sporter stock, the only design currently made for airguns, and it’s available in a variety of colours: Black Red (my test model), Black, Brown, Green Mountain Camo, Royal Jacaranda (a mixture of tan, grey and burgundy), and Blue. For my test, I just happened to have an HFT500 action around, but this GRS Sporter will fit any of the popular Air Arms S400/ S410/ HFT500/ S510 models, and even the long discontinued Air Arms S300. The stocks are constructed from birch laminate, which for those unfamiliar with the process, is made by bonding thin layers of wood together, creating a super-strong and stable blank from which to work.
Fitting the stock is really easy, since it just relies on the one central stock screw being removed. The action can then be dropped into the new stock, and the bolt nipped up again – all fitted perfectly on test. That amazing grain pattern catches the eye, of course, but the off-set, fully contoured pistol grip is a great piece of true ergonomic design, incorporating a six-degree cast off. There’s an extensive accessory rail recessed under that pleasant fore end, and those fully adjustable butt and cheek piece sections. Finish is matte oil throughout and, for me, it just enhances the grain pattern without the flashiness of gloss.
Made to fit
One of the huge benefits of this type of stock is the fully adjustable features on offer. Look to the butt and cheek sections and those silver discs are actually spring-loaded buttons. Push the button, and pull out the butt pad, as necessary, and you soon have the perfect length of pull. The cheek piece sits on its own raiser bars, and GRS call it their ‘Speedlock system’, whch apparently is some 40% stronger than their previous mechanism. All I can add is that in use, it all worked perfectly and precisely.
For the record, adjustment on test offered .9 of an inch of movement for the cheek, and 1.5inches for the butt section. Negatives-wise, I did encounter a small rattle at the butt end, although everything had remained rigid. In addition, the fore end could be slightly deeper, but admittedly, a stock raiser accessory could be utilised if required, via that recessed rail.
The rubber butt pad that GRS fit here is one of the very best I’ve encountered, being ultra-soft, ‘grippy’ and comfortable in use, but there’s rather more to this gorgeous piece of timber than a silky pad. It really is all about custom fit, and being able to tailor the stock to fit our body and desired shooting position, rather than vice versa. The result is minimal muscle effort and fatigue, which has to be a good thing. Being able to set perfect eye scope alignment, is also vital for repeatable, downrange performance, as is the vital issue of trigger position, and that’s where that marvellous off-set pistol grip plays such a key part. Relax the hand and see where your grip really wants to be, and you instantly appreciate the thinking behind this design. In fact, the only surprise is that we don’t see more radical grip designs.
OK, these stocks aren’t cheap, but they are superbly made, with a level of function and finish that takes us firmly into the ‘pride of ownership’ category. True ergonomic design and fully adjustable elements aimed at the serious shooting enthusiast are what they are all about. So for those of us who wish to breath new life into a favourite rifle, and transform handling in the process, these stocks represent a sound investment.
*GRS Sporter stock: to fir Air Arms S400/S410/HFT500/S510 and S300
Available in black, brown, green, mountain camo, royal jacaranda, blue, black red
Sole UK distributor: Highland Outdoors