Shooter profile: Nev Baguley

Nev's Air Arms S400 conversion – all clever stuff

Nev's Air Arms S400 conversion – all clever stuff - Credit: Archant

Mark Camoccio introduces us to Nev Baguley and his amazing conversions

An Air Arms S400, but not as we know it

An Air Arms S400, but not as we know it - Credit: Archant

For those who are that way inclined, a big part of the appeal of airgun shooting is undoubtedly the DIY aspect. Being able to customise our rifles and make them stand out from the crowd, is easy enough for most to achieve given the rise of custom stocks, and a raft of add-on after-market accessories.

Many basic alterations can be made for a modest outlay, too, but for a select few, simple cosmetic changes are simply not enough.

Less is more – detail of the cheek contact point on the S400

Less is more – detail of the cheek contact point on the S400 - Credit: Archant


One such individual who possesses the necessary skills is Nev Baguley. His past experience and background in engineering has really stood him in good stead when it comes to transforming his airguns into something quite extraordinary. Nev spent many years as an engineer of some sort, fixing typewriters and cash registers initially, then latterly, cars, tractors, and even combine harvesters! It was all physical stuff, and a need for an easier run led him into working as a Local Government Officer, a role that he enjoyed for over 14-years. Early retirement was, in his words, ‘a godsend’, and with more time on his hands to relax at his home in Lincolnshire, his methodical mind has clearly gone into overdrive.

Nev developed a love of hunter field target shooting, yet whilst taking part in competitions locally, he suddenly realised that he wasn’t getting any younger, and he was finding the guns just too heavy. “I was starting to feel a little jaded just halfway round a course, so I knew I had to lighten my kit somehow. I am quite competitive, and was shooting the Air Arms S400 at the time. I made a full custom stock from wood initially, and it was brilliantly accurate, but the balance didn’t suit me that well and it still seemed heavy. That gun became my first project.”

Note the small magnets controlling the '400's trigger

Note the small magnets controlling the '400's trigger - Credit: Archant


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The current trend for bullpup rifles, where the action is set right back in the stock, has had a big influence on Nev, and it’s no coincidence that both his conversions follow that layout, but there’s a lot more to his artistry than meets the eye.

Nev explains: “I tend to have many ideas whizzing round in my head, but these guns are more about the distribution of weight and weight reduction, rather than me slavishly following trends. My S400, or Skidoo as someone called it, thanks to that sloped fore-end support, is the most compact of the two, and has the popular Dutch made HUMA regulator fitted. I read up on the Internet, fancied the idea, and I now get 50-60 shots with reasonable consistency. The barrel on this gun is now a cut-down CZ unit, and the overall rigidity is perhaps the key. I’m very pleased with the trigger, and although it now has a long remote linkage, I’ve replaced the trigger spring with two magnets that repel each other. It’s quite satisfying how well it works! Stock-wise, the cheek piece is really just a large contact point on my face, but again, it works by encouraging a consistent head position.”

This shows the remote trigger on the S400

This shows the remote trigger on the S400 - Credit: Archant


Nev’s other gun under the spotlight here is an Air Arms EV2, barely recognisable from the factory standard spec., and again, close scrutiny reveals a host of intriguing features.

Nev takes up the story: “I bought the EV2 second-hand because I’d always loved that side lever. I’ve fitted another HUMA reg’ to this gun, shortened the bolt probe to suit my pellets, (JSB Exact RS) and also made that silencer from an old tent pole. The barrel is the factory original, but I’ve fitted a titanium sleeve for added stiffness. The tubular stock I’ve created has been filled with polystyrene and other sound suppressing material, too, so the firing cycle is fairly muted. I haven’t welded anything on either gun, so future dismantling and modification should be that bit simpler. Magnets are again utilised on the EV2, for a slicker remote trigger linkage, and weight overall comes in a relatively modest 8lb 14oz against the S400’s 8lb 10oz all-up weight. Club shoots so far have been quite encouraging and I definitely feel I now have guns that are made to fit ME. Problem is which one to use.

Note the filling used inside the tubular frame

Note the filling used inside the tubular frame - Credit: Archant


Ingenious, resourceful...Nev is all these things, and his very personalised, eye-popping creations remain some of the most radically styled airguns available. Testament indeed to how we don’t have to spend a fortune on our sport to end up with something truly unique. For where there’s a will, and of course, the necessary talent, there’s quite possibly a way – just ask Nev!