SSAA: Australia’s best hunting and shooting magazines

Giant air rifles review

Official review in Australian Shooter August 2002

A cloudless night sky slowly brightened as a spectacular full moon rose from the hills behind the Para Range in Adelaide. This was the scene that greeted the team of five reviewers that had assembled for the biggest rifle review undertaken by the Australian Shooter.
In a departure from previous programs, the review team chose to conduct this review after dark, with the actual shooting undertaken both indoors on a ten-metre firing range and outdoors on a floodlit metallic silhouette range. It was late June and although the outside temperature was being measured as a single digit, there was little or no wind to disturb the pellets’ flight.
Distributors responded graciously to requests for firearms and the result was 22 air rifles up for review. The rifles varied from entry-level models to more specialised types and covered three pellet sizes: .177, .22 and .25 calibre. In most cases the open sights supplied were used; however, as the text will explain, some of the rifles required scopes to be fitted. It should be noted that ‘normal’ scopes should not be used on spring piston air rifles, as the buffeting that occurs during firing will soon destroy their internals. Specialised scopes are required for air rifles.
The type of rifles supplied for this review were mainly hunting styles. However, a junior shooter starting off in metallic silhouette could probably find one among the .177s to suit their requirements and some of the stock contours would lend themselves to offhand precision shooting. Prices ranged from about $300 to more than $1000. A purely competition rifle was also reviewed, which was rated and scored separately.
As usual, a recommended retail price for each rifle has been included, but it must be understood that this may vary throughout Australia, depending upon the mark-up of the retail outlet. Check out the dealers’ ads found throughout the magazine and if a good price is found, tell them that you saw it in the Australian Shooter.
As in all AS reviews, it is important that the comments supplied for each rifle are studied carefully. This information will help explain why some rifles may have scored higher or lower than you may have expected. As most of the rifles were new and unfired, some stiffness and initial inaccuracy was noted. This is common with air rifles and experts report that some may take several hundred rounds to thoroughly bed in. This was taken into consideration when scoring each rifle, but the intention was to give potential buyers an idea of what to expect for their money.
It must also be pointed out that when a firearm is awarded the ‘best all-round value’, it is done on the basis of what was found during the actual review. The panel does not take into consideration things like perceived longevity of the firearm, resale value or after sales service.

Ammunition used
Gamo Match .177 & .22
Gamo Pro Magnum .177 & .22
Gamo Pro Match .177 & .22
Gamo BB (Round) .177
RWS Meisterkugein
Webley Mosquito .25
Beeman Field Target Specials .177
Beeman Silver Bear Hi Impact .177 & .25
Beeman Crow Magnum .25
Beeman Kodiak Match (extra heavy) .25
Prometheus (UK) Paragon .177 & .22
H&N Field and Trophy .22
H&N Diabolo Baracuda .177 & .22
H&N Diabolo Sport .177 & .22
H&N Silver Point .177 & .22
H&N Finale Match .177
H&N Hollow Point .22
Nykron (EU) .22
EXP (EU) .177 & .22

Equipment used
VFG Quick Cleaning Pellets
Silicone 35 air gun oil
Tragon Foldable Bullet Trap
Cometa practice air rifle targets
Nikko Stirling 20-60x80 Spotting Scope

Scoring Procedure
As in previous reviews, each firearm received a score out of a maximum of 20 points. The break-up consisted of three points for price/value, design, weight/handling, maintenance and loading. Accuracy was scored out of five points.
The reviewers examined each firearm and then fired a number of shots to check the zero and ‘run in’ the mechanisms. Shooting was then performed outdoors on paper targets at ten metres and then on chicken and pig metallic silhouette targets at the designated distances for metallic silhouette shooting.
The best shooting rifles were then shot on a ten-metre indoor range to wring out any additional accuracy. With so many styles of pellets provided, the reviewers tried various shapes in some rifles to see if there were preferences.
All scores and comments were recorded on paper and reviewers were free to discuss and compare results.

The review team
Rod Frisby
Rod Frisby - Rod is currently the air rifle captain at Para Range in Adelaide and is a Master Grade air rifle metallic silhouette shooter. He has competed at state, national and international levels and was runner-up in the 2001 Oceania Four Positional Shoot in New Zealand. He is the current national three-position champion.
Gil Hartwig
Gil Hartwig - A three-time national field rifle champion and now an accredited ISSF International A Grade judge, Gil served at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the World Cup in 2000 and 2002 and the World Shooting Championships in Barcelona. Gil owns and uses a number of quality match air rifles.
Brendan Atkinson
Brendan Atkinson - A five-time national benchrest champion, Brendan has had considerable experience hunting with all types of firearms. He’s had some experience at metallic silhouette, but uses an air rifle mainly for destruction of small feral animals and birds such as rats and pigeons.
Tim Bannister
Tim Bannister - Managing Editor of Australian Shooter, ASJ and Hunter magazines, Tim is experienced in all facets of shooting, from shotgun to air pistol. He predominantly uses an air rifle for small vermin hunting.
David Hume
David Hume - Responsible for taking many of the photos seen in the Australian Shooter, David also is a keen shooter and has hunted with air rifles for many years. He also enjoys target pistol shooting and the occasional round of shotgun.

This was an exhaustive (and exhausting) review that covered a large number of firearms. Air rifles have certainly come a long way since the days of the ‘slug gun’.
As usual, you get what you pay for; however, the most expensive rifle did not receive the best all-round value award. With the choices available, you need only to decide what calibre you need and whether to invest in a scope. As a group, the reviewers strongly advise the latter, as most sights supplied would be found wanting after about ten metres.
Any of the rifles tested would do a fine job of removing small pests and some may even be capable of entry-level metallic silhouette competition for juniors or adults.
The Australian Shooter thanks the suppliers for responding with so many guns.
If you decide to purchase one of the firearms mentioned in this review, let your dealer know where you saw it first.

.177 competition match air rifles

Walther LG300 Laminated