Okay, now I get it. Now I truly understand why everyone raves about the S400/410 series rifles. As some of you know, I recently put one of my Talon SS's up for trade, I was looking for an Air Arms S200. I had a high powered hammer in one of my Talons, I wanted a light, low/mid powered PCP for bird sniping and targets. I've shot almost nothing but the Talons for the last year, it was time for a change.
Well, no one had an S200 they wanted to part with at the time, but I was offered an S400E Xtra FAC. Needless to say, I jumped on it. For those not familiar with these rifles, the 400's are single shots, the 410's are 10 shot repeaters. They are available in various configurations and power levels, with the latest models having a side cocking lever instead of the classic bolt action. Mine is an older high power model, bolt action, non-adjustable power, full length rifle. And I do mean full length, this thing is just a hair under 44" long! That's almost a foot longer than my Talon SS, and it was the first thing that struck me when I took it out of the box. Part of the reason for the length is the full length integral shroud, more on that later.
The rifle arrived last Friday, nicely packaged in a hard case. Considering that this is a 3 or 4 year old rifle, it's in excellent shape, just a few very minor dings here and there. It has a pretty plain jane beech stock, I can understand why Kirby likes his walnut stocks so much :-). Despite the fact that it looks like a big rifle, it's surprisingly light, and the balance is excellent. I've never been crazy about the "schnabel" forend on these guns, but I'm learning to live with it. When I made the deal, I knew I'd need to get a fill adapter, my attempt to get one by the weekend failed, so here I was with a new rifle and I couldn't shoot it. Add in the fact that my Talon is out of commission, and it's a wonder I made it through the weekend. But as Paul (Fix) would say, life is good, then it gets better. Fill adapter showed up today, and I got off work a little early. So I was able to spend my afternoon with the new gun, and that brings me to the reason for this post.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about fit and finish, others have already done that, and probably better than I could. Suffice to say, this is a high end rifle, easily the finest I've owned to date. The only thing I've had that came close was my Beeman HW 77, and I'm afraid it comes off as a not too close second. That includes triggers. The Rekord trigger in the Beeman rifles is rightfully considered a world class unit. Well, Air Arms managed to improve on perfection. Adjusting this trigger is a breeze, it took me maybe 10 minutes and 20 pellets to dial it in exactly the way I wanted it. It has separate adjustments for pull weight, 1st and 2nd stage. When I got it, it was much too light, all I had to do was think about and it went off. Well under half a pound, I'd say. And yet, it was perfectly safe, I tried knocking it around to see if it would go off (something the Rekord will do if set too light), and it never did. Which is a good thing in a rifle with no safety. It was also set up as a single stage. After my adjusting, it's a very crisp, 2 stage trigger that breaks somewhere around a pound. As I get more used to the rifle, I may lighten it up again, but for now, it's perfect for me.
Actually shooting it was shocking. This one is a .177, all the info I've read says that this is a 20+ fpe rifle in that caliber. But when you pull the trigger, all you hear is a pop, then the pellet hitting the target. And that's louder than the gun going off! Like I said, I shot it a bit adjusting the trigger, but I couldn't believe it was shooting full power. I thought I was under filling it, per my filling station I was filling to 200 bar, but the gauge on the rifle said I was just a little over 150. Don't know which one to believe, but I think I'm getting another gauge. Anyway, after adjusting the trigger, I got out my chrony and shot a couple of strings. The first 30 shot string was with CPH's, average was 992 fps for 23 fpe! I couldn't believe it, the high was 1031, and yet, all I was hearing was this POP, then the pellet striking the target. The CPH's are pretty good accuracy wise, but this is a little fast for them. At 30 yards, 5 shots inside 1/2" wasn't too difficult. I think with practice and familiarity, that will improve. After refilling, I decided to shoot another string, only this time I shot Eun Jins. At 16 gr., these are about as heavy a .177 pellet as you can get. Unlike some, I've had good luck with these in my Talons, but this rifle absolutely LOVES them! 4 of 5 went in a hole less than .2", I pulled the 5th and blew it up to about 3/4". And the power! 30 shots averaged 873 fps, ES was 29 fps for an SD of 7.9, at just a tick over 27 fpe. If ever a .177 could be considered a hammer, this thing with EJ's qualifies. And yet, it's so mild mannered my wife was tearing up bulls right off the bat, and she only shoots rarely. I will say it doesn't seem to like lighter pellets, I shot groups with a variety of pellets, CPL's were terrible, Superdomes and Supermags were only so so, and JSB's were okay but inconsistent. That might change with a different head size, I need to do some experimenting. Just for grins, I tried a couple of Silver Arrows, results were typical-2 shots ended up 3 inches apart and nowhere close to POA. I've got some others to try, Predators among them, but didn't get to them today.
I'll close this with a pic, the Talon is there for contrast. I TOLD you it was long :-)! Later.