Author Topic: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!  (Read 13419 times)

Offline vinceb

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Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« on: September 29, 2008, 02:33:53 PM »
After my last review of the Ruger AirHawk, I kept thinking about what a good deal this rifle oughta be if it were put together with even a modicum of quality control. That might be a bit much to ask given the price (frequently under $100 with a 4x32 scope), but (as they say) hope springs eternal....

I was kicking this thought around when browsing on Pyramyd's web site, so I thought I'd take a peak at their customer reviews for this gun. And lo and behold - everyone liked it! Don't know if Pyramyd filters out the bad reviews, but I figured that I'd go ahead and try another one. Since Pyramyd won't ship to NJ, I had to snoop around for another dealer. I found one on gunbroker who was selling the AirHawk for $95 + a VERY reasonable $11.95 for shipping... there didn't seem to be a lot of interest in the rifle, so I bid the minimum and won it.

It arrived shortly thereafter, and so for the 2nd time this year I pulled one out of the box. Learning from experience with cheap, oil-soaked Chinese springers I loaded a 10.5gr Benjamin HP, psychologically prepared myself for the report, squeezed the trigger... and nothing! Well, nothing other than normal spring-gun noises, that is. No dieseling, no muzzle flash, no sonic boom. Just a normal firing cycle. This was probably the first time a strong Chinese gun didn't threaten to blow up on me the first time I squeezed the trigger!

So I moved outside and started putting rounds through it. The trigger needed adjusting from the factory very much like the first example I tried - although the screw didn't have to go in quite all the way this time. Trigger pull was just like the first one at about 3 lbs, and cocking had the same sort of stiffness to it that plagued my earlier one. Shooting behavior was excellent, though - no spring buzz or twang whatsoever.

Accuracy was another matter. The gun was throwing Crosman Premier's so far to the left it wasn't funny - there wasn't enough windage adjustment in the rear sight to get it to shoot straight! Other pellets weren't nearly so bad, so for a while I just used different ammo.

Early on I decided to pull the action out of the stock to see if I could do something about the cocking stroke. I traced the problem to the foot of the cocking lever - the 'wings' on it were too thick and thus binding between the piston and the tube as the gun was cocked. I dressed it down just to the point where it slid easily without too much play, and that certainly reduced the friction. Oddly enough, the gun now became a little buzzy - I guess the pressure against the piston had been helping to keep things quiet. Since the velocity was passable, I didn't tear the powerplant down... but I did put a few drops of oil/moly mix into the slot. I also noticed that the barrel had a definite bend to the left, at least partially accounting for the off-center shooting. A bench vise and a few 'grunts' took care of that.

In the subsequent course of putting several hundred rounds through it the gun would tease me unmercifully... one night it liked one pellet, the next morning it scattered the same pellet like a shotgun. Eventually it started settling down and on my indoor range (10 meters) it started prefering Gamo Match pellets. Now, normally I much prefer to standardize my pellets - I don't like a fussy gun that demands a different diet than the rest of my collection. But if a gun IS gonna be fussy and insist on Gamo Match pellets - at $1.86 per tin of 250 (less than one-half the price of Premiers) - well, I might just make an exception. I was playing around with 10-shot groups at this time and it was able to put 10 of the Gamo pellets into a sub 1/2" group at 10 yards. Not fantastic, but really not bad considering the shooter's skill (NOT) and the large number of shots. Eventually, the Premiers also started shooting better and the windage issue I noticed before started going away.

I switched to 60-yard plinking, and found that while the gun wasn't a lost cause at this distance, it did seem to suffer from an unpredictable POI shift - vertically - of about 5". This seemed to occur regardless of pellet. I took it indoors and fired a few shots across the chrony and found that the velocity was inconsistent.

Fortunately I looked for the simple problems first - and found (surprise!) that the breech seal was leaking. The 'O' ring material also seemed suspect - almost mushy - so I replaced it with a Buna-N ring (the same one I use on Diana guns) and shimmed it generously. The seal now stands very proud of the breech face without gouging on the transfer port - and the velocity numbers are much more consistent:

Gamo Match:   911   910   898   911   912   910   900   901   904   903
Gamo Hunter:   930   919   912   914   924   926   922   922   921   920
Premier 7.9gr:   869   870   871   860   871   868   873   872   874   873

The extreme spread is 14fps for the Match and Premier pellets, and 18fps for the Hunters. And remember - this powerplant has never been apart. This seemed to solve the bulk of the POI shift and made the gun a more effective long-range shooter.

So, in the end - what's the final verdict (or at least my verdict) on the AirHawk? Well, if you're looking for a bargain-basement Diana, you'll likely be a bit disappointed - at least if you've ever shot or even looked at a real Diana. The '34 and Panther aren't perfect (they frequently need breech seal shimming as well), but they just have a slickness, a well-oiled smoothness to their operation an appearance that the AirHawk just doesn't have. And if you're used to Ruger firearms in general you're also gonna be in for a letdown... this is NOT the airgun equivalent of a 10/22. But again (as we always say about Chinese air rifles) it sells at a bargain price, so we really should cut it some slack.

Judged on its own - as a rifle/scope package that can be had for less than $100 - well, it's hard to compare simply because it's hard to come up with anything quite like it. Perhaps the closest is the Crosman Quest (even though it tends to cost a little more) which is lighter, easier to cock, and can be more powerful if it's running right... but the Quest is a simpler gun that's probably cheaper to manufacture. The Ruger does have a better and more complex trigger and better sights than the Crosman (and better sights than many more expensive guns), and my experience indicates that it might be less hold sensitive. At 33-34 lbs the cocking effort is still a bit stiff compared to the Crosman's 30lbs and the gun is no lightweight - at 7 1/2 pounds it's more than a pound heavier than the Quest (although still lighter than a '34 Panther). The thicker forestock gives it a meatier feel that goes along with the heavier weight, so it's certainly not a lithe little plinker like the Crosman.

But all in all I'm tempted to say that for the money, in a sense, it can't be beat. Even as a Chinese knockoff of a Diana it still retains some of the Diana's higher level of engineering - specifically the trigger - and that's something you're just not gonna find in any other sub-$100 gun. And if you factor in the cost of the scope (the same basic scope adds $20-$25 to other package deals), you're really paying under $80 for the gun itself. I find it hard to believe that a gun like this can be profitably sold for this kind of money, even with the typical Chinese cost-cutting. But apparently it can be. And if the quality control on this most recent example of mine is any indication they are not that bad out-of-the-box, either. Frankly, I don't know how they do it...

Offline Gene_SC

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Re: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2008, 03:33:17 PM »
Well Vince that was a good review on the Ruger Air Hawk. I think that if you had taken it apart and checked you would of also noticed that the spring was a bit canted and probably riding on the spring as well. Sounds like a good air rifle but in much need of a good tune. Probably needs a good spring guide as well. How was your take on the metal finish and stock? I also wonder how the trigger compares to a Diana 34 trigger as well. Does sound like it could be a good project air rifle. What are your thoughts?

Gene
THE ONES I SLEEP WITH: BSA Lightning XL, AA TX-200, AA ProSport, BSA Ultra, HW-97K, Crosman NPSS .177, FX Cyclone, HW-30 Nicle Plated, AA-S200, Crosman Marauder, CZ-634, R-9 DG, Webley/Scott UK Tomahawk, Benji Kantana, Benji Marauder, Benji Discovery.....
....

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Offline hodgjy

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RE: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2008, 03:42:21 AM »
Great review.  

When I was looking to get into springers for the first time, I will admit that the Ruger Airhawk caught my attention.  I have a few Ruger powder burners and I've always thought they were top-notch quality.  However, once I read that the airguns are Chinese makes that only license the Ruger name, I was immediately turned off.  Now, your review sheds some very positive light on the Ruger.  I have since purchased the Diana 34 Panther, so I'm not in the market for the Ruger anymore.  But I will certainly recommend it to my friends if they are looking to break into springer airgunning on the cheap.
Slavia CZ 634 .177, Crosman Quest 800 .22, and Baikal IZH 513 .22.

Offline crazyhorse

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RE: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2008, 01:55:17 AM »
Friend got one...It did not have a scope stop...??

Offline J4yDubs

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RE: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2008, 02:16:29 PM »
I bought an Ruger Air Hawk for my son (well, ok, its for both of us).  Very nice, solid, air gun.  Haven't had a chance to really get to know it, but I did setup a make shift target board on Christmas morning.  Nice tight groupings at about 30 yards.  Scope is still a little off, but getting close (too windy to properly zero).

Not sure if it's a redesign or not, but mine (err, my son's) has a scope stop.  Serial # 27591 for those interested.  Looking at the picture on the box, it doesn't have one, so it was a nice surprise to see it.

Very happy so far.

John

Offline J4yDubs

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Re: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2008, 01:07:25 PM »
Quote
super6 - 12/30/2008  1:02 AM
John, mine didn't come with a scope stop so it must be a new addition.  It's basically a clone of the RWS 34.  Do a serious tune and you'll be surprized at how much better it shoots.

Ray, can you point me to a good write-up on how to perform a "serious tune"?  I'm relatively new to airguns (I'm not going to count the ones I had as a kid).

Thanks.

John

Offline shadow

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Re: Ruger Air Hawk - again!!!
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2008, 01:15:09 PM »
Nice writeup on this shooter vince and this always help's when the newbie is looking for his oe her first shooter for plinking or hunting.  :) Ed
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