Fol­low-up Test: Hatsan Nova Tac­ti­cal

The edi­tor con­cludes his test of this PCP sporter and ad­mits to be­ing im­pressed

Airgun World - - Contents -

Last month I sur­prised my­self by be­gin­ning to like the Hatsan Nova Tac­ti­cal. I liked its ac­cu­racy, its trig­ger, the way its ad­justable stock ac­com­mo­dated me and how well its 10-shot fast-fire sys­tem worked. I was also hugely im­pressed by the Nova’s mas­sive shot ca­pac­ity and I promised that I’d shoot its 500cc buddy bot­tle air reser­voir from fully charged to empty, and thereby record the to­tal shot ca­pac­ity.

I lied. Or rather, I reached a count of 350 shots and all but lost the will to live. Sorry, but there are far bet­ter things to do with my test­ing time than to just blip pel­lets over a chrono­graph. I’m fairly con­vinced that you’d have very few pel­lets left from an en­tire tin­ful of 500 be­fore this Nova runs out of use­able puff, at least when it’s set to pro­duce 11.3 ft.lbs. in .22 cal­i­bre, as the test ri­fle was. Who launches sev­eral hun­dred pel­lets with­out tak­ing a break, any­way? Not me, or any­one I’ve ever shot with. Plus, most of us recharge be­fore each hunt, just to make sure we’re OK to go, so that’s me ex­cused chrono’ duty, then.

CON­SIS­TENCY UP­GRADE

Main­tain­ing my shoddy, work­shy ap­proach, I ac­ci­den­tally dis­cov­ered a charg­ing pres­sure that pro­duced bet­ter con­sis­tency by sim­ply run­ning low on air in my diver’s tank. A 220 bar charge re­turned the first 100 shots at an av­er­age vari­a­tion of 13 f.p.s., in con­trast to the 16 f.p.s. from the full 250 bar fill. In real terms, this makes no dif­fer­ence at all but I’d still go for the 220 bar op­tion and I’d also rec­om­mend any Nova Tac­ti­cal own­ers to ex­per­i­ment with fills from 200 bar to the full 250, just to sat­isfy them­selves that ev­ery­thing’s run­ning at op­ti­mum per­for­mance pres­sure.

PEL­LET TEST­ING

I’d also rec­om­mend a ded­i­cated pro­gram of pel­let test­ing, be­cause I’ve seen sig­nif­i­cant vari­a­tion in the re­sults from the test ri­fle. The one I’ve been test­ing loves the var­i­ous JSB ver­sions, so no shock there, but it couldn’t get on with H&N FT Tro­phy or good old RWS Su­per­dome at any level. Yet, a friend’s Hatsan AT-44 10, upon which the Nova is based, shoots both of th­ese pel­lets to an

ex­tremely high stan­dard. The test ri­fle didn’t like RWS Hobby, ei­ther, but grouped the heavy H&N Bar­racuda Match su­perbly, and I’d go for th­ese as my shortto medium-range rat/feral pi­geon pel­let, at least un­til some­thing out­per­forms them. The need for in­di­vid­ual test­ing is clear; please don’t ig­nore it or you could be sell­ing your­self, and this ri­fle, some­what short.

HAN­DLING RE­PORT

On the sub­ject of ‘short’, my thoughts last month turned to lop­ping a fair lump off the Nova’s 23-inch long bar­rel, and a cor­re­spond­ingly hefty bit of the 28-inch shroud. Study the main photo in this fea­ture, where I’ve turned the Nova into a car­bine, by virtue of Pho­to­shop, or what­ever our de­sign­ers use. The Nova looks way bet­ter and I know its han­dling would im­prove, too.

With such a prodi­gious shot out­put, you’d still have 300 or so full-power shots per charge, so I’m call­ing Hatsan, and its UK agent Edgar Brothers, to in­tro­duce a fac­tory car­bine ver­sion of this re­mark­able ri­fle. It re­ally is re­mark­able, too, es­pe­cially for £562.65, and not least be­cause of the ad­justa­bil­ity of that butt sec­tion. Pull length and cheek piece po­si­tion can be al­tered at the press of a but­ton or the turn of a screw, and while its not in the same league at the GRS stock fea­tured in my Edi­tor’s Test on page 18 of this is­sue, the whole ri­fle costs less than that stock.

OVER­ALL PER­FOR­MANCE

Find the best pel­let for this ri­fle – I stuck with the Air Arms Di­a­bolo Field as rec­om­mended by a Hatsan expert I know – and you’ll be gen­uinely shocked by its ac­cu­racy. I frac­tion­ally im­proved on last month’s fig­ures of sub-inch groups at 45 yards, but that wasn’t re­ally the point for once. At re­al­is­tic sub-12 hunt­ing ranges, this ri­fle keeps its pel­lets well in­side a squir­rel’s cra­nium-sized group, and that’s the stan­dard we need.

This com­mend­able level of ac­cu­racy is fully aided by the Nova’s high-qual­ity, two-stage ad­justable trig­ger, and also by the fact that the ri­fle’s auto-load mech­a­nism gets ev­ery pel­let from the 10-shot mag­a­zine and into the breech with­out dam­ag­ing them. That sidelever ac­tion didn’t miss a beat, ei­ther, and the magazines them­selves are easy to han­dle, with noth­ing but an ‘O’ ring to re­place, should that ever be­come nec­es­sary.

The drop-down grip and ex­tended fore end de­sign is an­other plus, be­cause they com­bine to pro­vide se­cu­rity, com­fort and con­sis­tency for the hands, and you don’t find your­self hav­ing a cold metal buddy bot­tle as a fore end. The pro­vi­sion of sling swivels and that ab­bre­vi­ated Weaver rail up front is an­other plus, es­pe­cially if you wish to fit a torch.

I’d have liked to see some ad­justa­bil­ity in the butt pad and the au­to­matic safety catch caught me out time af­ter time, but that’s not a big deal. Over­all, this Hatsan Nova de­liv­ers far more than its price tag de­mands, and that’s never a bad thing.

WHO WOULD BUY IT?

The Hatsan Nova is a ri­fle for any­one who val­ues a prac­ti­cal tool over an or­na­ment. This PCP sporter is for get­ting it done, rather than pos­ing about. It’s tough, well made, ex­tremely sturdy, and does all it can to help its user cap­i­talise on its re­mark­able per­for­mance po­ten­tial. As a car­bine, the Nova would def­i­nitely stretch its ap­peal, and I’d ad­vise any­one who bought it to con­sider the bar­rel-re­duc­tion op­tion se­ri­ously. As it stands, the Hatsan Nova rep­re­sents tremen­dous value for money – and that’s the long and the short of it.

Above: If the tac­ti­cal thing’s for you, then check out the Nova.

Above: A calm day, the right pel­let and a shooter on form can pro­duce re­mark­able re­sults with this ri­fle.

Above Left: The trig­ger and mag­a­zine sys­tem more than earn their keep - as does the en­tire ri­fle. Above Right: The ex­tended fore end ‘lip’ beats hold­ing a buddy bot­tle, any day.

Be­low: A well-de­signed grip aids han­dling.

Left: It out­shoots its price tag by some mar­gin, and it would be even more ap­peal­ing as a car­bine as this Pho­to­shop cut-and-shut im­age proves.

Be­low: Tak­ing a long look look at this re­mark­able ri­fle. .

Above: The 23-inch bar­rel with its 28-inch shroud re­moved.

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