Follow-up Test: Hatsan Nova Tactical
The editor concludes his test of this PCP sporter and admits to being impressed
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.