Air Arms Prototype
Terry gets his hands on the prototype S510TDR from Air Arms
Like most successful companies within our sport, Air Arms takes great pains to gather as much information as possible from its customers. It does this in a number of ways, not least by attending shows with a full complement of staff and speaking to airgunners face-to-face. Over the course of a year, Air Arms’ staff speak to thousands of airgun shooters and the company’s telephone and email provides a conduit down which travel many thousands more views, experiences, requests, suggestions and criticisms, all of which are noted for consideration. In addition to all this, I pass on every example of Air Arms-related input from the readers of this magazine, as does my colleague, Phill Price, from his editor’s chair at Air Gunner. Basically, then, Air Arms is well supplied with feedback from those who matter most – the customers.
With such a vast database upon which to draw, Air Arms is in a strong position when it comes to pleasing more of its people, more of the time, and with every proposed upgrade, or the launch of something new, the company always factors in this essential feedback. The development of the new-version Air Arms TDR is, quite literally, a perfect case in point.
THE ORIGINAL CONCEPT
The current S410 action has nothing to prove, in TDR guise or standard; both have faultless accuracy, plenty of shots per charge, and excellent handling throughout their precharged pneumatic, bolt-action, 10-shot designs. From the start, the whole TDR – TakeDown Rifle – concept was based on providing a more transportable rifle, with absolutely no reduction in performance compared to the standard version.
This involved producing a ‘skeleton’ stock that could be detached and re-fitted in seconds, with a knurled thumbwheel as it turned out, yet retained the contact features between shooter and rifle, essential for accurate shooting. The TDR also had to become ‘inert’ once the butt section was taken off, plus it had to have an easily-fitted silencer, again by virtue
of a knurled, finger-friendly screw, to allow the TDR to fit its specially designed rucksack. The concept was seen through to a successful conclusion, and the S410 TDR developed a strong fan club, and rightly so.
WHAT THEY WANTED
Over the years, that essential customer feedback resulted in the TDR option you’re looking at here in its prototype form. First, there came a call from Air Arms’ customer base for the company’s renowned S510 sidelever action to form the foundation of the TDR’s format. That was entirely predictable, given the success of the S510 in its various guises, but the next two customer requests were as surprising to Air Arms as they are to me.
First, it transpired that a huge proportion of TDR users and potential users preferred not to remove and refit the rifle’s silencer each time it was taken down and readied for shooting. The The silencer can still be removed should you prefer. majority opinion was for a TDR that could be fitted into a case whilst the moderator stayed on board. Fair enough, I guess, although I can’t say removing the silencer was ever a hassle, and it most definitely didn’t cause a change in zero, because I was part of the TDR field-testing team and I paid particular attention to the silencer on/off feature. As ever, it’s the customer who counts, though, so this ‘silencer stays put’ deal had to be done.
CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
The next significant wave of opinion really did knock me back, when I discovered that the majority of TDR users and prospective purchasers … would prefer a rigid case over the neat, padded rucksack of the original model. Blimey! I’d never thought to ask about that aspect of TDR ownership when I’d discussed the rifle with our readers, or with anyone else come to that. I thought having a discreet, easy-to-carry, comfy, soft rucksack that protected your TDR and allowed you hands-free use of your bicycle, or to climb any farm gate, or to make a walk to your permission as undemanding as possible, was a splendid feature. Apparently not, at least for many who contributed their thoughts on the matter. I say again; blimey!
THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
Thus, the S510 TDR prototype I’ve been testing came in a sturdy synthetic case, perfectly padded inside and, yes, far easier to fit in the car boot than a standard case. Inside, all is compartmentalised, and the rifle in its two-part form is hugged by foam, inches deep, its scope and silencer already fitted, with room for a larger scope and all sorts of accessories, such as a rangefinder, a cleaning kit, extra pellets, that sort of thing, should you wish to include them. It’s a proper case, and if that’s what Air Arms’ customers want, who am I to argue?
THE PROTOTYPE RIFLE
There’s not much to say about the prototype S510 TDR, apart from the fact that it does everything any S510 does with regard to accuracy, shot count, trigger function, silence on discharge, and fast, easy handling. As with the S410 version, with your eye behind the scope, it’s so easy to forget you’re shooting a takedown, but that was part of the original brief, as I said.
The action block of the prototype is shown here in the white and will be a practical silky black on production models, although I’m not certain about the polished aluminium collar of the silencer. All will be revealed when the production example arrives, and after Air Arms has gathered even more input from visitors to its stand at the Midland Game Fair.
SYSTEM FOR SUCCESS
You see, the quest to give its customers what they want really is relentless, and of course that’s exactly how it should be. Air Arms is one of the most successful airgun companies in the world, and it has maintained that status for many years. Part of the reason for such a high level of success has to come from giving customers consultant status. Frankly, it’s an open and shut case.
It’s an S510 and it does everything an S510 does.
Little and larger. The S510 TDR’s case is considerably more compact than the standard item - and it’s what Air Arms’ customers asked for.
... brings the butt section and action together. Job done, in seconds.
That familiar, proven, 10-shot magazine is at the heart of the action.
Turning the knurled thumbwheel ...