APART-Y TIME!

The ed­i­tor ex­plores the en­dur­ing ap­peal of the Air Arms S510 TDR

Airgun World - - Ed’s Test: The New Air Arms S510 Tdr -

Last month saw me tak­ing some ten­ta­tive steps with the pre-pro­duc­tion pro­to­type of the S510 TDR ri­fle I’m test­ing right now. As I did so, I re­vealed the full ef­fect of cus­tomer in­put on the fi­nal pre­sen­ta­tion of the ri­fle, and found my­self sur­prised by the num­ber of re­quests Air Arms had re­ceived to swap the pre­vi­ous TDR’s ruck­sack-style stor­age case for a rigid one. I was so in­trigued by this punter-driven change of pre­sen­ta­tion that I lurked around the Air Arms stand at the re­cent Mid­land Game Fair and in­ter­cepted var­i­ous shoot­ers to see what they thought. The re­sult was most in­ter­est­ing.

The ma­jor­ity of the TDR users and po­ten­tial own­ers thought the new rigid case was a good move. OK, I’ll go with that; agree to dis­agree and all that. What I found re­ally sur­pris­ing was the amount of peo­ple who told me they never take their TDRs apart, but keep them fully as­sem­bled in con­ven­tional ri­fle cases. You what? Why not just have a stan­dard ri­fle? I was told that the ‘fully as­sem­bled’ users sim­ply pre­fer the light­weight , stripped-back, style of the TDR, and that ‘the take­down fa­cil­ity is al­ways there if I need it.’ Since last month’s mag­a­zine hit the news stands I’ve had sev­eral calls and emails on this very sub­ject, with very few agree­ing with me. Those who did agree with me did so most vo­cally, but there weren’t many. Oh well, that’s me told.

WHAT’S IN THE BOX?

For the S510’s £889 rrp, you get the two-part ri­fle it­self, a spe­cially mod­i­fied Q-Tec si­lencer that can re­main fit­ted whilst the ri­fle is cased, the charg­ing adap­tor and two, 10-shot re­mov­able mag­a­zines. You also get the case it­self and that’s quite a prod­uct. Foam-filled, egg­box foam on top, flat in the base, this rigid, su­per-re­silient, black syn­thetic gun box is 36 inches long, 15 inches wide and just un­der 5 inches deep. That means it will fit neatly into most car boots, plus there’s plenty of room within the case to make your own cut-outs in the foam to take ac­ces­sories such as a clean­ing kit, ba­sic tools, a gun­lamp and maybe a print­out of your per­mis­sion let­ter, to go with the pel­let tin cut-out al­ready there. The case can also be locked and se­cured by means of a se­curi-cord-type fix­ture, which is never a bad thing.

A QUES­TION OF CA­PAC­ITY

I’ve used the TDR many times over the years and I’ve al­ways summed it up as ‘all the per­for­mance in a take­down for­mat’. What I

should have been say­ing all these years, is ‘all the per­for­mance you need, in a take­down for­mat’, and I’m amazed that no one has picked me up on it. You see, the stan­dard S510 Car­bine pro­duces around 60, full-power shots per 190-bar charge in .177, and around 80 in .22, whereas the TDR ver­sion ‘only’ gives an of­fi­cially stated 40 shots in both cal­i­bres. Now, most air­gun com­pa­nies tend to un­der­state rather than over­state their ri­fles’ shots-per-charge out­put, and Air Arms are no dif­fer­ent in this re­gard, so I wasn’t re­motely shocked to find the .22 test ri­fle clock­ing 50 per­fect shots per charge. That said, even if 40 re­ally was the num­ber of avail­able shots, I’d like to see any­one out there lug home even half that num­ber of rab­bits on a hunt­ing trip. Wouldn’t it be won­der­ful if 40 shots weren’t enough on a reg­u­lar ba­sis? Dream on, and in the mean­time, if the ac­tion re­ally is that hot, take an air tank or pump with you – be­cause you’ll have plenty of room in your car boot, thanks to that com­pact case.

THE RI­FLE IT­SELF

What looks like a stan­dard S510 Car­bine ac­tion, al­beit with a tricked-out back end to take the TDR’s skele­tonised butt sec­tion, has ac­tu­ally had some ma­jor changes made to it. These al­ter­ations to ac­com­mo­date the take­down fa­cil­ity mainly cen­tre on the breech block, striker block, bar­rel shroud and si­lencer, but there are at least 15 sig­nif­i­cant de­par­tures from the stan­dard S510 blue­print.

Much re­mains the same, though, such as the spe­cially com­mis­sioned, Lothar Walther bar­rel, the 10-shot pel­let mag­a­zine, the ri­fle’s trig­ger set, and the con­tact ar­eas of the easy-ac­tion sidelever. This all comes to­gether in a re­as­sur­ing, am­bidex­trous style, once the TDR is as­sem­bled and ready to go.

GET­TING IT TO­GETHER

Tran­si­tion­ing the TDR from take­down to ac­tion-ready takes me be­tween 25 and 30 sec­onds. The whole deal in­volves lo­cat­ing the three pins on the front of the butt sec­tion with their cor­re­spond­ing ports at the rear of the ac­tion, push­ing the two sec­tions to­gether, then ro­tat­ing the knurled wheel in front of the butt pad un­til all is locked and the TDR is ‘live’. Un­til the butt stock has been fully wound home, the TDR’s ac­tion is a mere or­na­ment, and com­pletely in­ert.

From here on in, it’s sim­ply a case of drop­ping pel­lets into the fa­mil­iar Air Arms mag­a­zine, slot­ting it home once the sidelever has been drawn back, then clos­ing the lever and get­ting on with the shoot­ing.

The TDR’s scope re­mains fixed, as does its si­lencer, so per­fect zero is main­tained, a fact I tested many times as I demon­strated the test ri­fle to all sorts of in­ter­ested par­ties, and this ri­fle cer­tainly gen­er­ates more than its share of in­ter­est. Ba­si­cally, there’s no worry about the S510 TDR los­ing zero be­tween take­down and build-up.

PORTA­BIL­ITY

I could have utilised the ri­fle’s brief un­der­stock ac­ces­sory rail, fit­ted a bi­pod, and car­ried out the full benchrest ac­cu­racy as­sess­ment, but I didn’t. In­stead, I briefly plonked the TDR on a bean­bag at my club, shuf­fled the scope about a bit to sort out eye align­ment, tweaked the zero to my pre­ferred 32 yards, shot some im­pres­sive groups to show off a bit, then took down the take­down, lobbed the case in the boot of my car, and headed for my near­est per­mis­sion.

The Air Arms S510 TDR is far more at home with its owner roam­ing about or stalk­ing, tak­ing shots as they present. It also works well as an ‘am­bush’ ri­fle, in static hunt­ing sit­u­a­tions, or for lamp­ing on foot, where walk­ing long dis­tances is in­volved. The light weight of this sporter will ob­vi­ously be wel­comed by hunters who pre­fer to be mo­bile and cover as many of their shoots’ hotspots as pos­si­ble, but does the porta­bil­ity of the TDR mean a lack of on-aim sta­bil­ity?

HAN­DLING AND AC­CU­RACY

An in­ac­cu­rate hunt­ing ri­fle is worse than use­less, it’s a gen­uine li­a­bil­ity. With the proven

hard­ware in­cor­po­rated in the S510 TDR, its down­range ac­cu­racy should be as­sured, and it is, but that as­sur­ance is only there thanks to proper de­sign and well-thought er­gonomics.

When a ri­fle is obliged to func­tion away from stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tion, com­pro­mises have to be made, but right from the first pro­to­type of this par­tic­u­lar take­down, the work­ing mantra was, ‘it must feel, han­dle and per­form like a full spec­i­fi­ca­tion sporter.’ I re­mem­ber field test­ing the first work­ing TDR, and the then Air Arms man­ager, the much missed Bill San­ders, telling me, ‘it mustn’t feel like a take­down when you’re shoot­ing it.’ It doesn’t, thanks largely to the stock de­sign tal­ents of another Air Arms leg­end, Nick Jenk­in­son, who came up with the orig­i­nal idea for the TDR, and sub­se­quently de­vel­oped the con­cept. Nick’s a ge­nius and one of the finest air ri­fle marks­men ever to squeeze a trig­ger, and he got the de­sign of this one just right. It feels like a proper hunt­ing ri­fle, shoots sin­gle-hole groups out to 40 yards like a thor­ough­bred, and when you set­tle be­hind that scope, you’re hold­ing full con­fi­dence in your hands.

NEXT MONTH

In our De­cem­ber is­sue, I’ll be ex­plor­ing the var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions where the S510 TDR’s fea­tures can be fully ex­ploited, and per­haps I’ll re­lent and take it out of its nat­u­ral el­e­ment and bench test it, al­though, be­cause it’s an Air Arms S510, I know ex­actly what it will do as much as most of you do. For now, the TDR has made its most asked for pro­gres­sion into sidelever S510 mode, and its unique ap­peal can only in­crease and con­tinue. Tune in next month for the sec­ond part on this renowned two-parter.

When and where it mat­ters - the S510 TDR is a full-spec’ sporter.

Room in the case and room in the boot.

3. Ro­tate wheel un­til butt stock and ac­tion are firmly clamped to­gether, and the TDR is ready to shoot.

Assem­bly se­quence: 1. Lo­cate all three butt stock pins in their ports at the rear of the ac­tion block.

2. Push in butt stock and ro­tate knurled wheel clock­wise to draw both sec­tions to­gether.

Here’s where the S510TDR is most at home.

Light in the hand, heavy on ver­min.

The butt pad is ad­justable and there’s a stor­age fa­cil­ity for spare mag­a­zines in the un­der­side of the cheek piece.

A com­plete hand­ful of grip works along­side the ad­justable, two-stage trig­ger and proven mag­a­zine sys­tem.

The be­spoke Q-Tec si­lencer lo­cates per­fectly and can be left fit­ted in the new-de­sign case.

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