Fol­low-up Test

The ed­i­tor car­ries out a bar­rel-swap. What could pos­si­bly go wrong?

Airgun World - - Contents -

Terry Doe finds chang­ing bar­rels on The Priest re­mark­ably easy!

Those who know and tol­er­ate me are fully aware of my tech­ni­cal short­com­ings. I’m that pre­cious breed of hu­man who at­tracts techno-dis­as­ter and gen­er­ally, if it can pos­si­bly go wrong, it most cer­tainly will. Through­out my var­ied and in­ter­est­ing life, I’ve heard tech­ni­cal types, from plumbers, through car me­chan­ics, I.T. bods and even med­i­cal spe­cial­ists, say, ‘well, I’ve never known THAT hap­pen be­fore!’

I con­sider this more bless­ing than curse and there’s no doubt it makes me the very chap when it comes to testing any­thing where stuff could go wrong. Spool for­ward to this month’s fol­low-up test, when City Air­weapons’ Bob Phelps, the im­porter of The re­mark­able Priest I tested last month, asks me to carry out the ri­fle’s bar­rel-swap op­tion … in the field. I’d al­ready done a few swaps on the test ri­fle, al­though these were done safely inside a work­shop where even I could keep ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol. Do­ing the same whilst rest­ing on a tree stump or what­ever, now that was a dif­fer­ent prospect en­tirely.

CHICKENING OUT

I’d been us­ing The Priest to zap some rats around a friend’s chicken pens, and a fine job it had done, too. My friend is left-handed and The Priest’s am­bidex­trous de­sign meant I could leave the ri­fle with him so he could carry on where I left off. He was es­pe­cially im­pressed at the way the ri­fle’s mag­a­zine can be flipped so it sticks out of what­ever side your face isn’t on.

The Priest’s 450-plus shot ca­pac­ity im­pressed him too, and the pair of us have been ei­ther ham­mer­ing any rats stupid enough to poke a whiffly nose out when we’re pa­trolling, or shoot­ing tar­gets as part of the over­all eval­u­a­tion. Or be­cause shoot­ing cans, acorns and bits of this­tle at 40-odd yards is still as en­joy­able as it ever was, even with a hi-tech, £889 bullpup.

On the day of the in­tended bar­rel-swap, I had a mooch around the chicken pens as usual, but saw noth­ing. Then it started to rain, or more cor­rectly, ‘miz­zle’, but ei­ther way, I knew I needed to get un­der cover to at­tempt the bar­rel-swap or ev­ery­thing would get

soaked. My friend’s back porch and a pa­tio ta­ble proved the per­fect in­door-out­door com­pro­mise, and the pro­ce­dure be­gan.

JUST FOL­LOW THE IN­STRUC­TIONS

The Priest comes with full in­struc­tions, plus a neat, threaded re­moval tool for the bar­rel. I was as­sured by Bob that I’d need only this tool plus a cou­ple of hex wrenches, and it would be job done. Here’s the shock – he was right.

The bar­rel is held by the shroud end-cap and a grub screw at the breech end, and with these out of the way (and care­fully set aside in an empty pellet tin), it was sim­ply a mat­ter of screw­ing in the re­moval tool and draw­ing out the bar­rel proper.

Re­plac­ing one bar­rel with an­other is the re­verse of this pro­ce­dure, leav­ing just the cal­i­bre-spe­cific pellet probe to be swapped over. This is the most fid­dly phase of the op­er­a­tion, but again, even I could han­dle it, and ex­actly eight min­utes af­ter start­ing, I was ready to drop in the match­ing mag­a­zine and start shoot­ing. I didn’t even take off the scope, al­though The Priest needed to be re-ze­roed, of course. Even the zero was within a cou­ple of inches and I was ready to go in no time.

BACK TO THE START

Hav­ing just swapped the .22 bar­rel for my gen­er­ally pre­ferred .177, my friend de­manded I swap it back, be­cause that’s his pre­ferred cal­i­bre for short-range quarry, like rats. I couldn’t ar­gue with that, but with a .25 op­tion on the spare bar­rel front, I was sorely tempted. Then it started belt­ing down with rain and we bun­dled ev­ery­thing inside and de­cided against the .25 ex­per­i­ment. Per­haps that’s one for the fu­ture.

VER­DICT

First, if you like ‘ex­treme’ bullpups, you’ll like The Priest, and very much vice-versa. It’s com­mend­ably ef­fi­cient, in both shot­pro­duc­tion and con­sis­tency, with the .22 op­tion all but match­ing the .177’s 11 f.p.s. av­er­age vari­a­tion over 50 shots, al­beit with pre­pared pel­lets. The Priest didn’t know those pel­lets were prepped, though; it just kept on blip­ping them out, and would have spat its way through well over 400 if I’d left the .22 bar­rel on through­out a charge.

I’d pre­fer some­thing warmer to rest my face against, and I’d ab­so­lutely de­mand a cover for the ri­fle’s air in­let valve, to in­sure against de­bil­i­tat­ing par­ti­cles of grit. The ‘bot­tle off’ op­tion could find favour with some, but I pre­ferred to leave that air tank up front as counter-bal­ance and fore end, rather than at­tach it via the um­bil­i­cal and slip it into a handy pocket.

Fi­nally, the com­pact si­lencer I was so keen on last month hasn’t been needed, and the 18 rats we’ve shot def­i­nitely didn’t no­tice its omis­sion, but I’m cer­tain new own­ers of this ri­fle will want ul­ti­mate moder­a­tion, be­cause that’s what we’re used to with PCPs.

The mag­a­zine sys­tem works flaw­lessly, the trig­ger is ex­cel­lent, and the ri­fle’s over­all build qual­ity mer­its the price tag. I’d strongly ad­vise you do ev­ery­thing you can to get The Priest on a test range as soon as you can. If you’re a bullpup fan, it re­ally could turn out to be a bless­ing.

If you’re a bullpup fan - this is in the ‘best of breed’ class.

Add just a cou­ple of hex wrenches and you’re ready to swap bar­rels.

With the re­place­ment bar­rel cor­rectly fixed, swap the pellet probes as in­structed. Now load and fit the re­quired pellet mag­a­zine and you’re ready to go. Easy! 5

In­sert the bar­rel-re­mov­ing tool and thread it onto the bar­rel proper. 3

Draw out the bar­rel. 4

Re­move the bar­rel-fix­ing grub screw. 2

Un­screw the bar­rel shroud end cap. 1

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