First Gun

Phill Price goes back to ba­sics with a clas­sic springer from Spain

Airgun World - - Contents -

Phill Price tried out an ideal train­ing ri­fle from Span­ish man­u­fac­turer, Cometa

When you say ‘airgun’ to most Bri­tish peo­ple, they imag­ine a break-bar­rel just as you see in these pho­tos. Like thou­sands of other shoot­ers, my first ri­fle was a break-bar­rel and I loved that thing so dearly. The un­de­ni­able sim­plic­ity of the de­sign adds greatly to its ap­peal, mak­ing cock­ing and load­ing eas­ily un­der­stood and per­formed, even by su­per­vised young­sters. It also means that any­body with me­chan­i­cal sense and a well-equipped work­shop can ser­vice them at home, mak­ing run­ning one very cheap.

They vary in price hugely, but there are well­made ones, like the Cometa 220 on test around the £150 mark that are ex­cel­lent value for money. This is where their sim­ple build helps again; be­cause they’re in­ex­pen­sive to make, they’re af­ford­able to us. Many peo­ple say that they’re the ideal first gun or as a trainer, and if you’re on a bud­get I have to agree. Ev­ery im­por­tant les­son can be learned with these guns, and that can be­come the foun­da­tion of a life­long shoot­ing ca­reer. Springers are a strict teacher just be­cause they’re a lit­tle tricky to shoot, which is the best kind, of course.


Cometa builds its guns in Spain and the brand is not that well known here, which is a shame, be­cause I love to see Euro­pean-made prod­ucts in our shops. Not ev­ery­thing needs to be made in China! The styling is clas­si­cal with pleas­ing, flow­ing lines and only the un­usual, con­i­cal cock­ing aid stand­ing out. As be­fits a ri­fle of this kind it comes fit­ted with open sights which again are ideal for learn­ing to shoot. These are en­hanced ones that fea­ture fi­bre-op­tic in­serts, green at the rear and red up front. The stock’s cheek piece is set at the per­fect height. I found I was able to throw the ri­fle into my shoul­der and they were bang on with no need to move my head to get right on to them. In fact, I thought they were so good that I did all my ac­cu­racy test­ing with them.

The cock­ing force needed is ac­cept­ably light, helped by the full-length bar­rel and mod­est main spring. I chrono graphed the 220 with a se­lec­tion of pel­lets and found the bar­rel

“The un­de­ni­able sim­plic­ity of the de­sign adds greatly to its ap­peal”

quite tight, so much so that some pel­lets needed a tool to seat them fully. If I failed to do that, the skirts would get bent by the clos­ing breech, which is no good at all. I set­tled on an old favourite, the RWS Hobby, which pro­duced the best power and ac­cu­racy, so the choice was clear. With no run­ning in, the 220 was mak­ing over 600 fps with the 11.9grain .22 pel­let for 10 ft.lbs. muz­zle en­ergy. This will doubtlessly in­crease as the ri­fle runs in. This is eas­ily enough power for close-range rat­ting or feral pi­geon clear­ance, but I don’t re­ally see this ri­fle as a hunter.

The fir­ing cy­cle was pleas­antly soft with lit­tle no­table noise or vi­bra­tion, which is im­pres­sive for a ri­fle at this price. The ad­justable trig­ger was a lit­tle long and heavy, but that’s just par for the course for guns of this kind, and noth­ing to worry about. I was pleased to see that the au­to­matic safety was per­fectly placed on the back of the cylin­der to com­ple­ment the am­bidex­trous na­ture of the ri­fle. Only a sub­tle cheek piece of­fers a nod to right-han­ders, but any lefty will be well pleased with this ri­fle.

The safety can also be re­set, which is a nice fea­ture. No anti-bear trap is fit­ted and that will suit some and not oth­ers. Per­son­ally, I like the op­tion to de-cock a ri­fle, but then I’m an ex­pe­ri­enced gun han­dler.


The pull length is 14 3/8” which is just a hair un­der the typ­i­cal di­men­sion of av­er­age adult rifles, so the 220 is not ob­vi­ously a ju­nior gun, rather a com­pact and light­weight adult ri­fle suited to those of a lighter build. The stock is very slim, which aids its han­dling, and che­quer­ing is no­table by its ab­sence, but to hit this price point, money has to be saved some­where. I was pleased to see a nice rub­ber butt pad fit­ted, so the money was spent there.

Cometa is very proud that its rifles use cold-ham­mer forged bar­rels that they make in-house, they are one of only two airgun com­pa­nies who can make that claim. To find out if I could learn any­thing about their ri­fling, I pressed a pel­let through with a clean­ing rod, but the pat­tern looked fairly con­ven­tional. How­ever, what counts is ac­cu­racy and this lit­tle ri­fle was spot on. At 15 yards, with open sights, I was get­ting sub 3/4” groups, which is prob­a­bly as well as I’m ca­pa­ble of with my ever-wors­en­ing eye­sight. I’d surely have done bet­ter with a scope fit­ted, and I have com­plete con­fi­dence of this ri­fle’s ac­cu­racy. Bet­ter still, it’s an easy ri­fle to shoot, which means the av­er­age per­son can ac­cess that ac­cu­racy with ease. As you can tell, I like this lit­tle gem a lot and would hap­pily rec­om­mend it. I

The neat di­men­sions make for fine han­dling.

I liked the clean tra­di­tional lines.

The cock­ing aid dou­bles as a muz­zle brake.

The breech is an­gled, so seat the pel­lets deeply.

The au­to­matic safety is re­set­table.

Fi­bre-op­tic el­em­nts en­hance the open sights.

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