Phill Price goes back to basics with a classic springer from Spain
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.
BUILT IN EUROPE
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.