TAKE ME DOWN Pete Evans par­takes of a take-down that Air Arms have sig­nif­i­can­tally up­graded

Airgun World - - Casebook: A Study Of Triggers -

When un­der­tak­ing an airgun re­view, I think that you should do so with an open mind and with­out par­tial­ity, so this month is a lit­tle dif­fi­cult for me be­cause I rate Air Arms as one of my favourite brands – for sev­eral rea­sons that I am sure will ma­te­ri­alise dur­ing the pro­gres­sion of this dis­course. Con­fes­sion is good for the soul, and with mine out of the way let’s take a look at the lat­est in­car­na­tion of the take­down ri­fle, (TDR) and see if this ri­fle lives up to the high stan­dards set by its pre­de­ces­sors and peers, and I do solemnly prom­ise to re­main ob­jec­tive.

TAKE-DOWN LIN­EAGE

The TDR prin­ci­ple has been around for some time; back in the late ‘80s I re­mem­ber a few de­signs sur­fac­ing, but few re­main in pro­duc­tion to­day, which is a shame be­cause I think the de­sign holds some merit.

Thank­fully, Air Arms’ own of­fer­ing is go­ing from strength to strength, and tes­ta­ment to this sits be­side me as I write. The lat­est in­car­na­tion of the TDR is based on the S510R, and that ‘R’ is in cap­i­tal form for good rea­son; it’s a big deal, more of which we will con­sider later. This be­ing the lat­est in­car­na­tion means that there has been an evo­lu­tion­ary process, and in this case it started around 2004 with the 410 TDR.

Built on the solid foun­da­tion of the 400 se­ries, this ri­fle pre­sented it­self in a sculp­tured ma­te­rial case, which could be worn in back-pack style. The ri­fle it­self broke down into three prin­ci­ple sec­tions; mod­er­a­tor (se­cured by knurled screw), ac­tion, and, rear stock.

One of the key fea­tures was that the scope re­mained on the ac­tion, so no loss of zero would be en­coun­tered, and the ac­tion with­out the rear stock would pro­duce only very lim­ited power – this had to be the case to con­form to UK law. At the ri­fle’s launch it was only avail­able in .22, and had a short car­bine cylin­der. These last two fea­tures changed on later ri­fles, with a longer cylin­der, and avail­abil­ity of the smaller, su­pe­rior cal­i­bre – just call me ‘the boy who kicked the hor­net’s nest’.

In more re­cent times the 410 chas­sis gave way to the 510, and thence the 510R, which is the main fo­cus of todays mus­ings. Un­til fairly re­cently, I owned an S410 TDR, which sadly had to leave due to fi­nan­cial con­straints, so I’ll be keen to ring the changes, which I will in­clude as we go.

OPEN THE BOX

This is one de­par­ture from the orig­i­nal that has at­tracted crit­i­cism from peo­ple be­cause in­stead of the highly por­ta­ble back-pack-style bag, now we are pre­sented with a hard case. On the face of it, I can un­der­stand the ini­tial con­cerns, but that hard case fur­ther war­rants at­ten­tion be­fore I pro­nounce my own judge­ment.

On close ex­am­i­na­tion, this is no or­di­nary

“I would con­sider this gun to con­sist of two prin­ci­pal parts, ac­tion and rear stock”

hard case. It’s clear to see, even with a cur­sory glance, that this case is of su­perb qual­ity.

Some hard cases I’ve had have been weighed and found want­ing, with flimsy struc­ture, poor hinges, and locks. This Air Arms case looks as though it has been de­vel­oped to house an ex­pen­sive, pre­cious piece of equip­ment, which in­deed it does, and ev­ery­thing about it screams qual­ity. It’s very ro­bust and well made, in ev­ery way; in­side the base, foam is sculpted per­fectly to hold the gun se­curely, with a cut-out left for the ad­di­tion of a scope, and even a re­veal for a tin of pel­lets, with a re­ducer for use with .177. As you would ex­pect, this has been cut with Air Arms own pel­lets in mind. Ex­tra spa­ces house your mag­a­zines, and fill adap­tor – the er­gonomics have re­ally been well thought out – and to keep things in place, the lid has deep, egg-box foam, mean­ing that your TDR should re­main safe in the harsh­est of con­di­tions.

All as­pects con­sid­ered, the box of­fers dis­tinct im­prove­ment over the pre­vi­ous case, and gets my whole hearted en­dorse­ment.

TWO HALVES

In­side the box lies a gun in two bits, so start­ing at the mod­er­a­tor, let’s move back and take things fea­ture by fea­ture:

Al­though the mod­er­a­tor un­screws, I would con­sider this gun con­sist­ing of two prin­ci­pal parts; ac­tion and rear stock. The mod­er­a­tor it­self is the AA Q-Tec, which is their most ad­vanced and qui­etest to date. Couple this with the full-length bar­rel shroud, and all you get at the muz­zle end is a dull ‘phut’, which if you’re shoot­ing in the gar­den, will do noth­ing to up­set your stand­ing in the neigh­bour­hood. If you do de­cide to re­move it, there is a sup­plied muz­zle cover to pro­tect the end of the bar­rel. For the record, I did try the gun with­out the mod­er­a­tor, and have to say that the shroud does an ad­mirable job of sound sup­pres­sion.

Fill­ing comes cour­tesy of the now stan­dard T-bar; press on and turn through 90 de­grees filler, but fill pres­sure dif­fers sub­stan­tially from the stan­dard TDR, which is a max­i­mum of 190bar. Be­cause this is the reg­u­lated (R) ver­sion, it means that it can now be filled to a mas­sive 250bar pres­sure, but please re­mem­ber this ap­plies to the R model only.

TRIG­GER FIN­GER

Air Arms have been us­ing the multi-sear, two-stage trig­ger with the built-in safety catch, for some time now, and why change it when it does the job ad­mirably? Of­fer­ing full ad­justa­bil­ity, a def­i­nite first stage, a creep-free sec­ond stage, with seam­less tran­si­tion be­tween the two. I saw no need to de­vi­ate from the fac­tory set­ting which was just right for me. As trig­gers go, you couldn’t ask for any more re­ally.

If you need to, there is the fa­cil­ity to de-cock the gun, but make the sure this is done on an empty cham­ber – just hold back the cock­ing lever, whilst dis­en­gag­ing the trig­ger and let­ting the lever move for­ward slowly un­der striker pres­sure.

Whilst that cock­ing lever is back, you are go­ing to want load up a mag­a­zine and there are two sup­plied. With a smoky, trans­par­ent win­dow, load­ing is sim­plic­ity it­self – just man­u­ally ro­tate and load the in­ner mag­a­zine, insert and close the bolt.

PART TWO

So we come to the sec­ond half of this gun

– the rear stock, which has a fair few fea­tures of its very own. The stock’s at­tach­ment point has what ap­pears to be an off­set tri­dent – a trio of pins that en­gage at the back of the ac­tion. Ap­ply some light pres­sure; you will be act­ing against a spring, whilst si­mul­ta­ne­ously turn­ing the thumb wheel ad­ja­cent to the butt pad. As the thread en­gages, you will no­tice the two halves com­ing to­gether, un­til the cas­tle sec­tions on the stock and ac­tion en­gage, and the thumb wheel fully tight­ens. These castel­la­tions en­sure that there is no tor­sional move­ment of the stock, and in prac­tice, there is zero play, with ev­ery­thing feel­ing ex­tremely

“I take my hat off to the de­signer for their fore­sight and in­ge­nu­ity”

solid. From what I am told, the process takes around 20 sec­onds. I didn’t time my­self, but reckon that fig­ure is about right.

Now that the stock is fit­ted, it’s time to see what other sur­prises this part holds. Start with the height ad­justable butt pad, which sim­ply slides up and down af­ter slack­en­ing the screw. The cheek piece is a sub­stan­tial piece of wood through which the tubu­lar rear sec­tion passes. This part is not ad­justable for height, but can be moved fore and aft along the rear sec­tion, and turn­ing the gun over will re­veal two grub screws in­side the cheek-piece which must be slack­ened first.

Whilst look­ing un­der­neath you can­not but no­tice the two spring clips hid­den in the re­cess; these are to store two mag­a­zines, which is very neat and tidy. In fact, I take my hat off to the de­signer for their fore­sight and in­ge­nu­ity.

CHOICE OF FIN­ISH

Tra­di­tion­ally, the TDR was avail­able in wal­nut, but now you get the choice of a matte-black fin­ish. Sim­ply de­scrib­ing it thus is a mas­sive dis­ser­vice be­cause the coat­ing used is a su­per-grippy, rub­bery-type thing. I say ‘thing’ be­cause I don’t re­ally know what it is, but one thing I do know is that it in­vites your hand, and doesn’t want to let go. If grippy isn’t your thing, plain old wal­nut is still an op­tion, but I would ad­vise try­ing a gun in the black fin­ish be­fore de­cid­ing.

I WAS COM­ING TO THAT …

So, we come to the big­gest sin­gle change to this ri­fle – the ‘R’ or ‘reg­u­la­tor’ ad­di­tion.

Be­fore look­ing at specifics, it might be worth re­vis­ing our knowl­edge of the reg­u­la­tor be­cause they seem to be gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity at the moment.

REG­U­LA­TION INFO

In years gone by, reg­u­la­tors were gen­er­ally fit­ted to high-end PCP guns, in­tended for use on the field-tar­get cir­cuit. The main rea­son for so do­ing was to im­prove the shot-to-shot con­sis­tency by en­sur­ing a more ac­cu­rate mea­sure of air was ap­plied to the back of the pel­let with ev­ery dis­charge. As a bonus, this also meant that the gun was more fru­gal with air, re­sult­ing in a higher shot count. It’s a clever

Out in the field is where this gun be­longs.

All safe and se­cure, in a case built to last.

Make sure these prongs en­gage be­fore push­ing the rear sec­tion in.

Keep up the pres­sure whilst turn­ing the wheel to se­cure the rear sec­tion.

No sac­ri­fice to gun fit, the butt pad is height ad­justable.

Multi-sear trig­ger gives all the ad­just­ment you need, com­plete with a safety catch.

In­ter­lock­ing cas­tle sec­tions en­sure the rear stock doesn’t twist.

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