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