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About a year ago, the ru­mour mill was buzzing that Air Arms, one of the most tra­di­tional airgun man­u­fac­tur­ers, was de­vel­op­ing a bullpup. Ask­ing the ques­tion of the Air Arms’ team got me lit­tle more than a shrug of the shoul­ders and an im­me­di­ate de­nial. I thought it un­likely that they’d make one be­cause they like to stay with their tried and trusted style, and a bullpup just didn’t seem like them at all, but as we all now know, mak­ing one was ex­actly what they were do­ing all along.

The main drive to do this came from their huge in­ter­na­tional client base telling them that bullpups were the fu­ture, and that they could sell them well. Slightly re­luc­tantly, Air Arms be­gan the project and then soon fell in love with the idea. To keep their sig­na­ture feel­ing, they de­cided to call theirs a ‘sport pup’ and to have styling that sug­gested a sport­ing ri­fle, rather than a mil­i­tary look. I ap­plaud them for that de­ci­sion.

Quite log­i­cally, they took a look at the com­pe­ti­tion and set about think­ing how they could do things bet­ter. A few parts, such as the mag­a­zine and trig­ger sears, could be taken from the wildly suc­cess­ful S410/S510 fam­ily, with their proven

“Quite log­i­cally they took a look at the com­pe­ti­tion and set about think­ing how they could do things bet­ter”

re­li­a­bil­ity and per­for­mance, but they wanted a com­plete re­think on the cock­ing method. Many bullpups take the stan­dard cock­ing mech­a­nism with the ac­tion as it’s moved to the rear of the gun, and of­ten peo­ple find it odd pulling a cock­ing lever un­der their ear.

Let’s do this

The Air Arms’ de­sign team put on their ‘clean sheet of pa­per’ hats, fired up the CAD (com­puter-aided de­sign) sys­tems and came up with a truly unique and ex­cit­ing al­ter­na­tive. It’s op­er­ated by a long pad­dle that sits on the side of the ac­tion, for­ward and above the trig­ger. Placed here, ei­ther the lead­ing hand or the trig­ger hand can reach it. At rest, it faces hor­i­zon­tally to the rear and is ac­ti­vated by push­ing it down and for­ward. The first stage is close to 90 de­grees of free move­ment and then you feel the mech­a­nism take up the pres­sure of the ham­mer spring. From ther it moves just a short dis­tance for­ward and the ac­tion is cocked and the mag­a­zine is in­dexed to align the next pel­let with the bar­rel. Re­turn­ing the lever to the rest po­si­tion drives the load­ing probe for­ward to cham­ber the pel­let.

Many peo­ple have com­mented about the gap be­tween the bar­rel shroud and the air reser­voir. The rea­son this ex­ists is that space was needed for the in­no­va­tive cock­ing sys­tem. It has no ef­fect what­so­ever on per­for­mance or tra­jec­tory. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the bar­rel and the scope is large, as it is on all bullpups. I mea­sured it to be around 2¾” com­pared to 1¾” on your av­er­age S410/S510. This has the great­est ef­fect at close range, for jobs like culling rats and feral pi­geons, where know­ing your hold- over di­men­sions are most crit­i­cal.

The man­ual safety is com­pletely in­de­pen­dent of the cock­ing process and con­sists of a small cross-bolt in the base of the trig­ger blade. It’s well suited to right-handed shoot­ers be­cause it’s safe when pro­trud­ing to the right, and dis­en­gaged when pushed left.

Orig­i­nal idea

The cock­ing lever piv­ots on a shaft that runs right through the swoopy, cur­va­ceous ac­tion cover, so swap­ping from right- to left-handed use re­quires an Allen key and a minute of your life. The stock and its Soft-Touch cheek piece are am­bidex­trous, so left­ies are just as well catered for as the rest of us, for once. The Gala­had uses Air Arms’ 10-shot, ro­tary mag­a­zine; that’s about as sim­ple as a pel­let-load­ing de­vice can be, with all the in­dex­ing mech­a­nism liv­ing inside the ri­fle’s ac­tion. I’ve used these things for well over a decade and never ex­pe­ri­enced even one prob­lem, other than wear­ing out a 5p ‘O’ ring.

In a ma­jor break with the Air Arms’ tra­di­tion, the Gala­had’s reser­voir is filled with a probe, rather than their pro­pri­etary brass cap sys­tem. I think this was cho­sen to al­low the use of a pres­sure gauge on the front end of the reser­voir. A thick, alu­minium cover slides for­ward to ex­pose the fill­ing port and locks back to keep ev­ery­thing clean.

Above this, the bar­rel hides in a fat shroud that adds to the ri­fle’s chunky looks and al­though it of­fers some sound sup­pres­sion, I chose to fit a cal­i­bre-spe­cific Air Arms Q-Tec si­lencer. This was the com­pact ‘ Mini’ ver­sion mea­sur­ing just 4½”, mak­ing the over­all length 31¾” - a very com­pact pack­age.

An­other area Air Arms wanted to ad­dress with a solid en­gi­neer­ing an­swer was trig­ger per­for­mance. Mov­ing the blade a long way for­ward of the trig­ger mech­a­nism has been a

“My test gun’s trig­ger had a solid feel and crisp per­for­mance that was as good as any S410 I’ve ever tried”

source of com­plaints in other bullpup de­signs, so the Gala­had has the two as­sem­blies very rigidly con­nected on the ri­fle’s chas­sis. My test gun’s trig­ger had a solid feel and crisp per­for­mance that was as good as any S410 I’ve ever tried, so I know that no per­for­mance has been lost in the move to the bullpup con­fig­u­ra­tion.

Long and short of it

The Gala­had is of­fered in the car­bine length on test, and a clas­sic length as well, but if you’re go­ing to buy a bullpup, I think the short ver­sion is the one, so that’s what I re­quested. The ri­fle ver­sion has its bal­ance slightly fur­ther for­ward, gains some ex­tra shots per fill, and is the ob­vi­ous ver­sion for any­body look­ing to run one at high power, but at 12 ft.lbs. this is the one for me. By the way, the S af­ter Gala­had on the side of the ac­tion denotes ‘stan­dard power’.

There are so many op­tion per­mu­ta­tions that I won’t even try to list them; suf­fice to say, they in­clude wal­nut, beech, and black stocks, ri­fle and car­bine lengths, .177 or .22 and the choice of an 11mm or Weaver stan­dard scope rail. Fi­nally, you can choose a stan­dard ac­tion or select to have a reg­u­la­tor fit­ted. This gives some 30 or 40 more shots per fill and flat­tens the power curve.

I’ve al­ways been happy with the per­for­mance of my non-reg­u­lated Air Arms ri­fles, so I asked for a non­reg­u­lated test gun. I un­der­stand the en­gi­neer­ing and the­o­ret­i­cal ad­van­tages that a reg­u­la­tor of­fers, but these need to be bal­anced against ad­di­tional cost, me­chan­i­cal com­plex­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity con­sid­er­a­tions. In the past, Air Arms has only fit­ted them to com­pe­ti­tion ri­fles, but now of­fers them on sporters be­cause of public de­mand.

How it feels

Per­haps that’s enough about what makes this gun so in­no­va­tive in a

“There are so many op­tion per­mu­ta­tions that I won’t even try to list them”

tech­ni­cal sense. What re­ally counts is how it feels and I have to ad­mit, guns that bal­ance be­hind my trig­ger hand feel very odd to me. The Gala­had is a dumpy, squat thing that doesn’t ‘point’ like a tra­di­tional ri­fle. I find I need to mount it, and then snug­gle in to it, like pulling on a tight-fit­ting glove. Once I’m in, there’s a lot of con­tact be­tween me and the ri­fle, but lit­tle weight out front to act as a damper to my wob­bly move­ments.

Like all bullpups, the Gala­had is a tall gun, mea­sur­ing some 2” higher than my Air Arms S410 com­bi­na­tion that I’ve used for years. This can in­crease the like­li­hood of cant, a prob­lem where we lean the ri­fle to the side, away from truly ver­ti­cal, that can cause ac­cu­racy prob­lems. Air Arms sought to com­bat this by fit­ting a bub­ble level into the back of the bolt- on scope rail. Great idea, but my knack­ered old eyes can’t fo­cus that closely. Per­haps younger, bet­ter eyes will see the ben­e­fit.

To al­low us to tune the fit of the ri­fle, a multi-way, ad­justable butt pad was cho­sen. This goes up and down as well as left and right. I set this to suit stand­ing and kneel­ing shots, a set­ting that works rea­son­ably well for sit­ting too. It’s com­pletely wrong for prone shots, but I take very few of those.

The Soft-Touch cheek piece is an­other area that I feel Air Arms has suc­ceeded in im­prov­ing, com­pared to many bullpups. It’s broad and smooth, sup­port­ing the face well. It’s also no higher than nec­es­sary, some­thing that mat­ters a lot to me. Be­cause I have a wide face I of­ten need to add riser blocks to bullpup scope rails to lift the scope un­til I can see through it, but that’s not the case with the Gala­had. Medium height Sports­match mounts placed my Hawke Panorama 4–12 x 40 per­fectly and there was loads of room on the rail to get the fore and aft po­si­tion spot on as well.

Sta­bil­ity on aim

Bullpup fans of­ten talk about the su­pe­rior sta­bil­ity their cho­sen ri­fles of­fer com­pared to con­ven­tional guns, but I’ve never felt that in the past. How­ever, there’s some­thing about the Gala­had that set me think­ing they might be right. I could feel a dif­fer­ence, so I spent more time shoot­ing the Gala­had against my S410 to see if the dif­fer­ence would crys­tal­lize in my mind.

The chal­lenge for me is that the two guns are so dis­sim­i­lar that I don’t feel I’m com­par­ing ap­ples with ap­ples. I know the feel and bal­ance of the S410 in­cred­i­bly well be­cause I’ve shot

“My con­clu­sion is that there re­ally is some­thing in the bullpup sta­bil­ity thing”

one for over ten years, plus it has sim­i­lar han­dling traits to the other guns I use reg­u­larly. The sport pup is a new world for me.

My con­clu­sion is that there re­ally is some­thing in the bullpup sta­bil­ity thing. It’s not go­ing to make a poor shot into a good shot, but given time and prac­tice I could see some ben­e­fits. Am I go­ing to change from an S410 to a Gala­had? No. I shoot the con­ven­tional gun well enough for my needs and feel at home and com­fort­able with it. How­ever, if bullpups are your thing I rec­om­mend that you spend some time be­hind a Gala­had. The in­no­va­tive de­sign and clever han­dling will win you over, plus you have the com­fort of know­ing that the ri­fle is made by one of Eng­land’s best. Qual­ity, pre­ci­sion and the best cus­tomer ser­vice are all in­cluded with ev­ery Air Arms pur­chase.

Main: Are bullpups more sta­ble on aim? They just might be

1: To be­gin to cock the ac­tion, press the paddle down ... 2: ... here you feel the spring ten­sion ... 3: ... and just a short fur­ther push cocks the ac­tion 4: Re­turn­ing to the park po­si­tion loads the pel­let and you’re ready to go

Left: The soft- touch cheek piece is much bet­ter than the ones found on most bullpups

In­set left: To ac­co­mo­date this gauge, the Galahad uses a probe filler Main: The Galahad bal­ances on your trig­ger hand, which feels odd to me

In­set right: This lit­tle level helps you avoid the dreaded cant

Above: Much has been made of the gap be­tween bar­rel and reser­voir, but it has no ef­fect on per­for­mance

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