Stinger Springer

Phill Price rec­om­mends a ba­sic, well­made springer - the Hor­net from Gamo

Airgun World - - Contents -

When you’re think­ing of get­ting into a new sport, it’s quite nat­u­ral that you wouldn’t want to spend too much. It’s pos­si­ble that you won’t like it and your money might be wasted. How­ever, ex­pe­ri­ence tells us that buy­ing things of poor qual­ity is a bad idea be­cause you soon learn to dis­like them and re­place them at more cost. Any­body con­sid­er­ing get­ting into the fine sport of air­gun­ning is well ad­vised to buy a sim­ple, yet well-made break-bar­rel, spring-pis­ton ri­fle like the BSA Hor­net. These ri­fles fol­low a time-hon­oured de­sign that has been the main­stay of our sport for decades and shows no sign of chang­ing. The spring-pis­ton power plant is easy to make and ser­vice, and is highly re­li­able, qual­i­ties we can all en­joy.

Load­ing is sim­ple; the bar­rel is pulled down and a link­age at­tached com­presses the main spring, whilst cock­ing the trig­ger mech­a­nism. With the bar­rel in this po­si­tion, your pel­let is eas­ily pressed into the breech with no com­plex mech­a­nisms to learn and op­er­ate. This is why the lay­out has been so mas­sively suc­cess­ful and con­tin­ues to be to­day.

UP­GRADES

Although the Hor­net is sim­ple, it has a few very worth­while up­grades that add to its value. The first is a nicely-made syn­thetic stock that will be highly durable as well as a plea­sure to hold. It’s am­bidex­trous, so left-handed shoot­ers are prop­erly catered for and this also adds to the ri­fle’s re­sale value if you ever de­cide to trade up or feel like a change.

The next up­grade is to the fully ad­justable open sights. These have been en­hanced with fi­bre-op­tic el­e­ments that make them brighter and clearer than stan­dard ones. The rear sight shows two green dots, whilst the front one has a bold red el­e­ment. To make this brighter still, the metal hood that pro­tects it has ‘win­dows’ ma­chined into it that al­low light di­rectly onto the fi­bre-op­tic, so that it ap­pears to glow. By adding the fi­bre-op­tics, these sights are very easy to align and ac­cu­racy is im­proved.

Those look­ing to up­grade the Hor­net will be able to fit a scope to the dove­tail rail ma­chined into the top of the cylin­der. This is the in­dus­try stan­dard, 11mm width, so al­most any scope and mounts com­bi­na­tion will fit. I was very pleased to see that Gamo have drilled a hole in it to ac­cept a re­coil ar­restor stud de­signed to lock the mount se­curely and re­sist the ri­fle’s nat­u­ral re­coil.

A nice touch I no­ticed was that the ri­fle is built with Torx-head bolts, rather than the old-fash­ioned, slot-head screws that you used to find on less ex­pen­sive ri­fles. The Torx bolts are much less likely to slip and be­come marked, so are a wel­come ad­di­tion.

Although the Hor­net has full adult pro­por­tions, it’s quite light at just over 5½lbs,

“I don’t think that I’ve ever felt a trig­ger this good in a ri­fle of this price”

so isn’t tir­ing to use for a long plinking ses­sion. Cock­ing ef­fort was av­er­age for a gun in this class, helped by the longish (18”) bar­rel that af­fords good lever­age. The cock­ing ac­tion was pleas­antly smooth with lit­tle spring noise to be heard, but it did feel a lit­tle bit tight. I’d ex­pect that to ease af­ter a cou­ple of tins of pel­lets have been fired.

GREAT TRIG­GER

What was re­ally im­pres­sive was the trig­ger. Most guns de­signed for be­gin­ners and the less ex­pe­ri­enced are en­gi­neered to be heavy, and have a very long travel be­fore they break, but the Hor­net is not that way. It’s a two stage af­fair; the first stage is light and smooth, stop­ping cleanly against the heav­ier sec­ond stage. This is where the real sur­prise came. The amount of move­ment needed to re­lease the shot was im­pres­sively short and there­fore easy to man­age and pre­dict. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt a trig­ger this good in a ri­fle of this price.

In front of the trig­ger is a man­u­ally op­er­ated safety that is pulled back­ward for ‘safe’ and pushed for­ward to ‘fire’. In this po­si­tion it works equally well for right- and left-handed shoot­ers, adding to the ri­fle’s am­bidex­trous cre­den­tials. Be­cause of its po­si­tion, your trig­ger finger will feel im­me­di­ately if it’s on as you come on aim, so there’s no con­cern about try­ing to fire with the safety en­gaged.

I ran my usual power test us­ing the ex­cel­lent Air Arms Field Di­ablo, which gave an av­er­age ve­loc­ity of 539fps. This cal­cu­lates to 10.2 ft.lbs, ideal for plinking, ca­sual tar­get shoot­ing and even close-range ver­min con­trol. Also im­pres­sive was the fir­ing cy­cle, which although lively, was smooth with no no­tice­able spring noise.

Whilst I said the Hor­net was a typ­i­cal break-bar­rel, I also have to say that I think it’s a lit­tle gem. De­spite its en­try-level price, it has a few up­grades that make it more at­trac­tive than most, in­clud­ing a nice, smooth ac­tion and a su­perb trig­ger which is per­haps its best fea­ture of all. I

De­spite its light weight, the Hor­net has full adult di­men­sions.

The rear sight is fully ad­justable for windage and el­e­va­tion.

A thick rub­ber butt pad grips the shoul­der well.

By sit­u­at­ing the safety in front of the ex­cel­lent trig­ger, it’s very easy to use. Cut­ting win­dows in the fore sight hood makes the fi­bre-op­tic ap­pear to glow.

An ar­tic­u­lated cock­ing link­age keeps the fore end slot short. This hole in the scope rail ac­cepts a re­coil ar­restor stud.

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