ED’S TEST

The edi­tor as­sesses the Galahad, al­most three years into Air Arms’ famed ‘rolling devel­op­ment pro­gramme

Airgun World - - Contents -

THE AIR ARMS GALAHAD AND ITS ROLLING DEVEL­OP­MENT.

Af­ter a bit of in­volve­ment in the Galahad’s devel­op­ment and pre-pro­duc­tion process, I tested the finely-fin­ished ar­ti­cle in Fe­bru­ary of 2016. In fact, I tested a cou­ple of ver­sions from the Galahad range, and even­tu­ally de­clared my pref­er­ence for the Car­bine, with the black, soft-touch stock. Then I changed my mind and pro­moted the wal­nut-stocked, reg­u­lated, Galahad Car­bine as my per­sonal favourite. I’ve used the Galahad fairly reg­u­larly since that first test and my mind hasn’t changed again, but noth­ing stays the same in the world of Air Arms and its sworn al­le­giance to ‘rolling devel­op­ment’, and that in­cludes the Galahad. With this in mind, I thought it was high time I took an­other look at what the Galahad has to of­fer.

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

A vis­ual once-over of the test ri­fle as far as my shooter’s eye can tell, what­ever’s changed isn’t vis­i­ble. That means the changes are in­ter­nal and that’s the prov­ince of those best qual­i­fied to com­ment on such things. In this case, the ‘best qual­i­fied’ per­son on the planet is Alan Ge­orge, Air Arms’ Gen­eral Man­ager and top techno guy, so while I got on with the test­ing, Alan sorted an ex­pla­na­tion of the ef­fect of rolling devel­op­ment on the Galahad, which I’m happy to in­clude within this test. Right, let’s crack on and get this party started.

OVERVIEW

What we’re look­ing at, here, is a bullpup – or ‘sport­pup’ as Air Arms pre­fer - but what­ever you call it, this Galahad is a .22 cal­i­bre, am­bidex­trous, com­pact, reg­u­lated, precharged pneu­matic sporter, with a biathlon style cock­ing and load­ing sys­tem, linked to the stan­dard Air Arms 10-shot re­mov­able, ro­tary magazine. There’s an­other link, too, an in­ter­nal one that con­nects the ri­fle’s trig­ger mech­a­nism to its blade, but you can for­get about that link be­cause the Galahad’s ad­justable trig­ger unit per­forms like that of any high-pre­ci­sion sporter, with no creep, drag or dis­con­nect of any kind.

Mean­while, back at the vi­su­als, there was crit­i­cism lev­elled at the un­veil­ing of this ri­fle due to the gap be­tween its bar­rel assem­bly and its air reser­voir. Rough, tough shoot­ers sud­denly be­came ob­sessed with style points, when ac­tu­ally it has al­ways been this way, and they be­gan wrin­kling their del­i­cate noses at the

“it’s not just what a top grade ri­fle can do, it’s also about how it does it”

Galahad’s de­sign. The fact is, a bullpup, sport­pup, or any type of pup­madoo­dle-type ri­fle, which is what these guns are, will never be blessed by the flow­ing lines of a tra­di­tional sporter. The Air Arms Galahad can’t own the same aes­thetic ap­peal as the Air Arms Pro-Sport. It’s the law … prob­a­bly.

BUILT FOR A PUR­POSE

The Galahad was cre­ated to of­fer the type of han­dling we bullpup en­thu­si­asts en­joy, within the per­for­mance out­put of the Air Arms brand. It delivers both, and then some, and as some­one who has put thou­sands of pel­lets through the Galahad’s var­i­ous ver­sions, I can con­firm its con­sis­tent ac­cu­racy is right up there with the very best sport­ing air­guns avail­able. These days, it’s not just what a top grade ri­fle can do, it’s also about how it does it, so let’s move to that sub­ject next.

THAT COCK­ING/LOAD­ING SYS­TEM

The main ‘unique fea­ture’ of the Galahad is its cock­ing and load­ing sys­tem. This takes the form of a spring-as­sisted lever po­si­tioned slightly for­ward of the ac­tion’s mid point, and it can be swapped from left to right by the user in a very few min­utes, us­ing just a hex wrench, which is sup­plied. I’m by no means tech­ni­cally ac­com­plished, but I can swap that lever over in around three min­utes, and that’s tak­ing my time. The real deal, though, is which side to have it on. This is a highly ef­fi­cient means of cock­ing and load­ing a PCP, but as ever, you re­ally need to think about how you set it up, and it’s cer­tainly more com­plex than if you’re left- or righthanded. The golden rule is, make the ri­fle adapt to you, not the other way round. In use, this means try­ing that lever on both sides of the Galahad to see which set­ting does the best job.

FIND YOUR BEST SIDE

At first, I pre­ferred it on the right-hand side, but re­mov­ing and ‘re­mount­ing’ my trig­ger hand from the grip each time I cy­cled a shot turned out not to be the slick­est way of do­ing things, so I switched the lever to the left. Yet, most of us do pre­cisely that with a bolt or a sidelever, and we’re per­fectly happy with that, so it shows that the Galahad’s sys­tem is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent. In my case, keep­ing my trig­ger hand in place – finger away from the trig­ger, ob­vi­ously – and cycling the ac­tion by slid­ing back my for­ward hand proved to be the one.

Also, when I’m walk­ing, I can drop the lever to its ver­ti­cal po­si­tion, ready for a swift back­forth ro­ta­tion to load a pel­let and make the ri­fle ready to shoot. The mech­a­nism is de­signed to negate the fir­ing cy­cle if the Galahad is dis­charged with the lever down. If this hap­pens,

“The es­sen­tial blend of func­tion and style is al­ways a tricky mix to get right”

sim­ply re-cock the ac­tion by push­ing the lever for­ward and re­turn it fully. Pro­vided the lever hasn’t been fully re­turned, this ac­tion doesn’t dou­ble-load the breech, and that’s an­other ma­jor fea­ture of this re­mark­able ri­fle.

THE STOCK

The com­bi­na­tion of oiled wal­nut, matte-black syn­thetic and dark ar­eas of laser-cut che­quer­ing cre­ate a pleas­ing pal­ette, which be­comes more so as the Galahad’s stock er­gonomics be­gin to earn their keep. Mul­ti­ple FT world cham­pion and im­pos­si­bly tal­ented fel­low, Nick Jenk­in­son, had an un­fairly tal­ented hand in the de­sign of this Minelli-pro­duced wood­work, and it shows. The es­sen­tial blend of func­tion and style is al­ways a tricky mix to get right, and the dif­fi­culty is com­pounded by the Galahad’s am­bidex­trous bullpup for­mat, but the blend is spot on for me, and plenty of oth­ers, if the ri­fle’s sales fig­ures are any guide – and of course they are.

That syn­thetic cheek piece is ex­actly the right height and the magazine didn’t touch my face at all, which is al­ways handy. Mind you, there’s plenty of room for back-forth ad­just­ment on the test gun’s non-stan­dard Pi­catinny scope rail. Pro­duc­tion ri­fles will be sup­plied with stan­dard 11mm dove­tails, but I wanted the chunky rail fit­ting to test some mounts I’m help­ing to de­velop, so that’s what I asked Air Arms to send.

A short ac­ces­sory rail un­der the fore end tip will find em­ploy­ment as a bi­pod mount or a sling fit­ting, and there’s all the tim­ber you’ll re­quire to fix a rear sling swivel stud, which will make car­ry­ing the Galahad less of a bur­den.

CHUNKY IS AS CHUNKY DOES

With an all-up weight of around 8lbs, plus scope, the com­pact de­sign of the Galahad causes it to feel heav­ier, at least when held in the hands, rather than placed in the shoul­der. On aim, the ri­fle’s weight of­fers just about the ideal com­pro­mise be­tween solid sta­bil­ity and ease of portage, but as ever, the need to set up the scope to suit your ideal stance is ab­so­lutely cru­cial. Keep shift­ing that scope un­til ev­ery­thing lines up per­fectly, then check things are still on line as your shoot­ing ses­sions build up and you re­lax into the ri­fle. It’s the mantra of ‘make the ri­fle fit you, rather than you fit­ting the ri­fle’, yet again. I can’t over-stress the im­por­tance of this.

AC­CU­RACY AND FIELD PER­FOR­MANCE

For once, the busi­ness of choos­ing the best pel­let is a done deal, with Air Arms’ own .22 Di­abolo Field ready and wait­ing to do the busi­ness. Over the blessed chrono’ I es­tab­lished an av­er­age en­ergy out­put of 11.7 ft.lbs., with a first sam­ple of 100 shots show­ing an av­er­age over­all vari­a­tion of 9.7 f.p.s., which I rounded up to 10. I’m still healthily scep­ti­cal

about the need for reg­u­la­tors, es­pe­cially in sub-12 sporters, but as long as the Galahad’s main­tains this level of con­trol, I’ll be happy.

As far as ac­cu­racy goes, I knew there would be no ques­tion that the test ri­fle would group pel­lets to the high­est of stan­dards, but my 35-yard test tar­gets were still a gen­uine rea­son to smile. No, I didn’t put the pel­lets through a sin­gle hole this time, but I kept them within an area the size of a rat’s cra­nium, and there’s more to come from this ri­fle in next month’s fol­low-up test, of that I’m sure. For this ini­tial phase of my test, I con­tented my­self with turn­ing spin­ners into pro­pel­lers from 10 yards to 55 on a pleas­ingly reg­u­lar ba­sis.

SILENT PART­NER

I chose to use the test ri­fle with­out an ad­di­tional si­lencer, just to see if my an­cient ears could de­tect any dif­fer­ence be­tween the lat­est con­fig­u­ra­tion of baf­fles in­side the Galahad’s bar­rel shroud, and the pre­vi­ous set-up. I couldn’t, but oth­ers could, or at least claimed they could. As I say, I’m healthily scep­ti­cal, but if Air Arms’ sound me­tres show a re­duc­tion in muz­zle blast, that’s good enough for me. More im­por­tantly, the Galahad is def­i­nitely nicer, and qui­eter, to shoot with the op­tional Mini Q-Tec si­lencer fit­ted, so make room for that op­tional ex­tra.

INI­TIAL VER­DICT

One look at the Galahad’s price tag tells you it had bet­ter be good, and it is. De­spite that price, this ri­fle re­mains one of Air Arms’ best-sell­ing ri­fles, in that it sells faster than the com­pany can make it, and that’s a ma­jor state­ment in it­self. I was in at the start of project Galahad, and this lat­est ex­am­ple meets ev­ery spec­i­fi­ca­tion on the orig­i­nal wish list. If you like the look of it, and you can afford one – you ab­so­lutely need to shoot it.

Just add a Mini Q-Tec si­lencer and you’re hunt­ing at the very high­est level.

Lever on the left is best for me - oth­ers may dif­fer.

The brand-new Galahad soft case is an­other op­tion that’s well worth con­sid­er­a­tion.

Air-sup­ply info sits be­neath the re­mov­able bar­rel shroud cap.

The trig­ger blade is con­nected to the mech­a­nism via an ar­tic­u­lated rod - but you’d never know that.

Bullpup, sport­pup, call it what you like - it does an in­cred­i­ble job in the field and on the range.

Probe charg­ing is a de­par­ture for Air Arms.

A handy fea­ture to keep you on the level.

This is the Galahad’s 35-yard group­ing stan­dard and so it should be.

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