Phill Price asks, ‘Just what do we need from a back garden plinker?’
Phill Price tries out the Perfecta RS 26 – 6 ft.lbs. of fun from Umarex
Like many people in the great sport of airgunning, I started my shooting career plinking in my parent’s back garden. My first gun was a worn-out pistol given to me by a friend of my older brother, but as much as I loved it, I soon had the hots for a rifle. I was sure that all that extra power would be better, but better for what? I bought a Webley Vulcan MK1, which was a full 12 ft.lbs., and I soon learned that my old wooden back-stop wasn’t man enough as the pellets quickly ate a hole through it, and much more seriously, a pellet that passed thought the inadequate stop also went through my neighbour’s fence. Luckily, there was a concrete garage behind and the pellet was stopped before it could do any more harm, but I had broken the law and my neighbour’s property.
It was with this troubling event in mind that I picked up the Perfecta RS26, which is pretty much a full size-rifle, but it makes a claimed 6 ft.lbs. of muzzle energy, making it ideal for back garden plinking. The 6 ft.lbs. will still give a steel, baked bean can a good wallop, but at half the power of a hunting rifle, it will do much less damage to anything it hits. A further benefit is that the cocking force needed is comfortably low, so that long plinking sessions won’t tire anybody out.
Despite its very modest price, this simple break-barrel, spring-piston rifle offers some features you’d only expect from much higher priced rifles, as seen in the adjustable and lockable breech pivot bolt. This allows any wear to be compensated for and the locking bolt ensures that it cannot work loose in use. Noting this, I was beginning to get a good feeling about this rifle.
At the breech we also find an unusual, manual locking mechanism to guarantee that the barrel stays locked in line with the cylinder, even under recoil. It takes the shape of a formed steel lever that needs a determined press forward to unlock the
“quite superb and a deep embarrassment to guns costing very much more”
mechanism. After this, the barrel is pulled down to cock, a pellet seated into the bore and then the barrel can be swung home, making the rifle ready to fire. At first, the barrel lock was a bit sticky but after 50 pellets it loosened up nicely and I found the right technique to use it efficiently. First, hold the muzzle up and then press the barrel lock lever fully forward. The barrel will drop a few degrees under its own weight and from there the short and light cocking stroke is easy to complete.
There’s no safety mechanism, so leaving the barrel broken is the ideal way to carry it. This allows the empty breech to be seen by your shooting pals, offering reassurance that the rifle is indeed in a safe condition.
Although this is a low-power rifle, it’s only just short of being a full adult size, with the butt measuring 14” for pull length. It also shows a full-length barrel that has a synthetic cocking aid at the muzzle, so there’s a fairly weightforward balance. The balance point is some 4” in front of the trigger without a scope fitted, adding to the adult rifle feel. Adding a modest 3-9 x 40 scope did little to change the balance, but I’ve always felt that a forward balance in a recoiling rifle was a good thing because it helps to manage the recoil and therefore aids accuracy.
A good trigger can make a huge difference to accuracy, but inexpensive guns quite rightly have their triggers set on the heavy side, to ensure that inexperienced fingers don’t fire the gun by accident. The RS26 was set just this way, but had a very welcome feature which was that despite the weight, it broke cleanly. As long as a trigger is consistent and manageable it can be employed well to deliver accuracy. After a quick zero session and warm up, I moved the target card back to 25 yards, which is a pretty stern test of a gun at this price point, and was delighted to see that the Bisley Practice pellets I’d selected were shooting groups that measured under 1”! That’s quite superb and a deep embarrassment to guns costing very much more.
I could well see a version with a down-sized stock and a shorter barrel making an ideal starter rifle for junior shooters, but this is definitely an adult set of dimensions and with such a heavy trigger, it remains and adult rifle for now.
I’m impressed with this rifle and, for me, it seems a great choice for a true back-garden plinker. It feels well made, has very advanced features and above all is accurate, which is what rifles are all about. I
This adult-size rifle feels good on aim and has the accuracy to back it up.
Light cocking effort makes for long and easy plinking sessions.
The trigger is very heavy but breaks cleanly, which is good. A synthetic cocking aid adds grip and reduces corrosion.
This unusual barrel lock is a welcome addition. High-quality mounts are vital for any recoiling rifle.