I’m still working with the Hatsan Mod 95 .25 cal, so stay around for Part 2 of that series later this week. In the meantime, I had some friends out to visit for a few days, and of course you know we had to spend some time at the range.
.22LR or High Powered Airgun?
Before I get started, I want make sure everyonereading this understands that I realize I’m comparing apples to oranges here. I received the new Air Arms Ultimate Sporter a while back, and I’ve been itching to take it out for a little range time. The rifle was graciously provided by Air Arms for me to use here in the shop for an “extended review.” Hee Hee… that means it ain’t going back!
At the same time, I’ve always wanted a fairly tactical .22 LR bolt action rifle with a good trigger. I’ve got a really nice Savage .17 HMR with the AccuTrigger, but it still costs twice as much to shoot than the current pricing on .22LRs. I settled on the Savage Mark II-FV-SR which is a short, lightweight tactical bolt action rifle with a threaded muzzle. The most important feature was the AccuTrigger, which is really nice. This gun is a very affordable at less than $300. I added an old UTG 3-12×40 AO scope with low mounts and a Sun Optics bi-pod. All in, I’ve got less than about $500 into this little gun. The down side is that ammo is sitting at about $0.15 per shot these days.
So that’s my .22 LR that Im going to be shooting. I compared it to other Savage models costing more than twice as much, but the accuracy was the same across the board. The only differences were the more elaborate stocks and barrels.
On to the Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter
This is where the comparison starts to break down and pretty quickly. The Savage is not a match grade target gun or even a high dollar firearm in the same way the Air Arms is a precision airgun. But, it’s what I could afford to pick up and so that’s what Im using. I received the S510 Ultimate Sporter in .25 caliber as it will be my primary hunting airgun for small game. The Air Arms is arguably the most expensive airgun in my collection, retailing for right around $1600.00. I’ve added the new Hawke Sport Optics Endurance 30 Side Focus scope and a set of Hawke Match Grade 30mm rings to round out the package. I’m also going to add, but have yet to do so, a Caldwell long extension bi-pod for field use. All in, this package may tip the $2000 mark. Yes, I realize that I’m very, very spoiled.
I wanted to put my two new acquisitions to the test to see how they compared. I’ve spent a lot of time shooting .22LRs at tin cans and small game, but have never really tried to shoot groups. I really wish that I had a .22LR manufacturer that would be willing to send me one of their match grade guns to make this a fair competition. I’m sure this is going to be an eye opening experience.
On the range
I’m shooting some mainstream .22LR ammunition that I’ve had sitting around since before all the craziness and shortages occurred. It’s old and I want to use it up. Seeing that the Savage is a bolt action gun, it should not have any issues cycling this old ammo. (As a side note, I have purchased several different batches of ammo to do some extended accuracy testing to find the best ammo. I plan on treating the Savage like I would my normal airgun reviews. Should be fun!)
For the Air Arms I’m using their equivalent to the JSB Exact Kings which are 25.4 grain. It did not take long to get both guns dialed in at 20 yards.
I let my buddy Charles take the first test shots at around 20 yards. While he has extensive experience with shooting high powered firearms and over 18 years of military experience, he had never shot a high powered airgun before, and left the range with a new appreciation for the sport to say the least. Here are his results from 20 yards.
Move it back to 35 yards
Next I setup at 35 yards and began to put lead down range. Shooting the Air Arms Ultimate Sporter .25 is really a dream come true for me. I really can’t express how nice it is to shoot such a wonderful airgun. You have complete confidence in the equipment, which puts all the attention squarely on the shooter when it comes to accuracy. It’s amazing. By comparison, the Savage is no slouch either. It’s very light, getting smoother with use, and will maintain adequate hunting accuracy without too much effort. But, it does not compare to the Air Arms. Here are my shots that were taken at out to 35 yards. The two 5 shot groups on the right are the Savage Mark II-FV-SR. The two 5 shot groups on the left were taken with the Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter .25 caliber. The best group from the Air Arms was under .25″ CTC. The best group from the Savage was .631″ CTC. The average group size for the Air Arms was .343″ CTC. The average group size for the Savage was .736″ CTC.
Just the beginning…
This is just the beginning of my journey to see how airguns compare to the .22 LR in the way of function, accuracy, and affordability. There are a lot of airguns out there that I can use as part of the comparison. Hopefully I’ll get some additional .22LRs as well!