Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Airforce Airguns - Is PCP Worth the Cost?

Airforce Airguns - Is PCP Worth the Cost?

A few years ago I wrote a few reviews on the Airforce Airguns and loved the features Airforce’s PCP (Pre-Charged Pneumatic) line delivered, but what about from a start-up cost and long term perspective? Initially most shooters new to the premium side of airguns may be a little sticker shocked at both the initial price of any of the premium PCP guns and also all the required initial support equipment. I can assure shooters, the cost, accuracy, and convenience is worth it if you are an avid backyard, hunter, and airgun shooter.

QUICK REFILLS - With the the more typical springer (spring or gas spring piston) airguns, the shooters cocks the gun, drops in a pellet, shoots, and repeat the process. On PCP airguns, the gun is either filled with a special high pressure hand pump (which is a workout) or a quick scuba tank refill (about 2 seconds of stress free reflection on life), generally a lot of shots can be taken between refills and the shooter can just keep feeding pellets and shooting before going back for a refil. Shooting a PCP airgun like the Airforce lineup becomes more like just continually feeding a single shot firearm and less like a trip to the gym with enough arm movements from cocking to signal most aircraft. In a hunting situation, PCP airgun follow up shots are far more stealthy, faster and generally wildly more accurate. 

With the potential for a long-term survival situation and some very limiting first amendment rights of some cities, airguns make a lot of sense legally and from a survival perspective. Having a fully charged scuba tank can last potentially thousands of shots and pellets are relatively inexpensive. If you do run out of air, hand pumping is possible to refill the gun or even a full tank.  From a legality perspective there are almost no limitations of ownership which offers some level of self defense, incredible precision accuracy, near silent shots.

MULTISHOT - What I have enjoyed most is that I can shoot for fifty or so full power shots between refills, walk over to my scuba tank ($15 for a refill at my local scuba shop), connect the line, and in a few seconds I am ready to reshoot at full power. If I really am not that particular on power levels and just plinking or junk bird/rodent shooting, I can continue to shoot for a few hundred shots before refilling. The convenience of the refill with the scuba tank is really amazingly. For the larger calibers such as .25 to .50 pellets, more frequent refills are required to deliver appropriate power levels.

POWER FLEXIBILITY - The other big benefit is the adjustability of the pressure levels via Airforce’s on airgun power wheel which goes from neighbor friendly backyard shooting noise levels on setting 0 to power levels that are typically far outside the abilities of springer guns at level 10+. The on-board air cylinder can be charged to maximum for a lot of power and high number of shots or lower power levels if quieter shooting is prefered. The on-board power setting can also further tune that pressure as well. The versatility in power is one of the benefits of Pre-Charged Pneumatic airguns and one of my favorite capabilities. The TalonSS with a 1000 PSI charge on lowest setting is a bit quieter than you average Daisy Red Ryder BB gun while still delivering a enough pop from a .22 caliber pellet to drop rodents and junk birds within the confines of most yards. With a full power 3000 PSI charge, both guns have more than enough power for consistent 50-yard accuracy and the TalonSS delivers upwards of 25 ft/lbs of muzzle energy and the TalonP can deliver a whopping 55+ ft/lbs. These models are not even Airforce’s big bore high power hunting models which can deliver upwards of 500-ft/lbs of energy

ACCURACY - Many will argue that there are a host of super accurate airguns on the market, but the Airforce guns equipped with Lothar Walther barrels are just phenomenally accurate beyond what anyone would imagine. Single hole 25-yard groups are common and aspirin sized groups at 50-yards are typical once you find the ammo that works well for your selected power level. My favorite pellets for the TalonSS are .22 Predator PolyMag 16.0 gr and for the TalonP JSB Match Domed Diabolo Exact King .25 Cal, 25.39 Gr pellets. Though I have been a pellet gun shooter for over 40-years, I have never had as much fun with the precision shots I am able to deliver with either of these guns. 

COST VS FUNCTIONALITY VS QUALITY - The Base Airforce TalonSS (Suppressed) models are priced just under $700 and the TalonP (Suppressed) just under $500. Add in optics, mounts, universal fill adapter for a scuba tank and a scuba tank and the first time shooter has invested over $1200 in the initial setup. Airforce also has kits available which include everything except the air tank for just under $1000.

The initial setup of any PCP rifle will be more than spring piston but the above advantages deliver something a spring piston gun cannot. With that noted, nearly every PCP airgun I have handled and shot has been at the high end of quality and workmanship and the Airforce models have lead the pack in the US on quality since introduction. My blue anodized TalonSS is one of my prized guns. The other point is that these are not “just airguns”, because to safely handle, meter, and deliver pressures up to 3000 PSI, they have to be extremely high precision. The customer service also has to be exceptional and with the small problems I have experienced, Airforce has delivered great support.

This cost tier may not be for every shooter, however the Airforce airguns has been on the marketing since 1994 and provend both their exceptional quality and high reliability for a lifetime of use with very little maintenance or replacement parts. There is a payback model if you are trying to justify this in your head and for your wallet, but you have to look at the cost of similar accuracy delivering .22LR Rimfire round like Lapua Center-X which can exceed 20-cents a round. That payback model is 20-cents per .22LR round X 20 shots per day X 200 days a year shooting = about a two year payback for displacing .22LR shooting. I personally look at the investment from a perspective that I am able to shoot in my backyard any time I want without disturbing neighbors which is delivering me more time shooting.


I will on occasion pull out my pump and spring airguns typically to just recheck zeros, however once you start to shoot PCP airguns, you never want to go back. The power range adjustability, insane accuracy, quality, convenience, quick shooting, and zero recoil have all made my TalonSS and TalonP my go to airguns.

I initially purchase both the TalonSS and Talon P in the kits that included optics and fill accessories. The Condor and many other Airforce models are more powerful, however both of these models features suppressors which does make them quieter. The TalonSS being incredible quiet. There are a few modifications I have made along the way. Generally I shoot on a very low #3 power setting on my TalonSS with frequent 1000 PSI charges. This delivers a shot which is more than enough to drop junk birds and rodents in the backyard that is about as loud as a quit cough and the sound of the click on the trigger. The Airforce optics included in the kits are really very good but huge. I upgraded to a bit more clarity to Nikon Prostaff, EFR Target Rimfire 3-9 variable scope. I lost the multi-color reticle, and some power that the Airforce optics delivered, but I drastically decreased the overall optic size while drastically improving clarity and increased field of view across the magnification range.

No way around it, TalonP is freaking loud even with the integrated suppressor. With that pop comes a ton of power (55+ ft/lbs) that will match and potentially beat a .25ACP handgun round. I typically just leave this at power level #10 with a 2500 PSI charge with a 25-yard zero for larger nuisance rodents we have in our area. A single snap of the TalonP’s report is loud but not enough to get lights to start turning on in the neighborhood and is more than accurate and powerful to get the job done on the first shot. I added an option TalonP tank stock to give me a bit more comfort behind the scope. I found the original optic mounts a little high for the size of the TalonP and remounted the Airforce Optic with Nikon Medium Rimfire rings. A lower power optic was considered, however due to the precision accuracy, the original 3-9 power Airforce optic was retained.

On both guns I added a home-made 10-round adhesive back foam pellet holder on the left side of the gun. If there was one thing I would love to have is an auto feeder for the Airforce guns. This simple foam add on at least puts 10-rounds right at my fingertips for fast follow up shots and is an effective and secure pellet holder that I crafted from spare ½-inch foam.

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Monday, October 5, 2020

Savage Arms .308 Model 11 Scout Rifle Review

Savage Arms .308 Model 11 Scout Rifle Review

Despite being quite old, the scout rifle concept originally developed by Jeff Cooper is still very hot. Ruger’s versions are reportedly still selling well on the retail shelves and now Savage Arms has joined in with its own Model 11 Scout Rifle offering. Like all Savage rifles, the already frequently backordered Model 11 Scout Rifle delivers a lot of value and accuracy for customers paired with Savage magazine compatibility and a design with proven durability and accuracy. For a $799 MSRP, customers now have available a very affordable scout focused rifle which is about $300 less than the competing Ruger model.


The late great Jeff Cooper was quoted as saying, "The natural habitat of the general-purpose rifle is the field, the forest, the desert and the mountain -– not the shooting shed with its bench rest. To be really useful a rifle must be as short, light and quick to use as is technically compatible with adequate power and useful accuracy. What matters is not what the equipment can do, but rather what it will do in the hands of its operator under field, rather than laboratory, conditions."
Cooper’s influenced Steyr Scout Rifle was offered in .223/5.56, .243, 7mm-08, .376 Steyr, and obviously .308/7.62x51 Nato.  The rifle weighed in at only 6.6lbs without an optic and was only 38.6” in length. By today’s standards, it was very light and still had a number of forward thinking features such as spare mag in the buttstock, forward mounted optic, and integrated bipod. Most people have netted down Cooper’s concept to a magazine fed .308 Winchester based bolt action rifle with a length around 40-inches and a weight under 8-lbs which allows for a forward mounted optic and can support iron backup sights. That noted, any Scout Rifle student knows that an individual’s “scout rifle” can look much different depending on the shooter’s needs.
I am going to jump in with both feet and make many comparisons between the Savage and Ruger offerings, because after all, buyers will on the showroom floor. The Savage Arms Model 11 Scout rifle follows closely to the original design intent of a scout rifle as outlined by Copper, but does have a few welcome departures. The Savage Scout Rifle shared many great features with the Ruger including adjustable stock pull length, magazine fed action, free-floated barrel to maximize accuracy, dual sling studs to support a scout sling, a forward optic mounting rail, and iron sights. When customers are comparing the two competing rifles, that is where the similarities end and value starts to tip over to the side of the Savage.

Out of the box, the Savage Scout rifle arrives with an exceptional peep sight system that is significantly higher quality than the included Ruger iron peep sight system. The same can be said for the Savage trigger system which is arguably as good as most entry level aftermarket match triggers. The Model 11 Scout includes an incredibly effective brake with recoil reduction that takes a huge bite out of the bolt action .308 recoil which delivers a rifle that is extremely comfortable even during all-day range training. This effective brake is a huge plus on the Savage. The current line of Ruger Scout Rifles can start to pommel the shooter after a day at the range. Savage offered the initial Scout Rifle released with a top tier billet aluminum pillar-bedded Hogue Polymer stock that is completely waterproof and allegedly stiffer than a wood stock.
On the Ruger, even after using the lowest rings possible for mounting an optic, the cheek rest height was still too low for a comfortable cheek weld. I solved the problem on my Ruger with a nice Hornady cheek rest bag, however Savage solved the problem up front by including an adjustable cheek rest out of the box. Notably, with the cheek rest in place, the factory peep sights are too low for regular use. If you plan on using the iron sights, owners will need to remove the cheek rest first.
The stock on the Savage is better equipped than the Ruger out of the box for those that want to add an optic. On top of integrated cheek riser, I found it ergonomically more comfortable as well with less felt recoil that the Ruger. Overall the Savage is 1-inch longer and about a half pound heavier than the Ruger, though both felt nearly identical in weight.
Feeding and functioning was perfect from the box fed Savage magazines. My only real complaint with the proprietary Savage magazines is that they are proprietary vs being AICS magazine compatible like the Ruger Scout Rifle. For someone with a couple other bolt guns with AICS magazines this may alone be a deal breaker for them.
The adjustable Savage AccuTrigger on the Model 11 is really very impressive. The trigger weight is adjustable from around 2-lbs to 6-lbs, however I would leave it set at the factory 2.25lb weight (as measured by my Timney trigger gauge.) As is, the trigger is amazing when compared to the crunchy Ruger trigger.
Savage has made a name for itself in the accuracy department and this scout rifle format delivered good accuracy for the $800 price tag. I think it would be an epic head to head battle between the Ruger Scout Rifle and the Savage Model 11 Scout for which could deliver better accuracy out of the box. I spent the better part of an afternoon attempting to show a clear winner, but there is no clear winner. Both of these guns will easily deliver 1.25” 100-yard groups, however I have personally seen both of these guns deliver touching five shot .5”-inch groups. I would really not say that either has the advantage from an accuracy perspective, but I do feel confident that the Savage Model 11 will deliver consistent 1-1.25-inch 100-yard groups with good ammo.
With a better factory trigger, stock, sights, brake, included adjustable cheek rest, and lower price, the Savage Arms Model 11 Scout Rifle is sure to please Savage loyalist and potentially convert many Ruger customers. Out of the box it is easier to shoot and better equipped.
Notably the Savage AccuTrigger is leagues better than the factory Ruger Scout trigger. My only significant complaint with the Savage Model 11 Scout Rifle are the proprietary Savage magazines. As a guy that has a bunch of rifles that accept AICS compatible .308 magazines, it makes my eyes roll that I need to go out and buy more mags for the Savage. Many will note that you can buy a lot of ammo and spare magazines for the $300 price difference between the two rifles.
Since many will wonder if the Model 11 can be a good suppressor host - it is. After attaching my Asymmetric LYNX suppressor, the Savage Model 11 Scout Rifle was a quiet and tame beast which delivered easy .75-inch 100-yard groups with the pictured Federal Gold Match ammo. Actually it was “lovely to shoot”.
The Cooper Scout Rifle concept notates useable accuracy sufficient for the application and the Savage Model 11 Scout delivers easily on that concept. The Model 11 is a rifle that can do “everything” for and owner and serve as that single rifle for everything that can hunt any North American game. I think Savage nailed the concept with the Model 11 Scout Rifle.
Savage Model 11 Scout - .308 Winchester
Series: Specialty
Magazine: Detachable box
Stock material: Synthetic
Barrel material: Carbon Steel
Stock finish: Matte
Barrel finish: Matte
Stock color: Natural
Barrel color: Black
Sights: Adjustable iron sights
Features:Includes a one piece rail
Caliber - 308 WIN (Other Calibers reportedly planned)
Rate of Twist:10
Weight:7.8 lbs
Overall Length:40.5"
Barrel Length:18"
Ammo Capacity:10


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Savage Arms - http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/11Scout