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Air Arms Pro Sport - A Handsome Beast

Discussion in 'Airgun Reviews' started by Hampshire Tog, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. Hampshire Tog

    Hampshire Tog Donator

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    I am blessed with a good armoury, I know that. 4x PCPs and 4x springers BUT one thing missing was a springer in .22. I had heard that .22 springers are not as lively as .177, so mooched around some gunsmiths to see what I fancied.

    As I was a bit off with Weihrauch after a recent poor experience with an HW98, I wanted to look further afield and let’s be honest there’s really only one to consider; Air Arms. I have a TX 200 HC which is my favourite springer but was curious about the TX’s more handsome, younger brother, the Pro Sport.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-33-25.jpeg
    Air Arms Pro Sport - a handsome beast.

    Looking around the web, £585 - £610 seemed to be the going rates for a new Pro Sport. I like to keep my business local so went to the Gun Shop in Botley and placed an order. £600 was the agreed price and I was told the wait would be a week. One week actually turned into three and during that time I religiously performed my nightly Please-can-I-get-a-nice-piece-of-walnut dance as I hoped for a stock with a bit of character. Anyway, on Friday I went to the shop on another errand and lo and behold the gun had just arrived.

    There was an awkward moment at check-out when the rifle rang through the till at £669 yet £600 is what had been quoted when I ordered the gun. To be fair to The Gun Shop in Botley, they honoured the original price but said that £669 was the new RRP for the rifle, now they are supplied by a new distributor. Has anyone else noticed an 11.5% price inflation in the cost of Air Arms products?

    Anyway, back home the stock came off and the application of Parker Hale walnut oil commenced. Now all men like getting wood but there are surely few things more satisfying than massaging that wood with lightly oiled hands, caressing the chequering, lightly kneading the grain. I don’t want to come across all ’50 shades of walnut’, but there’s something about a new walnut stock that you just don’t get with a beech or tactical stock and spending time fondling the forend is a good way to bond with your rifle before taking it on its first outing with the added bonus that it makes your gun cupboard smell like a real gun shop.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-34-51.jpeg
    Nice bit of walnut

    upload_2018-8-28_20-35-39.jpeg
    Lovely chequering on the stock.

    While the oil was seeping into the grain, I took a good look at the metal. Everything above the stock looks great. As with all AA guns, the blueing is deep and rich. The barrel looked straight and the trigger is even gold, which it isn’t on the TX 200.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-37-16.jpeg
    Gold trigger

    Not much more to say really. Turn it over and it’s a different matter. For some reason the manufacture of the cocking arm has been outsourced to people who make window casement stays. While it sits beautifully recessed, the angular cocking arm in matt aluminium is in my humble opinion a totally unintuitive shape and not easy on the cocking hand.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-38-31.jpeg
    Cocking arm handle - like that's ever going to be comfortable to grip. Surely that's one of those levers you use to shut windows?

    upload_2018-8-28_20-39-17.jpeg
    The finish on some of the internal aluminium components is a bit rough & ready.

    And the shooting bore this assumption out. The Prosport is the toughest gun I’ve ever cocked, even more so I feel than the TX 200HC. I can cancel my gym membership because my left bicep at least is guaranteed a good work out every time I go shooting. As I feared, that window opening bar of a cocking arm is not kind on the palm. There is something flimsy about the cocking arm and I wonder whether it will need to be replaced during the lifespan of the rifle. The cocking arm of a TX 200 or an HW 97 will survive a collision with a tank, I have my doubts about this one.

    So how does it shoot? Well, I took it to the range today and started as one always does by pulling through only that despite numerous attempts from both ends, the Napier pull-through kept getting snagged on something. This I will need to look into in more detail, if anyone has any views on why this might be, I’d be delighted to hear. I took a peak down the barrel and couldn’t see anything amiss.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-51-54.jpeg
    Pro Sport sleeved barrel from the business end. For some reason the pull-through wouldn't go down.

    So I shot a couple of cleaning wads down the barrel and started getting the scope aligned. That took around 20 pellets. I then put 10 over the crony and noted it was knocking out 11.21 ft/lb with a spread of 15 fps over 10 shots. Not bad straight out of the box. I plinked away a bit, maybe 20-30 pellets until the target range came free and shot this group.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-41-56.jpeg
    First group with the Pro Sport

    Not bad, I am sure you will agree, straight out of the box. I wondered if I could tighten the group a little on a 5 target card, with the express intention of showing off some groups on this very forum. Using exactly the same
    pellets, rest, hold, shooting position etc this happened. WTF?


    upload_2018-8-28_21-25-21.jpeg
    Second group with the Pro Sport. What just happened?

    A rest, a cup of coffee and a chocolate bar and I tried again. Happily the tightness of grouping returned only maybe not as tight at the first one. I put it down to the fact that I was tired having by this stage already spent 3 hours shooting springers. I plinked about and seemed to take most of what I aimed at down, even though, unaccustomed to the heavier calibre, I was guessing at holdovers. I finished the day happy that the gun was shooting straight and in time will bed in and become more consistent.

    This is my first springer in .22 and wow was that a revelation! So much calmer than a .177, demure almost. There’s no 'jack-in-the-box' leap and after the shot cycle the scope hasn’t jumped to the left or right. No twang reverberates through your ears and fillings. If you want to shoot a springer and meditate at the same time, then a .22 is for you. The trigger is sublime. A short first stage and a crisp let-off. I would venture to suggest, this particular example is as good if not better than the Weihrauch Rekord triggers I have and they’re not shabby. There is absolutely no need to play around with it.

    So final thoughts: Aesthetically, this is a beautiful gun. It handles well and shoots with a minimum of fuss. I’ve only tried one brand of pellet thus far (JSBs @ 15.89 gr) and it seems to like them. I am sure over time it will settle down and become more consistent. You have to choose your scope with care. Too long and it would extend over the breech and you'll struggle to load pellets. As it is, with
    the Hawke Airmax 3-12 x 50 SF IR, it's not an issue but you couldn't fit the sun shade.

    upload_2018-8-28_20-46-38.jpeg
    A sunshade would make the scope too long and inserting pellets would be a challenge if not impossible.

    The gun is heavy, 4.3 kg un-scoped to be precise, which makes it even heavier that a Walther LGV, the veritable fat oaf of airguns. But the weight doesn't matter because as long as you are using your left hand to cock the gun, you will have a left forearm like Popeye and could hold a belt-fed Wombat freehand. The cocking lever is the only real flaw in this diamond. I may get used to it in time or Air Arms might design something better. But for now, I’d summarise by saying the Pro Sport has that rare quality, which not all rifles posess: It makes me proud to own one. If Kate Winslet dropped by and asked to borrow an air rifle, this is the one I would lend her. If I am absolutely honest, the only thing I don’t like is the name ‘Pro Sport’. I know air rifling legend Terry Doe was given the honour of bestowing a name upon this gun and he's very proud of that and rightly so. I don’t want to take anything away from him but really, ‘Pro Sport’? I’m inclined to agree with those who opine that it is one of the best looking air rifles around and with matinee idol looks like these the rifle deserves to be called something like ‘Gentleman Sportsman’ or the ‘Country Squire’. Shooting it should only be permitted wearing moleskin plus fours, a jacket in a robust houndstooth tweed and a stout pair of brogues. Anything else, would be like driving a Bentley wearing a shell suit. I have half a mind to take mine down to the Southampton aviation museum and prop it up against a Spitfire. Two icons of British design, innovation and engineering together. They’ll look like they were created for one another. Maybe if the Spitfire is required once again to fly in defence of this island, instead of 8 Browning machine-guns, they could be armed with 8 Pro Sports. That might not make for many successful dogfights but it would be a beautiful thing to behold.

    As ever, thank you for reading and would welcome the views of other Pro Sport owners.
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2019
  2. john79

    john79 Big Poster

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    nice rifle mate but £669 :eek: ….I brought a brand new one of those in 2009 for £380 in a walnut stock :rolleyes:
     
    Mr wolf, TORNADOS7 and Hampshire Tog like this.
  3. mikeyhall1

    mikeyhall1 Amazing Poster

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    Nice write up - enjoyed it :thumb:
     
    Hampshire Tog likes this.
  4. pbrown

    pbrown Honorary Member

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    Thank you the write up, very informative. :up:

    A beautiful looking rifle however I had a go with a club members and my weedy arms wouldn't be able to live with the effort to cock it.
     
    Hampshire Tog likes this.
  5. QuoVadis69

    QuoVadis69 Donator

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    Great write up and you've given me food for thought - been eyeing 1 up for a while now.
     
    Hampshire Tog likes this.
  6. sabc

    sabc Donator

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    Very nice looking gun and a great write up. I opted for my TX in the end due primarily to that odd looking aluminium lever. The pro sport has got to be the best looker of all the spring guns though.
     
    engraver, TORNADOS7 and Hampshire Tog like this.
  7. timmytree

    timmytree Pro Poster

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    You'll get used to cocking it!
    The lever isn't pretty but it works, there is a section that has rounded edges, make sure you hold it there and you'll be fine.
    Don't jerk the lever to cock, pull it smoothly and listen for the final click when the safety pops out. Mine has done over 160,000 shots and is still on the original lever and linkages.
    Pull throughs can be a pain in the arris because they snag on the baffles, the solution is a long loop of 50lb monofil, feed it into a drinking straw, then feed the straw down past the baffles until it reaches the barrel, now you can feed the loop down the barrel until it comes out of the breach, then pull a patch through.
    For safety I cock the rifle sitting at a dining chair to do this, put the butt on the floor and the lever under the seat base and hold the rifle between your legs.
    Air Arms are now distributed by Deben I believe instead of John Rothery, that may explain the price increase.
     
  8. PumpnGun

    PumpnGun Donator

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    Excellent HT good review, as already mentioned getting on for £700 for a Springer admittedly with a nice Walnut Stock is expensive to say the least.
    Don't think I could live with the Cocking Arm, It's ungainly and always feels like it won't last..

    Ray
     
    foxtrott likes this.
  9. telephonepete

    telephonepete Donator

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    I,ve had both and in my honesr opinion the pro sport is not fit to lick the boots of the tx. By comparison the only thing going for it is its a good looking gun. Even there i prefer the look of the tx. No offence intended thats just my honest opinion.
     
    foxtrott likes this.
  10. electricfeet

    electricfeet Airguns and Longbows

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    Bit of a springer nut myself, for target purposes (albeit new to this forum)


    .177 walnut prosport,
    .177 hw 99s
    .177 HW45 silver star

    Prosport is as solid as a rock, reliable and very accurate Chronos at 11.25ftlbs (777fps) with aa Diablo field 4.52
    Easily hits 2inch spinners in excess of 50 yards, groups at 25 yards are almost on top of each other, yes there is a steep learning curve but it’s well worth the effort.
    Everyone has their own opinion, me I love it.
     
    Rincewind666 likes this.
  11. Rincewind666

    Rincewind666 Moderated user

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    And absolute great write up and honest review mate, great read this while I sup a coffee (looking at my pro sport .22) I did the same as you and wanted a .22 and chose a brand new pro sport (got mine for £520) before the price rise . . . But it was a beech stock :facepalm: but I'm planning on making my own walnut stock for it.
    Me and a few other people have noticed Air Arms don't put alot of effort in the stock finish as of late, how did you find yours?
    Totally agree about the cocking arm too:up:, I'm going to try a fettle to it to see if I can make it better,
    I also own a HW80 and on paper these are same weight but I always find the pro seems to be heavier to me,
    Enjoy your Pro sport you and thanks for a interesting reveiw
     
    Davie Fraser likes this.
  12. Rincewind666

    Rincewind666 Moderated user

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    I love your Springer line up:thumb:
     
    electricfeet likes this.
  13. oedbachgen

    oedbachgen Top Poster

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    Derk (nephew) bought one 1st thing he did was strip it down, found a bit of rust cleaned and refitted, then spent a couple of months getting it right for him, he took it to Poland the other week for the worlds comp, haven't had the chance yet to see how he did.
     
    PumpnGun likes this.
  14. electricfeet

    electricfeet Airguns and Longbows

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    Truely the dark side I am, unapologeticly so. Thanks for your appreciation.
     
  15. pjgtech

    pjgtech Never let an Idiot drag you down to their level

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    Nice write up, many thanx. :)
    I love my pro sport, I went for .177 and it does kick a bit, it will take some practice.
    I have not tried a .22 PS, but I do have a .22 HW97 and that is very smooth.
    Your Walnut looks nice, I was lucky too with mine. :up: They come up nice with a few coats of oil.
    Mines been checked over by someone with far more skill and knowledge than me (Blackmax) so i'm confident it is now "fettled", I just need to put in some more practice with it.
    The cocking does get easier, but its certainly not light (but my 97 is a big ole heavy brute too).
    The recent price hike is due to AA having a new distributor (Deben). I bought mine not long ago and it cost me £600 so you are in the same ball park.
    They are lovely to look at, possibly the prettiest springe IMHO?
    The cocking arm was beefed up a few years ago, as some earlier ones did break I think.
    :thumb:
     
  16. Hampshire Tog

    Hampshire Tog Donator

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    Thanks for that tip re: what is getting in the way of the pull-through. There are baffles in there! Who knew? Thanks also for giving me reasons to believe in the nasty cocking arm. Yes, the RFD mentioned the change in supplier. Not a great way for the new distributor to announce themselves to the trade. "Hello, we're the new distributor and everything is going up by 10%."
     
  17. Hampshire Tog

    Hampshire Tog Donator

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    Thanks for your comments. My stock was OK. To be honest, I don't expect an artwork for a stock, not at these prices. Hopefully I'll get the chance to take it into the field at some stage and for that hardiness is more important to me than finish. A few coats of walnut oil (which I have on good authority contains no walnuts whatsoever) makes it look a bit better.

    Out of interest, is yours especially hold sensitive? I have tried various different holds and get varying results. Any top tips?
     
  18. The Squire

    The Squire Engaging Member

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    Nice review, I also have one in .22 that required a bit of sorting when i acquired it. Very happy with it now and I'd recommend you give either JSB RS or Falcon AP pellets a try. IMG_0077.jpg
     
  19. timmytree

    timmytree Pro Poster

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    Always a loose/artillery hold. The forehand is most important as it's the fulcrum for the rifle to rest on. Always try to get your forehand in the same place, I use the forward stockbolts as a reference point. The PS will shoot off sticks or a shooting bag to the same POA as long as the position is replicated.
     
  20. BiggaJ

    BiggaJ Donator

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    I had a .22 with Walnut stock. Lovely guns, would have another without a doubt.

    You know you didn't have to prey for a nice grained walnut stock, you could have asked the RFD to sort this directly with AA. I did just that over the phone with my chosen RFD and the next day went to pick up my new gun with a lovely dark wood finish.
     
    Hampshire Tog likes this.

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