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My favourite, least-liked rifle: Air Arms S400 Classic Thumbhole

Discussion in 'Gun Gallery' started by cloverleaf, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    I bought this rifle by accident. It was advertised as a .177 S400 Classic with a Custom Stocks LH Thumbhole stock; upon meeting the seller in some layby in the midlands however, a quick inspection revealed that the rifle was actually .22 :rolleyes:

    Not wanting to have wasted my journey I low-balled the seller and got the rifle for a decent price :up:


    The CS stock was soon flogged on as the ergonomics were horrible (really tight around the ball of the thumb), while the grain was pretty much non-existent, the wood was dry and featureless and the shape of the chequering at the pistol grip made me feel a little bit sick..

    I'm not slagging all CS stocks as I've seen some really nice ones - this one however, wasn't one of them..

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Around the same time I acquired a used genuine (and now discontinued), late-spec Air Arms LH Walnut stock for a decent price (considerably less than the £475 ( :eek: ) they're listed for new). Grain wasn't great, the wood was very dry, there was a little damage and the sling swivels had been fitted to a terrible standard.

    This served as a long term project; the months of work involved covered briefly below:

    Stock as received - complete with horrendously-fitted sling studs and dry, bland grain:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    After steaming and numerous coats of Alkanet oil:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Lower buttpad screw; damaged by the previous owner's ham-fisted attempts to fit a sling stud. IIRC this was cut down and tidied so it no longer extended as far as the stud..

    [​IMG]


    Original pished sling stud hole drilled oversize, plugged with a glued-in dowel and re-drilled correctly:

    [​IMG]


    Stud re-fitted - not perfect but infinitely better than it was:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Front stud tidied:

    [​IMG]


    After many, many hours of wet flatting and oiling with Trade Secret products:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    While the stock was being worked on the action got the usual polish in the key areas, as well as a new loading bolt as the existing one was pretty sloppy. The existing AA mod was replaced with an HW item and adaptor. The action was then dropped in the TH stock and a Weaver K6 6x38 scope fitted as I had them all kicking around doing nowt so it made sense:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    With the thumbhole stock fitted the reach to the trigger was somewhat excessive for my cocktail-sausage fingers, while I've never been a fan of the blades with the integral safeties so this was a good excuse to replace it with something nicer.

    An extra-setback Rowan trigger blade was added to cut the extra trigger reach created by the TH stock, and while not a bad scope at all, the K6 was replaced with a very nice Edgar Bros. 6x42 'scope - no PX, no MAP, but excellent optics, a very fine ret and very wide FOV.

    So here we go - the rifle as it stands at the moment:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    To me this rifle presents a perpetual paradox - it's .22, which I hate. The pellet is big and slow, which causes issues at the range due to ricochet hazards from the Linatex (rubber) curtain at the backstop. IMO the only thing .22 is useful for at the UK limit is close range pest control; however the rifle's length and single-shot capacity renders it inferior for this job compared to the 10-shot S410 carbine I bought beforehand, for just that purpose.

    Basically I have no use for this rifle.. having been cobbled together from various bits that were acquired pretty much for no other reason than just for the sake of it.


    So.. why not sell it on? Because unfortunately, of the many 400-series rifles I own, this is by far my favourite one to use. The rest of my guns are carbines and surprise, surprise the additional length of this rifle damps the muzzle and makes it far more stable on aim.

    In addition the ergonomics of the stock are simply superb. I've never been a fan of TH stocks as a rule and found AA's earlier effort to be both restrictive and uncomfortable. These TH stocks are an expensive upgrade and their popularity (of lack thereof) is attested to by their relative scarcity, and the fact that some time ago Air Arms discontinued the left-handed variants.

    I suspect the price and the fact that (IMO) aesthetically they're not wonderful is responsible for poor sales of this stock type. Pick one up though and you'll see (and feel) what an improvement they are on the (already very good) standard AA sporting stocks. Fit around the trigger hand is fantastic - plenty of support and contact without being restrictive or uncomfortable. The grip seems to fit my hand perfectly (like the proverbial glove :rolleyes:), the adjustable butt-pad and perfect height of the cheekpiece make sure the rest of me is just as well accommodated. While of arguable benefit with standard sporting stocks, the setback Rowan trigger improves trigger reach and fit greatly on the rifles with TH woodwork.

    The only downsides (ergonomically) I can think of are that there's no provision to shoot thumb-up as I usually prefer, plus the thumb has to be withdrawn from it's hole to cycle the bolt (rather than being lifted straight up as with a standard sporter stock). Not an issue at all on a single-shot gun; but might be a pain on a multi-shot if going for a rapid second shot.

    So, there we go. The rifle I enjoy using the most, but have the least (i.e. no) use for.

    In the future the rifle will want a new exhaust valve as (unbeknown to me at the time of testing) it's showing classic signs of valve head extrustion. I very much wish this rifle was .177, however being picky can't just fit an appropriate barrel and bolt, since it will still say .22 on the breech block.. and new (pre-AT) breech blocks are no longer available IFAIK.

    All is potentially not lost though as the current MPR block and barrel assy should fit - this is the direction the rifle should be going in the new year. I'm usually fairly picky about keeping my guns standard, however this has already lost it's original stock, and could always be returned to it's current state as I have no plans to sell the .22 breech and barrel.

    I was also planning on fitting an S510 ultimate sporter stock to this gun; however having handled the TH stock once again I don't honestly think it can be improved on - so I might as well save myself a few hundred quid :p

    Anyway, hope the forum approves - I'll keep this thread updated with any developments and will hopefully end up with a perfect tool for LSR or HFT at the end of it all :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
    Wild Bill, 32:1, littleJon365 and 3 others like this.
  2. walker

    walker Busy Member

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    never been a fan of the air arms.
    one friend has got the s410 the other has got a 510 the barrels are ridiculously thin and the blueing is really slack not a dark an deep blueing at all. touch it with your finger and leave it over night your guaranteed surface rust in the morning. safety catch isn't the best either being sat actually in the trigger blade. im a fan of safety's in front of the trigger mind!
    they are very accurate though! and very reliable. my mates 410 has been abused since the day he bought it. its covered in pitting and spends most of its life getting throw around in the back of the van and hes had no trouble with it to this day. about a year and half old. so they get a 10/10 for function.
    air arms are the most common pcp I see on a sunday morning hft shoot so they must be doing something right.
     
    Scott likes this.
  3. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Conversely I am a big fan of Air Arms, although agree with most of your criticisms. Yes, the skinny barrels are a bit crap and a 15-16mm OD item with a threaded muzzle (as are found on pretty much all of the guns from AA's competitors) would be far preferable. Hopefully the 14mm OD MPR barrel will improve things in this area for this particular rifle :)

    Likewise I agree about the safety catches, which IMO are an unneccessary, poorly-executed and potentially unsafe afterthought. None of my 400 series guns that came with the safety trigger (including this one) have it fitted any more.

    I'd have to disagree about the bluing though. AA have greatly improved their quality of metal finishing over the past few years; resulting in a finish that's better than any of their competition, IME. Tbh you can't really fault it for corroding if touched - any blued surface will do this; especially if it's not been oiled.

    Just as you mention with your mate's gun; the accuracy, build quality, reliability and longevity of the 400 series are some of the main things that draws me to them - IMO while not perfect they're still the best mid-range PCP you'll get your hands on :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2013
    Lev Levvin, Scott and The Robin like this.
  4. bunnyblatter

    bunnyblatter Pro Poster

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    Can't you try put an add up for a swap for a .177 action ?
    I loved my S410 in full leftie version. Wish I still had it
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Stunning wood on the one I had
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
    The Robin likes this.
  5. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    I could swap the action of course; however I've already done a bit of work on this one, and know it to be in good nick. Plus, finding a pre-AT S400 Classic in .177 seems quite difficult - I do keep an eye out though :p

    That certainly looks like a stunning bit of wood on your old one - what made you get rid?
     
  6. bunnyblatter

    bunnyblatter Pro Poster

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    I sold it to buy a HW100KT and have chopped and changed a few since then
    I still have a HW100KTFSB in .177 and I must say I love it
    I love it that much that I parted company with a well sorted mk2 rapid in full leftie guise and we all know how rare they are
     
  7. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    A fair trade IMO; the '100 is one of the few guns I consider to be generally better than the S400 :)

    That said, having recently warmed to Rapids I'm quite disgusted that you got rid of a full left-handed effort - from my limited searches they certainly seem to be rarer than a very rare thing!
     
  8. The Robin

    The Robin Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Looks a good set up and you will be happy with that :up:
     
  9. bunnyblatter

    bunnyblatter Pro Poster

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    Tell me about it mate. I regretted it the moment I did it
     
  10. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    b****r - we've all done it to some extent or another though (my mistake was flogging a mint LH Mk3 AA Pro-Target :()

    Good luck finding a replacement, unless of course I've seen it too :p
     
  11. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Thread updated to remove scumbag Photobucket images and include a load more of the stock work.. for anyone interested this rifle continued to evolve; the .22 bits being ditched and replaced with lovely MPR items; making it one of my favourite rifles :)
     
  12. PiterM

    PiterM Engaging Member

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    Absolutely awesome classic rifle! Nice work on it.
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  13. YNWaN

    YNWaN I’m Mark

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    Great job on the stock - well done :).
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  14. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Thanks guys :)
     
  15. Scott

    Scott Moderated user

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    Damn.....
    Mike is a bricklobber,,, who knew?
    He's all grown up as a shooter now....:eek: :p :D

    Calibre banter aside that really is a lovely rifle you have created for yourself there :up:
     
    Pete236 likes this.
  16. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Cheers - as per post no.11 it's no longer hurling bricks, though ;)
     
    Scott likes this.
  17. Scott

    Scott Moderated user

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    Jeez I missed that,,, (further proving the thick bricklobber theory)
    Although the upside is that I have another cloverleaf thread to read now :up::up::up::up::up:
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  18. ballkeeper

    ballkeeper Engaging Member

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    very nice
     
    cloverleaf likes this.
  19. Dennis74

    Dennis74 Active Member

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    I think you did a wonderful job on the stock. It really looks great!
     
    TheNewbieShooter and cloverleaf like this.
  20. cloverleaf

    cloverleaf Super Moderator Staff Member Mod/Admin

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    Thanks - while very pleased with how it turned out I think the time taken has put me off ever doing another :p
     

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