Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle Test Review.
11 July 2015
Supplied by Pyramyd Air.
Side lever action.
Ergonomic customization from trigger and stock.
Nothing. Well, if we're being REALLY picky...
Needs additional spacers to lengthen butt stock.
Air filling connector not our favorite.
VALUE FOR MONEY
As a specialist tool designed exclusively for Field Target competition, the HFT 500 is a great value for the dedicated competitor who needs the maximum in precision to realize his/her skills and win that competition!
As with other air rifles costing $1,500 and above, we’re well into the “luxury” end of the market with the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle. (Pyramyd Air’s Premium Bundle, reviewed here, actually sells for $1,934.17).
This means that any value for money assessment must, therefore, be given with that understanding.
Muzzle velocity, that “king of value” for most air rifles, really doesn’t come into play at all as part of the value for money equation here, due to the restrictions imposed by WFTF competition rules.
In these terms, the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle air rifle does not disappoint. If you shoot Field Target and can justify the cost, the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle reviewed by HAM is a great value for money. It offers beauty, feel, performance and flexibility in configuration for the dedicated FT shot.
The Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle tested by HAM was supplied with the 10-for-$10 test certificate signed by Pyramyd Air lead tech Gene Salvino.
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Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle Bundle
SPEED AND ACCURACY
As a dedicated Hunter Field Target model, the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle is aiming at a muzzle energy of 12 Ft/Lbs to comply with WFTF rules. So, muzzle velocity correspondingly is in the 800+ FPS range.
Although not high by the expectations of many airgunners, this is plenty fast enough to knock down field targets at 50 yards and more. And this is, after all, the purpose of this specialized air rifle.
Accuracy is outstanding!
HAM’s regular 10-yard test range was obviously way too close to extend the HFT 500, so HAM tester Doug Rogers moved out to 25 yards. Using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, he produced the excellent group you can see in the final test target at the foot of this review.
The free-floated Lothar Walther barrel is undoubtedly responsible for much of this accuracy. But there’s more to it than that. The combination of trigger, ergonomics and scope builds up to extract the best possible performance from the and appreciate beauty, feel and performance. So long as you do your part!
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||1006.45 FPS||10.57 Ft/Lbs||Excellent|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||962.72 FPS||11.61 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||837.50 FPS||10.9 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||812.81 FPS||11.59 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||841.07 FPS||12.36 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||811.07 FPS||12.62 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||718.40 FPS||12.20 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
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TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The trigger and lever action side cocking system of the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle are both close to perfect.
The side lever cocking mechanism has a wonderful, “buttery” feel to it. It operates smoothly, with precision and no slop. The cocking effort of the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle tested by HAM measured a mere 5 lb 8 oz. That’s a figure more often associated with trigger pull weights than cocking efforts!
The trigger itself has a very unusual appearance with a semi-spherical “button” attached to a trigger pillar. This looks very odd at first glance, but it has the supreme virtue of naturally ensuring that the ball of the shooter’s trigger finger is used to pull it. This encourages consistency – a big key to accuracy – and prevents the trigger from being pulled by the finger joint area, as can often happen with conventional trigger blades.
The trigger button can be rotated around the pillar for perfect positioning. It can also be raised or lowered on the trigger pillar for the same reason. And then the whole trigger pillar and button assembly can be positioned forward or back on the trigger bar to adjust the length of pull.
The two stage trigger of the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle is highly adjustable. But the HAM team found that the factory setting worked just fine for us. The second stage is very easily detected. And once that second stage is engaged, it takes just a breath more pressure to release the sear. Very nice!
Trigger pull weight averaged 2 lb 2 oz and was very consistent.
The Air Arms HFT 500 has no safety, either automatic or manual. This means that extra care is required by the shooter to avoid unintentional discharges. But – given the target market and use for this air rifle – this is not likely to be an issue.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
There are very few quantifiable manufacturer’s claims for the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle – at least in the conventional sense of muzzle velocity we’re used to seeing in mass-market air rifles.
Air Arms claims center around accuracy, consistency and fitness for purpose as a precision tool for successful Field Target shooting. As you can read throughout this test review, it’s clear that these claims are justified by the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle tested by HAM.
The consistency displayed by the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle tested by HAM was outstanding.
As the test targets show, it was supremely accurate with all the pellets in the standard HAM test suite. Even with one that would never be used for Field Target competition.
Muzzle energy – the measure for WFTF and Hunter Field Target competitions – for the HFT 500 tested by HAM was within about half a Foot/Pound of the 12 Ft/Lb target for all the tested pellets over 7.9 Grains.
And the Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot consistency – was a mere 5.6 fps over the whole range of standard HAM test pellets. That’s about the best performance we’ve ever seen.
Trigger pull weight was also extremely consistent, with a variation of only plus or minus 2 ounces around the 2 lb 2 oz average.
The Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle is not silenced, so it has an average report. It’s not loud, but nowhere as quiet as, say, a Benjamin Marauder which is HAM’s benchmark for low noise shooting.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle tested by HAM was supplied with a Hawke Sidewinder 3 – 12 x 50AO scope and BKL rings. This “Premium Bundle” is put together by Pyramyd Air. It provides a very suitable sighting system that matches well with the HFT 500.
The Hawke scope provides excellent optical quality. This is combined with large, easily adjustable, elevation and windage turrets and the side wheel focusing that’s essential for FT competition. Featuring a half mil dot reticle, this scope gives the precision required for both precise sighting-in and “aiming off” as is required for competition.
Sharp, precise focusing is easily achieved using the scope’s sidewheel. This is another vital feature for FT competition, as accurate estimation of range for every shot is required for successful shooting.
With the maximum 12 x magnification, this scope is suitable for use under WFTF rules for Field Target and Hunter Field Target competition. (The Open category in Field Target shooting places no restriction on maximum scope magnification).
There’s something about the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle that makes it easy to shoot well!
The overall package of balance, trigger, stock design and weight gives a natural feeling to this air rifle. It almost seems as if the pellets are laser-guided from the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle.
HAM tester Doug Rogers expressed it this way. “With my other Field Target guns, I have to work really hard to make a good score against reducers. With the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle, I naturally shoot dead on, without even seeming to try!”
There’s more detail on both trigger and stock in the appropriate sections of this test review.
Shootability was further aided by the very large pellet loading trough. This is very simple, in fact it’s an integral part of the breech, but it works superbly and gives plenty of space for even large fingers to roll the pellets into place.
The very low – that’s good – RateAGun score of just 4.1 confirms this opinion that the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle is very easy to shoot well.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle has an Italian Minelli laminated stock. This ambidextrous stock is beautifully shaped, including stippled areas around the pistol grip and forend to air grip. There are also distinct grooves in the side of the fore end that guide the shooter’s forward hand to the correct grasping position.
The separate cheek piece is adjustable for height to achieve the correct cheek weld. A further refinement is that this cheek piece also pivots on an internal ball joint. It is adjustable up, down, back, forth and sideways; and even twists laterally! This enables the cheek piece to be moved into “just perfect” alignment for the shooter’s individual comfort and locked in place.
The sculpted rubber buttpad is adjustable vertically. It can also be extended to increase the length of pull, although spacers are required and longer screws may necessary for considerable extensions to the pull length.
Overall, there’s a great range of ergonomic adjustments possible with the HFT500’s stock. This enables the shooter to obtain the optimum position for both comfort, cheek weld and consistency when shooting.
If you plan to use a bipod or other accessories with the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle, there’s an accessory rail incorporated into the underside of the stock. The only omission the HAM reviewers can find is that there’s no sling swivels fitted to the stock, although most FT shooters would regard a sling as unnecessary.
The stock itself is beautifully finished – as you can see from our photographs. This quality of finish is equally apparent on all other parts of the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle.
The pressure tube and barrel are finished in a lustrous deep, deep blue that’s almost black. Combined with the subtle gray anodized finish of the breech and air stripper, the appearance of the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle is both sophisticated and stylish.
HAM tester Doug Rogers summed it up in his test notes. “Gorgeous looking gun. You just can’t beat this fit and finish”.
BUYING AND OWNING
As a highly specialist item, you’ll not be expecting the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle to be available in every local big box sporting goods store! But it is readily available from Pyramyd Air and other dealers online.
Guns sold in the US benefit from a limited lifetime warranty from Air Venturi, although – in the unlikely event that a gun needs attention – the customer is responsible for shipping costs to Air Venturi.
The owner’s manual (English language only) is comprehensive and covers the basics of filling and adjusting the Air Arms HFT 500 Air Rifle. One unusual item is the suggestion that, for ultimate accuracy, the barrel should be cleaned and re-lubricated as frequently as every 250 shots.
It’s worth stressing again that the HFT 500 is not fitted with a safety and requires special consideration from the user on that account. This is not an air rifle for the inexperienced shooter!
And note that the maximum fill pressure for the Air Arms HFT 500 air rifle is 2756 psi – not the more common 3,000 psi.
Filling is achieved using the brass connector supplied with the gun. This screws directly into a standard female 1/8-inch NPT thread. Overall, it’s not clear to the HAM team why this is superior to the more common straight male/female quick disconnect connection.
10 YARD TEST TARGETS
25 YARD TEST TARGET
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This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.