Air Arms FTP 900 Field Target PCP Air Rifle Test Review .177 Caliber
Pete Shooter, Stephen Archer
Oct 27, 2017
Pete Shooter's personal FT rifle.
Pressure gauge location.
Some may wish for a 20 Ft/Lb version.
VALUE FOR MONEY
At a US Street Price of $2,399 – for the gun only – the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is among the most expensive on the market. And then there’s the cost of the scope, rings and charging accessories to add on top of that!
What you get in return is an airgun of sublime beauty, perfect finish and outstanding accuracy. This is an object of pure beauty (at least in the eyes of the HAM Team), with flawless appearance and operation.
Yet this is the perfect air rifle for the person who wants to do one thing: shoot Field Target. FT is it’s single and only purpose in life.
For, you see, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is a single load, .177 caliber only, 12 Ft/Lb airgun.
It’s not for hunting or plinking. Neither is it a “full power”, that’s 20 Ft/Lb, US-spec FT model. This is a pure gun for the Field Target purist. Only.
So can the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle be considered good value? Of course, both a Kia and a Ferrari can provide transport from home to the local supermarket. But which represents good value? Probably both, but for different people. We’re considering the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle in this light.
In this review, we’re testing Pete Shooter’s own gun. He paid his own hard-earned money for it, so we’re giving him the call on this. Here’s what he feels…
“I think the Air Arms FTP 900 is an astounding piece for anyone who loves fine guns and beautiful engineering.” says Pete. “You get what you pay for and you’re never going to own anything better. That makes it a great value for me.”
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Air Arms FTP 900 Field Target PCP Air Rifle
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
SPEED AND ACCURACY
As the sport of Field Target shooting started in the UK, it has rules that are based on those originating in that country. The Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is designed to operate according to British FT rules – that is the WFTF Class with a maximum Muzzle Energy of 12 Ft/Lbs. (In the US, “Open Class” allows power up to 20 Ft/Lbs).
So, Muzzle Velocity is designed to comply with the limit of 12 Ft/Lbs Muzzle Energy. That means somewhere between 700 and 800 FPS with the mid- to heavy-weight lead pellets that FT shooters use.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||899.60 FPS||8.45 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||873.84 FPS||9.43 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||819.39 FPS||10.44 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||796.11 FPS||11.12 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||785.80 FPS||11.58 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||782.83 FPS||11.76 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||722.68 FPS||12.35 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
Yes, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle can produced 900 FPS with light alloy pellets. And yes, it achieved a peak velocity of nearly 875 FPS with the lightest lead pellets. But the knowledgeable FT shooter considering the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle will have no interest at all in these numbers.
What he/she will be interested-in is accuracy. And this the FTP 900 has in spades. This is probably the most accurate air rifle ever tested by HAM!
All the standard HAM test pellets gave 10-shot groups barely larger than the pellet’s diameter at 10 yards. In fact, with JSB Exact 8.44 Grain pellets and 10.65 Grain Baracuda Match pellets, the groups were exactly the same size as the pellet’s diameter. For the first time ever, we have two pellets with the identical “best accuracy”!
To show that this is no fluke, we also fired a 10-shot group at 25 Yards with the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle . You can see the results here. At this range, the group size only opened-up by 0.1-Inches CTC.
Please note that all HAM accuracy tests are shot with pellets “straight from the tin”. We would expect accuracy to be even better (if possible) with selected pellets and a better shooter.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The trigger pull of the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is incredibly light, yet very precise and manageable. Of course, it’s a two-stage trigger. The first stage is almost effortless, yet you can feel it clearly.
There’s a distinct stop as the second stage is reached, then the sear breaks with just the slightest additional pressure. The trigger pull weight averages 0 Lbs 4 Oz on the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle tested by HAM. Yes, that’s right, just 4 Ounces!
Amazingly, even with such a light pull weight, the FTP 900’s trigger is very easy to manage.
The trigger of Pete’s Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is unchanged in all respects from the factory settings. Yes, there are plenty of trigger adjustments available – everything from the expected pull weight adjustment to the precise positioning of the “trigger button” (the part your finger touches). But, as we normally find with high end guns, the factory trigger settings are about as close to perfection as you’re going to find…
Oh, by the way, there’s no safety. That’s because there’s no need for one in FT. In Field Target competition, you don’t load until immediately ready to fire. If your FTP 900 is loaded but – for example a “Cold Line” is called – the correct procedure is to discharge the gun by pointing it downwards and shooting the loaded pellet into the ground.
The side lever cocking system is yet another example of tactile perfection. Just operating the side lever is a wonderful experience. This is – if possible – better than a “buttery action”. It has to be experienced to be believed.
Put your finger behind the lever and give the slightest pull outwards. The lever moves open delightfully (it doesn’t spring open, there’s no spring!) ready for you to swing the lever back. Pull a little more and you’ll feel the action locking open.
With the action open, a pellet can now be loaded. Then push the lever back forward. It goes through the same series of stages in reverse. Sorry, but my words can’t do justice to the beauty of this operation…
Note that there’s no loading tray on the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle. Each pellet is hand-loaded directly into the rear of the Lothar Walther barrel. The purpose of the side lever is simply to bring the bolt into battery behind the pellet and seat that piece of lead precisely at the correct point in the barrel.
Owner Pete Shooter is a big fan of this loading system. The combination of hand insertion of the pellet, combined with the side lever action seating enables him to “feel the pellet” as it’s being loaded and reject any pellet that somehow he feels is not up to scratch.
COMPARISON TO MAKER’S CLAIMS
Here’s what the manufacturer claims for the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle.
“The FTP 900, quite simply, all the Field Target rifle you will ever need.
Three essential elements have come together to achieve success in field target shooting. Those elements are performance, precision and control, and you’ll find the ultimate versions of all three in the Air Arms FTP900 field target rifle. The FTP900 is the finest Field Target rifle in the world-because it was made to be just that from the start.”
The Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle tested by HAM certainly delivers on performance, precision and control.
Is it the “finest Field Target rifle in the world”? That is – ultimately – a personal decision. The FTP 900 very well may be, but more US shooters would find it easier to agree with the statement if this gun was available at the 20 Ft/Lbs power level.
Air Arms also claims you’ll achieve approximately 100 shots per fill of High Pressure Air. As you can see from our Consistency section below, that’s certainly true.
As a regulated PCP air rifle, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is capable of a large number of consistent shots.
The proud owner of a FTP 900 receives a spreadsheet with Muzzle Velocity test results from the factory. This shows the FPS for 100 shots, fired using 8.4 Grain Air Arms Field pellets. Of course, HAM had to test this too. We conducted our test with very similar JSB Exact 8.44 Grain pellets, straight from the tin.
The table here shows how our results compared to those from the factory.
|Tester||Number of Shots||Average FPS||Max FPS||Min FPS||Spread FPS|
|Air Arms (AA 8.4 Gr pellets)||100||779.99||787.00||774.00||13.00|
|HAM (JSB 8.44 Gr pellets)||100||783.06||793.82||774.47||10.76|
|HAM (JSB 8.44 Gr pellets)||110||782.34||793.82||770.18||11.48|
|HAM (JSB 8.44 Gr pellets)||120||781.49||793.82||767.06||12.33|
As you can see, all the data shows extreme consistency of Muzzle Velocity. The factory numbers gave an Extreme Spread of 13 FPS over 100 shots.
For HAM testing, we kept going, firing ever more shots through the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle until we were well past the regulator pressure and the FPS fell away as expected. In our test, we were able to achieve 120 shots with 12.33 FPS Extreme Spread.
The chart above shows the results of HAM testing. Although JSB pellets are very consistent – as we know from HAM pellet testing – it’s probable that the majority of FPS variation between individual shots is due to tiny inconsistencies in the unsorted pellets we used.
However it is clear that there’s a tendency for the Muzzle Velocity of the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle to very slowly fall with an increasing number of shots. But we need to keep things in perspective. That’s a steady decline for sure, but it’s less than 10 FPS over 100 plus shots.
The regulator pressure in the gun tested by HAM clearly was not reached until around shot 120, after which FPS fell rapidly, as you would expect from any regulated PCP.
The Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle has a shrouded barrel and is fitted with an air stripper.
The result is a pleasant report. It’s definitely not Marauder-quiet, but given the design of the shroud, it was never intended to be. It would certainly not seem loud on the FT course, but other competitors would definitely be aware that the gun has been fired.
All-in-all reasonably quiet for an air rifle of this power.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
Any user choosing an airgun of this price and quality will definitely want to select their own scope. So, as you would expect, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is supplied without a scope. And, of course, there are no iron sights as these Field Target shooting is a scope-only competition.
Pete Shooter’s rifle is fitted with his choice of scope. It’s a Hawke Sidewinder ED 10-50 x 60. This scope has a 30mm tube and Hawke’s TMX reticle, combined with sidewheel parallax correction, of course. It’s mounted in a set of BKL rings, which Pete rates very highly, too.
To match his own requirements, Pete’s Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle has a scope riser fitted to it above the breech. This is a dedicated aftermarket part manufactured by Rowan Engineering in the UK to be a perfect match for the FTP 900.
Not only does this raise the sight line of the scope, it also provides increased space for pellet-loading, which Pete finds to be a big bonus.
Although not formally part of this test review, Pete’s choice of scope and mounts is a great example of the type of glass that is often mounted on high-end Field Target rifles like the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle. It’s a great match to the gun and Pete is very happy with his complete rig. He particularly likes the reticle, which he describes as “second to none” for his eyes and use.
Pete’s advice: “If you’re going to by an air rifle like this, don’t skimp on the optics. Or the pellets, for that matter. If you do, you’re simply wasting the potential of the gun.”
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Hawke Sport Optics 10-50×60 ED Sidewinder Rifle Scope, Illuminated Etched Glass TMX Reticle, 1/4 MOA, 30mm Tube
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Let’s get this out of the way immediately. This is a heavy airgun. Pete’s complete Air Arms FTP 900 rig, complete with scope, mounts, riser, mini bipod – exactly as seen here – weighs-in at a full 14 Lbs 4 Oz. That’s a challenge for the standing shots!
But with that exception, the FTP 900 is a very easy gun to hold and shoot. This is due to the amazing number of built-in options to customize the gun to the owner’s precise needs.
As we’ve already said, the trigger itself has many possible adjustments to make it “just so” for it’s owner. But this pales into insignificance compared to the amount of adjustment that’s built into the stock.
Aggressively obvious on the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is the butt hook assembly. This includes no less than eight different adjustment points to position the “butt pad” to the owner’s liking. All are locked by setscrews.
This butt hook assembly allows contact with the shooter’s shoulder to be altered for length, height, “curve of contact” area and angle. It’s hyper-adjustable. It’s also extremely grippy and works well to hold the gun in place even against a variety of slippery man-made fabrics.
Of course, the stock’s cheek piece is also adjustable for height. It can also be adjusted fore and aft, canted and rotated to achieve the perfect cheek weld. Even the pistol grip palm shelf is adjustable to match the shooter’s hand.
As a “full on” Field Target tool, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle also includes a vertically-adjustable forend. (It’s called a “hamster” in the UK, for some strange reason).
Furthermore, if any of the above adjustments still do not give enough travel, Air Arms has the answer. Dedicated extension pieces are available for the butt hook, cheek piece, and palm shelf.
And – as if that were not enough – the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle also includes a couple of other small but important touches. There’s a swing-out bubble level that helps the shooter to avoid cant.
In addition, there’s a swing-out “windicator”. This allows the owner to fit a wind tell tale, giving a visible indication of wind conditions, at least at the muzzle. The tell tale itself is for the owner to choose. So, you’ll need to supply your own feather or string of wool!
From his own experience, Pete advises having a second person with you when you fit the stock to your physique. That person can then tighten the setscrews that lock the sections into place.
He also advises undertaking the stock fitting when you’re wearing the clothes you’ll be using when in competition. It’s a mistake, he points-out, to “fit” the stock when you’re just wearing a T-shirt if you will be wearing a shooting jacket on the range. Because then the stock will no longer fit as it should…
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Both looks and finish are complete perfection on the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle.
We’re out of superlatives to fully describe the quality of the machining, polishing and finishing for the metal parts of the gun. The same applies for the laminated wood stock. This is clearly craftsmanship of the highest quality!
BUYING AND OWNING
As a specialist item, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle is available from a limited number of dealers. It’s imported into the USA by Air Venturi and available through Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot, for example.
The FTP 900 provides enough regulated shots to complete most Field Target matches on just one fill of air. It’s filled to the recommended 2,900 PSI (20 Bar) using a dedicated probe which requires an adapter to connect to the ubiquitous female 1/8-Inch NPT quick disconnect (or Foster fitting) that’s found on most HPA tanks. No-one is likely to spend this much on an air rifle and then fill it from a hand pump!
Typical of the detail on the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle, there’s a screw in/out cover for the fill port in the front of the gun’s air tube. When closed, this keeps junk out of the FTP 900’s innards when shooting. Just as important, it overcomes the issue of lost fill port covers that can happen with the pull off, push on type of cover.
But the HAM Team would prefer a standard quick disconnect fitting. That way, it’s not necessary to have different fill probes for every air rifle. Pete’s labeled his, to be sure.
The one feature of the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle we really do not like is the pressure gauge location. It’s at the end of the pressure tube and is impossible to use without the feeling that you’re looking right down the gun’s barrel. There’s also no red area to indicate over-filling.
Of course, this is a gauge location that’s common to many PCP air rifles. However, it’s somewhat of a contradiction to have the gun’s User’s Guide correctly instruct the owner never to point the gun at anyone (for obvious safety reasons) and then require him/her to point the “business end” of the gun directly at his/her face at very close range in order to read the pressure gauge!
The User’s handbook for the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle, by the way, is very comprehensive. It provides full information for all the stock and trigger adjustments, parts lists and diagrams. Also when, how and where to lubricate the gun. It’s in English only.
As you would expect, the Air Arms FTP 900 air rifle comes complete with a limited lifetime warranty. That’s provided in the USA by Air Venturi, which has specially-trained technicians and plenty of factory spare parts against the unlikely event of a problem.
There’s an accessory rail under the stock’s forend. Pete has added a tiny, simple Centra bipod here that allows the FTP 900 to stand perfectly, but which is small and light enough to keep in place while shooting.
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Air Arms FTP 900 Field Target PCP Air Rifle
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
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.