Air Arms Pro Sport Air Rifle Test Review .177 Caliber
21 September, 2016
Supplied by Pyramyd Air.
Heavy cocking effort.
Right-hand stock only.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is an outstanding underlever springer. It exudes quality, looks beautiful, has excellent accuracy and a wonderful trigger.
Yes, at a Street Price of $780 – plus scope – it’s expensive. But this really is a beautiful, unusual and effective spring/piston air rifle.
For HAM, the big issue here is that the Air Arms TX 200 air rifle shares many of the same attributes, even though it is a completely different design. And the TX is $150.00 cheaper. We rate the two models as equally good value – they both earn HAM Gold Awards.
But the Pro Sport IS so beautiful. It’s your choice…
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Air Arms Pro-Sport
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Air Arms Pro-Sport .177 Cal
SPEED AND ACCURACY
The Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle tested by HAM topped-out with a maximum muzzle velocity of exactly 1,100 fps with light weight H&N Field Target Trophy Green alloy pellets. The maximum muzzle velocity obtained with lead pellets was 961 fps with the 7.0 Grain RWS Hobbys.
However, most experienced shooters will probably choose to use pellets in the 8 – 8.5 Grain range, or thereabouts. As you can see from the table below, the 7.9 Grain Crosman Premiers gave an average of 909 fps. The H&N Field Target Trophy pellets gave 846 fps. The JSB 8.44 Grain pellets shot somewhat slower than might have been expected, but they still produced 830 fps.
Many expert Field Target shooters feel that a muzzle velocity of 850 – 900 FPS is optimal for best accuracy, so the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is well balanced to match the needs of many shooters in .177 caliber.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||1090.73 FPS||12.42 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||1100.43 FPS||14.94 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||961.77 FPS||14.38 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||909.20 FPS||14.50 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||830.84 FPS||12.94 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||846.77 FPS||13.67 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||768.50 FPS||13.97 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
Overall accuracy was excellent for the Pro Sport tested by HAM – as you would expect with an Air Arms gun and Lothar Walther barrel. Only the RWS Hobby pellets gave accuracy that was poor – but this is not a combination that will be used by many shooters.
Best accuracy was achieved with JSB Exact 8.44 Grain pellets in the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle tested by HAM. But, as you can see from the targets below, the gun was not pellet-picky and delivered very good accuracy or better with all the pellets in the standard HAM test suite, except for the Hobbys.
The results achieved by HAM tester Eric Brewer with the JSB and Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets – in particular – show why the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is a favorite among Field Target shooters. Eric was impressed and commented “If I didn’t already own a Pro Sport, I’d certainly want to buy one!”
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
JSB Match Diablo Exact pellets, .177 caliber
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
JSB Diabolo Exact .177 Cal, 8.4 gr – 500 ct
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The first stage is very light and there’s no doubt about when you have reached the second stage. The HAM testers found the trigger blade itself to be perfectly-shaped, giving a natural location fore the ball of the trigger finger.
The two-stage trigger of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle tested by HAM broke clean and predictably at an average pull weight of 1 Lb 5 Oz. A great trigger is what we have come to expect from Air Arms guns, and the HAM testers were not disappointed this time either!
As always, HAM tests are made with the trigger as set at the factory. We don’t adjust the triggers of the guns we test. However the Pro Sport trigger has setscrew adjustments for pull weight, sear engagement and first stage travel.
The safety is the familiar, automatic, push-across type that’s easy to operate for right-handed shooters, but somewhat less convenient for left-handers.
The cocking lever is a substantial cast part that’s easy to open out from the underside of the stock. In side view, it’s completely invisible until deployed, giving the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle its famous, clean lines. There’s no doubt in the HAM team’s mind that this underlever is easier to pull out into operation than that of it’s famous Air Arms sibling, the TX 200. But, the cocking effort feels to be very high. HAM tester Eric Brewer wrote in his testing notes: “Very heavy cocking effort. I got tired after 70 shots.”
Of course, we measured the cocking effort of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle. It came in at 41 Lbs, supporting Eric’s comments. This is 6 Lbs more than that of the Air Arms TX 200 tested by HAM.
About 70 shots into the test, the gun started to make a slight click when the cocking lever was pulled half way down. HAM tester Eric Brewer, felt it through his hand when cocking. This minor change did not seem to make any difference to operation, although we would definitely check it over with the Air Venturi support experts if this was our personal gun.
One disadvantage to the Pro Sport is that it cannot be de-cocked (as is possible with several springers). So once it’s cocked, the gun must be fired, even if only into the ground.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
As is the case with most high end airgun manufacturers, Air Arms makes very few “hard” claims for its products. The stress is more on “feel”, quality, shootability and reliability: the largely intangible factors that most high end manufacturers stress about their products.
Search hard and you find – eventually – that the Air Arms print catalog gives a maximum muzzle velocity for the Pro Sport of 850 FPS in .177 caliber, presumably with lead pellets. The US distributor, Air Venturi, gives a muzzle velocity of up to 950 FPS with lead pellets.
What we can confirm without doubt, is that the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle tested by HAM recorded 961 FPS with 7.0 Grain RWS Hobby lead pellets. That clearly exceeds both the manufacturer’s and US distributor’s specifications!
Consistency of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle tested by HAM was good.
The trigger pull weight consistency was outstanding, varying by no more than 3 Ounces either side of its 1 Lb 5 Ounce average. That’s completely imperceptible to most human fingers!
Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot variability in muzzle velocity averaged a commendable 7.68 FPS across the whole HAM test. This low figure indicates good consistency, although the HAM team feels that this will reduce further with more shots through the gun.
In particular, the Standard Deviation figures for the JSB and Field Target Trophy pellets are higher than we would expect, in comparison to the numbers for the other pellets. HAM tester Eric Brewer noticed a slight smell of burning oil throughout his test shooting, although there were no detonations and no detectable dieseling. This convinces us that the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle we tested will settle-down further with continued use and the Standard Deviation improve in future.
Noise level for the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is average for a spring/piston gun of this power. The very short barrel is shrouded, but this is not a serious silencer when compared to the report of the Benjamin Marauder – HAM’s gold standard for sound levels.
But don’t get us wrong! The Pro Sport is not very loud and will be quiet backyard-friendly enough for most owners.
Of course, if you shoot alloy pellets, the 1100 FPS muzzle velocity means that all bets are off – just as they are with any air rifle. At that muzzle velocity, the pellets will be exceeding the Speed of Sound and creating their own sonic boom as they fly downrange. No silencer known to man will make that sound quiet!
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
As with most high end air rifles, the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is supplied without iron sights. Everyone will want to use a scope to make use of the great accuracy. And everyone will have a different choice of scope. So this makes sense.
For HAM testing, we attached a 3-9 x 40AO Nikon Prostaff scope. This has great optical quality, excellent sharpness and contrast. It’s not too big or heavy and balanced well on the Pro Sport. There’s only one downside for general airgun use – no Mil-dot reticle…
As you would expect, the HAM team attached the scope using the solid Nikon one-piece mount. This fitted well to the scope rails of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle, with the scope stop screw engaging firmly into one of the three holes in the top of the compression tube. No scope movement there, for sure!
Make no mistake, the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is compact but heavy. It weighs in at exactly 9 Lbs (without scope) and feels very solid indeed.
Ergonomics seem just about perfect. The Pro Sport balances nicely on the natural rest position for the left hand and the role over comb makes for a very comfortable cheek weld that worked very well with the Nikon 3-9 x 40AO scope used for this HAM test review.
There’s also a thick, ventilated, rubber recoil pad. This, together with the weight of the gun, combine to absorb much of the recoil of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle.
Although the Pro Sport is not pellet-picky, it is somewhat hold sensitive. For maximum accuracy a loose hold and consistent left hand positioning are essential. HAM tester Eric Brewer found no problems with it, although less expert springer shots may need some practice to achieve a consistent hold.
The Pro Sport fires with a good, solid, thunk. No spring twang was heard during testing. As Eric remarked in his testing notes “Nice shot cycle. No twang or buzz.”
And it’s easy to access the pellet loading port when a reasonable-sized scope like the Nikon Pro Staff is fitted.
This good shootability is confirmed by a Low – that’s good – RateAGun score of 7.5 for the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The appearance and finish of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle tested by HAM was beyond reproach. Everything about this gun gives the appearance of deep, yet understated quality.
This is a beautiful air rifle.
The beech stock was nicely-figured for this type of wood – beech can often look very “dead” and uninteresting. The design is elegant and flawlessly finished, with beautiful curves and fine checkering. For those wanting a more spectacular wood finish, the Pro Sport is offered in Walnut: for a somewhat higher price, of course.
But note that this is a right-handed stock, with a very comfortable, roll over comb. It’s not the more common ambidextrous style. So, unfortunately, left-handed shooters will need to look elsewhere.
Due to the underlever design of the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle, the stock requires careful design and an extra set of stock screws, to retain structural rigidity. The forend is almost completely cut in two, right back to the trigger guard. But the HAM team did not detect and lack of strength or rigidity resulting from this unusual design.
Metal parts are entirely devoid on machine marks and finished to perfection. The depth of bluing and mirror finish of the air tube, in particular, has to be seen to be believed. We’ve seen this level of quality finish on other Air Arms guns and HAM Publisher Stephen Archer has seen how they achieve it at the Air Arms factory in England.
And then there’s that gold-plated trigger…
BUYING AND OWNING
Almost all Pro Sport air rifles will be purchased from online dealers such as Pyramyd Air or Airgun Depot. You’re not likely to find this gun in a retail store near home. But this is not an issue as the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle is available from many reputable, quality online airgun specialists.
There’s a reassuring limited lifetime warranty provided by Air Venturi, the US distributor. Air Venturi also holds a full range of spare parts available.
The instruction manual supplied in the US is unfortunately brief and contains clear indications of being modified from the British original. (It refers to a legal limit for muzzle energy, for example). The same instruction manual also, and rather confusingly, gives details of two warranties. It tells us that there is an Air Venturi Limited Lifetime Warranty which applies to the original retail purchaser. But also, there’s details of an Air Venturi Limited One Year Warranty which is transferable beyond the original owner. Hmmm….
We spoke to Air Venturi and they confirmed that the warranty really is of the Limited Lifetime variety. This is what’s stated on the Pyramyd Air website.
The excellent accuracy displayed by the Air Arms Pro Sport air rifle with Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets is another big ownership benefit in the HAM team’s opinion. Because, if you suddenly realize that you’ve run short of pellets on the way to a shoot – I know you have never done that, but HAM Publisher Stephen Archer has – there’s always a Walmart close at hand. And Walmart always has these Premiers in stock. Problem overcome!
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Air Arms Pro-Sport
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
Air Arms Pro-Sport .177 Cal
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.