Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE Air Rifle Test Review .30 Caliber
November 28, 2015
Supplied by Hatsan USA.
Heavy bolt action.
Please note that, due to many significant differences between big bore airguns and regular air rifles of .25 caliber and less, the scoring for this review is made using a different basis: stars instead of percentages.
VALUE FOR MONEY
.30 caliber marks the line dividing the “regular” airgun calibers (up to .25 cal) from big bores. The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is clearly a big bore and so is not compared using the regular HAM percentage score system.
At the time of writing, there is approximately a dozen .30 caliber air rifles in the market, so this is definitely a niche caliber at present. This small number of products – and small number of pellets available – also makes comparison difficult.
Of these dozen .30 caliber big bore airguns, the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is by far the cheapest. Yes, it’s not the most powerful and it’s not – in our eyes – the most beautiful. It’s probably not the best finished. And it’s not quiet.
But it does give serious muzzle energy for hunting, combined with a good shot count.
On the basis of “Bang for the Buck”, the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is a winner.
BUY FROM PYRAMYD
Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE Air Rifle
BUY FROM AMAZON
Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE Air Rifle air rifle
SPEED AND ACCURACY
Big bore air rifles very widely in caliber. This means that the standard HAM tests using multiple types of pellets are not practicable with calibers above .25 cal.
For HAM’s test of the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle, we used .30 caliber, 44.75 grain JSB Exact Diabolo pellets.
The rifle was filled to the specified 200 bar (2,900 PSI) and 20 shots fired to give the shot curve shown here. The 20th shot was made at 100 bar (approximately 1,500 PSI) pressure.
As you can see, muzzle velocity peaked at 878 FPS with the 12th shot. The minimum muzzle velocity of 824 FPS was achieved by the first shot and the Extreme Spread was thus 54 FPS, giving a commendable Standard Deviation of 16 FPS.
More importantly for hunting, these results give a maximum Muzzle Energy – the measure of “knock down” power – of 76.5 Ft/Lbs. At the average muzzle velocity over 20 shots, the Muzzle Energy of the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is 73.3 Ft/Lbs.
Accuracy was excellent with the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle tested by HAM also.
For this review, HAM Tester Paul Manktelow fired 5-shot groups at 25 Yards and 40 Yards range with a starting pressure of 2,000 PSI. The Carnivore was fitted with a Leapers 3-9 x 40 AO scope set at 9x magnification. There was little to no wind at the time of shooting.
The 25-yard group gave a CTC (Center to Center) measurement of 0.5 inches. At 40 Yards, 4 out of 5 pellets produced a similar 0.5-inch CTC group, but there was one “flyer” that impacted 1-inch to the left of the main group.
The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle clearly demonstrated excellent hunting accuracy at the ranges tested by HAM.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The Quattro trigger fitted to the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is smooth and easy to operate. It’s predictable and consistent in use. As supplied, the first stage was very short in the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle tested by HAM. Hatsan says that the Quattro trigger can be adjusted for trigger pull weight and length. The first and second stages can also be adjusted by setscrews.
As usual, the HAM tests were made with the trigger in “as supplied” condition. Trigger pull weights recorded during HAM testing were in the range from 3 LB 5 Oz to 3 LB 10 Oz. Overall, the trigger is very satisfactory for hunting use.
But the bolt action was a different story…
The bolt action is fairly short. There’s a convenient “hold open” slot at the rear of the travel so that the bolt can be retained in the rearward position for loading magazines. But the action itself is very stout (make that very, very stout). It responded best to determined, somewhat heavy-handed operation. HAM tester Stephen Archer felt that this was the heaviest bolt action he had ever operated – and that includes experience of many vintage firearm battle rifles that were not known for having the smoothest of actions!
This very heavy bolt operation, combined with some pinched skin on HAM testers’ hands, strongly suggested that the bolt handle could be made longer for easier operation. A “grippy” texture to the bolt handle would also be advantageous as the shiny bolt handle was found to be somewhat slippery to use.
It is important to pull the bolt action of the The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle right back, as failure to do so could cause a pellet to be not chambered and embarrassing silence to happen when the trigger was pulled. This failure to pull the bolt right back was achieved by HAM tester Stephen Archer a couple of times during testing.
There’s an automatic safety that is pushed off by a slider at the rear of the compression tube. As always, HAM testers prefer a manual safety.
Below. The action open, bolt handle latched back, ready to insert a magazine once it’s filled with pellets.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The manufacturer makes a number of claims for the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle.
Maximum muzzle velocity is claimed as 860 FPS. In HAM testing, this was easily exceeded using 44.75 Grain JSB Exact Diabolo pellets. We saw a maximum of 878 FPS, with an average of 858 FPS over 20 shots.
Hatsan claims a Muzzle Energy of 75 Ft/Lbs for the .30 caliber BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle. This is a much more significant figure for hunting than mere muzzle velocity. The HAM tests gave a maximum Muzzle Energy of 76.5 Ft/Lbs – again exceeding the manufacturer’s claims. HAM recorded an average of 73.3 Ft/Lbs over the full 20-shot string.
The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is claimed to give 21 shots at “Optimal Velocity” in the .30 caliber version tested by HAM. Of course, everything depends on the interpretation of the words “Optimal Velocity”. But the HAM test shot curve indicates that this is a fair claim that is met by the Carnovore, so long as an Extreme Spread of 55 FPS is considered satisfactory by the shooter.
Overall it’s clear that the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle tested by HAM meets and exceeds the manufacturer’s claims.
Consistency of muzzle velocity of the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle was good for an unregulated design.
As can be seen from the muzzle velocity chart above, the Standard Deviation was held to 16 FPS over 20 shots – an Extreme Spread of 54 FPS. The “sweet spot” for pressure was in the 2,000 – 2,500 PSI range on the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle tested by HAM. This gave maximum muzzle velocity, combined with 11 shots having an Extreme Spread of less than 20 FPS.
Consistency of muzzle velocity like this is a big contributor to accurate shooting in the field – as the test targets showed.
Trigger pull weight was also very consistent, varying by no more than 3 Ounces either side of the 3 Lb 7 Oz average during HAM testing.
Unlike HAM test reviews for .177 and .22 caliber air rifles, it’s not easy to make pellet type comparisons with big bore guns, due the the small number of pellets available in any caliber. So the HAM tests were shot with just one pellet type – JSB 44.75 Grain Diabolos. These pellets did, however, provide very good “hunting grade” consistency.
Below. The adjustable stock is of benefit to practical accuracy.
The “QE” in the name Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle stands for “Quiet Energy”.
That may be so, but the HAM testers’ subjective impression of the Carnivore is that it is LOUD! That’s “country loud” as HAM Tester Paul Manktelow put it. And it’s probably louder than a .22 Long Rifle firearm report.
Of course, the noise level may not matter for a big bore hunting air rifle. But don’t buy the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle thinking it’s going to be quiet. That way, you won’t be disappointed.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle has no iron sights fitted.
This is as expected. Anyone shooting this big bore air rifle will obviously be using a scope to do so – and a pretty good scope at that.
Provision for scope mounting is made by long rails machined into the Carnivore’s substantial breech. These rails are of Hatsan’s usual, unusual design. They combine airgun dovetails with a number of cross-cuts that should allow Weaver/Picatinny scope mounts to be used if desired.
Unfortunately we found that Leapers Weaver/Picatinny rings did not fit as the rail was too wide for the jaws of the rings. We used dovetail mounts instead. The low recoil of the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle means that there’s no need for Weaver/Picatinny mounts in any case.
Below. The rails are long and it’s easy to mount a scope for the correct eye relief.
Make no mistake, the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is a big, heavy gun to shoot. It weighs 9 Lb 12 Oz with sling but without scope. You’ll need to rest it for firing, either using a bipod, or natural rest.
But this is entirely to be expected and hunters will have no problem with shooting from a rested position. The Weaver/Picatinny rail on the underside of the stock is there specifically to mount a bipod for prone shooting.
Like other air rifles based on the BT65 platform, the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle offers interchangeable HPA tubes, together with a degassing capability. This is a great idea, and it would be even better if the Galatian’s instruction manual explained how to operate it!
The ability to interchange HPA tubes in this way means that the Carnivore’s owner can go hunting with one full tube on the gun and another full tube in his/her backpack. This gives an easy and convenient way to refill the gun in the field without having to lug a large tank around.
In fact a pressurized tube can be removed from the Carnivore simply by unscrewing it from the gun. There’s no drama, hissing or fuss and no need to bleed air first – even if the tube is under full operating pressure. A replacement tube can then be screwed into place and the gun fired.
This behavior indicates that the Carnivore’s valve is located in the replaceable tube, rather than in the body of the gun itself. This is confirmed by the operation of the degassing capability. There’s a removable brass cover supplied with each pressure tube. This cover has a setscrew in the end. Turning the setscrew with the supplied Allen wrench will allow pressure to be bled down from the tube, “degassing” it. Easy and convenient when you know how!
The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is supplied complete with a substantial sling. This will be much appreciated by hunters carrying this heavy gun in the field.
Likewise, the buttstock’s adjustable comb and buttpad allow the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle to be configured for a consistent cheek weld – an important element in consistent accuracy in the field. You’ll need a 4mm Metric Allen wrench to adjust the buttpad.
The .30 caliber Carnivore has a 7-chot capacity magazine. This is of a very simple design and made of Aluminum. As with many other, similar, magazines, O rings are used to retain the pellets. Unusually, the O rings restrain the pellets on their inside, rather than on the outside diameter. The magazine worked well and no jams or difficulties in feeding were experienced in the HAM tests.
But check out the remarks on bolt action made above in this review…
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle looks the part as a big bore hunting airgun!
The overall appearance is overall black, highlighted – seemingly at random – by “gold” accents on trigger, safety and air tube. Then there’s the bright, “silver” bolt handle, grippy, gray rubber inserts in the stock, the aluminum magazine and the bright orange “HATSAN” letters embroidered on the sling. A little color-coordination would be in order…
Metal surfaces have an overall black semi-gloss appearance. The black, synthetic stock is obviously durable but has some strange molding marks and other artifacts on the surface.
But look, the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is supposed to be a serious big bore hunting rifle. It’s a tool, not a thing of beauty to be gazed at. There are many better-finished airguns out there, but the Carnovore’s finish is satisfactory for the purpose.
BUYING AND OWNING
The Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle ships with a variety of useful parts and accessories.
In particular the sling will be of great value to any user who needs to carry the Carnivore for any time.
And the provision of interchangeable HPA tubes could be a big advantage for many shooters. This is a relatively light and compact way to carry more air with you when shooting, without the need for a large HPA tank and fittings, or pump.
The maximum fill pressure is 200 Bar – that’s 2,900 psi – which means that hand pump filling is practicable for many users.
But the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle uses a probe to connect an air tank to the gun. The HAM team would prefer to see a quick disconnect system as we feel that the probe system requires more protection to prevent dirt from being attracted to the probe and entering the gun during filling.
Also, most users will need an adapter to connect the probe to their HPA tank. The HAM team uses a high pressure-rated stainless steel Male-to-Male connector as shown in the photograph below. Plumbers’ PTFE sealant tape is used on the threads.
The Carnivore’s pressure gauge is calibrated in Bar, the International Standard measurement system for pressure. This is unfamiliar to most US users, but it’s easily mastered. Just stop filling before the needle reaches the red line on the gauge.
More importantly, HAM really does not like the position of the pressure gauge in the end of the air tube. This requires the user to read by looking down from the muzzle end of the gun!
Although this gauge location is also used on some other PCP air rifles, this has to be an obvious safety hazard. Be VERY SURE that the Carnivore is not cocked or loaded and that the safety is engaged before checking the pressure. Again, users will become used to this, but a gauge in the more normal position in the underside of the stock has to be a better solution.
Spare parts for Hatsan air rifles are available from Hatsan USA, through their online Customer Service Form process.
The Owner’s Manual for the Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE air rifle is a big area for future improvement. The English-only manual is well written and illustrated. But the issue is that it completely fails to describe many of the features of the Carnivore. For example, there’s no mention of how to remove the interchangeable HPA tubes, nor how the degassing feature operates. Also, the configuration of the adjustment screws for the Quattro trigger is different in the manual from that on the gun.
BUY FROM PYRAMYD
Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE Air Rifle
BUY FROM AMAZON
Hatsan BT Big Bore Carnivore QE Air Rifle air rifle
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.