American Tactical Nova Liberty PCP Air Rifle Review .22 Caliber
Testers: Doug Rogers, Stephen Archer
Model Number: HP-P900W
Test Date: Feb 14, 2019
Serial Numbers: 0518229907005377
Source of Supply: American Tactical Inc.
Side lever cocking
Power and accuracy with Baracuda pellets
Includes open sights
We Don't Like
Trigger could be better
Very high fill pressure can cause issues
Only 12 month warranty
- Value for Money 100%
- Speed and Accuracy 90%
- Trigger and Cocking Effort 80%
- Comparison to Makers Claims:100%
- Consistency 80%
- Noise Level 70%
- Sights 90%
- Shootability 80%
- Appearance and Finish 80%
- Buying and Owning 80%
HARD AIR MAGAZINE TEST CONCLUSIONS
The American Tactical Nova Liberty PCP air rifle offers a great combination of features and performance for the price being asked. It’s an easy HAM Gold Award winner!
In .22 caliber, there’s enough power and accuracy to see the Liberty used for small game hunting.
Filling is ideally achieved using a compact HPA compressor with a desiccant filter. The high fill pressure means that the Liberty is probably not for you if you want to use a hand pump. But then, that’s why they have the Nova Freedom model available also…
VALUE FOR MONEY
The American Tactical Nova Liberty PCP air rifle is available in .177 and .22 calibers, together with a choice of wood or synthetic stocks. The synthetic stock version has a price of $299.99, while the wood-stocked version is priced at $349.99.
Those are attractive prices for the value that this air rifle offers. However it gets better!
Currently, the Nova Liberty is available at a special “20% Off” to HAM readers. Just click through from the ad on the HAM Home Page…
For the combination of power and features offered – regulated, magazine-fed, sidelever-cocking, shrouded PCP – it’s unlikely that there’s anything else in the market to match the Nova Liberty at the present time. It’s clearly great value for money.
|HAM Test Rating||88%|
|Value For Money||Sidelever, regulated action at an outstanding price.|
|Best For||Hunting small game, plinking.|
|Best Pellet Tested||H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain|
|Street Price at Time of Test||$349 + scope|
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SPEED AND ACCURACY
The maximum Muzzle Velocity attained by the Nova Liberty PCP air rifle tested by HAM was 1,058.13 FPS. This was achieved with the lightest Gamo Platinum 9.7 Grain pellets.
Maximum speed with lead pellets came – of course – from the 11.9 Grain RWS Hobby pellets at 973.69 FPS.
As expected, however, the highest Muzzle Energy and best accuracy was found with heavier lead pellets. The highest Muzzle Energy achieved by the Nova Liberty PCP air rifle tested by HAM was 26.38 Ft/Lbs. with Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets.
As HAM Tester Doug Rogers wrote in his testing notes: “The Liberty is plenty fast enough.”
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 9.7 Grain||1058.13 FPS||24.12 Ft/Lbs||OK.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain||1044.09 FPS||24.28 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|RWS Hobby 11.9 Grain||973.69 FPS||25.05 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Crosman Premier HP 14.3 Grain||911.42 FPS||26.38 Ft/Lbs||OK.|
|JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain||909.14 FPS||26.34 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 14.66 Grain||896.72 FPS||26.18 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain||734.80 FPS||25.97 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
Best accuracy was achieved with H&N Baracuda Match heavy lead pellets. So we shot these at 25 Yards outdoors with the following results.
The weather was bright and clear, with a slight wind heading towards the shooter. I’m definitely happy with that for 10 shots!
The HAM Team would have liked to see a broader range of pellets offering similar accuracy – as was the case with the Nova Freedom from the same manufacturer and probably with “the same” barrel. However, as we all know, every gun is slightly different in its pellet preferences.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The Nova Liberty PCP air rifle has a two-stage, adjustable trigger. It seems to be the same unit as is fitted to the Nova Freedom Multi-Pump PCP. Clear instructions are provided in the Operation Manual for how to make adjustments to trigger pull weight and sear engagement.
As always, HAM tested the gun “as received ” from the factory. We found that the test sample’s trigger was heavier than expected and somewhat inconsistent. However, as the Nova Freedom has the same trigger and did not show such inconsistency, this may be more the result of assembly rather than design.
As with the Nova Freedom, the trigger was adjusted so that the first stage was almost impossible to detect. It feels like a single-stage release! This may be OK for hunting use, however, target shooters will want to feel some first stage movement.
The average pull weight for the Nova Liberty PCP air rifle tested by HAM was 3 Lbs 3 Oz. However, the variation in pull weights found in this HAM test was high. There was a difference of up to 19 Ounces in measured trigger pull weights – this was definitely enough to be felt during shooting.
To be clear, the trigger of the Nova Liberty PCP air rifle is not bad for the price. However, as owners, the HAM Team would definitely want to investigate making some improvements.
By comparison, the side lever cocking was smooth, light and predictable. It’s easy to operate and the checkered grip of the rubber collar provides a good grip in use.
The manual safety has a pellet-shaped handle. It’s easy and convenient to operate.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The manufacturer claims a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 900 FPS on high power setting in .22 caliber.
The American Tactical Nova Liberty tested by HAM easily beat that claim. All our standard suite of test pellets weighing 14.35 Grains or less easily exceeded 900 FPS.
Trigger pull weight is specified as being between 0.5 Lbs and 4 Lbs. Yes, that’s a very wide spread, but the pull weight of the test gun was certainly within that range.
First, an admission! This bulk of this Nova Liberty PCP air rifle review was finished long ago, except for the shot count test.
This was because – every time I had a moment to run this test – I found that there was not enough pressure in my 4,500 PSI tank to fill the Liberty to its full 4,350 PSI pressure. So I needed to run the compressor to fill up. By the time I had done that, something else had cropped-up that had to be done.
By the time I got back to making this test, there was 4,000 PSI or less in the tank. So I needed to run the compressor again….
So, finally I just gave up and tested the Nova Liberty PCP with the pressure that I had available. It was 3,800 PSI. Here’s the chart.
This exercise, in itself, indicates a practical limitation of having such a high maximum fill pressure. If you want to fill the gun to maximum pressure from a separate, 4,500 PSI tank, that is.
Probably a better plan would be to match the Nova Liberty PCP air rifle with a compact compressor that’s designed to fill a PCP airgun directly.
With this 3,800 PSI fill, it’s clear that the Nova Liberty PCP tested by HAM achieved 30 very consistent shots. So, we can expect that there would be 60 or more consistent shots from a completely full HPA tube.
It’s clear from this chart that the regulator pressure is fairly high. (I’m guessing 2,500 PSI or above). Also the decline in Muzzle Velocity is fairly shallow and well-controlled for many shots after this.
However, we also see something else. There’s a strong tendency for the FPS to be higher on every tenth shot after the first one. In other words, as the gun “rested” while the 10-shot magazine was re-filled, the pressure seems to have built-up more than in regular, shot-to-shot firing.
The effect is probably not significant for everyday shooting, but it is there…
The American Tactical Nova Liberty is fitted with an effective sound-suppressing shroud. It’s reasonably quiet and certainly backyard-friendly. However, it is subjectively somewhat louder than the Benjamin Marauder, HAM’s gold standard for quietness.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
Unusually for these times, the American Tactical Nova Liberty ships with open sights. There’s an elevation- and windage-adjustable rear sight that clamps to the front of the scope rail…
… plus a hooded front sight.
I’m sure there must be shooters out there who will use these open sights and be pleased with them. However, all of the HAM Team are convinced scope users, so the first thing we did was to remove the iron sights and install a scope!
In fact, we tried several scopes, two UTG models from Leapers and one Aztec scope. The American Tactical Nova Liberty balanced well with all of them: they were being tried in connection with other, scope-related articles for HAM.
“Easy to hold, cock and shoot”. That was HAM Tester Doug Rogers’ summary of shooting the American Tactical Nova Liberty.
This PCP air rifle is supplied with a 10-shot rotary magazine. This magazine is interchangeable with those from the Benjamin Marauder and – thus – is easy to use, cheap and reliable. There’s also a single shot tray that’s held in place by two magnets.
A power adjuster wheel is fitted to the left side of the breech. We mainly left it set to “H” for testing – as will most people. However, the low power setting could be useful for basement target practice and similar use. That will, of course, also give many more shots per fill of High Pressure Air.
As an example of difference between the two power settings, Baracuda match pellets shot with a Muzzle Velocity of 734.80 FPS. On low power setting, it was 582.87 FPS. That’s a reduction in FPS of about 20%. So the power adjuster definitely works.
But don’t set it to an intermediate position between H and L. Then, it blocks air from going to the barrel…
Weighing-in at 7 Lbs 11 Oz, the American Tactical Nova Liberty is not a lightweight. It feels “comfortably solid”.
The balance is somewhat muzzle-heavy, due to the long, heavy HPA tube. This is a not unpleasant characteristic, however we would expect the synthetic stock version to to be rather more front-heavy.
The aggressively-ribbed rubber buttpad proved useful in achieving a consistent shooting position. It is another good feature to aid practical accuracy in the field.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Appearance – as always – is in the eye of the beholder. However, the HAM Team feels that the American Tactical Nova Liberty is a pleasant-looking air rifle.
The machining and finish of metal parts is very good. The wood stock is pleasantly-shaped and comfortable to use.There are areas of “checkering” laser cut into the stock. These provide an element of grip for the user, together with highlighting the lines of the wood.
BUYING AND OWNING
As mentioned above, the American Tactical Nova Liberty is available at a special “20% Off” to HAM readers. Just click-through from the ad on the right of the Home Page. As an American Tactical product, it’s also quite likely to be found at your local gun shop.
Practical ownership is helped by the provision of rotating sling swivel studs on the stock. This makes it very easy to add a sling to your Freedom for convenient carrying if out hunting.
Filling with High Pressure Air is achieved using the supplied probe. This has a quick disconnect fitting machined on the other end, for convenient use with the female quick disconnect that’s undoubtedly on the end of your current HPA tank or compressor tube.
However – as always – the HAM Team does not like the position of the Liberty’s pressure gauge. Being at the end of the HPA tube, you’re almost forced to look down the barrel when checking air pressure.
This makes a mockery of all those “do not point the gun at anyone” warnings. This is a widely-used location for pressure gauges, but HAM feels that the airgun industry should move away from it for safety reasons. The Liberty is far from the only PCP air rifle with this issue, however!
The serial number of the gun and manufacturing date of the HPA tube are clearly printed on the underside of the tube. Remember that high pressure means that the American Tactical Nova Liberty requires an HPA compressor or tank to fill completely.
It would be very tough to achieve 4,350 PSI using a hand pump!
Experience also tells us that the effect of humid air would be particularly damaging to the gun at such a high pressure. So, make sure that you supply the Liberty with DRY air using an effective desiccant system.
Again, internal damage from humid air can effect any PCP air rifle. It’s the very high fill pressure that makes the Liberty likely to benefit most from the drying effect of a desiccant system.
The manufacturer’s Operation Manual is clearly written and illustrated. It’s in English only.
One area where the Nova Liberty is behind the curve is in its warranty. True, there is a 12 month warranty and it’s backed-up by American Tactical’s parts and repair capabilities. However 36-month, or even 60-month, warranties are now common for PCP air rifles – including ones at this price point.
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