LCS Air Arms SK-19 .30 Caliber Air Rifle Review
SK-19 .30 Cal
July 28, 2021
Borrowed from Lauren Parsons at Airguns of Arizona
Excellent. Very carefully used.
That Full Auto capability!
Can't tell how many shots in magazine
Magazine too short for .30 cal Polymags
Slow to load
VALUE FOR MONEY
This review of the LCS Air Arms SK-19 .30 caliber is a follow-on to the previous HAM review of the .22 caliber model. Although both models look very similar, the .30 caliber version actually features a longer barrel and longer bipod mount rail. The .30 cal model is just $100 more expensive…
The difference in caliber makes a huge difference to the power level of the two guns, however. The SK-19 .30 caliber is actually about twice as powerful as the .22 cal model – on a shot-to-shot basis. We’re talking of a difference between 40 Ft/Lbs for the .22’s Muzzle Energy to 80 Ft/Lbs for the thirty cal.
In either case, the selective fire capability compared with the quality, reliability, power and accuracy means that there’s nothing in the market that can really compare with the SK-19.
Let’s be clear, the SK-19 is not a cheap air rifle. The Street Price is $2,199 for the .30 cal model. Then you need a quality scope and rings. Plus a robust HPA supply system (think heavy-duty HPA compressor plus large HPA tank). Then factor-in plenty of .30 caliber pellets at 10 – 12 cents each (you’ll be needing them). Plus, most owners will add accessories like a bipod and possibly an air capacity upgrade.
As they used to say in Britain about the price of a Rolls Royce: “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”.
So yes, this is an expensive air rifle to own. It’s also particularly expensive to run in .30 caliber due to the ammo cost. But the performance is unmatched. And the best is (almost) always expensive…
NOTE: This review was undertaken in Arizona. I forgot to take a supply of standard HAM targets, that’s why the targets look different from usual!
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LCS SK-19 Air Rifle
SPEED AND ACCURACY
The SK-19 .30 caliber tested by HAM gave a Muzzle Velocity of 898 FPS with 44.75 Grain pellets. As the JSB Exact, Hades and Daystate Rangemasters all had the same weight, that “~900 FPS”velocity applied to all of them. That represented 80 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy.
The heavier, 50.15 Grain JSBs produced an average of 863 FPS – that’s 83 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy.
Accuracy was exceptional, too. Shot at 20 Yards with 44.75 Grain JSB Exacts, this target gave a genuine “one hole” group for 10 shots. (That’s a tear in the paper in the 7 o’clock position, not one slightly low shot, BTW).
Out at 50 Yards, I couldn’t resist setting the “fun switch” to full auto using the same pellets. Sure there’s some vertical stringing, but every shot was within the “4 ring” and just a couple of clicks scope elevation adjustment would have seen the center ripped right out of the target!
It was less than 3 seconds of fun, but with a serious purpose (at least that’s my story). It’s clear that the SK-19 .30 caliber can really shoot – even on full auto!
Effectively there’s no recoil to be felt when firing full auto. However the stringing demonstrates that the muzzle was rising under fire even with a bipod in use.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
Needless to say, with the selective-fire action, there is zero cocking effort – the SK-19 does it all for you. This gives the real possibility of an instantly-available second shot if required by the hunter.
The trigger itself has a very light, with a longer – somewhat creepy – second stage. If that sounds bad, it really isn’t. True, it’s not up there with the best bolt action triggers on top-end airguns. However we need to remember that this is a semi-fully automatic airgun and judge the trigger accordingly.
I found the trigger to be very usable and it clearly did not effect the accuracy achieved in testing. In fact, the pull weight is surprisingly light – around 1 Lb 8 Oz.
In full auto mode, a quick “dab” of the trigger provides a “2-shot burst” capability. This is easy to do and is quite predictable. The main requirement is to completely release the trigger between “dabs” so that the action will re-set before firing again.
Holding the trigger back in full-automatic mode empties the magazine in less than 3 seconds. It also continues firing blanks unless you let go immediately afterward. However the change in sound is a clear giveaway to the change of firing mode, making this “overrun” easy enough to control.
The SK-19 .30 caliber is notably fitted with two safeties. One is located above the trigger on the left side of the gun. The other is part of the fire control selector at the rear.
But there is also an unannounced third “safety” that can be deployed for complete “belt and braces” security.
If you swing out the magazine locking lever – as in the photograph above – this prevents the magazine from indexing. The result is that no pellet can be placed in battery in the gun. If you pull the trigger with the locking lever out, all you will get is the sound of escaping High Pressure Air…
Thanks to Lauren Parsons for this tid-bit of information!
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
As with many high end air rifles, the manufacturer makes surprisingly few claims for the SK-19 (at least compared to those commonly sold in big box stores).
So what do we have?
- Semi/full auto operation. Check!
- Great accuracy courtesy of a Lothar Walther barrel. Check!
- Up to 50 shots per fill from the 480cc bottle. HAM achieved 55 shots.
- Maximum Muzzle energy up to 95 Ft/Lbs. I recorded a maximum of 83 Ft/Lbs with JSB 50.15 Grain pellets. AoA says that they achieved this result using Nielsen slugs. As these are available in weights of 54.5 and 61 Grains, this is realistic. However these slugs were sadly not available at the time of this test.
Below. This gun is actually Lauren Parsons’ personal SK-19. She loves it! Thanks to Lauren for letting HAM test it…
I was very impressed with the consistency of the LCS Air Arms SK-19 .30 caliber. Lauren’s gun has the standard 480cc tank, yet it still delivered 55 consistent shots before reaching the regulator set point. (There’s a larger, 580cc tank option that can be specified with the SK-19. The result – of course – will be a higher shot count).
As with the .22 caliber gun tested previously, the Muzzle Velocity showed a slow, steady decline as the shot count increased. This is a characteristic of many regulated PCPs, although we have seen flatter curves.
Given the 17-shot magazine capacity in .30 caliber, it would make practical sense to re-fill with a full charge of of High Pressure Air after three full magazines of shooting (51 shots).
The trigger pull weight of the SK-19 .30 caliber tested by HAM varied between 1 Lb 6.5 Oz and 1 Lb 8.7 Oz. for 10 pulls of a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Weight Gauge. So, very consistent and well under 2 Lbs in pull weight.
The barrel of the SK-19 .30 caliber is well-shrouded. There’s an additional, larger diameter chamber at the end. Overall, I was surprised at the relative quietness of the gun in this caliber.
It was nowhere as loud as I was expecting and I shot it in AoA’s indoor 20-Yard range without ear defenders and without any feeling that I should wear any. (Although I’m careful about protecting my hearing!).
Is the SK-19 .30 caliber backyard-friendly? No, probably not. But then anyone using a .30 caliber airgun is unlikely to expect it to be, given the power and shooting distance capabilities it offers.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
With the SK-19, the scope is – of course – an additional cost item. So you can choose any optic you like. For this test review we used a Kahles 5-25 x 56 scope as this was already fitted to the review gun – which is Lauren Parsons’ own.
Scope mounting is achieved using the Picatinny rail that’s built-in to the gun. This provides sufficient length to mount most any type of scope, even if it’s long and your requirements are for long eye relief.
The SK-19 is all about shooting! Loading? Well that’s something you just have to do…
The magazine is non-removable, so it has to be loaded in situ. First the magazine locking lever (on the left side) is raised, this allows the magazine to be rotated by hand. Then the flap on the right side is raised.
It’s steady, plodding work to rotate the magazine, then load three pellets – in the .30 caliber version – before deliberately rotating the magazine again to show another three empty chambers. Repeat…
If you can, it’s also a good idea to seat the pellets with your finger as equally as possible. There’s a possibility accuracy could be impaired a little if you don’t.
The magazine rotates clockwise (seen from the rear). However the chambers are not numbered and it’s not possible to see how many shots are still available on board – if at all! So either you have to keep careful count when shooting or accept some blank shots when you reach the empty chambers.
While it is possible to alter the externally-adjustable regulator (seen below, above the HPA bottle), that’s an urge that’s really best controlled.
In fact, regulator set pressure, power level and rate of fire are all adjustable on the SK-19. However, the HAM Team strongly recommends leaving all of these controls exactly where they are set by the factory.
At least until you’re very familiar with the gun, that is.
Fine tuning for a specific pellet is quite easy. Large adjustments are unlikely to improve performance but you could possibly make things worse if you’re not careful!
The longer lower Picatinny rail that’s fitted to the SK-19 .30 caliber is beneficial. It allows a wider range of positions for attaching the bipod that will very likely be supporting the LCS when it’s fired on the range.
Although the SK-19’s stock is not over-endowed with adjustability, I found it easy to obtain a good, comfortable cheek weld for shooting. The scope is presented at just the right height for easy, comfortable viewing, too.
And comfortable shooting is likely to be accurate shooting!
Without scope, the SK-19 weighs-in at around 7 Lbs 15 Oz. Combined with the 38-Inch overall length, this is an airgun that can be fired freehand. However, I found it best fired with the support of a bipod and suspect that’s how it will be used by most owners.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Appearance is – of course – a matter of personal choice. However most people who are attracted to the “tactical look” in airguns seem to like the appearance of the SK-19. Although a bullpup, the SK-19 does not have the “dumpy” looks of many other bullpups. It looks – and feels – a long, spacious air rifle.
Finish is exemplary. All machining and surface finishes are outstanding! This is clear from the many close-up photographs you can see in this review.
BUYING AND OWNING
There’s not a huge range of ammunition available for .30 caliber airguns. Mainly, it comes from JSB – under one name or another – while NSA also has some .30 caliber slugs.
In my testing for this HAM review, I experienced not a single stoppage, jam or failure to feed: and that’s over many hundred shots. This replicates the experience in the .22 caliber HAM test.
But there is one type of pellet that will not fit the SK-19 .30 caliber – that’s Predator Polymags. Trust me. I tried!
Armed with electronic calipers, I measured the SK-19’s magazine to be 12.85mm deep. I then measured a sampling of Polymags. None was shorter than 12.86 mm, while the average length was 12.92 mm. The longest pellet measured was 13.00 mm long.
Even though the difference between the magazine depth and maximum pellet length was just 0.15mm (or about 6 Thou, if you prefer), it’s just too much. The gun will not accept them. That was a disappointment, however it could have been worse. All the conventional pellets fitted without any issues whatsoever.
The SK-19 manual is well-illustrated and in English only. It’s quite simple but describes the gun’s functionality well.
All LCS SK-19 air rifles are warranted to the retail consumer for three years from date of purchase. This warranty applies to the original retail customer. The warranty covers faulty workmanship and defective materials. Proof of purchase is required in the unlikely event that warranty support is required.
If you feel the need for more shots between fills of HPA with your SK-19 .30 caliber, there are choices, however…
As mentioned above, the gun can be ordered with a 580 cc bottle, instead of the 480cc tank used for this test. In addition, there are double bottle adapters available – although then you are talking of a considerable increase in weight, along with the huge increase in shot count.
But – whichever configuration you choose – you’ll need to be sure that you have PLENTY of High Pressure Air available!
One consolation is that the 3,650 PSI (250 bar) maximum fill pressure of the SK-19 – relatively low by current trends – makes it easier to satisfy the gun’s demands for air in the field than were it to take 4,500 PSI.
Last – but not least – all SK-19 models are supplied in a solid hard case. Unlike some other cases that come supplied with air rifles, this one is also spacious enough to include a mounted scope. Very good!
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LCS SK-19 Air Rifle
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