The Air Arms Pro-Target Air RifleBy Jim Baumann
Copyright © 2000Lame Rabbit Software, all rights reserved.
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I bought the Pro-Target; because it was the least expensive of the full fledged Field Target guns, and from that point of view it is a real bargain. It comes with all the necessary goodies to make it competitive. This version has the standard stock, with the four adjustments on the stock. Air Arms also sells another version that has more adjustment to the stock, including length of pull.
The three adjustments are the adjustable cheek piece, that not only adjusts in height; but can be moved left and right, by way of two Allen screws, on the underside of the cheek piece. You could actually change the angle of the cheek piece, by putting a shim, or shims between the cheek piece, and the bracket. I don't know if you would want to do this; but, you could.
The up and down of the cheek piece is adjusted by loosening the Allen screw, on the side of the stock. The cheek piece is then pushed up or down, and held in place while the Allen screw is retightened. It takes several tries to finally get it where you want it; but, once you do there is no reason to move it again; unless you change scopes, or mounts.
If you need or want a shorter length of pull; I would recommend that you buy the fully adjustable stock version; because, the butt plate or recoil pad is bolted on to the stock, by way of steel anchors. If you were to attempt to shorten the stock you would have to remove these anchors, and it does not look like an easy job. To lengthen the stock, you could use longer Allen screws, and add spacers.
The Accessory Rail:
The stock has a half length accessory rail. The rail runs from under the front of the stock, to about 7 inches in front of the trigger guard. This keeps it from rubbing or riding on your arm, when shooting in the Field Target position. Some may wish that it ran all the way back, for adding a knee rest; but, I like it the way it is.
The butt plate adjusts, of course, up and down, by way of a single Allen screw set inside the center of the recoil pad. There is not a lot of adjustment here; but it will move more than an inch in either direction. More than that, you really don't need anyway. I did not care for the butt plate that comes with the gun; so, I replaced it with a wooden one that I made to fit. This allowed me to increase the length of pull; without having to add spacers. I should also mention that the butt plate has some cast off to it. This is achieved, in this case, by angling the recoil pad inward toward the shooter. This is not much; but, I thought I should mention it. The fully adjustable stocked version, has an adjustment for this also.
The barrel is a Lothar Walther with a 1 in 18 inch twist rate, and 12 groove. It is, completely free floating and is approximately 21 and 3/4 inches long. Air Arms advertises that this new version of the Pro-Target comes with a special barrel coating; I don't know about that; but, the first gun I received came with a tiny bit of rust in its barrel. Given the UK's climate; I would imagine that this could occur rather easily. Here in Florida the dampness and the salt air can rust an old Buick to dust in just a few weeks!
The Pro-Target's overall length is about 45 and 1/4 inches, with the standard muzzle break attached. The gun weighs in at 9.7 pounds, by my scale. This muzzle break works quite well, and it is also a bit of a moderator. While it is not designed as such; it does quiet the gun's noise a good bit. The Pro-Target sounds a bit like a low powered CO2 gun, when fired. However, make no mistake, about its power; as my Pro-Target came, out of the box, shooting Crosman 10.5's at 860 feet per-second.
The Pro-Target action is also free floating; or at least everything from the regulator forward does not come in contact with the stock. The action is bolted to the stock, by way of three action screws; one on the bottom, and two on the side. This means that regardless of the temperature, or the amount of air pressure left in the reservoir, that the gun will not zero shift. Well, at least not because of the air reservoir.
Loading the Pro-Target is accomplished by, pushing the release lever, which opens the breach area, and then by pushing a pellet into the barrel/breach. Cocking the gun is easy, and can be done by pulling on either side of the breach block. I prefer to put my thumb on the back of the action and pull on both sides of the breach block at the same time. The breach block is then pushed forward until it clicks, or locks in place. The Pro-Target is now ready to shoot. There is no safety to fool with, on the Pro-Target. It is best to leave the breach open; as I found that when left closed, it tended to stick, and did not want to open. I had to pull it back, when I left it closed over night.
Firing the gun is a breeze and the Pro-Target trigger is a dream. My trigger came with about a 1/4 inch or less first stage pull. The first stage is quite light; any lighter and most could not feel it. The second stage is set at less than a pound. It is probably only a few grams, and far less than a pound. I have not done anything to adjust the trigger on my gun since I received it. The trigger pull is as light as I can handle, and that tiny bit of first stage is just fine with me. The trigger has many adjustments, 7 in all. That's a lot of adjustments, and one, or two of the most important adjustments is the ability to move the trigger back and forth, and up and down. For most hunting, or general purpose type rifles, this is not a necessary feature; but, on a full fledged field target gun, it is a necessity. In a way, the ability to move the trigger back and forth, gives you a way of changing the length of pull; but, what it really does is allow you to custom fit the trigger to the length of your finger. This is a big help, when shooting Field Target. You can also put the trigger, or the trigger shoe, at an angle. The other adjustments are: trigger weight of pull; first stage length of travel; second stage adjustment; and the follow-through travel screw.
Many other, if not all other, full fledged Field Target guns come with these adjustments; but, I thought I should cover this; as I have read a few reviews that have left this important information out, or only skimmed over it.
Shooting the Pro-Target is a real pleasure; that is, of course, once you get it adjusted to fit you. This took quite a while; as I tend to be quite the perfectionist when it comes to getting a gun to fit me; or at least make it comfortable. Once adjusted to fit; it does so quite well. The Pro-Target comes with a high mounted scope rail. This tends to give the shooter a heads up position, and is quite comfortable. Shooting the gun over my arm, which is my preferred field target position, and shooting at my back yard spinners was quite a bit of fun. I had no trouble hitting my 1/2 inch spinner at 28 yards. In fact, it was so easy that I almost stopped shooting at it completely, likewise with my 1 inch 40 yard spinner. My inch and 1/8 50 yard spinner presented me with my only challenge. This was do mostly to the wind, and my shooting range gets some strange wind currents. All the trees, and brush can cause the wind to be blowing only at or beyond 30 yards. Once I get the wind pegged, I have no trouble getting the 50 yard spinner all the time; but, then the wind would change.
The Pro-Target's maximum charge pressure is 200 Bar. That is just about 2850 PSI. This is a bit less than some other, and more expense guns; but, I feel that it is enough. At 2850 the Pro-Target will give you forty plus shots, while pushing the 10.5 grain Premiers at 850 plus. The gun seemed to do best when the charge pressure was kept at 2300 PSI or above. This still gives 35 useable shots.
From a design point of view; you could not ask for a better gun, than the Pro-Target Mark III; but, as with all good things there is a down side. My First Pro-Target lasted 5 days; before it started leaking. It took me three months, THAT'S THREE MONTHS, to get a replacement. One of the guys that I shoot with had bought a Mark II; and he had to send his back also! I know little about Air Arms; but, I will say that of the two new guns that I have bought from them; I had to send them both back. In some ways, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop; but, it has not happened yet. If I experience any further problems, with the Pro-Target I will put it here.
Loading the pellet directly into the barrel's rifling, allows the shooter to feel how the pellet fits, and this does have some advantage, particularly when shooting unsorted pellets. In other words, you can tell a pewee as soon as you push it in, and you can "blow it off" during a match. You can get a real good look at the tail of the pellet, and tell if it is deformed. This also allows you to set the depth of the pellet when loading. The height scope mount has two advantages. The first being that it gives you a bit of a flatter trajectory at longer ranges. This may not seem like much; but, with some scopes, and in bad lighting conditions, it can be very hard to tell if the target is at 46 yards or 49 at yards distant. The more accurate your zero, the more likely you are to take down the target!
A bit harder to load; The design of the action requires a large, or thick forearm, for the first couple of inches, in front of the trigger guard. The height of the scope mount means that regardless of the scopes objective bell; it will sit almost 2 inches above the barrel. Since, the gun has only a half length accessory rail, this makes it hard to mount any kind of knee support, for those who like to shoot field target off their knee.
The Pro-Target's Accuracy:
Average Accuracy for unsorted Crosman 10.5 grain Premiers at 50 yards was .56 center to center. I shot fifteen 5 shot groups, and the wind was not a lot of help. It was shifting direction, and changing velocity. The Pro-Target did shoot three 3/8 of an inch groups, and seemed to want to do even better.
I tried the 7.9 grain Premiers; but, the best group I could get was only a half inch. The bad part was that two of the groups were over an inch, at 50 yards. Groups with this pellet averaged .85 at 50 yards. I could blame the wind on this; but, it seemed to die by the time I got around to shooting the 7.9's.
The Beeman Kodiak Match averaged .718 center to center at 50 yards. The wind was giving me more problems the day I got to shooting the Kodiaks'. Every time I would start a group the wind would shift a bit, and the groups would open up. The smallest group with the Kodiaks was 1/4 inch center to center and the largest being 7/8 of an inch. There was not a lot of wind; but, it played hell on the Kodiaks'! They seemed to drift a lot more than the 10.5 grain Premiers. Muzzle velocity averaged 845 feet per-second. The odd part here is that the gun came shooting at almost 860; and according to Air Arms the velocity will increase as the gun wears in a bit.
I set my chronograph up 10 feet from the Pro-Target's muzzle and shot a 30 shot string. The 10.5 grain Crosman Premiers' had an extreme spread, of 14 feet per-second. This may seem like a large spread for a regulated gun; but, When I clocked Bob Peiser's FWB P70 at the same distance the extreme spread was 18 feet per-second for a 25 shot string.
The muzzle break can and will bang against the guns fill cover, or cap. If you notice in the picture, this stock is actually a Pro-Target Mark II stock; as it has the holes and is inletted for the barrel band found on the earlier models. The screws in the Mark III only hold small filler blocks in place.
Over all, I found the Pro-Target Mark III to be a very fine Field Target gun; and it is certainly worth the asking price. Let me apologize for not shooting better groups with this gun. The heat index has been well over a 100 degrees every day; and this does nothing for my shooting ability, even when I am shooting from a bench. The gun seemed to want to shoot a lot better and if the wind had been a bit less, and the heat had been about 20 degrees cooler; I am sure that the groups with the CP 10.5's would have been better. The long and short of it is that this gun shoots a good bit better that I could ever shoot it, even from a bench.
For more information on the Air Arms Pro-Target, and its other options, and other Air Arms guns, you can go to the Air Arms Home Page.
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