Airguns: Graduating Class of 2024

Several new air rifles made a splash at the 2024 SHOT Show in Las Vegas this year, along with significant evolutionary steps in existing product lines. Here are a few of the most interesting new rifles that graced the exhibit floor.

Airguns: Graduating Class of 2024

The airgun market continued to gain traction throughout 2023, and there were several interesting new developments at the 2024 SHOT Show reflecting this trend. In this article we’ll take a look at new models seen on the exhibit floor, as well as those I was able to look at before and after the show. Last year, we saw a fair number of new product lines being introduced, while this year there was a trend toward filling out these product lines with new models and expanding the selection of configurations and calibers. But that’s not to say there weren’t some innovative new airguns released as well. 

Air Venturi Avenge-X Carbine

Air Venturi is an Ohio based company that partners with global airgun manufacturers to provide a solid lineup of air-powered hunting rifles, and this past year they began rolling out the Avenge-X line. This is a modular platform that allows customers to choose the basic configuration (sporter, bullpup or tactical), onboard air supply (210cc tube or 400cc bottle) and caliber (.177-, .22- or .25-caliber) for a personalized shooting rig.

The Avenge-X Tactical .25-caliber has become one of my favorite small-game guns, and I’ve used it to bag everything from squirrels to feral hogs. The rifle is accurate, powerful and ergonomic, leaving me wishing for only one change. While the Tactical model is already fairly light, weighing in at a little over 7 pounds, I really wanted a more compact configuration. So, when I saw the Carbine version at the Air Venturi booth, it made my day! The barrel has been shortened from 22.8 to 15.75 inches and utilizes a shorter 130cc tube or 300cc bottle to provide a significant reduction in length.

As mentioned, this is a modular platform, and while not the first, what sets it aside from others in my opinion is that the components are available, easy to work with and reasonably priced. This allows shooters to optimize the gun for their specific needs and the ability to adjust the regulator, hammer spring and transfer port permits fine tuning the gun for a specific projectile or application (such as long-range shooting). I think that based on performance, features and pricing, the Avenge-X is one of the best values to be found in airgunning today.

Hatsan New Offerings

Hatsan is well known for building solid, high-performance air rifles in a variety of models that cover everything from plinking to big-game hunting. Two models that caught my interest at SHOT this year include the Jet II QER convertible pistol/carbine and a new gun available in a wide range of calibers, the Factor Sniper Long.

The Jet II Pistol/Carbine conversion was introduced last year and has proven to be a very popular airgun for Hatsan. The conversion from handgun to carbine is fast, simple, easy, and when combined with the adjustable stock, proved to be a handy little rifle. But while these earlier Jet releases favored the handgun configuration, the Jet II QER has incorporated a longer barrel (from 7.9 to 11.8 inches) and integrated the company’s QuietEnergy technology sound suppression system. And to top it off, the new version of the Jet is also regulated to increase the shot count and provide consistent shot-to-shot energy output. This has elevated the carbine performance and is an ideal small-game gun to carry on backpacking trips.

The Hatsan Factor Sniper Long is a long-range competition PCP rifle designed to optimize precision, power and ergonomics for the competitive shooter. This rifle uses a manual loading system, side-lever action and pre-charged pneumatic technology in .22-, .25-, .30- and .35-calibers. A detachable 700cc carbon fiber bottle provides a high shot count combined with a high-volume plenum to support a high-energy output. This is further optimized with an externally adjustable hammer preload and regulator that allows the gun to be dialed in for specific use cases.

Other notable features are the inclusion of the proven QuietEnergy suppression system based on a fully shrouded 30-inch barrel with an integrated moderator for a reduced sound signature. The Factor Sniper provides ambidextrous operation with a reversible charging handle, and the adjustable Quattro trigger system to support precision shooting. While the Factor Sniper Long was envisioned as a competitive shooting instrument, it is also a viable contender as a long-range prairie dog or varmint rifle depending on caliber selection.

Hatsan had several other new rifles on display at SHOT that warrant a look: the Harpoon PCP Arrow Launcher is an interesting big-game air-archery rig, and the Flash-R is a new semi-auto PCP in standard calibers that looks like a very interesting option for small-game hunting.

Umarex Gauntlet PCP

Umarex is another company that has been bringing some innovative airguns to market over the past few years, and arguably one of the most important of these was the Gauntlet PCP air rifle. This was one of the first companies to bring a powerful, accurate, quiet, regulated gun to market at an affordable price. It is available in .177-, .22- and .25-caliber, and I’ve used the .25-caliber on many hunts over the years.

While the Umarex Gauntlet lineup of PCP airguns has been popular for a few years now, there were a couple areas that could be improved. In my opinion, the major one was to switch from a bolt action to a side-lever action. The sidelever tends to be much faster and easier to cycle under hunting conditions. The other improvement that I really wanted to see was the inclusion of a .30-caliber, because I thought this would be better for medium-size game and predators.

With this in mind, I was quite pleased to see the new Gauntlet SL30 (.30-caliber), and Gauntlet 2 SL in .22- and .25-caliber models at the Umarex booth in Las Vegas. Featuring a side-lever action, the new Gauntlet SL provides a smooth and rapid cycling action.

The Gauntlet SL30 can propel both pellets and slugs out of a seven-round magazine. The 4,500 PSI tank is regulated to 2,800 psi output generating around 1,000 fps muzzle velocity. The rifle utilizes a hammer spring adjustment for dialing in performance for a specific projectile. 

Another gun in the Umarex lineup that caught my eye was the Zelos, a compact little carbine that follows in the footsteps of the extremely popular Notos released at last year’s SHOT Show. The Zelos is a modular rifle that looks like an excellent pest control/small-game gun. It is available in .22- and .25-caliber and incorporates a 3,625 psi air tank with an adjustable regulator that is adjustable between 1,000 to 2,000 psi. 

The .22-caliber model generates 1,100 fps of muzzle velocity and comes with a 20-round magazine. The .25-caliber version uses an 18-round magazine and generates velocities around 1,000 fps, depending on the projectile used. Another element of this design I appreciate is that it uses an ergonomic side-lever action to cock and index the high-capacity magazines.

Umarex has several other airguns that are worth noting, including an arrow gun designed specifically for bowfishing, a new carbine version of its Hammer .50-caliber big bore and the Primal 20-gauge air shotgun.

Daystate/Brocock Pathfinder

Airguns of Arizona is the distributor for Daystate/Brocock rifles in the USA, and they sent me the BRK Pathfinder PCP for some hands-on testing shortly after SHOT. The Pathfinder is a compact hunting gun that offers big performance and shootability in a small package. This little rig weighs 6.4 pounds, is only 24.25 inches LOA when deployed, and 16.4 inches with the stock folded.

The Pathfinder is extremely well crafted. Materials and build are top quality and it is a semi-bullpup configuration that offers many of the advantages of both bullpup and carbine designs. It has a folding adjustable stock making this an excellent small-game option when loading up the kayak or the e-bike for extended field trips. The Pathfinder is regulated, has adjustable power, a fully shrouded barrel and incorporates a 300cc carbon fiber air tank. The side-lever action is as smooth as silk, and with a two-stage adjustable trigger and the 11-shot magazine is fast and easy to load. This is a company that continues to deliver some very well designed and executed products, and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

Crosman Prospect

Crosman is a name that many of us grew up with, its name synonymous with lever-action BB guns and the multi-pump Benjamin rifles. But these days they have developed an extensive portfolio that includes standard and large caliber PCP rifles and AirBows in addition to the youth oriented guns we remember.

One of the rifles that caught my attention was the Crosman Prospect, a side-lever actuated PCP that features an integrated suppressor with a threaded muzzle to accept an additional external moderator to make the rifle very quiet. The Prospect stock is an all-weather synthetic design equipped with a Picatinny rail on top of the receiver for mounting optics. The rifle is regulated and set up to optimize shot-to-shot consistency for a balance of power and accuracy throughout the shot string. This rifle is available in .177- and .22-calibers and utilizes a 3,600 psi air tube mounted under the barrel to provide approximately 50 shots per fill. The .177-caliber version generates up to 1,000 fps and the .22-caliber can reach 900 fps. 

AirForce TalonBolt

This Texas based company has been producing powerful PCP air rifles in standard and big-bore calibers for several years and is known for the proven technology of their Condor and Talon rifles in standard calibers, and the Texan big-bore technology driving heavy cast lead slugs at very impressive power levels.

But the gun that I saw garnering a lot of attention at the SHOT Show was the TalonBolt rifle for big-game hunting and bowfishing. This gun can propel a 400-grain bolt with a broadhead at over 400 fps, which makes it appropriate for whatever big game is legal in your neck of the woods.

The gun fills to 2,000 psi, a relatively low fill pressure these days, but makes it easier to keep the gun charged from a standard SCUBA tank. I used this gun on a couple hog hunts, and besides top-level performance, the compact and lightweight dimensions made the AirForce TalonBolt a pleasure to carry. I also like the quiver arrangement on this rifle that allows easy carry and fast access to three bolts.

Conclusion

So, while there was not quite the bumper crop of new guns we saw last year, you can appreciate there was still a lot to see. I tried to focus on guns that represented a cross section of what was on display, what I found interesting, and what was drawing crowd attention at the show. But I obviously couldn’t get to everything. If you have an interest in airguns and airgun hunting, I’d suggest you look at the other rifles and products these companies are offering. I had space here to only scratch the surface; but whether it’s pest control, small game, predators, large game, airgun bowhunting or airgun fishing, there are a number of new products for just about any application.




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