Hunting With an Innovative, Multi-pump PCP Air Rifle

The Seneca Aspen PCP from Air Venturi proved itself as a fun, inexpensive air rifle when put to the test.

Hunting With an Innovative, Multi-pump PCP Air Rifle

The Seneca Aspen PCP from Air Venturi proved itself as a fun, inexpensive air rifle when put to the test. (Photo: Jim Chapman)

In early autumn I found myself preparing to leave the cold northern climes and head off on another hunt in Texas, heading for a buddy’s ranch north of a town called Sanderson on the U.S./Mexico border. This was to be a rambling road trip in which I’d eventually cover 1,600 miles by rental Jeep before returning to Dallas for the flight home.

My objectives ran the gamut — javalina, predators and rabbits down south, then I’d jump up north to go after the big feral hogs running amok across the state. I’d packed a couple powerful big-bore air rifles for the larger game, but was especially keen to go after rabbits because a few weeks earlier I’d received an interesting small game rifle for evaulation.

On the surface, this rifle is based on a design that’s been around for years. But it is in fact an amalgamation of old and new technologies — a multi-pump pre-charged pneumatic rifle from Air Venturi branded as the Seneca Aspen. This rifle can be filled from an external air source as any PCP. What sets it aside is an integrated pumping mechanism that enables you to top off the rifle in the field. 

With the initial fill of the .22 caliber version I was using (also available in .25), the rifle produced a dozen shots with virtually no shift in point of impact. Thirty low effort pumps and the gun was topped off and ready for another 10-15 shots. Besides the ability to generate multiple shots without needing to be pumped after each pull of the trigger, the rifle is magazine fed and cycled with a side lever action. The Aspen is a larger gun, which is inevitable with the integrated pump mechanism. The weight is 8 pounds, the overall length is 43.3 inches and I was getting about 900 fps with 18-grain pellets.

Early Impressions

A few things impressed me with this gun right off the bat. It was a lot easier to pump than I remembered my old Sheridan to be, or another hand-built multi-pump PCP prototype rifle that I tried out several years ago. I liked the fact that the design incorporates a side lever cocking action, as that is my preference for field guns. It has been my experience that a side cocking mechanism is about the fastest cycling action you can get in a PCP rifle. 

The 10-shot rotary magazine fed flawlessly, and I even got used to the pump handle sticking out underneath. But quite honestly what took me by surprise was the outstanding accuracy this rifle delivers. I have both the .22- and .25-caliber sitting in my gun room right now but have only shot the .22, so will limit my comments to that caliber. At 40 yards the rifle produced 10-shot one-hole groups that could be covered with a quarter and did that consistently. I was looking forward to using the Aspen as my small game gun for the trip, and after sighting in was set to go!

I would be hunting larger game for much of the week, but still expected to have plenty of time for rabbit hunting during our down time. I reckoned that would provide plenty of opportunity to carry this unique PCP through miles of brush and shoot it under field conditions in a target-rich environment. A rifle that shoots well off the bench doesn’t necessarily translate into a gun that handles well in the field. 

Jackrabbits in the thorn- and cactus-covered Texan scrub brush call for a lot of shots from a standing offhand or kneeling position. When I can find a bare spot to sit, I’ll often opt to use shooting sticks. So rather than bench resting in preparation for a hunt, I tested my rifle using sticks to see what could be expected under the best-case scenarios in the field. I should also mention that this rifle has a reasonably set up trigger out of the box. Though it is a fully adjustable two-stage design, I didn’t feel a need to make adjustments.

Over the course of the week I strung together several hunts for  cottontails and the big desert jackrabbits inhabiting the arid brushlands. The Aspen, coupled with an 18-grain JSB Exact round-nose Diabolo pellet, was devastating on rabbits big and small out to 75 yards. Shooting the Aspen was quite freeing, knowing that after a magazine or two went through it, a fast top off was possible. The pumping effort was so light that I’d often charge the rifle while on the move.

The Aspen produced an honest 20 fpe, and the laser-like accuracy did a solid job on the big 5- to 6-pound jacks. In the denser brush of the areas hunted, head shots were the placement of choice; however, I found that the broadside body shots were also effective, and I consistently rolled these big jacks out to 50 yards. The pump handle is situated in such a way that the rig is very easy to shoot off a knee with the cocking handle serving as an integrated rest.

I think this would be a great small game gun to leave at the cabin or stashed in my kayak for weekend trips where a self-contained springer was the best option in the past. Besides being fully self-contained (a comment normally reserved for spring piston airguns) this rifle is priced less than $400.

Since no additional filling equipment is needed to keep the rifle shooting, it offers a more budget friendly entry to the PCP space. That could be a significant factor for potential buyers, as a carbon fiber tank will set you back about $600 and you still need to find a place to fill it. While perhaps not as good looking as a standard PCP sporter, the Aspen yields the desirable shooting characteristics, with some distinct advantages of its own.

If asked my opinion on the Aspen as a hunting rifle, I’d have to say it made a good showing. As a matter of fact, I liked the rifle much more than I expected. No matter how you fill a rifle, if it doesn’t perform well, it is of little value and, in my experience, the Aspen performed as well as many of the higher priced traditional PCP’s in my collection.

Granted, it has a basic synthetic stock and is does not have the fit and finish of more expensive rifles, but it is on par with traditional PCPs at a similar price point. Even if you’re not constrained by budget and have a compressor and multiple tanks already, the fact that you can grab this gun and a tin of pellets and go is a great advantage!

Based on performance, cost of ownership and freedom from an offline air supply, I think this gun has much to recommend it. It certainly did the job for me as a small game gun, and I’ll being using it more in future.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.