Back in 1992 Air Arms had attempted to break in to the potentially lucrative 10m indoor shooting market with the release of the RN10.
After poor sales in the crucial European market the project was saved when the rifle was tweaked to take advantage of the field target potential that had been identified. The RN10, later re-named the Pro-Target, became an all-conquering field target legend whilst the 10m version sales remained subdued.
A few years after the highly successful launch of the S400/410 series Air Arms again turned their attention to the 10m shooting market again. With the experience gained from the RN10/Pro-Target it was decided that the whole design & development programme should be based on producing a rifle that could easily be adapted to be used across different shooting disciplines and by shooters young & old – a Multi-Purpose Rifle you could say.
After a couple of years in development the MPR was released in September 2005.
MPR 10m Review - Airgun World - September 2005
The rifles action was designed around the S400 classic with the main differences being that the bolt housing was re-designed and the barrel was replaced with the 14mm diameter Lothar Walther one that had been used on the post Mk1 EV2's.
The trigger unit benefitted from the 3rd sear that had just been introduced to the S400/410 series, giving greater feel & adjustability.
Due to the 10m indoor shooting rules the MPR’s cylinder was removable and had a pressure gauge at the muzzle end. The rifle came with a set of match diopter sights as standard.
There were 2 muzzle end configurations. The “Precision” version was designed for the 10m Precision Air Rifle discipline in mind and had the muzzle end shrouded in a long alloy tube that extended well beyond the 19in barrel to accommodate the dioptre tunnel foresight. The “Sporter” version had a tube that was around 120mm shorter which was designed to sui the Sporter Air Rifle (SAR) 10m discipline.
The newly developed Sporter & Precision programmes had been introduced with the aim of encouraging young shooters into the shooting world. With this in mind the MPR’s stock was kept quite short but the butt pad was adjustable and had the ability to be extended using spacers – there was also the options to fit a metal butt hook as used on the EV2. Towards the front of the stock there was a band that extended upwards to support the cylinder and barrel. The fore-end woodwork was nicely broken up with the addition of 3 ventilation holes.
An adjustable cheek piece offered plenty of vertical adjustment and a little sideways adjustability. The grip was almost vertical as preferred by 10m shooters, and was stippled to provide extra grip. On the underside of the stock’s fore-end there was an accessory rail.
On early models the rear butt stock was removable so the rifle could fit in a small case and offer easy transportation. There were plans to have different length rear butt stocks but this never transpired.
A 12 foot pound full field target version of the MPR was expected soon after release but due to delays with completing development and testing it was around April 2007 before this eagerly awaited version was with retailers.
The main difference to the MPR FT’s action was the introduction of a fixed cylinder and a muzzle brake. The filling system benefitted from the recently introduced T-bar assemble,
Sporting a very similar stock to the original 10m version, the barrel band that was towards the front end of the stock was removed and a band added at the front end of the cylinder - connecting it to the barrel and providing lightly cushioned support. An optional fore-end shelf (AKA a hamster) was offered. This was made of wood stained to resemble ebony and had a hole in it so the gauge was still visible. The shelf came with 10mm & 20mm spaces.
MPR FT Review - Airgun World - May 2007
The MPR FT became a regular winner at Field Target & Hunter Field Target competitions at all levels, including winning the 2010 Hunter Field Target World Championship in the hands of Mark Wall.
The last version to be launched was the Biathlon model in March 2008. This rifle was fitted with a magazine system and is side lever cocking. The rifle was supplied with four 5 shot magazines as require by this discipline. The stock was modified to house 4 magazines in the fore-end for quick replacement of the empty magazine in the breech.
All the MPR rifles began life in right or left hand dedicated walnut stocks. For a short period at the end of 2009 to June 2010 an ambidextrous stained beech stock was used before the introduction of a poplar stock. This was initially offered in a right handed dedicated stock but at some stage early on this was dropped leaving just the ambidextrous stock. The stock was stained for the FT version and left in the white for the 10m and Biathlon versions, with a coating of lacquer being applied.
There have also been a few other changes to the MPR over the years, such as:
The early introduction of optional coloured anodising to the bolt housing – red, yellow & blue.
A cylinder support band being introduced on the FT version when the beech stock was introduced
The forward support band used on the FT versions changing from black to silver
The pressure gague housing finish changing from black anodised to a silver finish
The tunnel on the Precision version changing from black to silver
The barrels on the 6fpe versions changing from black to nickel plated – and then back to black
Production of the FT version ceased mid 2014 ahead of HFT500 release and it has gained legendary status among Field Target & Hunter Field Target shooters.
The Sport, Precision & Biathlon versions are still going strong to this day, giving testament to the success of the MPR programme which started back in 2003.