THE PRO SPORT
Since the launch of the TX200 in 1991, Air Arms had added semi-recoiling (SR) and hunter carbine (HC) versions. They also had a break barrel in development. What else could they offer the spring rifle market next?
There was already no doubting Air Arms’s engineering capabilities and the quality end product they could produce so how about a “show stopper” rifle with looks to die for?
Renowned airgunsmith Ken Turner was a regular consultant for Air Arms and as he had also been involved in the development of the legendary Venom Mach 2 he was the obvious choice to lead this new project.
The stunning Pro Sport was unveiled to a drooling public in the summer of 1996 after a reported 10 years in development.
At the time of launch Air Arms stated that “The Pro-Sport is a rifle we are proud to build and you will be proud to own!”.
The Pro Sport’s beautifully figured stock houses a deeply blued action with hidden under-lever and a shrouded barrel. Add to this internals derived from the TX range and the Pro Sport backs up its stunning looks with great performance.
Advert from 1996
Over the years there have been a number of mostly minor changes to the Pro Sport but unlike the TX200, Air Arms have not designated these changes with a new “Mk”. However, some of the changes have led to reference to several “Mk’s”.
Mid 1997 saw a number of significant changes to the Pro Sport with what is commonly referred to as the Mk2. Due to some issues with the under-lever cocking system the linkage was altered and the piston stroke length was increased. A heavier return spring was used to close the lever more positively. The action was now secured to the stock with an extra screw either side of the stock, just in front of the trigger.
Among the other changes over the years were minor alterations to the stock design and a change to the size of the piston seal around 2000.
Advert from 2006
Air Arms have lost none of their pride for their top of the range spring rifle as their current website statement evidences: “Sleek, compact and elegant – The Air Arms Pro Sport is arguably the most beautiful spring airgun ever built.” Few would disagree with this confident statement.
Mk2 (Walnut stock)
Barrel length: 245mm/9.64in
Weight: 3.9kg/8.6lb (Walnut) 4.1kg/9lb (Beech)
Calibre: .177 & .22
A solid steel piston, with a bore of 25mm runs inside a polished compression tube. With a pair of delrin bearings being present at each end the piston is radially floating, meaning there is no metal to metal contact and it can rotate during travel. The system eliminates the torque on fixed piston rifles that leads to twist being experienced when firing, providing greater spring efficiency and smoother operation. Adding to the efficiency of the rifle is the concentrically designed breech/transfer port which ensures a smooth flow for air on firing.
The Mk1 had a stroke length of 82mm. This was increased to 96mm on the Mk2, which improved performance of the FAC versions – many believe this was at the detriment of the sub 12fpe versions shot cycle. The FAC versions are capable of around 15fpe in .177 & 16fpe in .22.
At the end of the stroke the safety button at the rear of the action engages. This can’t be re-engaged without re-cocking the under-lever.
Advert from 2002
Although the Pro Sport has a built in anti-bear trap system, it is not a ratchet system like the TX200 range, meaning the sliding breech is under a great amount of pressure until the stroke is completed.
The lack of ratcheting means that cocking is very quiet. The downside of the system is that the rifle can’t be de-cocked.
As a result of “over centre engineering” the under-lever comes to rest neatly within its recess under its own pressure with no need for a clasp or catch. The under –lever is made of brushed aluminium. Some feel that the appearance would be enhanced by anodising but Air Arms have always stuck to their guns as they feel that anodising would suffer from wear quickly.
Article from Airgun World - Septemeber 1997 - Part 1
The 12 groove precision choked Walther barrel is housed inside a 17mm diameter steel shroud with a built in baffled silencer taking up almost 100mm of the shrouds “overhang” at the end of the barrel.
The trigger unit is the same C.D. unit as used on the TX range – the C.D. being an abbreviation of “Computer Developed”. This is a multi adjustable 2 stage match trigger with sears machined from solid steel and a chassis screwed together rather being formed from folded steel. At the end of the cocking stroke the top sear automatically locks and the safety catch is set. The trigger itself is a curved sporter type with gold plating.
Unlike the TX range, no left hand actions have ever been made for the Pro sport although a small run of left hand stocks were produced which I believe were for the Mk2. Air Arms have stated that around 18 of these stocks were sold in the UK, with a further 30 being exported to the U.S.
Article from Airgun World - Septemeber 1997 - Part 2
The stock is a modified sporter available in beech or walnut, with the current version being made by Minelli. It has a high, roll over cheek-piece which aides eye/scope alignment. The pistol grip is moderately raked and has chequering on either side. There is also chequering to the tapered fore-end, which also features stylish fluting.
The chequering to the pistol grip and fore-end has evolved over the years from basic chequering to the intricate skip-line chequering with fleur-de-lys border that we see today. The looks of the pistol grips have also been enhanced with a rosewood cap.
At the rear of the stock there is a black ventilated butt pad. Very early models featured a brown butt pad with white spacer.