THE S400/S410 SERIES
With the Air Arms rolling development programme, many improvements had been made to the S300/310 since its introduction in 1996.
A number of further improvements to both the action and stock were to be made and Air Arms also wanted to offer a greater choice of configurations. With all this in mind a new series seemed more appropriate so around May 2000 the S400/410 series was born.
The S400 was the single shot version of the rifle and the S410 the multi-shot version. Both were available in “Classic” full length and carbine form. The classic utilised the same length cylinder and barrel as the 300 series but now had a gauge mounted on the underside of the action and visible through the stock just in front of the trigger guard.
Early S400 Classic - Walnut Stock
As well as a few tweaks to the internals of the 400 action there were some cosmetic changes including the barrel band and bolt housing designs.
For the S410, improvements had been made to the new shape magazine system to improve precision with the central chamber now made from solid alloy rather than synthetic plus changes to outer.
Airgun World July 2000 - "Megatest"
The big difference with the new series was the introduction of a carbine version which was approximately 100mm (4") shorter than the classic in both barrel and cylinder. Resulting in quicker and less restrictive handling.
An F.A.C. version of both the S400 & S410 was available. Named the “Extra Hi-Power” it featured a shrouded barrel and an extra long cylinder.
The new Nick Jenkinson designed sporter and thumb-hole stocks were slimmer and lighter than those of the 300 series. The sporter stock was available in beech or walnut and featured a high, angled comb on the cheek-piece to provide improved scope alignment. The thumb-hole stock had a similar fore-end but had a more upright pistol grip and more curves. It was only offered in walnut.
All the shooting press were full of praise for the new range, as were the air rifle shooting public. Air Arms had anticipated strong demand but they had underestimated just how great demand would be and waiting lists began to grow – adverts appeared in shooting magazines apologising for the delays and thanking shooters for their patience.
In its first year of production the S410 was Airgun World’s “Airgun of the Year” – a title it has attained a number of times since. It was also the best-selling PCP rifle in the UK in the same year – another title it has claimed multiple times since.
Over the early years of the series there were a number of minor changes including:
the initially coloured pressure gauge becoming black and white
the loading bolt changing from being up-turned to down-turned
the initially visible indexing lever mechanism becoming hidden
the silencer that was inherited from the 300 series was replaced with a specially designed one
the embossed lettering on the side of the action changing – it was initially white but became uncoloured
the butt pads changing from brown to black and the white spacer on early models being removed
A pressure relief valve system was also introduced to the front of the air cylinder around 2003/4 but was quickly dropped as it was found to be unreliable.
2005 saw some more significant changes to the series. Early in the year a third sear was added to the trigger mechanism which allowed greater adjustment to give better feel and control. Soon after this a safety button was added to the trigger itself. A new style filling valve was introduced featuring a filter to protect the rifles interior.
The stocks also saw some changes with the main one being the introduction of skip-line chequering incorporating a fleur-de-lys design. There was also some slight re-shaping to the fore-end, pistol grip and butt to provide better handling.
A further enhancement to the stock was introduced later in 2005 when rosewood caps were added to the fore-end and pistol grip of the walnut stocks. This improvement was first seen on the “Custom Shop” versions of the S400 & S410.
S410 Custom Shop
S400 Custom Shop
Released in September 2005 the Custom Shop rifles gave a “bespoke” variant of the standard carbine S400 & S410 with a premium of an extra £150, giving a retail price at the time of around £550 for the S400 version. So what did you get for the extra cost?
Firstly, the walnut was specially selected and featured the new chequering and rosewood caps detailed above to give a stunning looking stock. Early versions reviewed showed the rosewood caps with no spacers but by launch a white spacer had been added.
S410 Custom Shop Review - Airgun World February 2006
The action had what Air Arms called a “high lustre” finish which was achieved by hours of hand polishing before the blueing phase locked in the sheen and gave a glossy, metallic sheen. The trigger guard, loading bolt filler cap, barrel band, muzzle end & optional silencer also received this special treatment.
The S400 version had “S400 Carbine” engraved on both sides of the action whilst the S410 version had “S410 carbine” engraved on the left and “Custom Shop” engraved on the right hand side.
To finish off the rifle the trigger blade was plated with 24 carat gold.
Production of the Custom Shop rifles ceased after a little over 6 months in April 2006 and over this period only 146 S410 versions were produced - 97 in .22 & 49 in .177.
The S400 Custom Shop is the rarest of Air Arms production rifles with only 20 being produced – 10 in .177 & 10 in .22. Whereas the S410 version was offered in sporter or thumb-hole stocks, the S400 Custom Shop was only supplied with sporter stocks.
No expense was spared with the Custom Shop’s and with their stunning deep gloss finished action, gold plated trigger and beautiful walnut stock they were a sight to behold and, in my opinion, are the prettiest rifles ever produced by Air Arms.
Following the many significant improvements to the standard S400 & S410 throughout 2005 not much changed until 2010 apart from the introduction of the unpopular anti-tamper measures in 2006. 2010 saw a number of changes to the design introduced resulting in the “F” suffix and the Superlite variants being introduced.
The “F” suffix was added in reference to the stylish fluting that could now be found on the action, filler cap, loading bolt, barrel support, muzzle brake and the boss where the barrel enters the action.
Other changes included changes to the configuration of the action block bolts & trigger block as well as a redesign of the muzzle brake which was longer, had an increased diameter & a slightly enclosed tip. The writing on the action also saw a re-design with the script now being fully filled in or gradually filled in rather than the unfilled script previously seen.
Airgun World September 2010
To complete this revamp of the 400/410 series 3 new "Superlite" stock options were introduced.
The Super-lite project actually started out with the MPR. Air Arms wanted to support a type of 3-positional discipline that had rules about the weight of the rifle.
An air rifle enthusiast at the Forestry Commission suggested reducing the stock weight with some form of densely grained lightweight hardwood. It was decided poplar would be ideal and Minelli were tasked with designing the new stocks.
3 stock options were introduced – traditional brown, hunter green & a “Deluxe” high gloss version. The stocks feature an ambidextrous cheek-piece, rosewood cap to the base of the grip & skip-line chequering panels on the grip & fore-end.
The S400/410 series of rifles has become an absolute classic of a rifle with too many accolades, awards and trophies to mention.
Since its launch there have been many tweaks as part of the Air Arms rolling development programme and a major face-lift with the introduction of the “F” series but the backbone of that ground breaking range launched in 2000 is still evident, as is its legendary reliability, handing & accuracy.