Britain's biggest-selling airgun magazine
Mat Manning discovers that you don’t have to have deep pockets to enjoy recoil-free airgunning as he gets to grips with the Crosman Icon
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With the price of pre-charged airguns now stretching to several thousands of pounds, the cost of getting kitted out must seem quite daunting to newcomers, as well as more experienced shooters who don’t want to spend a small fortune. Thankfully, you don’t actually have to break the bank to enjoy the benefits offered by modern recoilless airguns, and the subject of this test certainly proves that point.
The Crosman Icon, supplied in the UK by Range Right, retails for just £299, and if that isn’t impressive enough, it even comes supplied with open sights. Whilst most shooters prefer to pair their PCP airguns with a set of tele’s, the Icon’s open sights mean that those on a tight budget can get out shooting straight away and then save up to buy their chosen optics. Despite its modest asking price, the Icon is pretty accurate, so that sight upgrade will be justified when funds permit it.
At 98cm long, the Icon is quite a substantially sized airgun, but I think it should still be manageable for younger shooters – and most teenagers should find its handling absolutely fine. Apart from being robust, its tough synthetic stock helps to keep weight down, and the Icon weighs in at just under 3.3kg unscoped. The ambidextrous stock is quite futuristic in design and incorporates a long fore end, so there’s plenty of room for your leading hand whatever your hold style. It also features panels with grooves and stippling, which makes for a very secure purchase.
The pistol grip also has some stippling and is nice and steep with thoughtfully designed contours that mould to the hand. Younger shooters with smaller digits may find it a bit of a reach to the trigger, but the proportions were absolutely fine for me.
In an ideal world, I would have appreciated a slightly higher cheekpiece with more forward support. That said, I still managed to achieve decent eye alignment when using either the open sights or a scope. The butt section of the stock is nicely finished with a chunky rubber pad, which has deep grooves and feels very secure in the shoulder.
Returning to the open sights, the front element has a post with a green fibre-optic, which you align with the notch in the rear element; adjustment for windage and elevation is a tool-free operation and the dials turn with nice clear stops. I really enjoyed using the open sights on my garden range, but this gun is certainly accurate enough to warrant investing in a telescopic sight, and it is equipped with dovetail rails for the attachment of one. You will probably need to remove the rear open sight to make room for your scope, and that is easily done by fully unscrewing the elevation dial so you can lift it away to reveal the fastening screws. Undo those and it can be removed and stored somewhere safe in case you want to use it again.
Although the Crosman Icon’s scope rails aren’t particularly long, they still provide a reasonable amount of clamping space. The two sections of rail are positioned on each side of the magazine, so you need to use mounts that are high enough to keep your chosen telescopic sight clear of it. Thankfully, the magazine only protrudes by about 15mm, so anything other than very low mounts should be fine.
The .22 calibre version of the Icon runs a ten-shot magazine (12-shot in .177) and also comes supplied with a single-shot tray. To load the magazine, you simply push a pellet into the hole from the side with the clear face plate and then rotate the inner drum to reveal the next chamber, and continue loading and rotating until it’s full. A side-bolt action then takes care of indexing, cocking and loading. It’s a very positive action and proved to be absolutely reliable during the weeks that I spent testing it – the quick cocking and reloading certainly gave me a lot of fun on the plinking range. Also, the magazine has a shot counter, so you can keep tabs on remaining shots as you blast your way through it.
Unsilenced PCPs can have quite a bark, but I reckon the Icon is just about quiet enough for backyard plinking. If you do want to fit a silencer – either for stealthy hunting, or to avoid getting on your neighbours’ nerves – it is just a matter of screwing off the muzzle cap to reveal a half-inch UNF thread. The Icon’s 50cm barrel is held within a retainer, which also serves as the attachment point for the rear open sight.
As I would expect on such an affordable PCP, the Icon’s trigger blade is a simple plastic affair – it has a gentle curve and a grooved face. The two-stage mechanism can be adjusted, but I believe that triggers should be tested in the same state as they leave the factory. Now, I wasn’t exactly expecting match trigger performance from a sub-£300 PCP and although that expectation proved to be correct, the Icon’s trigger unit was significantly better than I had anticipated. The first stage was quite deep, with some reassuring resistance before a pretty clear stop, beyond which the second stage broke cleanly and predictably.
I prefer safety catches that are positioned away from the trigger, so the Icon loses a point for having one right in front of the blade. That said, it’s easy to operate and the manual mechanism does what it needs to. It is safe when in the rearward position and you simply push it forward to knock it off when you’re ready to take the shot.
The review gun was churning out a very solid muzzle energy of around 11.7 ft.lbs. As for consistency, there was an 11 feet per second variation over a string of 10 shots – yes, that is double figures, but it’s not bad when you consider this airgun’s price point. Maximum fill pressure is 3000psi, which is a shade over 200 bar. From that, you can expect about 65 shots in .22 calibre and 55 in .177. Air pressure is displayed on a gauge that’s neatly sunken into the underside of the stock. Filling of the Icon’s elegant air cylinder is via a Foster connection beneath the cap at its front.
Accuracy-wise, the Icon gave a very good account of itself. Of course, it isn’t going to compete with top-of-the-range PCPs, but it can certainly hold its own against others in the sub-£500 price bracket. For plinking, it will flip spinners and topple knock-downs with unerring consistency at 30m. I used a telescopic sight rather than the supplied open sights for my accuracy testing and managed sub-20mm groups at 25m on paper targets. That sort of grouping means the Icon is up to the task of tackling small pests, as long as you are realistic about your ranges.
To sum up, the Crosman Icon is hard to beat for under £300. It’s a fuss-free, no-frills PCP that’s tidily finished and feels to be tough enough to stand up to regular use on the range, in the garden or in the field. I have no doubt that plenty of shooters will find it to be a very good choice for a first PCP, and I reckon its performance and reliability should convince more than a few of them to hang on to it for considerably longer than they had initially planned.
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