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Mark Comoccio tests out the new Hatsan Vectis PCP rifle in .22
I’ve said it before, but I defy any airgun enthusiast to pick up the Hatsan product catalogue, have a flick through, and not be totally blown away by what they see. For the astonishing array of models on show, is testament indeed to this Turkish brand’s bold approach, and determination to offer something for everybody.
On test here, is one of the more recent models to emerge from their highly imaginative design department, and it’s an airgun that will undoubtedly divide opinion. The Vectis – curiously, the name given by the Romans to the Isle of Wight – is a bold piece of airgun design, and whilst it might not be the most sophisticated rifle on the market, it is definitely a whole lot of fun. Fun is a recurring theme here, and we’re talking on a budget, too, given the current RRP of just £260. Yes, you read that correctly. Granted, you will need to avail yourself of some appropriate charging gear, be that dedicated hand pump, or a diver’s bottle, and that will add £100-£150 to the outlay, but that’s the score with any PCP. Either way, this model will be an attractive proposition to many.
OK, so it’s one of the cheapest PCPs available, but here’s what’s included; a short onboard air cylinder, a plastic shrouded barrel, integral barrel diffuser, probe-style charging valve, moulded synthetic stock, removable folding fibre-optic open sights, two magazines, charging adaptor, instruction booklet, and even a spare seals kit.
That all sounds pretty impressive, but the Vectis has one big feature that really sets it apart, and gives it an original air, and that’s the Winchester-style cocking lever. Shoulder the rifle, and with the trigger hand naturally wrapped around the grip and fingers fed into the lever guard, the hand is in the perfect place for instinctive, super-fast cocking, and we’ll get to that in just a moment.
Handle the Vectis, and it soon becomes apparent that most components are actually plastic or synthetic, yet with a substantial fore end, a soft rubber pad, and plenty of detail throughout, this model still ticks many boxes. The full-length barrel shroud is plastic, as is the breech block and two-part scope rail, so we aren’t looking at an exercise in refinement. The cheek piece is a little low for scope use, but on the plus side, with comprehensive fibre-optic open sights all as part of the package, I would be tempted to stick with those in any case, and with the removable sights in place, the sight line afforded by the cheek piece, all falls into place.
Hatsan recommend a fill pressure of 200bar with this model, and this is achieved by inserting the charging adaptor probe (supplied) into the inlet valve at the front of the cylinder. This will push out the small nylon plug which keeps dirt from the seal. It took me a while to work this out, believe it or not, because you can’t initially just grip the plug! Slowly increase pressure to 200bar, shut off the air supply and bleed the airline. Finally, replace the plug, and the job is complete.
Two rotary magazine cassettes are supplied, and these are 12-shot in .22 calibre, and 14-shot in .177. To load the mag’, the front clear cover first needs to be twisted anti-clockwise, all the way round, then gently holding against spring pressure, insert a pellet skirt first, into the one exposed aperture in the back. Thereafter, load pellets one at a time head first from the front, until full. The magazine can then be snapped into its slot within the breech block, and we are ready to roll.
As previously mentioned, the open sights are a prominent feature with this rifle, so persevere with them before thinking about a scope. They are of the fibre-optic variety, and that means brightly coloured elements that guide the eye. The rear sight is effectively a peep sight with a small viewing aperture, added green dots to brighten the picture, and full adjustment for windage and elevation. The hooded fore sight is formed with a red element, and the two combine well, allowing for remarkably accurate shooting, in relatively poor light. Both sights also just unbolt from the rails if necessary, too, and can also be folded up or down, so versatile positioning is possible, as well as clean removal if necessary. Set a good distance between them, and the long sight line will pay dividends. Centralise the rear circle with the red fore sight, pick your spot on the target, and let the action commence.
Part of the attraction with the Vectis’ configuration is that the action can be cycled with the right hand, with the gun still in the shoulder, although cocking effort for the hand is a little more than expected, so not quite as fast-fire as you would expect. That said, work on technique, and rate of fire improves. On test, the trigger proved a little inconsistent, sometimes feeling like a single-stage, then the next shot having a small amount of movement. Overall though, a fairly light release still puts this unit in the ‘above average’ category. Again, on test, the safety didn’t always fully engage when the action was cocked, but worked OK manually. Reliability of the main cocking system worked faultlessly throughout, though, as in cycling the grip, and seeing the magazine index for the next shot.
Another positive concerns the lack of muzzle crack – unlike many PCPs, the Vectis just produces a muted metallic ring, probably from the hammer. The barrel arrangement no doubt plays a significant part, with muzzle diffuser, seeing the pellet enter a chamber and then pass through no less than five sectors, all helping to dissipate spent air.
Velocity spread is no great shakes, but for fun shooting, a total shot count of 96 on test was pretty impressive. For the best consistency, look to using the first 30-40 shots of the charge.
So what about accuracy? Well, after some extensive testing, it was easy to conclude that the Vectis was indeed capable of some half-tidy groupings, was inherently accurate, and would reward effort. Slow, deliberate grouping using the open sights, produced groups of around an inch over 25yds, whilst these easily halved in size once a scope was used. As previously mentioned, though, given the versatility of the open sights, and the bold styling, I would stick with them, appreciate the simple straight forward approach, and just soak up the fun to be had from this distinctive airgun.
So it’s hats off to Hatsan, as the Vectis manoeuvres itself into the running as the perfect tonic to raise our spirits. Prime those magazines, flip up the fibre-optics, and blat away at those spinning targets just as fast as you can cycle the lever. The word ‘plasticky’ had to creep into this review. ... and it just has. The Vectis is also wonderfully unsubtle, but with a host of onboard features, including that highly appealing cocking action, and some genuine accuracy potential, it’s a winning formula and great fun. Oh, and have I mentioned the asking price?
Model: Hatsan Vectis
Manufacturer: Hatsan Arms Co., Turkey
Type: Multi-shot PCP
Calibre: .22 on test, .177 available
Magazine: 12 shot rotary in .22 , 14 shot in .177
Stock: Synthetic thumb-hole moulding
Power Source: External pump/ air bottle
Fill Pressure: 200bar
Shot Count: 96 on test
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