Air Arms have establish themselves as one of the Great British air gun manufacturers. We have put together the following chronology to show you just how the Air Arms range has evolved over the years.
The first S300 was a single shot basic pneumatic model. The rifle was available in two calibres but only one length. The loading bolt was a two piece item with the handle pressed into the shaft. The filling was via a 1/8th BSP thread boss with internal valve. There was only one stock option of an ambidextrous beech. The barrel was supported in a barrel band held to the stock by a screw on the underside. There was no trigger safety or gauge on these models and the trigger utilised 2 sears.
After a while it became clear a multi-shot version of the rifle was required. The S310 was born.
When this rifle was introduced the loading bolt on all models was changed to a three piece item with a curved handle. The handle on early versions was mounted with the curve down and out to the side on later models the handle went out and down as they are now. The first S310 models had a magazine with a clear non coloured glass (plastic) on the magazine.
Also during this phase a quick fill snap connector was fitted to rifle. This also meant the dust cover changed from a small domed screw on unit to a long cylindrical push on piece.
After the inception of the S310 a FAC version was added to the range. The first rifles were made from the base model and modified in various ways including open transfer ports, heavier springs and open pots (firing valve spring retainer). It became clear that the FAC version was becoming popular overseas and so a full design high power was designed.
This rifle had a longer air cylinder, longer barrel, different striker and valve system. The gun was well received but considered to be very loud and because of its length and the fact that in some countries it is more difficult to legally use a moderator, a shroud was added to the action to reduce the muzzle report.
On the FAC versions the barrel and shroud were fixed to the end of the cylinder which removed the need for the front barrel bracket to the stock. A blanking piece was made and used until the end of the rifles production.
Over the life of the S300 models there were various small changes including the shape of the bolt housing, the shape of the barrel band and the colour of the magazine from clear to transparent yellow.
Sales of the S300 and derivatives lead the way for the development of the S400 range of rifles.
These included a shorter carbine version, the rifle length gun and the extra long FAC gun.
The stock was redesigned and now became left or right handed in both beech and walnut. There was also the introduction of a thumbhole walnut stock with adjustable butt pad.
There were also some important internal changes that allowed for a improved performance in both shot count and consistency.
The S400 & S410 standard power guns were available in two lengths. The rifle length known as the Classic was the natural progression of the S310 model. It utilised the same length cylinder and barrel but now had a gauge mounted on the underside of the action and visible through the stock just in front of the trigger guard.
There were some small cosmetic changes including the shape of the barrel band and the appearance of the bolt housing.
The big change to the range was the introduction of the carbine version which proved to be extremely popular.
The model was approximately 100mm (4") shorter than the rifle in both barrel and cylinder which made the handling quicker and less restrictive.
With the issue of the S410 range Air Arms pneumatic range of rifle started to get more attention from outside the UK and demand for a higher powered version increased.
High power rifles in the UK had traditionally been required in small numbers due to the firearms restriction in the UK. With pressure from overseas customer increasing, Air Arms produced the FAC version of the S410/400.
This rifle was based loosely on the FAC version of the S310 in that it had a steel shroud and longer air cylinder to accommodate the extra air used, but improved internal to achieve higher output with the .22 version regularly returning 35ftlbs.
The S410/S400 range of rifles were based on the bolt action style of rifle, this had always been the preferred method amongst many shooters. But as the higher powers increased and more people came to the sport with no pre-conceived ideas of how a rifle should look the use of a side lever action became attractive.
The FAC model was over-hauled to improve usability mainly to make it easier to cock. This involved added a side lever to replace the bolt in order to reduce the load for the shooter. The linkage was also mounted using roller bearing to further reduce effort.
The name of this side lever rifle remained the S410 Extra which with hind sight caused some confusion when the S510 range of rifles was launched.
The introduction of the MPR range was Air Arms returning to the 10 meter target market but with a mission of introducing younger shooters to the sport.
The rifle was designed around the S400 classic with changes required to make it fit the target discipline.
The successes of the 10m version of the MPR lead to the introduction of the biathlon model. This rifle is fitted with a magazine system and is side lever cocking. The rifle is supplied with four 5 shot magazines as require by this discipline.
This rifles stock was modified to house 4 magazines in the fore-end for quick replacement of the empty magazine in the breech.
In a very short time it became clear people wanted a FT version of the MPR.
The FT version had a fixed cylinder and muzzle flip deflector instead of dioptre rails.
The Take down version of the S410 was a small carbine rifle with the ability to remove the butt stock and silencer, also supplied with the rifle, using thumb wheels and carry the rifle in a briefcase type bag. This made it less conspicuous to carry the rifle in public.
The TDR also had a new filling system. This system was introduced to improve the life span of the mild steel quick fit adaptors used of earlier models. The system proved to be so robust it was rolled out across the entire Air Arms range.
When the S410 FAC models had the side lever fitted many people started to ask for the same cocking method on a sub 12ftlb rifle.
The S510 was introduced to full fill this requirement. The rifle was also fitted with a bull barrel shroud to enhance the look of the gun but also to act as a built-in moderator. The shroud itself had the facility to fit an external moderator if required.
When first launched the S510 was fitted with the short cylinder, the same as on the S410 carbine. This was quickly replaced with a longer cylinder which was generally considered to give the rifle a better balance and aesthetics. It also increased the shot count.
The S510 is available in the same stock range as the S400/410.
At this point the S410 high power side lever rifle was renamed becoming the S510 extra. This made much sense as the S400/410 range were now all bolt actions and the S510/500 range all side lever.
There was also at this juncture the introduction of the single shot S500 high power. This was mainly for sale in the USA.
To start with there were 3 high power lengths. The extra was the longest followed by the medium length 'rifle' and last the carbine.
The three lengths were initially produced to give the maximum choice to the consumer but in short order it was clear nobody wanted the medium length 'rifle', this was dropped from the range leaving just the extra and the carbine both of which have sold very well worldwide.
As with all products the time comes when a makeover is required and Air Arms took the opportunity to make some changes to improve the model line.
At the same time as the Superlite rifles were launched, the S510 twin cylinder gun was revealed. This model was aimed at people requiring more shots per charge then the S410/510 models could offer but without the need to resort to large bulbous buddy bottles.
With the popularity of hunter field target and the shooters becoming ever more sophisticated the S510 Ultimate sporter was born.
This rifle offered the compact multi shot capabilities the S510 in a target orientated stock allowing the shooter to have all the adjustability of a target rifle in a sporting gun.