Paul Austin tests three of the best 10-shot pre-charged pneumatic air rifles for under £500 and asks which offers the best value for money, accuracy and design for your style of shooting.

The Minelli stock and excellent safety were the best on test but the noisy action and weight of the RM8 might be an issue for some

Walther Rotex RM8

The RM8 is definitely the most `tacticool’ looking of the three. Boasting a superb Minelli-designed ambidextrous stock and a general look and feel that’s very reminiscent of BSA’s much loved R10, with a 200cc buddy bottle at the business end.

In terms of the action and general mechanics it’s very Germanic in design. German manufacturers have a tendency of over engineering a tad and the Walther is no exception. It’s very solidly built and will easily survive a bit of rough treatment with its all-steel construction – the only exception being the adjustable polymer trigger.

All this toughness does come at a cost. Although well balanced it’s a heavy rifle and probably wouldn’t be the best choice for someone with a smaller frame, weighing in at a kilo heavier than the S200.

The excellent tang safety of the RM8. Ideal for new shooters

Weight aside, it does have all the essentials, a fill gauge under the fore-end and an excellent tang safety. At first glance it appears to be wearing a moderator but in fact it isn’t, the flared barrel is just a barrel weight to aid in balancing the rifle. It does however have a ½ inch UNF threaded barrel so you can easily add an aftermarket moderator, which is definitely something you’ll want to do in the field as it’s easily the barkiest rifle of the three.

As a range gun or a plinker it’s a great choice with its high shot count but the extra weight does limit its appeal in the field. This variant on test doesn’t have enough meat at the fore-end to take a sling stud which is problem. You definitely wouldn’t want to carry this rifle around for a couple of hours without the aid of a sling.

Fortunately there is a solution in the form of the RM8 Varmint, a thumbhole model that thankfully has a picatinny rail fitted, allowing you to attach a sling, bipod or both. It adds about £20 to the purchase price but in the field it would be worth every penny.

best PCP air rifles

The RM8 action is built like a tank but it can be a bit noisy for field work

The action is solid, like everything else about the RM8, but it isn’t subtle. In order to rotate the removable magazine to chamber a round you do have to be quite forceful with the bolt to ensure a positive feed. When stalking bunnies, or anything else for that matter, this could be an issue as it’s a fairly noisy procedure.

Technical specifications

  • Overall weight: 3.6kg (7.95 lbs)
  • Overall length: 1040 (40.9”)
  • Barrel Length: 500mm (19.6”)
  • Calibre: .177/.22
  • Stock: Ambidextrous
  • Muzzle energy: Sub 12ftlb
  • Shots per fill: 100-120 in .22
  • Fill Pressure: 232 bar
  • Stock options: Plastic/polymer/Beech
  • Price: £ £409 (£431 thumbhole with picatinny rail)
  • Supplier: www.mcavoyguns.co.uk

Overall score: 8/10

All in all the RM8 is a nice looking rifle and right up there with the opposition in terms of accuracy but it’s heavy and the action is noisy for a field gun. A great choice if you need something to throw in the back of a Land Rover and grab when the need arises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. 1. Why are pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifles so popular?
  2. 2. Air Arms S200
  3. 3. Gamo Phox
  4. 4. Walther Rotex RM8
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