JTS Airacuda Max
Phill Price gets to grips with the Airacuda Max, an affordable PCP from a new manufacturer called JTS
JTS Airacuda Max
I was once a dedicated spring-powered airgun user and believed them to be the very last word in airgun technology. So when pre-charged pneumatics came along, I dismissed them as a fad and not something a serious shooter like me would touch. However, as they gained popularity my curiosity was piqued, so I asked a wise old friend who was also a designer and development engineer for a British manufacturer a simple question: “Are PCPs really better than springers for hunting?” After a long, sad sigh, he replied: “Yes mate, they really are.” So I had no choice but to try one, and of course I was hooked and never looked back. The problem for many people arriving at the same decision is that PCPs are too expensive for their budget, so it’s good to see a new, affordable rifle enter the market in the form of the JTS Airacuda Max, made for Lee Enfield.
I hadn’t heard of JTS before now, but I do know the UK distributor, The Shooting Party, very well. TSP is always on the lookout for interesting products, and these are often at the affordable end of the market, which makes them popular with many airgunners.
It’s clear that JTS has had a good look at the competition and taken the best of what’s really popular to form this design, making it a truly contemporary rifle. It’s also impressive that JTS has included some expensive upgrades such as a regulator and an adjustable-height cheekpiece in such a modestly priced gun.
JTS Airacuda Max – key specifications
Distributed by The Shooting Party (shootingparty.uk)
Manufacturer: JTS Airguns
Model: Airacuda Max: Lee Enfield
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Magazine-fed, sidelever, regulated
Magazine: 10 shots
Calibres: .177 (on test) and .22
Shots per fill: 150 in .177 & 220 in .22
Fill Pressure: 220 bar
Get Shorty Silencer: £44.99
First impressions of the JTS Airacuda Max
First impressions were good, with a nice even matt finish on all the metalwork and stock, meaning that it didn’t look like a cheap product.
My first job as ever was off to the chronograph for velocity tests. I used my usual .177, 8.44gr JSB pellet, a known quantity and always reliable for my work. Average velocity with the JSBs was 773ft/sec. This calculates to 11.2 ft-lb, which is just right. The velocity spread was just 6ft/sec and perhaps evidence that the regulator was a good upgrade.
The cocking action was smooth and light, and the magazines slotted into place very positively too. The cocking handle is in a ‘T’ shape and is fully knurled for maximum grip, although the action is so easy you can cycle it with your fingertips. Loading the mags is much like many others out there, but I noted the hole in the faceplate to be a very close fit. I found it best to drop the pellet in and then give the drum a slight wiggle to help it slide all the way in. Be careful at this point not to squash the skirt if it has not gone fully in. Another nice touch is that the magazines are all metal and wear the same finish as the action, which looks very smart.
Shooting off the bench at 25 yards, I was well pleased with the accuracy I witnessed. The firing cycle is quite soft, no more than a slight nudge that can be seen through the scope.
Further, it’s reasonably quiet with the AirForceOne Get Shorty MKII silencer fitted. This was a good choice in my eyes, as the rifle is fairly long already and a compact moderator was just right. It fits onto a ½in UNF male thread. This is great, as it’s pretty much the universal size and so many other silencers will be available to you if you ever choose to change.
I did try the rifle without a silencer, and quickly refitted it because its bark was just that bit too sharp for my ears. Shrouded barrels like this can help reduce muzzle report, but I generally prefer a proper moderator for my guns.
Lots of power
I’ve been asked in the past why guns like this that are developed for the high-power market are so long. There are two parts to answer that question. The first is that to make lots of power you need lots of air, so the reservoir needs to be long.
The second part is that some of the space the reservoir would otherwise use is taken up by the regulator assembly, pushing the length out. I’m further told that in places like the USA, customers believe that long and heavy rifles offer better performance, so don’t mind the added bulk. The large reservoir means lots of shots at 12 ft-lb, which is a nice bonus for us here in the UK.
Another regularly seen feature of such guns is a little plastic bag that contains a set of replacement seals. Now as much as I consider this an added-value item, I don’t ever encourage the average airgunner to dismantle a device that holds air at extreme pressure. I hope its real value is seen when you hand the bag to the professional gunsmith who will service the rifle for you.
I was disappointed that the scope supplied didn’t offer ocular focus, which made accurate shot placement more difficult than necessary, but I soon had groups forming that were cloverleaf-shaped, with each pellet hole intersecting the others. That is top-quality accuracy at any price. I should note that I was blessed with a very still day, so the wind couldn’t make itself a factor just for once.
The trigger helped accuracy, being quite short and light in action, although I think it could do with a small tweak to make the second stage somewhat more defined. While we’re in that area, we find the large manual safety lever inside the trigger guard.
This is always a controversial choice, but I found no problems in using it as long as sensible precautions were taken. It moves back for ‘safe’ and away from you to ‘fire’. This is very practical, because if it is engaged you feel it as you bring your finger towards the blade, so instantly you know you need to push it to fire. It also means that it can be left on until the moment you want to shoot, as you can disengage it from your on-aim position.
Quality accessories for the JTS Airacuda Max
I mentioned the height-adjustable cheekpiece, and this was another aid in fine accuracy. By supporting your cheek, you get more consistent mounting and reduced wobbles between shooter and gun. The stock designer is clearly a Weihrauch fan with strong styling cues taken from the mighty HW100KT, but they say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, so why not, eh?
It wears a dark walnut-like stain on what they say is European beech, with a matt texture to finish it off. I found the pistol grip slim for such a beefy rifle, and at 14¼in the pull-length is shorter than the industry standard, but that suits my build well. There are panels of what appears to be laser-cut chequering on the pistol grip and forend that were crisp and tidy, offering grip where needed and a little extra style.
Something else that seems to be in vogue right now is adding a section of Picatinny rail to the underside of the forend to accept accessories such as a lamp or bipod. This is a strong and practical addition, but not for me. It’s attached right where my leading hand contacts the stock, but I’m sure it could be easily removed with a couple of screws, which would be no great chore.
Love it or loathe it, it comes free with the rifle, so you won’t need to pay for one as an accessory later if you want to use it.
The scope rail is also the Picatinny standard that seems to be gaining popularity with airgun shooters these days, so it is ‘bang on trend’ as fashionable people say. Corresponding mounts are widely available, so there’s no downside to the rifle coming in this format and loads of people love it; this was another good choice.
What is very unusual is the filling connector, which happens to be one of my favourites. The chunky Foster fitting is an industry standard component and very well proven. I also like the fact that the male part is attached to the rifle, so it’s easy to inspect and clean when necessary. It lives under a hefty cap that screws on, so won’t be easily lost in the field.
Many of the recently released guns have their reservoir pressure gauge at the front, and so have adopted a probe filling system. I have to say that I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a gauge fitted where this one is, and I like it a lot.
Behind the reservoir gauge, we find a second one that tells us the pressure in the regulator. I like the way they’re positioned, because from the sides you can’t see them at all, and they don’t detract from the rifle’s good looks. On that topic, I think it’s a handsome rifle, which of course adds to anybody’s pleasure of ownership.
The recommended retail price of £549 is very appealing for such a lot of performance, but remember that there’s a list of other equipment needed to make a working setup. Firstly, you’ll need a scope and mounts, possibly a silencer and vitally a means to refill the air reservoir. The cheapest route is a manual pump, but they’re not for everybody, so the most popular choice is a diving bottle. I saw on The Shooting Party’s website that it offers these from £159.99. If you were to allow around £200 for the scope and mounts plus the silencer, you’re over £900 – a serious investment, but one that’s still very modest when seen beside the high-end brands.
This is a rifle I could hunt with as it delivers the most important thing in my book, which is good accuracy. I’d choose a nice scope, add a sling and practise with it to become familiar with its trigger and handling characteristics.
Straight from the box it has all you need and only time will tell how durable it is, but there’s plenty of metal in all the right places, which makes it feel sturdy. So welcome to the UK, JTS Airacuda Max: Lee Enfield. Let’s see what you’ve got!