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Norica Hawk GRS

Mat Manning tests the Norica Hawk GRS – a break-barrel gas-ram that strikes the right balance between affordable simplicity and dependable performance

Norica Hawk GRS

Break-barrel airguns are enjoying a huge revival in popularity, and I can see why. Apart from tending to be more affordable than PCPs, these air rifles offer fuss-free shooting without the hassle and expense of having to depend on a constant air supply for refilling – just break the barrel to cock the action, and they’re ready for the next shot. On top of all that, break-barrel airguns are also great fun to shoot. Spanish gunmaker Norica has been producing decent break-barrel airguns for a long time, and the Norica Hawk GRS strikes a brilliant balance between affordability and performance, with a retail price of £299. Straight out of the box, it looks and feels like a quality piece of kit; it has the classic lines of the traditional sporters that many of us grew up shooting, although its clean design also has an unmistakably modern touch.


Norica Hawk GRS – key specs

MAKER: Norica (
SUPPLIED BY: Edgar Brothers (
PRICE: £299
TYPE: Gas-ram break-barrel
CALIBRE: .177 and .22 (tested)
WEIGHT: 3.2kg (without scope)
TRIGGER: Two-stage adjustable
POWER: 11.2 ft-lb


Norica Hawk GRS – taking stock

One of the most distinctive features of the Hawk’s stock is its subtle green hue. Norica refers to it as vaporised beechwood, which suggests that it is beech that has been treated with a stain. The result is very pleasing to the eye and, combined with its flash-free finish, I also think that green tone should help the gun to blend in with the British countryside. For those who like more conventional aesthetics, there is a Classic version with a standard brown beech stock.

The forend is quite long, so this is a stock that can accommodate a variety of hold styles. There are no panels of chequering or stippling on the forend, and while it could be argued that they might have given a boost to the Hawk’s aesthetics, their absence doesn’t appear to compromise grip in any way.

There is some neat stippling on both sides of the pistol grip, behind which is a shallow scallop to cradle the base of your thumb.

Cocking the Hawk GRS is a smooth operation that requires little effort, thanks to the leverage provided by the long barrel

Cheekpiece height is fairly low, although it makes for perfect eye alignment when using the supplied open sights. It is just about high enough to maintain decent alignment when looking through a telescopic sight, but I would recommend sticking to a smaller optic that doesn’t need high mounts.

The white spacer at the rear of the butt is a nice touch, and enhances the neat overall finish of the gun. Behind that spacer sits a soft rubber butt pad, vented for enhanced cushioning, not that the Hawk generates a great deal of recoil.

This is not an ambidextrous stock, but you have to look carefully to notice it. The bulge of the cheekpiece has slightly more of a bias for right-handers.

Unsurprisingly, I found it a very comfortable fit, although I wouldn’t expect it to feel too awkward for left-handers either.

The Norica Hawk GRS weighs 3.2kg without a scope fitted and is 1180mm long with a 385mm length of pull. Those proportions make it an adult-sized airgun in my book, although it should be perfectly manageable for most teenagers.

Overall build quality feels very solid, so it should be good for years of reliable service. Engineering all seems to be sound, and the blued finish of the barrel and cylinder is very tidy. This Norica Hawk GRS is certainly a cut above what I usually expect to see in a sub-£300 airgun.


Features and function

The Hawk comes fitted with a very nice set of fibre-optic open sights. The red front element sits inside a tunnel to shield it from any accidental bumps. Adjustment for windage and elevation is made at the rear element, which comprises two green dots.

You need a screwdriver to make those adjustments; I initially found this a bit of a nuisance, but the consolation is that they are not going to get knocked off zero once you’ve set them up.

These are lovely, bright fibre-optics and the rear dots seemed to find their way either side of the front dot every time I lined up on a target.

You can fit a telescopic sight to the Norica Hawk GRS, as its cylinder is machined with 11mm dovetail rails. It is certainly accurate enough to justify optimising precision with the addition of a scope, and the rail even features a recoil arrestor to prevent the kick from the gun’s moving internals from causing your mounts to creep.

Grooves on the sleeve at the front of the barrel make for an improved purchase when cocking the Hawk GRS

One of the biggest concerns of anyone choosing a break-barrel airgun is the effort required to cock it, and the Hawk GRS really scores in this department. Thanks to the leverage provided by its relatively long 480mm barrel, the stroke requires little force – and apart from being relatively easy, it is also very smooth.

This airgun is equipped with the redesigned Pro version of Norica’s solid steel breech – it is claimed to improve cocking efficiency and I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that.

The cocking operation is also assisted by what looks like a silencer at the front of the barrel. This fixed accessory features deep grooves that provide plenty of grip. Looking inside, the crown of the barrel only sits about 5mm from the front, so it is unlikely to assist with sound suppression, not that the Hawk is a noisy airgun.

Loading is, as you would expect with a break-barrel, direct to the breech. Swing the barrel back up after popping in a pellet, and it snaps into a secure lock-up with a sprung-ball detent mechanism, which feels solid and is free from any disconcerting movement when closed.

Apart from cocking the gas-ram powerplant, the downward stroke also engages the automatic safety catch. The switch is positioned just in front of the trigger blade, which I don’t think is the best place for it. It is easy to operate though; it’s safe in the rearward position and you simply push it forward with your index finger when you’re ready to take the shot.

The trigger on the Norica Hawk GRS has really impressed me. It is far better than I would expect on a break-barrel at this price point, and is actually better than triggers I have encountered on airguns costing twice as much.

The adjustable two-stage trigger breaks very cleanly – the safety switch is positioned just in front of the blade

The blade is a fairly standard design with a gentle curve and a wide, flat face which is adorned with some shallow grooves, presumably to improve contact.

Where this trigger really excels is in its action, which is a two-stage NATS (Norica Adjustable Trigger System) unit. As the name implies, it is adjustable but I am of the opinion that tinkering with triggers can often cause more harm than good and therefore tend to leave them as their manufacturer intended.

In the case of the test gun, that was just as well because its trigger release was exemplary. The moderate first stage weight and travel felt just right to me, and there was a clearly defined stop before the trigger broke very cleanly with absolutely no creep. It is such a nice trigger that I found myself looking forward to using it again straight after every shoot.


Norica Hawk GRS – power and performance

Despite its easy cocking stroke, the Norica Hawk GRS is a full-power air rifle available in .177 and .22 calibres. The .22 test gun was churning out a very healthy 11.2 ft-lb at the muzzle with Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, and consistently too with a variation of 12fps over a string of 10 shots. That was after around 200 shots and I would expect consistency to improve with more running in.

The gas-ram firing cycle also feels very smooth, and fast too. It has none of the rattle and reverberation most of us take for granted with recoiling airguns. There is some kick, but not much, and what little there is feels very crisp as it pushes straight back into the shoulder.

Smooth, consistent power delivery and a very predictable trigger release combine to make the Norica Hawk GRS very impressive in the accuracy stakes. Using just the open sights, I had a great time toppling tins in the backyard, although I have to say that it wasn’t a particularly demanding test for this Norica.

Fitting a telescopic sight enabled me to really test its accuracy potential, and it more than lived up to my expectations.

Dovetail rails in the cylinder provide secure mounting for a scope, and are even equipped with a recoil arrestor

Consistent shot placement with a gas-ram airgun hinges very much on the shooter’s ability to manage the recoil by allowing it to follow the same course for every shot.

By shooting from the support of a bench bag, while adopting a gentle hold, I was consistently able to print 10-shot groups measuring less than 20mm from centre to centre at 25m. I even managed a few of less than 15mm, and can see that becoming the standard with more time to familiarise myself with this air rifle.

The Norica Hawk GRS is a very versatile airgun, and an absolute pleasure to shoot. Its price point makes it a terrific choice as a quality backyard plinker, but it has the power and precision to humanely dispatch small pests as long as you limit yourself to responsible ranges.

I can see a lot of airgun shooters choosing this as a first gun. While I think they would be making a good choice, I can also see them sticking with it for longer than they might expect.


The Norica Hawk GRS is an accurate and reliable gas-ram break-barrel boasting smooth cocking, consistent power delivery and a very crisp trigger. The result is exceptional fuss-free performance