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Relum Tornado: an air rifle with nostalgic charm

If you lusted over a shotgun in the 1970s Littlewoods catalogue (yes!), but couldn’t raise the funds, a Relum air rifle may have had to suffice, says Charles Smith-Jones

Relum Tornado

Relum Tornado

Manufacturer: Relum

Pros: Almost unbreakable

Price as reviewed: £80

Cons: Quite large for a cheap entry-level gun - not a youngster's first gun

Relum Tornado – tech specs

  • Country of origin: Hungary
  • Action: Spring powered, underlever
  • Stock options: Wood only
  • Overall length: 44in
  • Barrel length: 18½in
  • Magazine: None
  • Left-hand version: No
  • Weight (bare): 7lb 5oz
  • Available in calibres .22 only
  • Cost new N/A
  • Cost used
  • Might cost upwards of £80 for one in good condition; slightly more for a Super Tornado, but it’s often possible to find a useable example for considerably less

Relum was actually the name of the London-based importer whose products originated in eastern Europe. Early Relum models, all break-barrel varieties, originated in Czechoslovakia but the later Tornado was made in Hungary by manufacturer Artex.

Relum Tornado

Not pretty, but the Relum Tornado is a tough gun that can easily be brought back to life

Basic checks

The mechanism of the Relum Tornado is straightforward with a lever under the barrel compressing the mainspring which drives a piston. The Tornado’s spring is somewhat unusual though as it is a double arrangement with a core inner spring within the outer one. This can occasionally cause problems when the inner becomes twisted and locks with the outer, preventing it from compressing. Checking that all is well here should be the first action of anyone considering buying this gun though it’s not necessarily the end of the world, replacements are easy to find.

Cocking is easy and the pellet is loaded through the top of the barrel and rotated into position by a large side lever. Check this lever as it may have loosened over time. As it rests upright when closed, a worn one might drop slightly causing the seal to partially open when preparing to fire. The Tornado was only produced in .22 calibre but it is relatively unfussy about different makes of pellets. (Read more on picking the perfect airgun pellet.)

Muzzle energy

Don’t expect a muzzle energy of anything above 8lb, well within the ‘off ticket’ category of air gun yet quite sufficient for small vermin. For an earlier air rifle accuracy is acceptable but you may find that a good cleaning and oiling can make a big difference. The woodwork is unremarkable and the overall design of the Tornado is unlikely to win any beauty contests although it has a certain appeal and handles surprisingly well, coming readily to the shoulder and pointing naturally. A major selling point of these air rifles, quite apart from their price, was that they are hard to break, and a great many have given sterling service throughout long lives in a variety of working settings. The full adult dimensions and weight mean that this is not an entry-level child’s air gun.

There was also a premium model, the Super Tornado, which had a differently shaped stock and improvements such as a fully adjustable rear sight and trigger. It is a few ounces heavier and can be differentiated from the standard Tornado by the mark LH15 on the left-hand side of the breech (the standard model is stamped LH14).


The sights of the basic model are somewhat crude, the rear being a simple ‘V’ and the front sight slim and tapered, but Relum provided their own branded scopes as an optional extra.

The one that came with the Tornado if you went for the full package was Japanese-made and offered a 4x magnification. It was a fairly rudimentary affair with integral clamps for fitting to the rifle’s dovetail grooves.

The combination of a limited 15mm object lens and basic optics meant that it was only effective in full light compared with more modern scopes, though it still offered a significant advantage over open sights as the capped turrets allowed zeroing adjustment.

Affordable plinking

There are a lot of these tough and durable Relum Tornado air rifles still in circulation and they regularly turn up for sale in gunshops, internet sites or small countryside auctions.

One that has been well looked after might still command a price of over £100 but something that has had a harder life may cost only a fraction of this.

Don’t be put off by appearances because, providing that the gun is basically in sound basic condition, it is quite possible to bring it back to life by sourcing spare mainsprings, seals and other parts with a little searching on the internet.

It may not be the prettiest of air rifles, but a Tornado is a great low-cost option for fun plinking and small vermin control.  (Read how to maintain your air rifle stock.)

More on the Relum Tornado

Bruce Potts says: “Remarks such as “Oh, I had one of those and mine’s still shooting,” are the sort that get made about the Relum Tornado air rifle. It was never going to win any prizes for good looks or power (or accuracy for that matter) but they were produced in huge numbers at a price most people could afford, so they naturally became fairly commonplace.

“Yes, it has pros and cons, of course, but I genuinely had fun shooting my Relum Tornado, plinking at targets and bits of chalk.

“This rifle was originally imported to Britain by Relum Ltd based in Suffolk and was first advertised in the early sixties with a basic model known as the Relum Repetier, and later Relum Sport, LP25 and Taurus. These were all break barrel models, whereas the Relum Tornado model  was the more successful underlever rifle and one that most people would remember when the name Relum comes up in conversation.”

What to look for in a secondhand Relum Tornado

Barrel: Check it is not bent or damaged at the muzzle, as all Relums had a hard life — I saw one once propping up a feed tray for pigs on a farm!
Action: Check the action cocks and trigger engages and is safe, as replacing springs and piston washers or seals may not be worth the value of the gun.

This review was originally published in 2015 and has been updated. 


A Relum Tornado is a great low-cost option for fun plinking and small vermin control.