Pete White reviews the MK22 air rifle
After several years trying my hand with spring rifles, co2 rifles and pneumatic pump action rifles it felt like a natural progression to try out a PCP rifle. My only problem is there are a lot of them out there to choose from and they don't come cheap. That's before you add a scope, mounts, pump and a bag.
After many hours pouring over facts, figures and reviews of loads of rifles and many conversations with Mike at Sportsguns I settled on the SMK victory M22 rifle combo. For me it ticked all the boxes as it came with everything I needed to get started but at a price that's affordable for someone who just wants to dip their toe into the pool of PCP.
So how is it? If you're the impatient type then 4 words sums it up 'a beast but great' if you're looking for more information then read on.
As I have eluded to the first thing you notice when unpacking this rifle is it's a big beast of a gun, everything from the stock, to the bolt handle is meaty. Yes this makes it quite heavy (coming in at just under 4Kg) but it feels solid and well built. The beech stock is comfortable and unlike many SMK stocks out there is nicely finished, it doesn't feel like a fragile piece of art like some. More expensive rifles, it feels like a rugged, working rifle.
The M22 packs some great features for its price bracket, along with being full power a fully shrouded barrel keeps the noise down and looks great, a 10 shot magazine (13 in the .177) and a pressure gauge on the gun give a premium feel to a value PCP. Although it must be said that the magazine has somewhat of a loose fit in the magazine housing but this has never been an issue for me and it indexes the next pellet well.
Like many new airguns it does suffer accuracy issues when first out the box, after the first tin of pellets the barrel settles in and pellet on pellet is very achievable for even an intermediate shooter. The trigger is two stage and after the relatively long first stage the second stage could be lighter to get the shot off and if you feel the need this can be made lighter as it's an adjustable trigger but after a while you get used to it and getting the shot off becomes to feel predictable and consistent.
It's marketed by SMK as a single and multi shot rifle which is absolutely true but loading a single pellet into the breech is fiddly and after an hour or so of shooting becomes a bit painful on the thumb due to the edges on the breech. However if you're hunting with it you're unlikely to be loading pellet after pellet so this won't be an issue, for target shooting I recommend opting for the magazine.
If there's one thing I would change it would be the bolt action, it is well made and the pull back is fine but seating the next pellet from the magazine feels clunky and pushing the bolt fully forward requires a little more effort than I'd like. A nice light action would mean you could keep the rifle shouldered and your cheek on the cheek piece but due to the relatively heavy action on the bolt this is difficult to achieve. I'm sure with higher end rifles the action is smoother and lighter but let's not forget this is a £400 PCP rifle so really I'm splitting hairs here.
The M22 is a perfect rifle for the beginner and a great platform to learn the craft on, it does everything you need it to and more and at a price that makes it accessible to many. Personally I opted for the .22 combo package from sportsguns.co.uk which gave me everything I needed to get started and for the price I don't think I could have got more for my money.
So here's the scores on the doors;
Build quality 7/10