|The Evanix AR6|
|Evanix and Pyramyd Airguns revives a design that was never allowed to reach it's full potential, and they have done it right with this double action multishot powerhouse!|
|In selecting the guns I’d be taking along to South Africa this year, I gave a lot of thought to my small game arsenal. On last years safari I was very happy with the performance with my big game guns, less so with my choices for small game …. So this year I started well in advanced and got my hands on about a dozen new rifles to test ; looking at not only the accuracy and velocity performance, but evaluating reliability, consistency, shootability from a variety of positions, rapidity of follow up shots to determine what guns to bring along. What make the process all the more important is that we are only allowed to bring three guns each into the country, and the same calibers are not permitted. We did have a little leeway however in that not everyone in the party had three guns selected so we could spread our selection out, still it was tight.|
|The Evanix AR 6
In the end, one of the small game guns selected was the Evanix AR6. This is a new gun manufactured in Korea and is based on the old AR 6 design. It is one of the most powerful production airguns on the market today; a six shot repeater using a rotary magazine that can be fired in single or double action mode. All of this sounded great when I first came across the description of the gun, but of course it all comes down to performance, so let’s take a look at my findings.
The first AR 6 I shot was a pre-production prototype loaned out to me just so I could get an initial impression, which was positive, after which I ordered a production gun from Pyramyd Airgun Mall. The gun was shipped with the charging probe, a rotary magazine, and the operator’s manual in the original factory box nestled inside of a well padded shipping box. The gun I removed from the box is quite attractive to my eye; unlike the rather rough original version manufactured (also in Korea) a decade ago, the metal work and wood on this gun is flawless and manufactured to a high quality standard. A lot of the design improvement on the newest version is attributable to the feedback and direction of Evanix’s USA distributor Pyramyd Airguns, which has become one of the largest airgunning companies in the world by listening to what customers want and translating the voice of the customer into a solid product line.
The stock is an Asian Hardwood; the grip and forestock are nicely checkered and provide a good hold on the rifle. The raised cheekpiece offers a good sight alignment through the scope, which was affixed to the integrated rails using a low profile Leapers scope mount. The guns dimensions are fairly compact; a 23” barrel and an overall length of approximately 38” this gun weighs in at under 7 lb, a very manageable package for a hunting kit!
All of the metal work on this gun is solid, with no flaws or machine markings noted. The air reservoir is a single steel tube, the receiver is a substantial affair that sits high to allow the rotary magazine to fit, with the positive offshoot that it allows a large aperture scope to be used with low or medium profile mounts. The receiver is grooved to accept a scope. The safety is located on the right side of the receiver just ahead of the cocking hammer. Safety is engaged by pulling it back towards the rear of the gun and disengaged by pushing forward. The safety control is easily reached and the tactile response is good. The gun is cocked by thumbing back the exposed hammer, which also indexes the rotary magazine. The charging port is housed at the muzzle end of the reservoir, and is protected by an integrated housing. Positioned about midway along the forestock is an integrated pressure gauge, which is a very handy inclusion that allows fill pressure to be monitored.
The bottom line is that this well made gun looks good both in design and execution; it comes naturally to the shoulder and fits well into the shooters hand. The rifles controls; cocking hammer, safety, trigger, are all ergonomic with a solid “feel” to them. The moderately light weight and compact dimensions of this gun make it an excellent candidate for a hunting rifle.
Filling the rifle
Charging the rifle is a straight forward procedure; the gun is shipped with the appropriate filling probe and the new owner needs only set it up with his filling station to get started. The recommended fill pressure is 180 BAR, which is where I started my testing. The probe is inserted into the integrated housing and the valve on the high pressure air tank is slowly opened until a click is heard and the needle on the gauge drops, then slowly starts advancing. The pressure gauge on the gun is a nice feature, which has the optimal fill pressure range delineated in green (red shows overcharging and yellow when the pressure falls off the optimum) and matched up to the gauge on my tanks quite well. I had read that on a single charge the gun would produce 20 full power shoots, but my experience was 31 shots in the green, all of which were more than powerful enough for most small game hunting applications.
With the gun fully charged, I started shooting groups to see what pellets it liked. It did well with a wide variety including Eu Jin Heavies, Beeman Kodiaks, Beeman Ram Jets, and the pre-released Defence XP air bullets. However I got my tightest groups with the Ram Jets, and as I had a good supply of these and was running low on the others, decided to continue my evaluation with this projectile.
The rotary magazine of the AR6 is held in place by spring loaded ball bearings fore and aft, which holds it in place. The gun is loaded by pushing the magazine (with the gun un-cocked) towards the right, where upon it will fall into your open hand. The cylinder has a fluted front end that serves as a reminder of which way to reinsert it (fluted end forward). The cylinder has a shelf in the rear that stops the pellets from falling through and requires that the pellets be loaded butt first. This arrangement works quite well, and I found all pellets fairly easy to load. The sharp points of the Polymags were a bit more challenging because they required a bit of pressure to seat in the chamber, but aside from this the rifle cycled a variety of pellets without a hitch. The magazine is reinserted by pushing it back into place from the right side towards the left.
There are two firing modes for the AR6; a single action and a double action. To fire in the single action mode, the exposed hammer is pulled back to index/cycle the pellet and cock the gun for firing. The cocking effort is minimal, and the position and configuration of the hammer is quite comfortable to use. In this mode the trigger has a light (around 3.5 lb) crisp pull with a clean break and no over travel. I found it quite easy to get good accuracy in this mode, consistently getting tight groups with several pellets at 30 – 50 yard ranges. With the Beeman Ram Jets my average forty yard group was less than ¾” and under 1” at fifty yards. When the gun is used in single action mode it automatically sets to fire at maximum velocity.
|The exposed hammer used to cock the AR6 is one of the fastest actions to cycle that I have used.... great feature in a hunting gun!|
|The checkering on the grip and fore stock is sharp and cleanly cut, providing a comfortable and secure hold, even in wet or sweaty hands (my normal hunting condition).|
|Right hand view of the rifle shows the location of the easily deployed safety, which also has good tactile feel.|
|The six shot rotary magazine is removed by pushing it out from left to right. Pellets are easily loaded back end first, and the cylinder replaced. The feeding was flawless in my test gun, and seems to digest of a wide variety of pellets without problem.|
|The requisite fill probe is included with the rifle, and filling is straight forward; insert probe, open valve, and slowly fill to 180 BAR.|
|As mentioned, the cocking effort is minimal, and the ergonomics very good on this rifle. I can cock the rifle and cycle a pellet without dismounting it.|
|The author out shooting on a hot summer day.|
|A typical six shot group at forty yards, using Ram Jet pellets. This is more than adequate hunting accuracy any way you cut it.|
|Velocities with various pellets ranged up to about 1250 fps for lighter pellets, but the accuracy was not optimal for hunting. One of the better all around pellets in this gun was the Beeman Ram Jet, which yielded good accuracy, velocity, and terminal performance. To get an idea of what I could expect under field conditions I took a single charge and plotted the velocity in 31 consecutive shots, which comprised the number of shots in which the onboard pressure gauge remained in the green. Velocity ranged from a peak of 1055 fps to a minimum of 822 fps.
Note there is a layout error, data colums 3 and 4 are in reverse order.
I have had a lot of fun hunting with the AR6. The gun carries well, comes quickly to the shoulder, and cycles very rapidly. The accuracy is quite good, this rabbit was dropped with a head shot at fifty yards fired from a kneeling position. I missed with the first shot (my fault) but was able to thumb the hammer back and get the second shot without dismounting the gun.
Stepping it up a bit, the next trip out I went after ground hogs. The small one below was hit in the head as he sat up on his haunches to look in my direction. The shot was taken at 73 yards. I was in a sitting positon with the gun resting on a collapsable bipod. The second larger one was taken at 55 yards as he slowly walked past me.
The next trip out I took a couple starlings, further demonstrating that I could wring the accuaracy needed to use this gun for just about all manner of game I pursue with an airgun.
The second firing mode is a double action, in which pulling back on the trigger indexes the pellet, cocks the guns, and fires the gun. Conceptually this is a nice attribute of the gun, but quite honestly I found the pull too heavy for me to get the type off accuracy required for hunting. While it is far lighter than an older model I tried some years back, I think that it would benefit from the attention of a talented air gunsmith to smooth out and lighten up. While I think that for hunting I’d stick with single action, some fast double action plinking is fun. The gun automatically adjusts to a lower power setting when used in double action mode.
Hunting with the AR6
I had the chance to take this rifle out with me on a ground hog hunt, and was very impressed with the results. I got plenty of time to carry the gun, but little opportunity to shoot it as the few ground hogs I saw just would not let me get inside of a hundred yards before bolting. Finally I set up about 50 yards away from where I’d seen one slide down a hole, and waited. After about fifteen minutes he popped his head up for a look around, then slowly crawled out and started grazing. Bringing the AR 6 slowly up and placing the crosshairs on the side of his head, I squeezed the trigger and heard the crack and saw him crumble at the same time. He didn’t move again. I didn’t get a chance at any other whistle pigs, but have managed to take a few more on subsequent outings. Hiking back from my first groundhog shoot I did manage to find a large population of starlings grazing in a field and managed to shoot a few birds over the next couple hours. I was really impressed at how this gun performed; on a big animal like the ground hog the power was decisive, yet the accuracy was good enough to permit almost surgical precision on the small pest birds.
This is a fun gun to shoot, a bit on the loud side, though not as loud as my Infinity or Career III/300. The double action can be used to plink with, but is of limited use and I freely admit that I prefer the single action mode. Having said this, I do believe that the hammer cocking action is one of the easiest to use, and fastest to cycle, I have shot. Even in single action mode I can send my follow up shot downrange faster than just about any other gun I’ve used. This rifle is very powerful, accurate, reliable, and is quite shootable. Based on my initial few weeks of shooting and a couple quick hunts, it made the cut for the final rifle heading to the Eastern Cape with us. Can’t wait to use it on the abundant small game we plan on pursuing!