I have always liked the AR6 rifle, and have had excellent results hunting small game with it. Recently I received the Pistol, Take-Down, and carbine versions of the AR6 that have been modified to improve the double action. This series of guns is named the Renegade, and are all based on the same time proven AR6 action. After spending time with these guns on the range to familiarize myself with them, I brought them into the woods to hunt squirrel and rabbit. My first report here will focus on the pistol.
There are not many air powered handguns available on the market which can be used for small game hunting. One of the most expedient courses has been to build up a gun on the Crosman 2240 platform. But while the modifications to optimize performance with CO2 are simple to undertake, unless you are going to make the effort and spend the time to convert to pcp there is an inherent limitation on power. Also the gun will not be useful for cold weather hunting.
Enter the Renegade, a very powerful multi-shot pcp pistol design out of the box. Before discussing performance a few words on initial impressions are in order. On opening the box this gun looks big and chunky, which I guess is necessary due to the size of the rifle action adapted for its use. As mentioned, the gun uses the same action, rotary magazine (which is very similar to the action of a standard revolver), and trigger. Let me just say that it didnâ€™t hook me on looks, but besides being large fits the hand pretty well. The gun is just a little more than 17â€� overall length with a 10â€� .22 caliber barrel and weighs in at 3.2 lbs. There are no iron sights and the gun comes with 11mm dovetails in the high profile receiver. The walnut furniture incorporates the stippled grip, trigger guard, and fore stock; I mounted a swivel stud and bipod on my gun which enhanced the overall aesthetics considerably. The air reservoir is located under the barrel and is filled using the proprietary Evanix filling probe. The gun charges to a fill pressure of 3000 psi, and while the manual states 20 shots per fill I got 12 usable shots with a substantial shift in the point of impact after this. This is fine for a hunting pistol, which in my view is exactly what this gun was designed for. There are better choices for plinking or target shooting, at least more compact! After inspecting the gun and charging it up I hit the bench; first things I noted were that the trigger is a little stiff but not bad. As Iâ €™ve stated before, in a hunting gun that Iâ€™ll be using in cold weather and while wearing gloves I donâ€™t want a trigger that is too light. And even in single action it is not light at about 3.5 lb, but breaks fairly crisply and is shootable. The double action is improved over earlier versions of the AR6, but still heavy. What Iâ€™ve always appreciated in these guns is how fast the action can be cycled which is much more relevant to me as a hunter. I can thumb the hammer, which cocks the gun, and shoot single action rapidly and accurately
Loading the cylinder was a bit challenging and I really had to force the pellets into the chambers. And they have to be seated flush with the face of the cylinder or you will not get it back into the loading port. I know that others have had good results with the Eu Jin pellets, but in the gun I had I could not get them to load unless I seated them with a small tool. This was too much hassle and I did have several other pellets on hand that loaded much easier. In terms of performance, I was more positively impressed than by looks alone. I noticed no shift in POI for the first 8-9 shots, then a couple inches over shots 10 â€“ 13, then a more substantial shift over the next few shots. I reckoned this was fine, eight or nine shots was enough for a mornings squirrel hunt, and I could always throw one of my carbon fiber buddy bottles in my pack if I planned to get into a target rich environment like a prairie dog town. The accuracy was quite good, achieving sub Â½â€� groups with several pellets at 30 yards. I found that the 2x long eye relief scope in conjunction with the bipod I mounted allowed me to consistently put the shots where I wanted them. The accuracy achieved along with 25-30 fpe makes this gun a great candidate for the small game hunter that wants to go after quarry the up to the size of groundhog or raccoon.
I carried this handgun into the field to hunt rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs. I found that I could consistently keep shots in the kill zone out to forty yards, though I did reach out quite a bit further when the situation required. The 14.3 grain Crosman premiers were effective at anchoring these critters. The size of this gun allowed me to throw it in my day pack for an unobtrusive arrival to my hunting site, though it was loud enough to mitigate this advantage in some settings. I liked having six shots on tap and found the rotary magazine functioned without problem. The tolerances on the cylinder are tight, and I do think that filing a bit off the face of the cylinder did make loading easier without negatively impacting performance.
OK, so when all is said and done what do I think of this gun? On the downside it is big and not the most attractive air arm ever built (it grows on you though and looks a lot better with the bipod mounted), it doesnâ€™t get a whole lot of shots per charge, and it is pretty loud. The trigger while serviceable is not great and the double action is fun for plinking but I still only use single action for hunting. On the positive side this pistol is accurate, very powerful, reliable, and letâ€™s face it, about the only game in town if somebody wants an off the shelf hunting air pistol. I really enjoyed using this gun and think that if youâ €™d like to give this sport a try; the Renegade is a good gun to start with. I have read some other reviews that tend to be either glowing or disparaging, and I think that to give a fair evaluation the discussion must be kept in context. This is a high powered hunting gun, if you want a light weight plinking gun or a target pistol this probably won’t be your cup of tea. If you want to take a rabbit at 40 yards, it is just the thing!
What would I do to optimize the gun? I was going to reshape the stock and remove some of the excess wood, but in the end decided to keep the forestock intact so that I could mount a bipod. I do think that a shrouded barrel would expand the potential to use this gun as an urban hunter. I have a threaded barrel collar that accepts a standard moderator on the take down carbine, which has really quieted the gun down. I am going to do the same with the pistol as soon as the opportunity presents