I was going back over some of my hunts from the last few years, and found this article on an interesting bullpup I took out on several hunts. Let me know if you like this stuff from my archives, and if so I’ll post some more.
While visiting the Pyramyd Air booth at the SHOT Show in 2015, the good folks at AirArms pulled me aside to show me a gun they were working on. It was a bullpup prototype, and they wanted feedback on it. I had some ideas to share as did many others, but the important point is that AirArms were asking before going into production. And when I saw the prerelease gun at this years show it had evolved, proof that they had been listening.
Named the Galahad, this gun leverages the companies technology assets using some elements from their existing products, but it is an original where it counts. The trigger assembly, the stock design, the cocking mechanism were built to get the best out of a bullpup configuration. Did they realize their objective to build a superior bullpup? What constitutes the best of breed is difficult to define, because it is very subjective. I will say that in my opinion AirArms did it right; the power is optimal for small to medium game (adjustable power with high power setting), the accuracy achieved in my range work promised a solid 50 yard small game gun, the proven multishot magazine works without a hitch, the gun is compact and light, it is quiet, and I found it fit me well and offered a good sight alignment with low and medium profile mounts. While it had impressed me on the bench, I was really chomping at the bits to see how it would perform in the field.
It wasn’t long before an opportunity presented, and I found myself headed south to hunt jackrabbits, predators, and javalina on ranches in South Texas and North Mexico. We were filming a segment for our television program, the American Airgunner, and I was hunting with well known predator hunter Don Steele and cameraman Clay Pruitt. We had a number of airguns ranging from .22 to .40 calibers to use on different game, but I was really excited to try out my new small game gun, you guessed it, the Galahad!
I’d flown into Dallas, loaded my gear into a rental car, and drove to Abilene where I met up with Clay at Dons house. We transferred our gear to his hunting vehicle, and drove 300 miles south to his 35,000 acre ranch. This was a working ranch for about 100 years and they still run a couple hundred head of cattle. But since the 1960’s it has been managed for wildlife; mule deer, elk, javalina, blue quail, and a large population of predators and small game call this desert-scape home.
Once we arrived at the ranch gate, it was an eight mile drive down a washboard road to reach the old house that would be our base camp. This place is rough, but it keeps most of the vermin out and some of the warmth in, and we all set up our mini indoor campsites and sacked out after a long day of travel.
Awaking early the next morning Clay and I hiked away from the bunkhouse and headed down one of the dirt roads as morning broke. Within minutes I spotted a pair of ears sticking up over a squat cactus. Using a clump of mesquite to cover my approach, I carefully laced my way through the thick underbrush trying not to get skewed by the various cactus, yucca, thorny plants. When I stepped out from behind a cactus, the rabbit bolted, but then made the mistake of briefly stopping to look back at me. The rifle was mounted and the shot lined up, as I pulled the trigger a soft “thwack” and the rabbit rolled over without time to regret the bad decision it had made. In the FAC configuration, the .22 caliber Galahad is generating approximately 30 fpe, and makes a decisive impact on game. I hocked and hung the jack on a fence post, working my way deeper into the brush. I heard some movement and got ready for another target, but instead a roadrunner came out along a sandy wash searching for his next meal.
Jackrabbits are actually not a rabbit but a large desert hare that can grow upwards of 12 lbs. On sheep and cattle ranches, they are considered a pest because of the large quantities of the sparse vegetation they consume, and on managed wildlife lands they go after the corn from feeders. For the most part jacks are left alone on this property, however we needed to take a few to use as bait for predator hunting.
Moving deeper I saw another rabbit take off behind some scrub, but never saw him come out. Following along, moving very slowly, I stalked parallel to the spot where I thought he was hiding and then swung back in on him. Poking around the side of a small tree, I saw the rabbit sitting and listening. I was able to drop to a knee, and get a clear shooting lane through the undergrowth and high grasses. The rabbit had turned slightly and gave me a clear shot at the back of his head. Squeezing the trigger the rabbit was knocked forward literally doing a face plant and he was DOA.
Looping back we rejoined the road and started towards the ranch house. By this time the sun was up and I thought the rabbits would all be bedded down in scrapes under the cactus and creosotes. Even though I didn’t yet have a sling mounted on the gun, which is an accessory all my personal guns wear, the Galahad wasn’t too much of a burden to carry. Walking into one of the dilapidated old corrals I was surprised to stumble right into a small group of javalina feeding, and wrapped up my morning outing with camera rather than gun!
I liked the Galahad for moving through the thick scrub brush, the compact dimensions let me get into some tight spaces and still have room to shoot when the time came. When I’d tried the gun previously, the cocking arm was in a convenient position, but took so much force to cycle that it was not practical. However in the released product they have lightened up the cycling of the action, making it very easy to deploy. It is possible for the shooter to cycle the action without lifting their head off the stock, and get a fast follow up shot if required.
When done properly, a bullpup is a study of form following function; the trigger assembly, cocking mechanism, and stock need to be thoughtfully designed and executed to provide a balanced shooting platform. When this is accomplished the gun mounts solidly with the weight pulled into the shooters center of gravity, it points naturally, and cycles quickly without requiring the cheek-weld to be broken. Both on the bench and under field conditions, the Galahad exhibits the best qualities of the breed. I think if you are looking for a high end bullpup, the Galahad is one worthy of consideration. It did a great job for me on this and several other hunts during my eight days in the border country, and I am looking forward to many more days in the field with this handy bullpup!