Air Rifle Hunting & Pest Control with the Air Arms Galahad

Wednesday, 24 March 2021  |  Air Arms

Richard Saunders of Alpha Militaria takes the Air Arms Galahad bull pup airgun as he hunts and carries out pest control on his local permission.

I saw a nature programme on the telly not so long ago. In it, David Attenborough explained how often predators in the wild failed when hunting. It would seem that thousands of years of avoiding everything else that wants to kill and eat it means that quarry species come out on top most of the time.

Certainly, stalking is the ultimate test for the airgun hunter and if I’m any kind of gauge, I know that the rabbits, pigeons and squirrels I try and sneak up on usually have the last laugh. I suppose its what drives the sense of achievement when I am successful. 

Nothing is more absorbing than sneaking about the hedgerows, but when it comes to pest control, success rate is all that matters. And most of the time that means sitting in ambush and waiting for target species to come to me.

Fewer tactics are more successful than sitting in a hide. Take yesterday for example; I spent most of the day sitting in one waiting for some squirrels to appear. Whilst waiting I was treated to a constant display of small birds as well as a family of six roe deer that came within 20 yards of where I sat. If ever I needed proof of how a hide makes you invisible that was it.

At last, the squirrels arrived. The permission is a huge dairy farm, and the squirrels aren’t usually a nuisance. As a result, I’ve left them alone for years, obeying my personal mantra that ‘a pest is only a pest when its being a pest.’

Unfortunately, though they had started breaking into the roof space of a row of cottages on the estate. No one likes the sound of creatures scrabbling about above their head and the potential for the squirrels to start a fire by chewing through pipes, cables and wires is a very real one.

So, dealing with the squirrels definitely fell into the ‘pest control’ rather than ‘hunting’ category. Hence the pop up hide set 25 yards from a peanut feeder I’d been topping up for several weeks.

I’m not the neatest person in the world; if I stay still anywhere for more than five minutes I look like I’m in the middle of a burglary. Sitting in a hide for hours at a time is no better. I bought a two-man hide because I knew I’d need space for me and the mess I’d inevitably make.

Even so, I find that using a full size, or even carbine rifle, is a recipe for me clonking something and making a noise. So I use a bull pup and on this occasion it was the Air Arms Galahad.

Watch Richard Saunder's review of the Air Arms Galahad:

I’d been given a .177 Galahad R to review for Alpha Militaria and was so impressed I thought I’d hang on to until Air Arms got miffed and demanded it back. At a little more than 700mm with a silencer, its compact proportions make it easy to use in the confines of a hide. And superb balance with a centre of gravity just behind the pistol grip negates the 3.7 kgs unscoped weight.

During my test, the chronograph showed a metronomic 11.3 ft. lbs. consistency with 8.4 grain Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets thanks to the regulated action, along with levels of accuracy that saw me aiming off just to confirm the pellets were indeed going through the same hole and not missing the target by several feet.

The three-way adjustable stock ensures a comfortable shoulder position, and the soft plastic cheek piece is not only comfortable but ideally positioned to provide perfect eye alignment to the scope which, incidentally, was a ZEISS Conquest V4 4-16x50 – another review item I keep ‘forgetting’ to send back.

I’m something of a stick-in-the-mud and will admit to initially dismissing the Galahad’s unique push forward cocking lever located on the front left side of the stock for right handers as a bit of a gimmick.

And then, shame on me, sat in my hide, I pulled a shot at a squirrel and although it was mortally wounded, I hadn’t killed it cleanly. With the benefit of several hours on the range with the Galahad, I instinctively re-cocked the rifle in the blink of an eye and took a follow up shot which did the job.

It wasn’t until I’d done so that I realised the whole process took no more than a few seconds and the squirrel hadn’t left the image through the scope the whole time. That’s when I realised what a piece of airgun design genius that cocking lever is and wondered why all manufacturers don’t copy the design. Probably because most of them take the action of another of their rifles and squeeze it into a bull pup stock, whereas the Galahad was designed as a bull pup from the start.

Several hours later, as I trudged back to the truck with a rucksack full of dead squirrels destined for my local bird of prey centre, I started scheming how I could convince Air Arms to let me keep the Galahad a bit longer. Perhaps I’ll tell them ZEISS took it in lieu of their scope.