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Airgun Adventure’s in the Mojave

by Tom Costan

Dana Webb and I met for a much needed Airgun Adventure. The plan was to meet early in the morning at the crossroads leading into our location and caravan through the back roads to our spot. As with many plans, they don’t always go as anticipated. Dana and I both had some unexpected home duties to perform before leaving in the morning, even though we didn’t get to our meeting spot until well after lunch; I knew, once we arrived life would be good. The location was high in the Mojave desert against the foothills of the Sierra Nevada; very remote, quiet, and beautiful.

This spot is not unlike so many other special places which have extremely diverse terrain. There are Joshua tree forests, rock outcroppings, sandy arroyos, typical desert chaparral and the occasional juniper tree.

It was only two days after some very significant rain had hit the area, leaving the ground damp and dust free with most of the vegetation temporarily moistened leaving that wonderful after-rain scent in the air.


Upon arriving to our campsite, the hunt was on.  As usual when hunting with Dana, he spotted the first jackrabbit and we both took a few shot as it fleed up a small hill.

Dana was using a .22 cal Hatsan that was sent to him for evaluation and I was using a new 22 cal American Air Arms EVOL testing some new parts and a new configuration of the rifle.  The Jackrabbit got a way but Dana soon bagged a cotton tail that was hiding from predators in a small crevasse in a large rock outcropping.

I scouted the area, spotted a few jackrabbits, but did not get a shot opportunity although I did formulate my plan for the next morning.

The day was gone so Dana and I enjoyed an nice campfire and turned in.


I started my walk just after sunrise and within minutes spotted a large jackrabbit hiding in the shadows behind a bush.  I ranged him at 80 yards and took my shot.  Having a new gun and very little trigger time on it, I decided to make the shot for the vitals; this was a mistake as the 18gr JSB didn’t have the power to put him down.  Even though the pellet hit with a large thud, he still ran like nothing hit him.

 I spent a few minutes following the blood trail but never found the Jackrabbit. I have become accustomed to much larger and more powerful calibers that the thought of a .22 in the boiler room not being adequate never crossed my mind. It wasn’t long before I spotted a cottontail hiding in the shadows of a large boulder.

I took my time, ranged him at 79 yards and made a perfect head-shot; he rolled over and that was all.


I bagged my cotton tail and followed a small arroyo for what seemed to be about an hour when I spotted a nice jackrabbit tucked in between two bushes. For a moment, I reflected on the thought that the jackrabbit thought he was invisible, not realizing his form was very distinctive even though his color blended perfectly with  the surroundings. I have found there are only two ways of spotting jackrabbits – their motion or their form; with the latter having much better odds of success. I worked my way to a rock outcropping where I would have cover and some height over my prey, ranged him at 76 yards, added 1 mil of holdover and made a perfect head-shot.

The jackrabbit was finished; the incredible acrobatics that followed were nothing but lost electrical signals of the nervous system on display.


Within a few minutes Dana wandered into view with Marley, I bagged my prize and headed back to camp and Dana joined me shortly with several jacks he had taken with his EVOL 30.

(left) Dana Webb with Tom Costan 

 It was about noon and I was planning on leaving in a few hours but I did want to test some Nielsen Specialty Ammo in the EVOL 22. I set up some eggs at 50 yards, Dana and I hitting them with the 21 grain NSA slug was no challenge so put I some more at 150 yards.

Eggs were placed at 150 yards on a large rock outcropping

After experimenting with the holdover by shooting at a dirt patch at the same yardage, I was able to figure the hold over and dial into my scope.

  Hitting eggs at 150 yards with a 30 fpe .22 is not easy but I did manage to get some before I ran out of air. Here is the video that includes a good portion of footage from our adventures here. Please help us by taking a second to hit SUBSCRIBE.

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Hatsan FLASH Review/Hunt

This field use review of the new Hatsan FLASH .22 caliber entry level PCP was one I had been very excited for. The market for entry level PCPs has become what almost seems like a race between many different Airgun manufacturers. I believe this is a great time for people to get sucked into this sport as the market has produced so many budget minded PCPs. HatsanUSA sent me the .22 caliber FLASH that was set to debut at the 2018 Shot Show in Vegas. My job (That was apparently done for free) was to simply field use the rifle and to document my experiences through video and my writings here. I received the rifle on a Friday and was eager to spend some time with it at the range to test various pellets and to site the rifle in for a two day hunt the following week. My initial thoughts of the rifle out of the box were very good, the gun was obviously very lightweight coming in just under 6lbs. The thumbhole ambidextrous stock was very comfortable and with the raised Monte Carlo cheek the rifle shouldered very well.

The FLASH felt very sturdy and super solid, I checked for flexing of the barrel, stock and breech, finding no movement. The rifle came with two rotary style magazines, single shot tray and quick fill probe.

Model FLASH
Caliber .22
Max Velocity*  From our field use

(Lead Pellets)

.22 915 FPS

18gr

Shots At Optimal Velocity**  

.22 25 shots

Stock Advanced polymer, ambidextrous thumbhole with monte carlo raised cheek and piccitiny for bi-pod mounting.
Key Features Bolt action

Fully shrouded choked barrel

165cc fixed aluminum air cylinder

Optics Rail (11mm and 22mm)

Spring-Loaded Rotary Magazine, single shot tray

Quick fill probe

Under 6 lbs

Anti Knock System

Onboard pressure gauge

Overall Length 42 1/2″

MSRP $299

After some time looking the gun over in the shop and mounting the Hatsan Optima 3-9x40ao scope I was ready for the range. Here are several more detailed photographs of the gun that may help to show a bit more of the gun not represented in the video.

Adjustable (metal) Quatro trigger with manual safety

Rubber butt pad with raised Monte Carlo cheek, very comfortable.                                                                                                               

Bolt action design with 11mm&22mm dovetail rails for mounting a wide variety of optics.

Single shot tray that snaps into place, perfect for range use.

Quick fill probe

Pressure gauge, gun fills to 3000 psi

Two 12 shot rotary magazines included

My main goal was to get to the range, use the chronograph and to test a wide variety of pellets to match the best accuracy and power. I was very happy to have the provided single shot tray and I prefer single loading from the bench, much easier than loading magazines. The gun was easily filled with my air tank and can see someone with a hand pump having no trouble filling the small 165cc air reservoir. The FLASH was very quiet and what I would consider backyard friendly, the QE shroud did an exceptional job quieting the 30 fpe bark. The Quatro trigger was a bit heavy but had a very predictable break, the trigger is fully adjustable and the gun includes the two small allen wrenches to easily do the job.

After some work with the chronograph the rifle was starting at a 3000psi fill with first shot 915fps using 19gr H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme’s shooting 25 shots with the last settling at 863 fps at 1700 psi. I wanted to keep the gun as is out of the box but can see some tuning potential to bring a flatter shot string. After documenting the numbers I moved onto accuracy and found the 18gr H&N Sniper Magnums to be the best I was able to achieve. Hatsan has incorporated a new Anti-Knock System into this rifle, what is this system? The Anti-Knock System is essentially a safety device that keeps the hammer in place during times the gun is bumped, bounced or knocked or dropped. This system ensures the gun cannot discharge air without the trigger being engaged. This may be a fix to a problem that was never there and one I personally have never encountered. I think this safety device does add a bit of further comfort and piece of mind added to a field gun such as the FLASH.

5 shots at 25 meters

After spending a good part of the day with the FLASH I was very excited to get out into the field with it that following weekend. I packed the gun away in a soft case and inspected it several days later for any loss of air, it held exactly at 3000 psi where I left it. Friday evening I packed up the Jeep with all the equipment and gear Marley and I would need for the several days in the Mojave desert. My good friend Tom Costan was accompanying us for the several day trip where I had planned to do some video work for several different field use projects. Marley and I left the house very early to make way through the desert in good time and to try to make the most of the day. From the highway we followed a rough motorcycle trail near 16 miles into one of the most remote areas of the Mojave desert.

As we drove through the whooped out trail Marley was keeping watch for the occasional Jackrabbit that would bolt in front of us. The area had many large rock outcroppings, Joshua trees and miles of animal trails heading from the desert floor into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

These areas of the desert are very unforgiving and are home to many dangers such as snakes, mountain lions and birds of prey. After arriving to our spot nestled between several large rock outcroppings I set up camp and unloaded my camera gear and Airgun. By this time it was 11:30am and the temperature was in the high 60s. I checked the zero of the gun as I had packed the FLASH into a soft case, sometimes the rough ride can knock the scopes out of zero. The gun was still perfectly zeroed and ready for the day of hiking. Marley and I slowly hiked a bit South of camp where there was a huge amount of rock outcroppings, we made our way up to the base of it and sat for awhile looking for movement.

After filming several segments for the video I had spotted several Cottontail’s moving about through the many rocks and small crevices. I spotted one at near 70 yards sitting in a small crevice on the side of the adjacent rock outcropping.

I lined up for the shot that was across the canyon only to be to low just skimming its right front leg, it ran down to the left stopping just behind a boulder where I was able to make a finishing shot at 35 yards.

The FLASH is extremely quiet, especially in the unconfined spaces of the wide open desert. When hunting small game it’s sometimes important to have a quiet report as so it doesn’t alert the many other animals in the vicinity. After collecting and bagging our kill Marley and I continued around the mountain of rock formations hoping to spot several more rabbits. As we continued down a small animal trail I noticed a squirrel ranged at 68 yards off to my left sitting atop a large sagebrush.

For longer offhand shots like this the FLASH really shined with it’s lightweight shoulder-ability.

68 yard head-shot

After another short break Marley and I headed back to camp to have lunch with Tom before venturing out again into the afternoon sun. The area was very beautiful and so quiet with the only sounds being heard were from the many different types of small birds that move through the dense sagebrush. I couldn’t help but to stop and take a photograph of the FLASH.

After continuing our hike along an animal trail the sun was beginning to set over the mountain that dropped the temperature by near 20 degrees. After hiking around for a good bit of time seeing nothing within range Marley and I headed back down towards camp to see if Tom had better luck. Tom was sitting on top of a huge rock outcropping that looked over miles of desert floor.

That evening was not as cold as we had expected, we made a nice little campfire that warmed us enough to enjoy the beautiful night sky. I slept all through the night and awoke by 7:15am to air up the FLASH and head out due South towards the large outcroppings from the previous day. Marley and I slowly made our way, stopping frequently to scan the many nearby rocks. Early morning is an excellent time to Cottontail hunt, better than late evening from my experience. As we made it to the top of this hill I spotted some Cottontail ears from behind a large rock at 40 yards.

I made a nice headshot that thumped the rabbit down without even a twitch where Marley made her quick recovery.

Marley and I continued on over the hill making a big several mile circle that would ultimately lead us back to camp.

As we made our way down to the valley floor I spotted several more rabbits scurrying away with one that left me with a split second shot that was a near miss.

By this time I had to end my time with the FLASH and work on some other video work with Tom. My time spent with the FLASH was very successful and can’t wait to get out with it again very soon. The rifle is an absolute pleasure to carry around all day and made offhand shooting in off camber terrain much more doable.  The FLASH is a laser accurate rifle out to 70+ yards and is no doubt a great entry level choice in the PCP market. I hope my short adventure may be enjoyed and too will bring someone closer into purchasing their first PCP rifle. I will enclose this video that documents everything I have written and can only hope to share more very soon. Till then, “The best gun is the one your shooting” take care!!

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