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Seneca Aspen Field Review

Several weeks ago I received a package from Air Venturi containing the new Seneca Aspen PCP rifle. This is a rifle I had some great interest in as I felt it was something different and unique from other Airguns. The Seneca Aspen is a very innovative Air Rifle that is built with a pump integrated into it, this means we always have an available air source to keep us in the field. The Aspen is what I would call a “survivalist” type Airgun, great for long extended trips where weight may be a factor. Here are some factory stats on the rifle.

Seneca Aspen PCP Air Rifle, Multi-Pump PCP 

  • Pre-charged Pneumatic (PCP) Air Rifle with built-in pump
  • Side Lever Action
  • Two Stage Velocity Adjustment 
  • Fires up to 17 Shots with 40-60 Pumps
  • Two-Stage Adjustable Trigger
  • Synthetic Stock
  • 250 BAR / 3,600 PSI Fill Pressure
  • On Board Pressure Gauge
  • Automatic Overpressure Air Release
  • Manual Safety
  • Fully Shrouded Barrel
  • Rifled Steel Barrel
  • Pump Lock Carry Handle
  • Overall Length:  43.3 Inches
  • 11mm Dovetail Rail
  • Includes 10-Shot Rotary Magazine 
  • Includes Fill Probe
  • Includes Single-Shot Tray
  • Includes 4×32 AO Scope
  • Weight 8.0 lbs

Two Stage Velocity Adjustment

  • .22 Caliber: Low Power= 700 fps, High=900+ fps

As one of the most innovative options in PCP airguns, the Aspen uses an integrated pump to fill its 3,600 PSI/ 250 BAR cylinder. Once filled, you can shoot up to 17 shots with 40-60 pumps. Pumping the Aspen up is quick and easy, only requiring about 28 lbs of effort at 3,600 PSI. Once fired, your shots can reach speeds as high as 900+ fps in .22 caliber. The Aspen features a two-stage velocity adjustment to keep you firmly in control of your shot’s power. With a flick of the dial, hunters can switch to high-power for devastating knockdown shots and be ready for the next shot 5-6 pumps later. With its dial set to low, target shooters can take almost 20 shots before you need to pump again.The Aspen features a two-stage trigger to cater to preferred pull weight. These features alone make the Aspen worth the $400 price of admission, but what if you already have a fill source? If you want to fill faster, the PCP still includes a Male QD probe with standard foster fitting to fill up your airgun the old-fashioned way. With adjustable power, adjustable trigger, magazine, single shot tray and a 4×32 AO scope, and no fill source needed, the Aspen is an attractive and affordable option for PCP airgunners new and old.


The Aspen came packaged very well and included instructions, spare o’rings, fill probe, magazine, single shot tray, silicone oil and scope. My first impression was the stock that was obvious plastic and had a “hollow” type feel to it. I shouldered the rifle and was happy with it’s weight distribution, it felt very natural and the pump handle made a nice rest for my hand. The rifle felt very solid and the metal finish was very well done, especially the shroud.

I went ahead and mounted the 4X32 AO scope that came with the Aspen, this is a fair scope for short distances but difficult to use for precision shooting beyond 30 yards. The rifle thankfully does include sling studs on both the buttstock and forend that make the gun ready for a sling. I liked how the stud on the forend can be mounted to either left or right side depending on how you carry the rifle. The following morning we would visit the range to sight in the gun and do some chronograph readings.


Today we visited the local range where we tested several different types and weights of pellets, for accuracy as well as to chronograph the rifle on high power. We tested the speed using the .22 H&N Sport Field Target Trophy’s that come in at 14.66 grains. These are great pellets, and through the years have found they work well in the majority of the .22’s I have field tested. We first tested a 10 shot string at a 3000psi fill pressure.

The 3000psi fill brings the gun to about 22fpe using the 14gr pellets, these are fair numbers considering the small size of the Air cylinder. Next we would fill the gun to the maximum pressure of 250BAR or 3600psi for our next 10 shot string.

With the 3600psi fill we are now reaching close to 30 fpe, a great amount of power for hunting most all small game animals at extended ranges. We tested the accuracy at 35 yards, because the 4X32 AO scope was a bit underpowered to make precision shots at 50+ yards. No doubt with a scope upgrade this gun is capable of great accuracy, still I used the gun just as it came from Air Venturi. 

H&N Field Target Trophy .22 Cal, 14.66 Grains, Round Nose

JSB Match Diabolo Exact Jumbo Heavy .22 Cal, 18.13 Grains

JSB Redesigned Monster Pellets .22 25gr


The 25gr JSB redesigned pellets worked very well in the gun although they were going considerably slower, and not shooting very flat. I was pleased with how all three shot, but still felt the 14gr H&N’s may be the best match for flat shooting out in the open desert. The single shot tray as well as being able to fill the gun with my SCBA tank made the range a whole lot more enjoyable. The gun was easy to fill, but the only thing that got annoying was having to remove the small rubber dust cap from the fill port. My large fingers had a difficult time reaching in to remove it, a small flat blade screwdriver may have made things go faster.

After we had finished our work at the range I left the Seneca Aspen with 3000psi to check for leaks the following morning.


The following morning I woke up at 5:30 am and proceeded into the shop to check the gun for leaks, and to pack the Jeep with all the gear I would need for my several day field trip. The Aspen had held the 3000psi overnight just fine so I loaded it into the case and into the Jeep. Our drive would take us several hours North through the remote mountains to a familiar vast wilderness. This area is very remote and always requires great caution due to weather conditions and road hazards.

 

The weather was cold with rain clouds rolling in towards the West, at this point I had expected the hunting to be very slow over the next few days. I unpacked the Jeep, set up camp and loaded my pack with all my camera gear, water, snacks etc,

The area we were hunting resembles East African terrain. It is home to animals such as Pronghorn Antelope, Tule elk, Fox, Coyote, Mountain Lions, Wild Pigs and a wide variety of birds. The area is vast and consist of approx 38,900 acres of huntable area, one of the more remote locations I frequent. Marley and I hiked a bit North from camp where we immediately spotted one of the many large Jackrabbits that frequent the area, most we encountered were well beyond 100+ yards and well out of reach of the .22 caliber.

  We hiked for several miles up over a mountain where we finally made our way down through a steep ravine hoping to flush some Jackrabbits. I had taken several shots along the way at ranges no closer that 80 yards. The rifle carried very well and I much enjoyed using the pump arms locking handle to carry the Aspen with. The 8.0 LB rifle really shined in conditions where I was having to climb steep hills and switch my carry from sling to the handle. 

Marley and I came down a steep mountain that fed us into a huge open field with sparse vegetation throughout the hillsides. It had just rained several times in the past week so the green grass was looking somewhat like Springtime.

 The area was a great place to take a break as well as to film for the video portion of our review. I took a few shots with the Aspen, plinking at some rocks and just getting comfortable with some of my holdovers at various ranges. I found the rifle to be very easy to pump from 3000psi to 3600psi, the key is to go slowly and smoothly as to not allow the pump to heat up. It’s important to go slow, this will maintain the longevity of the o’rings.To fill the rifle from empty to full takes about 60 pumps, once the gun is to 3000psi it becomes very easy to get to 3600psi. I found that taking several shots and then pumping about 13 times would keep the power up.

  After a few hours of hiking around marley and I headed back to camp to have some lunch and to find a good location to take some scenic photographs of the Seneca Aspen.

Marley and I headed out again not far from camp and were able to take several shots, one that was a near miss at 83 yards.

It can get pretty frustrating sometimes when we are trying to “film” the excitement of a hunt, people like to see success more than failure. When hunting we never have a guarantee, all we can do is try our best and to enjoy the experience and relaxation of the location. By this time it was getting late and the temperature was dropping as the evening approached. Marley was getting a bit grumpy, guess she didn’t have enough action and she was exhausted. I put her to bed and made a nice campfire to stay warm for a few hours.

 

A few hours later it started raining fairly heavy, making it apparent we may move to a different location the following morning.


The following day I packed up the Jeep and decided to head home due to the rain making for very poor hunting and filming conditions. Several days later Terry, Marley and I traveled to another remote location in the high desert near Mojave. This area has a good variety of small game to hunt such as Ground Squirrels, Jackrabbits, Cottontail and Quail. We arrived to the location very early with the temperature being in the high 40’s, the plan was to hike the steep hillsides as the sun came up. We parked the Jeep in a very rocky area, a place we call “The Hills Have Eye’s” from past trips. 

Terry, Marley and I hiked along this small animal trail that took us alongside of a large mountain, as the sun came up the Jackrabbits and Cottontail usually start moving about. Terry and I both took several shots on a few Jackrabbits, it was still a bit dark so spotting them was difficult. Marley flushed one from a nearby sagebrush and nearly grabbed it by the back legs. She was so happy and excited to be out with the boys on this great morning. As we circled back I had spotted several large Jackrabbits scatter, two of them stopped high above me on the hillside at 85+ yards. I moved as slowly and quietly as possible getting myself just in front of a large bush at 75 yards. 

 I took the shot that put the 14gr H&N right into the Jackrabbits chest, that ‘THWAAAP’ echoed through the canyon like it got hit with a baseball. Marley and I moved as quickly as we could up the side of the steep hillside to recover our kill and to relax in the shade. Terry and I both were surprised how quick that large Jackrabbit went down!!

It was a great morning so far, very pleased with my 75 yard kill, good size one too!


After a short break we continued along the trail and circled back towards the Jeep where we had planned to drive down lower into the valley and check for Ground Squirrels.

 

This area is normally crawling with Ground Squirrels in the Spring and Summer months but I had expected to see a few adults out and about considering how nice the weather was.

I had decided to load the magazine with some NSA .217 19gr slugs, wanted to see how slugs would shoot out of the Aspen.

We headed along a cattle trail that ran parallel with a dry creek bed, trees, fallen logs and rock outcroppings were abundant here. 

  We hiked for a bit and saw very few Ground Squirrels, the few we did see were extremely skittish and difficult to get close to. Terry, Marley and I sat under a large Oak tree and waited for several to pop their heads out from under a fallen tree.

  

After spending about an hour or so in several spots we had concluded this area had very little action, my guess was the temperatures were still much to cool for busy activity. We moved back to the Jeep where we set up a few things to shoot at 35 yards. Terry was excited to get to shoot this really cool rifle.

Terry was impressed with the entire rifle, especially the trigger that I have concluded is one of the best out of the box I have field used. The Seneca Aspen is a great gun, has excellent power, sidelever is very smooth and the ergonomics such as the pump handle work very well to the entire package. After lunch we packed up the Jeep to head down the long road and head back towards home. Turned out to be a great day just to get out with Marley and my good friend Terry.


Later that evening I wanted to document a bit of preventative maintenance to the Aspen in video form. I went ahead and removed the shrouds end cap to see if the shroud may have had any baffles or any form of sound deadening material. 

The shroud does not have any baffles between the 4″ muzzle and end cap. The Aspen is very quiet but I can see how some baffles can easily be fitted to quiet the gun even further. (I personally see no reason to quiet the gun further) Next I looked to the small air tube just under the shroud, it has a knurled cap that can be removed. What is this? The direct answer for this is to service the pump tube at the factory and serves no direct purpose to the end user. My guess is it may be to remove the tube from the air tube assembly. Moving on I wanted to show the points of lubrication that include the breech o’rings, the Aspen includes a small bottle of silicone oil. We will use a Q-Tip to apply a small amount of silicone oil to the breech o’rings.

Next we will apply some silicone oil to the pump o’ring, this hole is visible when we open the pump handle arm all the way.

This is a good time to lubricate the pump arm linkage as well as to brush off any debris that may have accumulated on or around the pump area. After the rifle is broken in after about 500 shots it’s necessary to increase the hammer preload. The Seneca Aspen comes with a small allen wrench that fits in the small hole in the stock just behind the breech.

After the rifle is broken in the hammer spring will start to settle, to bring the power of the gun back up we turn the the adjustment 1 full turn “clockwise”. I would not recommend going further with the chance of either spring failure or causing binding issues. This adjustment would come in great for those who have a chronograph and want to “fine tune” the rifle. Modifications and adjustments beyond what’s in the user manual will most likely void the warranty. 


My time with the Seneca Aspen has been great, this truly is a worthy field gun and one that would impress even the high end Airgun snobs. This rifle has passed the test of being rugged and I feel with proper care it’s something that will last under heavy use in the field. Enclosed are my final honest thoughts on this rifle.

                   PROS

  • Great power
  • Shoots a variety of pellets well
  • Great metal finish
  • Smooth solid Sidelever
  • Great trigger
  • Lightweight
  • Handle is very useful
  • Sling studs
  • Inexpensive magazines
  • Solid shroud and barrel band 
  • High/Low power setting
  • Great safety
  • Can pump or fill with a tank 

                  CONS

  • Scope, difficult to use at longer ranges
  • Stock feels hollow
  • Cover for probe is difficult to get off

Overall this is one heck of an Airgun, perfect for a first PCP being it has the pump built into it. The sidelever, trigger, metal finish and high/low power settings are features found on guns costing near three times as much. People may complain about the stock but the reality is that it’s very durable and weather resistant. As mentioned, my only real complaint is the scope, the accuracy of the gun is well worth the upgrade in my opinion. Even without the scope the gun is well worth $400. For an out of the box $400 PCP this is no doubt one of the best performing rifles I have ever field used, perfect survival rifle being independent with air and shooting a variety of pellets well. Air Venturi was smart to brand this rifle and I see them selling a ton of them over the next year. From an Airgunner that likes to tinker and tune I can see this being a winner as well, capable of much more than it gets out of the box. I hope this review may help others decide on this rifle as their next purchase. Enclosed is the review in video form as well as the link as to where to buy it. Remember “The best Airgun is the one you’re shooting”


     


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