Air Arms Models inspired by the Jackal range

In 1982, with the Sussex Armoury gone, NSP Engineering went on to build and sell Jackal style rifles, initially from the parts that they had left and later after some re-engineering under their own name Air Arms.

Sussex Armoury models had the word 'Jackal' engraved on the top of the cylinder housing, Air Arms models had 'Air Arms' in the same place.

Other obvious changes included the cocking arm release latch which changed from a button to a sliding latch, the addition of a small gold sticker on the right hand side of the rifle with the model name was an invaluable identification addition and the addition of a plastic cover at the top of the cocking arm made the arm easier to handle.

There is some speculation that the earliest of the Air Arms versions were shipped using 'Jackal' engraved cylinders and were actually hybrids. I can't confirm this but would not be in the least surprised if NSP did not use up any stock that they had. I have certainly handled rifles that are today made up of parts from both, but these could easily been after market mods by enthusiasts.

Initially, Air Arms produced the AR7 which they renamed as The Combat and the Hi-Power whose name they kept.

These later models became smoother and more refined and I guess to reflect the worlds changing attitudes to military styled weapons, all models became wood stocked.

The Air Arms range is all excellent quality and a pleasure to shoot. I think it is fair to say they got better as time went on. I am sure that the Jackal I loved in my youth was, if not the inspiration, at least the school of hard engineering knocks that helped the design teams at Air Arms to produce such wonderful springers as the TX200 and the Pro Sport.

Here are some of the Jackal inspired Air Arms range.

The Hi-Power

note the bottom Hi-Power has a non-standard magazine


The Hi-Power is by far the most common of the surviving rifles, these tend to be in .22 calibre. Like with their Sussex Armoury predecessors, the dummy magazine was an optional extra and so most do not have it fitted, many that I have seen have had 'magazine modifications' like the one at the bottom of the photo above where a magazine, usually from a military rifle or more recently from an airsoft rifle had been attached.

I have recently learned that Air Arms kept the .20 calibre Hi-Power going for a while

Weight          7.25 Ibs
Length         40.5 inches

The Firepower

The Firepower like the Hi-Power above was a straight copy of the Sussex Armoury rifle of the same name, albeit with the Air Arms refinements.

Weight          7.5 Ibs
Length         40.5 inches

The Rapide

The Rapide was the name given to the woodstocked Firepower offered by Air Arms. This rifle appears to only have been offered for a short time as it disappeared quickly from the marketing literature.

Weight          8 lbs
Length         40 inches

The one above belongs to Doug Lee, many thanks for letting me use the photo here.

The Combat

The Combat was Air Arms name for the Sussex Armoury AR7. This is probably the most sought after rifle in the range. Its very short barrel gives a loud 'crack' on discharge, but its looks win people over every time.

Weight          7.25 Ibs
Length         35 inches

The one above belongs to Doug Lee, many thanks for letting me use the photo here.

The S-A/L


The S-A/L appears to stand for Short Autoload, which was a fusing of the Combat with the autoload mechanism from the Firepower. These are pretty rare and I have never actually handled one myself, the one above belongs to Kevin Shurety who has passed me the photo for inclusion.

Weight          7.5 Ibs
Length         37 inches

The S-A/L was available in .22 only and came fitted with 1.5 inch sling swivels, according to the advertisements at the time, it was perfect for 'urban hunting'.

In what I can only assume was a marketing gimic, the standard magazine was mounted back to front giving the appearance of being angled forward.

The Woodsman


The Woodsman uses the same short AR7/Combat barrel, the Bora a slightly longer Hi-power barrel. The stocks are identical. The Woodsman in the photo above has a non standard sound moderator. The barrel lengths are clearly different in the photos above and below.

In the case of the rifle above, the barrel is stamped 'Sussex Armoury Hailsham England' which supports my hybrid theories.

The other clear difference between this woodsman and the earlier Sussex Armoury Woodsman is the use of a white spacer between the stock and the butt plate which is also a good indicator off an Air Arms version across the range.

The Bora


The Bora is not the most exciting rifle to look at, but it does its job smoothly and accurately. A much under rated rifle in my opinion.

In some advertisements, the Bora was shown with a chequered grip, but this was labelled 'non standard'. I don't know if any were supplied with this non standard finish.

I have seen a magazine article where the Bora is referred to as the Bora Hunter.

Weight          7.75 Ibs
Length          35.75 inches

The Mistral


With the launch of the Mistral, Air Arms started to make their position as a leading airgun manufacturer. A well balanced, smooth and very accurate rifle, the Mistral is also a pleasure to look at and operate.

The lower Mistral in the photo has had its barrel 'shortened' unprofessionally. A new barrel required!

In August 1985, in a bold move, Air Arms announced that the Woodsman and Supra would be discontinued and in their place would come the Bora, the Mistral and the Mistral autoload.

The Mistral stock was designed by Air Arms Bill Sanders working with Custom Stocks Paul Rogers, the result was an oiled beech stock with chequered pistol grip, raised cheek piece and rubber recoil pad. The new Mistral also had a new two stage trigger.

Weight          7.75 Ibs
Length         39.75 inches

The Carmargue


If the Mistral was a 'model', the Carmague is a 'Super Model', beautiful to look at and even better to use, I can't recommend this rifle enough. Simply excellent.

The Carmague boasted a French walnut stock, hand chequering to the palm swell and fore-end as well as factory fitted sling swivels.

In August 1985, the Carmague was offered in .20 as well as .177 and .22

Weight          8 Ibs
Length          39.5 inches

The autoload version above belongs to Doug Lee, many thanks for letting me use the photo here.

The Khamsin


Just  when I thought they couldn't get any better, then came the Khamsin, The excellent thumbhole stock made this flagship rifle distinctive and beautiful. Note that the third one down has the autoload originally from the Sussex Armoury Firepower fitted, this was a factory fit option on most of the range. The bottom rifle has a different stock to the others; my friends who used to work for Sussex Armoury tells me that these were hand-made and as such variations were usual

The Khamsin was launched in May 1986. It had a beautiful walnut stock, a two stage brass trigger, 1 12 groove barrel and had sling swivels, a silencer and a scope arrestor block fitted as standard.

Weight          8 Ibs
Length          42.5 inches

The SE90

The SE90 came with a beech stock as standard with an optional Walnut stock offered. The SE90 and EX88 below were marketed at the same time and share an identical action just housed in different stocks. There were several optional extras including muzzle weights and scope locks offered with both rifles and both were available as 'carbine' versions.

Weight          7.5 Ibs
Length          39.75 inches

The EX88

The EX88 was the replacement for the Mistral and in its first advertisements, it was called the Mistral EX88. First released in the middle of 1988, it had a short production run as Air Arms were moving out of sidelevers.

It appears that the EX88 was originally designed for the Scandinavian market where it was supplied with a maple stock. UK variants had beech stocks.

The EX88 was supplied without sights and with a brasss trigger. Airgun World reviews of the day couldn't speak highly enough of this rare model.

Weight          7.5 Ibs
Length          39.75 inches

These rifles marked the end of the Air Arms sidelevers and progression into today's superb range of underlevers and PCPs

  Site Map