So they said to me, a full power multishot, regulated, side lever action, precision barrelled with power adjuster in .177 or .22 for less than £400 U.K. retail!! And I said .......yeah right, pull the other one.....
Now there are budget pcp’s and there are budget pcp’s but a regulated one with all that spec for less than £400, someone was pulling my leg. Nope it’s the Nova Vista Alpha from the guys at SMK. This one is going to be interesting and surely I’m going to find something wrong with it at this price, with all that lot going on. Let’s start with the spec and walk around as usual.
Well there are two versions of this, the Alpha wood and the Alpha which stands for synthetic. I was firstly attracted to the natural wood version, which is in .22 calibre, the synthetic one is in .177. But you can have “either in either” so to speak. The wood is beech, and there is nothing wrong with that, walnut would put the price up considerably. It is surprisingly well finished and has a really nice feel to it. It is ambidextrous and traditional in style and for me there is nothing wrong with that. It is 1100mm long and weighs in at about 3kg unscoped, and inspite of that length, feels very nicely balanced. The barrel has a shrouded effect and the only down side of this is you can’t simply add a 1/2” unf threaded silencer to it. That said it isn’t overly loud. Below the barrel is the air cylinder, which looks to be bigger than the claimed 200cc, now this is where it gets interesting, you see this thing has a maximum working pressure of 300 bar... yes you heard right, 300 bar. Now that isn’t to be sniffed at, and the gauge which is under the barrel at the front, confirms that and doesn’t go into the red until 300 bar. Surely even a smaller 200cc cylinder at 300 bar is going to push out a reasonably high shot count? When I asked SMK for the figure, they replied, try it! So naturally I did, and after filling it to the max, (well on the gauge on the gun which does read a little high at the side of my divers tank) so I stuck with the gauge on the gun and I started shooting, the final usable shot came after about 280 shots, now it was still hitting hard, but the accuracy did seem to go off a little. But surely enough for most anyone.
But we digress.
The filler port is very Weihrauch esk and is situated under a twisting dust cover at the front. Moving back, we come to a 9-11mm rail, Broken only by the slot for the single shot tray which is supplied or the 10 round magazine, which is also supplied in the box. Near this we find the power adjuster wheel, which is clearly marked H and L for high and low, one thing to bare in mind here is this is not to be used as an infinite wheel, the manual does state move to the high or the low position, not anywhere in between. I must say when I was doing the chrono work on this I expected to see something like just under 12 ft/lb in high and about 6 or 7 ft/lb in low. Well no, it only made about 1 ft/lb difference in either gun and either calibre, so it will slow it down but not by much. Turning it over and staying at the top, we find the side lever cocking arm, which is really very smooth and not at all notchy or grinding as I was expecting. Really nice action and helped also with the free movement of the rubberised arm extension. It clicks very nicely back into place after cocking. Below this is a really nice touch to the smooth sure footed safety, which has a pellet shape in the end of the arm. Nice touch, are they sure this is a sub £400 gun? Below this is the 2 stage trigger, which, whilst a little loose on the first stage, is really quite nice and suited me straight out of the box, but this is a fully adjustable item, so you can make this suit your individual needs.
Back to that magazine, it is a 10 shot item in either .177 or .22 calibres and is a twist round item like a lot of them today, but thankfully it’s not a drop in skirt first loading system. Twist in the direction of the arrow, all the way round, drop in your first pellet, then it will hold the spring in place, then fill up the rest. Dropping this into the gun is a real treat, because it needs a good push and you get a very satisfying click when it’s seated home. Then it’s back to the stock, which is amazingly well finished off for this price range and has no sharp edges or corner cutting workmanship about it. It even has swivels fitted as standard. Tell me how many higher end guns come pre fitted with those. There is also a cushioned rubberised butt pad on the end. This can easily be shot thumbs up or thumbs down, which ever suits the individual.
The other option then is the all black synthetic stock, which again is ambidextrous, traditional in its shape, fitted with swivels and feels much lighter in the hand, personally I would go for the wooden finish, which is about £20 more, but would be my preference. So with this regulator on board, are they any good with regards to power, well naturally it was chrono time.
First up the .177 , which on full power saw a maximum of 800 fps using 8.44 grain JSB’s which equates to 11.94 ft/lb or 16.19 joules...not bad at all. And only saw a spread of 5 fps. On low power setting then, that dropped to 766 fps or 10.95 ft/lb which is 14.84 joules. With a spread of 8 fps.
Onto the .22 then.
Well using 15.89 JSB’s I saw a maximum of 577 fps which was 11.68 ft/lb or 15.84 joules with a spread of 8 fps, now again, these weren’t weighed pellets, so that could account for some of the variance. Onto low power setting then, that saw 545 fps which is 10.42 ft/lb or 14.13 joules and saw the spread drop to 5 fps. Really very respectable figures in my mind.
So can they hit anything. Power setting wound upto full and out at 40m range. Not bad at all. From either calibre. The .177 did slightly better in the target work, which is to be expected really. It did well, inspite of me trying to hinder it somewhat by fitting a really low cost eBay special scope, in an attempt to find out just how low cost can you get a decent pcp for. But even with this scope fitted it held its own very well. The .22 was fitted with a much better quality scope, but I again only fitted a 9x max magnification scope to push it. After all a lot of hunters who would be using the .22 prefer lower magnification scopes. It did comfortably manage the beer bottle top challenge too.
Now in the past people have asked me why I haven’t tried or reviewed certain guns, and there are only ever two reasons, I’ve never got hold of one to try, or I have got hold of one and it was so bad I refused to review it. Now this Alpha up until now was in the first category, I’d never tried it. But after trying it, it will “definitely not” fall into the second category. This thing is unbelievable for the price, the spec, quality, power and ability are not what you expect for this money.
It is a cracking tool, for pest control, target work or pretty much whatever you want to do with this. This is a capable tool indeed.
Try it I think you’ll be very surprised.
see the full review here: