The meat I and my family eat is procured from the wild, and I choose to hunt it with an air rifle. Recently, I found myself in the market for a new rifle and not wishing to dice with the uncertainties of the second hand market, I desired a brand new one. But which one? The market place is awash with offerings but very few within my budget of £250. I went direct to SMK on the strength of their 30 year reputation for affordable rifles, and put my plight to them in writing describing my situation and my needs. The recommendation from them was their flagship model, the SMK TH208 .22, and shortly after, I had one in my possession.
Upon inspection it was quite apparent that here was a rifle that was loaded with the sorts of features I had only seen on those costing nearly twice the £199.95 price tag of the TH208. The first to jump out of course is that thumbhole in the hardwood stock. I am a big fan of this feature due to the way it enables the shooter to comfortably tuck the rifle butt into the shoulder and gain a secure hold.
The Thumbhole Stock is both comfortable and practical.
The light chequering on the foregrip is a welcome bonus and added to my overall impression that this was most certainly an outdoor hunting rifle.
Chequering aids grip in wet conditions.
At the rear of the action, sits an automatic resettable safety. This, for me, is exceptional. I cannot tell you how valuable the ability to reset the safety is in the field and many hunters will attest to the piece of mind gained by being able to make your rifle safe if your quarry evades you.
Moving forward along the action of the TH208, you have a scope arrestor plate fixed to the sight rail. Evidence again of attention to the hunting shooters needs, after all, accuracy is paramount and ensuring your optic doesn't creep and constantly re-checking zero saves a lot of pellets!
The TH208 is finished off at the business end with a barrel weight intended to reduce muzzle flip and enhance accuracy. Yet another feature with the shooter in mind.
Needless to say I was itching to get this equipment out into the field, but as is my habit after only being able to afford second hand rifles, I stripped the gun down and gave the internals a cursory clean and regrease. By doing this, I was able to fully acquaint myself with the essence of the rifle and was most impressed by its simplicity and the workmanship I discovered.
Next, the SMK 3-9x40 mildot scope was mounted on solid Sportsmatch mounts. Now I had an excellent sight picture right out to the limits of my hunting range in a very sturdy looking optic.
I'll admit I struggled at first to get consistent groups until I realised my over exuberant 'breaking' of the barrel had knocked the barrel weight loose. This was quickly remedied by simply tightening the two grubs screws located on the underside and the resultant accuracy was staggeringly good. I later removed the barrel weight in favour of a silencer, but found it needless as it added considerably to the length and muted a muzzle report that was already acceptably low.
I found the factory setting of the trigger to be just a little too far back for my personal taste, but as the trigger is fully adjustable, I had it exactly how I liked it within seconds thanks to the easily accessible screw and found the trigger release to be fast and crisp.
Among the many features, deep blueing like this makes the SMK TH208 exceptional value for money.
The TH208 punched consistently tight groups from 10 yards zero out to 25 yards (the limit of my woodland 'range') with the phenomenal ThUnderBolt .22 zinc pellets that had been supplied. This performance bodes very well as the rifle has yet to settle down and 'bed in' and, hopefully, this shooter will improve too!
The ThUnderbolt .22 Pellets were not only accurate and consistent, they packed a punch too!
The SMK TH208 is capable of putting the pellet exactly where you want it.
Results were equally encouraging over the chronograph with the ThUnderBolts giving low (18fps) fps variation at 10.7 ft/lbs. Ample power for hunting that usually rises over time and with use, therefore, investing in a small chronograph is highly advisable for all airgun owners.
Interestingly the TH208 did not seem to mind which pellets were used unlike some that can be very pellet fussy.
AA Field Diabolos, Bisley Superfields, RWS Superdomes, RWS Superfields, Norica Apaches and SMK Spitfires all grouped very well. I did find that the pellets with smaller heads and thinner skirts fared best and the ThUnderBolts appeared overall to be the perfect match.
The TH208 truly is a pleasure and a joy to shoot. I confess that I probably got carried away with my accuracy, pellet, and power tests, but I firmly blame the TH208 for the enjoyment it imparted, willing me to fire just one more pellet. Be warned, this feeling does not appear to wear off and firing nearly a whole tin of pellets and making small ragged holes in at least one packet of paper targets happens far sooner than you would expect!
I set out to buy a capable hunting rifle. Weight wise, the TH208 is heavy enough to keep the effects of recoil minimised, but still light enough not to wear out your arms and this makes target acquisition very quick and easy indeed. It is sturdy enough to take the numerous knocks and bangs any gun that lives outside of the cabinet can expect to receive and, for me, therein lies its beauty.
Like many others, I wanted a rifle that delivered benefits and features far exceeding its price tag. If you are one of them, you need look no further as I have certainly found it in the SMK TH208.
This time, the proof isn't in the pudding, it is in my dinner!
This is a Hunting Rifle that delivers performance far exceeding the asking price.
Edited by milegajo, 17 August 2012 - 02:43 pm.