You know them for their powerful sporting PCPs, but in 2014 AirForce Airguns is bringing three new survival air rifles to marketâthe Escape series! Say survival these days, and people imagine the Hollywood image of zombies and world-ending comets. Neither of which has ever happened in all of recorded history. Yet, each year there are hundreds of real events all around the globe that thrust millions of people into real survival situations. Earthquakes, fires, floods, tornados, tsunamis, blizzards and hurricanes are all too real and kill thousands of people who arenât prepared to last until help arrives.
Survival means you have the ability to hold out (eat, drink, stay warm and safe) for at least 3 days until emergency services get organized. And it can often be much longer than thatâjust ask anyone from New Orleans. In a real survival situation, you arenât going up against lions, tigers and bears (oh, my!) unless you live in a zoo or in places like the Pacific Northwest. But you may have a chance to hunt deer, feral hogs (especially in the South and Southwest!) and other food animals.
Ton Jones, star of the popular Auction Hunters TV show, was raised in the high desert of southern California, giving him an appreciation for wildlife and the real outdoors. One of the things he does is present survival training at sporting goods venues around the nation. As part of his presentations, he likes to show people the equipment he has learned to trust. Until now, an airgun was missing from his
equipment because there wasnât one that did all he wanted. Thatâs where the Escape comes in.
On a hunting trip last year with AirForce owner John McCaslin, Ton mentioned the lack of a survival airgun and asked John if putting a longer barrel on the TalonP air pistol might boost its power significantly. John agreed, and the Escape rifle series was born!
There are three separate models in this seriesâthe Escape, the Escape UL (for ultra light) and the EscapeSS, which is the version with baffles in the shroud to quiet the report. All three rifles come in both .22 and .25 calibers. Although they will accept AirForce barrels in other calibers, it isnât recommended because of the interaction with the special Escape valve.
Ton wanted the most power possible from a smallbore air rifle and still be feasible to pump with a hand pump in the fi eld. The TalonP has a small 213cc air reservoir that makes it easier to fill from a hand pump. Of course, the shot count is less than with a larger reservoir, but Ton wasnât looking for lots of shots. He only wanted one-shot kills with power and accuracy. And he got it. A .25-caliber Escape with a 24-inch Lothar Walther barrel will generate 97.88 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle! Thatâs a 43.2-grain Eun Jin pellet moving out at 1010 f.p.s. That should be expected, though, because the TalonP pistol with just a 12-inch barrel already gets over 55 foot-pounds with the same pellet.
He spent several days at the AirForce facility in Fort Worth testing the new rifle during development. Not only did he test the power but also the accuracy of the new gun. Heâs so pleased with the Escapeâs performance that heâs agreed to put his logo on the rifle. He says itâs light enough for anyone to carry all day and powerful enough to get the job done.
Expect some recoil
The Escape puts out over 80 percent of the power of a .22 long rifle round. Shooting it is similar to shooting a rimfire. It recoils, and the discharge is similar to a rimfire, though more prolonged and not as sharp. Those familiar with the Condor will have to reassess what they know about air rifles when they shoot the Escape. Itâs powerful, loud and built to get the job doneâperiod. Itâs not a backyard plinker. AirForce wanted to see what the penetration was like, so they built several wooden targets, but pellets from the Escape just destroyed them and kept on going.
I wanted to see what the Escape would do firsthand. I already knew it had smashing power, but could such a beast be accurate, too? Wellâyes, it can! I shot several 50-yard, 5-shot groups with JSB Exact
Two more Escapes
The other two Escape rifles have shorter barrels, so their power is less than the Escape but still more than the Condor. The EscapeUL has an 18-inch barrel thatâs also thinner to further reduce weight. The rifle weighs just 4.25 lbs. by itself; yet in .25 caliber, it outputs up to 79.46 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Itâs several inches shorter and several pounds lighter than a Condor, yet produces about 15 foot-pounds more muzzle energy.
The EscapeSS has a shrouded 12-inch barrel inside a long frame thatâs filled with three high-tech plastic baffles. Theyâre a tight fit inside the frame of the gun, and a Belleville washer keeps tension on them so thereâs no rattling sound.
While the EscapeSS has a reduced report, donât think of it as the perfect backyard plinker for suburbia. Unless you also shoot .22 rimfire in your backyard, treat this little rifle like it belongs in the field! With a maximum power above 55 foot-pounds (the same as the TalonP pistol), the .25-caliber EscapeSS is a serious hunting airgun. Those baffles in the frame just take some of the edge off the report.
Speaking of calibers
Iâve reported only the performance of the .25-caliber rifl es. The .22 rifles are lower in power because the heaviest pellets in that caliber are much lighter than those in .25. The Escape in .22 shoots a 32.4-grain Eun Jin pellet at 971 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 67.85 foot-pounds. Expect the other two rifles to perform similarly.
These three air rifles are not for casual shooters. A Condor gives more flexibility, and a Talon SS is better suited to suburban shooting. These three are for shooters who want to get off the grid and avoid ammo shortages, high prices and every other civilized encumbrance. For those who want to just grab it and go, here are three affordable choices for serious airgun hunting.
|.22 & .25
|34.5â â 39â
|. 22 & .25
|27.75â â 32.25â
|.22 & .25
|28.5â â 33â