When I bought my Gladius a few months back from Airgun Depot, it came as a package deal with a Hawke Vantage IR 4-12×50 AO Mil-Dot illuminated scope with a 1″ tube [Model 14252]. I had heard some good reports about Hawke so I figured I would give the scope a chance. It is bright, clear and decent eye relief (3.5″). The controls all turn easily and I really prefer adjustable objective scopes (AO) for air rifles. It lets me focus and get a range estimate of the target. Most of my shooting is at 10 yards but I do stretch out further at times.
Oddly enough, the Gladius does not have a standard Picatinny rail on top but rather some odd interpretation Hatsan came up with that allows the use of either Picatinny 22mm rings or 11mm dovetail rings. It looks odd but it works. Personally, I just wish they did a standard Picatinny rail on top vs. both but that’s just me.
First off, I looked at lots of photos of the Gladius and other bullpups and was rather surprised how high guys mounted the scope. An air rifle is still beholden to the laws of physics and trajectories. A scope mount should be as low as possible for two reasons: First and foremost, it causes less parallax. Just think about it this way, the higher the right triangle from your eye to the muzzle, the steeper the angle and the greater the change over a given distance. Second, a lower scope tends to enable a more consistent cheek weld getting the shooter to be more accurate. If you line up differently behind the scope each time, your point of impact will differ. Consistent cheek weld and alignment behind the scope matter.
So, rather than use the high 11 mm Beeman rings that Airgun Depot sent me, I used a pair of low profile UTG RQ2W1104 LE Grade rings. I have used many UTG rings over the years and find them to work fine in non-precision situations. If I am doing a target rifle, I’ll use true precision machined rings from companies such as Vortex. In this case, UTG would work just fine and I used their quick release rings which are nice when you want to get the scope off the rifle in a hurry. What is important is that they need to be snug, Tighten the adjustment screws so you get a nice solid lock up.
Now you may be wondering why I am using low profile rings with a 50mm scope and its because of the big scope mount riser that Hatsan put on the rifle. It’s just fine for the front objective to extend down lower than the rings because of the riser and the rear eye piece clears just fine. This is what lets the scope get closer to the center line of the barrel.
With this set up the center of the scope is 2-1/4-3/8″ from the center of the bore.
I spent the extra money on the Gladius thinking I would need to adjust the cheekpiece but I actually get a real nice cheekweld with this set up. I have almost 250 pellets through the rifle and everything is working fine. The scope and rings are holding zero no problem and I have adjusted the AO and power knob countless times. On some scopes this would be the kiss of death but the Hawke has handled all the adjustments just fine.
The rifle cylinder you see has a regulated cylinder at 130 bar and is getting sub 1/2″ groups at 10 yards with 18.3 grain JSB Jumbo Diabolo Heavy Exact pellets and handles pests no problem.
Normally I would use a Vortex scope but I am quite pleased with the Hawke Vantage II.
Note, I didn’t list the sizes on the Butler Scope caps. The front is too lose and I need to find something better as it wants to come off vs. flipping open right now. That will be a future post.
2/22/2018 Update: The scope and rings are holding up great. I have no complaints at all. The Gladius is an excellent rifle and this combo of rifle, rings and scope have really proven themselves to me. I have not had any problems at all with the scope holding zero.
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Features: 11 layer fully multi-coated optics for excellent clarity / Adjustable objective for parallax correction, 1 inch mono-tube chassis for superior strength, Glass etched reticle with red and green illumination / Rheostat on saddle offers 5 levels of brightness, 1/4 MOA low profile ‘no-snag’ fingertip turrets, Fast focus eyebell and high torque zoom ring
Long Range, Low-Light Shooting
Designed for long-range shooting, especially in low-light conditions, the Hawke Sports Optics 4-12×50 Vantage AO IR Riflescope boasts a large objective to draw in generous amounts of light to allow its use at dawn and dusk, or in heavily canopied areas. To further improve the scope’s performance, all of its optical surfaces are fully multi-coated to boost light transmission and improve color fidelity, contrast, and image brightness.
Mil Dot Illuminated Reticle
The classic Mil Dot features multiple aim points for hold-over and hold-under. Accurate mil spacing on 10x, featuring 4 Mil Dots in each direction. Glass etched reticle that has 5 brightness levels of illumination in both red and green, or can be turned off for a solid black reticle.
11 layer fully multi-coated optics for excellent clarity
Adjustable objective for parallax correction
1 inch mono-tube chassis for superior strength
Glass etched reticle with red and green illumination
Rheostat on saddle offers 5 levels of brightness
1/4 MOA low profile no-snag fingertip turrets
Fast focus eyebell and high torque zoom ring
Chassis: 1″ Mono-tube
Optical System: 4-12x
Reticle: Mil Dot Center
Illumination: Red / Green – 5 Levels
Focus/Parallax: Adjustable Objective – 9m / 10yds to Infinity
Field of View (m @100m / ft @100yds): 8.7 – 2.9m / 26.2 – 8.7ft
I’ve been using a RWS Diana 34P for pest control for two years and wanted to get something without the recoil / spring bounce, had plenty of power, was quiet and also had a quick follow up shot. To explain two points – a spring pistol air rifle has a rather bizarre recoil caused first by the spring triggering forward and then the pellet being pushed out the barrel. This requires a particular way of holding the rifle to be accurate wherein it can actually move. This is known as an artillery hold. The other issue has to do with the follow up shot. Now I got pretty good at taking a shot, whipping the 34P around while breaking the barrel open and using a pellet pen to insert the next round. However, that all takes time and you lose sight of whatever critter you are trying to get – in my case it comes down to tree squirrels, ground squirrels and rabbits.
So, a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) seemed to make a lot of sense to me and the first hurdle was to figure out how to charge it in a rural area. After a bunch of reading, I decided to buy a Hill Mk4 hand pump so that part was covered (click here for my review of it). The next question became, which PCP rifle to get. On the low priced, quiet, effective and very popular side was the Benjamin Marauder. The only reason I did not buy it was that I wanted something smaller. I considered the pistol version of the Marauder but wanted a longer barrel to improve energy and accuracy. I must admit that I may get one or the other of those some day in the future.
What really caught my eye was the large selection of bullpup air rifles. I’ve always liked bullpups because they are relatively compact and balance well. There are a ton of very well rated bullpups including models from Vulcan, Kaliber, Taipan and FX. I also ran across two offerings from Hatsan – the BullBoss and the Gladius. They are very similar except the Gladius has an adjustable cheek rest, recoil pad for length of pull and vertical placement, power adjustment and the magazine carrier in the stock. The plus for the BullBoss is that it is 1.1 pounds lighter as a result. I opted for the Gladius due to the adjustability.
The Gladius comes in three calibers and two lengths. Long ago I switched from .177 to .22 for pest control and knew I wanted a .22. They have a .25 model but given that I already have a ton of different pellets to test from JSB, Crosman, and so forth, I didn’t want to add yet another caliber. I learned this long ago with firearms – each new caliber brings with it a lot of testing and learning just about what works and what does not. It’s not as simple as just buying one tin of pellets and you are good to go – you need to be able to test and see what is best for accuracy and even for a given application. Also, I went with the Long model – it has a barrel that is about 3″ longer and that gets you approximately an additional 100 Feet Per Second (FPS) and 7 more Foot Pounds of Energy (FPE).
I went ahead and bought the Gladius due to the adjustable stock and power settings. I’m glad I did because I really like to get the stock just right so that when I bring the rifle to bear the scope is just where I want it to be to get a full sight picture and have a consistent cheek weld. What is also nice about the Gladius is that it comes with a fitted hard case and four magazines total.
So the rifle showed up and I immediately mounted the Hawke 4-12×50 Mil Dot AO scope and took a couple of pictures. I’ll do another blog post about the scope and rings later but you get the idea.
As a side note, guys reported that when you receive it, you can’t tell which side of the case is the top. You know what? They are right. It was pure luck that I opened mine top up. I took a silver sharpie and wrote a small stylized “T” on the top so I could find it going forward.
Now another thing I like about the Gladius is that the pressure cylinder can be swapped while under pressure. I had seriously debated how to quickly charge the rifle if I needed to. Actual PCP tanks are expensive and the spare cylinders are only $159. Interesting enough, if you look at the case above, it has a cut out for a spare cylinder under the rifle. Right now, I’m debating whether to use that for a tanks or a Lead Dust Collector (LDC) which is airgun speak for a moderator, which would be in addition to the stock suppressor that is integral with the shroud. Out of the box, the Hatsan comes with the “probe” you will need to pump air into the cylinder. It screwed right onto my Hill Mk4 pump so there were no additional adapter fees. Here is the cylinder with Hill pump:
This is the end that screws into the rifle. The supports are nicely done and guide it into position without any trickery needed.
This is the fill port. The cylinder’s gauge is on the end and graduated in bars. The cylinder and rifle are rated for up to 200 bar, which is 2900.75 PSI.
In the following photo you can see the power selector, thje empty breach where the brass rod is and the magazine locking lever just forward of that. Note, to turn the power knob, you need to push the release button on the other side to push the knob out away from a set screw that prevents it from accidentally turning.
I find the safety really easy to use. You simply slide the blade forward with your trigger finger and you are ready to go. I appreciate things you can do by feel without having to fumble around and look. The Gladius has the Hatsan Quattro trigger and you can adjust it. I’m just using it as is right now. There is a long pull but you can feel the resistance increase before the trigger breaks with not too bad of a pull. I’ll play with it at some point.
Here you can see the adjustable buttpad and spare mags in their carriers. You undo the screw with the supplied screw driver and pull it out however far you want. I just needed to pull it out a bit.
I ran two cleaning patches down the bore to remove crud. The first one had dirt and oil on it. The second was much better.
I then loaded up a magazine with 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Diablo 18.13gr pellets and loaded the magazine into the rifle. You load from the back (the first photo) and seat the pellets all the way. I then flipped it over so you can see the front in the second photo.
I got excited and shot 20-30 pellets before I realized I didn’t take any photos. On power level 6 it was loud. I’d heard to try 3 and 4. I started with 4 and got it down to about 1/2″ groups. I would shoot 4-5 pellets and then pump up the rifle and then do it again. The below is on power setting three which is fairly quiet (not great but good enough) and it had enough power to take out a rabbit and two tree squirrels at 30-45 feet. The following photo is at the end of sighting the rifle in. I’d stuck new Splatterburst stickers on my target and was three bullseyes with three shots. That was good enough for me. In a future post, I’ll do more groups and post them.
So, this is my first take. I like the rifle. It’s heavy but that works for me because the weight of the rifle absorbs my tremor. Accuracy sure seems solid. Next up on my to-do list is to install Huma regulators on both of my air cylinders and to get an additional moderator to quiet it down a bit more. I’ll get to the trigger some time but it is good enough for now.
Short answer – I like it. If I had it to do over, I would have waited on the spare cylinder and the regulators and bought an additional LDC instead to quiet it down a bit more. No big regrets for sure – I’m just very impressed with what this is doing out of the box is all. The pump is also way easier than I expected too – kudos to Hatsan for a fine rifle and Hill on a very fine air pump.
January 27, 2018 Update: I am very happy with this rifle. It hits harder than any air rifle I have ever owned. The accuracy is great and I have no problem taking care of pests. The Hawke scope is holding zero also. Note, the picatinny rings have worked great. What I have come to realize is that Hatsan made a hybrid rail such that the little airgun dovetail rings will work or Picatinny rings. The rifle really likes JSB Jumbo Exact 18.3 grain pellets, a power setting of four and the pressure between 160-190 BAR if unregulated.
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Hatsan Gladius at Air Depot – I bought my Gladius Long model here and got the bundle with the Hawke Scope. I didn’t get the one with the AV pump as I wanted to buy a Hill and they couldn’t change the bundle. Also, I bought low profile UTG rings separately and I will comment on the scope set up more in another post.