“Big bore” and “air rifle” are not two combinations I see in a sentence very often, but new releases in the air rifle world are pushing bores and performance higher and higher. Hatsan of Turkey is part of that crowd, having recently released the “Carnivore” line of big-bore air rifles in .30 and .357 (9mm) sizes. When asked if we wanted to review one, we simply could turn down the chance to see if .22LR would finally be knocked off its perch.
*TFB was shipped the .30 version for review.
Out of the Box and First Impressions:
My first thought upon receiving the box was “Holy Smokes! This thing is long!” The box itself was almost 48″ long, which did not fit in my muscle car. I had to recline the front seat to get the box in the car to bring it home and once there, the rifle is about as long as the box would imply. The QE Carnivore is nearly 40″ long with the sound moderator.
However, the heft is solid. Trying to twist various portions of the rifle was met with solid resistance and no squeaking. Balance is directly over the middle rubberized hand supports, which is farther forward than I would like on a firearm, but par for the course with airguns.
The stock itself is a single-piece molded affair with multiple rubber additions to increase handling. The grip also includes rubber inserts. The stock is fully adjustable, putting a PRS to shame in terms of movement, but is harder to adjust. The stock relies on friction for its adjustments. LOP and the comb both rely on two metal rods with flat-head pressure locks. The butt-pad position is adjustable with a hex key.
The receiver itself is a glossy black metal extrusion, milled for its various functions. The rail on top actually has two dovetails to ensure compatibility with most modern scope mounts, picatinny or weaver. The magazine release is forward on the receiver and locks/unlocks HK-style. The bolt itself is in the rear on the right hand side about 3″ above the trigger. The safety is annoyingly on the left-hand side of the receiver and is automatically reset with each shot. This annoyance is compounded as the shooter has to break their form to disengage the safety, which means-follow-up shots take longer with a higher chance of missing.
Also included in the box are wrenches for adjustment, o-rings (which I was happy to see, more on that later), the instruction manual (which is almost all written, would love to see a few more pictures, especially for the complex adjustments and filling), and two magazines (one was installed in the air rifle). The second magazine is a nice touch, as most airguns have had only the one.
Not fully versed in all things airgun, I thought this rifle was going to be like the others previously through for review, going up to 300 PSI using a hand-pump. I was wrong. The Carnivore works on pressures that are greater by orders of magnitude over standard .22 and .17 pellet guns we have previously tested. Looking at the gauge, it was labeled to 3,000 PSI.
Thus, to test the rig, I had to head out and track down a scuba or paintball shop, of which the paintball shops would not fill it due to the unique fill method. One rotates a cover at the end of the tank which reveals a passageway where to fill you stick in a rod with two o-rings to seal and fill the reservoir. This is not an ideal solution ( the paintball shop I went to would not fill it for this reason), which was compounded by marring at one end of the passageway. This cut an o-ring and led to leaking.
Once replaced (replacements were in the box, we went in from the other side and it worked without issue. However, to keep myself shooting, I was forced to rent an 88ci tank and various adapters to transfer air to the reservoir when shooting.
At the Range:
After tracking down a scuba shop (relatively rare in the MidWest USA), I filled up the tank and rented a 4,500 PSI donor system so that I could shoot the Carinivore more than the 21 shots Hatsan claims it will last. Heading to the local indoor range, I set up for accuracy testing using a Hawke 3-9×40 rimfire scope (with 1/4 MOA clicks). All shooting was done in the sitting position, using a Caldwell adjustable front rest and bean bag rear.
Ammunition used for testing was JSB Diablo .30 Match pellets. I shot 3 groups of 7 rounds (using the magazine capacity as the limiter) on standard 5-target sheet. I fired 3 complete courses of fire, re-charging the cylinder and letting it cool to ambient temperature prior to the next string.
Groups varied between .75″ center-to-center and up to 1.4″ maximum spread, normally varying across the vertical plane. This indicates slight inconsistencies in velocity, but they presented themselves only in the last magazine, indicating shooters should use only the first two magazines for ultimate accuracy. Eliminating the last magazine from results, across all three strings of fire, groups averaged .92″ center-to-center. To borrow a technical term, “not to shabby” and more than enough accuracy to take out a squirrel or rabbit at conventional engagement distances.
Noise control from the QE or Quiet Energy system was excellent. Hatsan claims that even at full power, the Carnivore should be less than 100 dB. My ears would agree and when all those “dirty” powder-shooters left and left me to my own devices, I removed my ears and indoors there was nary an issue.
Where the Carnivore really stands out is the trigger. Its a two-stage affair and compared to the Benjamin Armada we reviewed previously, this was a night and day difference. Fully adustable (although a pain to do so), the trigger has a long take-up prior to the second-stage wall. The second stage breaks about 4.5 lbs with little creep. I dare say this is a marksman’s trigger, but its distance from the grip would make short-fingered shooters stretch.
- Accurate – 1″ at 50 Yards which is what I would expect at a minimum from an air rifle.
- Quiet – Hatsan claims less than 100 dB with the Quiet Energy System. When alone in the range by myself, I removed my ears without issue.
- Trigger is excellent. Adjustable two-stage affair. The gold plating is silly, but acceptable.
- Fully adjustable stock for LOP- Comb Height, and Butt Plate Position
- Equal to or greater energy on target than much 22 LR ammunition.
- You are not likely to find .30 cal air rifle ammo anywhere at your local store.
- Rotary magazine is reported to be temperamental in other reviews – make sure to press the pellet so the skirt is fully seated into rotary magazine.
- Unlike Benjamin, the magazine does not notify you of shots remaining, but is decidedly easier to load.
- Lasted all 21 shots on a single tank without issue. Drops noticeably into the 4th magazine.
- Requires a scuba shop or a donor paintball tank to refill. If you do not have one nearby, or are not wanting to invest in the infrastructure needed for a high-PSI air rifle, this is not for you.
- Long air rifle, especially with the included sound moderator.
- I strongly dislike automatic safeties, this one in particular as it requires the shooter to break their shooting grip to engage or disengage.
I am divided on the rifle as a package, principally due to its logistics. It uses .30 pellets, which are hard to source anywhere other than the internet. Then, to get the velocities required on the big bore rounds, it requires a 3,000 PSI source, which means you need the infrastructure or are making exceedingly regular trips to your local scuba-shop which can fill the tank.
If you are an air rifleman and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the platform, I recommend the Carnivore. Its fully adjustable, accurate, and deadly. However, if you are a powder-based rifleman or someone new to air rifles, this is not the platform to invest in on the logistics alone. With 22LR available again in the US, to me, this is niche platform.
For those looking for an air rifle with big-bore capabilities, the Carnivore is an excellent performer. The air rifle pushes .30 caliber pellets subsonic with equal to or greater energy than most 22LR loads. Accuracy is equal to or greater than 22 in most cases, and the report of the air rifle with the moderator is not likely to scare prey, if you miss.