Hunting with the Hatsan Sortie Air Pistol
May 22, 2018
The Sortie is a pre-charged pneumatic repeating air pistol. It has a circular magazine that holds 14 pellets in .177 and 12 in .22. Is there a .25? Not that I know of, but if the Sortie is received well, I would think it would be in the works.
The air reservoir is 62cc, which is on the small side. Rather than being bad, that's actually a good thing because this pistol will be easier to fill from a hand pump. I will test that for you. The gun operates on a 200-bar fill (2,900 psi).
The Sortie is not super-powerful. There are smallbore pistols that top 50 foot-pounds, but the Sortie isn't one of them. It's a nice shooter that the manufacturer claims will develop about 12 foot-pounds in .177. If that's true, I expect it to be over 13 foot-pounds in .22, but that's why I test these guns.
Perhaps the biggest thing the Sortie offers is semiautomatic operation. Every time you squeeze the trigger, it fires a pellet, until they are exhausted. I was most interested in this. Is it a true semiauto that cocks itself after each shot, or are they calling an airgun with a double-action-only mechanism a semiauto, thinking most people won't know the difference?
If you think the Sortie looks big, that's no illusion. The pistol is 16.5 inches long and weighs 4¾ pounds. You know you're holding something. There is a second place for a hand to grip, forward of the trigger. I think Hatsan made it for hunters, and I can already hear the question - does it have a shoulder stock? Not yet.
The pistol is all black with a synthetic stock/pistol grip. The grip is sculpted for a right-handed shooter, and I have to say a lefty will not be at all comfortable with this grip. The grip fits my medium-sized hand quite well.
The Sortie comes with open sights that are adjustable in both directions. They are fiber optic, which makes sense on a hunting gun. I tested it with open sights first, but at 10 meters I couldn't get the pellets high enough to hit the aim point. At longer ranges, I will want a scope, so that's where I'm heading.
There is a scope rail on top of the receiver, and it's Hatsan's rail that accepts both 11mm and Weaver-type scope ring bases. At the Texas airgun show, the Sortie they had was sporting a holographic dot sight. I am going to have to get one of those because more and more airgunners want to put dot sights on their air pistols. The shorter holographic sight seems to be the best way to go. All my dot sights have long tubes that do better on rifles.
The reservoir volume is 62 cc, so the air charge is small. That makes this pistol a perfect candidate for a hand pump. The Sortie takes a fill to 200 bar, which is 2,900 psi. I will fill it with an Air Venturi G6 hand pump and describe that process.
Hatsan put a plastic plug in the port for the fill probe to keep the gun clean between fills. Remember to put it back after you fill.
The Sortie arrived with a partial fill to keep the valves shut. I filled it from a tank for the first set of shooting. I filled to 3,000 psi, because some pressure is lost in the line bleed and more goes from the heat of compression.
I tested the pistol with several pellets for velocity, to give you an idea of the potential power, but for accuracy, I will focus on the best pellet.
The first pellet I tried was the venerable .22 caliber RWS Superdome. Ten of them averaged 681 fps. That's 14.94 foot-pounds at the muzzle, so this Sortie is hotter than advertised. They ranged from 674 to 687 fps, so a spread of 13 fps.
I should mention that the magazine loads the first round from the back. After that, flip the mag over and rotate the clear plastic cover to the other 11 holes and load nose-first. It's a little off, but once I got used to it, it was okay. It isn't my favorite feature.
H&N Field Target Trophy (5.55mm)
Next, I loaded 10 H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. These have a 5.55mm head, so they are big! They averaged 658 fps, but the Sortie came off the power band after the fifth shot in this second string, which was the fifteenth shot following the fill. Let me show you all the velocities, so you can see what I saw.
At the average velocity, the FTT generated 14.1 foot-pounds. The spread went from 643 to 672 fps, so 29 fps.
All the velocities in this string are good enough for accuracy, so I will say the Sortie has a shot count of at least 20 per fill. Given the small reservoir, that's very good.
At the end of this string, I saw that the onboard pressure gauge was at the bottom of the green. That indicates it's time for a refill.
I refilled the pistol using an Air Venturi G6 hand pump. It took a few strokes to fill the hose to the same pressure that was in the reservoir. The pump gauge said that was 1800 psi. Then, just 60 more strokes filled it to 3000. I'm 70 years old, and this is easy for me, so judge for yourself whether you want to fill with a hand pump.
JSB Exact RS
The final pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. Given the power of the Sortie, this was the first pellet I thought of using. Ten averaged 690 fps with a 17 fps spread from 680 to 697 fps. At the average velocity, the RS pellet generated 14.2 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
No doubt about it, the Sortie is not silenced in any way. It makes a solid "bang" on the too-loud-for-Suburbia noise scale. It won't deafen you, but everyone will know something has happened when you shoot.
Is This A Semiautomatic?
One question I had before the test was whether the Sortie is a true semiautomatic pistol or just a double-action revolver? Many airguns that are called semi-auto are really just double-action-only revolvers under the skin. I'm pleased to tell you that this one is the real deal! You're getting what you're paying for. However, the trigger needs to be understood.
The Sortie trigger is two-stage. However, stage two has a lot of travel, almost like a single-stage trigger. Stage two breaks at 3 lbs. 14 oz., so the pull isn't too heavy. It's something you will get used to.
Shooting With A Scope
Several of my blog readers wondered how the pistol could be held to shoot with a rifle scope attached. I didn't want to try a pistol scope because of the weight of the pistol, and you know the eye relief with a rifle scope is about three inches or less, so how can that work? Let's look at that now.
I mounted a UTG 10X44 Mini SWAT scope on the Sortie. To attach it to the pistol, I needed to cancel some barrel droop. I used the Weaver rings that come with the scope and attached them to a BKL 4-inch, 11mm-to-Weaver Cantilever Base that both cancelled the barrel droop and clamped to the 11 dovetail base on the pistol's receiver. The Sortie magazine sticks up above the top of the receiver, and this base allowed me to extend the scope rings behind it.
I learned how to hold a scoped pistol this way back when I had a Crosman Mark I that had been modified by Mac-1. It had a 12-inch barrel and a 3.5-ounce CO2 bottle hanging below the grip, and holding the scope was the only way to hold the pistol steady.
I had already sighted in the pistol, so all I had to do was fill it and load the magazine. I will note that the scope base is a little out of alignment, and the pistol shot to the left with the scope adjusted as far to the right as it could be adjusted. If this were my gun, I would need to find an adjustable scope mount to replace the UTG rings.
Having shown you my field hold, I now have to confess that isn't the way I test an airgun for accuracy. I do that on a rest or a bag, if possible. We're testing the gun, not Tom!
I shot at 25 yards, with the Sortie resting directly on a sandbag. I filled after each 10-shot group.
Best Pellet -- Baracuda With 5.50mm Head
Hatsan sent me several pellets to test in the Sortie. The H&N Baracuda with a 5.50mm head was the most accurate by far. On the third shot, I knew it was going to be a winner, because they were all going into the same hole. On the best group, 10 shots went into 0.681 inches at 25 yards. I guess this is the pellet for the Sortie! Hatsan knows best.
Summary And Evaluation
Well, this was an interesting test! The Hatsan Sortie semiautomatic pistol is both powerful and accurate. The open sights don't do much for it, but when scoped with a rifle scope, it's a small rifle.
The trigger is long and takes getting used to, but it's worth the effort. The pistol fills to 2,900 psi with a proprietary probe, and you get about 15 good shots per fill. The discharge sound is loud, but not annoying.
There aren't many air pistols in this power class, and certainly not any semiautomatics. If that's your cup of tea, this one's for you.
My thanks to Hatsan U.S.A. for providing the pistol and ammo for this test. I also thank Leapers for providing the UTG scope and BKL for the scope base that saved the day.