The EdGun Leshiy: A Subcompact Air Rifle With Serious Punch
The EdGun Leshiy: A Subcompact Air Rifle With Serious Punch
Editor’s Note: We’d like to welcome Piotr Ma as a contributor here on ITS! In this article, Piotr discusses air guns, which many of our international readers may be familiar with, but some of our US-based readers might be scratching their heads on. As many foreign countries don’t allow firearms ownership, air guns can be a welcome substitute for hunters and target shooters. For the US readers that may already own firearms, air guns might be a perfect addition to their collection, as they’re lightweight and very quiet. However, US readers will need to be aware that certain air guns that are sold internationally may fall under the purview of the National Firearm’s Act and may be subject to a tax stamp, particularly if these air guns are equipped with removable moderators (suppressors). While the gun contained in this article may fall under the NFA and require a tax stamp, we still wanted to present this great write up to all of our readers.
It’s not easy to fully describe the EdGun Leshiy in just a few small words, but if I had to try, I’d say it’s accurate, mobile and full-powered. Unlike some other air rifles, it’s definitely not a toy! Its small size allows it to fit into a small backpack, which makes it a fun gun that you can take anywhere.
Whether it’s a weekend at the cabin, pest control around your farm or just an extended camping trip, the Leshiy is a multipurpose “adult” air rifle. It also just looks sexy as hell; how could you go wrong with that look?
Now after almost six months and thousands of pellets through the barrel, I think I can really put into words why I like it so much. So grab your coffee and let me tell you what I think about the EdGun Leshiy.
The story behind the company EdGun is almost like an “American Dream” come true, but it took place in Russia. The founder, Eduard, wanted to build a pellet gun that would be compact, powerful and amazingly accurate. He started from scratch and in the early 2000’s, showed the airgun world the very first purpose-built bullpup PCP. It was the legendary Matador.
That’s how the whole bullpup airgun craziness started and today, every serious airgun manufacturer offers at least one bullpup model. Still, the Matador wasn’t compact enough for Ed. He went back to the drawing board and created the Lelya. At a 21″ total length, it was the shortest full-power air carbine available at that time; capable of shooting effectively beyond 100 yards!
Just when everyone was sure that nothing new would happen in this industry for years, Ed did it again! This time he unveiled something completely new at the IWA Show 2016 in Germany. Short, powerful, multi-caliber and accurate, his new air rifle was the Leshiy, meaning “forest gnome” in Russian.
I got my Leshiy in late Autumn of 2016, about six months after the release. EdGun is a state-of-the-art manufacturer, but they have certain production limits in place to ensure top quality. This makes getting an EdGun neither easy nor cheap. The Leshiy will hit your wallet at almost $1,300. Add a good scope, rings, bipod, ammo and your setup easily exceeds $2,000. That being said, there’s nothing else like it!
For starters, it folds completely in half, making it ultra mobile. The front chassis contains the barrel with integral moderator (suppressor), grip, trigger with hammer mechanism and two Weaver rails. The back is a high pressure unit with an air tube (up to 300 bar), regulator, actual shooting valve, manometer, filling port and butt-plate.
The chassis is fully CNC machined out of a large block of aircraft aluminum and the hinge element attaching the pressure cylinder is made exactly the same way. You may be wondering if the design means the gun is solid, well take my word for it, it’s more solid than any other PCP airgun I’ve ever tried and I’ve tried a lot of them! In the shooting position, it’s just like one chunk of solid metal, overbuilt in each and every respect. It’s actually hard to describe what it’s like without actually holding one yourself; it’s just solid all around.
Something interesting about the Leshiy is the multiple calibers it supports. You can purchase extra barrels and easily change them to all popular air gun calibers, including .177, .20, .22, .25. It takes maybe 2 minutes to change the barrel and all you need is one hex wrench. Tuning the muzzle energy of the barrel after the swap is easy, via a hammer spring screw under the moderator. You can run 17 Joule off the muzzle in .177 for target shooting and within minutes you can make it massive 60 Joule in .25 cal for serious pest control. Actual FPS is of course a consequence of the caliber and ammo used, but as a reference you can adjust it up to about 950 fps.
This spring screw clicks on rotation, so it’s easy to dial-in from one setting to another. Something I really like is that you can also change barrel lengths (from 10” to 14”) for better long range accuracy and higher speed. All you need to do is purchase a 4” moderator tube extender. Of course, this means you’ll be giving up the subcompact size. Lastly on the barrel, these are top-notch units made by Lothar Walther, so accuracy is guaranteed.
At the low to mid power setting, the Leshiy is ultra-quiet and neighbor friendly. Hitting a solid target is actually louder than muzzle report itself. In fact, with a 350mm barrel, the muzzle report should be inaudible beyond 15 meters from shooter. Yes, it’s that effective! At a higher power setting, you should expect some muzzle “puff” of course, but it’s still massively less than .22 LR report.
The moderator insert plays key role in taming noise and it does the job really well. It’s also easy to disassemble for barrel cleaning and fits inside the barrel extension when using 350mm barrel. Trust me, sending a .25cal pellet silently at high speed is a lot of fun.
The purpose of the top rail on the Leshiy is obvious and it makes mounting a scope a breeze. However, keep in mind that for a long scope you’ll need high rings, as the moderator line is about 6mm above the scope rail. Just be sure to do your math when selecting a mount. I use the bottom rail for a bipod (mostly) but of course, it also accepts a flashlight or grip, as pictured above.
It’s All About the Size
The Leshiy is short! However, it’s not a bullpup, which is good news as it shoots like a classic rifle. So there’s no need to squeeze the torso/arms into position, as is very often the case with ultra-short bullpups. As a result, it’s really easy to aim, hold and shoot off hand. Another benefit is scope selection; you can slap any reasonably sized scope onto the Leshiy, as it’s not as picky scope-wise as a bullpup gun.
However, when folded, the Leshiy can be carried inside virtually any backpack. My full “weekend shooting kit” (above) fits inside a small Mystery Ranch Hitchhiker and includes a buddy bottle (gives a few extra air fills), filling connector, actual gun with long barrel installed, bipod, lots of ammo and mandatory ITS Tallboy ETA Trauma Kit Pouch. After all that, there’s still enough room for extra stuff like a Spartan folder or a rangefinder.
Side Note: I usually use Bore Stores P-5 gun case as an additional gun protection inside my pack. It’s US-made in Arizona, actively rust preventing, featherlight, truly protective and at $12 it’s an unbelievable value! It’s a true American family business with good people behind it.
Loading and Shooting
The Leshiy is a single-shot affair. Just break the stock to the left and it cocks the hammer at the same time it resets the safety. (Note: you need to fold it fully 180 degrees to reset the safety). Load the pellet directly into the barrel, close the gun and you’re ready to fire. I actually prefer single loaders, as it makes every shot count. I don’t like to rush my shooting.
Due to the single-shot only configuration, this isn’t an airgun optimized for speedy backup shots. It’s more like an old-school single shot rifle. One shot, one hit. So if you dig guns like the Thompson/Center Contender or falling-block rifles (like the one used by Mickey Rourke in ‘The Last Outlaw’ movie) then the Leshiy is perfect for you. Open it, load directly into the barrel, close, aim, hold and precisely deliver a single chunk of lead at high speed!
Many people think PCP’s don’t recoil. Wrong! It’s recoilless, meaning that it recoils… just less. At ranges of 50 yards or more, recoil can play a significant role. The Leshiy is a lightweight platform at under 4 lbs. (scoped). Compare that to other air rifles like the Matador (about 6lbs. scoped) or the FX Bobcat (above 8 lbs.) At higher energy levels and with bigger calibers, recoil becomes an important factor.
Now let’s examine recoil on most PCPs. The hammer strikes towards the front of the gun and when it hits a valve, the gun recoils “to the front.” Then, milliseconds later, a pellet travels up the barrel and the gun recoils “to the back.” That change of the recoil’s direction causes most problems on precision high power airguns. However, recoil on the Leshiy is very different as it’s unidirectional. There is no erratic “whiplash effect.”
The hammer strikes a valve towards the back so the Leshiy recoils initially to the back. Then, the pellet accelerates towards the muzzle, with recoil smoothly continuing in the same direction. It’s a unidirectional smooth recoil, which combined with the lightweight trigger (equipped with an over-travel stop screw) adds a lot to the overall accuracy. That’s one of the reasons why the Leshiy shoots so well off-handed. I can clearly see that in my .22 cal, but it should be even more evident if you go for the .25 cal version.
Setup One – AR-Style Scope
If you plan to shoot at distances within 50 yards, I recommend a good AR-style scope like my SWFA 1-4×24 with MilQuad reticle. However, this kind of setup isn’t optimized for long range shooting and accuracy beyond 50 yards is clearly crippled by magnification. Though for pest control and “power plinking” fun, it’s awesome.
The ammo I’ve been testing with is JSB’s Exact ammo. This includes the 16gr, 18gr and all sub-variants of 5.50mm, 5.51mm and 5.52mm. I’ve found that the 5.52mm variant works best for me. With a solid bipod, Vortex rangefinder, ballistic app (STRELOK PRO) and perfectly calibrated turrets (SWFA scopes are dead solid in this regard) the trajectory was not an issue at all. Just measure, dial in (or use reticle) and shoot dead center. As you can see in the photo above, at a distance of 25 yards, my groups are about half an inch, with some groups even below that.
At a distance of 50 yards, the scope set at 4x was okay, but it was on the edge of usability. The SWFA 1-4×24 Classic Tactical has a very airgun friendly reticle with a diamond in the center. At that distance, I could perfectly bracket the 2” Birchwood Casey targets in my diamond and it worked great; much better than I expected. In addition to the reticle, the size and shape of my targets helped me tremendously. It’d be much harder with smaller (below 1 inch) or less contrasted targets. Usual grouping was below one inch, so I’m sure at high power settings in .22 or .25 cal, it could be a devastating pest control machine in a good shooter’s hands.
Setup Two – Precise Parallax Adjustable Scope
Now let’s try an airgun-optimized Hawke Airmax 2-7×32 with an ultra-fine AMX half-mil-dot reticle and parallax adjustment. The glass-etched reticle is very fine, perfect for precise shooting. However, I’d guess that in a thick forest it wouldn’t be good for hunters without reticle illumination. The turrets are fine for zeroing, but I wouldn’t trust them as a dial-in instrument because they’re not in the same class quality wise as the SWFA.
The glass is surprisingly clear, bright and crisp though and the adjustable objective is a blessing at 7x magnification too. It’s not Nightforce or Leupold glass, but for my needs (and my wallet’s needs) it ticks all the boxes. It’s also quite compact. Notice that I put the bipod in a reverse position to move the legs as far forward as possible to make my shooting position even more stable. Above you’ll see my 5-shot groupings at about 25 yards. With 7x magnification and a superfine reticle, it was such a pleasure to shoot and it’s easily visible in my groups. The outer diameters are 8mm, 12mm and 13mm which makes the c-t-c (center to center) measurements 3mm, 7mm and 8mm. While the smallest one definitely had some luck at play, it still counts at the end of the day!
Now it was time for a 50 yard check with the Hawke. I’d gotten used to Leshiy/Hawke combo, but then changed to some UTG mounts, so the clearance of scope-to-gun was below 0.1 inch. Weather was perfect on that day; dry, overcast and with no wind. The majority of my 5-shot groups were below 20mm diameter (which means about 15mm c-t-c). That’s plenty tight!
I believe I could still shave 1-2mm with the optional 350mm barrel in .177 target caliber. So it’s safe to say there’s definitely some serious potential in the Leshiy. It may be small, but it’s as accurate and hits as hard as any full-size air rifle.
Shot Count and Fine Tuning
The Leshiy is quite easy to adjust for speed with both regulator adjustment and hammer spring fine tuning. I fill mine with air to 250bar. You can go up to 300bar, but it only gives you a few extra shots and with 300bar in my filling tank, it would be impossible to always fill the Leshiy to the same pressure. Essentially, every couple of fills I’d have less shots and I prefer one firm number.
I tried the 17J power setting (EU standard) and with 95 bar set on the regulator, I got 46 shots with a velocity spread below 4%. (Editor’s Note: Velocity spread references the FPS the projectile travels, as it can vary with air-powered guns.) That’s great performance considering the tiny air tank onboard. I’m sure I could get even better performance with regulator pressure adjusted down to 90 bar and longer 350mm barrel.
However there’s one more option, which can increase this number even more and that’s a Huma-Air custom made regulator. This optional Huma regulator took 5 minutes to install with no tools required and I was able to get an impressive 54 shots with a velocity variance below 3% from this tiny setup. Those numbers aren’t something I got on paper from Ed or Huma, either. I measured it myself, so I say that with full confidence.
Regarding Huma vs. EdGun regulators, the original EdGun one is definitely proven and very rugged. Huma’s is smaller (meaning more space for air) and very easy to fine tune. So it’s up to you to decide if the addition of about 20% in shots (8 shots in my case) is worth spending $115 on it. On a side note, I’ve heard that a high-pressure airgun pump can fill Leshiy in just 40 strokes. This wouldn’t be a bad backup option and I’ll probably buy one and keep it at my country cabin.
Cold Weather Performance
I didn’t notice any variance in velocity when shooting in moderate winter conditions. Shooting at freezing and below freezing temperatures isn’t a problem if you don’t mind loading pellets with bare hands. Just one piece of advice though, get some GearSkin or other wrap tape and make use of it. It has a way nicer cheek weld now and looks good too! Pictured above is my current winter-ready setup.
You can use other scopes as well. This includes even full-size tactical scopes if you want. The main image in this article is my Leshiy with the classic Leupold 3-9×33 EFR with Alumina covers and a 1-piece Vortex mount. It’s not bad setup actually and I’ll keep it this way for some long range 350mm barrel testing.
In closing, like I mentioned above, the EdGun Leshiy is extremely accurate and mobile, while still being full-powered. If you’re looking for a quiet gun for a purpose or just for fun, look no further.
Editor’s Note: Piotr Ma is an avid outdoorsman, adventurer, mountaineer and certified open sea sailor. As an enthusiast of quality gear, he’s always seeking the most un-compromised and best performing gear available worldwide. He’s also known as an edged tools specialist. Piotr was introduced to his adventurous lifestyle when he was 10 by his father, a certified sailor and alpine-style climber. Now he continues his family tradition and shows his kids how to live a full life in the great outdoors; teaching them survival skills, shooting and archery. These days, he gladly shares his 30+ years of outdoor experience with people around the globe from his current location: Poland, European Union.