Gamo Hunter Extreme - Part 3
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we'll look at the accuracy potential of the Gamo Hunter Extreme. The target was placed at 25 yards - a reasonable distance for a hunting airgun. Initial zeroing went pretty fast because the Gamo scope was close to where it needed to be.
Accuracy with Raptors
Because the velocity of this rifle is so high, there isn't much sense in shooting endless targets with lightweight pellets. They will go supersonic and the accuracy will be destroyed. However, there is one pellet I HAD to test. The Raptor PBA is the pellet Gamo touts as a 1600 f.p.s. pellet in their advertising (and 1650 f.p.s. pellet on the gun itself) and had to be shot for accuracy. This is also the pellet they use in the video in which they kill a hog.
The hog was shot at close range, probably not more than 15-20 yards. The rifle used in the video was not the Hunter Extreme, but it was the Hunter 1250, which gets the same velocity and, I have to assume, the same accuracy. Testing accuracy at 25 yards seems reasonable, because many hunters don't shoot much farther than that with a breakbarrel spring gun...and 35-40 yards is about tops.
I do not endorse hunting game the size of hogs with smallbore airguns. I think it is irresponsible and I think showing a video of it puts a poor face on this company that has many good products to their credit. But they did it and you can see it on their website, on the page where the Hunter Extreme is shown.
The BEST five-shot group I could get at 25 yards with the Raptor PBA pellet measures 1.8" center-to-center. The average group measured 2.248". It wasn't the size of the group that interested me the most. It was the shape of the pellet holes. Several of the holes are almost perfect profiles of the Raptor pellet, which means they went through the paper sideways. They are not stable and are starting to spin out of control at 25 yards. I have to guess that they are either being spun too fast by the rifling because of the high velocity, which we established is about 1,350 f.p.s., or they are being buffeted by the supersonic shockwave. Maybe a little of both. While they're accurate enough for a close-range shot, hunters have little hope of connecting at longer distances.
Raptors went into groups like this at 25 yards. This is the smallest.
This hole is almost a perfect profile of a Raptor pellet, which means that it went through sideways!
For the record, 2" groups at 25 yards is better than I expected. But it is not accurate enough for hunting. You need to be able to count on your shots hitting within a half-inch of your aim point for small game, and that means a group size of one inch or less.
The .177 Korean Eun Jin pellet weighs 16 grains. That's heavy enough to slow it to well below the transsonic threshold in this powerful airgun. I didn't chronograph Eun Jins, but I shot a group with them to see what they looked like. If they were good enough I would chrono them later. But they weren't! They shot so far to the right that only one of five landed on the target paper, despite my holding on a bullseye on the left side of the paper. The one that printed was 8.5" to the right of the aim point. Since the Gamo scope mount does not correct in either direction, I abandoned that pellet right there.
That left me with the more traditional heavyweight pellets, with Beeman Kodiaks being at the top of the list. The first group was shot without regard to where it landed. It went into a 1.5" group that showed promise, so the scope was adjusted and I resumed fire. The next group measured 1.33" and was closer to the target. Three of the five holes in this group were elongated, however, so even the Kodiak suffers from either transsonic buffeting or too quick a spin. It's double the weight of the PBA, so the effect is not as great. With this improvement, I changed targets, adjusted the scope again, and continued.
The next group was slightly smaller, at 1.29" so I adjusted the scope again and shot what proved to be the final group. It measures 0.782" - just over three-quarters of an inch. Now THAT'S accuracy a hunter can use! I'm sure that if I had continued to shoot the groups would have hovered around this size, and there would have been a few that were even better. But we need to go no farther. This rifle can be used by hunters with the knowledge that out to perhaps 35 yards it has what it takes to harvest game humanely.
Smallest group of Beeman Kodiaks at 25 yards. This is a reasonable group for a hunting rifle. Notice that several of the holes are elongated, indicating the pellets are starting to tumble.
If I owned a Hunter Extreme, I'd have it de-tuned to get the cocking effort down to not more than 40 lbs. I would look for a velocity of about 900 f.p.s. with Beeman Kodiaks, which would probably give about 1150 with Raptors (but I would never use them). I would want the trigger to be lighter and less creepy, which might actually improve the accuracy somewhat. This rifle has the potential to be a fine hunting airgun with a few thoughtful modifications.