Gamo Big Cat – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


Gamo Big Cat is an impressive breakbarrel at an impressive price!

There’s a new article about precharged pneumatics on the Pyramyd Air site. It’s one I wrote for Airgun Illustrated magazine years ago, but I’ve updated it.

Today, I’ll look at the accuracy of the Gamo Big Cat. You may remember that this inexpensive Gamo breakbarrel rifle has been getting high marks up to this point. It’s light, easy to cock and the trigger is remarkably smooth. It also turned in a good showing in the velocity test in part 2. So, accuracy was all we had left to look at.

The Big Cat has no sights, so you have to mount some kind of scope or dot sight. It comes with a 4x scope for that purpose, and that’s exactly what I used for this test.

I encountered some difficulty mounting the scope, and I want to tell you about it. I don’t know if you remember, but in the past, and especially in the scope-mounting video I recently did, I mentioned that sometimes a scope will twist in the rings as it’s tightened down. Well, the scope that came with this Big Cat did that to the extent that I had to fiddle with it for a long time to get it aligned correctly. By aligned, I mean sitting where the vertical scope reticle bisects the receiver. Every time I tightened the 2-screw scope caps, they twisted the scope just a little past plumb.

That tells me the rings are not in line with each other. And when they’re tightened, they’re torquing the scope tube (putting torsional stress on the tube in its tightened state). That can’t be good for precision.

I also noticed that the scope was not clearly focused at the 21 yards I was shooting. Since it’s only a 4x scope, it has to be pretty bad not to focus that far away, because you can barely see anything small enough to determine focus to begin with.

So, for those two reasons–the misaligned scope rings and the bad scope, I’ll rerun the accuracy test with a better scope and different rings. However, the rifle did pretty good in spite of everything, plus the wind was gusting to 25 mph. So here is accuracy report number one.

Air Arms Diabolo Field
The Air Arms Diabolo Field pellet is an 8.4-grain pure lead dome that’s made by JSB, so we know it’s a precision pellet. In the Big Cat, they loaded easily and seemed to shoot well, but they also required extreme holding technique. If I slacked off the hold just a bit, the pellet would jump out of the group by a half-inch at 21 yards.

My best hold with the Big Cat was on the flat of my open palm. I tried the back of my fingers, but it threw the pellets around. Too much vibration, I think. However, the Air Arms domes were too twitchy to tell for sure.

Beeman Kodiaks
Beeman Kodiaks were not as precise in the Big Cat. They spread out to 3/4″ groups and didn’t seem to want to do any better, so I didn’t pursue them.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets turned out to be the best pellet I tried all day. They landed in tight groups and needed little in the way of special technique–beyond the standard artillery hold. In fact, they were forgiving of some sloppiness in technique, a situation that rarely happens with a breakbarrel. I have to say I was impressed.


That’s a nice group for 21 yards on a windy day! Five Premier 7.9 pellets.


Another nice group, but the center has moved up and to the right. Nothing was done to the scope or the hold between this group and the last one.


This third group is also tight, but you can see that it’s still moving to the right.

However, if you look at the three groups I show, you’ll notice the impact point shifts to the right with each of the two groups after the first. As tight as these pellets are grouping, I have to chalk that up to either scope shift or parallax error; and, as tight as I’m grouping, parallax error doesn’t seem to be the problem. This scope actually seems to be shifting–something that’s very rare, in my experience. I don’t know if it’s due to the scope or the mounts at this point, and I’m not inclined to find out. I’ll replace both for the next accuracy test.

The bottom line at this point is that the Gamo Big Cat seems to be a real value in a breakbarrel pellet rifle. On the plus side, it has an easy cocking action and a smooth trigger that’s somewhat creepy but still quite nice. And that can be fixed with the addition of the GRT-III aftermarket trigger blade (read this report). The Big Cat is also lightweight and has a relatively smooth action. The power is right where it’s supposed to be and the accuracy is fine. On the negative side is the amount of plastic used on the gun and the fact that it comes without sights.

The next report will be with a better scope and rings.

50 thoughts on “Gamo Big Cat – Part 3

  1. Big Cat shooting to right was the same problem I encountered on a shadowmatic. I repalced the scope, regroved the mounts, and purchased adjustible rings, all were no help. I teturne to fixe sightsa and it shot like a tack. You figure out.


  2. Morning B.B.,

    Thanks for the heads up on your update of PCP general info article. It cleared up alot of smoke in my brain. The difference between the pressure curve generated between the HPA valve and the black powder.



  3. This is only slightly off topic, since it might well pertain to the Big Cat. What is the best procedure to select, mount, and zero in red-dot sights on an air rifle? You have great blogs and articles on mounting and sighting scopes, but I don’t remember much on red dots, which are mandatory for old guys like me with eyes too poor for any except the most expensive apeture sights. I have to put red dots on anything I shoot that does not have a scope, so this is important to to me for my informal target shooting (no hunting). PS: sorry if this is posted more than once.


  4. BB:

    I posted the last comment, and then I found your 2005 blog on red-dot sights. As Emily Latella used to say, Never Mind.

    However, I could use some advice on selecting a red dot. The price variance is astounding.

    Thanks for your terrific blog and airgunning articles.


  5. Emily,

    When I select red dots I like the largest view I can get. 50mm is better than 40mm. It’s like a picture window.

    Now some dots have a lot of parallax (they appear to, anyway) and others do not. Read the reviews.

    B.B.


  6. B.B.

    Thanks for the advice about the view size; I have most trouble with the dot turning to a blob in some of my red-dot sights.

    I will read more reviews, but I’m not too trusting of customer reviews put up my the manufacturer in this day and age of fake posts and frauds. And, there are always some reviewers who seem to miss the point or had freakishly bad experiences. You get these even on the Pyramid site, sometimes.

    Anyway, much obliged.

    (For those who don’t know, Emily Latella was a bufuddled fake TV talking head on “Saturday Night Live” back in the day–Glida Radner created the character. I’m a 65 year old white male, but I’m often befuddled also.)


  7. Emily,

    The dot size is a function of the brightness. As it increases, the dot enlarges. No doubt you knew that.

    But better optics hold the dot to a minimum growth. That’s what many people don’t know.

    That’s where more money spent on good optics pays off on dot sights.

    Maybe if you expand your search for reviews you will see patterns among the noise. That’s what I always do.

    B.B.


  8. Personal gripe – with the reasonable possibility (in some cases approaching likelyhood) of scopes breaking on strong springers, I just don’t get the ‘no open sight’ policy.

    Perhaps I can see it on a high-dollar rifle, if you spend $600 on a gun you’re not gonna skimp on a scope. You’d be spending a lot of money to get that extra bit of accuracy that you’d need a scope to really appreciate.

    But a Big Cat is more likely to be a knock-around field gun, and being a cheaper rifle the buyer is probably gonna be more budget-minded. Which points to the greater likelyhood of cheap scopes, scope breakage, and a gun that is now useless because it doesn’t have a working sight.

    Besides, it’s less likely to be a knock-around field rifle. than a $140 Big Cat.


  9. Proof positive that pyramyd allows all sorts of reviews… one review of the Big Cat contained the following comments:

    “gun is WAY too heavy, even for adults, and recoil is ridiculous”

    Something tells me that the reviewer, uh, isn’t really too familiar with airguns – or any guns for that matter.


  10. Wayne, is the 79 still available?
    Sorry I couldn’t get back sooner, I don’t have the ‘net at home.
    I work with it all day Mon-Fri and know I would be it’s slave if I had it at home…so I don’t.
    But if it’s available I may be interested.
    CowBoyStar Dad


  11. I noticed that W Mart has the Big Cat and it is packaged with a 3×9 scope and better mounting. Trying to avoid buying it but tempted. I have more air rifles than anyone needs now.


  12. B.B.

    I’ve had the same experience with scopes moving off-center when I tighten the screws and it drove me nuts. What’s the method for tightening screws properly? I seem to remember that you want to alternate sides and ends of the scope, for example, left rear, right front, left front, right rear? Is that right?

    Are there tradeoffs between using what I think is called the reflex sight with the big square aperture versus a scope style dot sight? The reflex looks like it has better visibility.

    Matt61



  13. I’m almost glad that POI shift happened to you…makes me feel more sane.I’ve had it happen to me,sometimes returning to normal POI after a rest period.only to return again.And I didn’t think I bought “cheap”scopes,either.If you get the ooprtunity,can you check after resting,and tell how much[approx.]it took to get on paper…Thanks! FrankB


  14. Frank,

    I was on paper with the first shot. I sight-in at 10 feet. That way I know where I am at 21 yards. My procedure is in the articles section.

    As for getting back on after resting, I’m not sure what you mean. The gun still shoots to the same point of aim after 24 hours.

    B.B.


  15. Let me rephrase.to the 21 yard sight in,was much adjustment needed? RESTING;my p.o.i. shift would occur while shooting a few groups.without correcting the scope setting,an hour of not shooting,the first few shots would be right back on the money.then,sadly and consistently drift off again. sorry to have been so vague……….frankb


  16. I think the anonymous person's scope seems to shift after shooting then returns to starting poi resting a while. Perhaps something to do with the internal mechanism.

    As for BB's Gamo BC, it appears the scope may be shifting in the mounts or rails as noticed. The groups were shifting, yet tight. I wonder how much it would have shifted if BB kept shooting?

    Some people suggest waiting til a new springer mellows out a bit before mounting a scope. As for scopes on springer, I like one piece mounts, if possible, and AO lenses.

    BTW, Air Pistols:

    H&K made in Germany?
    SIG Sauer made in Swiss., Germany or US?
    Tanfoglio made in Italy?

    Just wondering.

    How about the lead recycling tips?

    I suppose BB is going in a hundred directions at once. Well don't spread yourself too thin BB.


  17. B.B.,
    I, too, appreciate the link to PCP and the GRT-III. So much good info. Hard to keep my head above water.

    Fitting word verify “nogord”. They’re a pain but usually entertaining
    -Chuck


  18. AJVENOM,yes,thats whats happening,but a little at a time,still showing tightness just not where I’ve aimed.that is what I thought I saw in BB’s groups.maybe it was an ignorant assumtion?


  19. Frank,

    No, the final group is where the gun wants to shoot now. I can’t verify it any more because I have replaced the scope, but it did not move after resting for a few hours (actually 24).

    On the lead recycling, I am going to my storage locker this afternoon to pick up the essential ingredients. It will be soon.

    B.B.



  20. Thank you BB,I’m just trying to understand what might be going on inside a scope for this to happen.Your articles are the source of everything I know about scope usage!!My eyesight doesn’t allow precision any other way. Thank You, Frank B


  21. ajvenom,

    The gas spring idea sounds good. The Big Cat should be as smooth as the Whisper, and I see Pyramyd has a little discount for them.

    I do want to test that Gamo CO2 Extreme. Since I have already tested the 850 Magnum, I’ll let the reports speak for themselves.

    B.B.


  22. Shifts in POI can drive a person crazy. Have you tried a different scope or open sights?

    I use innexpensive scopes and rezero my scopes before I go hunting. Usually it’s the springer that moves it’s POI sometimes. If you take the time to check everything out then you might be able to find the cuplrit.

    When done right, I find that using a scope will cut my groups in half, which generally doubles my effective distance when hunting.

    No hurry BB, we’ll listen to anything about airguns etc……

    It’s raining here and all the bunnies are staying in today. Soon all their tracks in the snow may be gone. It will be hard to track them on ice if it freezes up again. I went out and mapped a lot of rabbit holes this weekend.


  23. B.B.

    So, it does, and there you are. Nice video.

    All, there is a nice article in this week’s Guns and Ammo printing an article from 1964 in which Elmer Keith reviews a 20 year old phenomenon with a sixgun–supposedly the best ever. The article is filled with history of all sorts of astonishing people and their shooting feats, especially hitting targets thrown in the air, but they are all surpassed by this guy. Among other things, he was timed at drawing and firing a Colt Single Action Army revolver in .06 seconds. That is about the same time it took Muhammad Ali to throw a jab.

    What really got my attention, though, was the practice regimen. The guy, Thell Reed who now works as a shooting coach for Hollywood, started shooting at age 7 and would practice 3 times a week shooting off 500 rounds per week. Wayne, I’d say you have surpassed him already, and we are expecting great things.

    Matt61


  24. …………….Re. POI Shift

    I shoot 2 expensive PCP rifles and 2 expensive spring rifles…all use the same “Top of The Line” Leapers model scope.

    Only the two springers change POI, and they do it regularly…

    In over a year, the 2 PCPs have never changed POI (unless I moved it intentionally)…

    Draw your own conclusions. You can begin now, and use crayon if you wish.

    - Dr. G.


  25. I would say something derogatory about scopes, but that’s too predictable. Sounds like the focus is set for 50 yards and the depth of field is not enough to account for 20. If the POI weren’t shifting, making the whole optical and mounting system suspect, I would adjust the objective, but it doesn’t seem like its worth the trouble.

    I also wish the makers would put open sights, or at least the provision for mounting them, on every rifle. If the Hammerli 490 can have as nice a set of sights as it has given the price point, it can’t cost much. On the other hand, I would rather do instint style shooting than use some of the fiberoptic wonders I’ve seen lately.


  26. Dr.G.,

    Is the POI change random or have you noticed a predictability in where it’s going to be? Have you determined the why of the change? Thanks for your observations on this perplexing phenomenon.

    Emily,

    Do you remember the show where you ripped your blouse open and said, “Eat your heart out Edward R Murrow.”?

    Matt61,

    I remember Thell Reed. One of his tricks was carving a blase on a tree with his bowie knife, walking back maybe 15 feet, throwing the knife at the tree, drawing and shooting his Colt SSA at the tree. He’d walk up to the tree and the knife was stuck in the bullet hole. He said the hardest part of that trick was not to hit the knife while it was in the air.

    B.B., Picked up an AR today at Atlantic Guns. Joel sends his warmest reguards to you and Edith. Hopes you both are happy and doing well, nice people said he, and those were the good old days. You know I’ve got to ask for a review of the upper you saw at the shot show, if you can get one and have the time to do so. Thanks much.

    Word verification “bulanste”


  27. Mr. B:

    Your memory for SNL is close, but will not quite earn a cigar. Emily Latella was always a guest on “Weekend Update”; Jane Curtin was the co-anchor, and it was she who ripped open her blouse and said “eat your heart out” to Connie Chung, who was in those days the premier TV network anchorperson. I don’t recall that airgunning came up to often on the show.


  28. Mr. B,

    I may be out in left field on this, but given that I’m not “all ginned up” I’ll take a stab.
    I’m sure you’re aware spring rifles are a sensitive lot. Even with a quality piece of glass, tight stock screws and a smooth trigger pull you can see POI change based on differences in how you grip the rifle, especially if you are trying to rest it.

    So if the scope hasn’t been alterered by recoil, often it is just that the person has made a slight change to hisher technique of holding the rifle. The only cure I am know for this is to eliminate the most hold sensitive rifles with the same ruthlessness one thins seedlings with in the spring. Of course a robot like consistent hold doesn’t hurt either.

    Dr. G,

    Any chance you tried this airsoft?

    http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/model.pl?model_id=1210#productDescription

    I had the chance to handle it at the local firearm dealer. All wood and metal, very realistic.


  29. Hi bb. I got the rws 34 and i like it alot the triger pull is kinda heavy but not bad.

    im geting around half inch groups c.t.c. at 10 yards useing the iron sights but it took me a few days of shooting to get that good.

    I was inside because its cold but i was shoting out the window and i used the hold were u rest the gun on your palm lightly and hold it lightly.

    I used pillows for my rest so i dont know if thats bad or not but its all i had and my 34 seems to like primer lights over all i tryed so far.

    thanks for all the help bb

    David


  30. Mr. B.,

    The POI is not predictable as to when it will happen, but when it happens I am not surprised, and where it shoots when it shifts is usually in the same spots.

    It usually shifts in the first few shots, but occasionally after 25 or 30. I know the scopes so well and the distance is usually 10 meters, so by now I adjust it back in 2 shots or at most 3.

    - Dr. G.


  31. Dr. G. and Volvo,

    Thanks for your comments. For sure Volvo I can get verticle changes in POI by changing where the front of the gun, a Diana 350 Magnum or a Diana 35, is resting. A half an inch will move the POI up or down.

    Dr.G. what is your second springer please.

    Emily, thanks much for waking up some sleeping brain cells. We sure enjoyed watching that show.





  32. Cowboydad,

    Sorry, It’s such a late post, I’ve been taking raised bed orders today.. we overflowed to my line again today.. but, hey…. it’s a good thing!!

    Yes… I got it and I can still have it sent to you… It was $90 shipped..
    email me and I’ll send the pics he sent me.. and I give him your shipping address.. if you want it!

    wayne.burns@naturalyards.com

    DR.G,

    I also shoot at least 5 expensive PCP rifles and did shoot 5 expensive spring rifles (and 20 less expensive ones)… also using “Top of The Line” Leapers model scopes…

    Only the 25 springers change POI, and they do it regularly…

    In over a year, the 5 PCPs have never changed POI (unless I moved it intentionally)…

    Draw your own conclusions. You can begin now, and use crayon, felt pens… finger paint.. or all of the above…

    Funny we had similar results..

    Could be why I don’t have those springers anymore… go figure..

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range


  33. Hi BB,

    http://i271.photobucket.com/albums/jj133/etePzA/PetesPopperTargets.jpg

    It’s been a while since I dropped a line to your blog so I thought I’d share my latest target item that has the Grandson’s and I more than just a little entertained. For lack of a better term I have labeled theses “AzPete’s Party Popper Targets. I think the photobucket pic attached gives the basic working principles and I’m sure most anyone can alter the concept to their individual needs.

    In brief, I rip a 2×4 to create a 2×2 and bore a 1 1/8″ hole (approx.1″ deep) then bore a 3/8″ hole thru the remainder of the 2×2. I have put as many as 10 Poppers side by side and then mounted an “L” shaped bracket to the ends to mount them above my pellet trap. Or, 2 or 3 Poppers placed on the end of a 2 foot length can be easily mounted to a tree with a 4″ wood screw or simply braced into position with blocks , bricks or rocks.

    The string that hangs down from the Popper is tied to a bottle cap securely. I like to spray paint my bottle caps dayglow orange as it really makes them stand out. I short trip to my neighborhood Pub and a word with my favorite bartender secured me a life time supply of beer bottle caps. (For smaller targets I have also tied 3/8″ flat washers to the string).

    The Party Poppers can be purchased in most Party Supply stores or online by the gross (144) which reduces the cost to about $.04 a piece. These are the sort of items that are passed out at Birthday parties or a standard at our annual New Years Eve Party.

    Watching the Grandson’s hit these for the first time was an absolute riot. Now you can knock down a metal squirrel at 50 yards and that’s okay….But hit the bottle cap and send 6 – 8 feet of streamers and confetti into the air and a nice loud “Pop” is way more fun! It’s become my favorite Condor and Talon SS target at 50 yards and there is never a doubt if you have hit the target or not. You would think clean up would be a big problem but it’s not, a quick policing leaves our favorite shooting area as clean as when we arrived.

    I hope this adds some additional fun to someone’s plinking. If anyone markets this, send me 10% of the profits I got my eye on another PCP. Enjoy…

    AzPete
    Mesa,Az


  34. AZ Pete,

    Good to hear from you again. I see that you and those boys are still shooting those AirForce rifles.

    Your popper target looks like a lot of fun and very easy to make. That picture is really worth the thousand words.

    Thanks,

    B.B.




  35. coils003:
    i recently bought a gamo big cat 1200 at dicks sporting goods. i liked the power and how it shot. i had previous air guns(2100 crosman,66powermaster, 760 powermaster). I can say those guns above cant hold a candlestick to the big cat. power is really good. Accuracy is only good if you get the right pellet. i tried most all of them and shot at 15 yrds cleaning the barrel between brands of ammo. The best one is the premier hollow points. Some shots went straight thru the same holes. impressive.
    I also got rid of that gamo 4 power scope and put on a 3-9 leaper scope and wow! what a difference in clarity and being able to see the target more. plus it has illuminated (green, red) crosshairs with the battery. 50bucks with the mounts, battery and and scope. nice. The gun shot much tighter groups than with the gamo.
    Walmart has the premier ammo and get the 500 count.
    i recommend this gun and the leaper scope and premier pellets. i great combo. for under 200 bucks. i guarantee with this combo.. u can hit rabbits and squirels and birds and kill them with ease out to 40-50 yards.


  36. Anonymous Gamo,

    sounds like you know what you're doing. You always need to test a number of pellets with any rifle or pistol to find which one they like. I have also had very good luck with Crosman Premier Super H but have found better accuracy with JSB Exacts. Unfortunately, the Big Box stores won't carry this pellet as it's a bit pricey but you get what you pay for in this industry. Also, unless the accuracy suddenly goes down, there really is no reason to clean an air rifle. That should save you a bit of time.

    On another matter, very few of us go back to the old Blog comments to see if anything has been added. There are several of us that are charged with monitoring it, however, and I'm one of them. It's my suggestion that any comment you want to make, and you're welcome to do so on almost any thing regarding air guns or powder burners, go to the current blog's comment section.

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/

    Keep in mind that this blog is sponsored by Pyramyd Air and we all do try to support PA as much as possible or practical.

    Welcome to the Blog. Hope you hang around.

    Fred PRoNJ


  37. HI FRED,

    THANKS FOR THE INFO. I'LL GIVE THOSE JSB EXACTS A SHOT. THEY SOUND LIKE A GOOD BUY. I WANT TO APOLOGIZE FOR TALKING UP THE OTHER PLACES.. I DIDNT REALIZE THAT UNTIL U POINTED IT OUT.
    AS FOR THE CLEANING.. WELL I ALREADY ORDERED THE DEWEY 26 INCH COATED ROD THE OTHER DAY FROM U GUYS .. MY OTHER ROD BROKE AND I WASNT SATISFIED WITH IT SINCE IT WAS CHEAP. I JUST LIKE TO KEEP MY GUN CLEAN.
    THANKS FOR THE INFO.. I FOUND IT VERY USEFUL AND HOPE TO KEEP BUYING STUFF FROM PA. COILS003


  38. Coils003 – We're just glad to have another reader join our blog and look forward to your comments, questions and occasional off-topic posts. It does get somewhat humorous at times.

    By the way, I don't have any relationship, financial or otherwise, with Pyramyd Air. I do this for love and to help the blog master, "BB Pelletier", so he can spend more time on new products. In today's blog, he discusses how accurate a JSB pellet is in the Air Force Edge. You might be interested in this. Unfortunately, no one appears to be selling it in this country.

    Coils003 – it's not a problem. We're just glad to have another reader for our blog and look forward to you comments, questions and occasional off-topic posts. It does get somewhat humourous at times.

    By the way, I don't have any relationship, financial or other, with Pyramyd Air. I do this for love and to help the blog master, "BB Pelletier", so he can spend more time on new products. In today's blog, he discusses how accurate a JSB pellet is in the Air Force Edge. You might be interested in this. Unfortunately, no one appears to be selling it in this country.

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/

    Also, here's a chance to enter a contest and win a $200 gift certificate for PA. Good luck!

    Fred PRoNJ


  39. Another air rifle with a lousy scope.

    I don't understand the obsession with scopes and fibre-optic sights.

    There are air-rifles I would like to buy but won't because they don't have iron sights and I don't want to pay for a scope I will discard. There are many shooters who prefer iron sights and shoot rifles with rear apertures much better off-hand than they do scopes.

    As for fibre-sights; a simple post for a front sight would be a vast improvement.


  40. Another air rifle with a lousy scope. There are air-rifles I would like to buy but won't because they don't have iron sights and I dislike paying for something, a scope, I don't want.

    Also, why fibre-optic sights? There is a least a 1/16 of an inch of black plastic above the fibre-optic dot on the front sight that obliterates the aim point. A simple front bead would be an improvement.


  41. I have always had the shifting scope problem with my Big Cat, even wth my BSA 2-7X32 scope. It'll stay in line for usually no more than 2-3 days, and if I set the gun down for about a week, it's usually off when I shoot it again.


  42. Sam,

    And how much elevation is cranked into your scope? It is all the way up- or all the way to the right? because scopes adjusted too high or too far to the right will shift like that.

    B.B.


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