Crosman Optimus .177 rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Crosman’s Optimus offers a lot of power for a low price.

Today, we’ll begin a look at the Crosman Optimus breakbarrel air rifle. Mac has tested this one for us and has a number of interesting things to say about the rifle.

Let’s get the exciting things out of the way first. The Crosman Optimus sells for about $90 and is rated to 1,200 f.p.s. Those two facts are going to impress a number of folks, especially those who are new to airgunning. It’s a lot of power for very little money. Veteran airgunners will reserve judgement until they see the results of this test, but impressive velocities and prices are always at the forefront of sales campaigns.

The Optimus is made in China. There is no other way to produce this much gun at the price. The trigger is a copy of an older Gamo design that has become familiar in recent years to users of Chinese-made spring guns. A safety lever in front of the trigger automatically comes on when the rifle is cocked and must be pushed forward before the shot is taken. The mechanism has an anti-beartrap that works as it should.

The Optimus is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. That means it will require all the shooting technique you can muster to get good results, and that would be no different no matter where it was made or what it cost.

The rifle is fully ambidextrous. There’s no cheekpiece on the stock, only a Monte Carlo comb to elevate your eye to the sights or scope. The stock is hardwood and is filled with wood putty in places. Also, the stain did not get applied evenly, leaving dark marks where it puddled and dried.

The metal is evenly finished and deeply blackened. The wood-to-metal fit seems very good to Mac’s experienced eye, with the single exception of the rear sight adjustment knob that I’ll mention in a moment.

Hard to cock?
One customer reviews (for the scoped model) states that the rifle takes “two men and a boy” to cock, so I asked Mac to test that, specifically. It isn’t that difficult. Mac measured the cocking force at 36 lbs., which puts it into the same class as the Beeman R1 rifle, although this rifle is 3 lbs. lighter than an R1. That’s probably why the shooter who wrote the report felt it was harder than it is.

An articulated cocking link allows the cocking slot in the stock to be short, which will reduce vibration by a lot. Unfortunately, the designers have lengthened the stock to cover the base block, so it looks like the cocking slot is long, but that’s not really the case.

A two-piece, articulated cocking link means the cocking slot in the stock didn’t have to be long; because the stock extends past the baseblock, it looks much longer.

Mac noted that the rifle was dripping with oil when he unpacked it. He wiped it off, of course, but it made him wonder whether the insides were over-oiled, as well. It turns out they weren’t, because the piston seal began to squeak when the gun was cocked during the test, and that’s a sign it needs lubrication.

The Optimus is a large rifle at 44.25 inches long, yet lightweight at only 6.5 lbs. It gets its power from a very long piston stroke, as can be seen when the rifle is cocked. The length of pull is 14.4 inches, which will feel long to most shooters. The steel barrel is 18.75 inches in length.

When the rifle is cocked, you can see the obvious presence of a long-stroke piston by how far back the barrel goes. This is why the Optimus is not so difficult to cock.

Sights
The sights are made of plastic and have fiberoptic inserts, front and rear. Mac says they appear to be smaller than normal, making precision aiming somewhat easier, though he used a scope for accuracy testing. That’s probably good because the windage knob of the rear sight hits the wood stock when the rifle is cocked. The front sight appears to be glued in place on its one-piece base.

Trigger
Mac reported that the two-stage trigger has an indistinct second stage that simply pulls through without a discernible pause. At 85 oz. (5.3 lbs.), it’s heavy, on top of being mushy. That will challenge Mac when he tries for accuracy.

How much can you expect from such an inexpensive air rifle? That will be the focus of the next two reports. If the Optimus turns out to have the rated power and is reasonably accurate, it will be a No. 1 pick for those on a budget.

79 thoughts on “Crosman Optimus .177 rifle: Part 1

  1. BB,

    Interesting gun. Reserve judgement till after tests.

    On another note, wow, PA came up with a winner in its series of father/child combos! NICE! Some great picks too!

    How are you? Still recovering and doing better each week? I am praying for that and good things over all for the Gaylord family.


  2. Hello BB
    Can you point me as to where could i get info about how a PCP valve (which will release air behind pellet) and hammer work, like say on a Marauder. I dont have a physical gun with me , only a part list manual with parts diagram.
    A photos and video will be better

    Thank you for your efforts


  3. BB:
    Love the name ‘Optimus’.
    I think my air rifle was once marketed as the XS ‘Optimist’ till it was re branded the B3-1.lol

    A hell of a lot of rifle for 90 bucks though.Be good to see how well it shoots.
    Dave


    • Yes, I see Crosman is still hard at it with the eye-catching names. This one isn’t bad although it reminds me of Optimus Prime, the head transformer (still have to see the movies. And I will say that I’m mystified by the controversy of Megan Fox and the overly sexy material in the films. This must have involved a human subplot and not the machines….), but I did think that name was a tad redundant. I still maintain that the coolest gun names are combinations of letters and numbers with a military chic. If this is true, the British have this mastered with their complex and bewildering system for the Lee-Enfield rifles with their various numbers and marks. Maybe Crosman could try this by naming a rifle the Number 5 dash 7 mark 24.8*3.

      Matt61


      • This gun looks a lot like the Crosman Storm XT, in appearance, features, and price. Will it replace the Storm in the product lineup?

        If so, it will be a good gun for the money. A bit jarring until it gets broken in, but a good deal for the money.

        Les


  4. B.B., I need a reality check. I own a Gamo CFX that with the right pellet I can produce ten shot dime size groups at 20 yards on a fairly regular basis. I am dissatisfiied with it’s performance at longer ranges though.

    I am looking to buy a PCP sometime this year (probably at the Roanoke show). With a good quality mid priced .177 caliber PCP, what kind of grouping should I expect at 50 yards?


    • Ridgerunner,

      You might have to reconsider your technique of holding the rifle and/or your soft rest, or you are very unlucky with your rifle.
      CFX with default barrel and trigger (using correct technique) is able to make repeatable 13-mm groups @ 25 meters (biggest dimension edge-to-edge, 5 shots).
      At 50 meters 45 mm groups from “raw” CFX are not a miracle.
      Modified CFX is able to make 9-10 mm groups @ 25 m on regular basis and 18-20 mm @ 50 m (biggest dimension edge-to-edge, 5 shots). Best groups @ 25 m are almost single-hole – 5 mm and they are repeatable.

      duskwight



      • Thanks B.B. and Duskwight. I am sure I need to work on my hold some and thanks to H&N changing their FTTs to two different sizes (of which I recently bought the wrong size, of course) I have to buy some more pellets before I can even try to tighten it up some more.

        I have been giving some VERY serious consideration to the Marauder. The price is right and from what I hear of the quality, it will likely be on my shopping list this fall.


  5. BB,
    Did not see a scope stop on this rifle and Mac did not mention anything related to this. A heavy hitting springer without a scope stop. Bad news! I ended up using Krazy glue on the scope stop and mount to keep them on my TF 87.

    Pete


  6. B.B.
    I have several springers but none of them have the gas piston. I am really intterested in a couple of them but still have questions about some things and was hoping for your help…… Does a gas piston still require a break in period for things to mesh like a regular spring ?? About how many shots can I expect from the life of the piston vs. a regular spring ?? Also I was wondering if they are less hold sensitive since it won’t vibrate like a regular spring?? Sorry for so many question but trying to decide on next purchase…. Was also wondering if you are going to review or if you have any knowledge about the Gamo
    IGT ?? I am trying to decide between one of those or a crosman nitro ??


    • While I don’t have the knowledge and experience to answer your question. Let me add my 2 cents here, I was shooting some airguns yesterday, first from my Marlin (Crosman) Cowboy lever action then with my RedRyder to finish with my NitroPiston. Being in Canada I have the 495fps .22 caliber version and it’s one SWEET rifle. It’s no louder than the RedRyder! It’s quite heavy at 8lbs but what a riot to shoot, having just shot two “kids” rifles if I hadn’t seen the shot hit I would have tought the rifle was broken. I’m sold to gas ram. If the higher powered ones are anything like my Benjamin it’s a must buy.
      If I were to lose all my rifles in a house fire the Bronco and Nitro Piston would be the first rifles I would buy back (then a HW30 and a Hatsan PCP followed by a… and let’s not forget a… or maybe a…).

      Speaking of gas ram, why doesn’t Crosman make smaller nitro piston rifles, make it lighter in the 500 or 600fps in .177 caliber and shrouded like the bigger ones?
      Would a gas ram be possible in a pistol, something sized like the Beeman P1… would it be worth it or is this a ridiculous idea? But not in a Diana LP8 kind of pistol http://www.pyramydair.com/p/RWS-LP8-magnum-pistol.shtml I’m not a big fan of the cut down rifle look of these.

      J-F


    • David,

      Gas springs do not need as much break in as steel springs. That’s because gas spring mechanisms are machined to much finer tolerances. Steel spring guns wear in, gas spring guns come already perfectly mated.

      J-F is right about the lower-powered gas springs. They are really smooth and fun to shoot. Crosman makes one that shoots around 600 f.p.s. that is a real ball to shoot. It’s called the Benjamin Legacy.

      But the more powerful gas spring guns are quite twitchy. They need a lot of technique to shoot well and you cannot hold them hard or you will be punished by the intense slap of vibration with the shot. It is very painful. Fortunately if you use the artillery hold, you’ll never feel it.

      I can’t comment on the Gamo gas spring guns, as they are now using something other than the Nitro Piston. All I can tell you is that the Nitro Piston guns do their job very well. And remember, the more power the more technique is needed.

      As far as how long a gas spring lasts before a rebuild, I can’t say. I have one that’s over 12 years old and it’s still functioning like new. But I’ve had others that leaked down. A steel spring will never leak, but it will bend (cant) and break with time. The less it is stressed in use, the longer it will last.

      B.B.


  7. At this early stage this seems like a great value. $109.50 includes a centerpoint scope and mounts!

    B.B. said, “pistol seal began to squeak when the gun was cocked during the test, and thatโ€™s a sign it needs lubrication.” I think he meant to say, “piston seal”.

    kevin





      • Kevin,
        Sure! #1, the power it has(My brother and I will be using it for rabbits, birds, sagerats), #2 the $$$.

        Hopefully it likes Crow Magnums cause boy, that will be a nice setup with a 3-9×32 scope on there.

        Conor

        p.s.On a side note, now my (and my brothers) current inventory stands at: Benjamin Trail XL 1100, RWS 34p, Benjamin 392, Crosman Optimus, Crosman Raven, Crosman 1377 Carbine, Crosman 1377c, Beeman P17, Red Ryder, and Crosman 760. ๐Ÿ™‚



        • Hi Kevin, I am using H & N Sport Crow Magnum pellets and at 25 meters can achieve 5 shots within a dime. My rifle is a Crosman Optimus .177 bought about 2 months ago and have already put some 1500 pellets throught the barrel.

          Regards,

          From South Africa


  8. Looks like it has the potential to be a โ€œbackdoor rifleโ€, but I just filled the spot. Found a .177 Gamo Viper on gunbroker for a whopping $25.00. I am having it sent directly to Rich in Mich who will add โ€œ a JM Tarantula spring and custom fitted Delrin spring guide and navel brass top hat, trigger is cleaned and set up, combustion chamber is honed with 600 stones and fitted with a new JM seal. I do not use any aftermarket triggers in my tunes I rework the stock trigger and it comes out better than any aftermarket gold triggers.โ€ This cost of the tune is $135.00 for a grand total with rifle off $160.00.

    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=231212652

    Keep in mind this Gamo will not have the luxurious life the HW50M will. It will languish in the garage, hall closet or back patio as to be at the ready whenever duty calls. I tried multi pump pneumatics and CO2 for this spot before, but I just like a simple Springer. It will be interesting to see how this compares to the HW50M that I will have about $800.00 invested in. Perhaps a 40 yard shoot off will be in order, since we already know which one will win the beauty pageant segment.



    • Kevin,

      Yes it will get a scope, that is why I wanted an R8 style over just an old HW50S since the stock was made with scope use in mind, even if the barrel angle was not.

      Not sure which scope yet, I may steal your Burris idea, I saved the photo to get the model info.


      • Volvo,

        It’s a burris timberline, 4.5-14X with ballistic plex reticle. Although the ballistic plex reticle is similar to mil dots I prefer it over traditional mil dot scopes. They can be found for around $200.00 everywhere but go on sale and are on ebay for $180 or so frequently.

        kevin


  9. BB, good call on something binding on the Diana 34. I found the barrel pivot screw was way too tight. Three quarters of a turn looser made a big difference in the force needed to cock the gun.

    Mike


  10. Matt (and partially – Pete)

    Well, trouble with battlefields in Russia is three-part.

    First – distance. To travel from Volgograd (aka Stalingrad) to Prokhorovka means 676 km in straight line. Eastern front was _huge_, with huge masses of people and machines fighting. End every inch of it was colored with blood. Sometimes two, or even four coats.

    Second – battlefield was almost everywhere, on every inch, from Barents sea to slopes of Caucasus. The meaning of “total war” could be imagined only here, in Russia. If you land in Sheremetyevo airport – it was a battlefield and Nazi-held territory. For a month, but still it was occupied. If you land in Domodedovo – it was an airfield for close-range bombers and attack aircraft. Everywhere to the west from Moscow and Volga river it was a battlefield. If you ever happen to get to Moscow – I can show you the remains of last-chance lines on defence less than 2 km from my place. And those pillboxes were next to be used if not for the Moscow Counteroffensive of winter 1941. Loud names mark only the places of the biggest bloodshed. And some of such places are unreachable except for a very crazy and die-hard explorers, as they are situated far away from current roads in thick forests and swampy areas, but those areas swallowed thousands of Russian and German lives during the War.

    Third – before the war most battlefields were crop fields, cities, forests and industrial areas. So no one thought of preserving it, people were more interested in fast return to their normal everyday life, to seed, to buid and so on. Of course there are memorial signs or monuments but nothing more. E.g. my Grandpa’s division positions are now an urban area of Ligovo, StPeteresburg. There’s a memorial stone – “109 rifle division stopped and held Nazi troops here on this line”, but there are tower-blocks all around it.

    As for Liudmila Pavlichenko’s resting place – it is just a common cell in Novodevichye columbarium wall, section 119, area 8. I can lead you there if you like.

    Pete,

    Kursk has almost nothing to do with Battle of Kursk, except for being in the center of demi-circle of fronts ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a tremendous strategic battle on Kursk salient. Two of its most known battlefields Prokhorovka and Ponyri are separated by almost 100 miles straight. The battle raged for two months without stop on 300-km front, so to see it you’ll have to rent a chopper or better – a private jet ๐Ÿ™‚

    duskwight


    • Duskwight, thanks for the info. Well, I guess you could really experience the Eastern Front as a tourist by exhausting yourself and expending your resources on the massive landscape just like the Germans did. But I would just try for the big sites like Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kursk and maybe the site of the martyrdom of Tanya Kolomenskaya (perhaps seeing the countryside and sampling the local food along the way). I would have thought that there would be an attempt to at least create a memorial site at each location. (Isn’t there a gigantic statue at Stalingrad?) The phenomenal patriotism of the Russian people is what salvaged that war when just about everyone had given up on them, and I know the Russians have a sense of pageantry and ceremony to equal anyone’s. On the other hand, I can see how rebuilding was important in the post-war years and apparently one of the really unfortunate outcomes of the transition from communism to a democracy was an appalling lack of respect for the legacy of the Great Patriotic War and its veterans.

      As for Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s gravesite, you are a lucky man to have visited there. The monument itself is less important to me than the lady who is resting there. Her achievements speak for themselves, and I have noticed that the people of great accomplishment like the martial arts masters I’ve met have a personal development that is so profound that they have a way of teaching you with every look, gesture, mannerism and everything about them. I have no doubt from what I’ve seen and read that Lyudmila was such a person. I don’t believe that she took any personal joy in shooting all the people that she did, but she didn’t regret it either apparently, considering it all in the line of duty. And in spite of all that, she looks like a very pleasant, warm person as indicated partly by all of her successful work after the war with veterans groups and as a role model. I’d say that keeping her personality intact like this is as remarkable as her war record. Well, having you as a guide would make it that much better. Do you live in the city? I had the impression you were just in the general region. Well, the world is getting more global. Maybe someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Matt61


      • Matt,

        I was born in Moscow and I live in Moscow and I live here for most part of my life, except that I spent a great deal of my childhood before 1991 in southern Lithuania ๐Ÿ™‚

        Well, maybe I put it wrong so I was misunderstood. There are monuments and statues to bravery and fallen heroes in almost every town and village, even memorial churches, every major battle site is marked with memorial signs, and they are highly respected and every 9th of May or battle anniversary people adorn them with lots of flowers and candles.
        Russians never forget their history. But nobody – except for a rare occasion – didn’t care for preserving _battlefields_ themselves, so there are lots of monuments, but no preserved battlefields.

        duskwight


        • Oh, and I forgot to tell – my family owns a countryhouse and a little bit of land to the north of Moscow, so there’s my private summer “range”.


  11. Gentlemen, lower your flags to half mast. On the first episode of season three of American Airgunner it was revealed that Crystal Ackley is officially leaving the show.

    I thought she made a wonderful co-host. She is truly a lovely young lady, and I wish her great success wherever she should end up.

    Anyone have a tissue?


  12. B.B.,

    I find the rear sights on most springer’s to be less than ideal, leaving probably 98+% of customers opting for a scope instead. Does anyone sell a dovetail rear sight (preferably peep) that could be used in place of stock rear sights? I’d imagine that the extended sight radius would also contribute to better accuracy. A very good rear sight would, again, be a great alternative for these typically “scope unfriendly” springer’s.

    Another issue I sort of have with airgun product lines is that they are mostly a variation of the same thing, when there are SO MANY improvements that can be made, without driving the cost to objectionable levels. I am convinced that the people running some of these airgun manufacturers DO NOT shoot their product (nor anyone elses).

    If you’re a cocaine producer, it isn’t wise to use your own product (paraphrased from movie “Clear and Present Danger”), but if you’re an airgun manufacturer, it would be wise to use your product.

    Victor


  13. My sense is that the Crosman Optimus is optimized for big sales for new shooters with its price (I like) and power (which I’m less concerned about). But perhaps the Crosman quality will come through. A sound piece of equipment at a good price that helps to expand the sport is a respectable accomplishment in my view.

    My mind is consumed with feral pigs who inhabit dreams and waking moments. Kevin, yes, the $70,000 figure I quoted must be for vintage guns like a Browning 1917. And I can understand spending for the ammo in the case of a farmer, for example, who spent $250,000 on new fencing to repair the depradations of the pigs. I’ve seen and been duly impressed by the photos of Hog Kong and Hogzilla that exceed 1000 lbs. Those are impressive animals that look to be in the category of buffalo. But I was at leas impressed by a video of a pig and a dog sparring and wrestling in a way that looked nonlethal. The pig definitely had the edge in speed and maneuverability on those tiny feet. I can’t imagine what the buffalo-sized version would be like–truly a formidable animal.

    So, the big question for me is how the feral pig population got so out-of-control in the first place. It can’t be as a result of a new introduction to the environment since pigs have accompanied the first settlers. Was some important predator removed? If so, you would think it wouldn’t be hard to reintroduce them. I suspect that the pigs would taste even better to wolves, mountain lions and coyotes than to humans.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,
      I believe that a new species was introduced, much like the introduction of fire-ants.

      Funny, that day after reading all the responses to my original post, my mind was also consumed with the thought of feral pigs. That night I had a dream that the entire country was overrun by all sorts of wild animals, and that people had to band together to secure each others safety. Mind you, this was not a nightmare, as there were no attacks. – My dream was more about the management of the situation and how people reacted to the crises.

      Chuck,
      Something tells me that these feral pigs will never be wiped out. They are simply too resourceful, and there are just too many opportunities for migration. As for public opinion, politicians are masters at propaganda, and so would easily find a way to make almost everyone HATE feral pigs. Wouldn’t take too much imagination, really.

      Victor


      • Victor,

        If they wrangled these pigs, airlifted them to Cuba & dropped them there, the Cubans would have endless supplies of protein and would not have to farm rats in order to supply their people with food. I learned about the rat farms several years ago. Apparently, rabbits & chickens don’t reproduce fast enough.

        It’s a win/win situation!

        Edith


      • The feral pig problem is nationwide. Natural, wild pigs existed in much of the country. These pigs bred with escaped domestic pigs, producing outsized hybrids.

        These hogs are vicious, and have been known to attack humans on sight without provocation. They are very capable of killing a human being.

        Someday, I would really like to hunt these pests. Better leave the air rifles behind for that. I would use my trapdoor .45-70. Plenty of stopping power, but you better be good with that one shot. Many hunters prefer 12-ga. shotguns loaded with slugs for these.

        The hogs, especially the boars, would no doubt be pretty gamy eating. Domestic boars are generally fit only to be ground into sausage, where the seasonings mask the taste. A long time in a smokehouse may result in edible meat.

        The pigs shirttail cousins, the javelina, might possibly be taken with a high-powered air rifle. Problem is they travel in groups, and will attack a hunter if one of them is injured or killed. They are popular game for bow hunters in New Mexico, but are protected in Arizona. They are good in tamales.




    • Am I interpreting that properly? 300 BAR! pressure limit… And only 950 fps with some unspecified weight .22 pellet… Either they’re going for long shot strings, or are using some of that air pressure to turn it into a semi-auto (has any company considered creating a semi-auto PCP?)


      • Wulfraed,

        300 bar is an eyeopener. The description says the purpose is for longer shot strings (series). It makes you wonder if this gun is regulated or a brand new valve design from diana. All of their guns I’ve owned like to be filled to 190 bar and with rare exception to maybe 210 bar.

        FX makes semi auto guns. The revolution and monsoon models are both semi auto.

        kevin



  14. I’m very new in airsoftshooting, but I just bought this gun and i’m very happy about it. I did buy it without scope though, but I would like to have a scope on it. Will only Crosman-scopes fit on this gun? How does the scope-mounting work? Is there like a “standard” scope size for rifles? Totally new in this, so all help is appreciated!



    • Freddie,

      No, it isn’t threaded, and a silencer wouldn’t work, anyhow. These guns don’t have a loud discharge sound. They are loud in the powerplant, which can’t be silenced. Gamo’s Whisper silencer actually does very little silencing.

      B.B.






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