El Gamo 68/68-XP — A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

I last reported on this rifle on August 8 of last year. And that was Part 5! I had just tuned the rifle with a new mainspring and proper lubricants and was wondering what the changes would be. I was ready to report on it several months ago when I discovered that it wouldn’t cock. After fiddling with the trigger adjustments awhile with no success, I set it aside and moved on — thinking that the gun would need to be disassembled.

I disassembled it last week and discovered there was nothing wrong! The sear was working properly, or at least it seemed to be when I played with it as the gun was disassembled. I relubricated everything and put it all back together and was going to write Monday’s report on it. But the trigger still didn’t work! ARRGH!

This time, I remembered that when I got the gun the trigger was also a bit iffy, so I fiddled with the adjustments WAY outside the normal realm and, presto! I got it working again. Oh, it took a couple hours and there were some accidental discharges when the barrel was closed (direct sear!), but I solved all that by giving the sear way more contact than it needs.

Now the trigger releases at about 12 lbs., but at least it’s safe. Today, I’ll share with you how the tuned gun does at 25 yards — heavy trigger and all.

One other thing I did to the rifle was lubricate the leather piston seal with 10 drops of 3-in-One oil, leaving the rifle standing on its butt for two days afterward. The oil was allowed to slowly soak into the leather, which it did, but to protect the carpet and walls (Edith–Are you listening?) I put a long drop cloth in front of the rifle when I shot it.

Today’s test is a deviation from my normal pattern. I’ve tuned this gun and not yet reported the new velocities, and yet here I am shooting for accuracy. I decided to do it that way; and if I got good results, I would test the velocity next. I’m not changing the usual way of doing things — this is just an exception.

RWS Hobby
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. I chose it for its light weight and because it’s often accurate in lower-powered spring rifles and pistols. Sitting 25 yards from the target, I have to admit that I was wondering if the rifle had enough power to hit that target — let alone shoot a decent group.

Five of the first 10 pellets were detonations from the oiled piston seal. And the smell of burning oil was in the air. The Hobbys landed in a vertical group that was pleasingly tight from side to side. I was prepared to blame the verticality on the dieseling, but the truth is, that wasn’t the problem. The gun just doesn’t want to shoot Hobbys at 25 yards. That’s not too surprising since 25 yards is about the maximum distance for any wadcutter pellets, in my experience.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle RWS Hobby target
Ten Hobbys made this 2.151-inch group at 25 yards.

Air Arms Falcon
The second pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon, a 7.3-grain dome that’s often accurate in spring rifles. I used the spotting scope only on the first shot, which was a detonation, to make sure it was on the paper. There were 4 detonations in the 10 shots. I didn’t look at the target again until I walked down to change it. Boy, was I surprised by what I saw! To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, “Now, THAT’S a group!” For open sights at 25 yards and 65-year-old-eyes, it ain’t too bad!

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle Air Arms Falcon target
Ten Air Arms Falcons went into 0.898 inches between their two widest centers. This is an acceptable group for this rifle at 25 yards.

Remember, I’m shooting 10 shots — not 5. So this kind of group really proves the rifle can shoot. It also proves this old man can still hit things when the rifle does its part! So much for the problems of the droopers and gas springs! I needed this validation after some of the disappointing tests I’ve done recently.

The heavy trigger apparently is not causing much of a problem for me. I think that’s because the rifle is rested. If I were shooting offhand, I’d want a lighter trigger-pull.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried JSB Exact RS pellets. This is another 7.3-grain dome from JSB (JSB also makes Air Arms Pellets) and is very often accurate in many different airguns. And this is one of them. The group is slightly larger than the Falcon group, but the two are so similar that I would call it a tie.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle JSB Exact RS target
Ten JSB Exact RS domes went into 1.028 inches. Though not quite as small as the Falcon group, I would rate both pellets about equal in this rifle.

RWS Superdome
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which often does well in lower-powered spring rifles. This time, however, it didn’t. Ten pellets produced a 1.765-inch group. It didn’t disappoint me, though, because the Falcon and JSB RS groups looked that much better. It showed that the earlier Hobby group wasn’t just a fluke of bad luck — the gun simply likes what it likes.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle RWS Superdome target
Ten RWS Superdomes made this 1.765-inch group.

Evaluation
This test was calming for me. It was slower than many of the tests I’ve run in the past month, and the results were more based on me as a shooter rather than on the equipment. I find that I like that a lot!

The El Gamo 68 XP is operating well right now, except for the heavy trigger that I’ll probably keep just as it is for a while. The tuned powerplant is now smoother with less of a jolt. I noticed in this test that each pellet has a firing characteristic of its own. The two JSB pellets were definitely the smoothest of the four tested, and the Hobbys were the roughest.

This is such an odd airgun, with the fat heavy butt and no forearm to hold. Yet, it shoots like a thoroughbred. With the new tune, it cocks smoothly and just feels good to shoot — I don’t have any better way of describing it. I wish you could all try one, but since you can’t, I will, again, recommend the Air Venturi Bronco, which is the closest thing still being made today.

48 thoughts on “El Gamo 68/68-XP — A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 6

  1. The previous reports on this airgun combined with this report is an eye opener and begs questions on several fronts:

    Ten shot groups under .9 inches at 25 yards with any airgun using open sights is impressive. For an airgun that is futuristic looking like this one with a 12 lb. trigger pull is incredible.

    How can I get 65 year old eyes that can shoot that well with open sights, a 12 lb trigger pull and no forearm to grab onto?

    Did installing the tx 200 macarri spring that was compressed in the middle double the trigger pull or was it something else?

    In the middle of the SIX PART test B.B. tore this gun down for our benefit. The time for tear down, picture taking and another disassembly to complete this series was enormous. With this in mind, B.B. is soon making the annual trek to SHOT Show to give us a report on the latest and greatest airgun stuff.

    During these road trips and while at these types of long distance shows B.B. is always trying to make time to generate daily blogs to satisfy our insatiable hunger for airgun information. This undoubtedly detracts from our ability to get the best information from these shows from B.B. since he must allow time for us to get our daily fix (there is no such thing as “live reporting” from these shows since photographs must be included, information gathered must be digested then processed, etc.). Seems to me that not only must the daily blogs be compressed but so must the time that B.B. spends at the annual event be compressed/sacrificed in order to do both tasks.

    When B.B. was out of commission several years ago a few articles from The Airgun Letter were condensed and published on the blog since he wasn’t able to write. These Airgun Letter articles took an average a month to write and are so sought after that I paid $75.00 recently for just one publication.

    I’d like to see some of those relevant Airgun Letter articles published (in their original form, not condensed) while B.B. is away at the SHOT Show because they contain jewels of airgun information still relevant today, because most airgunners need to be reminded of or learn the history of airguns to know where we are and where we’re going in airgunning and most importantly B.B. needs to be unfettered by the demand of publishing a blog daily while attending an event as important as the SHOT Show. The additional time this would allow him to discover new airgun treasures for us at the SHOT Show could be significant.

    What do you guys think? Am I off base? Are some wonderful vintage airgun articles for a few days a good trade off for a more in depth coverage of the most important and biggest gun show of the year?

    kevin


    • Howdy Kevin, like #5 from the movie Short Circuit, “need more input”. Any info on here is relevant to me. I find gems of “input” in everything, Mr. B.B.’s writing, Ms. Edith’s info & the gang’s comments. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Old , new, no worries, just keep the “input” comin’. Thanx ya’ll & H.N. Y. Shoot/ride safe,
      Beaz


      • Beazer,

        It may sound cliche’ but after being away from the internet for almost 2 weeks over the holidays then plugging back in it hit me like a Mack truck doing 90 mph………what’s old is new. This especially applies to airguns.

        kevin


    • Kevin,

      That’s a good idea. I’ll take a look at the files and see what might be used that way.

      Officer thinking, Mr. Lentz! ;)

      B.B.


    • I would also like to see reprints of the old Air Gun Letters posted on here. Much of the information still applies. I really enjoy look backs at guns like the El Gamo XP series, as they take me back to when I was a teenager in the 1970′s and saw ads in my fathers old “Shooting Times and Country Magazines” that were published in the UK. Advertisements from places like the Sussex Armoury used to show the “Paratrooper ” repeater which is much like the El Gamo above. I wanted one back then , and this is coming from a country kid who had free access to .22 RF’s and shotguns, and a place to shoot them.


      • Robert from Arcade,

        Where have you been young man?

        Hope your holidays were wonderful.

        You should know that it’s primarily your wonderful library that you willingly share that was a large part of the inspiration for my suggestion of revisiting B.B.’s airgun articles that are gems.

        kevin


        • Kevin: I’ve been busy patching up old houses ,( everyone always wants their stuff done before Christmas!) and hunting the local wild goats. Put three in my freezer, ( that I process myself), one with my muzzle loader, and the other two with the 12 ga Marlin pump. One shot for each. I base my shooting success on the 8-10 thousand pellets I shoot at targets all year long. On the books. I would give up several of my guns before I’d give up my books. Been reading a “Sand Country Almanac” (again) by Aldo Leopold and ” A Fierce Green Fire” byMarybeth Lorbiecki(ISBN -1-56044-478-9), which is a biography of Leopold. Hope the New Year brings you and yours ,much success and happiness!


    • Mark me down for a yes vote too for some reruns! Lots of interesting stuff has gone under this bridge! I know that I personally pick up new knowledge that I missed in the first reading if many things on the second read. Good idea, Kevin!

      /Dave


      • I SO enjoy thiis blog and Tom’s way of writing that I would enjoy a week of him writing about tractors,or just about anything really.Heck,how about a week of Edith telling us stuff that Tom wouldn’t necessarily aprove of??? LOL BTW,Happy New Year to all…..(Hi Milan!)


      • /Dave,

        Cold enough for you? Haven’t been able to get out and shoot for a month because of our weather. We need to get together when it warms up.

        kevin


        • Kevin,

          Yeah, I could use a little warmer myself. This past year was a busy one for me, but this year is looking more open. I think I still have your email so when it warms up I’ll shoot you one. Got a really weird, rotating 12′s schedule now that makes me work half graves and half days, but it gives me a little more free time, so that’s looking up!

          /Dave


    • I like the idea! And I think it would be interesting to compare what Tom thought back in those days to what he thinks today. Certainly things have changed since then plus his experience enhanced. How many times have I heard in the news or read in recent publications, “Scientists now think…”, or “Scientists previously thought…” or “This new evidence will change the way scientists look at…”. I consider Tom a scientist as well as an expert in his field so it will be interesting to me to see how much has changed over the past through these older articles.
      -Chuckj


      • chuckj,

        Another good reason.

        My suspicion is that with airguns the more things change the more they remain the same. It’s our ignorance or lack of memory that needs these gems of information about airguns republished.

        Happy New Year Chuck!

        kevin


        • Kevin
          HAPPY NEW YEAR to you, too, Kevin. And thanks for planting that idea in Tom’s head. That’s three ideas to brighten Tom’s new year: one from you (AirGun Letter), one from Vince (dovetail-mounted peeps), and one from Edith (I’m sure she’ll think of something).
          -Chuckj


      • I like the idea too. It’s all new when you read it for the first time.

        The only exposure I’ve had to “The Airgun Newsletter” is through this blog.

        Les


  2. Good morning(at least from here all, i remember these rifles from when i was young and a few of my friends had them. At the time though we did not see them as a futuristic gun but more of a James Bond assassin type affair, they were i seem to recall quite common in the UK and even now someone will say to you, “Oh, I’ve got an air gun in the attic”, and after sorting through piles of old bric-a-brac will come down with one of these all covered in dust (usually that or an old Mk2 meteor or the like).
    I remember them to be very accurate and as kids we used to go ratting with them down by an old corn silo nearby, it would do the job though now older and i hope wiser i always use full power rifles (12ft/lb) but a .22 for under 30 meters and .177 for over 20 meters. I have enjoyed following this series of reports and i am seriously considering badgering my neighbour to sell his old unused one to me, but he has had it for years and i think it’s a reminder of his youth so i doubt he will let it go.
    Kevin mentioned the old Airgun Letters which i have only ever seen condensed copies of through older blog articles, having never had a chance to read these before i would like to see more of these (full or condensed) as the ones i have read i enjoyed very much as i do with this blog. Any way have a good day to you all TTFN.
    best wishes wing commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe


    • Well, let’s extend the potential relevant articles beyond Airgun Letters then and include Airgun Revue.

      The Girandoni air rifle topic has resurfaced as a hot topic on the yellow and the vintage in the last week.

      The Shamal by Air Arms was just discussed in comments a few days ago. Who can tell me why this is such a sought after airgun?

      The classic, vintage FWB 124 is talked about almost weekly on all forums but The Queen Bee is a story that creates a buzz that elevates this gun to a Royal stature

      We used to talk about FT (Field Target) a lot here. Not so much anymore. Shame, since this not only demands the epitomy of accuracy from shooters, airguns and scopes/mounts but shooting technique. Wayne Burns is a hatchling of this blog and he has provided many venues that have given airgun shooters a launching pad for this passion for shooting accurately. It’s tough to judge the number of airgunners that have joined our ranks from the numerous events that Wayne has hosted but from those that have showed up at his multiple venues and those that weren’t there but knew someone or read about someone they knew I would judge it in the low hundreds.

      Several hundred people bought airguns, experienced airguns, for the first time from this one blog regular, Wayne Burns.

      What is a 12 fpe fenman and why should I own one? (Yes, because the wood, finish a bluing are olde school BUT only if they have been driven by an old lady to church on Sundays only)

      etc. etc.,,,

      kevin


      • Kevin,

        Sadly, back when I wrote that stuff I wasn’t taking the kind of photos you see today. Photoshop can rescue a lot of them, but unfortunately noting can fix my missing the best angles and key details.

        However, you have definitely lit a fire under me!

        What about a report on the Canterini pistols that Edith found for Larry Hannusch? They are twin Girardoni pistols that Larry restored to perfection.

        And there was the hand-pump test that Dennis Quackenbush and I did — to see if the power of vintage airguns could be inferred from the vintage hand pumps that came with them. We got some very interesting data from that test!

        B.B.


        • Tom,

          Close your eyes and throw a dart at a list of your vintage airgun articles. You’ll hit a winner.

          How about the discussion this past weekend on another airgun forum that started with “what’s the attraction to these NEW pcp guns? The old technology of a spring gun has been perfected, is tried and true.”

          Did you see the thread that turned into an argument over whether an R5 ever existed? It was locked and then deleted it turned so ugly. Ah, how quickly we forget our airgun roots.

          kevin


          • Kevin,

            I know what you mean about forgetting our roots. In fact, that is what Dennis Quackenbush is single-handedly trying to fix, by honoring all the old silverback airgunners at the airgun shows.

            B.B.


    • Sir Nigel,

      Do try to get that rifle from your neighbor! Or at least be on the lookout for one like it.

      And don’t forget the model 300 rifle that is the same powerplant but in a conventional stock.

      B.B.


  3. I have no problem with the “old stuff”. In fact, for me there is not much “new stuff” that interests me. B.B. does have to pay the bills though so I guess I will tolerate reports on the latest and greatest. Every once in a while they come out with a new product that is at least worth taking a look at. Thirty years from now some blogger (or whatever passes for such then) will pull one of these Hatsans out and take our grand kids down memory lane.


    • RidgeRunner,

      I have an agenda. Part of it is to create a desire for the classic features these old guns have and part is to get manufacturers to think about making these kinds of airguns. One time, when I was given free reign to do what I wanted, I was able to build the Bronco. While it isn’t a stellar seller, it sells well enough that some people are paying attention. But when an old-guard “power is supreme” person is allowed to voice their opinion during the development of a new airgun, we often take two steps back, again.

      B.B.


  4. Unrelated topic: Like many people, I’ve tried to use the Mendoza peep sight on a gun (both airgun and rimfire) only to find out that it sits too high compared to the front sight.

    I know there are other dovetail-mounted peeps out there – is there any way of finding out how high they sit off the rail? This way we’d be able to figure out what would work on any given application ahead of time.


    • Vince,

      Here is one data point for you. I bought a Daisy Avanti Precision Diopter Sight (PA # PY-A-1212) to use on my HW-30S, and the peep hole adjusts in a range of about 0.5″ to 1″ above the dovetail grove.

      It works quite well, but I’ve ordered a Williams FP-AG-TK to try because I have heard it works well on the gun (so I expect a similar operating range) and it has optional apertures available. The Daisy is a fixed 0.05″ aperture hole (as in not replaceable), and it works well for shooting well illuminated targets, but I find it is too dark for general outdoor use (I hope to use this set up for battling a chipmunk infestation in the spring). But the Daisy does extend closer to the eye and the Williams will need to have a larger aperture given the added distance it will sit from my eye. We will see how it works when I get it.

      One definite advantage of the Daisy is that nothing protrudes below the dovetail level, thus eliminating the chance of ever having it interfere with a stock (as in BB’s Bronco tests ;-) ). But it has no provision for a pin, and has to be really cranked down to prevent it from moving, even on a mild HW-30 / R7.

      Alan in MI


    • Vincer,

      If I had all of them at the same time I might be able to do something — but that has never happened. However, you have given me a wonderful idea! :D

      B.B.


  5. BB,

    I have to agree with Kevin and say that is some impressive shooting. I don’t think I could get a 10 shot group under an inch at 25 yards with any springer with a 12 lb trigger pull, even using a scope. Add in the lack of the forearm with this thing, and I’d be happy just to get all the shots on paper. That is an incredible feat of repeatability on your part, and shows what a good shooter you really are.

    With that in mind, from now on I will be multiplying all of your group sizes by a factor of about 5 to replicate what I can expect out of whatever gun you are testing if I were the shooter ;-)

    Happy New Year!

    Alan in MI


  6. Tom,
    I just came up with an idea for you to make your second $1,000,000. Based on the shape of the group using this rifle and the Air Arms Falcon pellet, you could make wristwatch faces for airgun enthusiasts.
    -Chuckj


    • Chuckj,

      You’re the first person to remark about that. I thought I was simply demonstrating my well-known skill of avoiding the exact center of any target with extreme precision. If this was a shotgun we would call this group a blown pattern, but can you imagine the incredible skill required to walk the shots around the aim point without ever actually touching it? ;)

      B.B.


      • Put me down for two watches. Incidentally, I shoot groups like that all the time. That is, I always seem to miss the point I’m aiming for and seem to hit everywhere around the point.

        Fred DPRoNJ


      • My first thought was that you’d had the dime taped to the target, and only showed us the 10 shots that /missed/ the dime…



  7. There are a couple things I want to say about today’s blog.To start off,wow….that gun shoots amazingly well.There are several things VERY atypical about that.As others have pointed out,a 12 lb trigger pull is a huge obstacle to anything but a one shot group! Then there is the layout of the gun itself…….it’s a bit like a fishing lure designed to catch consumers,rather than fish! Add in the part about it being a 10 shot group and all I can say is WOW.
    It is also helpful to hear BB saying that he occasionally needs reassurance when shooting a springer.I thought I was alone in that.Springers sure can shake your confidence sometimes.But there is nothing like it when all is right and the shots go where they are supposed to!


  8. Happy Holidays to all’ interesting blog.That is another air gun I wished I had held on to it”
    When I first bought it I was dissapointed with the power,back then it was an important factor
    i was impressed by it’s appearance, it did look powerful”I believe they also had a repeating model.
    Gamo was not to well known then,but a large long gone sporting goods store carried them and they
    did stand out from the usual American Air guns.The trigger pull was heavy and some times it
    would dischage when cocking”I know I put a hole and cracked her brand new stove when it went
    off when I cocked it.All in all it was the begining of air guns from overseas a few years from
    Air Rifle Headquarters one of the fisrt importers and touter of .177 over .22 which changed forever
    the air gun industry.The shooting is better than expected,and shooting the old guns is a lot of fun.
    I love the reviews of long gone air guns,it make the blog span all area’s of the sport.


  9. this question has nothing to do with this article, but does anyone know how to get in touch with tom slocum or know of anyone who works on skanaker air pistol?


  10. BB,
    This series of blogs has puzzled me. For those who don’t know, BB bought the 68 from me.

    When I got the rifle the trigger was a little stiff, I am guessing about 6-8 pounds since I don’t have a trigger gauge. I played with the adjustments and got the trigger pressure to feel lighter. I never had an accidental discharge but I had to be sure the sear had caught before releasing the barrel. If I remember right it was a matter of making sure the barrel was broken to the end of the cocking stroke for the sear to catch. For those who wonder, the reason I sold the gun was the thumb rest on the left side of the gun which made the gun uncomfortable to shoot left handed.

    It seems like something in the trigger adjustments is messed up or not working properly to me. That could have come from my messing around with the trigger screws or your adjustments. I think one screw adjusts the trigger travel and the other sear engagement.

    Anyway, it’s weird to me how much trouble the trigger has been.

    David Enoch


    • David,

      I’m sure you are right about that. And maybe in time I will get it adjusted safely again. But after several accidental discharges, I am going to proceed cautiously.

      B.B.


  11. Nice shooting B.B.
    I have the model with the round ball magazine, maybe should take the time to put in a nice spring in that one..


    • Carel,

      Are you sure your rifle is for round balls? I say that because the Gammatic mechanism is actually designed to feed Gamo diabolos (pellets). They are finicky, but if you know how they work, I have heard they can be quite reliable, too.

      B.B.


    • I shoot Hobby wadcutter pellets in my Gamo Survival rifles with the magazine on top. It works great. I think it holds 22 pellets. That magazine can spoil you.

      I do know of another person that shoots round ball like you do with good results.

      David Enoch


  12. I picked up a Gamatic with all the repeater parts broken or missing. It was a mess. It seems that the mag parts aren’t all available, and those that are tend to be very pricey.

    I converted it (more or less) to the standard single-shot configuration… but it’s not working that well (low velocity and mediocre accuracy).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


8 + = 11

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>