by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• A modern breakbarrel
• Stock with an integral bipod
• Two-stage adjustable trigger
• SilencAir muzzlebrake & fiberoptic sights
• ReAxis gas-spring powerplant
• Firing behavior
A couple weeks ago, I started a new reporting format that combines Parts 1 and 2 for airgun reports of standard airguns. I felt that would speed up the reporting process a bit, since many of these guns are so similar. Well, today’s report is on the Umarex Fuel air rifle, which is different enough to warrant a standalone Part 1 description. I think as I describe the rifle, you will agree.
I’m testing rifle number 00514010. It’s in .177 caliber, which is the only caliber offered at this time.
A modern breakbarrel
The Fuel is a modern breakbarrel air rifle in every sense of the term. First, and I think foremost, in everyone’s mind is the set of permanently attached bipod legs that fold flat against the sides of the forearm when not in use. I know there’s a lot of curiosity about these. Heck — I’m curious! Of course, I’ll test the rifle resting on them, but let me answer the biggest question I see right now. Yes, it’s easy to cock the rifle with the legs deployed because they attach to either side of the stock and the barrel passes between them during cocking.
The rifle weighs 8.1 lbs. and is 44.1 inches long. The narrow stock makes it feel lighter than the weight would imply. This is an adult-sized air rifle, but not a huge one.
Stock with an integral bipod
What really drove me to say the Fuel is a modern breakbarrel is the shape of the synthetic stock. Just in front of the triggerguard, there are angled ridges that fit the fingers of your off hand nicely. They invite you to grasp the stock there. I’ll have to see if they help or hinder shooting, vis-a-vis the artillery hold. The stock is narrower here, so the rifle sits low in your hand and has a decidedly muzzle-heavy balance. It feels like a rifleman’s rifle!
The stock has different ridges at the forward end that don’t seem to invite the hand like those at the back. The bipod legs are held tight to the stock by powerful magnets in the tip of each leg that contact the stock screw heads. When they’re against the stock, that section is naturally wider than the rear portion.
The bipod legs are made of the same synthetic material as the rest of the stock. They lock into position when set up or when folded flat against the stock. There’s only one deployed position and no height adjustment. They raise the rifle 6 inches off the ground.
I should also mention that the forearm seems to have 4 screws — 2 on each side — holding it to the barreled action. In truth, the back 2 screws are only screwed into the plastic material of the stock and are just there to provide steel to attract the magnets in the bipod legs. The triggerguard has only one screw, located at the rear of the guard.
The stock has an exaggerated thumbhole design that’s completely ambidextrous. The vertical pistol grip invites the shooter to pull the stock into the shoulder. Only by shooting will I discover if this is desirable, but I can tell you it gives you a lot of control over the rifle.
The pistol grip has minor stippling on its forward edge that doesn’t add anything to the grippiness, but also horizontal grooves that do add something. The stock material is rough and doesn’t slip around in my hands.
The buttpad is a thin, black rubber pad that’s very sticky. It’ll hold the rifle on your shoulder or keep it from slipping when you lean it against something.
Two-stage adjustable trigger
The trigger is two-stage, and stage one adjusts for the length of travel. The pull weight doesn’t adjust, but I find it to be very crisp and free from creep. The specs say it breaks at 3.3 lbs., which I’ll verify in the velocity test.
I must comment on the shape and location of the steel trigger blade. It’s very vertical, which feels just right to me, and the placement is perfect for my medium-sized hands. This is where that vertical pistol grip comes into play.
The safety is a steel lever forward of the trigger blade. It’s automatic and must be pulled to the rear before you take the shot.
SilencAir muzzlebrake & fiberoptic sights
Both front and rear sights have fiberoptic tubes. The front sight is a post on top of a ramp. It’s atop a SilenceAir baffled muzzlebrake that should help with cocking leverage, except that the fiberoptic tube is in exactly the wrong place for your hand. Good thing the Fuel is easy to cock!
Yes, this gun has a baffled silencer permanently attached to the muzzle. While it does somewhat quiet the report, the shooter will hear all the powerplant noise transmitted through his cheek where it touches the stock. While the rifle’s not silent, but it isn’t that loud, either.
The rear sight is a fully adjustable sporting unit. The fiberoptics can be defeated with proper lighting, and then you see a sharply defined square post up front inside a square notch at the rear — perfect for precision sighting.
Both adjustments have definable clicks for precision. The horizontal adjustments use a scale for reference, while the elevation wheel is numbered.
Of course, the Fuel does come with a 3-9X32 scope and mounts that fit on the Picatinny rail that’s attached to the top of the spring tube. That rail is clamped by 4 screws to a set of 11mm dovetail grooves cut directly into the top of the spring tube. So, if you want to use a set of 11mm scope rings for some reason, you can.
ReAxis gas-spring powerplant
The Fuel comes with the ReAxis gas piston, which is the name Umarex gives to their gas spring. They mention this in the advertising, but don’t push it. I find this rifle to be easy to cock and a very smooth shooter. Couple that with a trigger that breaks cleanly and the lower discharge noise, and you get the impression that the Fuel is less powerful than its numbers convey. The velocity test will be very informative.
Umarex says the cocking effort is 30 lbs. I can’t wait to see what this test rifle registers on my scale, but right now I would say they’re pretty close to that number.
I’ll report more on the firing behavior in later reports; but because this rifle is easy to cock, has a crisp trigger and is quiet, I had to shoot it several times just to get acquainted. I have to say I really like how it feels when it fires. The impulse is quick and has no vibration after the shot. I’ll be able to tell a lot more when we begin accuracy testing.
I intend testing the rifle for accuracy with the open sights before I mount the scope. Open sights allow me to become familiar with the rifle’s behavior, as well as finding the best pellets for accuracy. Umarex sent a tin of Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets with the test rifle, so they’ll be included for sure.
The one thing that is a burning question in my mind right now is how the rifle will perform off the bipod. I’ve never recommended shooting spring guns with bipods because of their harmonics issues, so this will be an interesting test. I’m looking forward to it!