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!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Gamo P900 IGT pistol
This report covers:
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Gamo Match pellets
• Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
• 2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update
Let’s get right into the report. Today, we’ll look at the velocity of this Gamo P900 IGT air pistol. A number of comments were made about how underpowered this air pistol is, but I disagree. They’re condemning it without testing it — from just reading the numbers. We’ll set that straight today.
RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. This pure lead pellet is probably just right for the P900 powerplant. Gamo advertises the P900 as getting 400 f.p.s. with lead-free alloy pellets, so we expect the Hobbys to be slower because they’re heavier. And slower they are! When I seated them flush with the breech, Hobbys averaged 332 f.p.s. with a range from 321 to 340 — a spread of 19 f.p.s. They developed 1.71 foot-pounds, on average.
Because this pistol is lower powered, I decided to see what effect deep-seating the pellet would have. I used the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to seat the Hobby pellets deep in the breech. This time, the pellet averaged 365 f.p.s. — a gain of 38 f.p.s. The low velocity was 358 and the high was 373, so the spread was 15 f.p.s. Seated this way, they developed 2.07 foot-pounds, on average. I think it’s clear this pistol likes the pellets to be seated deep, so that’s how I will proceed with the test.
Gamo Match pellets
The next pellet I tested was the 7.56-grain Gamo Match wadcutter. I didn’t even try them seated flush. Seated deep, they averaged 360 f.p.s. with a spread from 358 to 363 f.p.s., so this time just 5 f.p.s. separated the slowest from the fastest pellet. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 2.18 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
The last pellet I tested was the Gamo Raptor PBA. This lead-free domed pellet weighs just 5.4 grains and is used to extract high velocity from airguns. Remember — Gamo advertises the P900 as getting up to 400 f.p.s. Well, that turns out to be quite conservative! This pistol I’m testing averaged 490 f.p.s. The range was from a low of 457 f.p.s. to a high of 508 f.p.s. So the spread was 51 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 2.88 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Just to see what the differences are, I also shot 4 Raptor pellets loaded flush with the breech. They ranged from a low of 439 f.p.s. to a high of 455 f.p.s.; so even loaded normally, this pistol still exceeds its advertised velocity. I may have an example that’s on the hot side, and maybe you won’t get quite as much velocity as you see here, but I think they should all get at least 400 when shooting PBA pellets.
You naysayers can revise your arguments, now. This pistol exceeds its advertised expectations by a lot. I still like the firing behavior and the trigger, though I’m sure there will be critics.
The non-adjustable 2-stage trigger on the test pistol breaks crisply at 3 lbs., 15 oz. to 4 lbs., 1 oz. It’s a fine trigger and just what I need to shoot this pistol accurately.
2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update
This report was short, so I’ll use the space to update you on the 2014 Ft. Worth airgun show that will be held on Saturday, September 6.
The following dealers and manufacturers are expected to have tables:
Flying Dragon Air Rifles (Mike Melick)
The following dealers and manufacturers are considering attending or have indicated they may attend:
Also attending will be:
American Airgunner TV
Steve Criner — TV’s Dog Soldier
Eric Henderson — big bore airgun hunter and guide
Jim Chapman — writer for Predator Extreme magazine and airgun hunter
I’m making a big push to get the smaller private dealers now. These are the guys who have vintage airguns for sale. The club has a communal table for members to display and sell their airguns. This club is where I recently purchased the BSA Airsporter Stutzen I’ve been reporting on, a BSA Scorpion pistol and a Schimel gas pistol from the 1950s.
I am going to really shake the trees, because I know there are many airgunners who will come to this one-day show. The sheer volume of people though the door will make it worth their while to attend. Who knows what unusual airguns are going to walk through the doors?
If you have some unusual airguns to sell, this show is the place to sell them! We should get a number of advanced collectors who are attracted to this brand new airgun show because of the curious guns they may find. We’re also attracting those who are new to airguning and are looking for the vintage guns they’ve read about but never seen.
Don’t forget our door prize and the three major raffle prizes that have been donated:
Air Venturi Bronco
AirForce Condor SS
Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE
Walther LGV Master Ultra
Other drawings and freebies are also in the works. Lots of guns, lots of freebies, lots of fun!
Mark September 6 on your calendar. You’ll want to be at the Ft. Worth airgun show in Poolville, Texas.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Rifle was set up
• The hold
• A hunter’s rifle
• Comparison with the first rifle
This is accuracy day with the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 rifle — the one Crosman sent especially for this test. We’ve already seen how this second rifle exceeds the power of the first one, so today we’ll see what impact that has on accuracy. As with the first rifle, I’ll shoot 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets exclusively in this test.
Rifle was set up
When I unboxed the scope, I found the rings already installed in the correct location, meaning I could install them directly on the rifle. That proves this rifle has been tested and set up before I received it. The scope went on quickly, and I found it was very close to being sighted-in; but the inability to focus the target as close as 25 yards was a hinderance to aiming. I estimate my groups were a quarter-inch larger than they needed to be because I couldn’t see well enough to put the crosshairs on an exact spot. The scope arrived set at 4X, which indicates the rifle was tested at 10 meters or yards before it was sent. At 25 yards, I wanted to see the bull more clearly, so I adjusted it to 9X. But as I said, the focus was off because the scope is parallax-adjusted for a longer distance.
I refined the sight setting and proceeded to test the hold I thought would do best — based on results from the first rifle’s test. I also tried several other holds and hand placements, establishing one thing for certain. The NP2 wants to be held firmly. Do not use the artillery hold. Instead, I found it best to slide my off hand out to almost the end of the stock and grip the forearm firmly. I can feel the forearm screw holds on the tips of my thumb and fingers, so I know my hand is in the same place every time. Any hold that wasn’t firm allowed pellets to rise vertically. I fired probably 30 shots testing just the different holds and pressures.
I then shot three 10-shot groups using the factory scope. The best of them measures 1.104 inches between centers, and the worst measures 1.168 inches. I really tried to do well, but the blurriness of the target did cause my aim to be off.
I felt the factory scope was hindering my best efforts, so I swapped it for an older CenterPoint 3-9X40 with an adjustable objective. This scope is one CenterPoint no longer carries. It’s a simple scope without an illuminated reticle; and other than the larger objective lens and the AO, it’s close to the scope that came with the rifle.
I allowed a day to pass between the first shooting session and the second because too much concentration makes me lose my edge. The next day, I shot another four 10-shot groups, plus some more sighters to get the scope shooting where I wanted. On this second day, my groups ranged from 0.895 inches between centers to 1.483 inches. I learned as I went, refining the hold that seems to be critical with the NP2. The worst group, for example, came when I experimented with the firmness of the offhand grip.
By the end of the session, I knew what this rifle wants — a firm hold of the off hand as far out on the forearm as you can comfortably hold and a firm hold of the pistol grip. Pull the butt into your shoulder firmly. This is not a death grip — just a firm hold, and it seems to be what the NP2 wants.
I’m not through with this rifle, yet. Each one of my second-session groups contains a large cluster of shots that are very close, then some strays that wander off — usually down, but not always. I think I’m close to understanding what this rifle wants, but I’m not there yet. I think it needs a very repeatable offhand grasping pressure. I’ll give it one more session and also shoot some different pellets next time — to see if I have been missing anything by shooting Crosman Premiers exclusively.
A hunter’s rifle
I have seen rifles like the NP2 before. They take some getting used to, but they reward the shooter with incredible accuracy once their secrets are learned. They’re rifles for hunters who use only a single rifle for all their needs. For the price this air rifle costs, I don’t think you can get one that’s any better.
Comparison with the first rifle
The first NP2 also took getting used to; but when I did, it gave me a best 25-yard group of 0.704 inches at 25 yards. So far, this rifle has given a best of 0.895 inches. Both rifles seem to want to do better, but I haven’t discovered quite how, just yet.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Gamo P900 IGT air pistol
This report covers:
• Description of the gun
• Overall evaluation
This report on the Gamo P900 IGT air pistol was requested by blog reader RidgeRunner, who became suddenly enthused by gas-spring technology a few weeks back. I saw this pistol in the Gamo booth at the 2014 SHOT Show; but since there was nobody there to tell me about the gun, I only knew what I could read in their static display.
The P900 isn’t the first pellet pistol to use a gas spring. That honor goes to the Benjamin Trail NP pistol I tested for you last year. Before testing that pistol, I wouldn’t have thought I could like an air pistol with a gas spring; but that one showed me there was a lot to like.
RidgeRunner asked me to test this pistol partly because of the relatively light 30-lb. cocking effort. Gamo is usually pretty correct when it comes to measuring the cocking effort of their airguns, and 30 lbs. is still within the capability of most adult men. This is not a youth airgun, though.
The P900 has an auto-pistol profile, but a size that exceeds any firearm short of a Desert Eagle Magnum. It’s entirely synthetic on the outside, and that makes it a very light 19 oz., so almost anyone can shoot it one-handed without a strain. Besides the Inert Gas Technology (Gamo’s trade name for their gas spring), this gun also features their two-stage Smooth Action Trigger (SAT), which they say is smooth and crisp. I’ll test the trigger for you in the next report, but for now I can tell you they’re not exaggerating. It is two-stage and there is no creep. I can feel the trigger move through stage two, but there’s absolutely no creep.
The sights, on the other hand, are not easy to use. The rear sight is a light yellow piece of plastic that’s so bright that it makes the front bead difficult to see. The target will have to be lit brightly and the firing point will have to be dark. Otherwise, that yellow rear sight will make aiming difficult.
The rear sight adjusts for windage, only. A screw on the right side of the sight is turned to move the notch left and right. The manual shows this being done by hand without the use of a screwdriver, and I found that it’s possible to do. No tools are needed for sight adjustments. The adjustments are smooth and without clicks. There’s no scale on the sight to reference when adjusting, so you watch the rear notch. Move it in the direction you want the pellet to move.
The front sight is a red fiberoptic bead housed in a wide plastic globe that protects your hand when cocking. The globe is handy for protecting the hand when cocking, but it stops a lot of light from reaching the fiberoptic element.
The front sight is a red bead under a wide plastic globe. The globe protects your hand when cocking, but it also shades the bead from a lot of light. In bright indoor light, the front bead is difficult to pick up; but in direct sunlight, it glows bright red.
What may appear to be an 11mm scope dovetail on top of the barrel really is just decorative. This pistol is not suitable for optical sights.
The cocking linkage is a two-piece articulated arm. It probably has to be to provide the length needed to cock the gun at a reasonable effort. When the pistol is cocked, the barrel is broken beyond 90 degrees.
I see the customer reviews are rating the P900′s trigger as not good, but they fail to elaborate. Sure, it isn’t as nice as the trigger on a Beeman P1, but this pistol sells for a lot less. For the price, I don’t see how this trigger could be much better. And, to their great credit, Gamo did not make the safety automatic. When the gun’s cocked, it’s ready to fire.
However, there is some confusion about this trigger. Gamo says it is a Smooth Action Trigger (SAT), but this one is not adjustable. On other Gamo airguns, the SAT is adjustable, so that adds some confusion to this pistol’s description.
The P900 is 99 percent ambidextrous. Only the safety button favors right-handed shooters more.
Gamo says the velocity is 345 f.p.s. with lead pellets and up to 400 f.p.s. with their PBA ammo. We’ll test that in Part 2, but for now I’ll say this is a smooth and gentle pellet pistol. It’s going to be fun to shoot. The impulse upon firing is a solid thunk with no vibration. I had to tune my P1 to get it as good.
I also read some reviews that suggest the P900 is hard to cock, and the barrel should be longer. I don’t agree. Yes, it’s harder to cock than some other pellet pistols, but 30 lbs. or whatever it turns out to be is hardly debilitating. I wonder if these critics have ever tried to cock a Webley Hurricane?
I really like this air pistol so far. I had no preconceptions coming into this test, other than the gun might be hard to cock because it has a gas spring, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Here we go, again
• Out of the box
• Barrel bushings
• Scope base welds
• Pillar bedding!
• Good to go
• Crosman Premiers
• Beeman Kodiaks
• Crosman SSP
• Evaluation thus far
• Reminder from PyramydAir.com
Here we go, again
Today, I’m starting our look at the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. This rifle was sent from Crosman to Pyramyd Air especially for me to test, so we know that it’s the absolute best that they can do with the NP2 design. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that. I’m telling all the Crosman ankle-biters that I do acknowledge that this rifle has been thoroughly examined by Crosman before sending it to me — just to stop them from saying it. This is the same thing I recently did with the Daisy 880.
The first NP2 I tested came straight from the factory and was completely random. And you saw how well it turned out. You also saw that it needed a little time to break in before the cocking effort dropped to where we thought it should be. You also saw how I had to learn to hold the rifle for best accuracy. That shouldn’t happen with this one because I know how to hold it now.
I do plan on installing the scope that comes packed with the rifle for my test. We had one negative reader comment about me switching the scope on the other rifle, and doing it this way should end that complaint.
Out of the box
Several of you asked me to go over the second rifle thoroughly to see how it differs from the first rifle I tested. This rifle is also a .22-caliber model in a wood stock; so from the outside, it appears very much the same. But one curious thing I noted is that this rifle does have a wood screw holding the front of the triggerguard to the stock. You may remember I showed you the other rifle didn’t have the screw, even though the triggerguard has a hole for it.
I went over the entire rifle, looking for differences, but none came to light. I shined a tactical flashlight down the muzzle and noted that the baffles are not obstructing the muzzle. So, the rifle seems good to go.
I cocked it, just to see how that felt, and I was transported back to the SHOT Show! This rifle cocks with between 25-27 lbs. of effort. I found the barrel pivot joint was too loose for the barrel to remain in place after the rifle has been cocked. You normally want it to stay in one place, but I say that advisedly, because this NP2 might teach us a thing of two. Crosman designed this rifle with a pivot bolt instead of just a plain pin, so the pivot joint can be tightened whenever necessary. I took the action out of the stock to do this, and that’s when I noticed a number of things.
First, the barrel does indeed have a screw, but it was already tight on this gun. Then, I shined a flashlight through the action forks and the breech joint and noticed that there are probably bearings (what some would call shims) at the pivot joint. So, the barrel can be tight and yet still flop up and down after it’s cocked. We need to learn from this; because if this rifle is accurate, Crosman has done something new. Their barrel may be looser than other breakbarrels of the past and yet still be accurate.
Scope base welds
The welds on the scope base are much more visible on this second test rifle. I know that Crosman did take action on this issue right away after the first guns were launched.
Second, I found a u-shaped piece of steel on the floor after removing the stock. When I examined the stock, I found out what it is — pillar bedding! We’ve recently discussed this on this blog, and Crosman has apparently gone and done it. The interesting thing is that they didn’t mention it in their advertising! How could they have missed announcing an important feature like this? Shooters are paying hundreds of dollars to have their rifles pillar bedded, and Crosman has gone and done it for free and kept it a secret!
The 2 forward stock screw heads bear directly against the wood of the stock, so they’ll need washers to spread their load; but the NP2 is bedded better than 80 percent of the top-end spring rifles on the market.
Good to go
I assembled the rifle and found the barrel does not wobble side to side, yet it still flops after it’s cocked. This means the barrel pivot joint is adding very little resistance to the cocking effort. Now, it was time to start the velocity test.
The first pellet up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that I believe will be one of the most accurate pellets for this rifle. Ten of them averaged 823 f.p.s. — a whopping 78 f.p.s. gain over the broken-in velocity of the first test rifle. And the cocking effort is still 5-7 lbs. lighter!
Best of all, Premiers varied by only 5 f.p.s. over the 10-shot spread — from 821 to 826 f.p.s. That’s phenomenal! It’s in PCP territory, and I’m talking about a regulated gun. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 21.51 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Next, I tried 21.1-grain Beeman Kodiaks. As powerful as this rifle is, it should handle them okay. They averaged 646 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 19.46 foot-pounds. The spread for this heavyweight pellet was 12 f.p.s., ranging from 639 to 651 f.p.s.
You might wonder why I didn’t test the JSB Exact RS dome in this rifle since I did test it in the first rifle. The reason was the poor performance we saw in that first velocity test. I decided to switch to the Kodiaks rather than test a pellet that might not be suited to this powerplant.
The last pellet I tested was the 9.5-grain lead-free Crosman SSP pointed pellet. They averaged 1023 f.p.s. from the NP2, with a 55 f.p.s. spread that ranged from 992 f.p.s. to 1047 f.p.s. This is getting up close to the 1100 f.p.s. velocity that’s printed on the outside of the NP2 box. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 22.08 foot-pounds of energy.
The trigger on this new test rifle feels very similar to the one I tested on the first rifle. The first stage is long and heavy, measuring 3 lbs., 6 oz. to stage 2. Stage 2 was breaking at over 6 lbs. out of the box, but I adjusted it to 4 lbs., 4 oz., which is exactly the same as the first trigger. This is a very good trigger for a sporting airgun — especially considering the price!
Evaluation thus far
This is more like the rifle I shot back in January. I think anyone would be happy with this one; and if they aren’t, then they should reconsider getting a gas-spring air rifle altogether. I sure hope this rifle is at least as accurate as the first one turned out to be.
Reminder from PyramydAir.com
Pyramyd Air’s marketing department wants to remind our blog readers that today (Mon. 6/30/14) is the last day you can enter their Son of a Gun Giveaway for the June prize, which is the Benjamin NP Limited rifle!
They’ve now started their 4th of July countdown of deals! There’s a special coupon that lets you combine a discount with their free shipping promotion and you’ll get double Bullseye Bucks. Plus, more deals are going to coming via email. If you’re not signed up to receive their email promos, go to Pyramyd Air’s home page and enter your email address in the space to the left of the word SUBSCRIBE.