Posts Tagged ‘Umarex Fuel gas spring breakbarrel air rifle’
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• I couldn’t believe it is a gas spring!
• Cocking effort
• Velocity test — H&N Meisterkugeln pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS HyperMAX pellets
• H&N Baracuda Match pellets
• Firing behavior and report
• Overall evaluation
Today we look at the velocity of the Umarex Fuel air rifle, and folks — I think we have a winner, here! I’ll tell you why I say that as the report unfolds.
I couldn’t believe it’s a gas spring!
As I shot the Fuel, I was surprised by how easy it is to cock — especially given the power you’ll see. Unlike other gas springs that fight you from the starting point of the cocking stroke, the Fuel seems to start out easy and gets hard only when the mechanical advantage of the cocking linkage is in the right place. It’s as if whoever designed this air rifle had actually cocked one before!
The Fuel requires 32 lbs. of force to cock — far less than other gas-spring rifles of similar power. And the effort does build rather than be all at once from the starting point. That linkage is certainly well thought out!
Unfortunately, I had an accident while measuring the cocking effort. In an attempt to avoid damaging the plastic fiberoptic front sight, I made the cocking effort more of a sideways movement across the scale, rather than a direct downward pressure. The muzzle slipped off the scale and slammed against my bare leg, breaking off the SilencAir muzzlebrake and front sight of the rifle. That wasn’t the Fuel’s fault — it was clearly all mine.
For the rest of the test, I will be shooting the rifle without the muzzle brake that on this rifle actually has baffles to silence the report. And I won’t be able to test the rifle using the open sights, so I’ll install a dot sight to cover the first part of the accuracy test. Remember — I want to test this rifle using both the bipod legs that are permanently affixed to the stock, as well as a conventional artillery hold.
Velocity test — RWS Meisterkugeln pellets
Umarex U.S.A., who sent me the rifle to test, also sent a tin of RWS Meisterkugeln 8.2-grain pellets. So, they were the first pellets I tested. The first three shots were 999, 974, and 977 f.p.s., respectively. The fourth shot went 966 f.p.s., and that started a string of 10 that had a low of 956 and a high of 966 f.p.s. So the break-in lasted exactly 3 shots! That’s a record.
The average with 8.2-grain Meisterkugeln pellets was 960 f.p.s. That produced an average muzzle energy of 16.78 foot-pounds.
RWS Hobby pellets
Next up were RWS Hobby pellets. At just 7 grains in .177 caliber, these should be screamers in this rifle. They averaged 1045 f.p.s. — with a low of 1031, a high of 1052 f.p.s. and a spread of 19 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 16.98 foot-pounds.
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that we expect spring-piston guns to produce more power with lighter pellets — just the opposite of what pneumatics do. Sometimes, there are anomalies due to the weight of the piston, but generally things work out that way.
RWS HyperMAX pellets
I wanted to see just how fast the Fuel is, so next up were the lead-free 5.2-grain RWS HyperMAX pellets. They averaged 1215 f.p.s. — with a spread from 1200 f.p.s. to 1223 f.p.s. and a total velocity spread of 23 f.p.s., which is pretty consistent for such a light pellet in a powerful piston gun. At the average velocity, they produced 17.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
H&N Baracuda Match pellets
The Fuel obviously has enough power for a heavier pellet, so I selected an H&N Baracuda Match pellet as the final test pellet. This one averaged 838 f.p.s. in the Fuel — with a low of 830 f.p.s., a high of 845 f.p.s. and a total spread of just 15 f.p.s. At the average muzzle velocity, this pellet produced 16.61 foot-pounds. Now, that’s an interesting number. From the lowest power to the highest seen in this test, the rifle varied by less than half a foot-pound. Even though the pellets doubled in weight, the energy difference was small, meaning that the Fuel outputs similar energy with most pellets. That’s very uncommon for a spring-piston airgun.
Firing behavior and report
The Fuel is very quiet when it discharges. Even after the SilencAir broke off, the rifle was still quiet. And the discharge felt smooth and solid — no vibration after the shot. This rifle shoots like a tuned spring rifle that costs a lot more. If it’s also accurate, we’re looking at the best buy of 2014.
The two-stage trigger is adjustable for the length of the first stage, only. Stage one weighs exactly 1 lb., and stage two breaks cleanly at 4 lbs., 11 oz. I’ll be able to shoot well with this trigger.
I’m impressed by the Fuel so far. It cocks easily, yet is spot-on for velocity. The trigger is nice, and the firing behavior is smooth and solid. I have a good feeling about this rifle.
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
Here’s our second look at what’s new in airguns for 2014. Last February, while I was having dinner with Hans Wonish of Umarex, he told me about the upcoming Broomhandle Mauser I’m now testing. After we discussed that for a bit, Herr Wonish asked me if there were any other handgun models that I though might be well-received by airgunners. Several crossed my mind, but the one that really stuck out was the Colt Python! This year, I saw that revolver in the Umarex booth!
BB gun shooters are going to love the new Colt Python .357 from Umarex. It uses real shells to hold the BBs!
Another new rifle from Umarex is going to have a lot of hunters excited because it offers something they’ve been requesting for a long time. The new Umarex Fuel breakbarrel spring rifle (with Reaxis gas piston and SilenceAir technology) has a bipod built right into the stock! That’s right — there’s nothing more to buy. Just pull the legs apart and rotate them down to make a solid field stand. Or flip them back up, and they’re just part of the stock.
Built-in bipod makes the Fuel spring rifle stand out — and up!
When not needed, the Fuel’s bipod folds neatly back into the stock.
Edith and I went snooping over in the German pavilion. In the Diana booth we saw a gun that hasn’t been seen in the U.S. yet. It’s the 340 N-TEC Premium, a breakbarrel Diana with a nice silencer on the muzzle and a beautiful walnut stock with deep checkering. That’s all pretty usual fare for Diana, except this rifle has something new. A gas spring that’s 100 percent German made!
The Diana 340 N-TEC Premium is German’s first rifle to have a German-built gas spring.
We’re fortunate to have Herr Michael Mayer (of Mayer and Grammelspacher — the owners of Diana) show the gun to us. He was justifiably proud of the craftsmanship of this beautiful rifle and told us we may start seeing them in the U.S. by June of this year.
AirForce Escape nets big sales on first day!
Remember the Escape rifles I showed you 2 days ago? Well, AirForce sold their entire first 3 months of production on the first day of the show! The reception was overwhelming for this rifle; and like I predicted, people who aren’t traditional airgunners were buying them, too!
Remington gets back into airguns
They haven’t made airguns since 1929, but Remington Arms is revitalizing their airgun selection in 2014. Leading the effort is Dani Navickas, the lady who served many of us at the old Beeman organization for so many years. She has spent a lot of time teaching the Remington staff about the airgun market, and it looks like it will pay off this year.
The first offerings are guns made in China, but don’t make a face. When I saw them, I was shocked. The quality looks as good as anything that comes from Europe these days. Each model is patterned after a popular Remington firearm, and the guns should be available to the U.S. market by early summer.
The Remington Express and Express Compact are 2 new air rifles from Remington. They say I can test an Express very soon!
Reminton also has a neat 1911A1 BB pistol. It has blowback and can fully disassemble like the firearm. I’ll test that one as soon as possible!
New Remington BB pistol has blowback and offers full disassembly. The grip safety really works!
Another new product from Remington are some great field targets with features I haven’t seen before. They offer killzone reducers that are permanently attached and just flip in and out of position! And some of them are resettable with a second shot — ending the need for long cords that can tangle and break.
Killzone reducers simply flip in and out of place! And reset the target with a hit on the bottom paddle!
With Dani at the helm, we can count on Remington to enter the airgun world in the right way. I hope they realize how fortunate they were to get her to lead their efforts!