Umarex 850 M2 Part 3

Umarex 850 M2 Part 3

Latest evolution of a classic Hammerli air rifle

By Dennis Adler

Today’s tests of the Umarex 850 M2 will be at 10 meters to compare earlier tests with 88 gram air rifles. It will provide a baseline for further comparisons, and as many readers do not have the option of shooting beyond 10 meters without going to a shooting range, this is good place to begin.

Most of the 88 gr. CO2 rifles I have tested over the years have been modern tactical designs like the Beretta CX-4 Storm and Sig Sauer MCX, with the one exception being the Walther Lever Action Rifle. Most all the range tests of pellet-firing, 88 gr. CO2 rifles have been shot at 10 meters, the Walther again being the one exception, as it was also tested at 15 yards because it could maintain tight groups with open sights at that extended range.

Back in 2016 I did a series of articles on the Umarex Walther Lever Action Rifle, still one of the most expensive CO2 models on the market with a price around $460. With a design copied from 1890’s era Winchesters, the Walther is powered by an 88 gr. CO2 cylinder loaded into the stock. This was the first 88 gr. CO2 rifle I had ever tested and being a great fan of western guns remained a favorite because of its ability to accurately shoot .177 pellets from a rotary magazine.
The tests back in 2016 were shot from a measured distance of 10 meters and again at 15 meters from the target. The best accuracy for 8 rounds measured 0.75 inches at 10 meters, and 1.22 inches from 15 meters. Average 8-shot groups were 1.95 inches from 15 meters and 1.1 inches at 10 meters. Overall it was easy to keep groups clustered under 2 inches at POA from either distance.

The others, regardless of velocity or optics, were really best suited to shooting at 10 meters. The 850 M2, however, falls more into comparative shooting against a precharged pneumatic like the Air Venturi Seneca Aspen.

In 2017 I reviewed the Beretta CX-4 Storm and Sig Sauer MCX, both powered by 88 gr. CO2. Both were able to keep groups at 2 inches or just under from 10 meters with optics.

Back in March 2019, I reviewed the Aspen and its unique self-contained charging system and dual firing modes. Firing the Aspen on Low Power with a 14.66 gr. domed lead pellet, average velocity was 735 fps, and shooting from a rest at 25 yards with a scope, my groups were averaging a best five at 0.68 inches. (On high power average velocity was 917 fps with the .22 caliber domed pellets. This converts to 27 ft. lbs. of energy (37 joules), which is sufficient for most small game, and obviously better then twice the ft. lbs. of energy from the .22 caliber 850 M2. But the Umarex as a CO2 rifle is still running a decent second. It is also a lot easier to handle in the field if you’re just out punching targets or going after small game. The Aspen is more oriented to serious airgun small game hunting and for camping/survival use as a self-contained backup system, (which was part of the framework of the Aspen reviews last year). The 850 M2 is more sports oriented.

The most interesting non-CO2 exception in my air rifle tests was the Air Venturi Senica Aspen. Its self-contained PCP charging system makes this an ideal .22 caliber air rifle for camping and survival use providing effective velocity and energy for small game. Also using a rotary pellet magazine, the Aspen uses a side bolt charging handle to cock the action and rotate the magazine, much the same as the bolt action CO2 powered 850 M2.

With all of the aforementioned in mind, to be fair to previous 88 gr. CO2 models like the Beretta and Sig, I am running my first accuracy test with open sights at 10 meters and shooting from a bench rest.

In comparison with the Umarex Walther Lever Action, which is a .177 caliber air rifle, the 88 gr. CO2 cartridge powered Carbine’s average velocity with heavier 8.2 gr. Meisterkugeln rifle pellets chronographed at an average of 556 fps to 564 fps. Looking back to my velocity tests of the .22 caliber 850 M2, with 18.62 gr. H&N Baracuda Match domed pellets the average velocity was 457 fps, generating 10 ft. lbs. (13 joules) of energy. That’s roughly 100 fps slower than the .177 caliber Walther but with the M2 firing a pellet weighing 10.42 grains more! Clearly the .22 caliber 850 M2 is making the most of its CO2 power, even using the 2×12 gr. adapter and not an 88 gr. cylinder. One can only estimate, but were the Walther Lever Action a .22 and not a .177 caliber pellet rifle, velocity would not have been as high as the 850 M2 (factory spec for the .177 caliber 850 M2 lists a velocity of 700 fps with lead pellets). While that is an exercise in speculation, my point is that the 850 M2 runs closer to entry level PCP rifles than it does to other 88 gr. CO2 rifles.

Today’s 10 meter tests began with this group of eight rounds fired with the sights adjusted as they came from the factory.

10 meter tests

The first 10-meter test was shot from a rest using H&N Sport 13.73 gr. lead wadcutters. I shot with the sights just as they were set from the factory and my best 8-shot group measured 1.125 inches with the majority of hits (five of eight) grouping left from the edge of the 8 ring to the bullseye and measuring 0.8 inches. Now I will make a slight windage and elevation adjustment for 10 meters. For the rear, loosen the screw and slide the sight forward (if shooting high) or back (shooting low); the ramp is marked in increments so it is easy to make specific adjustments. The front is easily pushed from either side and you can watch this by looking down into the slot in the hood.

Sight adjustment with the M2 is very easy. For elevation, loosen the set screw and slide the green fiber optic sight forward or back on the dovetailed ramp. The adjustments are indicated by lines on the ramp base and a line in the center of the sight. Slide it forward if shots hit high, back if they are grouping low.
The red fiber optic front sight is adjustable for windage by pushing it right or left. Adjustments are not as precise as the rear sight and movements should be gauged by looking through the slot in the hood.

My next eight shot group was all centered and spread from the 9 ring splitting the eight at 6 o’clock up to the 9 ring splitting the eight at 12 o’clock for a measurement of 1.0 inches with a three-shot group a little high and two of three running through the bullseye for a best five at 0.562 inches. One more target from 10 meters gave me a group measuring 0.937 inches, with the best five-shots at 0.625 inches, a slightly tighter overall group and just a fraction wider for the best five, but better overall.

After making elevation and windage adjustments my next 10-meter target gave me a very vertical group that put six of eight in overlapping sets of three. I still wasn’t quite satisfied, and made one more minor adjustment to the sights.

At 10 meters from the rest this is the best I can do with the open sights. Not much in bragging rights, but a good enough group. At this point there is nothing not to like about this latest model from Umarex. As a footnote, everything shot thus far, including the trigger pull tests and sight adjustment shots, has totaled 100 shots on the 2×12 CO2 adapter. I chronographed shots 101 to 108 and average velocity was still 365 fps with the 13.73 gr. H&N Sport lead wadcutters. Not anywhere near the average 555 fps velocity when I started with this pair of 12 gr. CO2 cartridges, but still powerful enough for target shooting. For the remaining tests at 25 yards, I will be loading the 850 M2 with an 88 gram canister.

My last target for the day has all eight shots into 0.937 inches, with the best five at 0.625 inches. Ready to step back to 25 yards.

In Part 4 it is 25 yards with open sights and then on to mounting a scope, and precision shooting at 10 meters and 25 yards.

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