Umarex Legends Lever Action Rifle
The Classic Winchester Model 1894 on air Part 4
By Dennis Adler
What is a 19-1/2 inch smoothbore barrel capable of in terms of accuracy? Considering that before the use of rifling in the 1700s, (for longrifles; rifling of barrels for cannons goes much further back), the vast majority of long guns had smoothbore barrels and frontiersmen managed to do quite well with them. The use of smoothbore and rifled barrels in air pistols and air rifles alike is almost as old; Lewis & Clark carried a version of the Girandoni air rifle, manufactured for Meriweather Lewis by Philadelphia gunsmith Isiah Lukens, during their Corps of Discovery expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast from 1803 to 1806. The rifled barrel, .46 caliber Girandoni air rifle was also carried by the Austrian Army from 1780 until the early 1800s, so air rifles of both smoothbore and rifled barrel designs were not uncommon over 200 years ago. Of course, by the time of the Winchester Model 1892 and 1894 lever actions, smoothbore rifles were the exception (though they were manufactured, including an 1892 smoothbore for Annie Oakley, who used shot shells in the Winchester repeater during part of her act in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show). Winchester has also made smoothbore models of the 1873 and other lever action models on special order, so the smoothbore Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action Rifle is not altogether inaccurate! And there is something to be said for a CO2 powered lever action rifle with a smoothbore barrel. At CO2 powered air rifle distances it is accurate with BBs and even better when loaded with wadcutter pellets.
To avoid the issue of leading in the smoothbore barrel (leading occurs in rifled barrel models as well) and to get the most velocity out of the Legends Cowboy Lever Action, the Peacemaker pellet cartridges are loaded with H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters. A .177 caliber steel BB averages 5.1 gr. so at 5.25 gr. the alloy wadcutter should give up little if anything in average velocity. But what does it gain in performance for the long smoothbore barrel?
For my first accuracy test with 10 rounds of H&N Sport at 10 meters, I made one adjustment to the rear sight raising it one notch which brought the gun to POA at 10 meters. Out of 10 rounds, I placed 8 shot in an overlapping spread measuring 0.75 inches with 5 rounds at 0.625 inches. With two shots pulled to the right my total 10-shots measured 1.5 inches. Average velocity for the 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutter was 445 fps. Not too far off the 452 fps average with steel BBs. I ran 10 rounds of Meisterkugeln through the Legends Cowboy with an average velocity of 423 fps for the 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters.
Far be it from me to ever shoot a perfect target but I came close with the Meisterkugeln and Legends Cowboy Lever Action at 10 meters. I placed 10 rounds into 1.25 inches all within the red bullseye, with a tight group of 6 rounds in one large hole measuring 0.5 inches edge to edge, (the dime at left is 0.687 inches), two rounds split above and below to the right, and another pair to the far right. Overall the best total 10-shot group of the 10-meter test session.
I finished off with 10 rounds of Umarex .177 steel BBs at 10 meters and shot a surprising 1-inch group, a little high but with multiple overlapping hits with three rounds, a single and a flyer clipping the edge of the red bullseye at 2 o’clock. My best 5-shot group, which ran diagonally through the middle of the bullseye, had 3-rounds in two holes with a tear between, and a pair almost overlapping, measuring 0.75 inches. Not quite as good as I did the day before when I had 5 shots at 0.5 inches. But for a smoothbore BB rifle aiming with ancient buckhorn sights and shooting steel BBs at 10 meters, 1 inch for 10 shots is still not a bad group.
Beyond 10 meters
Bad weather put a damper on my planned 45 foot outdoor range test but I did manage to shoot indoors at 40 feet and at that distance with H&N Sport Match Green alloy wadcutters I found the sweet spot with the Legends Cowboy Lever Action and punched 10 shots inside the bullseye at 1.125 inches with two overlapping groups. The closest five shots measure 0.562 inches, so, even at 40 feet with pellets the smoothbore can still pack them in tight. Would a rifled barrel model be any more accurate? It would probably knock another 8th of an inch off the tightest groups, but since you can shoot the pellet cartridges from the Peacemakers in the lever action, a rifled barrel doesn’t strike me as being more important than perhaps a weathered finish. As for a wood stock and forend, it would increase the price significantly. Walther has always been big on wood stocks and wood grips for their pellet models, and if you look at the price for a pair of wood grips for a Walther CP88, you can begin to imagine the up charge for making a wood stock like the Walther Lever Action for the Legends Cowboy model. If the wood grained molded stock on the Umarex didn’t look as good as it does, it might be worthwhile, but in the end, it is how well the gun performs over how finely stocked it is.
Even with a wood grained molded stock and forend and a smoothbore barrel, this lever action model is not only a great shooter, but more accurate in its design and handling than anything before. The Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action should quickly earn its place alongside the Peacemakers as one of the best western CO2 models you can own.