Testing Gamo's new CF-X underlever air rifle
Testing Gamo's new CF-X underlever air rifle
By Tom Gaylord
exclusively for PyramydAir.com. © Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved
Are the good reports really true? When B.B. Pelletier tested Gamo's new CF-X underlever spring rifle, he created the biggest stir the Pyramyd Air blog has seen to date. That's saying something, considering this year-old airgun blog's large following. But the CF-X seems to be a new kind of Gamo rifle with features and quality never seen before from this manufacturer, so I wondered if all the buzz was deserved.
Pyramyd Air asked me to spend some time with the Gamo CFX and give you my impressions, as well.
My first comment upon taking the rifle out of the box is that it's a real lightweight! My experience with underlever spring guns shows that they are always considerably heavier than their breakbarrel counterparts. But, at just 7.2 lbs., the CF-X seems to defy tradition. I think the secret must lie in the synthetic stock.
The dark gray material is smooth and somewhat slippery. They've put a pebble-grain pattern on the pistol grip, which is a reverse type of stippling, but it doesn't seem to have any effect. The forearm, however, has two panels of a sticky rubber substance that does grip your hand well - if airgunners ever held the stocks of their spring rifles in that place. In the beginning I thought this was a waste, because the best accuracy usually comes from floating the forearm on the open palm of your hand, but that might not be the case with the CF-X.
The stock is completely ambidextrous, so lefties should enjoy it. The only aspect of the rifle that favors one side over the other is the rotary breech, which cannot be switched to the other side of the gun.
Trigger & safety
The trigger has a strange rubber tip at its end, the purpose of which must be to prevent your finger from slipping off. It feels odd, but my finger stayed on the blade. The Gamo safety is the same lever they've always had. It moves backward to block the trigger and forward to let the gun fire. Thankfully, it's entirely manual, leaving the responsibility of being safe up to the shooter, where it belongs.
Rubber plug on trigger tip seems to hold trigger finger in place. Safety lever in front of trigger can be pulled back to engage at any time.
There was some discussion on the airgun forums about the feasibility of mounting a large scope on the CF-X. Some shooters felt it wasn't possible because of the position of the rotary breech and loading clearance issues. To demonstrate how readily this rifle accepts a really large piece of glass, I chose Leaper's new 8-32x56mm mil-dot scope with sidewheel parallax adjustment. This new scope is built on Leaper's tough-as-nails TS platform, so no amount of spring buzz is going to bother it - although the CF-X is a pussycat among springers. The tube on this huge scope is 30mm diameter for maximum light transmission, so everything about it is super-sized! I encountered no problems mounting a big scope, nor in loading the rifle, once the scope was mounted. All it took to get the proper clearance was a B-Square AA Adjustable one-piece mount with optional 5mm medium-height risers. The high comb of the CF-X stock brought my eye right up to perfect alignment with the exit pupil, so there was no need to shift my standard spot weld.
Leapers scope has side parallax adjustment knob on left. Windage and elevation knobs can be locked in place when zero is established.
Let's shoot the rifle!
As the shooting session commenced, the first thing I noticed was the ease of cocking. This has to be one of the easiest-cocking spring guns in its power range. Gamo has made good use of the synthetic stock, by casting in a track for the trunnions of the cocking lever on either side of the stock slot. When the lever is pulled down, the trunnion rides straight back in its captive track which may account for some of the ease of cocking. The slick synthetic material really pays off this time, as it provides a quiet, low-friction guide for the cocking linkage. Great idea, Gamo!
Rotary breech is closed.
Breech is open and pellet is aligned with the rear of the barrel. Push it in and rotate breech closed.
The rotating breech
Once the gun is cocked, the breech has to be rotated open, and here I have to mention that I don't like this system. When BSA brought it out in the 1990s, I found it cumbersome and slow, plus more difficult to load longer pellets. This Gamo is no different. The breech has a groove machined into it to guide the pellet into the barrel. If you use a round-nosed pellet (the most accurate for long-range shooting), it tries to flip over on its nose and enter the barrel skirt-first. You have to learn a technique to guide the pellet home with your finger every time, but it never becomes easy. The rotating breech is a little stiff in the beginning, but it loosens with use. Until the gun is cocked, the piston seal bears against the rotating breech, which also houses the transfer port, so it is impossible to rotate the breech.
Resting the rifle
Before shooting this rifle, I read B.B. Pelletier's report, so I didn't have to repeat the problems he had. Normally a spring-piston gun like the CF-X wants to be floated on the hand - not held tightly. And, the stock should never touch anything but flesh. But the CF-X seems to be the exception.
For some reason, and I agree with Pelletier on this, the CF-X likes to be rested directly on sandbags to shoot. That flies in the face of all we thought we knew about spring guns, but you do whatever works! I have a very fine canvas rifle rest filled with walnut shells, and it's perfect for benching this rifle. After just three sight-in shots, I was very close to being on target at 40 yards.
Perfect day - great groups!
There was very little wind on the day I shot. I waited until the wind died before every shot to give the pellet the best possible chance of flying true. And, here I would like to clear up a misconception about the wind's effect on pellet drift. A wind from the right does blow a pellet to the left. BUT, if your rifle barrel has a right-hand twist, it also pushes the pellet lower! If your rifle has a left-hand twist, the pellet climbs, besides moving left. What causes the additional movement is precession: the movement of a spin-stabilized projectile at right angles to the force applied to it. Push the side of a spinning gyroscope and it doesn't just move away from you, it also moves sideways in the direction of spin.
Best 5-shot group at 40 yards measures 0.773" center-to-center with 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. Most groups with this pellet were around one inch.
So wind can cause some very strange effects downrange - especially if it is a variable wind! It's always best to shoot when the wind is calmest, which is what I did with the CF-X. And, it paid off from the start! Shooting 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers, my 40-yard five-shot groups hovered around the 1" mark, with the best group measuring 0.773". That's knocking at the door of the TX200 and the HW77.
Getting in the groove
Whenever I go to the range, it always takes some time before I start shooting my best groups. When it starts, though, it's immediately apparent. I call it "being in the groove." With the CF-X, I was in the groove almost from the start, which tells me the rifle is a natural shooter.
Left to right: 7.9-grain Premier (great), 10.5-grain Premier (not good), 10.6-grain Kodiak (not good), 5-grain Gamo Raptor (poor).
Heavy pellets - NO!
Just to be thorough, I also shot groups with 10.6-grain Beeman Kodiaks and 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers. Both pellets opened the group size to 2.5" to 3", indicating that the CF-X doesn't like heavies.
Gamo Raptors - I don't think so!
I also shot two groups with Gamo's new ultra-velocity Raptor pellet. It clearly broke the sound barrier, but that was the only remarkable thing it did. On paper at 40 yards...well, it hard to say what it did because several Raptor pellets actually missed the 12"x12" paper target altogether. Those that did land were too far apart to consider as a group in anything but astronomical terms.
This rifle is decidedly smooth when it fires! That is its most un-Gamo-like characteristic, and I feel it's also the reason I got in the groove so quickly. The CF-X shoots like a Weihrauch HW77 that's had a little tuning! The recoil pulse is quick without being harsh in the slightest. Vibration is very low, though noticeable. I also discovered that you can hold the stock more like a conventional firearm than you can with most spring guns. I wouldn't say the CF-X is completely neutral to hold, but it is very forgiving.
All things considered, the Gamo CFX shoots more like a $500 spring rifle than a $200 one! And that is its biggest recommendation. For the pittance you pay, you get performance way beyond any other equivalent spring-air rifle. Yes, the trigger is not too good and, yes, the rotating breech is a bother; but if you can overlook these two drawbacks, the CFX offers more value than anything in its price range. It's a great entry into the world of adult airguns.