by B.B. Pelletier

We got this comment last week, and I promised an answer as a complete posting because this one will take some time. Butzback asks, “How does the Gamo compare to a Beeman? The Beeman is so much more expensive [that] it makes me wonder about quality, performance etc.” Let’s get to it!

First we do Gamo
Gamo is a company that dates back to 1889, when they were founded to produce high-quality lead.In 1950, the company decided to start production of lead pellets to satisfy the growing demand in Europe. In 1961, Gamo introduced their first airguns to the Spanish market. Today, they are the largest airgun maker in Europe.

Gamo guns have been coming into this country since the early 1960s. Their models have always been different and innovative. The Expomatic was a repeating diabolo pellet rifle, made at a time when pellet repeaters were not well-known. Gamo guns today range from youth models to the extremely powerful Hunter 1250 Hurricane. Most of their rifles have been springers, which is what I will concentrate on in this posting. However, they’re also a leader in CO2, and they’ve built a few single-stroke pneumatics. The big rumor on the street is that they’ll soon offer a precharged rifle. Because they own BSA, who already knows precharged technology, they have access to those designs. They’re also supposed to be working on a new type of hand pump, which should hit the market when and if a PCP comes out.

Gamo springers
All Gamo spring rifle models are different, but they do share some common characteristics. The dry-fire capability we discussed last week is one of those, as is the Gamo trigger. The trigger starts out as a very stiff and creepy unit with an ambiguous release point. However, the more you shoot the gun, the better this trigger gets. There have been other airguns with this same characteristic – notably the BSF spring guns from Erlangen, Germany, and many of the Webley rifles of the 1980s and ’90s. I’ve shot a Gamo Hunter 440 with 6,000 shots on the trigger, and it was as smooth and predictable as most spring gun triggers – certainly as good as an RWS trigger.

Moving on to Beeman
Unlike Gamo, Beeman doesn’t make airguns. They are an importer that puts their name on models they decide to sell. When Robert Beeman headed the company, he carefully built a reputation of quality and performance that American shooters had never dreamed possible. Since selling the company in 1994, there have been major changes to the quality of the guns that carry the Beeman name. In the beginning, this was limited to the trimming of certain low-sales guns like the HW 55, but as time passed, the Beeman company grew more “corporate” and lost some touch with its roots. They stopped publishing the full-color catalogs Robert Beeman used to build the company’s reputation. They are closely associated with Marksman, an American maker of inexpensive, mass-marketed airguns and have had ties for a long time to large retail outlets such as Wal-Mart. Both companies are owned by SR Industries.

A marketing move to extend sales for Beeman was to take Spanish airguns made by Norika and put the Beeman name on them. When Robert Beeman owned the company, they carried a few Norika guns, but Beeman never put his name on them – just as he never put his name on the Yewha shotgun, the S&W pistols or the Sheridan Blue Streak. But, now, it’s possible to see Beeman air rifles in Wal-Mart. This has diluted the Beeman name somewhat. It no longer conveys quite the panache that it did when the founder was at the helm.

The bottom line
Because of this situation, you see how difficult it is to write about the quality of a Beeman airgun. They’re all over the place! The R-series rifles are made by Weihrauch and are as good as they ever were, but there are increasingly cheaper guns carrying the Beeman name today. So, there is no such thing as “Beeman quality” any longer. To talk about Beeman air rifles, you must pick a model and get specific.

The answer. I hope!
Now, butzback, I’m going to assume that you were referring to the R-series rifles when you asked your question. How do THEY rate against Gamo air rifles? They are better in the following areas. They have a much better and more adjustable trigger. They have a better (well-rifled and uniform) barrel, as a rule, and they can out-group the Gamo rifles. HOWEVER, all companies have good and bad days. On a bad day for Weihrauch, their barrel is not going to be as good as a good Gamo barrel. In other words, there are exceptions to what I say about barrels. The Beeman (not Weihrauch, but Beeman R-series) stocks are better shaped and generally nicer in form and feel. The Beeman R-series powerplants CAN be better, but this is an area in which Gamo is rapidly closing the gap, in my opinion. And, Weihrauch is slipping just a little at the same time.

Everything I said in the paragraph above IS JUST MY OPINION. I can’t back up any of it without sitting down face-to-face with someone and comparing two rifles side by side. That would involve shooting as well as a physical examination. So, this opinion is worth about what it costs. Take what I say and evaluate the guns for yourself.