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Education / Training Gamo’s new Viper Express air shotgun – Part 3

Gamo’s new Viper Express air shotgun – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Have you looked at the Christmas Gift Guide on Pyramyd’s website, yet? It’s a great place for friends and relatives to find the things you really want.

Okay, today we return to the the Gamo Viper Express air shotgun. I went to Gamo’s US website to see what they have to say, but there is very little technical info there. They do say this gun is for hunting small game and birds (which are small game) at close to medium distances. I disagree. Maybe you could take a roosting sparrow at 20 feet, but to push the envelope out farther or to go after larger animals would be unsportsmanlike, in my opinion. And, PLEASE, let’s hear no tales of scaring off domestic pets with it!

I checked the shotshell velocity again and found that it had increased to 598-601. That’s better and more in line with what I would expect. The shot charge weighs 15.3 grains, so now we are up to about 12.2 foot-pounds. However, you cannot use that energy to calculate the effectiveness of this gun on game. Because it is a shotgun, only the shot that actually hits your quarry transfers energy, so we first need to establish what the pattern looks like.

I used a white sheet of paper placed at 10 yards on a stout cardboard box. The box had both two- and four-fold thicknesses that enabled evaluation of penetration. The first shot was quite revealing, as the photos show.

This pattern was obtained at 10 yards. The black circle was the aim point. Notice the large areas devoid of any hits. In shotgunning parlance, this is what’s known as a “blown” pattern.

Nineteen holes show, but I think two shot went through the same hole somewhere. Notice the large areas in which there are no holes. This is a poor pattern that shotgunners would call a “blown” pattern, meaning the voids (areas where there’s no shot) in it.

The tin of pellets gives some scale to the pattern and the holes in it. You can see other spots just as large that also received no shot.

The first pattern is rather tight at the center, so I shot a second one to confirm or dispel this trait. If you could count on the shot holding together this tight at 10 yards, the gun might be able to take pigeons and squirrels reliably.

This second pattern is more evenly distributed, however it also has some voids. The pattern should be round, but 20 shot aren’t enough to give a distribution like that.

On shot No. 1, 14 of the 20 shot made it through both sides of the box. Six of those passed clear through four thicknesses of box, because of some reinforcements they had to pass through. That’s very good 10-yard performance for No. 9 shot that starts out going only 600 f.p.s.

Hunting – yes or no?
A resounding NO! Too few shot make a blown pattern that has limited effectiveness on game…even at close range. This is always a problem for air shotguns, and especially for this one, which is the midget of all of them. Hunting game with this gun would be cruel.

There are other things to shoot. Like insects, for instance. How I would love to go after carpenter bees with a Viper Express. What about that nest of yellowjackets in your backyard when the climate gets very dry? The shots would have to be taken closer than 10 yards, which would add a sporting side to the challenge.

We still need a good way to reload the empty shells, so there’s going to be at least one more report on this gun.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

71 thoughts on “Gamo’s new Viper Express air shotgun – Part 3”

  1. I really wish there was some way to hold Gamo accountable……I saw their commercial on OLN yesterday and they’re still showing video of a wild pig being shot with a raptor pellet. This type of advertising is misleading and potentially cruel to animals. I’m no tree-hugger, but game deserves to be killed quickly and humanely.

  2. Yep, I’m with you guys, someone else is going to try it and they will have to shoot the thing 20 times before it dies. Off topic question, how would I go about putting a bipod on a sumatra 2500?


  3. Hi BB,

    Why don’t some airgun manufacturers wise up? If you buy something from them that doesn’t perform as advertised, you are very unlikely to ever buy that brand again. It it takes a lot of time and money to build up a brand reputation, but just one bad product destroys it in an instant.



  4. On the subject of Gamo rifles…

    What is the better buy for a backyard plinker and hunter, the CFx or Hunter 440?

    I’m looking for accuracy and and bird killing power. Largest game attempted would be a squirrel or crow.


  5. It may be good for flushing pigeons out.
    Would be nice to see 5 or 6 taken out at once. They fly low and circular patterns
    so you could lead a little bunch and blast away!!Thanks for all the info everyone. I almost fell for this gun!!

  6. Another CFX question for BB!

    I’m looking to get a new airgun in the next couple of days…

    Gamo CFX in .177 or Benjamin 392 in .22 for bird, squirrel and rodent hunting? I’m looking for a reliable, easy to shoot rifle that will give me solid kills at 20 – 30 yards.

    Any pellet recomendations for either gun?


  7. CF-X vs Benjamin,

    Wow! What a difference! Those two rifles are nothing alike. The CF-X has more potential accuracy for longer ranges (beyond 30 yards) but the 392 is the better hunting rifle, and is easier to shoot accurately.

    I’d say it comes down to this: if you have to use a scope get the Gamo. If open sights are okay, get the Benjamin.


  8. dm20,

    Smaller shot conveys less energy and looses it faster. There is only one smaller common size, and that’s number 12. It’s what is used in .22 rimfire shot shells. Even starting out at 1,000 f.p.s., it only has an effective range of about 15-20 feet because the small shot looses energy so fast.


  9. Hi B.B.
    Regarding the Glock T4, I’m a fan of P99s and Glocks, and I do play airsoft occasionally. I wanted to purchase an airsoft gas glock for my sidearm at first and noticed that crosman came up with a pellet/BB version of the glock.
    Now what I wanted to know was, is this a blowback pistol? Also, I’m curious where the pistol was made in. (Country where airguns are made in is important to me)I’m assuming accuracy is probably the same as any other pistol that can shoot both bbs and pellets. I currently own 2 walther CP99s, so I thought the T4 might be a good addition to my collection. Just curious about the T4 that’s all, nothing else really stands out other than its a glock. If you won’t do a review, it’s ok too.
    And also, wondering how crosman’s version of their glock is different than Gamo’s version of the glock.


  10. It seems to me that, since the Viper shotshell is only loaded to about half of it’s capacity, loading it to the mouth with #8 shot would be an interesting enterprise. I’m still waiting for a good answer to the reloading problem though. Loading it with cornmeal for shooting balloons and such sounds like fun too.

    Also, would you mount a scope or red dot sight on this gun and let us know what it’s capable of, accuracy-wise?


  11. Joe,

    The Viper is a 12-ffot-pound airgun, not a real shotgun. All those things you mention are offest by the fact that with only 12 foot-pounds there is very little you can do. Filling the case, which I did earlier, by the way, drops the velocity by 200 f.p.s. or more. Cornmeal also adds weight the gun can’t handle.

    As for the Raptor, there is only one. It’s a 5-grain .177 pellet made of some pot metal plated with gold. You might like to read the blog I did on it. Go to the main blog page and enter Raptor in the search box.


  12. OMG! How do you kill a pig with something as light as a Raptor pellet…wishful thinking? I actually bought a pkg of these pells several weeks ago but haven’t tried them yet. Hmmm…think I’ll take them and go Cape Buffalo hunting…watcha think? -Joe

  13. So I went to the Gamo site and watched the boar-killed-with-a-Raptor. Several curious things: the barking dogs never make an appearance, so I assume the sounds were added. Why does the shooter grimace when he finally spots the boar? As soon as he shoots it, without a scene change, he turns to the camera and gives a little speech about how powerful the Raptor pellet is…I mean, c’mon. You shoot a creature capable of ripping out your femoral artery and you’re that calm afterwards? They drag the boar out into the open and again, where are the yapping dogs? The whole thing was a set-up with a stuffed boar. Oh, and shooting through branches with an easily deflected light, high-speed projectile?

    Just some thoughts, but the video made me wonder if Gamo was for some reason trying to reduce their customer base on purpose by having them shoot dangerous game with an airgun. Reminds me of the movie Blazing Saddles, where Sheriff Bart straps on a six-shooter to go stop the character of Mongo, who’s tearing up the town. ‘Don’t do that,” his friend says.’Why not?’ asks Bart. ‘Because if you shoot him, and he notices, you’re in bad trouble.’ For those of us who love trouble, it’s reassuring to know all we’ll need is a Gamo air rifle, a Raptor pellet, and something dangerous that will notice.



  14. Mmmph. Probably doesn’t get much stranger than the Viper. Too late anyhoo…I’m in love with the way it looks. But seriously, what /is/ your reason to keep yours (other than Starlings @ 30 yds?). I’d still be curious to see what scoping it for pellet use would get. BTW, our local Maui Sports Authority store is carrying at least one Viper…I saw it in the rack this afternoon. -Joe

  15. I /am/ one of those who like strange airguns, although I’m probably the only airgunner in the world that doesn’t share everyone else’s high opinion of the Crosman 600. I thought it was too big & ungainly.The balance on mine always struck me as being a little ‘off’. I preferred my SSP-250 for silhouettes, f’r instance. To each his or her own, I suppose. -Joe

  16. B.B.

    Have you ever looked at or shot a Drulov Sokol .375 Carbine? It’s a 9mm, but in Pyramids sorely lacking description of it, they say, “The 000 buck shot is 60gr and useful distance is 25m or approximately 75 feet.”. Are they talking about a single buck shot?

  17. I like the idea of shooting bugs. We will
    sometimes use 410’s to shoot dragon flies for
    bass bait. More fun than a net. The Gamo
    would work but not much of a pattern and
    probably a zero string. Have you considered
    some of the heavier non-toxic shot for a
    heavier ft. lb. penetration. At the price
    of $8 for a box of 25, reloading would be
    worth it. No primers, powder, or wad.
    Hal in Central California

  18. Hey, I live in south Louisiana and enjoy airgun hunting, though i havn’t done much. I shot a chipmunk witha a tiny daisy 1-pump, but now shoot birds and nutria with my gamo young hunter. for those who don’t know what a nutria is, it is a aquatic rodent (like a cross between a beaver and a rat) and an invasive species from south america that has done nothing but harm here. We have a serious problem with them ripping up plants and grass that holds the bank of the canal togeteher. Trapping didn’t work, so me with my gamo, some friends, and my neighbor with his gamo carbine 640 equipped w/ a varmit hunter scope went out and shot a few. when they go in bushes and swim, they are hard to shoot, so we thought this might be good. there is accually a $5 bounty and no limit on them. he is surely getting a viper express for christmas, and i was wonering what your feedback on the idea was. any help would be appreciated.THANKS.

    P.S. your blogs
    are very helpful

  19. It sounds to me like you have everything figured out. I’d say just keep shooting.

    The Viper Express is okay for Nutria at ranges closer than 20 yards, but because it isn’t rifled, it really isn’t accurate enough for long-range shots. And the shotshells don’t have enough punch for nutria.




  21. I am an avid wingshooter, but I have also come to enjoy airguns. I am new to the airgun world. I have a couple of crossman 1100’s, a fargo, and an LD shotgun. I am looking for someone that can reseal the LD shotgun. I am also wondering if You have compared the LD to against the 201, and if you have developed an opinion on the Shark from Sunshine Airguns.


  22. I have never tested the LD, which came in both .380 caliber and 20 gauge, by the way. I assume you have the more common .380 caliber single-barrel model?

    Because the LD is CO2, the performance curve is similar to the Farco. So bore size is what differentiates the two guns.

    As for someone to reseal the LD, why not go to the final importer, Ron Sauls? His website is


    864 – 261 – 6810


  23. B.B check out the updated videos on gamo.com.They have a video which shows multiple types of game including suirrels being killed with the viper express.The video is called first air rifle/shotgun combination.

  24. I’m sure someone could figure a way to do what you ask, but it might cost you hundreds of dollars to impliment.

    First of all, the shape of the shotgun barrel doesn’t lend itself to a bipod. Second, the extra long cocking stroke brings the barrel very close to the stock and third, the cocking slot in the stock is also very long.

    It’s difficult to find an anchor point for the bipod that doesn’t interfere with cocking the gun.


  25. B.B. I recently purchased a Viper Express through Sportsman’s Guide who’s Buyer Club I have been part of for a little over two years. However when I got my gun in the mail, I shot it a few times and to my discontent I noticed the barrel was fouled, the muzzle showed oxidation like I have never before seen in my entire life on a modern air gun. What in God’s name does Gamo make the barrels out of? I know it is probably not Gamo’s fault but Sportsmans Guide’s. I like the gun, don’t get me wrong, I wish it was a little bit easier to find the wads afterwards. It still is a wonderful novelty gun. The shot shells don’t seem powerful enough to take game on the run or in the air but the adapter with a .22 pellet seems to pack quite a wallop(I haven’t used it on quarry yet though). Another thing I found odd is that after firing the seal of my gun starts peeling forward literally coming out of its little hole is this common or another abnormality due the sportsmans guide’s apparently low low prices?

  26. B.B. I just called the sg’s customer service and hopefully this is an isolated instance. Thanks for writing this blog it is extremely honest and helpful.

    Also do you know of anyone that can restore a daisy model 25 pump, it was taken apart once by some idiot, so I need a new trigger the loader needs reassembled and a new spring is needed for the pump.

  27. Well B.B.

    My second Viper Express came in the mail not too long ago from the Sportsmans Guide. IT TOO WAS RUSTED AND FAR WORSE THAN THE FIRST! I called customer service and requested my purchase and membership be refunded the guns are on their way back right now.
    So be wary when and if you purchase airguns (or anything else from them in that matter). I never had problems before with them but now I do and its a large one!

    B.B. I just picked up a varmint hunter and when I cock and fire, it goes twang, the thing literally sounds like a Red Ryder. Is it supposed to this or did someone before I purchased it, dry fire it and ruin the spring.


  28. hey bb, I’m curious if u r going to follow up on this review and tell us how to reload the shells? Thanks slot for this review, it may not have
    kept me from buying one, but the only reason I did is because of its “different” design. Thanks a ton, Derek

  29. Derek,

    No, I’m not going to do any more with the Viper Express. But I did discover that the greater resistance you put in the shell when reloading, the better it shoots. That’s on both ends. Toilet paper wads are poor, but tight-fitting card stock wads are better. More resistance seems to be the key.


  30. B.B.

    Obviously no one is impressed with the Viper, so if I want a shotgun style airgun, what is the best one, & what do you think of it’s power, accuracy, pattern, & what & how far can you kill with it?

    – The Big Bore Addict –

  31. Big Bore Addict,

    The Fire 201 .25 cal. shotgun is the best one I have tested. It’s the Korean gun that was turned into the 9mm single-shot rifle that is still sold as the Fire 210.

    If you can find a used one, get it, but make certain that it comes with all its empty shells (25) and the leather belt to hold them would also be nice.

    That said, there are NO air shotguns worthy of consideration, in my opinion. What we need is a gun that will launch a half-ounce of shot at 1,000 f.p.s. That doesn’t exist and never has.

  32. Big Bore Addict,

    I’ll answer your unasked question. The Shark 13mm shotgun is CO2, so if you live in Hawaii or near the equator, it’s probably okay. And I know you qualify.

    But CO2 has velocity limitations. I owned a Farco, which is similar to a Shark. It was okay as a novelty, but lousy as a shotgun. Too slow. I did shoot some .433 round balls from it that were my introduction to big bore airguns though.


  33. B.B.

    Thank you, I’ll definetely look into that, & I agree… “a half-ounce of shot at 1,000 f.p.s.” would be just what the doctor ordered.

    I think that if someone actually produced one, it would undoubtedly be a great seller.

    It just amazes me, that in the year 2008 nobody makes that, or even a good quality/performing high capacity (30rounds or more), powerful, & accurate semi-auto.

    The CX4 Storm is the closest thing we have, & the trigger pull & accuracy leave little to be desired. [shakes head]

    – The Big Bore Addict –

  34. I'll say this…

    I held a Viper at the shot Show & I WAS impressed with the looks & feel, but like B.B. says… it like the Farco & Shark, just doesn't have the amount of shot & power to do much damage.
    Also keep in mind that the Farco & Shark are considerably better performers, much larger calibers, & are throwing a lot more lead.

    I have two Crosman Trapmaster 1100's & love them, mostly because they are collectors items & they ARE fun to shoot.

    Even though I DID manage to take a couple of pigeons in flight down with one shot each at 15 – 20 yards, I would say that is about the maximum limit of it's capabilities, aside fron the .375 round balls you can shoot through it.

    I am keeping one of them stock for collectors sake, & plan to send the other one out to be converted to bulk fill & hopped up to the maximum velocity possible (hopefully 800 – 1,000 fps), & then try it with #6 & #8 shot & see how it performs.

    After that, if I can consistently take pigeons & similar sized birds down at 20 – 25 yards, I'd be both happy AND impressed, but I'm NOT counting on it.
    I think I'll be lucky if I can get 800fps out of it when it's all said & done.

    So my point is simple…

    Unless you want to play skeet with a friend throwing Ritz carckers in the air, or take out small mice & sparrows at a maximum of 10 yards, don't expect much else out of the Viper as far as performance.

    It is a .22 cal & the Trapmaster is a .380 cal throwing considerably more lead, & still isn't very effective as a hunting shotgun. Quite frankly I consider myself very lucky to have taken those pigeons down with the .380 cal Trapmaster.
    I attribute those two kills to two factors…
    One, they were perfectly placed shots.
    And two, it was about 95 degrees that day, wich makes a big difference with CO2.

    Had it been 70 degrees or less & I not placed those shots so well, I would NOT have dropped those pigeons.

    I'm betting B.B. will agree that it would be hard to do that consistently with the Trapmaster, Farco, OR the Shark… & probably impossible with the Viper.

    In my humble opinion, until someone comes out with a PCP shotgun that (like B.B. says) will deliver a 1/2 ounce of shot at at least a 1,000 fps, we won't have a good air powered shotgun for hunting.


    B.B. who would you recommend for the best results on modifying my Trapmaster?

    – The BBA –

  35. I ordered a refurbished Gamo Viper Express from Cabelas for Christmas.
    The gun was new with just a small ding on the plastic barrel cover. this gun has plenty of power but no
    accuracy. I would sight it in and hit a target 50 yards away and then miss that same target several times before another hit. I shortened the distance and shot at a post several times and noticed that most of the pellets were sinking sideways into the wood. I closely examined the barrel and found that 3/4″ of the muzzle end of the barrel was 5.8mm in diameter. A clean new pellet could be droped skirt first into the muzzle and would stop 3/4″ inside the barrel. I immediately cut off this knarly blunderbuss end, sanded, deburred and painted it. After that I began to hit consistantly with it. I used talcum powder to check the seal around the brass insert and found it leaked all the way around. I miked the shoulder depth of the insert and found it to be about 4.75mm. I then substituted a plastic shot shell insert for the brass as it miked out at a 5mm shoulder. This reduced the air leaks to practically zero. So I just swapped them and put the brass insert away for now until i decide what to do with it. I had to get rid of a cheap rifle scope that i had installed on it as the recoil was too much for it. You definitely need a scope stop on this gun because of the jarring foward recoil. I put a BSA red dot scope on it and a scope stop and this has made it a fun gun to shoot. As for the shot shells, stand over a trash can and shoot all of the #9 shot into some garbage. Reload all of your empties with #6 shot, 7 to 8 should suffice for 15 grain. Use a cut down .22 cal cleaning pellet on each side of your shot load. Also once I had cut the muzzle off I junked the undersized hard to see brass bead because the red dot scope makes it unneccesary.

  36. BB, I think I might have found the method to reload the shells for the Viper Express and get decent patterns.

    First, wads. The material I use is glossy card stock, just a bit thicker than business card material. I made punches and dies from various spent centerfire cartridges, using a .45 ACP sharpened to punch the card stock and cut-down cases to form this disk into a cup. They look great, seal tight and work.

    The problem with the cases is the slight step up in diameter at the mouth end where the over-shot wad was secured. I push the base wad up to this point, then add 15 grains of shot, from #9 to #6, capping with a smaller wad inserted from the front. #6 works although it has a pellet count of 8. With 650 FPS from my rifle and a 4 inch pattern at 10 yards, they hit hard. #9 is a bit larger pattern but denser, quite effective on Starlings which are getting quite skittish since I have been controlling their numbers.

    I have yet to try #6 performance on squirrel as my RWS 48 with Crosman Premier heavy does just fine.

  37. Well, it didn't take long. Starlings are my primary use so I was loaded with #9 when a squirrel showed himself in the tree, distance a close 5 yards or so with a snap shot, it got hit with 11 of the 20 pellets, one severing the spine so it could not escape, luck shot. I followed up with a pellet to the head.

    Yes, it is going into the pot. But I will never use #9 on squirrel again as it only worked here due to the small stature of the squirrel. #6 is the standard for a reason and I would prefer a .410 as the delivery method. But at up to 10 yards, the Viper Express with my reloads is viable.

  38. Hi B.B. –
    There is a fellow out there who is CNC’s aluminum shot shells for the Viper Express. I’m waiting on my first batch from him.

    Do you think #6 or #8 shot would fare well on snakes? Rattlers.

    And do you think over 15 grains would be ok to load, or should we go by Gamo’s initial weighting? My Viper Express has the Nitro Piston upgrade.

    And by the way, though Gamo discontinued the Viper Express in the US a while back, it’s available on Pyramyd.

    • MauriceC,

      I think the Viper Express is too weak to kill a snake. I would use a pellet rifle that shoots a solid pellet — preferably a .22 that runs around 15 foot pounds. Aim for the head and let the snake see you. He will align on the muzzle and your pellet will strike him between the eyes every time. I have done this about 20 times without fail.


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