by B.B. Pelletier

Gamo’s Hunter Extreme is a big air rifle.

It’s big and it’s “EXTREME” – that over-used adjective that seems to have replaced “radical” as the flavor of the day. But is it any good? And how about Gamo’s claim that the rifle shoots lightweight pellets made of a compound they call performance ballistic alloy (PBA) to velocities of 1,600 f.p.s.? Is that true, and do we airgunners even want it?

Lots of questions, so a big blog series. We begin with the gun.

The .177 caliber Gamo Hunter Extreme I am testing is a big breakbarrel air rifle in all ways. I went to the Gamo USA website to look at the specifications, but they lacked even the most fundamental specs like overall length and weight. The site is incomplete and appears to have been that way for several months. They also say the barrel is a bull barrel, which I would not agree with. It is a new barrel profile that looks like a long muzzle brake, reaching back almost to the base block, then tapering down to a smaller profile. The outer barrel jacket seems to be aluminum and the inner barrel is steel.

The metal finish of the long muzzle brake sleeve is highly polished and contrasts beautifully with the synthetic tapering part at the rear. The actual barrel is shorter than the muzzle brake and the true muzzle is recessed about 0.5 inches. That makes the true barrel length about 18.25 inches. The rest of the major external metal parts of the rifle have a satin finish covered with an even black oxide.

The wood stock is overly large in all dimensions and has a very blocky forearm. It will be easy to use the artillery hold because the bottom of the forearm is absolutely flat. There is impressed checkering on both sides of the forearm and pistol grip, but the diamonds are flat and give no purchase when grasped. The wood is medium brown with a semi-gloss finish that looks like genuine oil. The cheek rest is not well formed and has the “melted” look that’s been characteristic of Gamo rifles for many years. The butt is shaped like a western-style stock, rather than a European style and there is a Monte Carlo profile.

This big rifle weighs a whisker over 10 pounds, with a whisker being two ounces or less. The weight of the wood on a rifle this large will probably make the weight vary by four ounces, heaviest to lightest. It stands just a whisker taller than 45.5 inches. A whisker is, well, not very much.

Articulated cocking linkage
Back in the 1970s when all spring guns vibrated a lot, some manufactures went to a cocking link that was two parts, articulated by a joint near the breech or forward end. This allowed the cocking slot in the stock to be shorter, which helped dampen vibration. But it also adds friction that a single-piece link does not have. When the link runs under the necessary bridge welded to the underside of the spring tube, it pops up against the bridge and scrapes the top of the link. There used to be a whole series of things one could to to reduce this friction, back in the days when the HW 35 was still being made, but most guns don’t use articulated linkages today, so we have forgotten how to deal with them.

That’s what an articulated cocking link looks like. Two link sections are joined by a flexible joint.

But Gamo has designed this rifle to need no bridge! The geometry of the linkage keeps the long rear link snug against the spring cylinder, so most of the extra friction isn’t there. Gamo advertises a cocking effort of 58 pounds, but the test rifle is cocking at 52 lbs., after about 25 flexes. I don’t think it will become any lighter with time, but 52 isn’t that bad. However, this is not a plinking air rifle. It’s for hunting, only.

Gamo scores!
This rifle comes out of the box with a nice 3-9X50 scope already mounted! Bully for Gamo! They are one of the first manufacturers of adult air rifles to recognize the importance of this feature. Crosman and Daisy have been doing it for years, but most other makers just don’t seem to have figured it out yet. Unfortunately the scope on my sample rifle was not mounted with the crosshairs level, but I took care of that in less than ten minutes. The scope has the Gamo name and logo and it’s not a model I am familiar with.

A Gamo scope.

The scope seems to be of good quality, and it has one feature I can’t wait to try. The dot in the center of the reticle is all that lights up when the illumination is turned on. I think that’s a high-quality feature because it preserves the hunter’s night vision. And that dot is rather unique. I’ll have to use it a little to see how I like it.

On the negative side, the scope has fixed parallax that seems to be set at about 35 yards on the sample I am testing. That will work fine, because I can always reduce the power if I want to shoot closer and want to image to appear to be in focus, but it seems a shame for a nice scope like this not to have adjustable parallax.

The scope mount is one-piece and the correct size for the scope. It has a steel vertical pin at the rear which is mated with a receiver hole in the right location, so all that has been thought out well. Good thing, too, because open sights are not an option with the Hunter Extreme. Unfortunately, neither is .22 caliber, yet. I hope that changes soon because this rifle has far more potential for the larger calibers. Even .25 caliber would be a nice option for an air rifle this husky.

One final comment before I go. This rifle is made in England, so it is actually made by BSA – not Gamo. Gamo owns BSA and BSA Optics, and the association helps both companies in many different ways.

That’s it for today. Next time we’ll look a little deeper.