by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The big Browning is powerful, but hard to cock.

Well, I learned a lot about the Browning 800 Mag in this test. First, it is powerful, as the owners point out, though not as powerful as advertised. It has very nearly the power of a Beeman P1, which is considerable for a spring pistol. But there is no way my test pistol will ever shoot pellets at 700 f.p.s. without a detonation.

I also learned that the pistol is very hard to cock. My example registers 47 lbs. on my bathroom scale. While my test isn’t entirely scientific or even that accurate, I have tested all spring rifle cocking efforts on the same scale, so it is at least a standard. A Beeman Kodiak rifle (the one made in the UK) takes 50 lbs. to cock and we say it is hard, so a pistol that takes only three pounds less is formidable. I have a feeling that as the gun breaks in the effort will diminish some, but probably not below 40 lbs.

You have to use the cocking aid that slips over the muzzle to cock this pistol. That means you cannot go anywhere without it.

During the test, the pistol was dieseling in the beginning but stopped after about 15 shots. I could tell because the gun stopped smoking after each shot and the burning smell went away. After that, the velocities dropped to a lower level, where they stabilized. I wound up with two different velocity tests on the two credible lead pellets I shot, which I’ll cover with you.

Gamo Match
On the first velocity test, the 7.5-grain Gamo Match pellets averaged 546 f.p.s. with a spread from 529 to 564. But on the second try, after the dieseling stopped, the average was 450 f.p.s., with a spread from 412 to 469. Notice that the spread of the second string is still quite large, so there’s some dieseling still going on. I would expect the average to decrease a little more as the gun breaks in, but I don’t think it will drop below 420 f.p.s. with this pellet.

RWS Basic
The .177 caliber RWS Basic is a 7-grain pellet like the Hobby but made to sell for a little less. In velocity tests, I use them interchangeably with Hobbys. On the first test they averaged 506 f.p.s. and ranged from 484 f.p.s. to 543 f.p.s. This was the string that alerted me to the end of the dieseling, so I ran it again and got an average of 455 f.p.s. with a spread from 434 to 471. Like the Gamo Match, I think there’s still some dieseling going on and I expect the average to drop a little with this pellet, as well.

Gamo Raptors
I didn’t have any of the RWS Hyper MAX lead-free pellets, so I used Gamo Raptors instead. They didn’t do well in this gun. The average was 456 f.p.s., with a spread from 347 to 510. Some Raptors fit the bore extremely tight while others dropped in loose, so the uniformity was an issue. The tight ones also scored the lowest velocity.

The pistol gets high marks from owners for build quality. Many of them position it against the RWS LP8 Magnum, which sells for $140 more. They like its power but many note the heavy cocking effort I mentioned. Most of them find it to be accurate, so that should prove interesting.

Well, that’s it for velocity. Next stop will be accuracy.