by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Octane combo
Umarex Octane gas-spring rifle combo.

Here’s another new air rifle from Umarex USA. The Octane combo is a breakbarrel air rifle powered by a gas spring. Umarex calls their gas spring the Reaxis gas piston. That title Reaxis signifies that the gas spring unit is mouned in reverse of what’s normal. Instead of the heavier piston going forward with each shot…what would be the tail end of most gas springs…is where the piston seal is mounted. That lowers the reaction mass, which lowers the recoil felt by the shooter. Whether or not it works as advertised is something I’ll test and report.

I’m testing a .22-caliber rifle, at my request. I dislike wasting the energy of a super magnum gas spring on a .177-caliber gun that can’t develop the full power potential, so this is a chance to test this gun the way I would order it. The manufacturer claims a velocity of 1,250 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets and 1,050 f.p.s. with lead. Of course, you know I’m going to test that, as well.

The rifle I’m testing is serial number 00371165. It’s clearly marked Made in China, but don’t ask me what the base gun is. I find that these rifles change their personality a lot when manufacturers have them built to their specifcations, and tracking down the lineage often becomes misleading.

The Octane is a huge air rifle — 48.5 inches overall with a 14.5-inch pull. And it weighs 8.5 lbs. and 9.5 lbs. with scope and mounts. So, it’s longer than an M1 Garand and nearly as heavy. But that weight is biased toward the muzzle, so the rifle holds very steady — a huge point in its favor. And the black synthetic stock has a forearm with a thin cross-section that makes the rifle sink deep into your hand and hold much easier. Laying your off hand under the forearm just forward of the triggerguard provides a stable resting point.

The stock is designed as a permanent thumbhole with a well-shaped pistol grip. The synthetic material is rough to the touch and is checkered on two small panels on either side of the forearm at the place you want to hold it. The buttpad is a very soft and grippy black rubber pad. It’s fitted perfectly and holds on the shoulder without movement. I normally don’t like thumbhole stocks, but this one saves weight, pushes the weight forward toward the muzzle and seems to compliment the rifle very well.

The open sights are fully adjustable, but they have fiberoptic tubes both front and rear. Aiming is, therefore, not going to be precise unless you light the target to keep the fiberoptics from appearing. I’ll initially shoot the rifle with the open sights at 10 meters to see if this is possible.

Octane combo front sight
Front sight is a long fiberoptic tube.

But this is a combo that comes with a 3-9X40 scope and mounts. The scope has adjustable parallax down to 10 meters, so it’s ideal for airgun use. I’ll report on it as the test progresses.

There’s one additional point to make about the scope. The rifle comes with a Picatinny scope base attached to 11mm dovetails that are cut directly into the spring tube. So the shooter has the choice of using either Weaver rings that will fit Picatinny grooves, or removing the base from the gun and using the 11mm dovetails directly. Either way, though, there’s no provision for a positive scope stop, which is risky on a rifle that recoils heavily. I’ll be watching for any movement of the scope mounts and bases during the test.

Octane combo scope base
Here you see the Picatinny base that’s attached to the integral dovetails. Either can be used to mount a scope, but neither has a positive scope stop because the base is just clamped to the dovetails.

The metal on the barreled action is finished to a satin sheen. It’s shinier than a matte finish, but not as shiny as most European air rifle finishes.

Discharge sound
Like all gas springs, there’s a loud crack when the rifle discharges. The Octane has a silencer muzzlebrake they call the SilencAIR. It has internal chambers that might attenuate the discharge sound somewhat. But it’s still a loud airgun — make no mistake! Pyramyd Air rated it as a 3 on the sound scale. I thought it was closer to 3.7, so Edith changed the loudness rating to 4 since Pyramyd Air’s scale has no fractions. It’s louder than most breakbarrel magnums that have coiled steel mainsprings.

You know I have tried the rifle a few times already — just to see how it feels. I found the 2-stage trigger a bit heavy but very crisp. It’s adjustable, so I’ll see what I can do to it in Part 2. I do like the fact that the trigger blade feels fairly straight up and down because that gives me the feeling of control I want.

Octane combo trigger
The trigger is adjustable and is a crisp 2-stage right out of the box.

I read the reviews of the rifle, and they rate it very high. Accuracy is mentioned by several reviewers. I can’t wait to see this for myself, as I’ve not had good luck with the accuracy of magnum rifles with gas springs. I would love to find one that was accurate.

One thing that might work in the Octane’s favor is that the barrel pivots are screws rather than pins. That means they can be tightened. The ones on the test rifle need to be tightened before testing, as the barrel will not stay in position. The owner’s manual also says to clean the barrel before shooting. I will do both things, and report back to you on how it works.

Initial impressions
If there’s a category of airguns that I’m dubious about, it’s the magnum springer — especially the one with a gas spring. I’ve seldom seen them shoot accurately. But I’m more than willing to believe they can be good. And if any of them has a chance, this appears to be the one. Given its power and low price, if the Octane is also accurate I’ll sing its praises to the skies!