by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Umarex Fuel air rifle
That’s right! The Umarex Fuel carries its own bipod legs tucked against the forearm until you deploy them.

This report covers:

• I couldn’t believe it is a gas spring!
• Cocking effort
• Velocity test — H&N Meisterkugeln pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS HyperMAX pellets
• H&N Baracuda Match pellets
• Firing behavior and report
• Trigger-pull
• Overall evaluation

Today we look at the velocity of the Umarex Fuel air rifle, and folks — I think we have a winner, here! I’ll tell you why I say that as the report unfolds.

I couldn’t believe it’s a gas spring!
As I shot the Fuel, I was surprised by how easy it is to cock — especially given the power you’ll see. Unlike other gas springs that fight you from the starting point of the cocking stroke, the Fuel seems to start out easy and gets hard only when the mechanical advantage of the cocking linkage is in the right place. It’s as if whoever designed this air rifle had actually cocked one before!

Cocking effort
The Fuel requires 32 lbs. of force to cock — far less than other gas-spring rifles of similar power. And the effort does build rather than be all at once from the starting point. That linkage is certainly well thought out!

Unfortunately, I had an accident while measuring the cocking effort. In an attempt to avoid damaging the plastic fiberoptic front sight, I made the cocking effort more of a sideways movement across the scale, rather than a direct downward pressure. The muzzle slipped off the scale and slammed against my bare leg, breaking off the SilencAir muzzlebrake and front sight of the rifle. That wasn’t the Fuel’s fault — it was clearly all mine.

For the rest of the test, I will be shooting the rifle without the muzzle brake that on this rifle actually has baffles to silence the report. And I won’t be able to test the rifle using the open sights, so I’ll install a dot sight to cover the first part of the accuracy test. Remember — I want to test this rifle using both the bipod legs that are permanently affixed to the stock, as well as a conventional artillery hold.

Velocity test — RWS Meisterkugeln pellets
Umarex U.S.A., who sent me the rifle to test, also sent a tin of RWS Meisterkugeln 8.2-grain pellets. So, they were the first pellets I tested. The first three shots were 999, 974, and 977 f.p.s., respectively. The fourth shot went 966 f.p.s., and that started a string of 10 that had a low of 956 and a high of 966 f.p.s. So the break-in lasted exactly 3 shots! That’s a record.

The average with 8.2-grain Meisterkugeln pellets was 960 f.p.s. That produced an average muzzle energy of 16.78 foot-pounds.

RWS Hobby pellets
Next up were RWS Hobby pellets. At just 7 grains in .177 caliber, these should be screamers in this rifle. They averaged 1045 f.p.s. — with a low of 1031, a high of 1052 f.p.s. and a spread of 19 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 16.98 foot-pounds.

If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that we expect spring-piston guns to produce more power with lighter pellets — just the opposite of what pneumatics do. Sometimes, there are anomalies due to the weight of the piston, but generally things work out that way.

RWS HyperMAX pellets
I wanted to see just how fast the Fuel is, so next up were the lead-free 5.2-grain RWS HyperMAX pellets. They averaged 1215 f.p.s. — with a spread from 1200 f.p.s. to 1223 f.p.s. and a total velocity spread of 23 f.p.s., which is pretty consistent for such a light pellet in a powerful piston gun. At the average velocity, they produced 17.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

H&N Baracuda Match pellets
The Fuel obviously has enough power for a heavier pellet, so I selected an H&N Baracuda Match pellet as the final test pellet. This one averaged 838 f.p.s. in the Fuel — with a low of 830 f.p.s., a high of 845 f.p.s. and a total spread of just 15 f.p.s. At the average muzzle velocity, this pellet produced 16.61 foot-pounds. Now, that’s an interesting number. From the lowest power to the highest seen in this test, the rifle varied by less than half a foot-pound. Even though the pellets doubled in weight, the energy difference was small, meaning that the Fuel outputs similar energy with most pellets. That’s very uncommon for a spring-piston airgun.

Firing behavior and report
The Fuel is very quiet when it discharges. Even after the SilencAir broke off, the rifle was still quiet. And the discharge felt smooth and solid — no vibration after the shot. This rifle shoots like a tuned spring rifle that costs a lot more. If it’s also accurate, we’re looking at the best buy of 2014.

The two-stage trigger is adjustable for the length of the first stage, only. Stage one weighs exactly 1 lb., and stage two breaks cleanly at 4 lbs., 11 oz. I’ll be able to shoot well with this trigger.

Overall evaluation
I’m impressed by the Fuel so far. It cocks easily, yet is spot-on for velocity. The trigger is nice, and the firing behavior is smooth and solid. I have a good feeling about this rifle.