An airgun test you weren’t expecting: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Have you already read this blog, and you’re now waiting for a new one? Maybe you missed yesterday’s blog…
This report was accidentally published on Thursday — along with the regular Thursday blog. This is only the second time in nearly 10 years and 2,500+ reports this has happened. As soon as I discovered it Thursday morning, it was unpublished and rescheduled for today. Sorry about that, but I’m already working at max capacity and can’t have two fresh blogs competing with each other!
This report covers:
• I saw it at the Pyramyd Air Cup
• What is it?
• But does it work?
• The proof!
• Can be applied to most spring guns
• At the range
• The plan
I remember back in the late 1990s when Gamo first started making their high-velocity claims for spring rifles, I tested a Hunter Extreme 1250 to see if it met spec. To my utter surprise — it did. My .177-caliber test rifle shot RWS Hobby pellets as fast as 1257 f.p.s.!
Unfortunately, that was about all the rifle did. It was too large, very heavy and required over 50 lbs. of effort to cock. And when it fired, it felt like three broken cuckoo clocks rattling around inside a trash can! Oh, and did I mention that I couldn’t hit anything with it? Or that the trigger felt like a screen door latch on a warped door?
Gamo had just one thing in the Hunter Extreme 1250 — bragging-rights speed. They gave up everything else to get it — accuracy, smooth shooting, easy cocking and a good trigger.
I saw it at the Pyramyd Air Cup
So, I was at the Pyramyd Air Cup several weeks ago, and a man introduced himself and started asking me what I think of the Hatsan 135. I told him straight out that I wouldn’t review the rifle because it’s too difficult to cock. I think 75 lbs. is too much to ask of anyone. And the recoil is off the charts! The rifle hauls off and slaps you in the face with the stock while simultaneously punching you in the shoulder like a pledge night initiation. Then, he asked what I think of the Gamo Hunter Extreme 1250, and I launch into the tirade that opened this report.
He tells me he has created a wonderful tune for these powerful springers that smooths them out and makes them very pleasant to shoot. Oh, no! Another mad scientist! This happens more often than I would like to admit — someone invents perpetual motion and wants me to watch it work. It takes awhile!
So I called him out. “Show me the beef,” I said. We went to his car and grabbed several rifle cases, then headed to the Pyramyd Air Cup shooting range. I tried his Hatsan 135 first. It still takes too much effort to cock, but the shooting cycle was smoother than a factory rifle. Next, I tried the .22-caliber Gamo Hunter Extreme 1250. Surprise! This was different. The rifle worked as advertised.
Gamo’s Hunter Extreme 1250 was a big, beautiful wood-stocked magnum rifle. Most of today’s guns have synthetic stocks but similar powerplants.
The man, who I will now reveal as Rich Shar, asked if I would like to test this rifle for you. Two weeks later it’s sitting in my office in Texas. What I’m going to test is a rifle model that’s no longer made, but that’s no problem. Gamo is still making plenty of testosterone-laden breakbarrels that perform identically to this one. What I’m looking at could also be in your future.
What is it?
Rich was very secretive about what he did to this rifle, but I know a few things about spring guns in general. He must have found a way to tighten the tolerances inside the Gamo powerplant. I’ll guess that Rich has taken out the extra room (the slop, if you will) from the powerplant, and he’s done it with low-friction materials. But Rich’s tune has to be something simple enough to be done quickly by technicians in a shop. That way, the labor costs can be held low. An hour of shop time costs $75 and up these days — figure 4 times the hourly wage of the worker to cover the overhead, and then throw a little profit on top — so saving time is a big deal.
But does it work?
If I expected the smoothness of a TX200 in the cocking cycle of this Gamo, I was disappointed. As the rifle cocked, I could feel the individual mainspring coils slipping over the cocking shoe in typical mega-magnum spring rifle fashion. If I expected the lightness of a Diana 34 cocking effort, I was again disappointed. I had to employ my other hand to finish cocking the gun. Rich informed me that the powerplant was exactly as Gamo made it, except for some small but important additions he made.
Okay — I thought — here we go, again. This guy has invented anti-gravity, but it doesn’t work when the sun is shining.
Then I shot the gun, and — nothing! No slap in the face from a jar of angry hornets; no punch in the shoulder from a rabid mule. Just the sound of the rifle firing and the thwack of my pellet hitting the target almost simultaneously. This rifle did not shoot like a Gamo Hunter Extreme 1250. It shot like a tuned Beeman R9! So, I’m sitting there at the bench, smiling, because for the first time I’ve shot a Gamo Hunter Extreme that I’d be proud to own. Yes, it’s hard to cock, and yes, I can feel the mainspring crunch as the barrel breaks down; but when it fires, it transforms into this unbelievably smooth spring gun.
I’m going to call in the credibility card now. I was honest with you about the buzzing of the FWB Sport, so I will not hide bad performance from you. This Gamo Hunter Extreme is really smooth! To my knowledge, no other Hunter Extreme has ever been this smooth. This is worth investigating!
Can be applied to most spring guns
Rich tells me his invention can be applied to most spring rifles. He picked the Hatsan 135 and the Gamo Hunter Extreme because they recoil the most of all spring guns, and they also vibrate painfully. If he could get them shooting smoothly, he felt he could improve any spring rifle.
The Gamo Hunter Extreme is a large, heavy spring rifle that weighs 10.50 lbs. with the obsolete CenterPoint (Leapers) 4-16X40 scope mounted. The barrel is 17.50 inches long,and the pull measures 14.50 inches. The trigger is a Gamo unit that Rich has adjusted to a gnat’s eyelash. It is single-stage and so light I won’t risk measuring it (don’t want to put another pellet into the wall or through the back of my silent pellet trap), but I will estimate that it’s no more than a pound.
The metal is nicely finished with a deep shiny black, and the wood is also nicely finished, if plain-grained. Gamo put a lot of effort into the Hunter Extreme rifle, and it shows. Both the pistol grip and forearm have panels of pressed checkering that are slick to the touch. A long muzzlebrake gives the rifle a bull-barrel look and also gives you a nice place to hold when cocking.
At the range
Just for fun, I took the rifle out to the range last week and shot it a few times. Would it still be accurate, now that I was no longer under the influence of its maker? Glory be, it put the first 2 Crosman Premier .22-caliber pellets into the same hole at 50 yards! Six went into 1.435 inches. I won’t say that I wasn’t trying, because I always try; but this was just an informal getting-to-know-you test. I’ll return later to the range with this rifle for a real test.
My plan is the test this rifle for you in the same format that I test other airguns. Velocity comes next, and Rich tells me his work takes nothing away from the gun. It may even add a little.
After that comes accuracy, and, having already shot the gun at 50 yards, I know it’s on target. So, none of that 10-meter stuff. I will go right to 25 yards and then to 50. Watch this one!