by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- What is the Gamo Compact?
- Can you shoot 10 meter with one?
- No safety
I last tested a Gamo Compact single stroke target pistol in 1996, when I bought one for my newsletter, The Airgun Letter. That was 19 years ago, and I was interested to see if the gun had changed in any way. As far as I can tell, it is exactly the same today as it was back then. That’s something you can’t say about a lot of airguns.
What is the Gamo Compact?
The Compact is a single stroke pneumatic target pistol. Yes, it is a 10-meter target pistol, though Gamo doesn’t represent it that way. Nor should they. Ten-meter air pistols are very specifically designed for just one thing — competition in bullseye target shooting at 10 meters. Yes, people do use them in other ways, but the guns are designed for just one purpose — putting pellets as close to the center of a bullseye as humanly possible.
The Compact is priced well below most other 10-meter target pistols, yet it can shoot nearly as well as any of them. The trigger is heavier and the ergonomics are not as sophisticated as the guns that cost $1700 and more, but nobody expects that from a $250 air pistol. The truth is — the Compact is everything people wish the IZH 46M was. It’s lightweight, inexpensive and accurate.
Can you shoot 10-meter with one?
The question that always arises is can someone shoot in formal 10-meter pistol competitions with a Compact? I don’t see why not. When I was at the top of my game, I could shoot an 89/100 with one. That was about where I shot with any 10-meter pistol. I will say that it was harder to shoot that well with the Compact because the trigger wasn’t as light and crisp as other target pistols, but it could be done.
The Compact is very light for a target pistol. It weighs 1.95 lbs. which is 884 grams. That puts it on the light end of the target pistol weight spectrum. From the comments I read these days, that makes the Compact a popular weight. Ten-meter target shooting is done with the gun held in one hand only and this one is much easier to hold than so many on the market.
The top of the gun rotates up and forward for the one pump stroke. Press in on a light gray button located below the rear sight to unlock the top strap for cocking and pumping. The trigger cocks when the upper strap has raised about 4 inches, or almost to a 90 degree angle. Then the top strap continues to rotate upward and forward until it is almost 180 degrees from its closed position. After that, a pellet is loaded in the breech that is now forward (inside the top strap) and the top strap is rotated closed to pump the gun.
The grips are oiled walnut. They are finished very rough for better gripping. An adjustable palm shelf can be slid up and down to compress the firing hand in place, which is common on all 10-meter target pistols. While the grip panels are shaped well enough, if I were to compete with this pistol I would have to use a wood rasp and wood putty to perfect the fit. But that is true for most target grips, save those made by Morini that cost as much as this entire pistol.
The grips are for right-handed shooters, only. The grip frame is not so complex that a skilled grip maker could not make a set of left-hand grips for you but that isn’t necessary. Gamo does make and offer left hand grips for the Compact. Pyramyd Air appears not to have them in stock at this time, but I’m sure a call to them would be able to arrange something.
One more thing about the grips. They are flat on the left side. What most shooters do not understand is that 10-meter target pistol grips are required to be no more than a certain thickness. If the grips could be thicker, nothing would keep competitors from turning them into free pistol grips, and that is what the rules are trying to prevent. Ten-meter air pistol is not the same competition as free pistol.
The Olympic Free Pistol has a grip that can completely encircle the shooting hand, helping the shooter hold the gun. Ten-meter air pistol grips are not allowed to do this.
There is some steel in the gun and a lot of synthetics. This has not changed in 19 years. Back then synthetics were not received well, but today, with all the synthetic firearms, public opinion has changed.
Gamo rates the pistol at 400 f.p.s. They include a small tin of Gamo Match pellets in the box with the gun, so I will be sure to test it for you with those, along with some other good target pellets. This would be an ideal velocity for a target pistol and one that is great for a singe stroke to achieve.
The front sight is a narrow low blade and the rear is an adjustable notch that’s also narrow when the gun comes out of the box. Thankfully, the notch width is adjustable. The owner’s manual shows you where the rear notch adjustment screw is located. I was able to adjust the notch to perfectly suit my tastes.
The rear sight adjusts smoothly with positive clicks, so you know the sight is locked in place. Unfortunately there is no scale for either elevation or windage, so you have to know which way the screws turn to know where the sights are going.
There is a top rail on top of the gun, but it is not undercut in a dovetail. So you aren’t going to mount an optical sight easily on the Compact. I don’t say it’s impossible — just not easy to do. I would plan on using the sights that come with the gun.
The two-stage trigger-pull is advertised at 3 lbs. even, and I have to say the test gun feels like all of that. I will weigh it for you in Part 2. I see that I did some lubrication of the trigger parts on the gun I owned 19 years ago, and they really helped the pull, so we will see what can be done with this one in Part 2. Other than that, the pull weight is not adjustable.
The only trigger adjustment mentioned in the manual is the swiveling of the trigger blade to suit your trigger finger. There is a screw in the bottom rear of the triggerguard but it does nothing. The manual used to say it was for the adjustment of the length of the first stage pull, but turning it has no affect on anything and that text has been removed.
The Compact has no safety, which is standard for all 10-meter target pistols. But the owner’s manual does show a safety. The problem is the owner’s manual is also for a sporting version of the gun called the PR-45 that isn’t sold in this country. That gun does have a manual safety located on the right side of the frame, at the rear of the triggerguard.
People confuse cocking the gun with pumping. Cocking occurs in the first 4 inches of top strap travel. It isn’t even noticeable. But pumping the gun does take some effort.
This is a single stroke pneumatic, so pumping is only one stroke and that stroke compresses all the air that will be used to fire the pellet. First-time shooters quickly discover that guns like this can be daunting to pump.
There is a technique to pumping that reduces the effort needed by as much as 5 lbs. Instead of rushing the stroke and forcing down the top strap violently, go slower and you’ll find the effort is less. I intend testing this method in Part 2, to see if it produces the same velocity as pumping more aggressively.
I’m testing the Gamo Compact after many years and it appears the gun is still the same as before. That’s good, because the Compact was always a good target pistol. It isn’t meant for formal competition, but my testing of 19 years ago showed that this pistol can compete with the best of them.
This is a very accurate air pistol for shooters who want the best at a reasonable price. Yes, I understand $250 is a lot of money, but when you look for the alternatives, there really aren’t any. If you want an accurate air pistol for target shooting, the Gamo Compact is the best deal going.
Of course we still have a lot of testing to do. There is velocity testing, a look at the trigger mechanism and of course accuracy testing. I’m no longer a competitive shooter, but shooting from a rest, I should be more than able to wring out the Compact for you.