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Accessories Umarex Embark breakbarrel spring rifle: Part 2

Umarex Embark breakbarrel spring rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Unarex Embark
Umarex Embark air rifle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • New development
  • RWS Hobby
  • Journey pellets
  • One more pellet test
  • Firing behavior
  • Cocking effort
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation so far

New development

Last time I told you that the Embark air rifle was not available from Pyramyd AIR. Well, that has changed. As of this week you can buy the Embark from Pyramyd AIR. They list it as a youth rifle, which it certainly is, but I have a feeling a lot of adults are going to want one after we test it.

After I published the first report I was contacted by Jake Hindman, the president of the Student Air Rifle Program (SAR) and we had a nice conversation about his program. Some of what I will share with you today is a result of our talk.

We also discovered that one of our readers, Robert from Arcade, has a son in the SAR, and he gave us his views on how the program is benefitting that school. As he said, with SAR schools can have a safe marksmanship program in their existing facilities and the cost is not prohibitive. That’s exactly what SAR is designed to do!

Today we will look at the velocity of the Embark. This will be a strange test because I have never before tested an air rifle that was specifically intended to shoot lead-free pellets. To overcome resistance to the program, SAR mandated that a lead-free pellet be used and they worked with Predator International to create such a pellet. They named the pellet Journey, and at this time, JSB who makes them, can only provide enough for the program. Eventually they will be available commercially, but lead-free pellets are a challenge to make. For the time being they will only be available to schools and shooters in the SAR program.

The Embark is based on the Ruger Explorer that has a muzzle velocity of 495 f.p.s. That allows it to comply with Canadian law that requires unregulated air rifles to have a velocity of less than 500 f.p.s. Knowing we are about to test the Embark with lead-free pellets that are lighter than lead, we understand the velocity will increase, but so do the Canadians, so their law also provides for a muzzle energy threshold of 4.2 foot-pounds (5.7 joules). To be considered a high-power airgun and fall under the provisions of their Firearms Act, both thresholds must be exceeded. So special situations like this are accommodated.

RWS Hobby

The first pellet I will test is the RWS Hobby. At 7 grains, this lead pellet is one of the fastest pellets available in general use today. This is the type of pellet that would have been used to test the Ruger Explorer.

Ten Hobbys averaged 498 f.p.s. The spread went from 491 to 515 f.p.s. and at the average muzzle velocity the Hobby generates 3.86 foot-pounds (5.23 joules) at the muzzle. So the Embark is well under the Canadian threshold with this pellet.

The Hobbys fit the breech tight as they often do. That might make it an accurate pellet in this rifle, because it will grab the rifling well.

Journey pellets

Jake Hindman was kind enough to send me a tin of Journey pellets to test. Since this is the only pellet that may be used in competition, it is important that I test it in the Embark.

Journey pellets are supposed to weigh 5.5 grains, according to the label on the tin. I weighed several and found the weight spread between 5.4 and 5.7 grains, with 5.5 and 5.6 being the most common.

Unarex Embark Journey pellet tin
SAR Journey pellet tin.

Unarex Embark Journey pellet
Journey pellets.

Ten Journey pellets averaged 540 f.p.s. with a spread from 520 to 555 f.p.s. — so, a 35 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity Journey pellets generate 3.56 foot-pounds (4.83 joules) at the muzzle. Because of that, Canadian law would not classify the Embark as a high-powered air rifle.

Journey pellets fit the breech very loosely. They fall into the rifling about 1/32-inch. Both the head and the skirt are undersized for the Embark bore. What effect that has on accuracy at 10 meters remains to be seen.

One more pellet test

Since shooters who are not in the SAR program cannot purchase Journey pellets yet, I wanted to test the Embark with another lead-free pellet that is available. The Sig Ballistic Alloy Match pellet is a proven lead-free target pellet, based on many of my tests with 10-meter target rifles.

This pellet fit the Embark bore very well. Both the head and skirt appear ideal for this barrel. This pellet cannot be used in official SAR competition. But for practice and for those who buy the rifle but are not in the program and want a lead-free pellet option, it may be viable. We will see.

Ten 5.25-grain Sig match pellets averaged 582 f.p.s. The spread went from 573 to 600 f.p.s., so a range of 27 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 3.95 foot-pounds (5.36 joules) so it is also under the dual thresholds of Canadian law.

Firing behavior

The Embark fires with a little buzz that isn’t disturbing. A shot of Tune in a Tube grease would certainly smooth it out.

Cocking Effort

The Embark I am testing cocks with 14 lbs. of effort. That makes it one of the easiest-cocking spring-piston air rifles I have ever tested. I believe a Walther LGV (the vintage target rifle — not the sporting rifle that’s currently sold) cocked with 11 lbs., and that was the lightest.

Trigger pull

The Embark trigger is non-adjustable. It’s two-stage and breaks at between 3 lbs. 7 oz and 3 lbs. 9 oz. There is quite a bit of creep in the second stage, but it’s light enough not to be a problem.

Evaluation so far

The Embark is turning out to perform exactly as I imagined is would. If it works as well as the Ruger Explorer I tested in 2009, this will be a fun test.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

45 thoughts on “Umarex Embark breakbarrel spring rifle: Part 2”

  1. B.B.
    Interesting gun and article. What do they do to the rifle for it to be” intended to be used with lead free pellets.”
    Is the rifling different. If not, maybe it should be????
    How are these pellets different from the Predator GTO 5.5 grain wadcutter pellets?



  2. BB,

    I can think of a particular young boy who would very much enjoy having the opportunity to shoot a “zombie apocalypse green” air rifle. His Gadada probably would not mind it too much either. This could very well be his next step up from his Daisy Buck.

    My grandson attends a private Christian school and I have been considering discussing the SAR program with them. As we are located in a state where firearms are not yet considered evil, this may be a program that could possibly flourish if introduced properly.

    • RR,

      They sent me their instructor’s guide. I’ve now scanned it and as far as I can tell, it is ideal to teach discipline to the current generation. A Christian school would probably be receptive to the program, although that is often a school-by-school thing.


  3. I think this is a great program and rifle to counter the anti’s and their scare tactics. The color certainly has a fanciful less threatening look and counters their evil black rifle propaganda, not to mention the added safety of distinguishing it from a real firearm if law enforcement come across it unexpectedly.

    Making it kid friendly and fun to shoot may change the minds of kids who have been sort of brainwashed about guns by those less accepting of ownership.

    Learning to properly shoot and handle a rifle is a great way to develop respect and consideration for others, accompanied by pride in performance and self esteem for young individuals.

    Living in CA I was a bit concerned that the NRA had abandoned me and I realize it’s an uphill battle here, you can fight but almost never win, but nothing seemed to be done to remove restrictive laws once in place, anywhere… at least to me here.

    I now believe they are taking a more offensive approach to fighting for gun owners rights, as we all should, and hopefully the time has come when great plans come together. Were not the people who tend to impose our beliefs on others preferring to lead by example but the world is changing and the time is now to turn the tide in our favor.
    Bob M

      • BB
        Don’t I know it … I was stationed at NAS Alameda in the early 70’s and had to drive through anti-war protestors to get on base and Hippies in the Height Ashbury district to visit my step brother, ex military pot head living in a commune house there. Free love and flower power !
        I must have hocked my Ruger Mk I pistol a half dozen times living there and starting up a family.
        Bob M

        • Bob,

          I attended San Jose State College (it wasn’t a university back then) from 1965 to 1970. Used to drive by Moffett Field and wonder what they were doing inside that huge blimp hanger.

          Also used to ride my motorcycle up Mt. Hamilton to the Lick Observatory. What a view!


      • Unimaginable to think of California as gun-friendly as Texas. That’s certainly not the case now. On the other hand, my range is still very crowded and most people have AR type rifles so a strong enthusiasm remains.

        What is the course of fire for the SAR program? If they include prone, they won’t have to squirm like slugs in salt with this rifle, although a breakbarrel is still not convenient. Do they have kneeling? I’m getting a little disillusioned with kneeling even with my jump boots and my gardener’s knee pads. It’s uncomfortable and unstable and puts my eye to close to the breech.


  4. BB,

    I had a thought. Perhaps you could have a green wadcutter shootout. Since you have the Sig and JSB pellets, perhaps you could get some of the H&N and GTO wadcutters and try them in this rifle and a couple of your other match rifles and see how they do?

  5. I just happened to be looking through spring guns last night at Pyramyd AIR and seen that they had it for sale.

    Glad that happened. I may just end up with one before it’s over.

  6. Thanks for the details on the Canadian regulations B.B. I am all for the SAR program.

    I am following this blog with interest – the Embark looks to be ideal for casual shooting as well. I can see getting a couple of them to use at the family get togethers where we often do some casual target shooting.

    Could I ask that you test lead domed pellets as well. The lead-free pellets are not readily available locally so I am curious how good a plinker the Embark would be.


  7. B.B.,

    Those pellets look remarkably uniform and clean. Is that common with lead-free pellets? (I’ve never had any.)

    This Embark is looking more cool all the time.

    None of the following are conventional springers, but my FWB 300s and 150 cock at about 9 and 11 pounds, respectively, if they are level. The 300s is lighter, I suspect, because the barrel lacks a sleeve (a Jr. model). I also have a DIana youth target air rifle the model number of which I can’t remember, but it’s the one with the Giss system made from a pistol action. It must cock at something like 4 or 5 pounds. I’ve had ball point pens that required more effort to click!


      • B.B.,

        A couple observations that have occurred to me about this air rifle and the ammo specifically for it.

        First is that the lead-free ammo is not just less threatening (to either health or to misplaced fears — I’m not trying to start something here), it is also conducive, I would argue, to youth shooting. These pellets are firmer than lead, I presume, and therefore are less prone to being deformed by inattentive handling. Also, they drop into the breech, not requiring a push of one’s thumb or seating with some sure-to-be-lost tool. These benefits might not be by design, but I think they are helpful.

        Second is that I like the semantic consistency of “Embark” and “Journey.” Indeed, one’s education in anything, including shooting, is a progression forward, ideally with the lifelong travel being the purpose, as opposed to some limiting expectation of a destination. It is about the going, not the getting there.

        I envy the children the excitement of discovery they are having / will have in this program.


        • They are indeed less prone to damage.

          I had a cat knock over a nearly full tin of JSB GTO .177 onto my concrete basement floor from a shelf about 6 feet tall. I swept them up, washed them and used them. I disposed of a couple that had some scratches or real damage. I have had this happen with lead pellets, especially the kind that don’t have a screw on lid. Those pellets suffered way more damage.

  8. BB: Just a carification on my son’s air rifle program . The program we have after never having a shooting program in the history of our school district, which was formed in 1966, is a NY state section six program . It is not specifically the SAR program you mention here, although the goals are the same as is the program The shooting programs that are in the other schools we compete with were RF programs that have now switched ,or will switch to airgun only programs The RF only programs we all grew up with are being totally phased out in NY and without air rifles there would be no shooting program at schools here . As I mentioned , it is due to cost and because it enables schools such as ours to compete and teach safe shooting without a RF range facility. My son ‘s school uses the PCP Anschutz target rifles ,similar to the model 9015 that PA sells. It is a varsity sport. What interests me in the SAR program a your report on this Umerx rifle is that is could provide a extension to the current program, and allow the younger students to particapate and be groomed for the more formal program, at little cost. What the readers should know is that without air rifle many kids in places like my state with it’s draconian and very restrictive gun laws would never have an opportunity to shoot anything. It took a lot of convincing to just get the program started in the school, but it has really taken off .

  9. Off topic…
    I have the Daisy 953 and want to use the Daisy 5899 peep rear sight (the cheaper one). Pyramyd AIR notes “Do not use with Daisy’s globe front sight with inserts (model 168869-000)”
    Is there a front globe sight that will work on the 953 using the 5899 rear sight or do I have to move up to the Daisy 5996 diopter sight?

  10. Hi BB,

    Does this rifle have an adjustable bolt for the barrel pivot pin? Competition guns see a lot of use, so it seems that an adjustment would be a very good idea.

  11. I’d like to see a review of the Umarex Legends MP40 BB submachine gun someday, if possible. It looks to be a lot of fun, and is quite a step up from the only machine BB ‘pistol’ I’ve shot- the Larc.

    • Jeff_290
      You probably already know why there’s a warning about the globe sight, but in case anyone else is wondering, the Daisy 953 front sight used with the open rear sight is lower than what’s needed for the 5899 peep sight. The image below illustrates the relative difference in the rear sight height between the two:


      The peep sight insert set includes three different size apertures and a post. IIRC, the globe sight comes with a medium aperture installed.

      • So if I understand correctly, the Daisy front globe sight sits on the same plane as the stock fiber optic?… so the front globe sight is too low to be used with the 5899 peep sight?

        Sorry, one more question… So is this an either/or situation for the 5899 rear peep and the Daisy front globe… just not both?

        Just to sum up my intentions, I want a more precise sight picture other than that BIG orange fiber optic ball that covers the entire target bull I am shooting at… Looking for a solution that won’t “break the bank”
        Thanks for bearing with my confusion.

        • There are two different peep/globe combos- one low and one higher. Your existing 953 barrel weight is the lower, smaller diameter of the two, and (if used w/a globe sight) it will only align w/the “Avanti” $35.00 5996 rear peep sight. That’s not what you said you wanted, so to use the less expensive 5899 peep sight you would want to use the 138116-100 front sight. That part number is for a barrel weight that also has an attached globe sight. This is the taller combo that will align w/the 5899 peep sight.

          Alternatively, you might be able to cobble together a riser for globe sight p/n 169816-000 ($5.00) that would allow it to work w/the 5899 peep.

        • Sorry, I didn’t understand the “either/or” question.

          If the front sight F/O is too big, you might try using a smaller diameter F/O strand. Or otherwise modify it to have a smaller post.

  12. To clarify (I wish there was an edit feature here!), the statement, “Alternatively, you might be able to cobble together a riser for globe sight p/n 169816-000 ($5.00) that would allow it to work w/the 5899 peep.” This idea was so you could use your existing barrel weight by adding a riser to the (too low, as-is) globe sight.

    If you would like to get into this further, consider joining the High Road forum and PM me there. That way we don’t bog down the blog.

  13. Okay, one more stab at this.

    My statement: “There are two different peep/globe combos- one low and one higher. Your existing 953 barrel weight is the lower, smaller diameter of the two… et cetera.” needs correction. It should read:

    “There are two different peep/globe combos- one low and one higher. Your existing 953 barrel weight is TALLER (although the barrel weight is the smaller diameter of the two), and if used w/a globe sight it will only align w/the “Avanti” $35.00 5996 rear peep sight. So to use the less expensive 5899 peep sight you would want to use the 1-piece 138116-100 front sight. That part number is for a barrel weight that also has an attached globe sight. This is the combo that will align w/the 5899 peep sight.

    And forget cobbling together a riser for globe sight p/n 169816-000.

    Sorry for the confusion.

  14. BB,
    Is it possible to make available the SAR Instructors Guide that you scanned? The air rifle wing of my firearms club is interested is standardizing guns for its shoots. What we have now is a bunch of guys showing up with every possible type of air gun with intentions to compete. It is always a load of fun and no one gets angry when a shooter with a scoped PCP wins a competition against other shooters with iron sights sprinters lol. Convincing young shooters to go towards lower power will be a challenge but I think doable. It would be great to have some structure to start with and this SAR sounds perfect.

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