Umarex Embark breakbarrel spring rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Unarex Embark
Umarex Embark air rifle.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • The first shot
  • My test methodology
  • SAR Journey pellets
  • Sig Ballistic Match Alloy pellets
  • Switch to lead pellets
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Evaluation so far
  • Last target
  • Summary

Today is accuracy day and I’m looking forward to it. Not only do I get to test the Embark air rifle that Pyramyd Air now sells, by the way, I also get to test the lead-free Journey pellet that was developed especially for the Student Air Rifle program (SAR).

While talking to Jake Hindman, the president of SAR, I discovered that they developed their own official target, rather than using a 10-meter rifle or pistol target. He told me they made the scoring rings large, which made me think of the 10-meter pistol target, but when I looked at the targets in their instructor’s guide, I saw the bulls are similar in size to 10-meter air rifle targets. The width of the scoring rings just needs to be enlarged for SAR.

The first shot

SAR uses Shoot-N-C targets with a 6-inch bull for the first 10 shots a student fires. They feel the student needs to gain confidence in what they have just been taught, plus the reactive target allows the instructor to see what is happening from the firing line, without making the range cold to walk forward. Once a student is confident shooting the rifle and is on paper, they switch to the official target.

My test methodology

I’m writing this part of the report for newer readers, plus anyone from SAR who might read it. I shoot 10 shots from a rest to determine the accuracy potential of most airguns. Five-shot groups are often seen in gun articles, but not in competition, where accuracy is concerned. Five shots just give an approximation of the accuracy of a gun. Ten shots are statistically valid with a high degree of confidence.

I don’t care whether my shots hit the center of the bull at which I’m aiming. Of course a target shooter does care, for that is how the scores are determined. My focus is on the size of the group, because I can always adjust the sights to get the airgun hitting where I’m aiming.

I shoot off a rest, and with lower-powered air rifles like the Embark, I rest the rifle stock directly on the sandbag. Since SAR shoots at either 10 yards (30 feet) or 10 meters (33 feet), I tested at 10 meters. I believe by mixing yards and meters they are allowing for the variability of the spaces different schools may have. With higher-powered rifles I use the artillery hold that isolates the airgun from the sandbag, but I didn’t think that would be necessary with the Embark. Let’s get started.

SAR Journey pellets

The first pellet I tested was the official lead-free Journey pellet provided by SAR. I used a 6 o’clock hold on a 10-meter air rifle target. SAR also teaches this sight picture. When I saw that the first pellet hit the bull in the 8-ring, I was satisfied and fired the next 9 rounds without looking again.

Ten official SAR lead-free pellets landed in a group that measured 0.701-inches between centers at 10 meters. I think that is phenomenal — both for a lead-free pellet and also for an inexpensive spring-piston breakbarrel rifle. If you understand the SAR program you will agree this is all the accuracy that’s needed.

Unarex Embark SAR pellet target
Ten SAR Journey lead-free pellets landed in a group measuring 0.701-inches between centers at 10 meters.

Sig Ballistic Match Alloy pellets

The second pellet I tested was the Sig Ballistic Alloy Match pellet. Because the SAR program requires the use of their own official lead-free pellet I wanted to put it up against a lead-free pellet that I believe leads the pack. Ten Sig pellets made a group that measures 0.848-inches between centers at 10 meters. That’s correct, the SAR pellet beat the Sig pellet by a comfortable margin! I was surprised, but it tells me the SAR pellet is well-suited to the Embark rifle, despite being very loose in the breech. And, because I shot 10 shots, I don’t have to keep shooting groups. SAR pellets win.

Unarex Embark Sig pellet target
Ten Sig Match Ballistic Alloy pellets made a 0.848-inch group at 10 meters. Pay no attention to where they hit the target — the group is larger and, by adjusting the sights, the SAR pellet would score higher.

Switch to lead pellets

Most of you readers will never compete in a SAR match. You are interested in how accurate this rifle is with world-class pellets. I’m not going to test all of them for you because that’s not the thrust of this report, but I did shoot a group with H&N Finale Match Light pellets with 4.50mm heads. If they go into a group that’s half the size of what the SAR pellets shot, we know that the rifle prefers lead pellets.

Ten Finale Match pellets made a group measuring 0.775-inches between centers. That is very telling, because the SAR lead-free pellets did better. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a lead pellet that might outshoot them, but it does show that SAR pellets can hold their own!

Unarex Embark Finale Match pellet target
Ten H&N Finale Match pellets with 4.50mm heads made a 0.775-inch group at 10 meters.

Air Arms Falcons

I was asked by readers to test the Embark with a domed pellet, as well. Domed pellets cannot be used in target shooting because they are too difficult to score. Also, in the case of the Embark, only the official SAR Journey pellet can be used in competition.

The Falcon pellet from Air Arms is often very accurate in a lower-powered air rifle, so I thought I’d give it a try. Ten of them went into a group measuring 0.543-inches between centers at 10 meters. And 9 of them are in 0.337-inches. Yes — that is a screamer!

Unarex Embark Falcon pellet target
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets with 4.52mm heads made a 0.543-inch group at 10 meters, with 9 going into just 0.337-inches.

Evaluation so far

The Embark is a great little shooter and the official SAR lead-free pellet is well-suited to it. I also felt that the Embark’s trigger pull was no hinderance to accuracy. All things considered, this is a very nice package!

But I wanted to do one more thing. I had mentioned to Jake Hindman that he might look at 10-meter pistol targets for his program. They already exist and are being printed on quality target paper that’s much easier to score. So I wanted to try a group on one of those targets, as well. For this test I selected the official SAR Journey pellet.

Last target

On the 10-meter pistol target, 10 Journey pellets landed in a group measuring 0.654-inches between centers.

Unarex Embark SAR pellet pistol target
The last 10 SAR Journey pellets were fired at a 10-meter pistol target. Ten went into 0.654-inches. This was the best group of Journey pellets and the second-best target of the test!

Summary

Now we know a lot about the Embark air rifle and its lead-free target pellet. We know they are accurate because we have two ten-meter 10-shot groups measuring 0.701 and o.654-inches between centers. For those new to this blog that would make any 5-shot groups in the 0.4 to 0.5-inches range.

The Embark has sights that are well-suited to target shooting. Sure, a rear peep sight would make it easier to train new shooters, but it would also add a large amount to the cost of the rifle.

The weight of the rifle, plus the cocking effort are both suited to young shooters. And the trigger pull is as good as can be expected at this price.

All things considered, the Umarex Embark air rifle and the SAR Journey lead-free pellet are both well-suited to the SAR program.

36 thoughts on “Umarex Embark breakbarrel spring rifle: Part 3


  1. Hey, hey, hey,…” we have a winner! ” Nice test and nice shooting. This one sounds like a nice shooter for GrandpaDan to get for the Grandkids. The 499 with it’s peepers would be another fine choice for a youngin’,.. in my opinion.

    Good Day all,… Chris


    • B.B.

      Thanks for the detailed test. Pellet choices ironed out and accuracy confirmed. Can’t hope for more.

      Your work and this blog/forum is such a treasure. Your careful, consistent and evidence-based tests are the Gold Standard for newbie information. Thank you for your service, both here and in the service of our nation.

      Chris,

      You’re exactly right.

      I had been considering the Crosman 1077 for a step up rifle. We have four daughters and nine Grandchildren, two princesses, and seven pirates ranging in age from 13 to 3 years old. The families are scattered across the US, from CT to CA. Twice yearly they all gather at our home.

      I was concerned about the safety mix of having more than one young shooter present at a time along with a repeater rifle. The Embark rifle imposes some control by design. Though the cocking effort is youth sized, it’s still sufficient to keep the younger males from unauthorized and unsupervised use.

      I do want to expose the youngest to the fun of shooting even if they are not full participants. As we are plinking with the Red Ryder, I typically have one or two “extras” around. I use the occasion to teach/preach gun control and range safety.

      Watching siblings and cousins having fun will be attractive and may motivate them to join in as they are older. We’ll see.

      So Grandpa is starting an Embark fund fed by getting rid of the overflowing “stuff” in my workshop. At some point we will downsize and I have tools and duplicates of tools. Would you believe four circular saws, four cordless drills and, and… Grandpa motivation. 🙂


      • GrandpaDan,

        Well good! 🙂 Be sure to let us all know if you upgrade to something else for the “bushy tails”. Also, if you get a shooting bench together. I hope that explaining what I have done was of some help to you.


      • GrandpaDan,

        Hi and welcome to the blog.I’m fairly new here myself and was greeted with open arms by this community so I’d like to welcome you. I got into airgunning back in the 80s with the “classic” adult magnum springers of the time, the FWB 124 and the RWS/Diana 45 and 52 . I had and still have the struggles with accuracy, with those guns, that you are having and they ARE, without dispute,quality guns. It’s a tough technique to master and I find myself wondering if it’s worth the trouble with PCPs being available.

        Back then we didn’t have B.B.Pelletier and his cadre of sage friends and followers to go to for help, advice and guidance so I basically quit shooting out of frustration. ( It wasn’t really that simple because working long hours and raising a family played a big part too) Now I’m retired and still want to shoot in my backyard and teach my only grandchild Al ( just turned 13) to shoot safely and well. ( I actually shoot firearms pretty well) What I would like to pass on to you is how much fun you can have with your grandkids and a couple of CO2 guns like the 1077 or 2260 or QB78. I got my 1077s on line as refurbished and they were new as far as anyone could tell and they were only $36.00 each. Good quality pellets by Remington can be found by Googleing for less than $4.00 per 500 count and CO2 cartidges are out there at a major discount store that I’m not allowed to name on this blog for about 33 cents each if you buy a 40 pack. The 2260 and QB78 are more expensive but no one questions the value you get for your money and you can hit golf balls and empty shot shells easily and all day long at 25 yards with these guns and nothing makes shooting more fun than hitting. They may even be capable of thinning out your bird population since I’m guessing that’s a warm weather pursuit. (I’ll defer to B.B. et al since I just shoot at inanimate reaction targets. But if you have my experience your shot placement will be much better with all but the 1077.It’s only suited for insanely fun, fast and furious plinking )

        This is just my two cents and I’m only offering it now that I know you are looking to shoot informally with you kids and grandkids and I think I might finally have something to give to this site that I normally take so much from. The 2260 and QB78 are single shot bolt actions so you can have good oversight and control and the 1077 repeater has a long trigger pull that is heavy enough that you must be trying to fire it to fire it. Taking out the box magazine (to go eat, for instance, in a picnic get together type environment ) leaves they gun safe even with CO2 in it. For summertime fun with novices and kids in an informal setting I don’t think one can beat CO2 provided one can afford the cartridges and even if you don’t shop for bargains you’re going to be shooting for just over a penny a pop. If you are interested I can describe some of the target systems that I have made . Hope this was helpful.


        • Halfstep
          I like that about the 1077.

          “It’s only suited for insanely fun, fast and furious plinking”

          You know what. The 1077 and Wildfire cost wise are a way better deal than some of the higher cost pcp’s that shoot rapid fire. Dollar per fun. The 1077 and Wildfire has it.


        • Halfstep,

          Thanks for your suggestions. I hadn’t considered the QB78. Surely a contender.

          I am interested in target systems. You can contact me at grandpadan40@gmail.com. Or a blog reply is good. Presently, our targets ore several tin cans and pie plates hanging from a line stretched between two trees. I think some variety as well as more challenge will help maintain interest.

          B.B., I think, described how to make spinner targets. When I was a kid, we used Necco wafers as BB gun targets. Cheap, plentiful, they break when you hit one and you can eat the broken pieces, they’re candy! For young males, Necco wafers checked all the boxes.

          At some point I have to move the Grandkids from plinking to actual target shooting.


          • GrandpaDan,

            The QB will give more consistent velocity (compared to the 2260) because it uses two cartridges to power it, and you don’t really get quite twice the number of shots. It’s more shots, just not 2Xs so it’s a little more expensive to shoot. As for target systems, I’ve only created one myself and have copied some others I’ve found on line. And I’ve bought some good ones as well.

            I shoot Necco Wafers too ! I buy them at Cracker Barrel. If you have a better source I’d be interested. I used a circular saw to cut a slot ( I think it’s called a dado) down the length of a 2X4 just deep enough for the candies to stay upright but still leave most of the disk exposed for the pellet to hit. Set it between 2 saw horses and you’re in business. The target we use most is one I made. I purchased some neodenium magnets online. Mine are 3/8 ” disks that are also 3/8″ thick but other sizes will work too. I drilled a series of equally spaced holes that were slightly smaller than the O.D. of the magnets into a 2X4. Then I pressed the magnets into the holes. Now you have a base that will let you invert empty CO2 cartridges and place them on the magnets. They stand up perfectly straight and don’t topple over from the vibrations of nearby hits and they will require a good square hit to knock them off. A glancing shot will usually make the cartridge lean to one side then straighten back up almost as if it were on a spring. They can be painted with fluorescent line marker paint in several colors. We alternate the colors on the rack and start shooting at the same time, each at just his color, and whoever knocks his colors off first wins. The loser gets to go downrange to reset them. Because they are so dense they don’t fly very far and are easy to find.

            Another fun target for this rack is golf balls. I have a driving range nearby and they sell their worn balls real cheap so that’s where I got mine but they are probably online as well. At any rate once you have the balls you simply drill a starter hole in them and screw in a short flathead drywall type screw or, as I did, hammer in a roofing nail. Now they will stick to the magnets. I first tried drilling 3/4″ pockets in a 2X4 and just resting the balls in them but they were always getting shaken and 2 or 3 or more balls would fall out without being struck. It was a pain but this way works great. Because the targets are round they represent the bullseye on a target pretty well and you end up giving an intro into target shooting and the 6 o’clock hold without the whining that sometimes comes with switching to paper punching after plinking reactive targets. Kids and me like stuff to happen when they hit what they are aiming at!

            This is someone else’s idea from this blog. Take small tree limbs that you or a neighbor has trimmed from a tree and cut them (on a band saw is best but you can get it done with other saws, it just takes longer.)into thin disks. Lay them in the sun for a while and when they’ve dried hit them with a light coat of paint. Now you have LARGE Necco Wafers that can be propped up in the same slotted 2X4 if you try to maintain a standardish cut width. They shatter like the Neccos. I have a slow moving( usually ) drainage ditch behind my house and I go upstream a ways and throw in half a dozen of these that have been painted with waterbase line marking paint and sit in my lawn chair and pop ’em as they come in range. then I shoot the pieces. Great fun !

            One of the best store bought targets I have is the Air Venturi Wonder Wheel. It looks like a small ferris wheel with round disks in place of the seats. As you shoot the disks they flip back changing the weight distribution and causing the wheel to start spinning or rocking. This of course makes the next shot tougher. You can have two shooters at a time or count most disks knocked back in X number of shots or time to knock them all back. Lots of ways to compete.

            I guess I’ll end here since this is getting long winded and I also don’t know how to type so I’m slow. 🙂 Hope this was of interest.


      • GrandpaDan,

        Well hey, when a new cordless battery cost 1 – 1 1/2 times the new drill with 2 batteries and charger,… what is a fellow supposed to do? The pistol grip – grip on the Embark should be great for the kids and you. That is a HUGE factor on comfortable shooting and should be great for all.

        That is something I would have leaned towards on past purchases,… knowing what I know now.


  2. BB,

    That really is an awesome little shooter, most especially for the price. I strongly suspect that this is going to be a very successful model for Umarex. I for one do hope the SAR program becomes real popular and spreads to school systems across this nation.

    As for the sights, these are a more common type than peep sights. I say that and then the Mattelomatic and it’s proliferation comes to mind. A somewhat inexpensive peep could be manufactured. It would likely still be more expensive than the present one and because of such would add cost, however if it is designed right it would have a large enough demand to help reduce those costs.


    • RR,

      I agree that a peep could be designed to be affordable. The problem is — most shooters think peeps are harder to use, rather than easier. Even the military is starting to more toward optical sights, when they already have the simplest, most reliable sight that can be built.

      Oh well — it gives me something more to write about.

      B.B.


      • B.B., sadly you are most correct; some people in the military think peeps sights are harder to use; one of my ex-Air Force friends told me they are MUCH harder to use than open sights. So, I asked him HOW he was using them. Sure enough, he was using them all wrong; instead of letting his eye get close to the aperture, and letting his eye naturally center the top of the front post in it, he was pulling his eye back from the aperture, and trying to use it as he would a rear open sight. He seemed shocked when I told him he was not using aperture sights as they were meant to be used. The Williams Peep Sight on my Sheridan has been on it for almost 40 years; it has been many years since it was sighted in, yet the sights have never gone out of adjustment (try that with a scope; over 20 years and still perfectly sighted in). I love peep sights!!! =>



          • BB
            So teach us. Seriously. Did you do a blog on that. Probably so I bet with your pistol competition target shooting.

            But I want to know about how it works out in the feild. Not on 10 meter competition..

            How fast can you pick up on multiple bottle caps at 30 yards and make the hit. Like if I got that set up on my Wildfire.


        • This ex-AirForce SP says yours friends have not been trained properly LOL give me a peep sight any day! They need to take a day at Camp Perry and see what type of iron sights are wining matches. The peep sight sight picture is much much clearer.


    • ” I for one do hope the SAR program becomes real popular and spreads to school systems across this nation.”
      RidgeRunner, I for one concur with you on that one! =D



  3. Speaking of lead free pellets, has anyone else noticed the remarkable similarity between the Sig Saur brand lead free pellets and the H&N lead free pellets? It appears that Beeman is not the only company that rebrands H&N.


  4. BB, I am wondering if the lead free pellets will improve in accuracy as more rounds go down the bore. Do they “lead” the barrel? I know the rifle hasn’t had much use but pulling a patch down the bore after the few you have shot might be something to investigate……


    • Mike,

      I think I understand what you are saying/asking. I think the lead-free pellets do clean the bore. In lower velocity guns like the Embark I think they shoot clean forever — kinda like an FWB 300 does on lead.

      B.B.


      • BB
        What will happen to the bores in time with the non lead pellets?

        Do you think they will eat away at the rifling and eventually make the bore bigger?

        I guess that matters on what grade of alloy they use probably. And certian aluminum is harder than others. Soft aluminum is terrible. Probably worst than lead shot at higher velocity’s.


        • I’ve put about 1000 H&N Green pellets down the barrel of my (detuned to <500fps) HW-77 so far and it shoots as well as it always has. The results of the accuracy tests here are pretty much the same as my personal experiences – the H&N lead free pellets have had comparable accuracy to the best I lead pellets I've used. All my shooting is with low power guns, indoors and at 10 meters maximum though which probably lets the lead free pellets have their best comparative performance.


          • Nowhere
            That’s good to know. Your probably right about the 10 meters.

            You know me. I would like to see how it hey act out to at least 25 yards. And over a period of time.

            There could be wear. But m thinking it might take a long time to show any accuracy be difference.

            And heck it might even make a gun better over time. It might size the barrel to that paticular lead free pellets that’s being used.

            Thinking about that. Maybe one way or another as the guns get older in this program it show that the students might be getting better groups or worse groups than the previous years of students shooting.

            I hope that he program directors​ at the schools have sense enough to recognise that the gun might be the reason of different accuracy over time. Not so much the students.

            It will be interesting to see how this program goes. Student and gun wise. I hope they have great success though and the programs get put in place at more ​and more schools throughout time.


  5. B.B.

    The Embark is looking like it could be very popular for young shooters who might not have access to the SAR program locally – hope they will be widely available.

    If the Embark sales doe take-off then likely many people will be shooting readily available box-store/hardware store pellets like Crosmans. Might be of general interest is you tested some of these.

    Are you planning a 25 yard test? Maybe with a scope?

    Hank


  6. BB,

    Interesting rifle and program. I forwarded your blog address to someone who wants to set up an air gun shooting range. The program with its securities building seems to be a good starter to learn about safety. The rifle looks like a winner to me for easy but seriously target shooting.

    Off topic, but maybe interesting for the peep versus open sights. I have a Bedouin 1856 Crown tower percussion rifle which has both. It is a fixed square block of iron 18 mm height, 14 mm wide and 6 mm thick located and the end of the barrel. The open sight is a vertical split 5 mm deep and 0,5 mm wide. Below it is a round hole of 1.5 mm about 2,5 mm of the base. That functions like a peep. A second hole, stopped with an iron piece of round wire is between the split and the open hole. That piece of wire can be removed.

    It looks like remarkably simple way to combine functions an have some way to correct your elevation. I assume that the split is that deep that it can be used somewhat like the way you used to sight your target at 100 meters with a colt.

    Even father off topic: Did I miss BSA Meteor Mark I part 8 or is it still in the pipeline? I recently acquired one so I did some back reading. Naturally you had written about it so that was an interesting read,

    Regards,

    August


    • August,

      I have owned several 1873 Trapdoor Springfield rifles that also have both the peep and open rear sight. Once the military discovered how easy peeps were to learn, most countries used them.

      The BSA report is still in the pipeline. I’m trying to catch up on a lot of past reports that are overdue. Got one coming tomorrow.

      B.B.


  7. A worthy successor to the IZH 61 in the price range. Too bad it doesn’t have a magazine. 🙂

    I wonder how one would adapt these 10 meter targets to 5 meters? Dividing my score in half doesn’t quite work. If I shot a perfect target, I would still have to reduce my score to 50% I suppose that if I measured the exact distance between the center of each shot and the center of the target and divided that, which would amount to a CTC measurement, it might work. But that would be a hassle. A rough approximation by group might be the best thing.

    Matt61


  8. Anything in the SAR program stating that one cannot sort pellets? If one was told to only use a certain pellet, might it not be beneficial to use the “best” of that pellet?
    Might be interesting to see if the SAR Journey perform any better when sorted through a pellet gage.

    Silver Eagle


    • Silver Eagle
      If they were given their own tin of pellets for that paticular match and told they couldn’t sort that would be one thing.

      But most competitions teach you to try to be your best. Now take that same tin of pellets and tell the kids they now have this certain amount of time to sort starting now. Wonder how many would.

      That’s the thing about rule books and competition. If it’s not stated that you can’t do something. If it’s beneficial to your results. People in the competition probably will.

      That’s why I don’t compete at my different (hobby’s) I’m calling them. I want to enjoy what I do. Not get stressed out about.

      Maybe they should just shoot straight out of the tin as a rule.

      And I’m glad BB did test the pellets they will use. And to go with what your saying maybe BB can test the pellets he has that they will use in the competition after sorting just so we can see if it makes a difference on those pellets that he has from them.

      I’m interested in knowing.


  9. And come to think about it. Now that the Embark is available to the public the kids competing can get a gun to have at home to practice shooting with. Then the pellets. I wonder if they will be available to the public too.

    I guess the school program would probably only allow for the guns the schools provide. Or will they be able to purchase their own gun and pellets.

    If my daughter’s had the program at school I would make sure they had their own gun at home. Even if possibly the school guns all shot a bit different. The more familiar with the gun and pellets would be a benefit I believe.


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