by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- A price-point PCP
- Two calibers
- Sling swivel studs
- Overall evaluation
Yes, Jonah, it is the Umarex Gauntlet on which I will test the Bug Buster 3-12 scope with sidewheel! I had planned on reviewing this rifle last summer, but things happened on the production side and that window closed. Then I wanted to review it before Christmas, but that never happened, either. So now I’m starting my report on an air rifle that’s already in many shooter’s hands.
A price-point PCP
The Gauntlet is not just a price-point precharged pneumatic (PCP). It’s the rifle that defined the class. A price-point PCP has to have a lot of desirable features and retail for less than $300. Umarex drew that line when they announced the Gauntlet last year, but while they were getting the first rifles ready several other manufacturers got their offerings out first. They all stuck to the under-$300 retail price and the features differ from gun to gun. I will test several other price-point PCPs for you but today is all about the Gauntlet.
The rifle comes in both .177 and .22 caliber. I chose the .177 for no special reason other than it seemed best to me.
What does this rifle offer? For starters, it’s a repeater. The .177 version I’m testing comes with one 10-shot rotary magazine and one single-shot adaptor tray. In the past those trays were sold as options. It also has a regulator that many newer airgunners seem fascinated with. I will test this one for you thoroughly so you know what to expect.
The barrel is shrouded but not baffled. Instead it has what I would call an expansion chamber that contains the compressed air before releasing it to the atmosphere. I will report on the discharge sound, but Pyramyd AIR says it is fully moderated, so I’m expecting a quiet gun.
The air reservoir is removable! This is a feature that used to only come on higher-priced PCPs, so Umarex has really raised the bar with the Gauntlet. You can fill the tank while it’s installed on the gun or remove it and replace with another reservoir that’s ready to go. A degassing tool is supplied to exhaust the compressed air from the reservoir before removal. Just know that all the air will be exhausted.
The cheekpiece is adjustable up and down to suit different shooters. A thumbwheel in the stock makes this easy. The rear sling swivel stud locks the adjustment wheel, so use the degassing tool to unlock the stud before adjusting the cheekpiece.
The trigger is adjustable, but to access the adjustments you must remove the air tank and forearm. Looking at just the outside of the trigger housing, the safety and the location of the adjustment screws, this looks like a variation of the Crosman 160 “crossbow” trigger that I wrote about. If so, you are in for a real treat. I will look at it closer in Part 2. I will say that it came from the factory adjusted very light, but I would tweak the overtravel screw to stop the trigger right after the gun fires.
I find the first stage of the trigger a bit sticky, but it’s brand new and I can tell that it will wear in. Once it does, stage two feels very crisp.
The safety works with the trigger and is manual. Thank you, Umarex! It is an upgrade to the original Crosman 160 safety because it is spring-loaded and can be released very easily — with just a touch of the trigger finger. It takes a little more effort to apply, but it’s easy just the same.
Sling swivel studs
The stock comes with sling swivel studs installed. You will need a sling because the Gauntlet weighs 8.5 pounds without a scope. As mentioned at the start of this report I plan to mount the BugBuster 3-12X32 scope with optional sidewheel for this test, so the weight will not increase by much more. Each sling stud also serves to lock something, so that degassing tools that also loosens both studs will be handier than you suppose.
The Gauntlet is a large rifle — measuring 46-inches overall with a 14-inch pull. The barrel is 23 inches long. The stock has been well contoured for a shooter. The pistol grip is very vertical, making offhand shots feel good, and the forearm just in front of the triggerguard where you place your off hand is very narrow. It feels great! The rest of the forearm is fat, to contain that removable air tank, so you will feel it if you hold the rifle out there.
The stock is dark gray synthetic. It’s smooth on the surface but not slick. It doesn’t reflect light, nor does the rest of the outside of the rifle. Only the air tank is shiny, and it is mostly concealed inside the forearm.
The butt pad is soft grippy rubber that will cling to your shoulder. It does not adjust.
Pulling the bolt back to cock is hard, so you want to cock with the rifle on the shoulder. The bolt has a notch at the back of its stroke to lock it safely out of the way when installing or removing the magazine.
The Gauntlet accepts a fill to 3000 psi, as expected for a regulated gun. According to the manual the reg is set to 1150 psi, so you get nearly a 2000-psi power band. That’s going to give a lot of shots. I will plan on Part 2 of this report taking a long time to test! Of course you can fill the tank less full and get fewer shots. The reg should give the same velocity, regardless.
Umarex wisely used a male Foster nipple for the fill port. More and more manufactures are using this nipple which makes filling PCPs easier. The fill nipple comes with a protective cover to keep dirt out.
This is an entirely new PCP. It’s a shame it took so long to hit the streets, but Umarex wanted it to be right, and from first glance it would appear they succeeded. I can’t wait to shoot it for accuracy.
I remember shooting the gauntlet a year ago for “American Airgunner,” but we didn’t have the targets, the time or a decent shooting bench to do it right. This time I’m going to take the time to really get to know this air rifle.