by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Charging the gun
- BB velocity
- Umarex Precision Steel BBs
- Loading cartridges
- Dust Devils
- Air Venturi Steel BBs
- Shooting faster
- Smart Shot
- RWS Hyper-Max Lead-free pointed pellets
- Air Arms Falcons
- Shot count
- Trigger pull
- Lever safety!
Today we look at the power of the new Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action BB gun. Yes, I will test it with pellets, though it wasn’t designed for them. And. in case you wonder whether the new Marksman Premium Grade steel BBs will work in it, I submit the following picture.
Charging the gun
Step one is to charge the gun with CO2. This gun takes two 12-gram CO2 cartridges, nose-to-nose, in the buttstock. I put the usual Crosman Pellgunoil on the tips of both cartridges, so the oil would be blown through the valve when they pierced. It keeps the seals fresh and doing their job.
Now let’s look at BB velocity. I selected a range of BBs that I think covers the entire field.
Umarex Precision Steel BBs
First up are Umarex Precision Steel BBs. This is an Umarex airgun, after all. I will show you each of the first 10 shots, because I have a lot to say about them.
Okay — the average for that string is 617 f.p.s. But notice that it dropped from 630 f.p.s. on shot one to 600 f.p.s. by shot five and then jumped back to 625 f.p.s. on shot 6. What happened is I loaded five cartridges and then shot them in succession, waiting 20 seconds between each shot. Then I gathered up the empty cartridges and reloaded them with 5 more of the same BB for shots 6 through 10. The time between shots 5 and 6 was about five minutes.
I’m saying two things here. First, this airgun does drop in velocity as you shoot it. The expanding CO2 chills the internal parts, causing the gun to slow down rapidly. By waiting 5 minutes the velocity returns to nearly normal. Here’s why I say that.
The first couple shots from a new CO2 cartridge will almost always be faster because some of the liquid CO2 has made its way into the valve. The gun must be specifically designed to prevent that, as some target arms are (those with their CO2 tanks hanging down vertically). Otherwise the first couple shots will be faster than any of the shots that follow. That’s another reason I showed you each of the first 10 shots. So 630 f.p.s. (shot number one) is probably faster than this gun wants to shoot, but 625 f.p.s. (shot six) is more likely its maximum. Umarex puts a conservative maximum of 600 f.p.s. on the gun, so we have already passed that by quite a bit.
I had forgotten what it feels like to load cartridges into an 1894 receiver. You don’t put them in one at a time unless you have no feeling in your thumb. You load one cartridge almost all the way into the rifle, then push it in with the next one and so on. If you don’t your thumb gets mighty sore!
The next BB I tested was the Dust Devil from Air Venturi. They make these themselves, so don’t go looking for the source someplace else. We know Dust Devils are lighter than conventional steel BBs so they should be a little faster.
I decided to go to 5-shot strings at this time, because I could see that the Lever Action BB gun is very consistent. Five Dust Devils gave an average of 620 f.p.s. with shot one going out at 645 and shot five leaving at 604 f.p.s. If I had waited several minutes between shots the average would have been higher, but no BB would have gone faster than 645 f.p.s.
A spread of 41 f.p.s. is large, and I knew what to do to tighten it. Just wait longer between shots. Longer than 20 seconds but less than 60 seconds. Let’s call it 30-40 seconds between shots.
Air Venturi Steel BBs
Next up were Air Venturi Steel BBs. They aren’t that much different than Umarex Precision Steel BBs, so the velocity should be close. This BB averaged 618 f.p.s. with a high of 630 and a low of 608 f.p.s. How about that? Almost identical to the first string, but ever-so-slightly faster on average. That’s what the extra waiting time did.
What about the other way around? What if I shot the gun as fast as I could? From what we are seeing here I would expect the spread to get wider. Let’s find out.
The next BB I tested was the all-lead Air Venturi Smart Shot from H&N. These weigh 7.4 grains on average, so of course they are going to shoot slower, but this time I levered the gun, recorded the velocity and shot the next shot all within 8 seconds.
They averaged 535 f.p.s. for 5 shots. The spread went from a high of 550 f.p.s. to a low of 514 f.p.s. That’s 36 f.p.s., and not as great as I feared it would be. What that means is, yes the velocity does decrease when you shoot rapidly, but the velocity loss slows down the more you shoot. I will have more to add to that in a bit, but now I want to look at the gun’s performance with pellets.
RWS Hyper-Max Lead-free pointed pellets
First I tested 5 RWS Hyper-Max lead-free pointed pellets. These weigh 5.3-grains so they should be close to the velocity of the steel BBs. A little less, perhaps, because they weigh more and also because they are larger diameter, Five pellets averaged 609 f.p.s. The high was 647 f.p.s. and the low was 586 f.p.s. I also shot these as fast as I could, averaging 6 seconds between shots. I was getting faster between shots from practice. The spread was 51 f.p.s. which is more like what I expected when I was shooting rapidly. The first shot was the fastest and the last was the slowest, with a linear drop from start to finish.
Air Arms Falcons
The second pellet I tested was the Falcon from Air Arms. These I shot as rapidly as I could, averaging about 6 seconds between shots. That’s levering in a new cartridge while watching where the spent cartridges go, then writing down the velocity, then taking the next shot and so on
At this point in the test I have fired 35 shots on the two CO2 cartridges. I stopped for lunch after shot 35 and then I also wrote the first part of the report. Two hours have elapsed since the last shot was fired. Let’s load some more Umarex BBs (617 f.p.s. average at the start) and look at the velocity.
36……………534 wait two full minutes
37……………520 wait two full minutes
38……………504 wait two full minutes
39……………491 wait two full minutes
40……………475 wait two full minutes
41……………463 wait two full minutes
42……………439 wait two full minutes
43……………431 wait two full minutes
44……………402 wait two full minutes
I stopped at this point. There are more shots in the gun, but not many. You risk getting a BB stuck if you go too much farther. I’m saying there were 45 good shots on two CO2 cartridges. Given the high velocity of the BB gun, that’s about what can be expected.
The trigger pull on the test gun is 3 lbs. 2 oz. And, while testing it I discovered something wonderful!
This BB gun has the same lever safety that would be found on a Winchester 1894 firearm. The lever must be pulled up tight to the frame of the gun or it won’t fire. You do this naturally when grasping the gun so no thought is required.Winchester has been building the same safety into their rifles for over a century, but what a shocker it is to see one on a $200 BB gun. All the more realism!
The test gun feeds like a dream! You have to move that lever all the way back to eject the spent cartridge, and the elevator with the new cartridge pops up immediately after that. It’s exactly like a Winchester 1894!
There is a lot to like about this lever action BB gun. I sure hope it’s accurate, too!