El Gamo David breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

El Gamo David
The El Gamo David is a lower-powered breakbarrel from the 1960s or ’70s.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Godfather’s Gold Gun Giveaway
  • Description
  • Stock
  • The markings
  • Sights
  • What is it?
  • El-cheapo or full of value?
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Godfather’s Gold Gun Giveaway

Well, the winner has been selected. Reader Decksniper won the Godfather’s Gold Gun. Let’s all congratulate him. Now on to today’s report on the El Gamo David.

The what? The David? Yes, the David. Several weeks ago I snagged this breakbarrel off an eBay auction. At first I thought it was a Spanish version of the El Gamo 300 that I reviewed for you in 2014, but it’s not. This is an air rifle we have never seen in the U.S. As far as I know, this is the first time this air rifle has been written about in our country.

David inscription
This is the left side of the base block.

Description

The El Gamo David is a smallish .177 breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. It has open sights that adjust in both directions. The rifle has an overall length of 38-1/2-inches, with a 15-3/8-inch barrel. Most would measure the barrel at 15-7/8-inches because of the plastic muzzle cap on the end. The rifled steel barrel ends a half inch shy of the end of the cap. The length of pull (distance from the center of the trigger to the center of the butt) is 14-1/4-inches, which is an adult-sized pull — so the David isn’t just meant for youngsters. 

Stock

The beech stock is slim and nicely contoured. You don’t see stocks this nice today unless you pay extra. There is no checkering but the forearm has finger grooves on both sides. That’s reminiscent of European military and sporting firearms and air rifles, alike.

The cocking slot is very short. It can be because the cocking link is a two-piece articulated part.

David cocking link
The cocking link is articulated so the slot in the stock can be short. That makes the stock stiffer and reduces vibration.

The stock is well-rounded rather than slab-sided. That’s a clue that it’s probably on the earlier side of my time estimate. The finish is smooth and even and there are no places where wood filler has been used. El Gamo is not known for using wood filler on stocks, anyway. That’s a Chinese/Asian thing.

The buttplate seems to have once been softer rubber that has hardened with age. Oddly, it isn’t fitted to the wooden stock very well and that may also have come with the age. It has ribs and bears the antlered animal logo and el gamo name.

David buttplate
The El Gamo logo and name are on the hardened rubber buttplate.

The metal is polished and deeply blued. This example has some deep scratches and a few spots of rust pitting, so it has been abused at some time in its life. The scratches appear to be from handling, such as falling over.

The markings

Now for the markings. On the left side of the base block (the block the barrel is attached to and it pivots when the rifle is cocked) are these characters.

Mod. “DAVID”
221816
Made in Spain

On the top rear of the spring tube are these marks.

A stylized antlered animal head followed by el gamo
Barcelona
( España )

el gamo markings
This is why I think this rifle is not an import.

On the rear sight leaf there is the same antlered animal head, which was El Gamo’s logo at the time.

Sights

The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation.

David rear sight
The rear sight adjusts for windage and elevation. Both knobs are clearly marked and have detents, but they aren’t crisp. The spring and ball are missing from the windage knob, so there is no detent function.

David front sight
The front sight is plastic and pretty beat up on this rifle.

The front sight has a hood with a blade underneath. Being plastic, this sight has suffered a lot of handling damage. At least it’s not fiberoptic!

What is it?

So, what is this strange breakbarrel that we have never seen? Well, although there is no written literature about it, or at least none I could find, we do know a few things. First, it is an El Gamo, not just a Gamo. That dates it to before the 1990s.

Next, the information that is stamped into the top rear of the spring tube indicates that this rifle was not exported to the United States. It may have been sold only in Spain, but I am thinking it was available throughout Europe, at least. And northern Africa as well as some of the middle eastern countries are also probable, because I know that they do like pellet rifles in those places and Gamo did sell there. And I would add India to the list. So the distribution could have been a lot broader than just the country of origin. This is an air rifle that an American serviceman might have returned home with.

I also know that at the time the David was made El Gamo was still owned by the Casas family who were not obsessed with velocity. The velocity wars of the late 1970s hadn’t started yet, and Gamo was slow to climb on board when they finally did. They left that up to Feinwerkbau, BSF and Diana. So I expect the power of this test rifle to be reasonable — a .177 pellet weighing 8 grains that leaves the muzzle at 550-600 f.p.s. It may not be functioning at its absolute peak anymore but I have shot it several times and it seems to be okay.

El-cheapo or full of value?

I have no idea of where the David fit in the El Gamo lineup. But there are some clues that lead me in a certain direction. For starters the triggerguard, end cap of the spring tube and the muzzle cap are all plastic. They are injection moldings. No company would spend the money for the molds for those parts unless they planned to make wide use of them. Think hundreds of thousands of pieces — not necessarily all Davids, but similar rifles for different markets, all using the same parts.

The David’s trigger has no possibilty for adjustments. It is two stage with a short first stage pull and a heavy second stage. It might become smoother with lubrication.

David triggerguard
The triggerguard is plastic and can be found on other El Gamo rifles. This trigger has no adjustments.

Discussion

The El Gamo David seems to be a pellet rifle of the same power and probable accuracy as the Diana 27 or the Slavia CZ 630. Looking at it and knowing Gamo’s market position of the time, I believe it sold for less money than its competitors. To answer the el-cheapo or full-of-value question, I believe it was built to be inexpensive for its time, yet at that point in time the makers wouldn’t allow it to be as austere as inexpensive pellet rifles were going to become. So, from today’s perspective it is full of value, if not filled with desirable features like an adjustable trigger and front sight with inserts. Isn’t that interesting — an item that was designed to be cheap, but 60 years go by and it becomes something with higher standards.

Summary

Well, that’s what lies before us — an air rifle that’s not been seen by too many in this country. It’s small enough to shoot all day and yet also has the dimensions that fit adults. It’s not an airgun you should look for because I doubt there are very many in this country. But isn’t it nice to see something that’s a little different?

67 thoughts on “El Gamo David breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1


  1. BB
    I imagine if you were marketing it in Israel, or the middle east as you suggest, David would be a catchy model name as in David and Goliath ? The Conqueror. Or King David.

    Siraniko
    Didn’t see your post first, honestly.


  2. B.B.,

    I thought you had some other El Gamo reports so I looked back and yes I found 2 and while not remarkable in the accuracy department they worked well. I hope this one will do as well or better.

    And to Decksniper, AKA the man with the golden gun, I am happy for your good fortune.

    Mike


  3. John Walter, writing in 1982, has a small footnote on ‘Obsolescent El Gamo airguns’ which had been ‘discontinued by the mid-1970s and are rarely seen in Britain.’

    ‘The David was an infant rifle, similar to but smaller than the current Expo, while the DS was a predecessor of the Expo.’

    Noting your comment about the actual size of this gun, I wonder if the David and DS (David Senior/Super?) might have been the junior and adult guns in Gamo’s range before being merged into the Expo?

    Assuming the power is low enough, would the absence of the German F-in-pentagon automatically date this to before 1973/74, or initially at least would that only be applied to guns for the German market?

    Iain



  4. BB,

    Looking forwards to what it will do. “David” is certainly interesting. That name was chosen for a reason,.. a reason to appeal to marketing/sales,… but what?

    The trigger guard is interesting with that inner ridge going all of the way around, instead of flat.

    Looking forwards to more. Maybe another reader can provide some additional information for you.

    Chris



  5. BB,

    What an awesome find! As well made as this is, this will be an awesome plinker.

    In reference to your discussion comment –

    “If you think you are smarter than the previous generation, fifty years ago the owner’s manual of a car showed you how to adjust the valves. Today it warns you not to drink the contents of the battery.”


  6. BB,

    Is it just me or do the fore stocks of the old air rifles appear to be shorter than the modern ones, as if encouraging you to hold it closer to the trigger guard?


  7. Over the years I have gained respect for the El Gamo guns. They are made of steel and wood and usually of pretty good quality. I found a gun similar to the David a couple years ago and gave it to a nephew who is about 11 or 12.
    David Enoch



      • Hi old neighbor Jerry,
        If I had a namesake gun it would definitely be my BSA Supersport Lightning. I have put more pellets through that one than all my other airguns combined over the years.
        Wish I could be you neighbor again, but up in the mountains where you live now!
        David Enoch


  8. Congratulations Deck! I hope you enjoy the “golden gun” and perhaps you could comment on your experiences with it.

    Interesting find BB. This brings me back to rifles of my youth. I assume it has leather piston and breach seals so I am curious about its performance. Perhaps some oiling will be needed. Looking forward to the next report on it.

    Henry




  9. I have a real soft spot for these steel and wood, easy cocking/shooting springers.
    I have to admit, I have acquired some pretty nice guns over the last 15 years…both pellet and powder.
    Yet one of my favorites to spend an afternoon in the back yard with (or basement in the winter) is my Slavia 630.


  10. “Now on to today’s report on the El Gamo David. The what? The David? Yes, the David.”
    B.B.,
    Thank you, O Great Enabler! You’re got me wanting one just based on the name alone. =>
    It reminds me of the time I heard a guy on the radio talking about the “Museum of Davids,” a place that would have info on all the Davids of history, starting with King David…
    Me: “Hmm, that sounds like a worthwhile place…I think we should make a donation to them.”
    My wife: *eye roll*
    Hahaha! Yeah, I think this gun’s great based on the name alone, LOL! I just hope it can shoot!
    Really looking forward to the rest of the reports on this gun,
    dave (David)



    • From what I can tell of the general development of Gamo rifles, I would say there are two features that date the David as older than that version of the Expo: the design of the stock, and lack of a safety catch.

      Note that was made in Brazil for the N and S American market.

      Iain


      • Iain
        Maybe so about the age. And I wanted to show the picture of the page to show it was made in Brazil plus about the description they gave about the gun and the optional accurizing you could purchase. Plus some of the lubricants it showed to use was WD40.

        And what’s funny on the next page of the catalog is a HW30 that looks like the David gun BB is testing. Stock and action.

        Anyway alot of cool pictures and articles in the catalog.







    • Thanks fellows!

      I won’t clog up BB’s report by responding to each of you so please know I appreciate all. I am a lucky guy for sure. Don’t think I have ever won any drawing until now. Thank you Tom and sponsors of your blog.

      Wouldn’t you know it, the only active reader except Yogi maybe who is not into PCP’s. Yep, not a PCP in my collection until now? Guess I need a hand pump if practical. I don’t have a place for frogmen tanks or compressors which is why I have avoided the dark side. The biggest concern I have about the Ataman is the noise. The laws on silencers don’t make sense but they are what they are. Maybe the regulator can make it backyard friendly. Hunting was a wonderful lifelong sport for me all over North America but at 81 those days are for the memories. Maybe I’m trying to talk myself into selling or trading it.

      I am looking forward to seeing it. Being familiar with and owning some Russian firearms I admire Russian gun design; dependable and accurate as necessary. It doesn’t hurt that BB has had his hands on it either. I prefer target shooting over collecting but I wonder what value the Las Vegas Pawn Stars would put on it?

      I will keep you posted after I receive it. I have much to ponder.

      Deck


      • Deck,

        If you are not into PCP’s yet, I am not sure that I would make that leap just because of this. Without looking at the reports, I think this one pumped pretty high. As I recall,.. it did ok at lower too. If you got out alive with just doing a hand pump,.. it might be worth it.

        Then again,.. there is powered pump direct to gun. But,… at that point you have the whole new world of PCP’s open to you! Talk about opening a can of worms! At that point,… you have bought the worm farm! 🙂

        Chris




        • GF1

          In looking back at BB’s reports on the Ataman P16 Standard one advantage stands tall. It seems to lend itself to interchanging of parts. Barrel length and air reservoir length choices are available. Conversion to a carbine is an option. That quick reacting regulator is a plus too. Putting myself in Pyramyd Air’s shoes I would like to see this gun wind up in the hands of someone into modding. There are several readers like you who do that, even making custom parts. I will keep this option in mind as I ponder what to do with my golden gun.

          How would I contact directly a reader without compromising privacy or abusing the purpose of this blog? I know how to reach two readers having either met or done business with them. Perhaps I could start with them and see if there is interest. But first I want to see my new golden gun. May even have to shoot it even if the noise means taking it to the rifle range. But that requires buying a hand pump which then puts me over to the dark side. Either way Pyramyd Air wins.

          Thanks to you and the many readers who responded!

          Deck


          • Deck
            I forget how we originally went about exchanging e-mails. I think we talked to BB about it. But really not 100% sure. It was a long time back.

            Me and Chris have each others emails and I have several other readers emails here on the blog also.

            Who’s email do you have. I’m just asking because someone else might have thier email too and you can connect.

            And maybe BB can help out with a answer about the emails.


            • GF1

              I have Carel who uses his name on this blog. I have another’s real name but not his blog handle and he knows RR I think because they were at the Hickory show in 2019. Likely is an active reader. Would like BB’s help but not if it puts a burden on him. I know how to reach BB personally if he is okay.

              Deck


      • Deck
        The Las Vegas pawn stars.

        Probably nothing unless someone there or someone they know is a air gunner.

        Otherwise they probably think nothing of it as sad as that may sound.


    • Gunfun1

      Update on Ataman AP16 Standard (Godfather’s golden gun):

      11/24/20 Shot 22 JSB 13.4 grain Diabolo Exact Jumbo pellets. Gauge began at 190 bar today and now reads about 163 bar. Total shots since I received it are 49 including the 4 dry fires. Pressure gauge read 240 bar when it arrived. A hand pump and chronograph are on order. Today I found that the POI is almost exactly the same as POA for 10 meters and 25 yards using these 13.4 grain pellets on the minimum hammer spring setting. A red dot is mounted and it is obviously accurate at 25 yards. Will comment on group sizes and velocity when I receive my tools.

      I knew you would be interested if you can pull yourself away from the new shotgun for a minute. My final update will be on that day’s report so others will see it. This pistol is very versatile and can reach out well beyond my 25 yard space limit. I have no desire to part company with it because it is definitely backyard friendly for noise with decibel room to spare.

      Stay safe!

      Deck


      • Deck
        Well it sounds like the dark side has got you.

        Glad to hear you like it. And you know I’ll be waiting to hear how it all goes for you.

        Definitely keep giving updates.


  11. OK everybody,

    I am seriously thinking about buying a RWS 54 in .177 for hunter field target. Everyone in my field target club is saying PCP, PCP, PCP but I would really like to have a recoilless Spring Air Rifle. I considered a FWB 300 but Dave Slade had told me there’s really no way you can hop them up to make them practical for field target. I would really appreciate any feedback from those of you who have a 54 in .177.

    Thanks,

    Brent


    • Brent,

      Mmmmm? I do not have a 54,.. for one. If “everyone” is saying “PCP”,….. there might? be something to that. Just sayin’.

      If you choose to go springer,… you had better know that sucker inside and out,… like you can shoot it your sleep good.

      Plain and simple,.. for me,.. it easier to shoot a PCP better,… and better, faster,.. than a springer.

      My 2 cents for the day,…….. Chris 😉




          • Chris
            I know you like nice guns when you finally decide to buy.

            If you really are thinking about a springer some time in the future.

            Seriuosly get you a nice FWB 300s. They are out there. And I can almost say don’t worry about if its accurate. Everyone says they are accurate. I have really never heard of a bad one.

            And they are engineered very well and are high quality. And parts are still available from FWB.

            I have had 2. Buldawg last I know still had the upper end one I sold him some years back.

            And yes I’m being Gunfun1 again. But seriuosly. The 300s is a gun to have.


    • Brent,

      Ray Apelles shoots a 54. He turned it into a sub 12 foot-pound bullpup and I imagine he has several hundred hours of work invested. Ray is a world-class shooter who found shooting PCP too easy, so he switched to a springer. He shoots WFTA rules.

      BB


    • Brent
      I just got another .177 54 Air king. I have owned 3 of them now.

      Alli can say is get it. I detuned mine. It reminds me of my FWB 300s except for the trigger of course. But the 54 does have a nice adjustable trigger. They don’t show it in the manual but it is adjustable.

      I think you would be happy with it.


    • Brent
      I don’t know why I didn’t catch it earlier but I do have a hopped up FWB 300s that will shoot just as well as my TX200. The 300s I have is very capable of shooting field target.


      • Gunfun,

        In Hunter field target, you are allowed up to 20 FPE. I would want the 17-18 FPE from a .177 54 so I could have as flat a trajectory as possible. Why did you detune your 54?

        Brent



        • Brent
          A 54 is basically a magnum springer. They are rated at 1100 fps in .177 caliber. And they cock like they are a magnum springer. And they actually bump the slide system pretty hard.

          I cut a little over 2 inches off the factory spring which was all preload. Now the spring is at zero preload. The gun is way more easy to cock. And there is no bump now and no vibration from the spring oscillating after the shots fired.

          So now my gun is at around 850 fps with JSB 10.34 pellets. It was shooting at 975 with the 10.34 pellets. I know from other guns that the 10.34’s work good at 900 fps or under.

          So I still have a flat shooting gun and a much easier to cock gun with a lot better shot cycle.

          And yes my 54 has a more mellow shotcycle with open sights than with a scope. And a note I can still hit a 1 inch spinner a average of 7 out of 10 times with the factory open sights at 50 yards bench resting it.

          And as for as a flat shooter goes. I only need a half mildot from 15 to 50 yards and sighted at 35 yards.

          That’s about all I can think of for now. Hope that helped.


          • Well, I went ahead and bought the Diana 54 in 177. I would have liked to have bought it from PA but not available is not available and I didn’t want to wait months to get it. In fact, there was only one place located in the south west that had it available that I could see. They said that they’re going to run it through its paces before sending it to me that I should get it by the middle of next week. Really looking forward to it. I guess Christmas is going to come early for me this year!

            Brent



            • Brent
              Yep I know what you mean about PA not having it. The one I just got probably came from the place you got yours. They usually send a target with a group fired from the gun your getting as well as a chrony sheet with some shots fired. Kind of nice to get.

              Let me know what you think about it after you get it. And Merry Christmas. 🙂




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