Archive for November 3rd 2008

There is something that I really like about target air pistols. Maybe it is the sheer joy of spending a few hours on an afternoon doing nothing more productive than trying to put some pellets through the 10 ring.

The HW97 MkIII delivers excellent accuracy in a handsome package.

The Gamo Compact is an entry-level target air pistol. Weighing a just under 2 pounds, it stretches 12.6 inches from end to end, and delivers a wealth of goodies for a very reasonable price.

Let’s take a walk around the Compact and see what I mean. The first thing you notice about the Compact is the anatomically sculptured right-hand walnut grip with adjustable palm shelf. To the best of my knowledge, the Compact is the only entry level pistol that comes standard with such a grip.

Just forward of the grip underneath compact is the trigger guard, it – and the rest of the receiver and upper unit of the pistol, is made of an engineering plastic. The sides of receiver are reinforced with metal straps that are also part of the cocking mechanism. Unlike some plastic air pistols that I have shot, I have seen no flexing of the plastic while cocking or shooting the Compact.

Inside the trigger guard is the trigger. The first stage of the trigger is adjustable for travel, and the trigger blade can be swiveled to match the shooter’s finger. The manual says the second stage of the trigger is set by the factory at 750 grams, and it is not adjustable. Like many target pistols, the Gamo Compact does not have a safety. Once it is cocked and loaded, it is always live and ready to shoot.

At the front end of the Compact, on top of the upper assembly is the blade front sight. Just below is the muzzle, which is recessed into the plastic upper assembly. Along the top of the upper assembly is a wide plastic ridge. While the ridge is not a dovetail, I have successfully used it to clamp red dot sights to the Compact.

At the rear of the upper assembly is the rear sight, which – like virtually all target sights – is adjustable for elevation and windage. What sets the Compact’s rear sight apart is that the width of the rear sighting notch is also adjustable, simply by turning a screw on the left-hand side of the sight. As far as I know, this is the only entry-level target air pistol that offers such an adjustment, and I find it really handy for matching the sight picture to varying lighting conditions.

Underneath the rear sight, at the extreme aft end of the receiver, is a rectangular gray plastic button. To get the Compact ready to shoot, depress the gray plastic button. This releases the upper assembly which can then pivot forward. With the upper assembly fully extended, insert a pellet into the back end of the barrel. Now return the upper assembly to its original position so it latches. This cocks the single-stroke pneumatic action and requires about 21 pounds of effort.

Now you’re good to go. Take aim at the target, ease the first stage out of the trigger, and squeeze a bit more. The Compact gives a muted pop and launches medium weight pellets down range in the mid-300 fps. I find the trigger to be pleasingly crisp.

The Compact is not a powerful pistol. I wouldn’t use it for hunting anything bigger than hornets (or perhaps mice at very close range). But it is quite accurate. The factory says it will deliver .20” groups CTC at 10 yards. I seem to recall a test in IHMSA news in which a fellow achieved nearly the same size groups at 20 yards indoors under windless conditions.

In the end, I find the Gamo Compact an entirely worthy air pistol that I enjoy shooting very much.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

- Jock Elliott

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