Archive for the ‘Airguns’ Category

By my own admission I am not a great shot, and I believe Fredrik Axelsson has discovered a secret he builds into his air rifles.  I’ve shot a number of the FX models and they are so easy to shoot accurately it seems like they have the built in ability to correct the shooter’s shortcomings.  That is conjecture on my part, but the facts of the Wildcat are it is a sleek bullpup, side-lever cocking design weighing in at slightly over 6 pounds and sporting a 19.7 inch match winning Smoothtwist barrel, all mounted in a very handsome thumbhole stock.  My particular sample came in the gray laminate wood variation and it is impeccably executed, right down to the logo that is laser cut into the forearm.  A walnut version or synthetic “soft touch” coating version are also available.

Another classic from FX

Atop the black anodized receiver sits an 11mm rail for mounting optics.  FX sells their own brand of scopes and my sample was the 6-18x44mm unit with illuminated duplex reticle.  The scope is also adjustable for parallax via a side turret which can be fitted with a large sidewheel.  30mm FX No-Limits adjustable scope mounts provide independent vertical adjustments for the most precise bore alignment when mounting the scope.

A number of companies produce bullpup designs and the biggest obstacle was coming up with a trigger that wasn’t’ really heavy or gritty because of the extra linkages, etc. necessary to place the action so far behind the trigger.  The trigger on the Wildcat was a thing of beauty – crisp, smooth and light.  The curved, smooth-faced match trigger is adjustable for length of pull, pull weight and cant.  The trigger trips the valve driven by a precision air regulator designed to give consistent shots and deliver a large number of high power shots per fill.

The Wildcat uses an 8-round rotary magazine redesigned for easier loading.  The magazine will not accommodate the longer hunting pellets such as Predator Polymags.  Its barrel is fully shrouded, reducing the sound signature to a mild “pop”, which still might be a touch too loud for backyard plinking/hunting in a suburban environment.  The solid rubber buttpad is fixed, and for a gun in this price range my thinking is an adjustable buttpad should be standard equipment. The non-removable air reservoir is mounted below the barrel with a manometer gauge mounted in the end.  A fill port is covered by the rotating collar on the end of the air reservoir.  A male fill probe inserted into the port will give a fill to 3300psi (230 bar).

Business end of the Wildcat

The side lever is directly above the trigger making for easy cocking without having to fully remove the shooting hand from the pistol grip or raising the head from the cheek weld.   Because there is no double-feed prevention on the Wildcat, the owner’s manual recommends leaving the bolt open and only closing it when ready to fire.  A minor detriment from my point-of-view is the manual safety being situated at the rear of the rifle.  I prefer to snap the safety off once the gun is mounted which is awkward to do with the FX.

The Wildcat retails for $1599 without optics.  The FX scope retails for $379 and the No-Limit rings for $80.  It comes with a one year warranty and well done owner’s manual illustrated with multiple quality photographs.  For more information please contact  Otherwise, stay tuned for part two where I will put the Wildcat through a few paces.

See Part One:

Ruger Yukon by Umarex

Testing took place on a 75+ degree day with a slight crossing breeze and at 20 yards from a bench.   No ear protection was required because the SilencAir system did as advertised and really made noise in an outdoor shooting session a non-issue (eye protection, however, is always a must!).  Regarding the SilencAir muzzle device/front sight, the shooter must avoid grabbing it when cocking the Yukon.  The red fiber optic rod could be damaged, but more importantly, you could wind up damaging the suppressor unit.  If that happened you would have to send the rifle back to Umarex for repairs.

Not having the chance to put enough pellets through it to really break it in because of a recent spate of  bad weather, the Yukon shot adequately out-of-the-box to take pests at this range.  Being a 9 pound rifle and equipped with the Umarex ReAxis gas ram the recoil is not much of a factor for an adult shooter.   The trigger had a crisp break at a consistent 5 pounds, 13 ounces, although company data indicates triggers are set at the factory to 3 pounds, 3 ounces.  The scope provided with the Yukon is a 3×9 variable with a 32mm objective bell having a duplex reticle.  The reticle was sharp and the image was bright, but the higher magnifications did not provide all that clear of a sight picture.  I tried adjusting the eyepiece and it helped, so it might just be these old eyes.

Velocities out of the Yukon 18.7 inch barrel with pointed HN Excite Spikes (15.8 grs.) averaged 753fps while RWS Superdomes at 14.5 grs. averaged 665fps which is not what I was expecting.  My chronograph registered two errors during the shot string with the Superdomes so there may have been something going on with my chronograph.  RWS HyperMax pointed alloy pellets averaged 859fps, which is only slightly higher than what Umarex rates this rifle at for lead pellets.  I think it may be time for a new chronograph…  More testing with a variety of ammo is definitely in order as none of the ammo in this initial testing appeared to be favored by the Yukon, although it did lean toward the lighter pellets and the RWS HyperMax alloy pellets made a respectable showing.  Excess factory lubrication left in this particular gun caused some dieseling for a number of shots.  I swabbed the barrel prior to the start of my shooting session and multiple times thereafter to try and eliminate the dieseling as quickly as possible.  Because of this I also checked the stock screws and scope mounts regularly to keep everything tight.  Even so, none of the groups were what would be expected from an Umarex gun.  Keeping in mind that springers can be unforgiving, and factoring out the mistakes of the shooter behind the trigger I’m sure the Yukon is capable of excellent groups.  I have it for a while longer and will do a brief follow up soon.

This is definitely an adult air rifle and having to choke up on the barrel to avoid grasping the SilencAir does slightly increase the amount of cocking force applied.  Umarex rates it at 30 pounds of cocking force and as this rifle breaks in more, I’m sure it will get smoother and easier to cock.  The thickness of the wrist of the Yukon is a possible negative for those with small hands.  I have decent sized hands and found that I was just covering the trigger face with the first pad of my index finger without reaching.

The Yukon is a classic looking powerful rifle for an adult looking to hunt varmints or pests or just general shooting.  To obtain one, or any of the other Umarex offerings, navigate over to

As reports continue to come across from the 2017 IWA show in Nurnberg, Germany, we keep hearing buzz about the FX Crown. So let’s piece together the information in a collective article and share what we know as well.

FX Crown Laminate

FX Crown Laminate with Optional Scope

The new FX Crown air rifle uses a 480cc Carbon Fiber air bottle for its reservoir and refills via a quick disconnect port.  This interchangeable bottle supplies air to the pressure regulator, which is externally adjustable and features a pressure gauge which shows bottle pressure and another which shows the regulated pressure.  This feature alone is useful for dialing up or down your power, but the FX Crown does not stop there!

FX Crown Air Gauges

Crown Air Gauge for Cylinder and Regulator Pressures

The rifle also features a multi-step hammer stroke adjuster, externally adjusted with ball-detent steps.  This allows the shooter to dial in the efficiency and consistency of the shot cycle.  To top it off, the FX Crown also has a Power restriction wheel, which allow the shooter to quickly increase or decrease the power of the rifle while in the field.  This feature is perfect for pest control, where your backdrop can go instantly from a 100 yard open field to a 20 yard enclosed barn, and the power can be limited to ensure safe dispatch of the pests.  It also works well for the back yard shooter, who wants to keep the full power settings, but needs more shots at low power for the afternoon in the back garden.  Needless to say, the FX Crown is fully adjustable, all externally, and it does not stop there!

FX Crown Walnut Adjusters

Hammer Stroke Adjuster and Power Wheel

The Crown comes with a beautifully shaped, Italian made stock available in Walnut or Laminate, each with an adjustable butt pad.  As an upgrade, an adjustable cheek piece is available as well.

Crown Adjustable Stock

Optional Adjustable Cheekpiece

The target trigger is adjustable with an extremely smooth and predicable pull.  The Crown also features a manual safety which is easily switched on/off near the trigger.

FX Crown Safety

Safety Switch on side of stock near trigger.

The FX Crown uses FX’s High Capacity magazine, but inserts at an angle which reduces the height for lower profile scope mounting.  It is also compatible with the standard magazines for those who want ultra low scope mounting.
The FX Crown’s barrel is shrouded in a full length moderator, which can be extended for even more sound moderation, taking the rifle from quiet to extremely quiet!  The advantage of this feature, apart from noise, is that the length can be instantly reduced to put the rifle back into a standard gun case.  And, while we talk about the barrel, we need to call out the biggest feature found on the new FX Crown…the Smooth Twist X barrel!

FX Crown Barrel Shroud

Nearly Silent Barrel Shroud

Building upon the proven Smooth Twist technology, FX Airguns has pushed the design further with the new X barrel system.  The barrels start with a highly polished tube, clear and free of any cuts or grooves.  Using a patented procedure, FX presses the entire length of the OUTSIDE tube with “grooves” that translate through the metal to impart twist on pellets when fired.  This Smooth Twist spins the pellet much like rifling, but it does not cut the lead or leave markings on the pellets.  This makes the pellet more stable in flight and more resistant to air turbulence.  Furthermore, FX has developed this design to allow for a variety of “Twist” rates and the barrel on the FX Crown allows these inner liners to be changed out easily.

FX Smooth Twist X

So, if your new FX Crown arrives, and after tuning the valve, regulator, and hammer you find it shoots exceptionally well with JSB Exact Heavy pellets you are happy.  But, like many other airgunners, if you insist on shooting the heavier H&N Baracuda pellets despite the rifle loving the JSB’s, you can simply experiment with other barrel sleeves that impart different twist rates, and in no time, you have a rifle that suddenly loves the heavier Baracuda pellets!  Never before has a shooter been able to tell the rifle which pellet to shoot best!

FX Crown with Fredrik Axelsson

Photo courtesy of The Airgun Gear Show

But wait there’s more!!!  While you are swapping out your twist rate barrel sleeves, why not jump into a different caliber altogether?  Maybe its time you take your .22 and install a .30 barrel for some high power hunting.  With the Crown design, this is possible!  You simply swap out the sleeve in the Smooth Twist X barrel to .30 caliber, easily change out the bolt probe in the breech, switch out the magazine and you are all set to dial in the power and consistency for the .30 pellet of choice.  Oh, and if you want to further perfect the accuracy, grab a couple alternative twist rates in .30 caliber while you are experimenting!

FX Smooth Twist X

And this Smooth Twist X barrel system is what truly sets the new FX Crown apart in such a unique way!

Now, we know everyone wants to hear more about the length, weight, power, shot count, accuracy, etc.  But that will require some hands-on testing, which we are prepared to do once the rifle arrives here.  That leads us to the big question, which is WHEN??  FX tells us they will deliver the first guns to the USA mid-April 2017.  So, hang in there and we promise to deliver all the information as it becomes available.  Meanwhile, feel free to order yours now to hold your place in line.  We anticipate the Crown to stay on pre-order status for quite a long time, much like its ever popular cousin the FX Impact!

FX Crown Options

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

Ruger Yukon

The first thing you notice about the Ruger Yukon is the elegant lines of the wooden stock combined with the blued steel receiver.  It reminds you of a fine firearm prior to the proliferation of synthetic stocks.  The wood is a stained straight-grained beech with pressed checkering and a unique black rubber buttpad that has a triangular section wrapping around the toe of the stock.  Incorporated into each side of this triangular area is a medallion with the familiar red Ruger rising phoenix logo.

The Yukon comes with a 5 inch long picatinny rail mounted  for scope attachment and a 3-9x32mm variable scope, rings and lens covers come with the rifle.  A hex wrench is included with the scope rings which also fits the stock screws so you can keep those snugged up for the best accuracy potential of the rifle.  For those who prefer standard sights, the Yukon is equipped with a fixed ramp front sight with a 1 ½ inch long red fiber optic rod as part of the SilencAir suppressor permanently attached to the muzzle.  The rear micrometer adjustable square notch sight is equipped with green fiber optic rods which offer a nice contrast when lining up a shot.  If you want the option to use both, you will have to obtain some see-through rings as the provided rings are the low mount variety.

The unique buttpad on the Yukon

Available in .177 and .22, the Yukon has an 18.7 inch barrel, weighs 9.0 pounds and is slightly over 44 ½ inches long.   It is touted as providing 850fps velocities with lead pellets based on the use of the Reaxis Gas Piston Power System developed by Umarex.  The Reaxis is said to give higher, more consistent velocities with less vibration and less recoil.  This translates to more power and higher accuracy.  In order to realize that higher accuracy potential, the shooter needs to use the “Artillery Hold”.  For those unfamiliar with springers and the Artillery Hold it basically means you cannot have a death grip on the forearm when shooting.  Just the opposite is true and it is recommended to use an open palm or resting on knuckles under the forearm.  This is because springers have a dual recoil impulse – the piston slamming forward to compress the air behind the pellet and the rearward movement as the pellet leaves the barrel.  Cocking effort is rated at 30 pounds and the shooter should refrain from grabbing the SilencAir /front sight when cocking the rifle to avoid damaging the unit.  Also, there is no anti “bear trap” mechanism so it is recommended to keep a firm grip on the barrel while loading a pellet into the breech.

The Yukon comes with a black metal two-stage trigger adjustable for length of first stage travel and has a ribbed face.  Trigger pull is factory set at 3.3 pounds.  The safety sets automatically upon cocking the barrel.  A black metal safety lever with serrated edges resides directly in front of the trigger making it easy to place the rifle in safe or fire mode.  It does take a bit of getting used to because it works backward from most in that the safety lever must be pulled toward the trigger to disengage the safety.  The only real disappointment, and it is minor, is that the trigger guard is made from polymer.  On this quality of a gun I would like to have seen a blued metal trigger guard, but I also understand the realities of keeping costs under control so that they can be passed to the consumer.  The trigger guard did have some sharp flashing along several edges, but that is easily taken care of with a sharp blade or fine jeweler’s file.

Umarex recommends the use of RWS pellets in the Yukon, which Airguns of Arizona carries in stock.  The Owner’s Manual cautions against using felt cleaning pellets or loose patches when cleaning the barrel as they could become lodged inside one of the five chambers making up the SilencAir suppressor and cause damage.  This package is available from for $179.95 and a one year limited warranty is provided with the Yukon.

So, OK, it’s all elegant and nice to look at and all that, but how does it shoot?  I tend to be a rather wordy individual and am sorry to say I’ve used up my allotted space and will save that discussion until next time.  If you have questions in the meantime, please reach out to the knowledgeable folks at Airguns of Arizona or post a reply.  (Follow this link to be taken to the second installment:

When you do a career 180 and begin to spend your work week reviewing airguns, there’s a certain phenomena and awareness that quickly turns to clarity… when seeking the one, you’ve got to try all brands and offshoots of a manufacturer’s pellet and you’ve got to cull with 10 shot groups. Yesterday for example, I spent the day getting familiar with the new Benjamin Maximus Euro, the 12fpe variant that our brethren in the U.K. have access to (and us as well). As always before shooting video, I’ll spend 2-3 days familiarizing myself with the gun’s tendencies & preferences in order to streamline my time come video day. What did I learn this week? … the branding phenomena is reality and my above discovery is true.

Take the below for example:

These are 5 shot groups at 25 yards experimenting with 6 different brands of pellet. I came away from the session thinking the Maximus Euro was a shooter across 4 of the 6 pellet types and in my mind, I’m starting down the path of, “This rifle isn’t pellet fussy at all… but I need to run some more brands through it to confirm.”

But is it?…

I spat all of the above through the Euro and confirmed that I could scratch them off the list. 1-2” groups at 25 certainly wouldn’t work for YouTube land… I’d be leaving this rifle’s reputation permanently scared and forever lost in the airgun graveyard. Having used up the day working through several rounds of culling and cleaning, I finally came away with 9, most of which I felt shot well enough to be consistently dangerous.

Check it out:

Now if you take a moment and study the above, you’re probably feeling fairly confident in a few of these groups, right? Don’t feel bad if you do, I did… that was until this morning when I funneled the assortment one final time and discovered the below takeaways:

Lesson 1: This rifle (and maybe yours) can keep to dime-sized groups 5 maybe 6 times across a good variety of pellets, but when you change the rules of the game, the picture begins to tell a different story. If you truly want to know what pellets your gun will be most consistent with, begin experimenting repeatedly with 10 shot groups and with lots of barrel cleaning in between batches. It’s clear to me now that Maximus Euro .177 is a dagger with the 8.4 gr Air Arms Diabolo Fields… 9/10 landed within .35” of one another. It also performed pretty well with the Diana Magnum and JSB 10.34… all three of which will accompany me on video day tomorrow.

This brings me to lesson 2: Have a another look at the above. The 8.4 gr Diana Exact is supposedly the same pellet as the 8.4 gr Air Arms Diabolo Field. JSB manufactures both and the forums will tell you they’re the same thing just re-branded… but I beg to differ. To me, it’s clear that this rifle performs better with one than the other. If that’s not enough to convince ya, have a look at the Diana Magnum and H&N Baracuda. This is the same scenario… H&N manufactures both brands and to the eye, they look the same… however, they clearly don’t perform the same out of this rifle. In yours, the reverse may be true.

What this means to us airheads is that before you give up on your rifle and call it a lemon, try all the brands and offshoots of a pellet manufacturer. JSB and H&N make most of them, and while seemingly disguised as the same thing, they are not. You’ve got to try them all. Then, once you think you’ve got things narrowed down, make your final decisions with 10 shot groups.

You’ll have a better time shooting & your prey will appreciate it.

YouTuber & Columnist
Steve Scialli

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trades show is now in the record books.  Almost 65,000 of my closest friends attended, plus more than a few canines sporting the latest in working dog accessories!  SHOT is the largest trade show of its type and is only open to members of the trade or media.  It is held in Las Vegas each January and is the showcase for new products.

A couple of years ago most of the major airgun manufacturers came out with a big bore of some type (.35 caliber or larger).  This year seems to be the year of the compressor to accompany the increasing number of PCPs available on the market.  Our friends at carry the new Omega Turbo Charger compressor which has some nice features including a dual piston design for faster charging and larger grease reservoir with a timer for indication of when to dispense the grease.  Other companies introducing compressors were Air Venturi and Sun Optics with Airforce Airguns to follow later this year.  Some new, less expensive hand pumps are also available this year which should help to bring new PCP shooters into the fold even if their budget is modest.

Big bore airguns continue to be a draw for a segment of the airgun shooting public and some new ones were being introduced at the show as well.  Airforce airguns introduced a TexanSS, their single shot .45 caliber big bore now features suppression.  Umarex showed off their new Hammer, a .50 caliber pump action 3-shot arm estimated to develop 700 foot pounds of energy.  It should be available later this summer.  This new air rifle uses a patented sabot round that has the sabot permanently attached to the base of the PolyCase copper/polymer matrix bullet.  However, it can also fire .50 caliber lead slugs.  Being a “nifty-fifty” it should also be able to handle the new AirBolt from Air Venturi.  The AirBolt turns an airgun into a very accurate arrow launcher. Several companies have invested in airgun/arrow launcher technology in the past couple of years and lobbying continues to make airgun hunting seasons more commonplace in this country.  Hatsan showed the Hercules QE dual tank pellet launcher in several different calibers all the way up to .45.  In .45 the Hercules can generate up to 250 fpe.

Other news on the PCP front includes several “entry level” rifles designed to allow those new to pre-charged pneumatics to put their toes into the water without a huge capital layout.  Umarex offers the Gauntlet, a bolt action repeater using a rotary magazine; it is available in .22 or .177 and uses a removable cylinder able to handle 3000psi.  It will be available later this spring for an MSRP of $299.00.  Crosman released their Wildfire model PCP, a bolt action using a 2000 psi reservoir and retailing for approximately $150.00.  Gamo introduced their Urban PCP multi-shot in .22 caliber which retails for $399.00.  Toward the other end of the price spectrum were the Hatsan Bullboss QE bullpup configuration PCP, a synthetic stocked side lever cocking multi-shot in .177, .22 and .25 calibers and you can check out the latest offerings from Daystate and FX airguns by switching over to the newly designed Airguns of Arizona website:  Daystate has the new Tsar in .177 for precision shooting disciplines and FX introduced the Wildcat bullpup in .177, .22 and .25.  Both are beautiful and both are of the highest quality you are going to find.

Other cool things seen: a faithful BB gun copy of the German MP40 submachine gun from Umarex that fires in both semi/full auto.  SIGArms airgun division showed a copy of professional shooter Max Michel’s .45  and the Spartan 1911 in BB CO2 repeaters.  Also new, the P320 blowback pellet pistol which utilizes the 30-round RPM belt-feed system like the one used on its larger, pellet firing copy of the MCX.  Crosman has a copy of the Remington 1875 single action revolver that will fire pellets or BBs and it was a good looking replica!

Of course, there were many other new airguns and related accessories introduced at the show; too many to cover here.  Also, many of the items mentioned here will not be available for months, but I hope I whetted your appetite for more and we’ll have some reviews in future editions of this blog.

I recently spent some time with Jake Hindman, the driving force behind this new concept in bringing airgun competition to our youth in the place where they spend a big portion of their time – school.  With all of the anti-gun rhetoric usually appearing in mainstream media, those of us in the pro-gun camp might have been feeling that there wasn’t much hope of turning things around.  However, even before the recent resounding political defeat of the anti-gunners, there was a ray of hope appearing in the form of programs starting up at a number of high schools and colleges that were bringing back shotgun and rifle shooting sports to the school campus.  That was good news, but only worked at the higher grade levels due to costs and requirement that students go to a shooting range.  Enter the Student Air Rifle Program, designed from the ground up to be a teacher/school friendly activity with a solid curriculum aimed at younger students as part of their physical education classes and not requiring range facilities.

SAR sprang from an already successful model that had been created to expand archery as part of the physical education curriculum in elementary and junior high schools known as NASP – the National Archery in the Schools Program.  I found out about SAR through my good friend Dick at Predator International.  Predator supplies the lead-free SAR Journey pellets that allow these programs to shoot indoors in gyms and cafeterias where lead pellets would definitely not be welcome.

The SAR Mission Statement reads:  The mission of the Student Air Rifle Program is to facilitate an introduction to the lifetime sport of target shooting to school-aged youth in grades 4 through 12.  Its curriculum is designed for a one or two week teaching unit that teachers can adapt to meet their needs.  Of course, safety of everyone involved during shooting sessions is paramount and the first lesson covers the 4 main safety rules regarding handling guns and tests the students’ knowledge before moving on.  Next, students are introduced to the air rifle: what it is, how it works and how to operate and maintain one.  The air rifles used in SAR were a collaborative effort between the folks behind the program and UmarexUSA out of Fort Smith, Arkansas.  The concept rifle they came up with, the Embark, is a break barrel springer in .177 caliber sporting a unique green color that makes it a standout from anything else out there on the market.  Best of all, these new guns are available from UmarexUSA to the general public!  That means if a student wanted to pursue the shooting sports outside of the school setting, he or she would be able to purchase the same rifle shot in school competition.  It is a cool little single shot that will also appeal to many airgunners.

AofA ( is supportive of programs such as this and encouraged me to introduce SAR to the viewership of this blog.  They know promoting youth shooting sports is good for all shooting sports and helps introduce safe firearms handling.  It also instills a positive political view in future voters.  It is the hope of this new Student Air Rifle program that it will grow to reach all 50 states just as its sister archery program is close to doing (47 and counting).  If you want to help promote this curriculum in your state or just want additional information, reply to me or head over to the website:

So you’re thinking about an airgun. However you go about it, chances are good you’re relying on past experience, budget, and perceived value to guide your buying decision and for most, that’s where the trouble begins. Airguns don’t play by the same rules we grew up on. They’re not powder burners and in most instances don’t behave as such. There’s quicksand and lion’s dens all over the place and unless you’ve a guide to walk you through these perils, chances are good you’ll wind up making an expensive mistake.

Take the modern spring gun for instance. It’s a tragic mismatch for many but it also happens to be the most affordable way in. Don’t get me wrong, they’re wonderful if you pick the right one for your needs, patience, & physical ability but if you don’t, be prepared for some level of disappointment. Spring guns in a large part have gone down a path of overpowering and with overpowering comes some issues. Ever try cocking one? Many of these guns take 25+ lbs of cocking force to break the barrel & compress the spring and while that doesn’t seem like a lot, try doing it a few hundred times for an afternoon of pellet sorting and see how long it takes to get jelly arm. The firing cycle may also be a surprise to ya. It won’t have the clean, sharp snap of the powder burner you’ve come to love. If the springer is classified as a “magnum”, be prepared for that bone jarring gong that you’d get as a kid when you’d hit the ball wrong. Then by the time you finally get to working on those groups, you’re spraying pellets all over the place because powerful springers require the skillful mastering of a special hold before you’ll see any consistent accuracy out of them. Frustrated, soar, and tired, you’re left scratching your head in bewilderment trying to figure out what went wrong and what it is people like about these things.

Don’t worry, so it isn’t all bad. Spring guns are for the most part are a great way to enjoy airgunning, if that is, you are wise enough to pick one that’s right for you. Forget big power. It means nothing without accuracy and if your knees are knocking after enduring the cocking experience, you’re not going to be able to hit anything. Instead, focus on a moderately powered break barrel that benefits from a smooth firing cycle, clean trigger break, and reduced size & weight. Your selection will shoot straighter, be more pleasant to cock, and you’ll have a better time learning to master its tendencies. What’s more, your friends & family will be much more likely to join ya for a day of fun if you put something with manners in their hands. Regarding their moderate power output, dead is dead. Any size pellet traveling at 500-600 fps is going to clobber most anything inside of 50 yards into the afterlife so if ya want to hunt with it, have at it. Be sure to avoid the whole gas-ram/conventional spring distraction as well. I’ve shot both that perform great & I’ve shot both that cycle & shoot terrible. The smoothness, accuracy, & reliability chases the moderate power & dollars invested more than it does one spring or the other. Focus there.

If you’re down with a grander investment, the Precharged Pneumatic (PCP) will reward. True, support items such as a fill device and recharge source will add to your cargo but they also add to the fun. The PCP airgun is for the person who seeks easy operation, easy coming accuracy, and a lustrous firing cycle. It’s also for those who enjoy relying on one toy to make another work. If you’re good with the added hardware to make it go boom, you can enjoy not having to exert yourself and compress a mechanical spring with each shot. The PCP stores compressed air on board and with a single charge from an external fill source like an SCBA tank or hand pump, will get ya 30-100 shots depending on the model & caliber. What that means to ya is that you can load up a magazine of 8-12 shots or more & let em’ fly without having to work in between. In the field, all this luxury translates into more downed pigeons and greater precision in your match events. It also means that since there’s no spring release, there’s no recoil and that my good friends, is priceless on so many levels.

YouTuber & Columnist

Steve Scialli


Looking for an air rifle that is handy, light and accurate with multiple shot capability and yields around 200 shots before needing to refill?  Check out the Hammerli 850 from UmarexUSA and available through Airguns of Arizona.  This German made little gem is lightweight at 5 ½ pounds thanks to the black polymer ambidextrous stock with molded in Monte Carlo style cheekpiece.   The steel barrel and receiver are also black, making for a striking and solid little rifle.  It is a bolt action repeater fed by an 8 round rotary magazine.  The barrel is 23.5 inches and overall the 850 A.M. measures 41 inches.  It is powered by an 88 gram CO2 cylinder that is neatly hidden by a removable section of the forearm.

My example was in .177 and a .22 caliber version is also available.  The bolt action was smooth and required little effort plus there is no recoil so this rifle would be great for a young shooter.  Although the German engineers decided to forego adding baffles or sound dampening to the barrel, it is relatively quiet when fired outdoors.  It sent the various pellets I tried on their way with authority and definitely liked the Predator GTO lead-frees (5.5 gr.) for paper punching.   I put some heavier (10.65 gr.) H&N Baracuda Match pellets through it as well.  The AirMagnum generated over 11 foot pounds of energy with the Baracudas and the groupings were adequate for taking small pests and critters at reasonable ranges.

dsc_0002The AirMagnum comes with adjustable front and rear sights as well as providing an 11 mm dovetail rail on the receiver for scope mounting.  The sights have built-in fiber optics — green in the rear, red in the front.  The front sight is drift adjustable and covered with a steel hood, the rear sight is adjustable for elevation by moving it along the incline ramp it rides on.  The two-stage trigger is adjustable for travel.  The trigger is plastic but I can forgive that because it was not gritty and broke at 1lb. 6.9 oz.  The automatic safety engages as the bolt is pulled back.  It is easily disengaged by the shooter’s thumb by simply push in and down on the thin vertical button in the face of the safety and continue pushing forward until disengaged.  A large red dot shows when the safety is disengaged.  To engage it manually, simply pull the large button straight back and the trigger is blocked.  The rotary magazine is easy to load and can only be inserted one way.  A rubber “O” ring retains the pellets by closing in on their waists.  One drawback appeared with pointed pellets like the Predator Polymags which did not always feed smoothly.  Predator makes a shorter Polymag for magazine fed guns and those might work well.

I found the AirMagnum’s stock a bit short for a full sized adult shooter and even though a motivated shooter might go to the trouble of making their own spacers, it would be great if Hammerli provided an adjustable stock or easy to add spacers.  A potential negative for some is there is no provision for removing the CO2 cylinder before it is spent.  Conventional teaching says that you shouldn’t store a CO2 powered gun with a pressurized cylinder installed.  So if your shooting session lasts less than the approximately 200 rounds normally provided by the 88 gram cylinder; prior to storing the gun for a period of time (longer than a couple of weeks) go ahead and slowly unscrew the cylinder (wear safety glasses) and allow the carbon dioxide to slowly escape.  Be careful to avoid all skin contact with the freezing cold gas!

Overall I really enjoyed this little Hammerli.  The MSRP comes in at $329.99 and you can get more information or order one from the knowledgeable folks at  The rifle is covered by a one year limited warranty protecting you against defects in workmanship and materials.

When it comes to pellets, there is a plethora of choices and prices out there.  The line of Predator International Polymag™ pellets is the subject of this blog and to find them on the Airguns of Arizona website, ( navigate to the “Ammo” section.

The patented Polymag is a premium quality hunting pellet combining a hollow head with the sharp polymer tip to make a devastatingly effective pellet for use on small-to-medium sized game.  The concept of the Polymag polymer tipped pellets originated in Buena Vista, Colorado back in the 1990s.  At that time the inventor, Tom May, obtained the hollow headed pellets from JSB of the Czech Republic and built a special machine in Colorado for installing the tips.  He created small batches and started selling them in 2000 via mail order and by 2007 Mr. May decided he wanted to sell the company.  Enter two friends with many years’ experience in sales and manufacturing, Dick Dixon and Jay Cogswell, who purchased the company and opened their doors in Englewood, Colorado as Predator International, Incorporated.  Once the company changed hands, Dick and Jay realized their plan to grow the company would require increased production capability.  There were some challenges with the “tipping” machine invented by Tom May, so Hungarian engineers were given a chance to work through the problems by moving the machine to Hungary.  Hungary is in close proximity to the Czech Republic and the Hungarian engineers worked closely with JSB.  It was enough of a challenge that it took several years to completely work out the kinks.  Luckily for us, they were very successful and now there is an entire line of Polymags to satisfy any airgun hunter.  Still made by JSB, the demand has increased over time and in the last 18 months, demand has outstripped supply capabilities.  JSB has added additional manufacturing lines and they operate 24 hours a day, 7 days per week except on Christmas.  Additional expansion is also underway at this time in order to increase production to meet the demand.  The Predator International operation continues to be the single biggest distributor of JSB products in the United States.

Predator International’s signature red polymer-tipped hunting pellets were the seminal product in .177 and .22 caliber.  Now, Polymag’s are offered in several sizes and styles:

The Original Polymag Pellet in .177, .22, .20, .25 and .30 caliber. They all feature the polymer tip in the head of the pellet which implodes into the rest of the pellet upon impact, making for a devastating wound channel. They are also lighter due to the polymer tip.

Polymag Shorts: Offered in .177 and .22 caliber. The shorts were designed to fit airguns with a magazine. They are identical in every other way to the original Polymag with the exception of being shorter.

There is also a Metalmag Pellet offered in .177 and .22 caliber. This pellet features a metal tip rather than polymer, making the pellet slightly heavier, but provides for deep impact and penetration.

What’s next?  Watch for a .35 caliber Polymag and contact to order up some because you won’t find them in the big box stores at the present time.30-predator-600x474