This week we’ll take a look at how the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper (SSW) performs.
To Get the SSW ready for shooting, grab the barrel near the muzzle (the ND52 Noise Damper makes a great handle for doing this) and pull the barrel down and back until it latches. While you’re cocking the SSW, you’ll notice that the cocking stroke is incredibly smooth and that the only noise is a little “sliding” noise made by the cocking linkage. There is absolutely no spring creak whatsoever.
Next, stuff a pellet in the breech (I tested the .22 version of the SSW). Take aim at your target. Now here’s where the story gets interesting. Why? Because Gamo did not see fit to supply an adjustable objective (AO) scope with the SSW package. As a result, to get the target anywhere near in focus at close range (say 10-13 yards), you have to turn down the magnification of the scope as far as it will go. The failure to supply an AO scope seems a gross oversight on Gamo’s part since so many airgunners shoot at distances of 30 feet and sometimes less.
Now, flick off the safety and squeeze the trigger. The first stage comes out at 1 lb. 10 oz. Now start squeezing the second stage . . . keep squeezing . . . squeeze some more . . . maybe you want to invite a couple of friends over so they can keep squeezing while you go to lunch . . . squeeze yet some more, and finally, after the longest second stage trigger I’ve ever experienced in an air rifle, the shot goes off at 5 lb. 7 oz. The truly strange part is that the trigger is very, very smooth – but it is incredibly long.
I read in the SSW manual that the second stage can be shortened by turning a screw – accessible through a hole in the trigger guard – clockwise. Peering down the hole, I see that the screw has a weird head, like a star-shaped allen wrench, and Gamo has not seen fit to supply the necessary tool to adjust the trigger. Nevertheless, I find a tool that fits on a multi-bit screwdriver and make the adjustment. It takes about all the strength I can muster to turn the trigger adjustment screw just a little bit. It appears that I have shortened the second stage of the trigger by about 50%, but it’s still an incredibly long second stage, and it feels like I am shooting a double-action revolver, waiting for the cylinder to rotate and the chamber to line up before the hammer drops.
At 13 yards, I could shoot dime-sized groups with Crosman Premier .22 pellets, but at 30 yards, the best I could do was 1.5 inch groups. I tried shooting sitting, sitting in my SteadyAim harness, and shooting off a benchrest. Nothing worked.
In despair, I asked Kip at Airguns of Arizona if he would give it a try. He did, and was able to achieve 5-shot groups where all the pellet holes touched each other from a rest at 18 yards. He used Dynamic SN2 pellets, which were zipping down range at 775 fps, and they were the only pellets that grouped well for him.
When I tried the SN2 pellets, I did better than before, but not great, so I asked Kip the secret of his success. He observed that when you’re shooting with a non-AO scope, you have to be very careful to get your head in exactly the same position behind the scope or you’re going to have parallax and point of impact issues.
He’s right of course, but it just goes to show how much an adjustable objective scope is needed on this rifle.
So here’s the bottom line on the Silent Stalker Whisper: it’s an interesting gun that can be made to shoot well if you’re very, very careful. There are some things to like about it: light weight, smooth cocking stroke, vibration-free shot cycle, smooth trigger. But at the same time, the SSW desperately needs an AO scope and a much shorter trigger second stage.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott