Posts Tagged ‘Gamo’

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.

The scope supplied with the Silent Stalker Whisper packages does not have an adjustable objective, and that causes some problems.

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.

The Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper has the longest trigger second stage I've ever shot.

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

Recently, a new gun store opened up not too far from where I live. Naturally, I had to go check it out, and when I arrived, I found a well-lit, well-organized place of business with lots, and lots, and lots of firearms.

I asked one of the fellows behind the counter whether they did anything with airguns, and he pointed me to a rack near the doors. There I discovered three less expensive Gamo air rifles and a Gamo Hunter Extreme in .22, emblazoned, of course, with the obligatory boast of how wicked fast it is with PBA ammo and with lead pellets.

I asked the clerk, “Did you know the Hunter Extreme is available in .25 caliber?”

Immediately he said, “How fast is it?”

I patiently explained that it wasn’t nearly as fast as the claims made on the receiver of the .22 Hunter Extreme, but that it shoots heavier pellets and makes a larger wound channel. I added, if you shot a raccoon that’s been molesting your garbage cans with the .25, chances are it wouldn’t get up again.

The whole encounter got me to thinking about how poorly we airgunners and the general public at large have been served by the marketing departments of some of the larger airgun manufacturers. In particular, I am irritated by the velocity race that has been taking place in advertising and on the sides of product cartons: 1,000 feet per second! 1,250 fps! 1,500! 1,650! When I see these claims, I want to grab a really large permanent marker, scratch out the velocity number, and write: REALLY STUPID!

Yeah, I know; I’m being an old retro-crank. But there are several things that really get up my nose with these velocity claims.

First, the claims are rarely true. Manufacturers often exaggerate how fast their guns shoot. Sometimes, they achieve their superfast results with ultra-light pellets that no one would want to use for any practical application. I know; I’ve tried some of these ultra-light pellets, and the accuracy quickly deteriorated as the range increased.

Second, even if an air rifle would routinely launch pellets at, say, 1,500 fps, would you really want it to? The answer I get from external ballistics experts is a resounding “NO!” Here’s why: in talking to long-range firearms varminters – the kind of shooters who can nail a prairie dog at 600 yards – I get the following argument. As a projectile approaches the sound barrier, it encounters a region in which there is a lot of buffeting and turbulence (check out the movie The Right Stuff for more about this) that throws off accuracy.  When a projectile is launched faster than the speed of sound, if it slows below the sound barrier, it will encounter the same region of turbulence and buffeting that screws up accuracy. That is why most firearms varminters take care to launch their bullets well above the speed of sound, and they make sure that it continues to go at supersonic velocity until it reaches the target.

I have never heard of or seen any air gun powerplant that was capable of launching a pellet at supersonic speed (about 1,100 fps at sea level) and keeping it above the speed of sound for any appreciable distance. As a result, the best plan is to keep your pellets out of the region of trans-sonic turbulence. This is why most of the best field target shooters set up their air rifles to shoot in the low 900 fps range; it helps to keep the pellet as stable and as accurate as possible.

Third, the velocity race is just plain irrelevant. Imagine if you went to a car dealership and plastered on the windshield of every car were claims about speed: 120 mph! 143 mph! 160 mph! You would think the car dealer had gone insane.

In point of fact, pleasure to be had from an airgun has almost nothing to do with velocity. For example, airguns can be shot in many, many locations where discharging a firearm is absolutely forbidden. Many airguns are astonishingly accurate. They cost just pennies a shot, are a pleasure to own and are great fun to shoot. Further, even modestly powered airguns can do a worthy job of controlling pests in the garden.

Tell that to a firearms shooter next time he (or she) asks how fast your airgun is.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

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