Posts Tagged ‘Umarex’

First Of All, Someone Threw Down A Gauntlet…

Around a year ago, the Umarex Gauntlet started shipping. That was a big deal because – for the first time – a regulated, magazine-fed, shrouded PCP air rifle was available at the ground-breaking price of $300. Well, actually $299.99.

Cue for some rapid developments in the low-price PCP airgun world!

Now we see one of the first responses to the Gauntlet thrown down by Umarex. It’s the Benjamin Fortitude air rifle.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

As with the Gauntlet, we have a $300, regulated PCP which delivers 60+ shots per fill, uses a 10-shot magazine feed and offers backyard friendly sound levels. Both have similar muzzle velocity capabilities and reassuring multi-year warranties.

So which should you choose? That’s a great question!

Let’s Look At The Fortitude In More Detail…

The Fortitude looks something like a cross between a Benjamin Maximus and a Marauder air pistol, with a regulator built-in. You can see how it compares to the Maximus in the photograph below. (Both air rifles are the same length, perspective makes that look less obvious).

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The breech looks very similar to that of the Marauder air pistol. However, there’s clearly some differences as the Fortitude uses the 10-shot Marauder rifle magazine, rather than the 8-shot mag from the Marauder pistol.

Crosman has always had a core competency in re-using existing parts to build new products. Why design something new when there’s a perfectly satisfactory part already in existence? That’s very sensible engineering, so it would be no surprise to find that the new Fortitude uses many parts that have been proven in previous models. Doing so reduces development time and risk, while keeping costs down.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Compared to the familiar Marauder air rifle, the Benjamin Fortitude is a much lighter, less bulky air rifle. It weighs about 2 Lbs less than the Marauder rifle and just 5 Ozs more than the single-shot, unregulated Maximus. This means that it feels light and handy to shoot.

As with all other Crosman and Benjamin PCPs, the Benjamin Fortitude is manufactured in the USA at the Velocity Outdoor headquarters in Bloomfield, New York.

Velocity Outdoor? That’s the new name for the company formerly known as Crosman Corporation. Don’t worry about it, the Crosman and Benjamin airguns you know and love are still the same…

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

The Benjamin Fortitude we tested shot at around 750 FPS with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain pellets – in .22 caliber, of course. That’s just under 18 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy. The gauntlet we tested gave 805 FPS, 20.75 Ft/Lbs with the same pellets.

These JSB pellets also gave the best accuracy of any we tried. Few will find that a surprising result!

And the Benjamin Fortitude was impressively consistent. In fact it gave the lowest average Standard Deviation FPS of any air rifle we’ve ever tested. At any price!

So does that make it better than the Gauntlet? Well, that depends…

First The Fortitude.

The Fortitude is a much smaller, lighter air rifle than the Gauntlet. It has much better natural pointing capability and is a breeze to carry on a hunt.

The Fortitude is manufactured in the USA. The Gauntlet is built in China. For some that will be a big deal, for others not so much.

The Benjamin also has a 5-year warranty, compared to the 3-year coverage of the Gauntlet.

The Gauntlet Strikes Back.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

Unfortunately the Fortitude needs a stock with an adjustable cheek piece. I got a chin weld, not a cheek weld when shooting it! The Gauntlet has an adjustable comb to the stock which is much better.

And the Gauntlet’s trigger is also superior. True, it needs some adjustment but this is easily done with setscrew adjustment of pull weight, sear engagement and overtravel all available once you pop off the stock.

The Fortitude’s trigger is non-adjustable and the sample I tested had an average pull weight of five and a half Pounds. Ouch! Yes, there are some fixes for this to be found online, but it’s starting waaaay behind the Gauntlet.

It’s A Shootout At The $300 Corral!

And then – although both have heavy bolt actions – the Gauntlet’s is much easier to operate. The bolt handle is longer and larger, there’s more space to avoid skinning your knuckles on the scope and the pull effort is less.

The Gauntlet is slightly more powerful also.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

For $300, both the Fortitude and the Gauntlet are great choices. It’s almost too close to call. Your decision will depend on which features are most important to you.

It’s great to have choices!


Stephen Archer is the publisher of Hard Air Magazine.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 007

The Beretta 92FS is another CO2-powered replica air pistol. It looks and feel like the Beretta pistol used by so many military forces and law enforcement agencies. The air pistol (there is some disagreement about what it should be called. The website has it as the Beretta 92 FS, the printed manual that comes with it calls it the Beretta 92FS, and the label on the side of its case says Beretta M 92 FS) weighs 2 pounds 12.2 ounces, and its length is 8.27 inches.

Everything on this pistol appears to be made of metal except for the checkered plastic grips. There are several models, including a blued finish with black grips, blued with walnut grips, nickel with black grips, nickel with walnut grips, and an all-black XX-Treme model with false silencer and dot sight. I tested the nickel finish version with black grips.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 009

What all of them have in common is that, while they look like their semi-automatic firearms counterparts, they are, in fact, double-action revolvers. Press the slide release lever on the side of the receiver, and the front of the slide moves forward to reveal the slot for the 8-shot rotary magazine.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 012

The procedure for loading the CO2 cartridge and for loading the magazine is exactly the same as it was for the Colt 1911 replica CO2 pistol that I tested last week, so I won’t go through that again here. And like the 1911 that I tested last week, the Beretta suffers from the same malady: if you shoot it in double action mode, the trigger pull is very high – over 10 pounds – but when you shoot it in single-action mode, the trigger pull drops to 5 pounds 5 ounces (which is still higher than I would like to see). And, like the 1911, the wallop that the Beretta packs is sufficient at 10 feet to dent and bounce tin cans but not enough to punch holes in them.

And that leads, naturally enough, to a question: what exactly are guns like the Beretta 92FS and the Colt 1911 from last week good for? They are not as accurate as match pistols, and they are not powerful enough for pest control at short range. And yet they are fun to shoot.

So what is needed, in my not so humble opinion, is a really good game to play with these pistols, and I think an airgun version of IPSC – the course of fire offered by the International Practical Shooting Confederation – would be just the ticket. Here’s what the IPSC website ( says: “IPSC shooters need to blend accuracy, power, and speed into a winning combination. Multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty targets, or even partially covered targets, obstacles, movement, competitive strategies, and other techniques are all a part of IPSC to keep shooters challenged and spectators engaged.”

I think it would be absolutely terrific if the folks who manufacture replica air pistols would offer a line of targets that would allow shooters of these replica pistols to set up their own “backyard IPSC” courses. Check out this video of airsoft IPSC shooters in Asia — – I don’t see why a similar thing couldn’t be done with replica air pistols . . . and it looks like an enormous amount of fun to me.

If anyone knows of an effort in the US to put together something like IPSC for air pistols or air soft, please let me know.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 013

I’ve been seeing a lot of replica air pistols lately. By replica, I mean air pistols that look and feel like their firearms counterparts.

This week’s example is the Colt Government 1911 A1 pellet pistol from Umarex. It stretches 9 inches from end to end and weighs 2 pounds 6 ounces. Everything except the checkered grips (plastic) is made of metal in a handsome blued steel finish. Powered by a 12-gram CO2 cartridge, it features a slide release latch, a manual safety on the left side, a functioning grip safety at the back of the pistol grip, non-adjustable front and rear sights, a lanyard loop, and a working hammer.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 014

It looks like a semi-automatic, but in actuality the 1911 A1 is a double-action revolver that houses a small rotary magazine inside what looks like the 1911’s slide.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 015

To ready the 1911 for shooting, first press the slide release lever just above the trigger assembly on the left side of the pistol. This will allow the front section of the slide to move forward, opening a gap to reveal the rotary magazine. Remove the rotary magazine. Next, press the magazine release button on the left side of the receiver between the trigger guard and the pistol grip. This releases the grip panel on the right side of the pistol which you must finish removing with your fingers. Beneath the grip panel is a chamber to hold the 12-gram CO2 pistol.

G12 Colt 1911, Beretta 92 018

Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber with the small end point toward the top of the pistol. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, flip the safety to FIRE, push in the grip safety, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”

If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are sure that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine by inserting pellets headfirst into the eight pellet bays. The back of the magazine has a small eight-point star-shaped assembly at the center. Once the magazine is loaded, drop it into the slot between the front and rear sections of the slide with the front of the magazine facing the muzzle and close the slide by pulling the front section of the slide back until it locks.

You can chose to shoot the 1911 A1 in one of two ways. In double action mode, you pull the trigger back, back, back, driving the hammer backward until the shot fires. In single action mode, you pull the hammer back until it locks and then you pull the trigger to discharge the shot.

Theoretically, double action mode is faster because you don’t have to pause between shots to cock the hammer. I found, however, that the effort to pull the trigger in double action mode is high . . . very high . . . 8 pounds 12 ounces, in fact. That’s high enough to be no-fun-at-all, in my view.

However, if you shoot in single action mode and cock the hammer first, the effort to trigger the shot is much more reasonable: only 2 pounds, 13.5 ounces. As a result, I highly recommend shooting this pistol in single action mode.

On a 75-degree day (velocities from CO2-powered airguns can vary considerably with temperature), the 1911 1A launched its first 7.9 grain pellet at around 400 feet per second. I shot slowly, taking a few seconds to align the pistol over the chronograph sensors, and every subsequent shot was slower, until the last shot registered around 353 fps. This is typical of CO2 powered airguns unless you give them sufficient time to recover CO2 pressure between shots.

I tried a few shots at a soup can at a distance of about 10 feet and found the 1911 A1 didn’t have enough oomph to punch holes in the can. It would dent the can and bounce around, but no holes.

In the end, I found the 1911 A1 is well made and fun to shoot. What this air pistol really needs is a fun game to play with it, and we’ll get into that a little bit next week when I take a look at Beretta 92FS pellet air pistol.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Umarex Octane looks a bit unusual but feels great in the hand.

The Umarex Octane looks a bit unusual but feels great in the hand.

Over a decade ago, when I was just starting to write about adult precision airguns, a guru in the field told me a thing: “If you want a really sweet shooting springer, you want to get as close as you can to one pound of gun weight (including scope) for each foot-pound of energy that the gun generates at the muzzle.”

He was offering this as an explanation for why the humble Weihrauch HW30 is so enjoyable to shoot and why it is such a tackdriver for its power. And, over the years, his statement has pretty much proven to be true. Hold that thought, we’ll get back to it in a little while.

Recently, I had the opportunity to shoot the Umarex Octane in .22 caliber.  It stretches just a half inch over four feet long, and tips the scales at 10 pounds, four ounces with the 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope that comes with it mounted. The Octane incorporates both a gas piston – the ReAxis Reverse-Axis Gas Piston – and the SilencAir noise dampener.

The matte black polymer stock is ambidextrous.

The matte black polymer stock is ambidextrous.

At the extreme aft end of the Octane is a soft rubber butt pad. The entire stock, including trigger guard, is molded from a matte black polymer. The ambidextrous all-weather stock is a thumbhole design, but there is also a semi-circular notch at the top of the pistol grip where the shooter can rest his or her thumb if desired. The pistol grip has some molded indentations for improved grip, and forward of that, you’ll find the trigger guard surrounds a black metal trigger that is adjustable for first-stage travel and a lever-type safety.

The SilencAir system reduces the report and provides a mount for the front sight.

The SilencAir system reduces the report and provides a mount for the front sight.

Forward of that, there is molded-in checkering on either side of the forestock and a slot underneath the forestock to accommodate the cocking linkage. Beyond the end of the forestock is the 19.5-inch barrel, at the end of which can be found the SilencAir, a five-chamber noise dampener which also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a micro-adjustable green fiber optic rear sight mounted on top of breech block.

The Octane comes with a 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope.

The Octane comes with a 3-9 x 40 adjustable-objective scope.

Moving back again, a custom metal Pictatinny mounting rail is fitted to the top of the receiver, where it provides a secure mount for the scope that comes with the Octane.

To ready the Octane for shooting, grab the SilencAir at the end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires about 42 pounds of effort and is very smooth and noiseless, as is typical of gas-piston systems. Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position.

Now here is where things get interesting. As you take aim and flick off the safety, you immediately notice that the lever-type automatic safety works exactly the opposite way of the lever-type safety in many other airguns. To turn the safety off and ready the Octane for firing, you pull the safety lever toward the trigger. It took me a minute or two to become accustomed to this, but it works fine, and after a while I took no notice of it. Squeeze the trigger, and a 1 lb. 13.3 oz., the first stage comes out of the trigger. On the sample that I tested at six pounds even, the second stage trips, and the shot goes downrange. This is heavier than the factory-specified 3.5 lbs., but I did not find it annoying.

Umarex .22 Octane 006

Even more interesting, the Octane is a hammer. It launched 14.3 grain Crosman Premier pellets at an average velocity of 838 fps for a very healthy 22.3 foot-pounds of energy.  This is due in large part to the ReAxis gas piston. Its design reverses the conventional gas-piston design so that more weight is driving the piston down the compression tube. The result is more power.

In addition, because of the SilencAir, the downrange report is reduced. This is a powerful gun, so it is not dead quiet by any means, but it is quieter than it would be otherwise.

And now we get back to that business about one pound of gun weight per foot pound of energy. The Octane obviously violates that rule with more than two foot-pounds of energy for every pound of gun weight. In addition, I am admittedly not the world’s greatest spring-piston air rifle shooter. I found that I could occasionally achieve dime-sized groups with the Octane at 20 yards with Crosman .22 Premiers but it was far more typical for my groups to spread out to the diameter of a quarter at 20 yards. Perhaps a more gifted springer shooter could do better, but I couldn’t.

The Octane is not the gun that I would pick for doing head shots on squirrels at 50 yards, but for an air rifle to deal with the woodchuck in the garden at 50 feet or the raccoon that has been molesting the garbage cans, it would be among my top choices. (And with the gas piston, you can leave cocked all day without fear of damaging the spring, because there isn’t any!)

I genuinely enjoyed shooting the Octane, and I think any airgunner who wants to hunt or control pests at short to medium range will enjoy it too.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The E.B.O.S. is a BB rifle like no other.

The E.B.O.S. is a BB rifle like no other.

Once a year, after the SHOT Show, airgun manufacturers will frequently send me their latest catalog as part of their press kit announcing what’s new and interesting. These catalogs prove invaluable because, as the year wears on and I am looking for something to write about, I’ll pull out a catalog or two to see what might be a fun subject for a blog.

So that was the scene a few weeks ago as I paged though the catalog from UmarexUSA. When I got to page 35, I noticed something called the E.B.O.S. It is a BB gun that boasts 540 fps and “8 shot burst!” Could be interesting, I thought, so I called the nice people at and asked them to send me an E.B.O.S.

One arrived a few days later in a deceptively small box. When I first pulled it out, it looked like a two-handed air pistol, but I soon realized that there is a buttstock that attaches to the main receiver. E.B.O.S. is an acronym that stands for Electronic Burst Of Steel. The EBOS is 24.75 inches long and weighs 3 pounds. It shoots .177 steel BBs and is powered by an electronic action and an 88 gr. CO2 cartridge (not included).


Under the pistol grip is a hatch for loading six AA batteries.

Under the pistol grip is a hatch for loading six AA batteries.

The entire EBOS appears to be made of matte black engineering polymer. Under the pistol grip there is a slide-off hatch into which you insert 6 AA batteries (not included) that provide power for the electronic trigger and firing mechanisms. Forward of the pistol grip, the engineering polymer forms a guard around a black polymer trigger. Forward of that is an additional grip that can be moved fore and aft along a rail under the receiver.

The safety (right) and selector switch for number of shots.

The safety (right) and selector switch for number of shots.

Above the rail on the left side of the receiver are two selector switches. One allows the shooter to SAFE the action so that it won’t fire, and the other allows the shooter to select 1, 4, or 8 shots to go down range when you pull the trigger. Above the two switches on the left side is a 24-shot BB magazine and a bb follower that pushes the BBs into the breech as they are needed.

The BB magazine with BB follower and (above to the left) the BB reservoir.

The BB magazine with BB follower and (above to the left) the BB reservoir.

At the extreme front end of the EBOS is the plastic muzzle which has threads that could possibly be used for mounting a barrel extension or faux silencer. On top of the receiver at the front end is a large capacity reservoir that can hold 360 BBs and the back edge of which incorporate the front sight.

Below the reservoir on the right side of the EBOS is another switch that can be used for selecting 300, 400, or 500 shots per minute. Moving back along the top of the receiver, you’ll find a Weaver/Picatinny type rail that can be used for mounting a red dot or scope. At the aft end of the rail is the notch-type rear sight which can be adjusted for windage.

The buttstock removed, showing the 88 gr CO2 cartridge underneath.

The buttstock removed, showing the 88 gr CO2 cartridge underneath.

To ready the EBOS for shooting, open the hatch under the pistol grip and insert 6 AA batteries in correct orientation. Next, screw an 88 gr CO2 cartridge into the back of the receiver. Slide the buttstock over the CO2 cartridge until it latches. Finally, having made sure the EBOS is on SAFE, slide the hatch back on the BB reservoir and pour in a generous supply. Pull the BB follower toward the muzzle and lock it in place. Shake the EBOS until 24 BBs load into the BB magazine and gently release the BB follower. The EBOS is now good to go.

Take aim at your target, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. In single shot mode, I found the EBOS would launch steel BBs at around 525 fps. If you begin to shoot quickly, the velocity drops to around 449 fps average (on a 70 degree day). If you change the selector switch, you will indeed get 4 or 8 shots bursts.

I discovered the purpose of the EBOS while collecting my pellet trap from the garage. One of the empty soup cans that I keep for penetration tests made a smart remark to me, and I decided then and there to teach it a lesson. I tossed it into the driveway, flipped the selector to single shot and cut loose. The first couple of shots blew cleanly through the sides of the can.

Then I put the selector on 4-shot burst: pow-pow-pow-pow! The can fell over and began rolling around in an effort to escape. I flipped into 8-shot mode: pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow-pow. I walked over to inspect the shredded can. “I’m sorry,” it said. “You should know better,” I said as I consigned it to the trash.

The EBOS is simply excellent for bouncing cans around, and I imagine it would be great fun with whiffle golf balls or a bag full of dollar store dinosaurs. If you decide to indulge yourself, make sure everyone on the firing line is wearing eye protection because BBs will ricochet, and, as always, be sure that you are firing in a safe direction where no people, pets, or property will be damaged.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott