I always said that the reviews on my blog would be sparse, as I don’t generally want individuals or organisations sending me items to review. Therefore if I review something, it’s generally because I’ve purchased it, used it for some length of time and think it is worthy of a few words. Anyway…
I was on the look out for a decent quality, accurate, multi-shot PCP or CO2 air rifle for close quarters vermin control in barns, chick coops, feed rooms and the like. I previously had a high-powered Career 707 air rifle in .22 calibre, but sold it as it was surplus to requirements and wanted something which was a little less potent for use inside my barns, and for areas where a .17 HMR is unsuited.
I bit the bullet (no pun intended) and put in an order for the Umarex AirMagnum 850 .177 complete kit (rifle, scope, bipod and suppressor) from Cardigan Sports, as they deliver to your door and my local gunshop could only supply .22 calibre. (I preferred the .177 accuracy when I trialled one). The kit cost £349.99 and comprised:
1 x Umarex 850 AirMagnum .177 calibre air rifle with synthetic stock and picatinny rail on forestock
1 x 8 shot .177 rotary magazine
1 x 6″ extendable bipod with picatinny rail fitting
1 x 3-9 x 40 Walther telescopic sight on scope clamps
1 x .177 suppressor
(88g CO2 cartridges and pellets were extra)
It was delivered pretty quickly and after making some minor adjustments (moving the scope to a better position, replacing the scope clamps, removing the fore sight and rear sight and fitting a sling), I zeroed it in, starting at 15 metres with .177 calibre H&N Match pellets inside one of the barns so windage was eliminated. I was soon getting 1″ groupings from a bench rest, and swapped to H&N Rabbit Magnum II, re-zeroed and was pleasantly surprised to be getting 1/2″ grouping at 15 metres and 1″ grouping at 25 metres from bench rest. I did find that synthetic pellets (such as those made by Prometheus) don’t even miss consistently. I do like the chunky pistol grip, and although I shoot right-handed, it has an ambidextrous stock and cheek piece.
I also had a bit of a fiddle with the adjustable trigger, and lessened the amount of primary pressure needed on the trigger to discharge a shot, which improved accuracy.
Having used this rifle for a few months now, I am impressed. For a relatively low cost, it’s up there with the lower cost of the PCP rifles which are currently available. The 88g CO2 cartridge is hidden in the hollow forestock and I’d guess you get roughly 150 shots per cartridge (possibly less with a .22 version). It’s also possible to load the 8 shot magazine with 7 pellets, move the bolt action to the rear slightly, load the magazine, and allow the bolt to travel forwards onto the empty chamber. This is great if you, like I do, don’t load and cock it until you have a need to take a shot, and negates the need to discharge it to ‘make safe’. The suppressor is adequate, although I have since upgraded to a Parker-Hale suppressor which is threaded rather than attached with grub screws, which reduces the report to a mere whisper. The T-Bar automatic safety catch can be re-applied if a shot isn’t taken and is helpfully mounted on the rear of the action block. The stock is hollow, although the wall thickness is sufficient to take studs for a swivel for sling attachment.
On a warm, calm day, I was getting head shots on Grey Squirrels at almost 45 metres, and I have no doubt it would have been as accurate at 50m with a new CO2 cartridge in it, especially in the .177 calibre. I have also used this for rabbit control in a market garden containing green houses, and the rifle coupled with the H&N Rabbit Magnum II pellets proved extremely capable of dispatching rabbits with head shots.
My only gripes are that the bolt action is nowhere near as crisp as on a centre-fire rifle, unsurprisingly, but it’s still adequate. Also, it is possible to cock the rifle twice, and load two pellets. The bipod mounted on the picatinny rail isn’t brilliant, as the picatinny rail is mounted on the section of forestock which is removed to change or screw in an 88g CO2 cartridge. Consequently the rifle does wobble on the bipod, and also in your hand when shooting from the shoulder if you hold it too far along the forestock. This is because the removable section of the forestock (the part that conceals the CO2 canister) is only held in place by two plastic lugs. The synthetic stock isn’t to everyone’s tastes, and especially as traditional shooter, as it is all moulded (including the trigger guard), it’s not the best, but it is easy to clean and doesn’t take any maintenance!
In all, it’s a low-cost alternative to a PCP rifle which does exactly what it advertises! If you want a better look at the photos, please click on them and they should enlarge!
All the best,