Gamo Hunter
Extreme
The author takes this uber magnum spring piston air rifle to
the range and then for a season of small game hunting. It is a
big powerful gun that gets the job done!
Jim Chapman
I had the opportunity a while back to get my
hands on the Hunter Extreme rifle, and used it
for several small game hunts this season. Gamo
makes a lot of different rifles for the general
market, some I like a lot and some not as much.
I guess if a company has an extensive product
line this is to be expected, but I like to approach
any new gun with an open mind. In the past I
have really liked the underbarrel CFX rifles and
how they perform on small game, and the Gamo
Stutzen is one of my favorite springers. So the
chance to evaluate the Hunter Extreme with a
blank notebook and a few tins of pellets was
something I looked forward to.
When I opened the shipping box I found myself
looking at a pretty substantial piece of hardware.
Here
's a fundamental truth about very powerful
springers: they come in large packages (about 9
lb sans scope). The rifle
's overall length is 48.5"
with an 18
" bull barrel. But I have to say that the
gun balances well and is not hard for the average
sized adult shooter to handle. This rifle sported a
Monte Carlo beech wood stock with a well
shaped cheek pad, and a checkered pistol grip
and forestock. The butt of the rifle wore a
ventilated rubber recoil pad, which along with
the weight of the stock helps tame the recoil
generated. While both .177 and .22 versions are
offered  (and recently .25), I opted for the .22, if
I am going to use an heavy weight uber magnum
airgun for hunting it makes sense that it delivers
the most energy possible down range. Packaged
with the gun was a BSA 3-9x50 scope with
illuminated reticle and mounts which I installed
and zeroed at 40 yards. The scope was
serviceable, but not up to the quality of the gun,
and at a later stage it was swapped out with
other optics that served better.

The Hunter Extreme does have a pretty heavy
cocking effort, which the specs say is 55 lb. I
found the cocking action was a little rough at
first, but as I worked my way through the first tin
of pellets could feel it smoothing out. This is not
the gun I
'd want to spend all day at the range
shooting because it takes so much effort to cock,
however the same could be said for most of the
very powerful magnum guns, and in a hunting gun
is a non issue in my opinion.
The two stage trigger on my gun was a bit over 4
lb and the pull a little mushy, but it was not a
detriment to accurate shooting. I have said on
several occasions that I don
't like the trigger too
light on my hunting rifles, though at some point I
might drop a
n aftermarket trigger into it.
I shot a number of groups at 30 yards with JSB
Jumbo Exacts and with Raptor PBA pellets, and
averaged slightly under
 ½" with the former and
about ¾
" with the latter. Frankly I was surprised
by the Raptors printing in ¾" as a few years ago
I had done pretty exhaustive testing with them
and not gotten very good results. After punching
holes for a while I set up 2x2" steel plates at 30,
40, and 50 yards and started shooting 5 shot
groups with the Exacts and Raptors. With the
Exacts I averaged 5/5 hits at 30 yards, 5/5 at 40
yards, and 5/5 at 50 yards. With the Raptors I
averaged 5/5 at 30, 3/5 at 40, and 3/5 at 50
yards. So while the accuracy was good with
Exacts, it wasn
't too bad with the PBAs either
and at 30 yards the results were similar.
I shot several pellets over the chrony, but did not
achieve the advertised velocities with either
standard or PBA pellets. This is the case with
just about every new springer I shoot; they never
seem to achieve the specified velocities. This
doesn
't matter too much in my opinion, as I am
more concerned with accuracy and terminal
performance than whether a gun generates 1000
or 1100 fps. I made an interesting observation
when comparing the performance of pellets at
different ranges; at 30 yards the PBA generate
significantly higher velocities than standard lead
pellets and slightly higher energy (with about 3
FPE difference). But at 40 yards the lead pellets
delivered more energy (6 FPE difference),
though the PBA had slightly higher velocity. The
reason is that the heavier (18.1 grain) lead pellets
don
't shed velocity as rapidly as the light (9.9
grain) alloy pellets, and this is exactly the reason
I don
't obsess at getting the highest possible
muzzle velocity and rather opt for best overall
performance. From my perspective, these results
indicate that the .22 PBAs in the Hunter Extreme
might be the right combination for pest control
on coyote out to 25
or 30 yards if head shots
are taken. You
'd get pass through on the skull
and brain while opening a good size wound. A .
25 caliber would be better.
To test the rifle in the field, I carried it on several
squirrel hunts and a jack rabbit shoot out west.
The pellets I opted for hunting purposes were
the JSB Jumbo Exacts as I wanted to generate
maximum power and accuracy down range.
While there is no way you can call the Hunter
Extreme a target rifle, it will drop a pellet into the
kill zone of a squirrel at forty yard without
problem.
When I started hunting this rifle, the fall woods were still fairly dense with under growth, and I spent a lot of
time carrying the gun at port while creeping through the underbrush listening for fox squirrels cutting in the
trees above. This gun is heavy, but did
n't slow me down. A few weeks later while out in the Mojave
Desert, where I hiked many miles per day after jackrabbits, it was more of an issue but not
insurmountable. Again, if you want an extremely powerful springer it is going to have some heft to it.
Another potential issue for some shooters (and in some applications) is the 55 lb cocking effort. While I
have to admit the heavy cocking effort was a bit of a strain at the range, it was a non issue for me in the
field. But this is a hunting gun, not a plinker or target gun, and for the 20 or so shots used on a day of
hunting would not be difficult for most average sized shooters to cope with.
I was very happy with the terminal performance of the gun / ammo combination. A big desert jack hit with
a chest shot at 60 yards would typically be knocked off its feet and anchored. And the accuracy obtained
let me thread shots through the dense branches to drop squirrels from up high in the canopy. I found the
stock design of the gun allowed it to be mounted and shot quickly and from almost any position. The only
thing that would have made the gun better in the field is if I could have mounted a sling, but the bull barrel
was too big for the barrel band swivels I could find.. I'll get that worked out eventually.
So in the end what did I think about the Hunter Extreme? It is a very powerful springer that works well
with heavy pellets, it offers good accuracy for hunting purposes, it is shootable, and the stock design helps
mitigate the substantial recoil. The gun is heavy in weight and in cocking effort, but manageable I think for
most hunters. In my hands the hunter Extreme proved a real game getter for small and medium sized
quarry, and one of a handful of springers that I
'd use for predator control in the right circumstance. I want
to get this gun in .25 next, and think it would be an absolute sledgehammer!
The gun carried well in the field. Although a bit
heavy on very long hikes the weight toned down the
recoil.
The gun is well balanced and I found it easy to
shoot from any position.
The spring squirrel woods were still fairly thick with
folliage, and required the accuracy to thread shots
up between the branches.
Shoot heavy JSB Exact Jumbos, the terminal
performance on game was excellent. This gun is a
sledge hammer!