This interesting new offering is the first spring piston airgun configured as a scattergun! The loads are light and the power low, but there is enough gun to use it for close range pest control.
Added: I’ve included a section below in which I answer questions and post additional comments as I get more experience with this gun
I hiked along the edges of the field where the grass grew long and provided habitat for a variety of birds, when one popped up in front of me. Swinging my scatter gun in an arc and leading ever so slightly, I squeezed the trigger and watched the male bird crash to the ground. As I moved between a couple old sheds a small covey popped up with one bird perching for a moment on a rain gutter, a crack of the gun and another bird down, a hen.
Wait a minute you say, you shot a bird off the roof? And it was a hen!? Well my quarry was of the sparrow variety, and the scattergun was a Gamo Viper Express. I received this gun for evaluation recently and wanted to bring it out for a test of its intended use, close in pest control. I donâ€™t typically go out with the objective of shooting sparrows or starlings these days, but this gun cried out to be used on flying critters.
Ever since this gun was first discussed in public: there has been no shortage of outspoken critics saying the gun/concept was worthless, the performance terrible, and that it would be a waste of money. The irritating thing is, they had not shot one, seen one, or had any first hand knowledge before solidifying their positions. I have to admit I also had my doubts that a spring piston scattergun would have any use (or even work), but thought Iâ€™d give it a try before drawing a conclusion. But it seemed like the airgun gods were aligned against me, and it took a very long time to get an example for testing. So when I finally had a chance to get my hands on one, I immediately took it out for shakedown and to develop an informed opinion..
Shooting at a plain sheet of butcherâ€™s paper to pattern the gun at 10 yards, I found that the scatter was confined within an area of 6â€� diameter. Several of the #9 pellets hit in an approximately starling sized area, and hit with enough umph to penetrate a coke can. I followed up this session by taking some balloons from my six year old daughterâ€™s toy chest, blowing them up, and letting the gentle breeze blow them across the yards while I shot at them. I was having big fun now!
OK, so I proved to myself that this gun was fun to play shooting games with, but I was curious about the manufacturers claim that this gun could be used for pest control at close range. There is a factory by my house that has overgrown fields with sheds and equipment juxtaposed with the thick brush surrounding it in jumbled heaps, the sparrows and starlings flock to the area in search of food and shelter. I decided this would be the perfect place to try some pest bird wing shooting, which is where we entered this mini-review.
By the time Iâ€™d wrapped up this unique shotgunning session Iâ€™d taken a half dozen sparrows and starlings, even managing to hit a couple of them on the wing. The gun was effective on these light bodied critters, though I was pretty strict about keeping all shots inside of 10 yards. A couple of times I missed and hit the roof of a shed or the rain gutters around the wooden shack used as an office, without causing any damage. I think with a light attached this gun may be adequate for a night time ratting session at one of the local farms I shoot over. My longest shot was at a starling up on a phone line, that was up straight overhead. He came crashing down, having caught a couple pellets to the head, a couple to the chest, and a couple more to the belly.
So what do I think about the Viper Express? I think you have to look at this gun in context: does it do what a real shotgun will do? Absolutely not, but it does give the shooter the flavor of a scatter gun. It was fun to play with, and it was effective at close range capable of cleanly killing small pest inside of ten yards. Would I buy this as a primary hunting gun? No, the Viper Express could not be used as a general hunting arm. But if I had other guns to meet other hunting needs and wanted something different to shoot for small vermin, such as small rodents around the barn or sparrows and starlings around an industrial building, well yeah itâ€™s a fun and different airgun. As a kicker, there is an insert that allows the gun to shoot standard pellets when you get tired of using it as a scatter gun â €¦â€¦.. if you get tired of it!
The light weight synthetic stock on this gun is easy to mount, and the bead sight permits fast target acquisition. The unique ammo for this gun comes packed 25 rounds to the box. The load contained in the plastic shell is 17 grain or approximately 24 #9 pellets.
The action is a standard break barrel, and the shell slips into the rear of the barrel just as a pellet would. There is a brass insert that will house a standard .22 pellet if you want to use the Viper Express in rifle mode. This target was shot at ten yards, with all pellets falling within a 6″ diameter. The starling show on the right, was shot at 31 feet, and was struck twice in the head, twice in the chest, and twice in the abdomen. My next step is to try this gun out on some mammalian pest control! Initial Experience
On another day out with the VE scattergun I was working a factory complex that was just covered with pest birds. In one stand where I could watch a hole in the roof of a shed being used for nest building, I hit four starlings in a row as they glided in. I would never have been able to acquire the target fast enough with a standard rifle, even one wearing a red dot.. NOTES: Added 03/20/07