At the recent SHOT show, I spent quite a bit of time at the Gamo booth looking over their current products, as well as newer additions to their portfolio. One of the products they were promoting quite heavily was the Raptor pellet, made of a hard, light material that was said to increase the muzzle velocities of most guns by up to 25% percent. I will be presenting a fairly detailed review of testing on several new pellets in a separate article, but the scope of this piece is the companies Varmint Hunter rifle. I wanted a platform to test the Raptor, and thought one of Gamos guns would be just the ticket. So I ordered the rifle, and after a short wait found it sitting on my desk when I returned home one day.
The Varmint hunter is based on the Gamos Shadow series of break barrel spring piston air rifle. The gun is dressed in a black synthetic stock, with a compliment of lights, lasers, and optics riding atop it. I have to admit, I’m a traditional kind of guy and have always preferred wood, however this rifles stock does give it a businesslike appearance. I’ll spend a few lines giving some of the relevant specifications and features before getting into my shooting/pest control experience with this gun.
The stock is an all weather synthetic material that is available in any color (as Henry Ford use to say of the Model T) so long as you want black. There is an ambidextrous cheekpeice that is situated to achieve good sight alignment when using a scope. The butt of the gun is equipped with a ventilated rubber buttplate, and the pistol grip and fore stock are checkered. The result is an easy to shoulder gun that aims naturally and carries well.
The varmint Hunter is a break barrel design with a 38 lb cocking effort, but due to the long sweep of the cocking action seemed lighter to me. The gun is advertised to generate velocities of 1000 fps, which is pretty close to what I achieved with some projectiles. In the accompanying table you will see the results I obtained using the Gamo Raptor, Hunter Roundnose, and Predator Polymag pellets amongst others. The precision rifling of the 28″ barrel yielded up very good accuracy with several loads. There is a 2 stage trigger, with first stage being adjustable. I had the gun set up with very little initial creep and a clean break at about 3.5 lb.
The thing that makes the Varmint Hunter the Varmint Hunter is the accessories that are included in the package. The rifle has a grooved receiver that mounts a scope, onto which a flashlight and a laser are affixed. Both of these lighting systems are activated via a pressure sensitive switch and can be easily deployed from the shooters typical hand position on the forestock.
To get a handle on how the gun performed, several pellets were shot across the chrony and for groups at twenty five yards. All pellets yielded adequate accuracy for most hunting applications, and while I wasn’t surprised that the CPs and Hunters offered up tight groups, the fact that the Raptors grouped so well wasn’t expected. In several guns Iâ €™d tested this pellet through, the accuracy past 15-20 yards was so-so. But with the Varmint Hunter I got consistently good results at 25 yards. The targets shown are representative of typical groups obtained, and the chart in the figure was the average of five 5 shot groups, with the CP, Hunters, and Raptors respectively providing the best results.