I have always liked the look and feel of a Manlicher stock, probably a holdover from my days in Southern Europe where this configuration has been popular for many years. As a matter of fact, both my 30-06 and 250 Savage are fitted out with a Manlicher stock. It is no surprise then, from the first moment I saw a spring piston air rifle in this configuration I wanted one, however for one reason or another it never seemed to float up as a priority when buying another airgun. But recently the timing felt right and I decided to finally pick one up for my collection …. but which one? There are two or three on the market, but in the end I was attracted to the Gamo Stutzen for a couple of reasons; I’d been hearing good things about the Gamo line of fixed barrel rifles as hunting guns and wanted to give one a try. And most importantly, when I picked up this rifle I really liked the look and feel of it. In this review I will discuss the guns features and bench performance, and then discuss my impressions based on taking it to the field to hunt squirrels, rabbits, and other small game.
The Gamo Stutzen is a fixed barrel rifle which is cocked by an underlever cocking mechanism. The Manlicher design is a full length one piece stock that extends to just below the muzzle. I like the aesthetics of the Manlicher stock because of its unbroken lines, which is especially appealing in an air rifle as it makes it look more “firearm like” The underlever action is the only one that lends itself to this design, as the cocking lever can be hidden within the recessed forearm of the Manlicher stock. The gun comes in .177 Caliber only, which is fine by me as this is my preference in a spring piston airgun. The Stutzens overall length is 39.5 inches, with an 11 inch barrel. The specification states that the gun comes with a beech hardwood stock that weighs 6.4 lbs, mine is 7 lbs with the scope, which is surprising as the gun looks heavier due to the full length furniture
As mentioned the cocking mechanism uses an underlever arm which is housed in the recessed forestock. There is a tubular handle that slides out to increase the length of the cocking arm by about four inches, resulting in a cocking effort of 50 lb, which is easily handled by most adults. When the gun is cocked, a loading port situated between the piston chamber and the barrel pops up providing convenient access.. a nice feature in a hunting rifle. The gun comes equipped with iron sights; the front sight is a post and the rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. I mount scopes on all my hunting rifles, and the Stutzen has an integrated dovetail and an elevated scope ramp. As mentioned, the stock is made of beech hardwood and has a raised Monte Carlo cheekpiece, with a laser carved checkering on the grip. This is a nice touch on a moderately priced gun. Gamo Stutzen: A Look At An All time Favorite !
The published velocity for the Stutzen is 950 fps, depending on pellets I obtained between 910 to 940 fps. Of the pellets tested, the one that yielded the best all around performance was the RWS Superdome. It produced and average velocity of 915 fps, and an average 30 yard group size of under an inch at 30 yards. This is not stellar accuracy; however for a hunting gun it is just fine in my books. I figure that this will allow me to obtain consistent head shots on squirrels and rabbits, which is all I need to do. The Stutzen was fairly pellet tolerant and shot a range of projectiles quite well, the little pop up magazine able to handle the pronounced point of the Predator pellets without problem.
Having established that the gun had the power and the accuracy on the bench, the next step was to take it hunting. I found the gun came naturally to the shoulder, and the comb was at the proper height to consistently offer a good sight alignment. The two stage trigger has a first stage adjustment, which was set at about 3.4 lb pull on my gun. There was no creep or over-travel and the trigger had a good tactile response overall. The scope mounted for my hunting forays was a Leapers Mini Mildot, which besides functioning quite well, looks just right on this gun.
The pellets used for hunting included RWS Superdomes and Predator Polymer Tips. Both are good hunting loads; the RWS were more accurate especially at longer range, but the Predators were reasonably accurate and had a tremendous downrange impact on quarry. I found that the gun performed very well in anchoring squirrels and rabbits when I did my job; the physical characteristics of the Stutzen and the inherent accuracy of the gun made it a solid choice as a small game gun. In the field I found it easy to shoot standing, sitting, prone, supported or offhand; some springers are difficult to shoot accurately when rested, but I did not encounter this problem with the Gamo Stutzen.
In my experience cocking and loading the gun could be accomplished fairly quickly, though this is perhaps not the optimal gun to take along when hunting in deep camouflage. The cocking action is not difficult, but it is a big motion that is hard to minimize as you have to extend the cocking arm to permit full leveraging of the mechanism. The second minor complaint is that I have not yet figured out how to mount a sling, which I prefer on rifles intended for carry on long hikes.
So whatâ€™s the bottom line? I like this gun a lot, to be honest as much (or maybe more) for it’s looks, but by any measure it is a quality, high performance air rifle. It is one that will stay in my collection and come out a few times a year for the pleasure of shooting at paper and game. I didn’t know what to expect from this gun; it is a paradox that Gamo is arguably the largest airgun manufacturer in the world, but does not enjoy a uniformly great reputation amongst hardcore airgunners. I think that there is a bit of snobbery in this, analogous to the coffee connoisseur that thumbs his nose at Starbucks refusing to acknowledge that millions upon millions find the product meets their needs very well. The Gamo Stutzen does meet my needs as a quality hunting rifle, one that I also like to handle and look at Jim Reviews this classic (and classy) spring piston air rifle on the bench and in the field. This gun is an absolute pleasure for those looking for a hunting gun with that traditional European flair! The gun was easy to shoot from any position. The compact Leapers scope mounted on my gun was a perfect combination.
These late season squirrels are smart, and shots are harder to come by than earlier in the season. It’s important that the hunter has confidence in their gear under these conditions … and I felt well armed with the Stutzen. This is not a target rifle by any means, but is a solid performer as a hunting gun. Velocities obtained with various ammunition were within the range of those advertised, and accuracy was good for a thirty something yard small game rifle.