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.Read More →

I do most of my big bore airgun hunting with DAQs (in .308, .457, and .50 calibers), and more recently the Career Dragonslayer. I like all these guns; and while the DAQ .457 has become my primary big game gun, I have found the Dragonslayer a fantastic shooter and a great medium game gun. The Dragonslayer did come up to its limit on some big pigs I shot a while back, but was all I could want when hunting smaller antelope. Many people have asked me what gun I’d recommend in addition to the DAQs for larger animals, and I’ve been shooting all the big bores I can get my hands on so that I can offer and informed opinion. The Sam Yang Big Bore 909 .45 caliber air rifle is one of the powerful production guns out of Korea. I recently ordered one to take out deer hunting to see how it would perform on larger game. I’ve now had a chance to use it quite a bit for target shooting and in the field for hunting. The Big bore 909 is a single shot .45 caliber rifle, loaded via a port in the receiver that is accessed by a sliding cover that is slipped forward to open, then slid back to close after the bullet is loaded. Cocking is achieved using a separate bolt action, making this a two step procedure to cock and load. The 21 barrel has an internal diameter of 0.454 inches and is threadedRead More →

On the Road to Texas! Getting ready for the trip from Indianapolis to Midland Odessa I confronted the perennial challenge, how to get all my gear onsite without spending more in excess baggage than the cost of the airfare. I wanted to take three guns on this trip, but outside of the massive safari case used for long overseas trips, none of my cases would conveniently fit three full sized rifles. I finally settled on disassembling the guns removing the actions from stocks and demounting the scopes so that they’d fit into a standard two rifle case. I’d originally planned to carry a couple of small tanks and a hand pump for keeping the guns charged. But while doing some advanced ground work, I went online to look for a paintball shop where I could get the tanks filled, and lo and behold found a dive shop…. In the middle of Texas, go figure! Calling to see if they could fill my tanks, the owner asked if I just wanted to rent tanks instead of hauling my own cross country. He arranged to have three bottles filled and ready, so all I had to carry along was the yoke and fill probes. I was a bit apprehensive without the safety net of even a handpump, but the shop owner had done business with airgunners in the past and assured me they would have everything I’d need. So in the end I got all the gear required packed into my duffleRead More →

Hatsan has been building some high performance PCP rifles at affordable prices for the last few years, and more recently has been expanding their product line to incorporate new models, new technology, and new calibers while maintaining quality, performance, and value. I’ve been saying for years that the Hatsan rifles are one of the most under appreciated airguns on the market, but that is changing! I’ve been shooting several of Hatsans guns this season, but today I want to tell you about something I think is exciting, their new Carnivore series mid bore rifles! The Carnivore comes in .30 and .35 caliber versions… The Carnivore is based on Hatsans BT65 QE model rifle, that has been available in standard calibers up to .25 for a couple years now. This is a large gun weighing in at 9.3 lb without a scope, and has a length overall of 48.9″ with a 23″ barrel. The gun uses an ambidextrous synthetic stock with an adjustable comb, an adjustable recoil pad, and textured grips on the forestock and pistol grip. There is another Picatinny mount under the forestock for mounting a light or biopod. The 255 cc under barrel air reservoir has a built in manometer at the distal end. The two stage adjustable trigger is acceptable out of the box, and is a bit heavy with a bit of creep. After I complete testing I’m going to start working on the trigger. The barrel is shrouded and quiets the report down quite well,Read More →

Hammerli is a storied name in the world of competitive shooting, and the collaboration with the long established Norica has made a line of spring piston airguns available to the North American market. In this review we’ll take a look at the Razor, which I was loaned (thanks Airgun Depot!) to evaluate. The Iberian Connection The Spanish manufacturer Norica has been building airguns since the early 1900’s, but has not established the strong brand recognition of that other Spanish airgunning presence. The Hammerli company was founded in Austria in the mid 1800’s and has developed an outstanding reputation in the firearm world the quality and precision of their guns and components, especially in the world of competitive shooting. While they have carried a couple of precharged pneumatic competition air rifles and pistols over the years, they have never had a spring piston design in their product portfolio before. So the idea of a product that fills that niche (a low cost high quality spring piston plinker/hunter) such as those offered by Norica, which could leverage the Hammerli brand cache makes a lot of sense. The proviso though isthat the quality of the gun has to live up to the name. For the last few months I have been shooting a couple of the break barrel Hammerli guns; the Storm and the Razor, to see how they performed. In this review I will focus on the Razor, but before discussing the gun let’s define the appropriate context. These guns are positionedRead More →

I’d just gotten back from a round of business trips and had a free morning, a new rifle, and a young squirrel season in front of me. So I decided to load up my gear and wake up at 4:30 the next morning for the 1.5 hour drive to a State Forest up north that I often hunt. Even though I have several private fasrms to hunt, I like to hit public land on a frequent basis, enjoying the large tracks of ground to wander over and a need to bring my “A” game. I got to the woods just before daybreak, parked the car, geared up and hiked about a quarter mile into the heavy bush. I found a spot that I knew was amongst several mast producing trees and sat at the base of a tree and waited, while the sun worked its way up slowly lighting my surroundings. In the still morning I heard a gnawing above and heard a tree branch shaking. Watching for about ten minutes I finally saw a squirrel head through a cluster of foliage, and with my rifle propped on a set of solid bipod shooting sticks, lined up and squeezed the trigger on my Daystate Huntsman Classic. A light pull on the trigger which broke like glass, was followed by the squirrel crashing down without a twitch. First one in the bag, which I collected and moved on slowly looking for my next stop. Fifteen minutes later I heard barking ahead,Read More →

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 recentlyRead More →

I’ve been using the Ameristep 3D Leafy Camo Poncho a lot this year, and it’s become one of my favorite tools for any type of stealth hunting in brush. It breaks up the pattern against many backgrounds, it breaks up the hunters form better than anything short of a full ghillie suit, and it’s easy on and easy off. In many respects the poncho is more like a wearable blind than an article of camo clothing. The poncho is essentially a 56″ x 94″ (approimate) rectangle of mesh, covered with a multi textured leafy pattern. There is a hole in the center with a hood that has a strap that can be used to position the hood over the wearers head, and a draw sting that can cinch the face opening around the wearers face. There are reinforced earholes on either side, so that your ability to hear is not impeded. There are five button snaps that allow to poncho to be opened when not on a set, that allows you to cool down when walking. There is also a bungee along the crease which falls over the arms, to attach the poncho to the arms to maintain coverage. The poncho is very light weighing in at about 1.5 lb, and can be rolled up and slipped into your pack when not in use. The patterns I’ve found the poncho in are the standard RealTree APHD, which is a fall/winter pattern, though I have seen a white patter called ‘nowRead More →

Towards the tail end of the season, a new call showed up on my doorstep, the Primos Alpha Dogg. I’ve taken the call out for some non-hunting sessions as I get to know it better. I have some upcoming predator hunts to take it on, and this will be one of the calls I carry along to South Africa to hunt their predator species in September. It’s already provided outstanding results on my outings for crow, which will be a feature next month. In some ways this call resembles a transformer toy, the speaker covers swing down to become legs, and the speakers can then be swiveled to the optimal direction. But before getting to this point, you will find that there is a convenient carrying handle and a slot that the remote locks into when the call is not in use. The remote itself is ergonomic, using large menu controls, and has just the right backlighting to allow it to be read without killing your night vision or lighting your face up like a spotlight. With the legs deployed you can set the call in the snow or mud puddles, with no worries of submersing the electronics. Alpha Dogg uses 25 watt digital amps and produces plenty of volume. The speaker system is advertised as being distortion free, which from my experience is a true statement. There is a bit of rasp as the batteries go flat, but slip in a fresh charge and they are once again providingRead More →

MAP Reticles are big news for airgun hunters! Jim takes these scopes out in the field and has the chance to try them on a number of springers and PCPs. With this as a backdrop, let me say that when I was contacted by Hawke and asked to test out a couple of their products I jumped at the opportunity. Hawke has been providing scopes to the airgunning world for several years, and has a very strong following in the European marketplace. In our first call we discussed the guns I would be using, both spring piston and pcp power plants, and the type of field conditions I’d be shooting under. A few days later I was unpacking the companies MaxPro and Airmax models, both 3-9x variable magnification, with the 40mm and 50mm objectives respectively. I now have had a few weeks experience with these products and have mounted them on everything from a Webley Patriot .25 magnum springer to a DAQ .457 pcp, with many other test guns in between. While intending to spend a lot more time with these scopes during the upcoming small game seasons, I feel comfortable giving a preliminary review based on current experience. Both of these scopes are well made and built on a shockproof 1â€� mono tube, with multi-coated lenses that are waterproof and said to be fog proof. I compared the image quality obtained with these scopes to several models of Leapers, Burris, Tasco, Niko Stirling, and Leupold that I own, andRead More →