By Pete Wadeson
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Umarex 850 AirMagnum air rifle: Powered by liquid gas is the world's first mass produced, full-power Co2 hunting rifle.
Umarex 850 AirMagnum air rifle: When Co2 is used as a propellant it's easily capable of producing an air rifle that can go beyond the 12ft/lb legal limit.
In the past we've seen specialist companies which made rifles using this power source that were of a power suitable for hunting.
However, now German Co2 power supremos and experts UMAREX have created a mass-produced and highly affordable 12ft/lb Co2 powered rifle.
The 850 AirMagnum sits in a black synthetic stock, has an ambidextrous cheekpiece and a ventilated thick rubber butt-pad. Both the slim pistol grip and more substantial fore-end have a generous amount of what can best be described as raised oval-shaped dots to aid grip. Though the rifle is called an AirMagnum, it's important to remember the gun is powered by a removable and renewable 88gram tank of Co2 (88g Co2 AirSource), housed and secreted from view by the fore-end.
To access the inlet valve coupling to power-up, the front third section of the fore-end has to be removed. This is achieved by using the release catch found underneath the stock at the point where the jointed fore-end meets. The slotted push-in catch allows a firm thumb hold as you press inwards and push forward.
When the end cap is removed, it reveals a cavity into which the AirSource tank screws. This is half-covered to the human eye, and when the front section is pushed back into its original position, you wouldn't even know it was there if you hadn't fitted it.
Incidentally, once you've screwed the canister into position, you should dry-fire the rifle in a safe direction, as you would with a low-power Co2 pistol, to ensure the canister is fully pierced and the Co2 is feeding through the inlet valve and all rifle internals.
Action and performance
A cleverly designed feature of this rifle is the action, which after pushing forward the cocking bolt, takes the magazine retaining catch forward to secure the eight-shot rotary magazine and probes a pellet into the breech. It is extremely smooth in operation.
To load, the blacked-steel cocking bolt is a generous, chunky size and needs to be lifted up from its original forward position and pulled fully rearward. This locks in position and allows you to operate the magazine retainer, which is the lengthy, slim catch found directly behind the magazine on the right of the action.
Taking a shot
At this stage, the T-bar-style automatic safety catch will still be protruding out from the rear of the action block, indicating the rifle is safe. The automatic trigger safety is sensibly sited at the rear of the action block (ideally positioned for operating with the thumb of the shooting hand). After this, a red dot on top of the action base-plate shows, indicating the rifle is now ready to fire.
Once you take a shot and want another pellet in the tube, you simply lift and pull back the cocking bolt (the rifle is now cocked, and automatic safety is back on), and simply cycle the action back. When you've shot the magazine empty, to remove it you pull back the cocking bolt, slide back the magazine retaining catch to remove the magazine and repeat the loading procedure.
In your sights
Though the rifle has a good pair of fibre optic open sights, which are easily capable of kill-zone accuracy from 12 to 15 yards, the rifle has a scope rail for fitting a pair of optics, and this is when the gun really begins to shine.
For example, with a Walther 3 - 9 X 44AO IR Night Pro in high mounts, I'd zeroed at 25 yards and was soon making ragged 1-4in
groups at the set zero, shooting bench-rested.
In skilled hands, the rifle is easily capable of kill-zone accuracy out to 35 yards and beyond - stunning performance for what is in effect such a leap forward in the design, function and availability of a Co2 powered air rifle for hunting.
Co2 has certainly come of age and is now an extremely viable alternative for hunters looking for a rifle that has the benefits of a recoil-less PCP, without the need to buy a diver's tank or go for re-fills. Considering you get approximately 140 full power shots per 88g AirSource tank, it makes the gun very economical to run.
The 850 AirMagnum can also be fitted with a muzzle compensator, as used in this test, which keeps report to an acceptable level. However, such is the AirMagnum's popularity that custom houses, such as Sandwell Field Sports, are already creating special sound moderators to make this deadly accurate rifle equally deathly silent.
To sum up, the Umarex 850 AirMagnum is mighty impressive, the accuracy is on a par with most conventional PCPs and it handles wonderfully. It's lightweight and is extremely cost effective. In fact, I'm already getting reports that pest controllers are using it for feral control, which is certainly a use I'll be putting the gun to before it has to go back.
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