Take a look at Umarex Air Guns' product line and your inner kid will be envious of the air gun choices available. Their lineup is a great way to introduce a child to firearms and at the same time exciting the gun aficionado or hunter in each one of us.
Some of the licensed replicas they manufacture include the Colt Peacemaker, Glock 17, Heckler & Koch MP5, Walther PPK, and Beretta M9. Their Legends series includes replicas of the Mauser C96, Luger P08, and MP 40 to name a few.
Besides the reproductions, Umarex makes hunting/target rifles in both spring-piston break barrels and precharged pneumatics (PCP). Since I have a passion for bolt-action precision rifles, Umarex's PCP-powered Gauntlet caught my eye.
Decked out in a sleek, black synthetic stock, the Gauntlet's precision-inducing features include the ability to regulate its air pressure to provide consistent shots, an adjustable single-stage trigger and a height-adjustable cheekpiece. All for a surprisingly low $321.
Weighing 8.7 pound without a scope, the bolt-action Gauntlet is chambered for .177- and .22-caliber pellets and uses a 10-round rotary magazine for multiple shots a pellet tray for single-shot shooting. With an overall length of 46.75 inches, the rifle's receiver is grooved to accept 11mm dovetail scope rings, but it has no built-in sights, making an optic purchase necessary.
Before mounting a scope to the Gauntlet, I ensured the scope rings I had were high enough for my scope to clear the rotary magazine, which is .40-inch taller than the receiver. I found 1-inch-high scope rings (measured center of scope to receiver base) worked well for both of my 30mm and 1-inch scope tubes.
When I get behind a rifle, I want the center of my shooting eye to effortlessly line up on the cross hairs of the reticle. The adjustable cheekpiece makes easy work of this. I extended it a half-inch, providing the right height for me to bury my cheek onto the cheekpiece and look into the center of the reticle. Correct alignment reduces fatigue and allows me to stay on target when a squirrel pops its head out of the ground.
The 3,000-pounds-per-square-inch (psi) air cylinder is 13 cubic inches (cu. in.) and is removable. It can be aired up via a standard Foster quick-connect fitting while connected to the rifle.
Filling up the air cylinder can be achieved two ways, with a high-pressure charging tank or a PCP hand pump. Don't bother strolling out your air tool compressor or bicycle pump, they won't come close to achieving the high pressures needed for air rifles. If you're not ready to pay out the $300 or so for a charging tank, consider renting a scuba tank from a scuba shop. Renting at my local shop is about $15 per day. You'll need a scuba tank adapter, with gauge and hose to get air from the tank to the air cylinder. This can be purchased at an air gun shop.
For this test, I used the Umarex PCP Hand Pump ($180), which can be an excellent cardio workout if you start from an empty cylinder and pump it up to 3,000 psi. Filling the empty cylinder took 9 minutes and 240 strokes. Filling it up from 1,000 to 3,000 psi was easier and took 4½ minutes and 150 strokes. To take advantage of the regulated air pressure, you'll want to keep the cylinder filled between 1,100 to 3,000 psi. It will provide consistent air pressure in this range, which translates to consistent shooting.
Unless you have several PCP guns, or are shooting frequently, the PCP hand pump is a good option. Once I set up the rifle and filled the air cylinder, I was ready to start shooting.
I pushed the safety lever, which is located on the front right side of the triggerguard, and pressed the trigger slowly. It moved smoothly and broke with ease. Curious about the trigger adjustment, I lowered it to 1 pound (measured by a Lyman digital trigger pull gauge). I was even more impressed. Now, 1 pound may sound too light, but I always felt in control of the trigger break, which gave me confidence that I could take my time and make incremental adjustments without worry of an unintentional discharge.
To test the accuracy of the Gauntlet, I shot three different pellets at 13 yards. With each pellet type, I started with the air cylinder topped off at 3,000 psi and shot five, five-shot groups. Regardless of type, most of the five pellets in the group touched each other. The smallest group I shot was with JSB Match Diabolo Heavy Ultra Shock measuring .20 inch, the average group size was .31 inch.
The JSB Match Diabolo Exact Jumbo Express and the RWS Super-H-Point averaged close behind at .34 and .42 inch. The Gauntlet wasn't finicky about the pellets, which is refreshing considering some air rifles I've shot favored one type of pellet. In all, I shot 55 .22-caliber 14.53-grain pellets within its operational range.
Another thing that makes the Gauntlet air rifle easy to shoot is that its light and sleek allowing it to be carried comfortably with one hand and is well balanced for shooting off hand while standing. Some PCP air rifles can seem heavy to lug around due to the mass of the air cylinder, but that's not the case with the Gauntlet. For long jaunts, strap up a sling in the swivel studs and you're ready for miles of hiking. Shooting the Gauntlet is a quiet experience, too, its shrouded and the baffled barrel keeps its report to a minimum.
My only gripe about the rifle is the safety. To engage the safety, it must be pressed rearward. If you're hasty or fingers are slick, there's a chance the finger can slide into the trigger sending a pellet out of the barrel.
After the test, I had to remind myself that I was shooting a $300 air rifle and not a rifle with a $200 trigger. For me, a sign of a good rifle is one that I can't wait to shoot again because it is effortless to shoot accurately. It's one where I'm not fighting the trigger or ergonomics. The rifle becomes an extension of my body giving me confidence that as long as I do my part right, the rifle will perform predictably and consistently.
From the regulated air capability and the adjustable trigger to the adjustable cheekpiece and barrel, Umarex has designed the Gauntlet to be an air rifle that you won't want to put down.
- Pellet Caliber: .177, .22
- Capacity: 10 rds., single-shot option
- Barrel: 28.5 in.
- Overall Length: 46.75 in.
- Weight: 8.5 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic
- Trigger: Adjustable, single stage
- Sights: None
- Safety: Slide
- MSRP: $320