Written on: 27/12/2007 by mikeoverly (2 reviews written)
Easy to cock
Low recoil for power
Plastic stock, but "nice plastic"
A first-class shooter with the GRT III trigger replacement
Not an heirloom
Classic spring gun "buzz"
Before you so much as put a pellet in the breach, ditch the factory scope. I never bothered to mount the stock scope because of the bad web reviews on it. Instead, I put the factory Gamo scope on a completely recoilless Daisy 853 match rifle that one-holes at 10 meters, figuring the scope couldn?t get hurt on that gun. The 853 certainly never hurt it, but the scope wouldn?t hold zero, period. Don?t plan on using this scope for any marksmanship on any gun. Give it to your kid. Tell ?em it?s a modern pirate scope from Spain. Go buy a TS-rated Leapers.
You can pay what you want for a Gamo ?1200/1000 fps? breakbarrel rifle: from $100 on sale at a sporting goods store for the ?Big Cat?/Shadow series reviewed here to $300+ for one of the wood-stocked Hunter series. With the exception of the stocks and gimmicks like ?silencers? and Tru-Glo sights, they?re all the same gun. I?m not much for buying a dressed-up anything at twice the price, so I bought the cheapest Shadow series gun, the ?Big Cat.?
I confess to buying this inexpensive gun to shoot novelty pellets -- bought a tin of steel ball-tipped Gamo ?Rocket? ammo a few months earlier, but didn?t have the nerve to put those through my ?nice? guns.
I wasn?t expecting much more than high power and so-so everything-else.
Out of the box, Surprise #1: Gamo?s synthetic stock is really nice. I?ve got a .30-06 in synthetic that feels pretty plasticky, but the synthetic stock on the Gamo has a warm, slightly grippy feel to it that is enhanced by subtle stippling on the pistolgrip and fore-end. The bottom of the stock is flat and wide -- perfect for resting your offhand in the artillery hold this kind of gun demands, and it's ambidextrous. The ?fluted barrel? is a plastic shroud: not beautiful, but ?goes with? the plastic stock. Bluing on the action is well done to medium depth.
Surprise #2: Incredibly easy to cock. The barrel is about two inches longer than most Beeman/HW breakbarrels, and the cocking stroke is a wider arc, making felt cocking effort for the Big Cat just slightly higher than a Beeman/HW R7 and much less than an R9 (latter being equal in power to the Big Cat). This gun is so easy to cock that at first I thought the spring was broken, but the chrony confirmed 875 fps with CPLs -- pretty much what you?d expect a ?1,000 FPS? gun to do. After 500 break-in shots, CPLs are going around 885 FPS, or 14 ft. lbs.
Firing behavior? I expected this gun to be crude, and it does vibrate. Nothing unbearable. Recoil much lower than I anticipated, especially considering the very light weight of this gun. At just over six pounds with a scope and very manageable recoil, this gun breaks the conventional ?gotta have a heavy gun for a powerful spring? wisdom.
As for the trigger, I knew it would be heavy/creepy, but I expected I would adapt to it. No go: I just couldn?t shoot well with the all that creep in the second stage. I was getting quarter-inch groups at ten meters with plenty of flinch-induced flyers.
I read Tom Gaylord?s recent review of Gamo?s Whisper model, and his blog on Pyramyd included a very concise tutorial on replacing the stock folded metal Gamo trigger with a machined aluminum drop-in trigger manufactured in South Carolina by Bob Werner, a.k.a. ?CharlieDaTuna.? I headed over to charliedatuna.com, PayPaled Mr. Werner a paltry $32, and three days later I had the tiny piece of gold-anodized perfection known as the GRT III trigger. This truly was a 15-minute transplant going in cold, and the results are spectacular.
I?ll never know if the GRT III is as adjustable as an HW Rekord trigger, because I never touched its integrated adjustment screws, and probably never will. It is set by Bob at a light and very crisp second stage let-off, and just heavy enough to make tripping it a deliberate act. I have two Rekord-equipped HWs and one Air Arms TX200 MkIII with a CD trigger (considered the finest non-match triggers in the world) and this department store Gamo with a GRT III is the equal of them in the trigger department at this pull weight.
The GRT III trigger is what transforms this gun and makes it worth any serious airgunner?s consideration.
Currently I?m shooting the GRT III-modded Big Cat as well as I shoot my Beeman R9: ragged one-holers on good days and clover-leafed holes on caffinated days :). While the longer barrel means more time to pull the gun off target during the shot cycle, the flat palmrest on the forearm seems to compensate.
The shot cycle is smoothing out -- still loud, though. Durability remains to be seen.
Bottom Line: Plan to buy any Leapers TS-rated scope (or better) and a $32 GRT III drop-in trigger and you?ve unlocked the secret of state-of-the-art spring gun shooting on the cheap.