Gary Chillingworth finds a couple of bargains in Gamo’s starter packs
Gary Chillingworth is looking at some bargain PCPs that might just surprise you
There are quite a few things I love about writing for Air Gunner, but two of my favourites are hearing from the readers and looking at new bits of kit, or to be more accurate, kit that is new to me. If you grab any airgun journo and ask them the most common question they’re asked, they will all give you the same answer: Which is the best budget air rifle to get me started?
In the past, when I have been asked this question I have always steered people towards a goodquality spring gun, and this is not because of my bias towards springers, but due to the cost of new PCPs. Even an entry level rifle like the S400 will set you back £ 450; and then a scope, a set of mounts – everyone forgets those – a gun slip to keep the rifle clean and out of sight if you are moving it around, a silencer, if you want to be discreet when shooting, and charging equipment to put air in the gun, in the form of a dive bottle and hose – about £ 250 – or a pump – about £150. Add all this together, and an entry level PCP set- up, from new, will set you back in the region of £ 900, and that’s a big chunk of loose change.
There are brilliant starter packs on offer from Gamo, though, and for those of you thinking of moving into the murky world of the PCP, it is certainly worth a look. For £ 499 you get a multi- shot PCP rifle ( Gamo Phox Mk2) with a great quality magazine, same as comes with the BSA R10, the Whisper silencer, a gun slip, a pump to fill the rifle with air ,and to top all this off, a great little scope and a quality one- piece mount.
The rifle itself is a great thing to hold; it’s fully synthetic, with a high cheek piece, so if you want to use it for bunny bashing or target shooting it will do so with ease. It has a slightly grippy surface that is also anti- glare so you will have no problems holding on to the rifle if the rain comes down, or attaching a sling and throwing it over your shoulder. This rifle is very light at just 7lbs plus the scope, and will make a perfect starter gun for a junior, or someone who does not want to carry a heavy rifle round a long HFT course, or over hill and dale.
A light rifle can be jumpy, but I have shot a few Phoxs and, for me, they have always been a pleasure to shoot. I will not lie to you and say that they are as good as a top- end £ 2000 Steyr – they are an entry- level rifle – but at 40 yards, I was placing all my shots inside a 10p size hole, using Air Arms Field 8.44grn pellets sized to 4.52. You might need to try a few different head sizes, but the feedback I have been getting is that the barrels aren’t to pellet fussy
“I have shot a few Phoxs and, for me, they have always been a pleasure to shoot”
and only need a clean every few thousand shots.
The scope and mount that comes with the rifle is cracking. It has a standard crosshair 30/30 reticle and fixed parallax. Its magnification is from 3 to 9 times, and has a fairly good depth of field – depth of field is how far you can see, before the targets become blurry – and it’s certainly good enough for close- up hunting and taking on targets up to about 40 yards.
The trigger on both the Coyote and the Phox is great. It’s the Gamo CAT ( Custom Action Trigger) and for a basic trigger it gives a great feel. If you speak to the crazy, competition shooters like me, we always bang on about accuracy, accuracy, accuracy, and it’s true that a good barrel is important, and that having a rifle with a good balance is essential, but one of the things that is often overlooked is the trigger. If you have a bad trigger, you will not have any consistency. You need to know when the rifle will fire and you have to be able to hold the trigger on its breaking point, and then let the pellet fly with just a slight increase in pressure. If you have to pull a trigger hard, there is a chance that the rifle will move, and if you make the gun move a millimetre of so, by the time the pellet gets downrange, you will certainly miss the target. Between you and me, the reason I do so well with my springer, isn’t because of the barrel, it’s because my trigger is as light as one on a top- end PCP.
The CAT trigger is adjustable. It’s great out of the box and with a bit of time and adjustment, you can set it up to rival triggers on rifles that cost twice the price. There are also tutorials on line about how to polish them and take them apart, but this is often best done by a gunsmith or
someone who has experience in the field. I alsolike is the rifle’s safety catch , which is located just in front of the trigger blade and you can go from safe to ready to fire with the smallest of movements – a great bit of design.
Putting air into the rifle is relatively easy with the pump, but you do need to build a rhythm and heed this piece of advice – keep the rifle topped up! Fill it to about 190bar and then refill it when you get down to about 140bar – about 30 shots – then use slow and steady stokes to fill it back up. If you have to fill it from 100bar to 190, you will need a cup of tea and biscuit afterwards, but we had Brandon Roff a young 16-year- old filling the gun and he found it nice and easy.
I have babbled on about the Phox for too long because I was so impressed with the pack and what comes with it, but the Coyote is very similar to the Phox ,apart from three main differences; 1: It’s wood and not synthetic, but it’s still lightweight and feels great in the hands. 2: It has a slightly longer air cylinder and has the capacity for 80 consistent shots to a fill, as opposed to the Phox’s 60, and 3: It doesn’t have an integral silencer as standard, and gives a very nice crack when fired, although you can by a Coyote Whisper, or fit an aftermarket silencer.
Apart from these three things, both the guns run on the same internals and barrels, although the Coyote’s is 11.5cm as opposed to the Phox’s 10.5, and these barrels use BSA’s cold- hammer forging, renowned throughout the industry for being some of the best on the market.
There is no doubt in my mind that Gamo and BSA are producing great rifles, and I am amazed that they can produce this pack for the cost that they are. If I were looking for an entry- level gun, or a back- up rifle to go hunting, or for my lad use, this would certainly be on my list.
So, if you are in the market check out the Gamo Phox or Coyote. They aren’t just great for the money, but they are also great in their own right, and I have no doubt they will give you many happy hours of shooting fun for the family.
BELOW: The Phox Pack gives you everything you need to get shooting, just add pellets
RIGHT: The Coyote isn’t just a good rifle to shoot, it’s great to look at
ABOVE: Brandon Roff was so impressed with our test gun, he now owns one
BELOW: For under £ 1000 Danny Roff can buy himself and Brandon a gun each, and rent a Mike Averil to pump them up for the day
ABOVE RIGHT: You can see the safety just in front of the trigger, perfect placement
ABOVE LEFT: The magazine system is self- lubricating and easy to read
ABOVE CENTRE: The filler is located under the air gauge and the muzzle break makes a lovely crack when the Coyote is fired