Top Value Guns

Tim Fin­ley tries out the Gamo Hunter Ju­nior - the ideal gun for a ‘small per­son’

Airgun World - - Contents -

“For such a pint-sized pack­age, the Ju­nior Hunter looks good”

There’s no set rule for the age to start shoot­ing. I started at 12, with a Diana SP50 push-bar­rel pis­tol bought on a hol­i­day in Wales by my par­ents. I still re­mem­ber that day now – it was awe­some, but I’d rather start my kids out with a ri­fle be­cause I think they make teach­ing safe gun han­dling eas­ier to teach. Get­ting hold of a ju­nior-sized ri­fle is easy these days, much sim­pler than back in my day as a new shooter – hence the SP50 pis­tol. The stand-out one for me to­day is the Gamo Hunter Ju­nior; it’s a break-bar­rel, spring-op­er­ated air ri­fle with per­fect fea­tures and di­men­sions for a small per­son’s ri­fle. I say ‘small per­son’ be­cuase that is how you should treat a young new shooter. Given that you are teach­ing them to shoot, you need to see them as a small per­son not a child.

Al­ways start with safety; never point a gun at any­body or any­thing you do not want to shoot, and keep their fin­ger away from the trig­ger un­til they are aim­ing at the tar­get. Al­ways wear safety glasses, and be clear and con­cise. One-on-one in­struc­tion is needed at first, be pa­tient but be safe, use a safe back­stop and so on.

EX­TRA MILE

On to the Gamo. I rate Gamo airguns, they make qual­ity guns and al­ways push the en­ve­lope when it comes to ma­te­ri­als and de­sign. This is a scaled-down ver­sion of the very popular Gamo Hunter 440, and this ju­nior gun might be small, but it still has the qual­ity of an adult ri­fle. For in­stance, the front stock screws are an­gled, and this de­sign lim­its the ten­dency of the stock screws to loosen due to the vi­bra­tions caused by the spring­power fir­ing cy­cle.

It comes fit­ted with open sights, as any starter ri­fle should be­cause it’s fun­da­men­tal to teach the use of open sights be­fore mov­ing on to op­ti­cal ones.

Again, Gamo has gone the ex­tra mile and fit­ted the Ju­nior Hunter with fi­bre-op­tic rods on the sights. A curved green rod gives a dot on each side of the rear notch sight, and the front post has a sin­gle red, 16mm long, 1mm di­am­e­ter rod, although this is pro­tected un­der a slot­ted plas­tic hood. The sight base is 345mm, and there is an op­tion for fit­ting a tele­scopic or red-dot sight on the 145mm­long, 11mm rail ma­chined into the steel cylin­der. How­ever, I would stick with open sights at first be­fore mov­ing on to a red dot and then a scope as the range at which the new shooter shoots at ex­tends.

The shooter needs clear in­struc­tion on how to load a break-bar­rel ri­fle. Be­gin by keep­ing hold of the bar­rel with the for­ward hand at all times dur­ing the cock­ing and load­ing process. Start­ing with a spring ri­fle en­sures that they learn the cor­rect trig­ger tech­nique, breath­ing and fol­low-through.

SAFETY

Back to the gun, and for such a pint-sized pack­age, the Ju­nior Hunter looks good; the beech stock has an am­bidex­trous cheek piece, the pis­tol grip has no swells on each side, but does have pressed-in che­quered pan­els. It also

has the Gamo ‘tick’ logo cut into the base of the grip, and there are more Gamo lo­gos on each side of the muz­zle sec­tion.

Over the chrono­graph the .177 cal­i­bre ri­fle pro­duced 3.5ft.lbs. with 7.9 grain lead pel­lets run­ning in at 450fps. The trig­ger weight was 1.7kg, which is per­fect for a starter ri­fle be­cause you do not want the trig­ger to be too light.

The man­ual safety catch is sit­u­ated right in front of the curved trig­ger blade. Pulling the small curved lever back to­ward the trig­ger sets it on ‘safe’, push away from the trig­ger to fire. The gun is also fit­ted with an anti-bear trap de­vice so the trig­ger can­not be ac­ti­vated when the ri­fle’s bar­rel is not locked shut, hence the man­ual safety I sup­pose. Once the ac­tion is cocked and you are still hold­ing the bar­rel open, a pel­let can be in­serted into the breech. Once loaded and with the bar­rel shut and the locked, the safety catch can be taken off. There is a handy S an F and an ar­row on the left-hand side of the stock above the trig­ger to re­mind the shooter how the safety catch works. This can be sim­ply pushed for­ward with the trig­ger fin­ger to take it off.

STARTER

It was the first time Ge­orge, my son, had shot a break-bar­rel, re­coil­ing ri­fle. He has shot a pre-charged pneu­matic many times and, of course, found that easy, just as it should be they are easy to shoot. He did strug­gle at first with the cock­ing and load­ing be­cuase a break-bar­rel is a more phys­i­cal gun, and we had to rest the front of the gun on a rolled up cur­tain be­cause it be­came too heavy for him. As his strength grows it will get eas­ier for him to use.

Ge­orge loved shoot­ing the gun, and we had a good time. He got re­ally ac­cu­rate with it too, knock­ing down the head on my re-set duck. As he got the ri­fle in his shoul­der, his head in the same place on the stock and re­mem­bered his fol­low-through, he knocked down the duck’s head ev­ery time. You can­not go wrong with this as a starter ri­fle – Gamo have started an­other shooter on the road to years of en­joy­ment and plea­sure.

Thanks to Simon and Hay­ley at Gamo for help in the pro­duc­tion of this ar­ti­cle.

Ge­orge found the Gamo Hunter Ju­nior en­tirely to his lik­ing. He’ll grad­u­ate to a scope soon enough, but for now he needs to learn the ba­sics, and open sights are per­fect for this vi­tal stage of his shoot­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Ge­orge had a fun, safe time, and who knows where his as­so­ci­a­tion with airguns will lead.

The logo and name on the top of the steel cylin­der.

The man­ual safety catch in the ‘fire’ po­si­tion.

The front sight’s el­e­ment glows hi-viz or­ange.

The grip panel on the pis­tol grip does its job well.

The Tru-Glo rear sight is fully ad­justable.

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