Gamo Varmint Stalker Deluxe Rifle
Mark Camoccio finds some familiar features to like in the Gamo Varmint Stalker Deluxe
When I tested the Gamo Viper Skeet model a while back, I couldn’t fail to be impressed by its overall performance, and some rather unique features, that made it stand out from the crowd.
A subsequent announcement from Gamo, that this model was no longer to be available in the UK seemed a real shame on that basis, yet the arrival of the Varmint Stalker Deluxe (on test here) goes some way to redressing the situation.
For this new model from the huge Spanish concern that is Gamo, is as near as damn it an original Viper in the key areas that matter - which is great news all round.
Same But Different
Break barrel airguns follow similar layouts of course, by virtue of the fact that the barrel itself needs to arc downwards to compress the mainspring and cock the action. The Viper Skeet was styled on a single barrel shotgun, with some attractive dummy barrel ventilation running along the top of the action. Whilst that distinctive styling has gone however, the new Varmint Stalker Deluxe sports much the same synthetic stock, and all-importantly, a very similar cocking action. The design also incorporates a full length barrel shroud, which gives this model its own distinctive profile.
Open the breech and inspect the breech face, and it becomes clear that Gamo utilize a thin steel rifled barrel liner, set within a moulded composite barrel shroud/ breech block. Unusually, the shroud and breech block look like one continuous moulding, with a sprung détente set within the block in the traditional manner. The main compression cylinder is blued to a good standard in the traditional way, and overall first impressions are of a slickly presented, highly robust rifle, built to withstand years of use.
Gamo supply this new model as a package deal, complete with a modest, yet pleasingly effective 4x32 scope and mounts. It’s a Gamo branded model, and on test the quarter inch click adjustments proved both positive and accurate, and image quality was extremely clear. All in for sub £170 at the time of writing, seems fair value for money too, so let’s see if the trendy looking Varmint Stalker Deluxe lives up to its name.
Gamo’s innovative streak often throws up interesting design features, and the synthetic stock of the Varmint incorporates just such an inclusion. Look to the rear of the moulding, and the three removable sections are clearly visible within the rubber butt pad. SWA ( Shock Wave Absorber) is how Gamo term their design of flexible butt pad, with the idea being that one or all of the sections can be removed, to alter the recoil characteristics. I’ll come back to this in the range report, but as for the rest of the synthetics, the configuration is fairly bland but functional. To be fair, that slimmed down fore-end tip is particularly comfortable in the aim, and I can’t really fault handling, given this rifle’s fairly general remit.
Fitting a scope to this gun is simple, courtesy of that sturdy raised scope rail, and with an arrestor stud set towards the rear, scope creep should be eliminated too.
Handling & Feel
I touched upon it earlier, but what really stands out for me with these rifles, is that uniquely sprung breech. Breaking the barrel down to open the breech is a simple task, and the cocking action itself is fairly effortless, given the leverage from that lengthy fluted polymer shroud, and the moderately sprung action. The final lock-up is among the sweetest and refined around; accompanied by satisfying clicks in the right places. Sound overstated? Just pick one of these rifles up and you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about.
Gamo fit an adjustable two stage trigger to this model, and it certainly released with a fairly crisp break during my test period. I still find the inclusion of a plastic blade on a spring powered airgun just a little off putting though, given the work load to which it is subjected. That said, this trigger unit is above average for this class of rifle. For the record, the safety on this model is a manually operated tab just forward of the trigger blade, and an internal bear trap device prevents the action from being de-cocked at any time.
At 5.75lbs, all those on-board synthetics have clearly helped trim considerable weight from the end product, and there’s no doubting the Varmint Deluxe handles well, and won’t tire any shooter - even over the course of an extended shooting session. A well proportioned grip and that super slim forend, coupled with the ultra slick cocking action, come together for a super-fast handling sporter. The price paid for this easy handling comes with the slightly obtrusive report, as the recoil from the firing cycle resonates through the hollow butt section. Where the Shock Wave Absorbing butt pad is concerned, I did sense that felt recoil was slightly lessened with the rubber sections removed; which begs the question on that basis, ‘who would leave them in’?
Over the chronograph, an initial 10 shot string with Air Arms Diabolo Fields produced a spread of just 12fps, which was highly creditable. Further testing revealed Webley Accupells as even more impressive, reducing the spread to an absurdly consistent 5fps. Accuracy test showed this Gamo capable of easy one inch groups over 30yards, which given that slightly aggressive sounding action, was a pleasant surprise.
On a general note, I reckon Gamo would do well to pay more attention to recoil dampening measures inside their guns, given the increasingly competitive market these days. This rifle comes with one of the best cocking mechanisms around, and a well designed stock Slightly more sophisticated internals could well transform performance to new levels. As its stands though, this great handling, general purpose sporter, would still make a perfect starter rifle for youngsters and novice shooters, (given that easy cocking action) or a budget hunting tool, to be carried all day.
So there we have it… nearly one of the greats, but as its stands, undeniable value nonetheless. GM
|Model||Gamo Varmint Stalker Deluxe|
|Calibre||.22 on test/.177 available|
|Average velocity||593fps using Webley Accupell (10 shot string)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates