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Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite

When Pete Wadeson got two springers to test he wasn’t too sure what to be more surprised about – the fact they had Ruger brand logos or were being marketed by Armex...

From the outset I’ll impart the information given by Armex - the exclusive importers of these air rifles - as to the Ruger brand names, as it’s their famous eagle logo that’s emblazoned on the action. Apparently there’s a major association with Umarex in relation to these rifles even coming into being.

It seems Umarex have sourced these rifles and, as is their policy with CO2 products under licence, they pay to use a famous company’s brand name if the product is a look-alike - for instance Heckler & Koch or Beretta. This time it seems that as these are air rifles they’ve chosen sporting gun manufacturing giants Ruger to go to for permission to use the name and logo. Clearly this has been granted but only after Ruger stipulated certain specifications be met, which drawing on experience I’d presume are of Far Eastern origin. So with that clarified, here are my views on the two ‘Ruger’ air rifles here on test - the Black Hawk and Air Hawk Elite.

Inside and out

Outwardly the two air rifles are cosmetically very different but intrinsically the rifles are one and the same because the internals, trigger, safety and break-barrel action are identical. So as you can imagine - it’s the stock and additional ‘outer’ features that set the two apart.

The Black Hawk is the more basic of the pair whilst the Air Hawk Elite offers features that many hunters today gravitate towards is certainly aimed at the more ‘discerning’ shooter. Incidentally, both rifles are at present only available in .177 calibre and come supplied with corresponding, Ruger-branded optics and mounts. The Black Hawk with a fixed magnification 4 X 32 and the ‘Elite’ having a 3 – 9 X 40AO. With that explained, let’s look at what each combo has to offer.

The Black Hawk

The Black Hawk could well be seen as the introductory level gun but on closer inspection the all-weather synthetic stock is surprisingly comfortable to hold – despite having no cheek piece. It boasts large twin panels of moulded chequering at both the grip and forend and for a rifle of this type balances well both with or without optics. I say this as it features a set of fibre optic enhanced open sights. The raised foresight has a red insert, while the fully adjustable rear unit has a pair of green rods flanking the U-notch; these line up nicely and work well at iron sigh ranges. Large, serrated edged, numbered thumbwheels alter windage and elevation and if you want to shoot straight from the box they’re well worth setting up if you fancy a plinking session or a simple close to medium range blat at rats or feral pigeon.

Incidentally at the breech it’s obvious the actions are one and the same as the Elite (that doesn’t have open sights) clearly has blanking screws on the top rail where the rear sight unit is fixed onto the Black Hawk. As the rifle comes with a scope, I immediately discovered the dovetailing is very short (only 4”) and positioned at the rear, taking up more space is a recoil strap. If you prefer, this can be removed but further into the test both rifles showed to be very low in recoil for full power springers so it’s a feature I found unnecessary.

Talking of the unnecessary, both rifles break easily at the breech and cock smoothly, after ‘thumbing’ a pellet directly into the barrel they also lock securely back up. This does beg the question why the ‘Elite’ has a muzzle weight rather than a silencer. I say this as it isn’t needed as a cocking aid or to help quell recoil so in my opinion is purely cosmetic but for the price I’m sure most hunters would have preferred a silencer.

The Elite

That nicely brings me to the Elite. Whoever designed the thumbhole stock of this hardwood version of the Black Hawk must have been a big guy or have little knowledge of why the thumbhole configuration is designed to aid the shooter’s hold. For starters it’s far too thick and quite frankly feels unwieldy to the point that the timber now makes the rifle weigh 9lbs un-scoped as opposed to the Black Hawk that tips the scale a light and manageable 6.2lbs.

The Elite also has a fully ambidextrous stock with a cheek piece best described as low to medium height but very thickset. Also there’s no tapered channel from the thumbhole to allow the thumb, either for a right or left handed shooter to attain the comfort you’d expect of a stock of this design. Then again only Daystate in my book have an ambidextrous thumbhole that really works but you do pay a hefty price. But I digress and back to the Elite. 

There’s no chequering at the steep, drop down, pistol grip but it does have two non-descript panels set either side of the forend. I must admit setting zero and testing accuracy wasn’t something I was beginning to relish. Fortunately, though the single stage, factory-set trigger has a bargain basement, slightly curved plastic blade, I did find it a redeeming feature and thankfully it’s common to both rifles. The mech releases shots without a hint of creep, is very predictable and the unit features an automatic safety button. Though barely more than a plastic toggle shaped ended bar that protrudes rearwards from the rear of the cylinder, when the safety is engaged it works a treat and is positioned just in the right place for the shooter to push in when ready to take a shot. If you decide not to, it can be reset by simply pulling the safety bar back to the engaged position where you also see the letter ‘S’ on the side of the bar, so visually indicating the rifles status.

Conclusions

Accuracy was more than acceptable with both rifles producing ½” groups at 25-yds with quality ammo which is the range I’d recommend most shooters stay within if hunting with these two.

This isn’t a bad start for Ruger and if the Black Hawk had come with the 3 – 9 X 40AO optic instead of the 4 X 32 I’d say this was a package deal well worth considering. In fact why they come with scopes is a mystery as if they didn’t and had longer dovetails then I feel that alone would have made a big difference to my opinion of both offerings.

We Reckon

Unusual bed fellows
Good basic designs
Overall worth a look

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Gun Mart Shooters Forum - Get Involved in the Discussion!
User Comments
  • What are the prices?
    Very Diana/RWS looking by the way.
    Thanks for review

    Comment by: Ricky     Posted on: 30 Dec 2009 at 04:55 PM

  • The Black Hawk is an exact copy/clone af a diana 31 panther. Have one, and gave it a lube tune, diana piston seal and Maccari spring.

    Smooth shooter at 20 joule/840 fps. in .177.

    The price in mind, makes it a great buy IMO.

    Comment by: Kenneth Astrup     Posted on: 28 Apr 2010 at 11:42 PM

  • this is a bad bad gun buy one of these if you hate shooting they are crap quality first one lasted 3 weeks second lasted 1 day.

    Comment by: mark walton     Posted on: 22 Sep 2010 at 01:02 AM

  • Any Idea where I can find a silencer,moderator,suppressor for .177 cal Ruger Airhawk?
    Umarex is sold out btw

    Comment by: Al     Posted on: 05 Oct 2010 at 02:13 AM

  • Just taken delivery of an Elite and i am somewhat impressed,although i have upgraded the scope mount to a 4 bolt single as the stock ones are poor and weak.With a bit of fine tuning it is very accurate with the right pellets.This gun does not like light weight pellets.predator Polmags and Selecta's are best.This gun is very heavy but this reflects on the good bulid quality.My gun is the later version which now comes with a steel trigger which is much more substantial.All in all i think you could do a lot worse for the money and most reviews on this gun are excellent.

    Comment by: steve hesketh     Posted on: 07 Oct 2010 at 09:07 PM

  • My .177 Ruger Airhawk Combo has been grouping at 1" @30 yards thus far,
    Ive had it for about a month and was surprised by the weight,feel, and noise!
    I have no complaints yet as it seems to like a heavier grain hollow point than the lighter gamo ammo.
    The scope did not help so I removed it and bought a 3-9x40.
    I wish i could quiet her down some because she's a loud little hussie.

    Comment by: Al Rodger     Posted on: 09 Oct 2010 at 10:34 AM

  • After reading this article a Blackhawk was purchased as a present, unfortunately here in France the power is 7.5joules (5.5 ft/lbs). Can anyone advise me of what to have changed to up the power to full UK spec. before I return to UK with this rifle. Thanks in advance. Best mag on the market !!

    Comment by: Robert Gibson     Posted on: 01 Jan 2011 at 06:17 PM

  • Details of upgrading (tuning within the 12ft/lbs limit) was covered in a previous submission (by Kenneth Astrup 28.4.2010), but I suggest that you wait until you return to the UK before doing it, as you do not want to fall foul of French regulations.

    Comment by: Pat Farey     Posted on: 03 Jan 2011 at 12:02 PM

  • i bought the Air Hawk Elite from Cabelas. i have dialed in the 3-9x scope and am able to hit a stick 3/8" from 50'. if anyone can help me with trying to remove the useless muzzle break i would be very appreciative.

    thanks

    Comment by: big D     Posted on: 18 May 2011 at 12:33 AM

  • @ big D
    Just pull it of, but it looks really weird without it.

    Comment by: Florian Reijerse     Posted on: 02 Jul 2011 at 11:14 PM

  • I am thinking about buying one of these but most stuff made in China has widely opposing reviews..It seems that some are great and some are being called junk..Could it be the child labor and almost slave labor in China means their quality depends upon if your gun is assembled by a 10 year old with 5 years experience on the job or his older bother who is 15 and has 10 years of experience ? I would have MORE faith in buying IF these guns were assembled in the states.. I have noticed that much of what we get from Wallyworld varies in quality control one from the other and it's reflected in the reviews when you read lots of reviews from all over the net.. I do not want to pay an arm and a leg for a break over Air Gun and the price caught my eye but the varying reviews with some saying "I love this gun" and others saying "don't but this junk" have me gun shy...I would prefer that stuff be made in the states by adults who actually KNOW what they are doing..Consistency in quality is a must just like shooting groups tells you if you like the gun or not.. Inconsistencies in reviews has me standing back and wondering IF the gun I get will be junk or great.. It's sad when we have to buy using the grab bag effect not knowing or having confidence in our purchases until we check it out for ourselves and maybe have to send a gun back two or three times to get ONE that shoots good. Somebody wake me up..Am I having a bad dream or is quality a fleeting dream of yesteryear ? So,, IF I buy one and it's a junk pile, then what is left for me to do?...Good luck and let the buyer beware..

    Comment by: Chief Redelk     Posted on: 06 Dec 2011 at 06:34 AM

  • i Have the blackhawk, and one day i went out to shoot t, and when i tried pump it, the spring wouldnt lock back, and ican figure out whats wrong with it. any ideas?

    Comment by: TheWhiteGuy     Posted on: 29 Feb 2012 at 10:02 PM

  • If the piston isn't locking back it could be a number of reasons, from a faulty trigger unit to a broken mainspring. Have it serviced by a competent gunsmith or if the gun is still under warranty, return it to the dealer for repair.

    Comment by: Pat Farey     Posted on: 13 Mar 2012 at 10:28 AM

  • ruger blackhawk is a fine gun.keep all screw tight especially the scope. that goes for any air gun.

    Comment by: norman hollingsworth     Posted on: 13 Apr 2012 at 12:54 AM

  • I just bought the black hawk (the 490fps model). I am am getting a 1" groupingcosistently at 75 ft with the iron sights. No complaints here.

    Comment by: BigD     Posted on: 22 May 2012 at 08:35 PM

  • ive just brought a ruger black hawk elite a bit heavy but i can cope with it had some fun up to now with no complaints.

    Comment by: carl brown     Posted on: 27 Sep 2012 at 10:42 PM

  • I got the elite for Christmas ,sighted it in at 25 yards , haven't touched the settings since, and have had a ball with it. This rifle is dead on accurate with the power to knock down pigeons 100 feet plus. Any further aim just a titch high and down they go. Good job once again Ruger

    Comment by: W earl     Posted on: 20 Apr 2014 at 05:17 PM

  • bought Blackhawk elite, gave up after 3 hours trying to sight it in. Pellets are 14" apart at 45 yds.

    Comment by: D. Johnston     Posted on: 24 Nov 2014 at 07:03 PM

  • A 14 inch group at 45 yards!

    If you've used a scope that you can trust to hold zero, it sounds like you've got a real problem!

    Contact the shop you bought it from and they will sort it for you, it is clearly defective..

    Comment by: Troll Hunter     Posted on: 27 Nov 2014 at 07:40 PM

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Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
Umarex Ruger Hawk & Air Hawk Elite
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