Umarex Hammerli Air Magnum 850
By: Mark Camoccio
Satisfyingly solid Mark Camoccio finds that the synthetic stocked Hammerli 850 AirMagnum CO2 powered rifle is no lightweight plinker
Hammerli is a famous old name in airguns, and these days the brand is enjoying something of a resurgence being marketed under the Umarex/Walther stable.
The Hammerli 850 AirMagnum has proved a best seller from the off, and utilizes the increasingly popular CO2 power source. This model is available incidentally, in a number of different guises, with a wooden stocked version, silencer and bipod all available. My test model is the synthetic stocked option, and comes nicely boxed here as a kit, complete with scope and mounts.
Umarex supply this rifle in a polystyrene carton with an eye-catching cover, and pulling open the packaging reveals the rifle, scope, mounts, spare magazine and a set of paper targets. Presentation is excellent, and initial inspection reveals a rifle that is robust and well made. The AirMagnum is made in Germany after all, so a quality feel is hardly surprising. The design incorporates a bolt action, 8 shot rotary magazine, two stage trigger, and of course a recoilless action, courtesy of its CO2 power plant.
The scope is a Walther branded 3-9x40 model, and uses a basic 30/30 reticle. Clarity on the test model wasn’t overly impressive, and I found turning it down to around 7.5x magnification instead of full power, advisable, due to slight milkiness of the image. Fitting the scope is however, simplicity itself, given the wonderfully deep dovetail rails on the rifle’s receiver, for which an allen key is supplied.
Black synthetic stocks are all the rage at the moment, with so called ‘Tactical’ designs just about sweeping the land. Synthetics can sometimes be a little crude in their execution, yet the AirMagnum sports a well designed handle, which is both crisply moulded, and well shaped. A thinned out grip area, and prominently defined cheek piece are a good start. Add to that a bold extended fore-end complete with raised panels and a pleasant ‘grippiness’ to the surface, and the fact that the stock is effectively hollow plastic soon becomes an irrelevance.
Indeed my only criticism here concerns the butt pad or lack of it. Moulded plastic serves little purpose at the shoulder, and soft rubber always adds a more luxurious feel at minimal extra cost.
Finish & Filling
Moving to the metalwork, and a perfectly blued barrel mates well with the matt black of the breech block. Overall then the level of finish and engineering is impressive, and goes someway to explaining this rifle’s popularity.
So let’s get charging the action. To fit the Airmagnum with one of the large 88g CO2 capsules, the fore-end needs to be pulled off; achieved by pushing against the small plastic grill section on the underside. With the fore-end removed, a new capsule can be screwed into place. The final couple of turns will pierce the capsule, allowing CO2 gas to escape to power each shot thereafter.
To fill the 8-shot magazine, pull the bolt backwards and cock the action. Then pull the magazine retaining clip backwards on the right side of the action, and remove the mag from its slot from the left. The mag itself is nicely robust and simple, being just an uncomplicated moulding. Fill each chamber in turn, and push the mag back into its housing.
Pushing the bolt home should pull the clip forwards at the same time. At this point I should mention the fact that, a lack of concentration can result in the magazine being filled from the wrong side. Now who’d be that daft… er, I could.
Fibre optic sights are very popular on airguns these days, and this Hammerli, as previously stated, comes fitted with them as standard - which with novices and newcomers to the sport in mind, is no bad thing. I’m always banging on about it, but taking the time to learn the basics of marksmanship using just the iron sights to begin with, can be a rewarding experience, and the AirMagnum gives the shooter that option.
A bright red, hooded foresight, and a nicely designed, adjustable rear-sight, incorporating green fibre optics on a sliding ramp, comes together well, just needing a screwdriver to achieve adjustment, making them a little fiddly, but well made nonetheless.
Over the chronograph, and using Milbro Ultra pellets, the Airmagnum recorded around 150 shots. Velocity spread was admittedly quite wide, yet with this type of gun, as mentioned, several factors can play a part.
So why CO2? Well, whilst the system lends itself to lightweight fast fire pistols, rifles such as the Hammerli 850 AirMagnum can be just great fun to shoot. I’d best sum up the appeal as effortless power supply on demand. Undoubtedly, running CO2 is more expensive than conventional air, but it has a loyal band of followers for good reason. Spring piston power requires significant effort on the part of the shooter. Likewise, all the paraphernalia and charging gear associated with pre-charged pneumatics (PCPs) can be off-putting to some. By contrast, CO2 offers instant effortless results, and that for many seals the deal.
The 850 AirMagnum’s system utilizes the larger 88g capsules of CO2, which will power around 150 shots. Whilst this rifle is billed as producing up to 11 ft/lbs however and fit for hunting, I would qualify that with a word of warning. CO2 as a power source is affected by a change in temperature, where extreme cold can lower output, and extreme heat can increase velocity. It therefore goes without saying that if the rifle was to be used for hunting duties, then close monitoring and testing of velocity would have to form part of any shooting regime, in order to master the trajectory under differing conditions.
The sample rifle incidentally, produced up to 9.2ftlbs on test, which is somewhat lower than its listed spec. I may just have had a low powered sample, but nonetheless, given the nature of CO2, personally, I wouldn’t rush to endorse its hunting credentials. What I would say however is (leaving the slightly disappointing scope aside) build quality and overall refinement of design are such that I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the AirMagnum for informal target practise and general/ fun shooting, where effortless fast fire shooting is required.
Accuracy wise, the barrel on my test gun didn’t like some ammunition at all, but with Daystate Rangemaster Li’s regular groups of around half inch proved what the action could do. Performance was impressive then, and helped in no small part by the marvellous trigger. A perfectly weighted two stage mechanism sees a light first stage, and an ultra crisp, fairly light second stage trip the mechanism, to send the shot on its way. OK; so the bolt and mag catch proved a little sticky in operation, but overall, the shooting experience afforded here is a highly enjoyable one. An auto safety can often be the source of minor irritation, yet the exquisitely subtle operation, and perfect positioning (just to the rear of the breech block) are such that all is forgiven.
In short, the AirMagnum just feels right in the shoulder. Pick it up, and at 8lbs in weight, it’s surprisingly weighty for a CO2 model. Yet for weighty here, read satisfyingly solid feeling. Factor in that good trigger, above average build quality, and a well thought out design, and undoubtedly this rifle has a head start over many of its rivals in this sector of the market.
Yes I can indeed see why the AirMagnum in its many guises has proved so popular, and if a quality CO2 powered rifle is required, then this model shouldn’t be overlooked.
|Model:||Umarex Hammerli Air Magnum 850|
|Type:||CO2 multishot rifle|
|Calibre:||.22 on test (.177 avail)|
|Power Source:||88g c02capsule (approx £5-£6 per capsule)|
|Shot Count:||150 shots approx|
|Energy:||9.2ft/lbs on test (up to 11ft/ lbs possible)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates