Gamo Junior Hunter
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- Last updated: 21/08/2019
There’s a real choice these days of junior air rifles; that is, rifles with smaller dimensions, i.e. shorter stocks and barrels to make them lighter and more manageable for their user’s smaller stature. When it comes to break barrel junior rifles, the stand-out one for me is the Gamo Junior Hunter; it’s a break barrel, spring operated air rifle with the perfect features and dimensions for a small person’s rifle. I say small person, as 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.
I really rate Gamo airguns, they make quality airguns and always push the envelope when it comes to materials and design. This review is on a scaled-down version of the popular Gamo Hunter 440, the 440 has a lot of fans due to its quality, modern features. This junior version may be smaller, but it still has the same quality of an adult rifle. The front stock screws are angled; this type of design limits the tendency of the stock screws to loosen due to the vibrations caused by the spring power firing cycle. The gun is fitted with open sights, as any good starter rifle should. It’s shooting 101 to teach the use of open sights, before moving onto optical ones and Gamo have gone above and beyond and fitted the Junior Hunter with fibre optic rods on the sights. They have not dumbed it down because it’s a junior air rifle. The curved green rod gives you a dot on either side of the rear notch sight and the front post has a single red 16mm long 1m diameter rod, although this is firmly protected under a slotted plastic hood. The sight base is 345mm, and you can fit a telescopic or red dot sight on the 145mm long 11mm rail machined into the steel cylinder if you wish. I’d stick with open sights at first, before moving onto a red dot and then a scope.
As it’s a break barrel rifle, the shooter needs clear instructions on loading this type of air rifle. Always keep hold of the barrel with the forward hand at all times during the cocking and loading process. Starting on the shooting road with a spring rifle ensures that they learn the correct trigger technique, breathing and follow-through. Back to the Gamo Junior Hunter and, for such a small gun, the looks are mighty good; the beech stock has an ambidextrous cheekpiece, the pistol grip has no swells on either side, but it does have machine impressed chequering grip panels.
It also has the recognisable Gamo tick logo cut into the base of the grip and there are more Gamo logos on each side of the muzzle section and the acid etched logo on the top of the steel action. It doesn’t have a rubber butt pad, but that is not an issue.
When tested on the chronograph, the .177 calibre rifle produced 3.5ft.lbs. At that power level, a rubber buttpad is redundant. Three and a half foot pounds of power were with 7.9-grain lead pellets, measuring in at 450fps. The trigger weight was 1.7kg, which is spot on for a starter rifle; you don’t want the trigger to be very light, they are still learning, after all. The manual safety catch is situated right in front of the curved trigger blade. Pulling the small curved lever back towards 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 catch. Once the action is cocked and you are still holding the barrel open, a pellet can be inserted into the breech. When loaded and with the barrel shut and the locked, the safety catch can be taken off. There is a clear S and F and an arrow on the underside of the trigger guard, to remind the shooter how the safety catch works. This can be simply pushed forward with the trigger finger to take it off.
My son George had a go with the Gamo Junior Hunter, although he did struggle at first with the cocking and loading; a break barrel is a more physical gun. George loved shooting the gun and we had a good time with it. He got really accurate with it too, knocking over plastic toy soldiers. This is a real quality air rifle and really just a scaled down adult break barrelled gun, as it should be for a junior shooter. The scaling down has been done perfectly and, if you are looking for a starter rifle, I recommend is gun. George made me buy this one in fact, he liked it that much! What more of an endorsement do you need?
Many thanks to Jon Hatton at BSA for help in the production of this article.