Walther Rotex RM8 Varmint Ultra Carbine
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- Last updated: 04/03/2020
Back when I tested the full-length version of this rifle, I remember during that review saying that I felt it would benefit from barrel shortening, due to it becoming a tad lengthy when a standardlength silencer was fitted. Well, seems the bods at Walther had already got this covered, as hardly before the ink was dry on those scribblings; hey presto we have the UC (Ultra Carbine) version.
Now, as I look at the latest addition to the Rotex RM8 family, it’s well worth mentioning that I’ve also just been informed it’s been shortlisted for airgun of the year at the British Shooting Show 2020. So, although I already had high expectations of it, you could say the UC really has already got a hell of a lot to live up to.
At risk of stating the obvious, the UC’s shortened action sits in the same stock as it’s full length counterpart, that being an ambidextrous, all-weather black synthetic jobby. The design features a high and well defined cheekpiece with a well-curved and ventilated thick black rubber butt pad. This gives a full shoulder fit and comfortable head position, while the elongated thumbhole, plus slim and quite narrow neck help give full access to the steep, drop-down pistol grip.
The generous palm swell nicely rounded and contoured forward-face of the grip also make it the ideal platform for rifle hold and precise trigger operation.
The forend is equally, if not more distinctive, as it swells out in a quite bulbous fashion with a relatively chunky, thickset overall feel. It also has a well-rounded, gently curving and contoured underside. It’s here that you find the fill point and neat, buttonsized air gauge set adjacent to each other.
While at the front there’s a useful Weaver/ Picatinny accessory rail that doubles up as a natural hand stop. The sides too neatly extend part way along the buddy-bottle. The result of which is you can even hold the rifle at the very tip but not feel the cold metal of the air tank, always a result in the colder weather.
Now, instead of standard chequering or stippling, the stock is also adorned with very decorative patterning that consists of small raised ridges set into panels in the usual places: forend, underside and on either side of the grip. This random patterning is designed to give the shooter the same level of grip no matter what angle the hand is in contact with the stock. If you think this just window dressing, you’d be wrong; pop along to your nearest stockists and handle one for yourself, as you’ll certainly realise it’s a very valid and significant feature.
Combined with the overall design of the stock, this not only makes for a very secure hold, but also makes it all the more stylish and results in a rifle that has a quite unique cosmetic appeal. Talking of looks, the bulb-ended buddy bottle has been beadblasted, which adds even more individuality and is as practical as it is stylish, boldly standing out resplendent in a matt black finish. Charging the fixed 200cc air tank is via the deeply recessed fill point and involves using the special elongated brass fill probe supplied. The company state a recommended 232bar fill gives approximately 160-shots in .177 calibre (as per rifle on test) and nigh on 180 in .22 and, after much use during my lengthy test period, I’ve no reason to dispute those figures.
The action is operated by a side bolt and although practical and easy to use, there are a few particular nuances of particular note. Obviously, to remove the 8-shot, alloy magazine, the generously sized black teardrop shaped cocking bolt needs to be lifted from its original forward position and pulled back until it locks rearward. Then, to remove the magazine from its housing, you need to slide back the oblong, serrated release catch positioned directly behind the housing on the right. Once back, you can then lift the mag out from the left-hand side of the action.
To fill the magazine, you just place a pellet into all the chambers with the centre boss facing you, ensuring all pellet skirts fit flush or below the rear face. Now loaded, slot it back into its housing and then close the action and lock the bolt handle down to its original position. Unusually, you do not have to lock the mag catch, as that is done automatically as you shut the bolt, a clever idea if you forget, it’s done for you. Incidentally, the magazine now has a number of arrows on its outer edge, to further visually instruct the user that this (arrow facing forwards) is the way it needs to be installed into the housing for correct use.
It must be noted that the trigger unit is equipped with an auto safety positioned at the rear of the action, which engages (pops-out) every time the rifle is cocked. Also, it uses what is known as a ‘double safety system.’ This requires the slim vertical slide catch positioned on the safety’s outer edge (facing you) need be pushed down and inwards, before you can push the main body of the safety in and therefore fully disengaging. A safety within a safety so to speak, but once used to this particular nuance of operation, it doesn’t overly slow the procedure, rather ensures when primed, unless manually overridden the rifle is always on safe. However, the concept of putting an auto system on a magazine-fed rifle, rather defeats the object! Visually, a red dot can be seen when the rifle is in FIRE mode; also, should you decide holding off on taking a shot, it can be manually re-set at any time by simply pulling it back using your thumb and forefinger.
For test, I teamed the RM8 UC up with a Richter Optic 3 – 9 x 50AE scope in a pair of high mounts. This suited the high cheekpiece perfectly, but due to the uninterrupted receiver, fitting any size of optic you might prefer shouldn’t pose a problem. I was soon achieving ragged .177 pellet-sized groups at my 30 yard set zero, which only opened out to ½” when I pushed it out to the 45 yard mark. Incidentally, I used quite a number of popular pellet brands and I’m pleased to report, as long as I fed the rifle quality lead, it wasn’t in the least pellet fussy.
The 2-stage adjustable trigger has a nicely curved blade, but again we come to a nuance quite rare to hunter PCPs, that being the unit is only adjustable for length of travel and not ‘let off/pull weight’, which is factory pre-set. However, it didn’t trouble, effect or hinder my shooting, because as with the rifles larger relative, the trigger tripped the sears crisply and cleanly and by my reckoning it’s a unit that isn’t in the slightest one to cause concern. And, as I always make a point of saying, we shouldn’t nor neither want a hunting rifle to have a hair-trigger.
Now, a major difference between the standard rifle and the UC is that the ultra-carbine comes with the highly effective Umarex K3 Neo Silencer already spun onto the free-floating tube’s ½” UNF threaded muzzle. Regular readers I’m sure will know that I’ve mentioned this item before when I’ve used it on other rifles I’ve tested. I say this, as it’s a little gem of a can that is extremely effective at taming muzzle report.
What’s more, it’s compact dimensions and lower weight make it unobtrusive, doesn’t add any undue unnecessary forward weighting and therefore doesn’t affect balance or handling. You could say, it suits the UC to a T and obviously it would definitely be a good choice for fitting to a Bullpup too. In the case of the rifle on test, it certainly makes this fast handling compact carbine even more appealing, due to it being an inclusive feature.
So, after testing all the Rotex family of rifles, I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise that the UC is the one that I’ve found most pleasurable to shoot. It’s a superb gun for the price, not overly heavy, highly accurate, plus handling and balance are spot on. The stock design is just one of the standout features, because it sits naturally in the hold and the generous thumbhole design allow a high level of overall control.
I probably shouldn’t say this; but due to the up-coming battle of which will be voted best at the BSS 2020, I can only say I wouldn’t be surprised to see Walther’s Rotex RM8 Varmint UC take pole position; if not, it’ll certainly have been a tight run race.