In our last article about the Gamo Silent Cat we found that it was doing pretty darn well at 10 yards with the 10.3 Grain JSB Heavy pellets. So well in fact that I was inclined to replace the sub-par scope with a Hawke 3-9×40 AO Sport HD and a set of Hawke Match Grade 11mm rings. It did not take long to zero things in and get down to some fun shooting.
Since we already know about the aesthetics, we’ll jump right into some more advanced topics such as what it takes to get the best accuracy out of this particular airgun. Most of this will translate to the rest of the lightweight Gamo Rifles as well.
Proper technique can help overcome an airgun’s shortcomings.
So, if you’ve read up on shooting spring guns you know that there is a special technique called the Artillery Hold, that’s absolutely critical if you want to see repeatable accuracy. This is essentially a very light hold that allows the rifle to recoil freely, hopefully in a repeatable manner. Each rifle is different and you’ll have to practice, sometimes 1000′s of shots, to become comfortable with how a particular rifle likes to be held and shot. There are several factors that either mitigate or exacerbate the sensitivity of a given rifle. Unfortunately the lightweight Gamo’s are in the latter category.
Because the rifle is so light, it’s able to be bounced around by the main spring and piston during the shot cycle. Here’s a short video snip of me shooting the Gamo Silent Cat. As you can see, the rifle recoils back into my shoulder pretty good. A heavier rifle would absorb some of this and would generally be less hold sensitive. Lightweight airguns are easier to carry around all day and easier to hold up to shoot freehand, but they require additional time and practice to find the best way to see consistent accuracy.
The other issue that I ran into was the shape of the stock. When using the artillery hold you want to find the balance point of the rifle. That’s where you position your off hand to just cradle the gun. With the stock design of the Silent Cat, this is not comfortable. It leaves you holding the front angled section just outside the balance point, making getting that consistent accuracy just a bit harder to achieve.
Lastly, the trigger on the Silent Cat is more than suitable for field work, but when it comes to bench shooting, it’s a “two breath” trigger. The 2nd stage, while very smooth, is also very long and takes a long time to pull through. You can get away with being a little sloppy with it at 10 yards, but at 20, you’ll really have to watch your trigger control or you’ll easily throw your pellets off target. (ask me how I know)
Good technique + good scope + right pellets = lead on target
With all that said, it didn’t take long to overcome all those obstacles and get some really good shot groups. The Silent Cat is going to make you work for them, but then it pays you back by stacking pellets into a tight cloverleaf, which is really what it’s all about. Here are 3 shot groups, shooting the 10.3 grain JSB Heavies. You can see just how critical proper hold and technique can be by looking at these groups. The size of the groups was determined only by my ability to do my part.
Well that wraps up our look at the Gamo Silent Cat .177 air rifle. It’s a great little gun with a lot of potential for accuracy. Just add a good scope, the right pellets, a LOT of trigger time, and you’re likely to see similar results.