RWS 850 / Hammerli 850 Review
Are you looking for an airgun that is easy to use, gives you multiple shots from a magazine, and is both accurate and powerful enough for small game? Then take a look at this new airgun called the 850 Magnum, from Hammerli/Umarex, imported by RWS. (Note: Future offerings of this gun will be marketed solely under the Hammerli name.) With the 850 you get German engineering and manufacturing for a great price. This model comes in the following configurations:
I was given the .22 cal version of this gun for testing and this review is based on that model. Everything but the FPS stats will also correlate to the other versions of this gun.
There are many CO2-powered guns on the market, but in my humble opinion, this gun is one of the nicest offerings with many desirable features not found on other airguns. First, let’s start with the overall feel of the gun.
The Model 850 is a solid gun, even though it has a synthetic stock. There is a solid feel to this gun that you don’t get when you pick up other, synthetic-stocked CO2-powered guns. Most other guns feel like children’s toys, far too light, but when you pick up the 850, you get a solid handful of airgun. It is 41” long, with a trigger pull length of just under 14”. Even with the synthetic stock, it is slightly heavier than my wood-and-metal QB-78. I would not call this a child’s toy….it is meant for adults.
If open sights are your chosen method of acquiring your target, you will find the fiber-optic sights easy to use and accurate, as well as adjustable. And if precision shooting is the order of the day, mounting a scope on the 11mm rail brings out the true potential of this gun. The magazine is located under the scope rail, so any type scope mounts you wish to use will work fine. I tried a few shots with the open sights and found it quite easy to roll cans across the yard with no effort at all. Then I mounted a scope and began to try and wring out some accuracy by testing a variety of ammo. I was given several different brands of ammo to try, but found that the 850 gave the best results with RWS Superdomes and RWS HollowPoints. I was able to cover my patterns using these pellets with a dime at 20 yards. JSB exacts shot well enough, but the pattern opened up a bit with this pellet, requiring a quarter to cover the pattern.
The magazine on the Model 850 is a bit finicky. Longer pellets such as the RWS Superpoint tend to extend too far out of the magazine and cause cycling problems when you work the bolt action. And for some reason, Crosman Premier’s tended to jam the mechanism as well. However, using RWS Superdomes and RWS Hollowpoints resulted in smooth cocking, no-jam shooting pleasure. Not once did the magazine jam when using the Superdomes or Hollowpoints. It is obvious the magazine was made with those pellets in mind.
The stock is ambidextrous, though the cocking mechanism isn’t. I do not know if it comes in a left-hand configuration at this time. The synthetic stock is black, with a pebble-like finish on the sides of the forearm and pistol-grip area. The trigger is adjustable and easily accessible with a screwdriver through the trigger guard. I was happy with the setting on the test model I was sent and did not do any adjusting for this report.
HOW IT WORKS
Let’s take a closer look at the power source and loading mechanism of this gun. First, remove the cover found at the end of the stock near the muzzle. Push in to disengage the cover from the rest of the stock. See the picture below.
Once it comes loose, slide it forward to remove it, exposing the hidden 88 gram CO2 cartridge. This cartridge provides quite a bit more gas than the 12 gram commonly used in many other CO2 guns, but if 12 gram cartridges are all you have, there is an adapter available that allows you to use a pair of 12 gram cartridges.
The 88 gram CO2 cartridge simply screws into place, and once you’ve replaced the cover, you are powered up and ready to go. Be sure to screw the CO2 cartridge in until it stops. If you don't you won't get a tight seal.
Now let’s load and shoot this thing! Pulling back the bolt action, use your finger to slide the magazine lock to the rear.
Remove the magazine to the left of the action. It won’t come out to the right, so there is only one way to remove it.
Place your pellets into the magazine from the rear, dropping them in nose first. Be careful, for if you tip the magazine backwards, the pellets will drop out the rear. Now, slide the magazine back in place, then close the magazine lock. When you close the bolt, the magazine will rotate and a pellet will be inserted into the barrel ready for firing. The safety on the Model 850 is found at the rear of the action, and is automatic, resetting each time you cycle the bolt. With a simple push, the safety disengages and you are ready to shoot! You can also re-engage the safety is you decide not to shoot at that time….a welcome feature.
I fired literally hundreds of shots in .22 caliber through the test gun I was sent. And with some practice, I was able to work the bolt action, disengage the safety, and subsequently fire an entire magazine in less than 12 seconds. (We won’t talk about my accuracy shooting that way!) So if you like to hunt, this gun will provide you with a fast follow-up shot.
In .22 caliber, using 14.5 grain RWS Superdomes, I was able to achieve 600 fps easily….and this was in 55-60 degree weather. That’s about 12 fpe, great for pest control and small game hunting. It will also allow you to shoot at FT targets without damaging them. Once it warms up, higher velocities should result.
I tested a brand-new CO2 cartridge in this gun and started shooting to determine the number of shots I would get from one canister of CO2. I was able to get 23 magazines through the gun before a noticeable change in velocity registered. There were a few more magazines of lesser-powered shots after the velocity changed, for a total of 25-26 magazines available from one 88 gram cartridge. Again, this is in 55-60 degree weather, and I’m not sure how temperature will affect the available number of shots.
There are some attractive accessories for the Model 850. You can fit a compensator to the muzzle, and there is a Weaver mount available for this model as well. I wasn’t able to test these accessories at the time of this report, but hope to report back at a later date concerning their performance.
No gun such as this one escapes my hands without being tried out on local pests. I am plagued with sparrows and starlings, and as you can see, this gun did a fine job on these ever-present pests. I was able to take this starling with confidence in the gun I was using….no guesswork….point, aim, shoot….and the target falls over. Just like it should be!
Would I buy this gun? Yes, and I consider the price a bargain for all you get with this model. I have bought cheaper CO2 guns and spent additional funds modifying them to get to the place where the Model 850 is just beginning! And none of the guns I had modified were bolt-action repeaters! They were all single-shots! So I put this particular gun in the “acquire” category for my collection. And if you like all the features we just discussed, then you should too.Randy Mitchell
March 22, 2007