If you’re new to airguns I certainly get the fact that you may not be ready to drop $600 to $1000 on a PCP airgun setup. Heck, there are are old time airguners that are not interested in ever going PCP just because the startup costs just don’t jive with their shooting needs.
So what options does that leave us with? There are many airguns that preform very well, even on a tight budget. The key is to understand how to unlock their potential. In this next series of articles we are going to work our way through the maze of lower cost airguns. We’re going to start with some really entry level breakbarrel airguns and then work our way up to the more expensive European spring airguns, some costing more than PCP airguns. The airguns that show promise, we may take a little time and dig into their potential with some secondary articles. This should be a lot of fun!
New kid on the block – show us what you got
The airgun we are going to start with comes in at just under $100. (prices are subject to change without notice). It’s the new Umarex Surge and it is a 1000 fps class .177 caliber airgun. The rifle ships with a synthetic ambidextrous thumbhole stock that’s probably more suited for smaller framed folks. The finger grooves in the grip are a little small for my hands, but still usable.
The rifle does not have any open sights so Umarex bundles a very basic 4×32 scope. If I’m going to be honest, I’m a bit of a scope snob, especially if the rifle has no other means of sighting. The bundled scope and rings are borderline at best. I found the edges distorted and the reticle fuzzy at 10 yards. It may clear up at longer ranges (description states a 35 yard parallax setting), but this rifle is really NOT a long range shooter so it makes shooting at close range pretty tough. I question whether the scope mounts are going to hold up over the long term as well. They don’t have the most robust set screws and the rifle has the typical spring reverse recoil that just beats cheap scopes and mounts to death.
Now, with all that said, I’ve managed to dial in the stock rifle and achieve repeatable and respectable results. Given the low entry cost, upgrading the scope and mounts to something that could unlock more consistent accuracy may be a great down the road option.
Some other features include a 2 stage adjustable trigger, light cocking effort, and an overall weight of under 8 pounds. Despite my dislike for the bundled scope, the rest of the gun really impressed me, especially with the low price point.
What where the stand out features?
I was really impressed with the 2 stage trigger. It’s a copy of the RWS T05 Trigger and we’ve seen it for years on the Ruger Air Hawk, from which the Surge is based. There’s a single screw adjustment that, when you back it out, adjust the trigger’s stages. I dislike 2nd stage creep in a trigger about as much as I dislike crummy scopes, so the fact that I could get just the right amount of 2nd stage to create a super nice crisp pull was a real joy on such an inexpensive rifle.
The other part of this rifle which stands out, and we’ve not really touched on yet, is the velocities it’s producing. I’m accustomed to airguns that shoot well under what they state on the box. I’m happy to report that is NOT the case with my test airgun. The Surge is pushing the 7.0 grain RWS hobbies at a blistering 1025 FPS. That’s way too hot to really see repeatable accuracy so in order to tame the beast down a bit, I tried the 10.3 grain JSBs. They come in at 790 FPS and generate 14.28 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. If you are interested in hunting the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellet may be just the ticket. It weighs in at 9.26 grains and is posting 880 fps which is almost 16 foot pounds at the muzzle. The heavier pellets certainly produced better accuracy, it’s nice to know the Surge can motivate them down range with ease. To wet your appetite, here are some test groups shot in the shop at 10 yards.
Other things you need to know.
While I’m shooting a stock Surge, I did have to do a little prep work to see its potential. Here’s what you need to know if you are considering this airgun. Make sure you have plenty of barrel cleaning supplies. The barrel on my test gun was unbelievably filthy. I ended up running a bronze brush with JB Non-Embedding bore paste through the bore until it moved smoothly. About 30+ patches later and the barrel was squeaky clean. This process is called “seasoning” the bore. We’ll defiantly talk about that down the road. The difference in accuracy was pretty dramatic.
The other thing you’ll want to have on hand is some heavy duty thread locker. The stock screws and barrel joint loosened up a bit on me. I was able to easily tighten everything back up and applied the heavy duty thread locker. I expect that problem is now solved.
Let’s wrap it up!
So in summary, the new Umarex Surge is based on the Ruger Air Hawk and does a good job following in those footsteps. All the necessary parts are there for a really good shooting airgun, especially for the price point. You’ll need to perform some TLC right out of the gate, but that’s nothing that you wouldnt do on any new airgun anyway. The scope will leave you wanting something better, but at the price point, there are a lot of great options.
Want to know more about the Surge? I’ll leave that up to you all! If the consensus via the comments is that you all want more, then I’ll pull the old Surge off the wall and see what she can do with various pellets and longer ranges. I look forward to the conversation!