2013 introduced us to a lot of new products. One of the featured products from Umarex at the 2013 SHOT show was their new Umarex Octane. This rifle promised gas ram technology, super magnum velocity, high build quality and durability (backed by a 3 year warranty), with minimal shot noise. That’s a lot to pack into one product. I finally had the chance to look at the Octane in .177 caliber late last year. Its aggressive price point and list of features is very appealing. Let’s take a look to see if it delivers on all of its promises.
Getting to Know the Octane
Umarex already had a good base to start with. If the Ruger Talon is the next step for the old Air Hawk, then the Umarex Octane is the next leap for the Ruger Air Magnum. I say “leap” because there’s a lot of new upgrades and changes with the new Octane.
Starting with the stock, Umarex completely redesigned it for the Octane. What’s very interesting to note is that while the stock is a thumbhole stock, it is equally as comfortable to shoot with a more traditional hold, i.e. thumb up the back of the receiver. It’s fully ambidextrous and very solid.
Under the hood is where the major redesign occurred. The old Ruger Air Magnum used a traditional spring power-plant. The new Octane is using Umarex’s Reaxis Gas Piston technology. More and more companies are moving in this direction and when it’s implemented well, it can really improve the shooting characteristics of an airgun. The old Air Magnum was a bit of a beast to manage. The big spring really caused a lot of vibration, noise, and recoil. Converting over to the Reaxis Gas Piston has made the Octane far easier to shoot, reduced vibration, and reduced the mechanical noise. This is an example of how to do it right when moving from a spring to a gas piston power-plant.
As expected, the rifle ships with fiber optic open sights. The rear sight is fully adjustable. I small point of caution. There’s no globe protecting the front sight. You’ll want to pay close attention to how you handle the rifle as it would be very easy to knock that front sight and break the fiber optic filament. You’ll need to be cautious when cocking the rifle as well, but we’ll cover that in part 2.
One of the major upgrades is Umarexs SilenceAir airgun suppressor system. This does a good job reducing shot noise from the Octane. Indoors it still registers 104 db. But, when shooting outdoors and at about 30 feet, that drops to around 84 db. One important point of note; this airgun is more than capable of sending pellets supersonic. When pellets go supersonic there will always be a loud “crack.” A suppressor is not going to help reduce that sound. For the best accuracy, and if you want to keep the noise down, use heavier pellets and stay clear of the lightweight lead free ammo.
Most of us are going to want to mount a scope onto our airgun and Umarex has hit a home run here. Rather than stick with an 11mm dovetail that’s ineffective at helping us hold our optics in one place, they installed a solid weaver mount, something all airguns should have by default. While the weaver rail looks like a simple add on, it’s actually very securely attached to the airgun. Each of the 4 screws runs through a grove in the receiver. This mount isn’t going anywhere.
Not only do they provide a great rail, but the bundled optics are not too shabby either. The Octane ships with a 3-9×40 AO scope and a set of weaver rings. The weaver rings could be a bit sturdier, but if you keep an eye on them and make sure they stay tight, they do the job. The scope is very good for a bundled optic. My only criticism, and it’s minor, is that the scope uses a duplex reticle and not a mil-dot reticle. This is fine for target shooting at fixed distances, but hunters will have to work a little harder to be on target at various ranges.
The old trigger mechanism was incompatible with the move to the Reaxis Gas Piston power plant. So, Umarex had to go back to the drawing board and redesign it. The end result is a fairly decent trigger that breaks at 4 pounds 4 ounces on my test gun. I’m a bit of a trigger snob so I would have really liked Umarex to have put a bit more effort into making this trigger a little better right out of the box. The position of the 2nd stage is adjustable, but the pull weight is not. It can feel a bit “gritty” first, but it seems to smooth out some with use, at least that’s what I’ve seen on my test gun.
On to part 2
Now that we’ve had a good introduction to the new Octane, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty details and see if all these newfangled upgrades deliver on performance. Keep an eye on the blog for Part 2 which will be out soon!