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Definitive Guide to Epox Badger

If 2015 was the year of the big bore, then the Epox Badger is the natural result of so many high caliber air guns being introduced. A lower cost alternative that still has the power and accuracy to hunt larger game. We knew immediately that it was a product that we had to get behind. And we lovingly call the Epox Badger our big bore rifle on a budget. We have worked closely with Epox to make the Badger a reality and it is finally seeing the light of day. Powerful, accurate, well made and priced right. The Badger is a fantastic option for those wanting to own a big bore air rifle.
Detailed Review
We first saw the Badger as a prototype at SHOT Show in 2015 and were immediately intrigued. This was the same show where the big bore market expanded dramatically, and one of the common features of every new rifle seen was that they were expensive. The Badger, however, was different. The Badger was a quality big bore, capable of serious power, and at a price that opened up the big bore market to more shooters. We feel the gun offers everything you need to hunt while understandably without some features that would have driven the price up. The Epox Badger is a game changer in the big bore airgun world.
The Basic Anatomy of the Badger
The simplicity of the Badger is really what makes it so amazing. Sure it lacks some of the bells and whistles of more refined guns, but when it comes down to the qualities that we look for most in an air rifle it's all there. If the Badger looks familiar that's because it comes from a long and well-established lineage in the airgun world. The Badger is based heavily on the popular QB rifle platform. The QB itself was based on original designs by Crosman and since then it has been modified and customized in more ways that we can count.
From PCP?s to repeater conversions, if it can be done to an airgun, someone has tried it on the QB, and that includes big bore conversions. The Badger is not the first time that someone has decided to beef up a QB pattern rifle to sling large chunks of lead. Years back airgunning legends Jim Chapman and Randy Mitchell worked with a machinist to develop a .30 caliber QB based PCP called the Corsair. The Corsairs were excellent shooting guns and really got the whole idea of converting a QB to a big bore PCP started.
Fast forward to SHOT Show 2015 when we were first introduced to the Badger. It was a near spitting image of the Corsair, but with one major change, the gun had been chambered in .401 caliber. Why .40, you may ask? Well, the idea is that using a .40 slug would provide range and accuracy close enough to that of the .30 cal guns, but carry energy more similar to that of the hard hitting .45. The Badger seeks to give you the best of both worlds.
The stock and trigger are pure QB78. No surprises there. You get a standard QB hardwood stock with a rubber butt pad. The QB stock is simple, but is has a great traditional stock feel. The cheek riser provides ample height for getting a good sight picture when shouldering the gun when standing but is low enough that shooting from prone or using a bipod is still comfortable.
The trigger is also standard QB, breaking at about 4 lbs, the first stage is somewhat spongy but the second stage break is clean and predictable. The good news here is that any known trigger mods for the QB series airgun should work just fine on the Badger so should you feel the need to perfect the trigger a bit there are options.
The 24.25 inch rifled barrel is forged from Chromoly steel and is engineered for performance. Featuring a recessed target style crown and standard cut rifling the Badger is chambered for .401 diameter bullets, however, due to its longer chamber the Badger will perform better with slugs specifically designed for airguns than standard .401 reloading lead cast pills. We have teamed up with Air Venturi to design four different bullets optimized for use in the badger.
The all-steel breach of the Badger comes pre-tapped, with weaver bases installed and ready for you to mount a scope. The Badger also features an oversize bolt handle to aid in cocking the rifle. The oversized bolt handle really is a necessity as compressing the heavy hammer spring of the single shot Badger is so small task.
Cerakote also covers the Chromoly steel air tube housed below the barrel. This high pressure air reservoir needs to be filled to around 4300 PSI for optimum performance and should yield enough air for 3 to 5 effective shots depending on bullet weight. The Air reservoir can be filled easily from the Foster style quick disconnect fitting located at the muzzle end of the air tube. The only change we would make to this durable, well built air chamber would be the addition of an onboard air gauge, even if it would raise the price somewhat.
Shot Performance, Accuracy, & Loudness
Performance wise the Badger is a real heavy hitter. Our test guns produced over 300 ft/lbs of energy with multiple slugs of different weights and lengths. This type of power firmly plants the Badger in the medium to larger game category for air rifles. With the flat shooting tendencies of the .40 cal bullets it would be a great rifle for coyote, hogs, or larger varmints.
The power curve of the Badger is steep however, and you can easily expect the need to top it off with air after only 3 to 5 shots depending on the bullet being used. Check out the chronograph data below to see how fast power can drop off over a string of 5 shots using 4 different bullets.
The accuracy of the Badger was impressive. At 50 yards it held sub 1 inch groups with ease. We found that the Badger, due to its chamber length, really prefers a longer bullet that will seat firmly up against the rifling lands when chambered. Out to 100 yards, accuracy held and we were able to shoot groups under 2 inches on our steel gong target with ease. The Badger is a great rifle for those who value shot placement over sheer power when in hunting situations.
The Badger is LOUD! When compared to other popular big bores the Badger is on par, if not louder than some. When testing on our indoor range we found it was more comfortable to wear ear protection, however, when we tested out doors it was not needed. Though there is not a sound suppression system available for the Badger at the moment, we would love to see that in the future.
Made to Hunt
Airgun hunting is one of the fastest growing shooting sports in America today. Not only does it provide more of a challenge than traditional rifle hunting, but with the growth of mass urbanization the airgun provides a less invasive way to hunt and makes an excellent choice for predator hunting. For more information read our guide to airgun hunting.
Choosing the correct caliber and rifle to achieve the optimum foot pound energy for your prey is critical to hunting humanely. It?s also important to check local state laws to ensure what is legal to hunt with an airgun in your state. If your state doesn?t yet allow airgun hunting, follow this link to learn how you can help influence change in your state laws to promote airgun hunting.
The Badger is chambered in .401, which is essentially a new caliber in the airgunning world. Outside of the four bullets we partnered with Air Venturi to make, there are only a handful of other bullet makers that have developed ammunition for the Badger. As mentioned previously, standard length .401 cast lead bullets designed for reloading are too short to properly seat in the Badger so using a bullet designed for airguns is essential to getting the best accuracy out of the Badger.
One of the great features of the Badger stock is that it?s easy to swap out the QB stock for your own custom stock (much like the one below that Jim Chapman put on his Badger). Future versions of the Badger may have different stock options, but for now replacement stocks from Richards Microfit will work with some inletting required.
You're going to need an easy way to fill your Badger to 4,300 psi. At home air gun compressors are the easiest method though understandably not the cheapest alternative. If you can only fill to the more common 3,000 psi, know that you should still be able to obtain 2-3 shots before needing to refill, which should be enough on a hunt.
Knowing that new lower priced compressors should be on the horizon, hopefully trips to the local firehouse or scuba shop will be on the decline in order to shoot big bore airguns such as the Epox Badger.
We?re excited that this new budget big bore airgun has arrived, but know that with a new airgun and a new caliber there should be plenty of questions and comments. Post them below and we?ll be happy to track down an answer. Also if you?re purchasing a Badger, please let us know how you like it!
A New Airgun Caliber Probably the most unique feature of the Badger is it being chambered in .40 caliber. While some experimental airguns in .40 have been around before, the Badger is really the first commercial offering of the sort. The .401 chambered barrel allows for the use of medium weight slugs, in weights upwards of 250 grains, while still maintaining a fairly flat trajectory. All these factors combined mean longer effective ranges while maintaining sufficient energy to down medium to larger sized game. The Badger does have a somewhat long chamber length so using standard hard cast bullets designed for reloading is out of the question, however, we have worked with Air Venturi to develop four different bullet designs and grain weights so you can find one that shoots just right in your Badger.
American Made Where it Counts Airgun aficionados will notice right away that the stock and trigger setup on the badger look very familiar, as well they should. The stock and trigger are both borrowed from the popular QB series of air rifles. While the stock and trigger are both produced overseas, the barrel, air tube, and bolt are all produced right here in the USA. After the barrels and air tubes are manufactured they are coated in Cerakote for a durable and long lasting all weather finish which is a great feature for such a well priced big bore.
Accuracy & Power The Badger .40 big bore is capable of generating upwards of 300 ft/lbs of energy or more depending on the type of ammunition used. Our test rifle fired a 198 grain cast lead slug at a maximum speed of 856 FPS, which resulted in 322 foot pounds. That kind of power makes the Badger perfect for Hog, Coyotes, or even smaller deer. Not only is the Badger powerful but it's accurate as well. In a 50 yard test the Badger grouped at under an inch using our 250 grain slugs. Using the same slugs on a steel plate at 100 yards we were able to hold a group of about 1.5 inches.