Instead of the usual seasoned competitors, today it’s time for a few newer competitors to climb into the ring. Today we have updated versions of some of our best selling break barrels. Both guns are new for 2015, so it seemed only fitting that we have them square off and see which comes out on top.
In the red corner, a favorite of many airgunners, available for the first time in .22 caliber, weighing in at 8.05 lbs, it’s the Umarex Fuel .22. The innovative design of the Fuel features an integrated bipod, ReAxis gas ram technology, and Umarex’s SilenceAir sound suppression system. At SHOT 2015 the .22 caliber version was announced and we are excited to see what it can do.
In the blue corner weighing in at 8.10 lbs, bringing some new features to the Hatsan break barrel lineup, its the Hatsan Model 87 (or Mod 87 for short). The Model 87 is the first Hatsan break barrel to feature the proven Quiet Energy (QE) sound suppression technology. Coupled with a synthetic stock with adjustable cheek rest and Hatsan’s powerful Vortex gas ram system, this new .22 caliber rifle is a formidable opponent. Lets get em’ in the ring!
The Umarex Fuel .22 incorporates some unique design features that set it apart from other break barrel air rifles on the market. The most apparent being the incorporated bipod. The legs are attached to the forend of the rifle and when not in use are held in place by magnets. When you’re ready to use the bipod simply swing the legs down into the locked position and they are ready to go. This feature solves a common problem that comes with attaching a bipod to a break barrel, however it also raises the question of did it really need to be solved? I have long held that a bipod on a break barrel is not an effective way to shoot as typically break barrels (particularly springers) are very hold sensitive and the idea of a bipod or shooting off a bag usually does not lead to very good accuracy. The bipod is still a nice feature and makes for a pretty stable shooting platform.
The Umarex Fuel features the ReAxis gas ram piston technology that makes a claimed 800 fps with standard pellets and 1000 fps with alloy pellets. To keep the Fuel quiet the rifle comes set up with the SilenceAir sound suppression system, the SilenceAir system has been used all across the Umarex line and is a proven performer. One area that Umarex has paid extra attention to was the sighting systems on the Fuel. The fiber optic iron sights on the Fuel are easy to pick up and work great in low light or indoors. The Fuel also comes equipped with a dovetail to picatinny rail adapter as well as a 3-9×42 scope, we’ll talk more about the scope later on but overall the Fuel is a well equipped rifle that comes with all sorts of creature comforts that make shooting accurately easy.
The Hatsan Mod 87 is kind of a big deal. It represents the first time that Hatsan has incorporated its Quiet Energy technology into a break barrel rifle. The QE system has produced some of the quietest sound readings of any sound suppression system that we have tested on PCP rifles, but we are anxious to see how it works on a break barrel. The Model 87 also features another new Hatsan improvement, a new stock design featuring an adjustable cheek rest that does not require tools for adjustment. It’s a solid design and is very comfortable in the shoulder as well as on the cheek. The Hatsan is also a gas ram gun, using the Vortex gas system to make a claimed 800 fps (we’ll check both guns claimed velocity in a later round). Along with the Vortex system the Mod 87 comes with the SAS vibration elimination system. The SAS system is exclusive to Hatsan and helps reduce the felt recoil and vibration in the stock. Overall the Model 87 is a rugged, no nonsense design with a few well thought out extras that make the rifle very comfortable to shoot.
Winner: In our opinion the Hatsan is a much better suited to practical shooting, with the Umarex we noticed that as the gun was fired the bi-pod started to come loose and the legs would pop out on their own. The bipod also made shooting off hand a bit of a chore since it gets in the way of your grip on the forend. The bipod is a good idea, but it also is the downfall of the Fuel. The Hatsan gets the win for this round.
Round 2: Trigger
The trigger is definitely a highlight of the Umarex Fuel. The two stage adjustable trigger comes set up out of the box with a very short first stage and a stout but crisp second stage. The second stage breaks pretty heavy at around 5 pounds out of the box. Though it’s heavy, it’s not sloppy or overly hard to get a good squeeze, so the trigger still lends to good accurate shooting.
The Model 87 features Hatsan’s Quattro trigger. The Quattro system is used on almost all of the rifles Hatsan produces, which is a nice feature, since you can easily get the same tigger feel from a breakbarrel as you can out of a PCP. This makes it nice for practice when you don’t want to deal with filling the air reservoir on your PCP. The fully adjustable 2 stage trigger breaks at just over 4 lbs and also features a very short first stage, the second stage breaks very crisp with very little overtravel.
Winner: The judges give this one to the Hatsan. In our opinion the tried and true quattro trigger is really one of, if not the best feeling triggers on the market today. The shorter overtravel and first stage really lend to accurate shooting and though the Umarex is not far behind, the Mod 87 just edges it out.
Round 3: Included Scopes
We don’t normally compare kit scopes side by side as the consensus is that 90% of the time you’re going to replace them with something better. However, better to know up front if you need upgrade the scope or if you can make do. The Umarex Fuel comes with a 3-9×32 AO scope with included picatinny rings. For a kit scope it performs very well, not perfect but the glass was clear and the crosshairs were easy to pick out. The objective is adjusted on the front housing of the scope and features well marked distance measurements which where very easy to read and made focusing the scope a breeze. The scope held zero just fine all through testing however the rings did come loose after the first few shots. Easily fixable without tools with the large knurled thumbscrews. Overall a decent scope to get you started right out of the box.
The Hatsan also comes with a 3-9×32 scope with included dovetail rings. While similar in size and magnification to the Umarex, the Hatsan does not have an adjustable objective. This is kind of a pain when shooting at closer distances. The Hatsan scope also has pretty narrow eye relief, the shooter really had to get close to the scope to get a good sight picture. The Hatsan’s included scope left much to be desired and we would recommend picking up a Hawke replacement (or equivalent quality scope) right out of the gate.
Winner: The Fuel takes this one easily, adjustable AO and much better eye relief push it out in front of the Hatsan.
Round 4: Power
This one kind of surprised us a little bit, to say that the Hatsan dominated here would be kind of an understatement. Keep in mind that Umarex claims the Fuel .22 can deliver up to 1,000 fps with alloy pellets (we included one alloy pellet in our testing) and up to 800 fps with lead pellets. Hatsan on the other hand simply claims 800 fps (as they only test with lead).
Winner: Clearly the Model 87. The Mod 87 produced almost 50% more power than the Fuel in some cases! The Hatsan Model 87 packs a serious punch and we’re surprised the Fuel is still standing after this round. The Fuel is starting to look a little punch drunk as it didn’t come anywhere near the manufacturer’s claimed velocity.
Round 5: Accuracy
For accuracy tests we selected the same pellets from our power testing and fired 5 shots of each pellet from both rifles at 35 yards. Shots were taken on an indoor range so wind was not a factor.
The Fuel performed fairly well with all of the pellets that we tried. It seemed to like the JSB Diabolo Jumbo Match pellets the most, producing a group of about 2.6 inches. Groups widen from there with the largest coming from the Crosman Premiers at almost 5 inches center to center.
The Hatsan grouped very well with the JSB Match pellets as well, with a very nice 2.3 inch group center to center, however from there it kind of fell apart. The Model 87 really had a hard time with the other pellets with the next best grouping being the H&N Field Target Trophy pellets at 3.2 inches and the worst coming from the H&N Hornets at over 6 inches. Seems like the Mod 87 was meant to be shot with JSBs.
Winner: Although the Hatsan shot a better group with the JSB’s, overall the Fuel performed better across the spectrum of pellets that we tested and because of that, the Fuel takes this round. However, we plan a follow up with even more pellets to really iron out who is the better of the two overall.
Round 6: Sound Suppression
As mentioned the Mod 87 marks the first time that Hatsan has incorporated their Quiet Energy sound suppression system into a break barrel rifle. The QE technology has been very successful in the PCP world, so we were excited to see what it could do on a break barrel. After 5 shots we got an average of 71 dB, not the quietest break barrel ever but respectable.
The Fuel on the other hand is equipped with the Umarex SilenceAir system. SilenceAir has been around for a while now and has been proven effective, especially on the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle, which is one of the quietest CO2 air guns available. The Fuel turned out an average of 70 dB across 5 shots, bringing it toe to toe with the Hatsan.
Winner: Last we checked a 1 decibel difference was not really perceptible to the human ear, so on the subject of noise reduction these two systems are equally as efficient as the other. We have to call this round a draw.
Head to Head Winner: Well after the dust has settled on these two new competitors it would seem that the Hatsan Model 87 has come out on top, but only just barely. Truth be told, both of these new competitors have some real strengths, and both of them have a few areas that we think they could use some improvement. The good part is that both of these guns are young, and still in early iterations so there is a lot of opportunity for these guns to come in to their own. Not being a championship head to head, no champ is claimed, just a win for the newcomer Mod 87.
Final Thoughts: The Fuel, while it did well with accuracy, power was quite a bit less than claimed on the box. And the added features that are intended to make the gun easier to shoot are really more trouble than they are worth. The Hatsan on the other hand is a powerful gun with some great features, however all the power in the world is no good if you can’t get it on target. That being said, with the performance of the JSB pellets it’s possible that their are other pellets that the Mod 87 would like. For all intents and purposes the Mod 87 is basically a synthetic stocked version of the Hatsan Mod 95, with the added benefit of the QE technology. You’ll feel the recoil a bit more than the wood stocked Model 95, but ultimately time will tell if the Mod 87 can pull ahead as a new stand out in the breakbarrel market.