Gamo Hornet Air Rifle Review
If you’re looking for a good value for money air gun, Gamo is one of the brands people often consider due to its cost to quality balance. Gamo has been in the industry for a while now. It is one of the largest airgun manufacturers today and the leading pellet seller.
When it comes to reliability and something that costs around $100, one of its products, namely, the Gamo Hornet Air Rifle is tough to beat. While it isn’t as cheap as some of those that retail at $60 or $80 it also gives you a lot more power, accuracy and most importantly durability. After all, you don’t want to get an airgun that you’ve spend money and time working on to just give out on you after a few months or just over a year.
The Gamo Hornet belongs to Gamo’s Cat Series of air rifles. This is why you’ll see that it bears quite a similarity to the Big Cat, except for some differences. This translates to difference in cost too, and depending on what retailer you’re looking at you could see price discrepancies of something between $15 and $30 between the Hornet and the Big Cat, with the Hornet being the less expensive model. Also depending on the season, and discounts, you’ll see the price of the Hornet swing from between $100 to $120, mostly at the $110 range (slightly above or below it).
Gamo Hornet Features and Specifications
The Gamo Hornet is a single shot break barrel air rifle that comes in .177 caliber. It’s brother the Big Cat, mentioned earlier, comes in two flavors, .177 and .22 calibers. Using Gamo’s PBA pellets the Hornet reaches speeds of 1200 ft/sec pellet velocity. This translates to 17 ft-lbs of energy that let’s you use it efficiently on small game hunting up to medium distances.
Designed with all black synthetic stock it is among the brand’s more affordable ($100-$150) line of medium powered airguns. Because it isn’t equipped with front and rear sights, it requires a scope be mounted. Gamo includes a 4×32 scope in the combo package along with the hardware required to install it.
At around $100 we like the built quality of the Hornet, which like other Gamo airguns are made in Spain. And while there are a number of similar rifles at this cost producing comparable muzzle velocity and power the built quality and expected lifespan makes us choose this over many Chinese made air rifles. Expect it to still perform well without any issues after 1500 shots.
Shooting Performance and Accuracy
While Gamo specifications indicated a 1200 FPS pellet speed, their testing, as with most air rifle manufacturers, are done using lightweight ammo that give you the highest possible feet per second rating result. This is great for chronograph purposes, but it doesn’t translate to real world shooting since you want a good balance between speed and pellet weight to get the best accuracy and power mix.
Also shooting over the speed of sound which is around the 1100 ft/sec range is one way of not only making to shot a lot louder than it has to be but also messes with the trajectory of the pellet, resulting in less precision.
In general, spring piston rifles like the Hornet like a sweet spot of between 800 to 950 FPS. At this range the muzzle velocity is maximized giving you the best pellet performance and power. So speed isn’t the only thing to consider and also why pellet weight plays a large part in how well your rifle shoots.
That said, with more standard lead pellets, expect this .177 cal Gamo to produce muzzle speeds of 900 FPS. This gives you kinetic energy of over 15 FPE, which makes it a good air rifle for hunting small game and anything less than that. Inside of 40 yards you’ll be able to enjoy stalking and putting down prey. As reference, some small game like rabbit only require 5 FPE to subdue, while squirrel and sparrow even less at 3 FPE.
Thanks to its high muzzle velocity, the Hornet delivers a nice straight trajectory. This gives you excellent accuracy specially when held steady effectively by the shooter.
As far as precision is concerned, depending on the shooter’s ability, one inch groups can be expected when shooting from 30 to 40 yards. And even closer three quarter inch groupings inside 20 to 25 yards.
When purchasing pellets, Crosman Premier pellets (7.9 grain), domed and hollowpoints, are among those that work very well with the Hornet. Though experimenting with different types and brands between 7.5 to 10.5 grain may allow you to find even better performers.
Scope, Trigger and Recoil & Noise
Now that we know what it can do and how it operates, what should a potential buyer be aware of?
The scope, trigger and recoil are the three areas where a Gamo Hornet owner can or may point to for some possible issues.
1. Let’s take the last one first. Recoil and noise, including the sound of the spring are part and parcel of how a powerful springer operates. Simply put, the stronger the spring, the harder it shoots, but also the louder the uncoiling sound and more violent the recoil. That’s why it’s more difficult to control powerful weapons and why beginners are often told to start with those that can easily be controlled (so they can work on technique first).
On average, the Hornet’s recoil isn’t much, but it’s there. It’s noise level also is on the average end and nowhere near the louder spring piston models. Unless you’re shooting above the speed of sound (which you shouldn’t be doing) then it becomes significantly louder.
2. Next, the trigger. The trigger has its issues. Not enough to give the shooter problems, nor immediate enough that it needs to be replaced. If you want more efficiency and a better overall gun, the trigger will need to be replaced by a better one, but for majority of Hornet owners it does its job well enough to be left alone.
3. The one point of concern is the scope, which is why we leave it last. While you can work with it, you’ll be better served by investing in a better scope. The quality of the included 4×32 mm scope and the way it mounts to the weapon can get in the your ability to perform consistently and shoot accurately as well as you would otherwise be able to. It isn’t an urgent matter since the scope works, but something that definitely increases the overall shooting ability of the Hornet.
The good thing about this issue is the scope is easily replaceable. And if, after a while of using the Hornet believe you are committed to using it, here are some scopes that offer better performance.
Gamo Hornet Air Rifle Review Summary
Among the available air rifles, the Gamo Hornet is our pick for the best value for money air rifle at around $100. It lets you shoot tight groups even at 50 yards, has enough kinetic energy for hunting and is easy to cock, load, aim and shoot.