Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hammerli 850 AirMagnum - Part Two

12 ft lbs with most pellets in .22 caliber

 I run it through all the normal paces; accuracy-wise it is about a 7 + on a scale of 10. I would venture this is more a result of shooting the CO2 too quickly than the rifle's capability. When CO2 is shot quickly it cools down, and delivers less energy. This means the point of impact will change and become progressively lower. With an eight- shot magazine this is easy to do. I decide to use it for some backyard shooting and bring it outside with me while cutting the lawn. I let it lean against the house while I perform this most important of husbandly duties. It is early spring and less than 70 degrees outside.

I remove the scope and try a red dot plus laser 

After about an hour I return and take aim at a random target and pull the trigger. Nothing. The sun has heated the CO2 and caused the valve to lock up as the pressure is too high for it to work. The best thing to do is to put it back in the basement and allow it to cool. I'm sure it would be fine by tomorrow, yes that would be best, but I start to question myself. Did I mistrack my shots? Did it leak? Hmmm. Let’s see, I start to unscrew the cylinder and I hear just the slightest hiss. Maybe it is almost empty? I give it a big turn and the blast is huge as the entire 88 grams empties out. The smell of CO2 is unmistakable.
I know I have just blown the seal out, but I use a another 88 gram cylinder to confirm it. It empties immediately as soon as it is installed.

I call Greg at Umarex and send the rifle for a vacation in Texas. The repair is free if I pay shipping both ways. Interestingly Umarex blames the Crosman CO2 for the issue stating it is full of dirt. Once back in my hands, I admit I am concerned about using it outside. I give it a try again and the same thing happens, an hour in the sun and she will not shoot. It is then relegated to an indoor shooter only and becomes a platform for laser sights, and all sorts of testing.

Big and pricey, but dirty???

Conclusion, these guns have (or had) a cult- like following, and are commonly converted to hold air instead of CO2, but with the continued price drops on PCP's that comes with greater competition, I think that is less of a strong suit. As far as using them with CO2, care must be taken to keep the rifle within its optimum operating range, which means not too hot or too cold, kinda like Goldilocks’ porridge.

I rate it as an okay and accurate enough plinker, but would still pick a PCP over it for the versatility. Also any economy of the lower initial cost is soon lost with the 88 gram cylinders. Bulk fill would lower the expense. Check here for more info: The 850 Store.


  1. Umarex's response may be interesting, but certainly not surprising. Its called 'passing the buck'.

    The interesting part is that Umarex would spec the AS cartridges to begin with, then poo poo them to their customers. Perhaps they are trying to sell of few more of those rediculous $100 adapters for the 12gram carts, hmmmm?

  2. Volvo,

    Great article(s). I hate CO2, but I have long been intrigued by the 850.

    I wanted to bounce something off of you. With my 1077 AS (using either 12g or 88g CO2), after it has been sitting for more than an hour on an open cartridge, the first shot is weak. Ok, it leaks... no big deal. The second shot is powerful and blows liquid. The third shot blows more liquid, although not as much. By the 5th or 6th shot (waiting 15-20 seconds between each), I can actually start getting some decent groups at 20 yards. Is this typical of CO2 guns? It's like it has to cool to a certain temperature that can be maintained throughout the shooting session.

    The reason this really bites is because I originally bought it for picking the sparrows off my bird feeders. It is perfectly suited to that task, power- and accuracy-wise (out to 15 or 20 yards), but only after I've scared them all off missing with the first couple attempts. So it sits on the shelf next to the 100-box of Powerlets and Stack of AirSource bottles.

    - Orin

    1. If you're only getting accurate shots out to 15 or 20 yards then you have a problem with your gun, the scope, or something! I can easily hit 7 out of 8 shots in a dime size circle at 30 yards with a 5 to 10 mph wind.

  3. Hi, Orin:
    When you say your 1077 "sits", do you mean "stands", like in a corner?
    If so, after a short while your valve is full of liquid CO2, and your first few shots are clearing the liquid.

    Liquid CO2 doesn't flow at nearly the same rate through the valve.

    If you are going to take a few shots, then walk away for a bit, you need to lay front-loading CO2 guns (like the 1077 or the 850 in a rest or on a table-top (couch, grass, whatever..). Better yet, if you can arrange to store it "muzzle down", that is best :)

  4. Orin,
    Like I stated in part one, CO2 is not my favorite platform. I had a 1077W that I enjoyed as a plinker but would never trust it for anything else. It too blew out the seals in a short time.
    Unlike the QB78 (best CO2 platform I’ve had) many of the newer CO2 guns use the cartridge for storage instead of a cylinder and the first couple shots just break the seal, and are usually low powered.
    I two have lots of unused CO2.

    Umarex was pushing their own brand of 88 gram CO2, Walther if I recall. Thanks for the editing.

    Thanks for the editing.

  5. Joel,
    Good point, thanks for the tip.

  6. Slinging Lead said:

    "mowing the lawn is not the most important of husbandly duties"

    I stand corrected, it is taking out the trash...

  7. Volvo,
    CO2 is the perfect propellant, about 10 days per year, if you're lucky. It took me a long time to figure out why my CO2 B-B pistol would shoot to a different elevation every time I used it, though the sights are fixed:). I think it would be ideal for a (climate controlled) basement target rifle, but that's about it.

    PS. Anybody that's been married long enough knows that husbands aren't trusted with important duties:).

  8. Volvo,

    Sorry- I missed one in the first sentence: " it through all the NORMAL paces;"


  9. Volvo

    I meant fixing the cars. No euphemism intended.

    NOTE TO CROSMAN: A man with 30 years airgunning experience prefers a cheap chinese knock-off of a CO2 rifle you made 50 years ago to any CO2 gun you make now. Move forward, not backward. Get it together.

    Maybe I don't want a 1077W anymore.

  10. Joel/Volvo,

    Thanks for the tips. I know I said "sitting," but I usually store it on a shelf, lying on its side. I've never stored it on its butt, but I'll definitely have to try the muzzle down thing. It has a home-made LDC constructed of PVC (dont laugh - it works surprisingly well), so the crown is well protected.

    I actually "tuned" the heck out of this thing when I first got it, and believe it or not, with good pellets (it likes CPH's), I can get sub-1/2" groups out to 20 yards on a windless day. Of course that's after it levels off. On a 12g cartridge, I usually plink with the first clip, then can put shots 12-36 in the same 1/2" hole, save fliers. After that, the rest is unpredictable at best (a complete waste of pellets at worst), and I usually just get a new cartridge.

    - Orin

  11. Bg farmer,
    CO2 for the most part is like a pretty girl with an annoying personality. Attractive, but comes with issues.
    The desirability is the effortless shooting but along with it you get seals that fail, ever changing POI, temperature restrictions, and added cost.
    But I’m sure I’ll cave again sometime in the future.

    Slinging Lead,
    Don’t forget the Discovery appears pretty much like the old 160 on air…

  12. Volvo

    Very astute observation, as the Disco shares a common lineage with the QB and will also run on CO2. The Marauder will too, so I guess Crosman does have it together to some extent.

    I knew there was a reason I read this blog.

    On the other hand, Crosman can't seem to compete at the QBs price point, even though their cheapies are Chinese as well.

    You definitely hedged your bets with the Mike Melick tune.

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