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Rootin’ tootin’ shootin’! Gary Chillingworth discovers the thrill of the Umarex Legends Cowboy lever-action rifle in this review
Those who know me will also know that I am a passionate target shooter. A good part of my life is spent with a spring gun in my hands, and I strive to make it bow to my will. For me, accuracy is everything and it would be fair to say that shooting has become more about competing then the sheer joy of owning and shooting an airgun. This is all about to change, though, because I have found a new love – a CO2 Cowboy rifle from the Legends collection at Umarex.
OK, so to give you a bit of back story, a few months back I wrote a piece about different propulsion systems for airguns and one of these is obviously CO2, but as I didn’t own a CO2 gun and I didn’t want another target rifle, I spoke to Dave, the Editor, and he recommended the Cowboy Action rifle, and after a quick call to Claire, at Rothery’s, the Legends Cowboy was on its way. For those of you who don’t know, John Rothery’s are the wholesale vendors where most gun shops go to get their stock. They are a great company and superb supporters of the shooting world.
A KID AT CHRISTMAS
When the box arrived, I quickly unwrapped it and even though I have just turned 50, I felt like a kid at Christmas. When you hold one of these rifles in your hands, it makes you feel like John Wayne, and when you rack the classic under-lever action, you feel like you should be climbing up on your horse and heading off to Deadwood. You see, this rifle is about how it makes you feel, and I’ll give you an example; loading is done by placing the steel BBs into cartridges, then sliding them down through the loading port and into the magazine tube that hangs below the rifle. In the early rifles, the pellets were put into a rotary magazine and this was probably more efficient, but on these models, when you rack the action and you see the first round lift from the tube and sit in the breech it looks and feels like a real Winchester 1894. Then, when you fire and rack it again, and you see the spent cartridge eject from the top of the rifle and fall to the floor, there is absolutely no way you will not have a huge smile on your face.
I have been lucky enough to shoot a Marlin 1895SBL chambered in 45-70, the only rifle in the world that is rated for T-Rex – check their website, and there is no doubt that this lever-action is not that far away from the big-bore powder burner, although I must admit the recoil is slightly softer in .177 then in 45-70.
The rifle comes with 10 brass cartridges and each of those is designed to hold a single steel BB; the barrel is smooth but don’t let this put you off. At 15 yards I was easily knocking spinners around, and punching paper with accuracy was a breeze. I have read through the manual, and it says that the rifle is designed for use with BBs, but I have seen plenty of evidence on-line that lots of people shoot .177 lead pellets in there without issue. I can’t recommend that you do this because it’s not recommended by the manufacturer, and if you had a failure, I don’t think you could claim on the warranty. Also, BBs are much cheaper then pellets at around £6 for 1500. I did test the rifle with both and it cycled both types of ammunition, but I actually got tighter groups with the steel BBs and through the chronograph the BBs showed around 550fps as opposed to the pellets at about 460fps.
The Cowboy action rifle is modelled on the 1894 Winchester and there is no doubt that it looks the part. The ‘woodwork’ is plastic, but the action is metal, and when you rack it, it sounds and looks like the real thing. The rifle uses two 12g CO2 cartridges and these are loaded from the rear with a simple-to-use carrier and this will give you around 100 good shots. There is also very convenient thumb safety on the back of the rifle just behind the hammer.
ALL ABOUT FUN!
To finish off, I had to go back to my youth and shoot some tin cans. I would not normally recommend this because shooting a tin can cause sharp edges, but I am a trained professional … OK, I’m an idiot with a pair of thick gloves and the need to be a kid again. So, with a coke can set up, I decided to push it back further and further until I missed, and I am happy to say that I was knocking it off my old workmate at 35 yards before it became to difficult.
This is a wonderful rifle. It’s not about pin-point accuracy, it’s about having fun and I honestly have not had this much fun in years. So, when the lockdown is over, I’m off to the local saloon for a sarsaparilla and to see Miss Molly about a horse.
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