Gun test: Gamo Venari

Born to hunt: the Gamo Venari is named after the Latin word to hunt, so Mike Morton sets out to discover whether this PCP lives up to its ancient moniker

Rifle kits are popular, providing the shooter with an all-in-one solution out of the box to get them up and running nice and quickly. The Venari kit comes with a scope, mounts, moderator and bipod, and Gamo is pitching the package firmly at hunters.

The Venari is a pretty unique rifle. While different PCPs may be built on a common action – similar guns being produced in both bullpup and rifle format for example – this particular pre-charged pneumatic traces its ancestry back to a gas-ram, the Gamo HPA Mi.

Both rifles share the same basic stock, and both come in kit form with the aforementioned scope, mounts and bipod. This sounds intriguing, and needs a closer look.

KEY SPECS

Manufacturer: Gamo (www.gamoguns.co.uk)
Model: Venari Kit
Price: £459.99 
Calibre: .177 (on test) and .22
Action: Bolt-action
Magazine: Multi-shot (10 shots for both .177 and .22)
OVERALL Length: 92cm (36”) excluding moderator
BARREL Length: 47cm (18.5”)
Stock: Ambidextrous synthetic sporter
Sights: Scope only, dovetail rail
Length of pull: 35.5cm (14in)
TRIGGER: Two-stage, adjustable
TRIGGER-PULL: 2lb 1oz
SAFETY: Manual, resettable
MUZZLE ENERGY: 10.6 ft-lb

STOCK

Both the HPA Mi and the Venari are fitted with a black polymer stock – and it’s a very well made example. The advantages of a synthetic handle are its lighter weight, generally lower cost, rain resistance, and the ability to shrug off the odd knock and scrape.

But they can be let down by being made of a flimsy and flexible material. Luckily, the Venari’s stock is as solid as they come and feels very stable. The raised cheekpiece is a hollow component, but even this is completely rigid.

The hybrid stock features a ventilated rubber butt, and the adjustable cheekpiece offers a huge amount of rise. I needed to use most of its range of adjustment as the supplied 3-9×40 scope sits quite high, but we’ll get to the optic later.

Instead of a sliding catch to secure the magazine, the Venari uses a small magnet to snap it into place and hold it there

There are two clues to the stock’s gas-ram origins, with a solid stippled section of polymer being used to plug the cocking slot that was required by the HPA Mi break-barrel. The second clue is even more obvious – two sections of Picatinny rail attached either side of the forend to accept the bipod, which is actually made up of two independent legs rather than a single unit. 

The HPA Mi gas-ram comes with the same bipod system, but being a break-barrel it can’t take a conventional bipod, hence the need for the unorthodox independent leg arrangement.

The Venari’s forend is quite long, which meant these rail sections didn’t get in the way of my leading hand, but they’re easy to remove should they interfere with your  hold. In fact, the stock feels very secure in the hand and in the shoulder, and despite the fact that the overall rifle is fairly long, it has a neutral point of balance, being just in front of the moulded trigger guard with the supplied scope fitted.

A light stippling effect has been applied to the pistol grip, the forend and the break-barrel blanking plug, but it’s not the most grippy. Luckily, the entire stock has been moulded with a slightly rough texture, assisting handling in the field.

FEATURES AND FUNCTION

The Venari has a neatly blued barrel and air cylinder, while the action has been treated to a satin black finish. The area between the rear of the action and the sweep of the thumb shelf has been filled with a gloss black insert.

It’s amazing what fellow airgun shooters will pick up on, but a couple of people who saw the test gun homed in on this straight away and asked why it couldn’t have been given a low-key finish instead. If it really bothers you, it could be dulled down with a little light sanding.

The safety catch sits in front of the trigger blade within the trigger guard – it can be applied whether or not the rifle’s been cocked

The trigger has a polymer blade, which is warmer to the touch than metal, and has a gentle curve to it. The safety catch is located immediately in front of the blade, and my preferred technique with this gun was to make sure I applied the safety before cocking the rifle.

The trigger itself is adjustable, but I usually prefer to shoot test rifles as they come out of the box. In this case there was a long first stage followed by a positive stop point, after which the second stage exhibited plenty of creep, but nevertheless broke at the same point for every shot and so it didn’t take me too long to get used to it.

The Venari kit comes with a little Gamo 3-9×40 W1PM sight, which has already been installed into its accompanying one-piece mount. An arrestor pin is protruding from the mount for gas-ram and springer use, so this needs to be removed before it can be fitted to the Venari.

Take note that the mount uses T15 Torx screws rather than the more usual hex screws. I also needed to loosen the scope rings in order to properly level the scope once it was on the action.

Two calibre options are available – .177, as seen here, and .22. The Venari uses the same magazine as Gamo’s sister company, BSA, which means the 10-shot mag sits flush to the top of the action and does not interfere with the dovetail scope rail.

Gamo Vanari Review

Anyone who’s familiar with the BSA system will feel right at home here. Another feature I really appreciate is the use of a small magnet to hold the magazine securely in place, instead of a sliding catch.

Up front, the barrel is threaded 1/2” UNF to accept the supplied moderator. This has a slight crackle-effect finish, looks the part and really works well. But the standout feature at the front of the rifle has to be those Picatinny rails for the separate bipod legs.

Each leg uses the standard Picatinny slot-and-bar mounting fixture, and is designed to be tightened with a 12mm spanner or the shaft of a hex key. However, it is possible to attach and detach each leg in the field using nothing more than your fingers.

The legs are adjustable for height and are slotted at pre-set intervals. They can be folded forward out of the way using a spring-loaded thumb catch. In use, they create a wide, stable footprint, but cannot be adjusted for tilt, so it’s best to deploy them on perfectly flat ground where possible.

PERFORMANCE AND PRECISION

A plastic collar protects the fill port on the Venari, which can be topped up to a maximum pressure of 232 bar using the standard Gamo/BSA probe.

Some unregulated rifles benefit from a lower starting pressure, but after a few weeks of testing I found the Venari to be good from the max fill, delivering around 60 shots before accuracy started to suffer, with no noticeable power curve from the starting pressure.

The little optic comes pre-fitted inside a one-piece mount, but you’ll need to remove the arrestor pin before installing it on this rifle

Rangemaster Sovereign worked well in this rifle, both in terms of accuracy and when shot over the chrono. A 10-shot string of unsorted pellets showed an average velocity of 754 feet per second with a variation of 16 feet per second.

This was down to one rogue pellet that was unusually low in velocity. With this one taken out of the mix, the spread over nine shots was reduced to a far more healthy seven feet per second.

The supplied 3-9 scope is pretty basic, consisting of a simple Duplex-style reticle and fixed parallax, which appears to be set at around 40 yards. Nevertheless, this scope was clear enough to use at 30 yards, and is at least enough to get you started. And if you buy this rifle for plinking rather than hunting then you won’t need to swap it for an improved model until you’re good and ready.

Because the rifle comes as a kit, this was how I shot it. With the aforementioned scope on board, and using the supplied bipod legs, the Venari was easily capable of sub-five pence piece groups at 30 yards.

Back at 40 yards, group size expanded, with all groups now coming in under the size of a 20 pence piece, but with the odd five-pencer appearing every now and then for good measure. 

Gamo and its sister company BSA share the same magazine system – this one worked flawlessly over the test period

I have no doubt that this rifle would be capable of even better results if I swapped optics.

While the Venari’s black polymer stock makes it look like a tactical PCP, which won’t appeal to everyone, this gun is an excellent starter rifle, being packaged with everything the shooter needs to get going except pellets and air.

But the Venari is also a rifle that can grow with the shooter. As they get more experienced, they may well want to swap optics and drill the stock to fit a more conventional bipod. Do this, and I bet they’ll be happy to keep shooting the Venari for years to come.

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