The Umarex .50-caliber Hammer air rifle hits the market — hard.
How the Umarex Hammer air rifle performs on part with traditional guns:
- Pre-charged pneumatic air rifle.
- Capable of pitching 550-grain .50-caliber bullet 760 fps at muzzle.
- Maximum of 4,500 psi.
- Lightspeed valve regulates each shot for consistency.
- Lightweight carbon-fiber main tank.
- 2-pound straight-pull bolt throw cocks gun.
Positioned on the shooting bench, I took a breath and slowly tightened up on the trigger. A small burst of air puffed my cheek and blew my hair up. I was shooting the new Umarex .50-caliber Hammer Air Rifle, and instead of recoil in my shoulder, I felt the subtle escape of air — all part of the engineering of the rifle.
With 3,000 psi launching each bullet, the Hammer shoots consistently and accurately. Call it what you may — high-powered, high-velocity, high-performance, most powerful production, or thse fastest production air rifle to hit the market — the Hammer fits the bill.
High-powered air rifles are not new and have a long history going back to the settlement and colonization of North America. The Lewis and Clark expedition that mapped a route across the Western United States in the early 1800s used a Girandoni air rifle to hunt and show off their firepower. The cast-iron buttstock held 800 psi, which took 1,300 strokes on an air pump to fill and could shoot a hole through a board at 100 yards with accuracy.
The old-technology air rifle is credited with the success of the expedition traveling from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean without significant loss of life. The Girandoni intimidated Native Americans who did not realize the expedition only had one of the rifles that were regularly used to display its unique firepower — but the accuracy, range and repeatability made it look formidable.
Modern air rifles are also extremely effective firearms, and when I lined up my target and placed the first two bullets out of the Hammer in the same place, it became obvious this wasn’t the type of air rifle I used as a child.
The Secret: Lightspeed Valve
The Hammer has a built-in compressed air tank with a regulated valve that can be charged to 4,500 psi. The carbon-fiber tank has a capacity of 24 cubic inches and is nestled out of the way under the barrel, and a pressure gauge allows the shooter to know the exact charge in the main tank. The Hammer can be charged from a larger air tank with a regulated valve on the side. It only takes seconds to charge the Hammer on the range or in the field to have three more shots at full charge.
The pressure in the main tank is used to charge each shot to 3,000 psi, meaning there are three shots in a full tank. The secret to the effectiveness of the Hammer is the Lightspeed valve, which keeps every shot consistent with a massive dump of air to generate the velocity for the projectile you choose. The air dumps so fast that you feel a burst of air release off side ports when you pull the trigger.
The cocking handle is located on the side of the gun and only takes 2 pounds of pressure to operate, with a 2-inch straight-pull bolt. You can cock the gun with one finger while continuing to look down the barrel or through the scope. When cocking the rifle, the magazine automatically advances, placing a bullet at the base of the barrel.
The Hammer’s Lightspeed valve, coupled with a precision regulator, instantly pulses a measure of air compressed to 3,000 psi, behind the projectile when the cocking mechanism is pulled back. This ground-breaking patent-pending system proficiently propels a .50 caliber, 550-grain lead slug at a muzzle velocity of 760 fps, and a 250-grain slug at more than 1,000 fps.
With an extreme amount of pressure being held back, you might assume the trigger pull to be heavy or sluggish, but it breaks clean with minimal effort, allowing for greater accuracy and consistent shooting. There is slight recoil felt, but nothing that pushes the barrel off target. The rifle does make an audible “pop” instead of a loud bang and is in no way silent, but the sound is less intrusive than burning gunpowder.
Defining Air Rifle Energy
Umarex is claiming to have the most powerful big bore air rifle to hit the market. It’s a bold statement, but when you look at the numbers, you’ll quickly understand. The sidebar features a table showing several different bullets and weights, complete with velocity and energy. A soft-lead, 400-grain bullet traveling at 860 fps and hitting with 657 ft-lbs. of energy is impressive. Very impressive.
Where It All Began
The Hammer has been developed, designed and engineered in America — and it’s being made in the United States as well. The rifles are assembled in Fort Smith, Arkansas, within the Umarex USA facility. Adam Blalock, CEO of Umarex USA, Inc. said, “We continually look for products that we can make right here in the USA and, more specifically, within the walls of our building in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The Hammer represents powerful innovation in air rifles, and I couldn’t be more excited that we’re equipped to build it right here.”
The Hammer wasn’t engineered overnight, and several designs and prototypes were crafted before perfecting it. The valves, regulated air and unique magazine all needed to be faultless and align to work flawlessly … and easily.
The Umarex Hammer offers several features that shooters and hunters will embrace. In addition to being the most powerful airgun delivering three regulated, full-power shots, it’s the only production big-bore air rifle that offers multiple shots from its unique chamber magazine. There’s no fumbling to insert a bullet into the barrel: The removable magazine is pre-loaded with two bullets and inserted into the gun. When you cock the rifle, the bullet is automatically loaded into place. Shoot, cock the rifle a second time, and the next bullet is ready to fly down the barrel.
The Hammer utilizes two safeties: A conventional trigger block, and a magazine lockout that prevents it from discharging without a magazine inserted.
“You won’t find safety mechanisms to this extent on any other big bores,” said Steve Lamboy, Senior Director of Strategic Development at Umarex USA. “The Umarex Hammer is the most powerful production air rifle in the world, so we charged our engineers, from the beginning, to incorporate safety mechanisms.”
An Advanced Polymer Stock
The stock, forearm and other synthetic components are produced from Nymax, an advanced polymer that withstands the rugged treatment required in the outdoor hunting and shooting world. Umarex collaborated with designers from the IQ Design group at PolyOne to add three locations into the rifle’s forearm that accept M-LOK accessories and incorporate a sling stud into the lower half of the rear stock.
The stock on the Hammer is smooth with tight-fighting components. The first time you pick up a Hammer, the stock design will stand out with fit and feel. More importantly, the unique stock helps reduce the overall weight of the rifle, making it functional for a wide variety of hunting and shooting applications.
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Shooting enthusiasts will quickly note additional features that include a standard AR Magpul grip, quick disconnect Foster fitting to fill the onboard air cylinder, externally visible air pressure gauge, a button-rifled .50-caliber barrel and 8.5 inches of Picatinny rail.
The True Test
A true test for the Umarex Hammer was a spring bear hunt in Alberta, Canada. With some of the first production rifles, a crew of hunters set out to see what the Hammer could do in a hunting situation. And, why not pick game that can bite back?
On the fourth day of the hunt, I noticed a brown-phased bear carefully sauntering my way. The beautiful brown walked a gauntlet of logs in silent motion, stopping about 30 yards from my stand where it stared in my direction, lifted its nose and captured the smells of anything close. It took several minutes for the bear to work its way in, and when it walked behind the barrel, and I could still see part of its back over the top — I knew it was a great color-phased bear with good maturity.
I hoped to shoot the bear but was going to wait for the perfect broadside shot. Of course, the bear plopped down on the ground facing me and fed for 15 minutes while I checked it through my scope. It teased me but never offered a clear view of its side profile.
The bear finally stood up and wandered behind the bait, and when it returned, it offered a full view of its right side. Steady on my shooting sticks, I wasted little time clicking off the safety and tightening up on the trigger. At the sound of the shot, the bear cart-wheeled twice, found its footing and charged about 12 yards into the trees. I had already cocked my rifle again and was following it with my scope for a follow-up shot when it fell to the ground. I had taken my first bear with an air rifle and was shaking with excitement.
Not only was the Hammer effective, but it was quiet and easy to shoot. The large bullet made short work of tracking, which is always an important consideration when hunting bears. Being able to watch the animal tip over is always a relief, knowing no tracking is required.
The bear was a unique shade of brown and grew as I got closer to it on the ground. Stretching close to 6.5 feet from nose to tail, I knew it was a great bear. My bear had fresh wounds from fighting and showed all the signs of being a mature boar. My first air rifle black bear hunt was an enormous success, and I can’t wait for a repeat performance.
There were eight bears shot with a Hammer air rifle, using several different bullets, and none required any tracking. Airguns — and the Hammer specifically — have indeed evolved.
For more information on the Umarex Hammer .50-caliber, please visit: www.umarexusa.com.
The article originally appeared in the September 2018 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.