Umarex USA continues to bring economical air guns to the American consumer that perform well beyond the expectations of the average shooter. A great example of what is available to the small game hunter and pest shooter is the new Ruger® Blackhawk® Air Rifle.
Available in two variations, the gun I received was the more powerful of the two. There is a version that features extremely easy cocking, and only shoots around 490 fps with the average .177 caliber pellet. However, as a hunter, I almost always opt for the more powerful versions as long as the shooting behavior is manageable and the cocking effort within the realm of reason.
If the Blackhawk Air Rifle looks familiar, it should. It is based upon the venerable RWS Model 34, an air gun that is a classic. This Blackhawk Air Rifle features a synthetic, ambidextrous stock that is comfortable for both right and left-handed shooters. The fiber optic open sights make target acquisition easy and quick, handy for when your shooting opportunity on a nervous squirrel or rabbit calls for a fast shot. Or, if you are like me and prefer a scope for finer shot placement, the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle comes with a 4×32 scope and mounts included.
My first opportunity to use the new rifle was on a pest control situation. If ever there was a pest, it would be the European starling. They rob my bird feeders, kill my bluebirds, and generally take over the best nesting sites that our native birds need in order to survive. So at every opportunity, I take them out!
I had finished sighting in the open sights on this air rifle and had it leaning against the kitchen door to do duty as my bird feeder gun. Some serious snow had fallen within the last evening, and birds were flocking to my feeders for an easy meal during the bad weather. Sure enough, the starlings started showing up to ruin the party, acting like the avian party crashers they are. I eased outside to do something about the situation, and with a single shot, the starling party was over. And one of them didn’t go home!
Having successfully proved the use of this air gun for pest control, I moved on up to small game hunting. Squirrel season is still open here in Kentucky, and I had a new camouflage chair I wanted to try out. Setting up in a likely spot, I chose the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle as my armament for the day. It didn’t take long for a large fox squirrel to climb up to a dining perch in a tree and begin working on a nut it had found under the snow. With a properly placed shot, the squirrel came tumbling down. The Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle and RWS Superdome pellets made a lethal combination for this tree rodent!
Most air gun shooters like to keep an air gun around that is capable of handling larger pests. The possum and raccoon come to mind in this category, and though I would hesitate to take on a large raccoon with the smaller .177 caliber air rifle, a possum provided no challenge to the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle. I have issues every year in regards to what animals are going to move into my old barn, and this possum had to go. Coming out in the open at the wrong time of day earned this pest a shot to the head, ending the issue of where it would live for good. The power provided by the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle proved more than it could handle, and the accuracy provided by the rifle put the pellet exactly where I needed it to go.
If I had any suggestions for Umarex USA in regards to this rifle, I would opt for a slightly longer scope rail to allow the use of the longer-based 1-piece mounts that are so popular among air gun shooters. These style mounts provide some serious clamping surface on the dovetails, a greatly desired feature for spring-piston air guns. The current rails only allow the shorter-style 1-piece mounts.
I can recommend the Ruger Blackhawk Air Rifle for most game and pests that range in size from the possum on down. The air gun has the accuracy needed, is pleasant to shoot and practice with, and will provide many hours of shooting fun and enjoyment for its owner. Give one a try and see if you don’t agree!
The RWS 34 (or RWS Model 34) from Germany is one of the most popular spring-piston rifles known today. Many air gun enthusiasts have one of these fine air guns in their possession and use it for plinking and fun shooting. However, many individuals miss out on the hunting uses this fine example of German engineering brings to the table. Many people consider the RWS 34 an heirloom and legacy that is passed from father to son and mother to daughter. View all RWS Model 34 airguns.
I have been shooting the RWS 34 for a number of years now, having owned one or two in the past. Air guns at my house tend to come and stay for awhile, then move on to another worthy owner who shows interest in it while I’m at the range or shooting with a group of friends. So when my new RWS showed up on the porch from Umarex, I decided to write a brief article on the hunting uses of the RWS Model 34.
RWS 34 Recommended Ammo & Field Usage
When you hunt with an air gun, you will find there are debates in the air gun world as to which caliber is best for different game. I consider the .22 the best all-around caliber if you are going to own just one air gun…but where’s the fun in that? As you hunt more often and learn the differences in the calibers and their effectiveness, you’ll find the ability of the shooter a bigger factor than the caliber of the air gun in question. The rifle I ordered was a .177 caliber, and I quickly opened up a tin of RWS Superdomes and began breaking in the gun.
I shoot a couple of hundred pellets through an air gun before worrying too much about velocity measurements and accuracy tests. New spring piston guns need a break-in period to allow the internal parts to start working smoothly together, so shooting a half-tin or more of pellets is a great way to allow those parts to mesh and start doing what they were designed to do at top efficiency. I also took a moment to run a swab or two down the barrel to remove the preservatives inside the barrel. With a clean bore and some ammo already sent down range, I was ready to do some hunting!
I own about 3 acres on the edge of town, with lots of old-growth trees filled with hollows. These hollows make excellent nesting sites for woodpeckers and bluebirds, two of my favorite birds to watch and enjoy. However, they are set upon by English sparrows and European starlings constantly, so I try to even the odds in the favor of the native species, and eliminate every sparrow and starling I can find. Stalking along the edge of my property, I was offered several shots at starlings and sparrows that were competing over hollows and cavities for nesting rights.
The first sparrow I caught was arguing with a relative of hers over who had the best roost on the bush they were in. The male sparrows were also hanging around, trying to catch the attention of the females. I shot the female first at 10 yards, and the rest flew up into a tree to figure out what was going on. At that point, a Superdome was sent precisely to one of the male sparrows, putting him down for the count. That’s a couple of English sparrows that won’t be arguing with my bluebirds this spring!
Next came the European starlings, airborne Vikings I call them. From the front porch, I harvested the first with an upward shot. When shooting up, be sure you can call your shots—shooting at elevated targets or targets lower than you can be tricky sometimes. You need to hold a little bit under what you might think for such shots. Starling #2 was a longer shot of about 30 yards as it was searching for food on the lawn. After the shot connected, the starlings just folded up and went to sleep..
The Superdome pellets from this pellet gun are both accurate and devastating on pests and small game as well. There is currently no open season for small game in Kentucky right now, so I had to limit my hunting to the avian pest species that you see in the picture. Each pest was a one-shot, one-kill example of the usefulness that the Model 34 can provide as a pest control tool and small game hunting rifle. But during the small game seasons, rabbits and squirrels fall to this combination quite often. In addition to my experience with the RWS Model 34, I was at the local police chief’s office recently, talking about pigeon control. He showed me the tool he uses for quiet and efficient removal of feral pigeons. Want to guess what it was? Yep, an RWS 34 in .177 caliber. He likes to use head shots, and finds the air gun very accurate and up to the job.
RWS 34 Accuracy
Just how accurate is the RWS 34? It’s funny you should ask. Now don’t think I’m crazy here, but unusual targets are a favorite of mine. I’ll sit 10 yards from a ripe fruit tree and pick off the wasps and yellow jackets that buzz around the tree if the rifle I am shooting is up to the task. So I want to show you a picture that you may or may not recognize right off.
While waiting for another starling to come winging into range, I noticed a large housefly sitting on a cardboard box that was about 5 yards away. He was just sitting there in the sun, and I just couldn’t resist! I placed the sights on the fly, and at 5 yards left nothing but what you see in the picture.
Nothing but a splash left for any evidence that a fly ever sat there. Now that is accuracy! And that accuracy extends out to further ranges in proportion to the ability of the shooter. This is a well-made rifle that brings home the bacon when shooting pests and small game.
RWS 34 Family of Airguns
Click to view all RWS Model 34 airguns. The page includes these RWS 34 items:
- RWS 34 with or without Scope, .22 or .177
- RWS 34 P with or without Scope, .22 or .177
- RWS 34 Pro Compact .177
- RWS 34 Meisterschutze Pro
by: Randall Mitchell
This article of shooting tips for improving your accuracy was originally written for RWS guns, but applies to all spring piston air guns.
- Be patient as you break in your new gun. Spring piston airguns typically require 500-1,000 shots to break in properly. Groups may be erratic for the first 100+ shots.
- DO NOT bench rest on ANY solid objects! NO part of the gun should rest on a rigid surface or object.
- Stabilize your shooting surface. Utilize sand bags, pillows, or folded quilts as a shooting surface. This helps stabilize the gun so that you can verify the gun’s accuracy instead of the gun & shooter combined.
- Protect your gun barrel. The gun barrel is NEVER to rest on any surface when shooting.
- Position the gun so that it is resting and pointing at a specific target point without being held. You can then ease into the shooting position without changing sight picture. By taking out as much of the “human factor” of holding the gun, your accuracy will most likely improve.
- SQUEEZE the trigger – pulling the trigger or jerking the trigger will result in terrible accuracy.
- Make sure to follow-through for every shot. Try not to blink when the gun fires and continue to focus on the precise point of aim.
- Always hold the gun “loosely” at the forearm and in the shoulder. Spring guns usually become inaccurate when held tightly.
- Use a consistent position & grip. Changing your shooting position or grip can and will affect your point of impact.
- Become familiar with your rifle and your ammo. Each rifle is individual and has its own characteristics. To achieve the best performance, you should try an RWS Pellet Sampler pack of pellets to see which ammo your gun shoots the most accurately.
- Don’t use junk ammo. Use only high quality pellets in your rifle, such as the RWS line of pellets. They are much cleaner and manufactured to more exacting tolerances.
- Never dry fire a spring gun. Dry firing your spring rifle can damage your gun.
Many competent air rifle fans are aware of these rules. How many do you think consistently follow all of them?
by: Glenn and Danny
Editor’s Note: This articles comes directly from gunsmiths who work at Umarex USA.
Whenever we get into a discussion with someone about rifle scopes, inevitably the subject of parallax arises. Scope parallax confuses a lot of people, and there is a great deal of misunderstanding on the subject.
First things first; the term “parallax” is used to describe the difference in angles between objects that are seen up close and those seen far away. When you are driving and look at telephone poles pass by on the side of the road, those closest to your car seem to pass very fast, while the ones far away seem to go very slow. That difference is due to parallax.
In general, it is wise to keep the old phrase in mind, “The better you can see your sights and your target, the more accurately you will shoot.” However, that phrase is only true as long as your sights are pointing in the same place from one shot to the next. Telescopic sights allow you to see much further distances, but they create new sighting problems with rifles that never were a problem in the old iron-sighting days.
A scope with parallax issues can wreak havoc on a person’s air rifle accuracy as well as sanity! We see this issue frustrate people to no end time and time again in our service and gunsmith departments. If you don’t know what’s going on and how to check for this problem then you could be wasting hours at the range trying to figure out what is causing the “accuracy” problem.
Many modern day airgun scopes have an adjustable objective (AO) feature, which is located at the forward end of the scope or the turret. There will be an adjustment ring with yardage numbers that can be rotated to coincide with the distance at which you are shooting.
If you are suspicious that there may be parallax issues with a scope then place the gun in a solid rest that totally supports the gun without you holding it. Place a target at a known distance and set the AO ring to coincide with that particular distance. Adjust the gun rest so that the crosshairs are centered on the bull’s-eye.
Adjust a gun while on a solid “hands free” rest to correct for parallax.
Now, move your head left and right about 1” in each direction. The crosshairs should remain centered on the bull’s-eye as you move your head left and right. If the crosshairs are wandering off the bull’s-eye then there is an issue with the parallax at that distance for that scope when you are shooting it.
It should be noted that distances marked on the scope are not necessarily written in stone. A person’s own optics of their eye comes in to play for a certain scope at a certain distance. Some scopes do not put markings on the scopes for this very reason, instead saying to use the test (above) to find the point of zero parallax error for each distance and then use a silver or white paint pen to mark the positions. If you do notice an issue with parallax on your gun, you can try rotating the AO incrementally to see if the parallax issue can be eliminated, and then noting the position that the AO is in for that distance. If you are unable to eliminate the parallax, then we suggest replacing the scope with another one.
The parallax issue is a critical one for hunters and target shooters. The crosshair remaining centered on the bull’s-eye when moving your head left and right is of utmost importance. The reason being…if you didn’t position your cheek at the exact same spot on the stock each time you are shooting then it would be like moving the rear sight, which of course changes your point of impact. By its very nature, parallax is more of an issue at close distances and becomes less of one the further out one aims. Because air rifles are usually aimed at much closer distances than firearms, parallax can be much more of an issue among air rifle shooters.
So, if you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated with sighting in your rifle, look at parallax as an issue that might need to be eliminated.
Learn More about items mentioned in this article:
Have you ever watched a collegiate air rifle match? Until recently I hadn’t. Prior to the event a friend told me it could get boring, but I chose to go with an open mind. The truth is, I enjoyed the rhythmic sound of lead pellets “plinking” against the steel traps at the end of the short indoor range. Maybe it was simply the change of pace—no phones ringing, no emails, and no one knocking on the door. Just lead hitting steel and low whispers from the other spectators in the room.
With the naked eye it’s hard to watch an air rifle match. There’s little to see other than the competitors in their stance-stabilizing shooting gear standing next to a scope and a rifle rest. The .177 caliber pellets make holes that are too small to see from a spectator’s distance. However, with the use of a spotting scope your level of involvement can become interesting and even exciting as you anticipate the next shot to punch the target.
The match I observed was hosted on November 22nd, 2008, by the Lion Rifles, the air rifle club team at the UA Fort Smith, who just happened to set a new team high at this match by outgunning the visiting University of Nebraska rifle team 2126-2033. All of the Lion Rifles team members used RWS pellets. One loaded RWS R 10 match pellets while the others fired 8 grain RWS Meisterkugeln.
“This was a big day for us,” said Lion Rifles coach and adviser Roy Hill. “This is the first time we’ve been over 2100 points as a team, the first time we’ve had a shooter over 550 and the first time we’ve had a team of four shooters all over 500. There were a lot of milestones set today.” The Lion Rifles squad has a history of success, including finishing fifth overall in the United States in the Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship in March 2012 at the Intercollegiate Rifle Club Championship.
For a change of pace, go support your local air rifle team by watching an air rifle relay or two. Seeing the students silently compete and witnessing their big grins after a good relay are well worth the time.