Umarex made a name for itself in the world of airguns by pushing the boundaries of what an air-powered firearm can do. You’ve likely heard about their big-bore airguns, like the Hammer and others, which are capable of taking down big game as bad as an angry Cape buffalo.
Now, they’ve broken a new barrier by leading the way in the air archery world. You heard that right – air archery. Unlike crossbows, which require a complicated cam and string setup, air archery uses pressurized pneumatics to propel specially designed arrows with enough speed and energy to hunt deer, hogs and other game.
In late 2019, Umarex debuted the AirSaber, a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) arrow rifle capable of pushing High-Pressure Shaft arrows at speeds up to 450 feet per second with 169 foot-pounds of kinetic energy at the muzzle. The company’s corps of testers and fans have found success on small and big game with the AirSaber arrow rifle, which utilizes a rechargeable tank of air filled to a maximum 3,625 psi. By incorporating Umarex’s proven PCP Release technology, the AirSaber delivers consistent pressure release shot after shot for maximum accuracy and penetration.
The key to the performance of Umarex’s AirSaber, and it’s CO2-powered sibling the AirJavelin, are the Straight Flight Technology arrows. The bolt-like projectiles slide down a hollow tube in the barrel of the air rifle and click audibly into place as they seat firmly into the O-ring. When fired, the pressurized air places incredible amounts of energy at the front of the arrow, as opposed to traditional archery or crossbow tech, which pushes the arrow from the back. Instead of bending, or wobbling, in flight like traditional arrows do, Umarex’s Straight Flight arrows do just that – fly straight, and accurate. Because the arrows have to stand up to such incredible pressure, Umarex created tough, carbon-fiber shafts for each of the AirSaber and AirJavelin arrows. Don’t try to use standard arrows in these powerful rifles! However, the Umarex shafts do adapt to accept traditional field points and broadheads for greater versatility.
While the AirSaber is the most powerful arrow rifle in the class, and well worth the $370 price tag, the PCP technology does require a brief learning curve and an outside source of air in the form of a compressor. For a quicker, affordable entry into air-powered archery, Umarex also offers the AirJavelin, a CO2-powered arrow rifle that retails for $170.
Where the AirSaber looks a bit more like a traditional air rifle, the AirJavelin takes its form from somewhere in the future. The space-gun appearance is enhanced by the oversized foreend, which actually hides AirJavelin’s powersource. With a simple push of a button, the foreend slides forward, allowing the user room to screw in an 88g CO2 cartridge. (It also accepts a pair of standard 12g canisters when equipped with the optional adapter.)
The polymer construction also features a comfortable pistol grip, adjustable AR-style stock and floating barrel shroud with both Picatinny rail and M-LOK-compatible attachment points. The pistol grip and adjustable stock also makes the AirSaber instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever handled an AR. The charging handle is ambidextrous by simply unscrewing it and moving it to the opposite side. The safety – a standard push-button style – sits above the trigger. It’s tactile and quite stiff out of the box, though it does seem to break-in after several uses yet still maintain enough resistance to not get bumped off safe.
Both the AirSaber and AirJavelin have a unique feature that makes decocking the air rifles safe and easy. Simply lift the charging handle and pull it back fully and hold it, then engage the trigger. Once the action clicks, push the bolt forward, return the rifle to safe and pull the arrow from the air tube.
The AirJavelin comes with removable, fully adjustable sights, but I opted to fix mine with an Axeon Trisyclon optic. This red-dot style sight features three different user-selectable colors – red, green and blue – with three levels of brightness for each. I found the red to be the best option when shooting in bright daylight.
AirJavelin on the Range
With the Axeon in place and an 88g CO2 cartridge screwed in, I set up a crossbow target on my range at 25 yards. With the first shot, I was on target. Two more confirmed what the marketing materials boasted – the AirJavelin is accurate. I put three arrows practically touching in the center of the target. At 50 yards, the group opened up a bit, but not much, measuring just over a 1 ¼ inches.
Umarex and independent testing state the AirJavelin will hurl the Straight Flight Technology arrows at an excess of 300 fps. My testing, on a hot day, confirmed that with the initial shots from a new cartridge surpassing 315 fps. Note, the power will decrease over the course of firing from a single canister, so if you plan on hunting larger game, do so with a fresh cartridge of C02.
The company also claims the AirJavelin will deliver 20+ foot-pounds of energy. While I don’t have the ability to test this particular metric, I was impressed by the penetration of the 170-grain arrow/field tip combination. At both 25 and 50 yards, the arrow sunk into the crossbow-rated target past the halfway point – more than enough power to penetrate small game. I also shot the AirJavelin at 75 yards, where the arrows stuck solidly into ¼ plywood. And this after shooting close to two dozen shots from the same cartridge of CO2.
Although the AirJavelin couldn’t be called quiet, it’s not so loud as to require hearing protection. Recoil is also mild. That, combined the adjustability of the length-of-pull, and the friendly price tag, makes the CO2-powered arrow rifle an excellent choice for family days at the range, or a fun parent-child hunt for cottontails and other small game.