Barra 1866 CO2 Air Rifle Test Review
Testers: Doug Wall, Stephen Archer
Caliber: 0.177 cal.
Model Number: 4098
Test Date: Jan 4, 2024
Serial Numbers: 23K130126
Source of Supply: Supplied by Barra Airguns
Very nice replica
Excellent, realistic action
We Don't Like
Low shot count
Grip safety operation
Don’t lose those cartridges!
- Value for Money 90%
- Comparison to Makers Claims:90%
- Consistency 80%
- Appearance and Finish 100%
- Buying and Owning 100%
- Realism, Look & Feel 100%
- Realism, Trigger Action 100%
- Accuracy & Point of Aim 90%
- Shot Count 50%
- Muzzle Velocity 100%
HARD AIR MAGAZINE TEST CONCLUSIONS
The Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle is a great replica for Western fans! The looks and feel are there and the individual cartridge loading and ejection are perfect. Just don’t loose too many “empties” if you’re shooting outdoors…
Warranty is excellent and accuracy fit for purpose. Barra deserves credit for offering a rifled barrel upgrade, too, should you want better accuracy with pellets.
This 1866 is just held back from Gold Award status by a couple of small points. We expected better shot count. Plus the grip safety irked the HAM testers and some may find the price a little high.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle is the latest product to be released by this new, growing airgun company. But be careful…
Barra has had an 1866 air rifle for some time. In fact, this was the first air rifle marketed by the company. However it’s important to appreciate that the new Barra CO2 1866 air rifle is a completely different airgun!
The original Barra 1866 was a multi-pump pneumatic with plastic breech selling at a much lower price. It’s still available in multiple versions.
The new model is a much higher-end model with – almost – all metal construction, combined with individual “cartridge” loading and ejection, together with CO2 power. There’s also an interchangeable barrel capability.
It’s a HUGE step forward in realism – and price, too.
In a further clarification, we need to add that the test gun was in .177 caliber and had a smoothbore barrel (for firing BBs or pellets) – that’s Barra Model Number 4098.
The HAM Team chose to test this 1866 firing pellets. Note that Barra offers a .177 caliber rifled barrel upgrade kit for this gun. That would undoubtedly improve accuracy with pellets, although preclude using BBs.
Price-wise, $250 is in the upper echelons for a CO2-powered replica. However, there is also a black-finish version available for $220.
BUY FROM BARRA AIRGUNS
1866 CO2 Gold .177 caliber
REALISM – LOOK AND FEEL
Everything about the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle is a remarkably close representation of the brass-framed 44 caliber Winchester 1866. Overall length is the same and the proportions of the powder-burning original are captured extremely well.
The only possible gripe is that the shiny, yellow metal parts – breech, buttpad etc – are really gold-colored instead of brass-looking.
The CO2-powered gun is slightly lighter than the firearm – but not by much.
At 6 Lbs 12 Oz including CO2 and cartridges, the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle rifle is around 18 Ounces lighter than the original – empty at least. This is probably as a result of the hollow synthetic stock being lighter than the solid wood original.
ACCURACY AND POINT OF IMPACT
The Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle is fitted with a very simple – OK, let’s call it “primitive” – flip-up rear sight. This gives three elevations to work with the front post. But there’s no windage adjustment.
This is a good reproduction of the original Yellowboy’s sights, but our old eyes needed something better if we were to explore the accuracy capability of the gun.
Fortunately, Barra includes a short Picatinny rail at the rear of the receiver. This can be removed if required to obtain a good sight picture using the irons.
However we used it for the intended purpose and mounted a miniature green dot sight. It’s the Leapers OP3 Reflex micro sight. This provided a much better sight picture and includes elevation and windage adjustment.
Obviously the vertical ejection of the “empties” makes it tough to fit a scope. So the practical sighting choices for the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle are either the vintage irons or the modern dot sight.
But, hey, this is a fun plinker for countering feral soda cans, not a heavy-duty sniper rifle!
Realistically, accuracy was certainly good enough for the intended use. In the 70 aimed shots Doug fired to produce the test targets, only one was not within “minute of soda can” at 10 Yards. Indeed, most hit within the central bull.
That’s pretty good performance from the smoothbore barrel but – as mentioned above – installing Barra’s rifled barrel upgrade would certainly increase accuracy.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The manufacturer says that the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle “was inspired by the classic, lever-action repeaters of the American West.” They continue: “With its classic style and realistic repeating action, the CO2 1866 allows you to experience a bit of this unique time in history for yourself.”
The HAM Team is in 100% agreement with that.
The other main claim is the obligatory one for Muzzle Velocity. The specification is “up to 600 FPS”.
Here, the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle tested by HAM achieved a maximum of 518 FPS at 62 degrees F. That would translate to 574 FPS at 90 degrees and with 5.50 Grain pellets, as described below.
That’s about 4.5% below the manufacturer’s specification. That’s close but not quite there. However it’s still plenty of power for backyard plinking, which is what the 1866 is intended for.
The Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle tested by HAM displayed good consistency in trigger pull testing. The pull weight varied by just a few Ounces (-4 to +5) either side of the 3 Lb 7 Oz average.
This is a very good result and would not disgrace a high-end PCP! Effectively it means that the trigger pull feels completely uniform to the shooter.
It’s also noticeable that – with the exception of the Crosman Premiers – the on-target accuracy was reasonably consistent among the standard HAM test pellets. This means that the 1866 we tested was not pellet-picky, which can be a big benefit for many owners.
However the shot-to-shot consistency was not quite in the same league. The average Standard Deviation for the tested 1866 calculated at 18.0 FPS.
To put things into perspective, that’s far from the worst that the HAM Team has found with CO2-powered replica rifles. Also it has to be said that it didn’t seem to effect the accuracy to any great extent. Only the heavy Baracuda Match pellets showed any real signs of vertical stringing down the target.
REALISM – TRIGGER AND ACTION
The Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle rifle has a fantastically-realistic action that puts most other CO2-powered replicas in the shade!
BBs are loaded into individual cartridges and these are then thumbed into the magazine tube through the side-loading gate. This is exactly like the firearm original.
Pulling down on the lever action chambers and ejects successive cartridges after firing. The HAM team found that a fairly stout pull on the action gave the best results in ejecting the “empties”.
There’s a primary, slide-action safety fitted in the upper tang of the action. This is clear and easy to operate, while not being a feature of the original powder-burner.
In addition there’s a second, “grip safety” that’s operated by the cocking lever. This has a vertical, trigger block action and is operated by pulling the lever up tight against the stock while firing.
This might look like an easy thing to do. However it is definitely somewhat of an acquired skill. The HAM Testers would prefer it if less pressure were required to hold this “grip safety” on when firing the 1866.
The trigger pull of the 1866 CO2 air rifle tested by HAM averaged 3 Lbs 7 Oz. This is rather lighter than the 6 Lbs or so of the original, however this likely will raise few complains from users. It didn’t from us.
The trigger itself is a two-stage type. The second stage is easy to feel. It is consistent and predictable in use. That’s good.
Of course, it’s the realistic cartridge loading and ejection that makes this 1866 such a stand-out. It’s definitely fun! But one word of warning…
Buy a lot of extra cartridges!
Unlike the firearm original, these need to be re-loaded and re-used. The realistic extraction sends these cartridges flying and – if outside – you’ll be hard-pressed to find them all again. Also remember to carefully clean any dirt off of them before re-loading.
But that’s a small price to for the fun and realism that’s gained from that great action!
HAM Tester Doug Wall achieved 70 consistent shots from two full CO2 cartridges before the Muzzle Velocity dropped to 250 FPS.
Given that this is a “non-blowback” action, to be honest, the HAM Team was disappointed with the shot count of the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle we tested. Yes the FPS was reasonably high, but we had hoped for better.
As always, HAM testing was undertaken in relatively cool conditions. This time it was 62 degrees F on the range.
This is rather cool for CO2-powered airguns, however, the maximum average Muzzle Velocity for a 10-shot string was 518 FPS. This was achieved with the 5.5 Grain Predator GTO alloys.
|Average Muzzle Velocity
|Average Muzzle Energy
|Predator GTO 5.50 Grain
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain
|Very Good. Best Tested.
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain
Being a smoothbore, this 1866 can also shoot BBs. Given that steel BBs have a roughly similar weight to that of the GTOs, we were not surprised to see similar Muzzle Velocities for them in informal testing.
We know that Muzzle Velocity increases in CO2-poweed guns by around 2 FPS per degree F of increasing ambient temperature. It’s also known that any CO2-powered airgun is likely to suffer “valve lock” at temperatures somewhere around 95 degrees F.
So, taking the maximum 10-shot average Muzzle Velocity of 518 FPS at 62 Degrees F, that means that the Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle tested by HAM would produce a peak Muzzle Velocity of 574 FPS at 90 degrees.
This is reasonably strong performance for a CO2-powered airgun.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
There’s no doubt about it! The Barra 1866 CO2 air rifle is an outstanding replica of the original firearm. The heavy octagonal barrel is there, together with that large receiver – bigger than that of later lever actions such as the Model 1894.
The overall appearance and functionality of the gun is first-rate. Ditto for the finish.
The black-finished metal parts are perfectly machined (or cast in a few cases). Yes, the black powder coating not good, old-fashioned “gun blue”, but it looks good and is practical.
The shiny, gold metal parts are very well finished, even if slightly too shiny and “gold” compared to the original brass. However it’s the “wood” parts that really shine. Yes. they’re actually synthetic, but this is an extremely realistic wood effect finish.
The obligatory BB gun warning text is printed in a small font, inconspicuously located under the magazine tube. This will be appreciated by many.
Overall, Doug Wall’s comment hits the mark: “This is a really nice replica for Western fans!”
BUYING AND OWNING
Here’s more good news! Barra Airguns’ warranty on the 1866 CO2 air rifle is one year – yes, 12 months. That’s provided that you register the product at the Barra website within 30 days of purchase.
This compares very favorably to the majority of other firearms replicas in the market today that have 90-day – or at the best 6 month – coverage.
The gun itself is well presented in a quality card box to protect it on its journey to you. There’s also an excellent color user’s guide that covers operation and maintenance of the rifle well, with many photographs. It’s in English only, however.
A major differentiator for Barra Airguns is the company’s approach to the sensible maintenance and upgrading of their products.
As we saw recently, Barra has interchangeable barrels for the Schofield. What’s more, they make the replacement parts readily available and give good instructions for the “careful average Joe” to make the change.
This same strategy is in place for the new Barra CO2 1866 air rifle. The gun that arrived in the HAM offices for testing is in .177 caliber. It’s fitted with a smoothbore barrel suitable for shooting steel BBs or lead pellets.
However Barra also has upgrade kits available for the CO2-powered 1866. There’s a dedicated rifles barrel in .177 caliber for those who want to shoot exclusively pellets.
There’s also a .22 caliber rifled barrel kit that’s supplied complete with 10 “cartridges” for pellet shooting.
Should you just want a short shooting session with your 1866, just load a full CO2 cartridge into the gun, followed by a used (empty) one. Full FPS will be achieved but with half the shot count.
BUY FROM BARRA AIRGUNS
1866 CO2 Gold .177 caliber
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.