How Well Does The Umarex Cowboy Rifle Shoot Pellets?

It’s the question everyone seems to be asking. “How well does the Umarex Cowboy Rifle shoot pellets?”

Actually, it’s somewhat of a strange question. The Cowboy rifle is a BB gun. It has a smooth barrel and it shoots BBs very well – as we found out in our recent, comprehensive HAM test review.

But people want to push the envelope and shoot pellets as well – or possibly instead of – BBs. This is clearly going beyond the barriers of the gun’s original design and intention. After all, it IS a BB gun!

And what happens if there’s a problem when you use your Umarex Cowboy Rifle to shoot pellets? Like a jam that you can’t clear? 

In that case, it’s probably not wise to expect that Umarex USA would honor a warranty claim on your gun as you’re using it in a way that’s not intended…

But, with that caution in mind, let’s answer the question. How well does the Umarex Cowboy Rifle shoot pellets? The targets throughout this story give the results…

How Well Does The Umarex Cowboy Rifle Shoot Pellets?

First the good news. HAM Publisher Stephen Archer fired approximately 200 pellets to answer this question. He experienced no jams with the sample gun that tested so well shooting BBs.

As the Cowboy Rifle is an Umarex product, we decided to shoot test targets with a selection of RWS pellets which are distributed by the company.

So yes, at least this gun fires pellets downrange without problems. The next question is “How well do they group on the target?”

The immediate answer is “Generally pretty well.” As you would expect, some pellets will be more accurate than others. 

Overall, 7 Grain wadcutter pellets traveled downrange at close to the same speed as 5+ Grain BBs. This clearly provided greater Muzzle Energy – around 5 Ft/Lbs for lead pellets compared to less that 4 Ft/Lbs for BBs.

But is this significant? 5 Ft/Lbs is still nowhere near enough to undertake any kind of humane airgun hunting and most plinking does not require the additional energy.

It’s true that shooting at reactive steel targets such Field Targets or Cowboy Action targets would be both safer and more satisfactory with lead pellets rather than steel BBs. So there’s a benefit.

Maybe there’s the hope for better accuracy shooting lead pellets than steel BBs. If so, that’s not the case. We shot the Umarex Cowboy Rifle at 10 Yards with pellets. The best group attained was not better than the best group attained with BBs. Although it was close!

That was with wadcutter pellets. Using domed pellets, the group was actually worse than using steel BBs.

Then consider that the price of lead pellets is hundreds of times higher than that for steel BBs. Particularly in the case of the RWS R10 competition-grade wadcutters which our Cowboy Rifle preferred!

HAM testing also revealed that the Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot consistency in a string – was far higher for lead pellets than for steel BBs. In other words, you’d be more likely to experience vertical stringing down that target with pellets. This is visible in the targets you can see here.

How Well Does The Umarex Cowboy Rifle Shoot Pellets?

In order to propel the lead pellets downrange at a greater Muzzle Energy than steel BBs, the Umarex Cowboy Rifle likely used more CO2 per shot. Makes sense, right?

This greater CO2 use may have over-stretched the internal design of the Cowboy, leading to the faster FPS drop. It may also explain why the accuracy test also saw FPS falling fast after just 35 shots: check out the Test 4 target that shows the gun clearly running low on gas. 

Or was that the result of a non-punctured or defective 12 Gram CO2 cartridge?

So, “How well does the Umarex Cowboy Rifle shoot pellets?” Actually quite well, especially considering it was not designed to do so. But, with the possible exception of Cowboy Action Shooting, why would you want to?

AmmoWeightMuzzle EnergyMuzzle EnergyVertical C-T-CHorizontal C-T-C
ASG Blaster Steel BBs5.32 Grains568 FPS3.85 Ft/Lbs0.75-Inch0.75-Inch
RWS Meisterkugeln Pistol Lead Pellets7.0 Grains576 FPS5.17 Ft/Lbs1.00-Inch1.00-Inch
RWS Hobby Lead Pellets7.0 Grains545 FPS4.63 Ft/Lbs0.75-Inch0.93-Inch
RWS R10 Match Lead Pellets8.2 Grains525 FPS5.03 Ft/Lbs0.92-Inch0.52-Inch
RWS Superdome Lead Pellets8.3 Grains524 FPS3.34 FPS1.60-Inch1.30-Inch
Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action CO2 BB Air Rifle
Umarex Legends Cowboy Rifle