New Arrow-Firing PCP Umarex AirSaber Test Review
December 7, 2019
Heavy bolt action
Safety tough to use wearing gloves
VALUE FOR MONEY
With a MSRP of 369.99 including the dedicated crossbow scope and rings, the Umarex AirSaber is great value in today’s marketplace. That’s less than half that of the other common arrow-firing PCP air rifle, the Benjamin Airbow. It’s just $319.99 without the scope.
The AirSaber is somewhat less powerful than the Airbow. Nor is is regulated like its competitor. However it’s definitely plenty powerful and it combines this with a higher shot count, lighter weight and better handling than the Airbow.
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SPEED AND ACCURACY
The maximum Muzzle Velocity achieved by the Umarex AirSaber tested by HAM was 485 FPS. This was achieved, of course, using the 350 Grain Umarex arrows supplied for this airgun at the maximum 3,650 PSI fill pressure.
Note that these test results were obtained at a temperature of 35 degrees F in December 2019. Typical deer hunting weather, as HAM Tester Doug Wall observed!
As we can see from the chart below, this Muzzle Velocity fell very rapidly to 435 FPS for the second shot. It then declined more gradually from then onwards to 417 FPS, 406 FPS, etc…
Using the Labradar doppler radar system, HAM also recorded the velocities downrange. In the charts accompanying this review, the Muzzle Velocity is shown by the blue line. The green line indicates the velocity at 10 Yards, orange shows the FPS at 20 Yards and the red line the velocity at 30 yards.
This enables us also to calculate the Muzzle Energy developed by the Umarex AirSaber tested by HAM, together with the remaining Kinetic Energy downrange. So we see that that first shot produced no less than 184 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy. At 30 Yards, 99.1 Ft/Lbs of energy was still possessed by the flying arrow.
The energies produced by successive shots at the muzzle and downrange are shown in the next chart.
Although the AirSaber has a maximum fill pressure of 3,650 PSI. Umarex recognizes that many people will want to fill this airgun with High Pressure Air using a hand pump. In this case, 3,000 PSI is a reasonable maximum fill pressure due to the effort required for pumping.
So we repeated the HAM testing with a fill pressure of 3,000 PSI. This time the data shows that the highest Muzzle Velocity was 391 FPS, with 329 FPS being achieved on shot 10 of this test. Muzzle Energy peaked at 119.6 Ft/Lbs on shot one and dropped to 84.7 Ft/Lbs by shot 10. This is entirely as expected. More PSI = more FPS in most any unregulated airgun.
To give a guide to the range of game that can be harvested – where legal – by the AirSaber, Umarex has produced the graphic below. This indicates that this arrow-firing PCP is capable of dealing with even with the toughest game – especially when the highest pressure is used.
Accuracy was very good. Every shot made by the HAM Team at 40 yards would have been a one-shot kill on an animal the size of a White Tail deer (with a 6 – 7 Inch kill zone). However, the constantly-falling Muzzle Velocity meant that the shooter needed to adjust the point of aim as the shot count built up.
This means that practice will be needed to obtain consistent accuracy in the field – particularly if firing many shots. Fortunately, most hunters are unlikely to take many shots at one time, so this ever-falling point of impact is less likely to be an issue.
This is a typical 3-shot group shot at 40 Yards by the HAM Team with the AirSaber. The vertical CTC is 3.5 Inches. Horizontal CTC is 0.5 Inch. That’s definitely well within “Minute of White Tail” accuracy at 40 Yards!
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The Umarex AirSaber tested by HAM produced an average trigger pull weight of 3 Lbs 3 Oz. This is a good hunting weight and was accompanied by a long, two-stage pull. The release point was clearly and consistently felt during our tests.
However, this very satisfactory hunting performance by the trigger was not matched by the safety. It’s the small, push-across pin with the red highlight shown in our photograph below.
This manual trigger block safety is easy and convenient to operate in warm weather with bare hands. However, it was very tough to use with freezing fingers covered in heavy gloves during HAM test firing. Thin, warm gloves are recommended for cold weather hunting!
Loading an arrow simply requires dropping it down over the barrel, inside the “shroud”. This is not difficult but – due to the 41 Inch length of the gun – it’s much easier if you have long arms!
The gun is then cocked using the bolt handle. It has to be said that this is about the heaviest bolt action the HAM Team has ever operated. There’s clearly a VERY strong hammer spring in this gun. However, it works well enough and, again, hunters will not be taking many shots in a day.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The AirSaber tested by HAM comfortably exceeded the manufacturer’s claims for power.
Umarex USA is positioning this arrow-firing PCP as generating 400+ FPS and 124+ Ft/Lbs using the 350 Grain arrows. The gun tested by HAM far exceeded that performance obtained from the first shot when filled to 3,650 PSI. The next three shots also exceeded the claim.
Umarex also claims that the AirSaber is able to produce up to 25 effective shots per fill. While it’s true that a fully-charged AirSaber would definitely give 25 shots – or even more – their effectiveness has to be questioned.
This is because the unregulated design produces ever-slower velocities, requiring continual changes of aim point through the scope if the target is to be hit. You can easily see the arrows dropping lower with every shot and you’ll run out of vertical aiming points in the scope’s reticle well before 25 shots at 40 Yards!
That’s why the HAM Team restricted our tests to 10 shots from each fill pressure.
The HAM test gun was supplied with 8 Umarex 350 Grain arrows. When weighed on HAM’s laboratory-grade digital balance, we discovered that their average weight was 352.15 Grains. The heaviest arrow weighed 354.8 Grains and the lightest 349.2 Grains. This is a variation in weight of less than plus or minus 1 %.
(These are field point arrows, however broadheads can fitted if required. The field points are simply unscrewed and replaced.)
The trigger pull weight also displayed good consistency, varying by just +/- 5 Ounces about the average in HAM testing.
As the AirSaber is not regulated, Muzzle Velocity is not consistent in an absolute sense. However – as can be seen from the Muzzle Velocity graphs above – the decline in FPS from shot-to-shot is fairly consistent and predictable, at least after the first shot at maximum fill pressure.
The AirSaber has a shrouded “barrel”. However, due to the inherent nature of an arrow-firing air rifle, it’s not quiet. This may not matter to the hunter, however.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The Umarex AirSabre is available with a bundled 4 x 32 crossbow scope from Axeon Optics. This is mounted to the Picatinny rail that is machined in the breech.
This scope has the expected full width aiming lines dropping down below the central cross of the reticle. This made it easy enough to aim off allowing for the decreasing FPS with each shot, at least after a few minutes practice.
Like many Umarex USA long guns – the Gauntlet and Synergis come to mind immediately – the AirSaber is a long gun. Its length of 41 Inches makes loading less easy, although it didn’t seem muzzle-heavy to the HAM Team.
Ideally, this airgun should be rested against a tree or – like the HAM Team did – on a bipod for accurate shooting. The three front-mounted Picatinny rails allow for attaching a bipod, flashlight and/or quivvers for additional arrows.
The ambidextrous thumbhole stock gives a good grip and cheek weld. This, together with the comfortable trigger, makes it easy to shoot.
As mentioned above, the bolt action is heavy, although not unacceptable for a hunting arrow gun.
Like other arrow-firing PCPs, there’s a fair recoil with the gun is fired. But this is not unpleasant or anything like – say – a 30.06!
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The Umarex AirSaber tested by HAM was well finished for the price. The metal parts are uniformly covered with a black powder coat finish. No machining marks are visible and printing of the name etc is clear and sharp.
The synthetic olive green stock is well molded, although there are fairly pronounced seam lines along the top and bottom of the stock.
Overall appearance is similar to that of a conventional, pellet-firing air rifle.
BUYING AND OWNING
The AirSaber is just being launched at the time this review is published. However, it’s sure to be available through Umarex USA’s dealer partners across the country, including Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot.
HAM is pleased to see that the pressure gauge is located in the underside of the AirSaber’s stock, just ahead of the trigger. This avoids the need to “look down the barrel” to check HPA pressure.
Filling with air is undertaken by connecting a probe to the end of the HPA reservoir. This probe has a male 1/8-Inch quick disconnect on the “non probe” end, making it easy to attach to the hose of a HPA tank or pump.
Umarex USA tells HAM that arrows will be available in 6-packs at an MSRP of 39.99. Like the gun itself, this is not expensive.
The User’s Guide is clearly written and illustrated, as is usual with Umarex products. Also, the AirSaber is supported by a 3 year warranty, for long-term security.
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