The Gamo Black Knight 4,5mm/.177 caliber air rifle is one of the most recent new products launched by the well-known Spanish manufacturer.
The version we tested is a low-powered variant − whose muzzle energy levels don't exceed a 7,5 Joules threshold − specifically designed for those Countries (among others, Italy) where ownership of high-powered airguns is subject to licensing and registration.
In those Countries where similar restrictions are not in place, the Gamo Black Knight air rifle is available only in a high-power variant whose muzzle energy reaches a staggering 24 Joules level, making it one of the most powerful air rifles in its category.
It's a real shame that we were somehow forced to try out a downgraded variant; it really felt like testing a Ferrari with a compact car engine.
Despite being a low-powered variant, however, our sample still featured the vast majority of the most interesting features of the design, and that's what we're going to talk about.
The Gamo Black Knight air rifle is built around a matte black synthetic stock, with a Montecarlo-style cheekriser, a well-pronounced pistol grip, and some rougher gripping surfaces on the grip itself and on the handguard.
From a merely cosmetic standpoint, the pronouncedly curvy stock is extremely appealing and provides an overall dynamic look, pretty much in line with the modern "Kinetic Design" concept.
From a practical standpoint, the gripping textures on the handguard and the front portion of the pistol grip are extremely effective; and the SWA ("Shock Wave Absorber") buttpad allows the shooter to adjust its recoil reduction levels at whim, simply by adding or removing a series of elastic inserts.
The Gamo Black Knight air rifle is comfortable to handle, thanks to the ergonomic design of the stock itself − despite the overall weight of three kilograms, which doesn't exactly make it a featherweight.
That may seem an irrelevant factor for shooters who will use this air rifle for simple range training or leisure plinking from fixed positions, but airgun hunters that may be interested in the Gamo Black Knight for varmint or pest control, will most probably appreciate how handy this air rifle is to align to fast-moving preys.
Much like many other recent air rifles manufactured by Gamo, the Black Knight model comes with the new SAT ("Smooth Action Trigger") trigger group, providing a smoother travel and a crisp break.
The SAT trigger features a polymer transfer bar and a small front lever, a sort of clever "second trigger" that dubs as a manual safety: when pulled, it will block the transfer bar. Pushing it forward − just like one would do with a Stecher on an old-style rifle − will disengage the safety.
The overall weight of the trigger pull in the sample we tried was measured at around two kilograms.
The first stage trigger travel is basically weightless and is five millimetres long; it has no purpose but to engage the second stage.
Another five millimetres travel is necessary to break; the second stage trigger travel can however be adjusted through a screw that's accessible through the trigger guard.
The Gamo Black Knight air rifle comes with a 45-centimeters long barrel, featuring a lovely, classic full matte black surface finish in lieu of a full-lenght polymer shroud that's typical of the Gamo air rifles of the latest generation.
A shorter synthetic shroud is indeed fit around the muzzle, providing a support point for the hooded front sight, well protected from impacts and shocks, with large top and side windows and a highly visible red fiber-optics insert.
The adjustable rear sight is installed on top of the breech and comes with fiber-optic inserts itself − bright green, this time − which co-witnesses and contrasts perfectly against the red insert of the front sight. The RRR ("Recoil Reducing Rail") top scope attachment point is conceived to absorb the typical vibrations of the shot − which can affect the crosshair and the reticle of a scope even on an airgun − and to safeguard the stability of the scope from the "side effects" of the recoil energy.
The Black Knight air rifle we were provided with for the test came factory-issued with a variable magnification 3-9x Gamo Matrik scope, featuring a Mil-Dot reticle; one of the highest-quality Gamo-branded optical sights, the Matrik model also sports integral attachment rings, a 40mm front lens and a 1" tube.
The parallax adjustment dial is located on the front portion of the scope, just behind the front lens, and provides both metric and yardage markings; the reticle is instead adjusted through a couple of brass-made "Tonix" turrets, which can easily be handled without tools and offer well perceptible clicks, but feature no end-travel stop.
The parallax dial offers a tough friction level, enough to prevent involountary tampering of the adjustment when handling the rifle while at the same time allowing a fluid and easy manipulation.
Now, the magnification factor of the Gamo Matrik scope might have been somewhat excessive for our low-power variant, but given the low minimum focus distance (nine metres), it still gave us a chance to have some fun in plinking and get accustomed to its regulation controls.
We tested the Gamo Black Knight air rifle at a standard distance for low-power air rifles (ten metres) using Gamo Match 0.49 grams pellets on classic cardboard targets.
The SAT trigger felt definitely excellent, particularly if compared to the average trigger quality found on most entry-level airguns; if you want to take it from us, the SAT trigger is actually even better than the one found on most high-power, high-end match grade airguns!
Its travel is indeed crisp and fluid, with no rough points whatsoever, with a clean break and a modest overtravel − which, indeed, feels somewhat stiff.
The recoil on this air rifle is somehow blunt, with some vibrations on all the three axis only when the trigger breaks, with no acute metal resonance as one would expect from a standard spring-powered air rifle.
We must indeed point out that the installation of the scope to the Gamo Black Knight air rifle was was somehow difficult and time-consuming; accuracy was satisfactory anyway, if compared with other entry-level gamo airguns, not just as good as one would expect from a high-level competition airgun but more than apt to offer hours and hours of plinking fun against empty cans and paper targets!