304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
If you’re looking for some fast-fire action but need to be careful with your cash, Mike Morton reckons the Gamo Whisper X Swarm is well worth a look
While it’s possible to spend a small fortune on airgun shooting, our sport still remains accessible to all.
Many shooters new to the sport will cut their teeth on airgunning via some good old-fashioned garden plinking, and today this still remains a viable, fun and safe way to introduce new people to the sport, with the gear required for this generally being fairly inexpensive.
Plinking isn’t just for beginners though as it’s also a great way to mentally unwind away from more challenging pursuits such as hunting or competition shooting.
Let’s say you’re starting out. Buying a rifle is one thing, but what about all the paraphernalia you’ll need to get up and running?
Most of us need to be careful with our money, and that’s where rifles like the Gamo Whisper X Swarm come into their own.
This rifle, available in .177 and .22 calibres, will put the newcomer on the road to hundreds of hours of shooting pleasure as it comes with a scope and mounts included.
But Gamo produces additional shooting products which would be ideal for a setup like the Swarm, including a spare magazine, add-on cheekpiece, sling, rifle bag, pellets and targets. I’ll take a look at these in turn, starting with the rifle itself.
Maker: Gamo (gamoguns.co.uk)
Model: Whisper X Swarm
Type: Multi-shot break-barrel
Calibre: .177 (tested) and .22
Magazine: 10 shots in both calibres
Overall length: 115cm
Stock: Ambidextrous synthetic
Sights: Scope only, dovetail rail
Length of pull: 36cm
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Trigger-pull: 3lb 11oz
Safety: Manual, resettable
Muzzle energy: 10.35 ft-lb (with test rifle)
If you mention the term “multi-shot air rifle”, most people will think of a pre-charged pneumatic, but a few years ago Gamo introduced the Maxxim Elite – a break-barrel powered by a gas-ram that uses a 10-shot magazine. The original Elite went on to spawn a series of rifles called the Swarm, this particular one being the Whisper X.
Rifles in the Swarm series share similar features, such as the Gamo Multishot magazine and Whisper silencer systems, as well as the Recoil Reducing Rail that cushions the recoil and reduces the stress on the scope included with the gun.
I’ve looked at one of the Swarms in a previous article, that being the Maxxim Elite Swarm Tactical. The main differences between the various Swarm models are in the style of their stocks and the materials they’re made from, so I’ll be brief here and focus on the performance of this gun before discussing the accessories.
The Swarm includes a basic 3-9×40 telescopic sight with a Duplex-style reticle. The scope arrives already seated in its one-piece mount, and it’s simple to fit to the rail using a T15 Torx bit. There’s no way to adjust parallax, but it’s error-free at around 25 yards, which is the distance I used for all my zeroing and testing.
I used Gamo 10X Hollow Point pellets for my initial testing (more on these later), all of which weighed a very consistent 7.8 grains according to my digital scales. When shot over the chrono, this all-Gamo combo produced a variation in muzzle velocity of 14 feet per second over a 10-shot string.
Group sizes with this ammo were around the size of a 10 pence piece, sometimes shrinking to the size of a five pence piece, which has a diameter of 18mm.
However, the Whisper X Swarm really liked QYS Domed pellets, with sub-5p groups being the norm when the rifle was shot from a rested position, making this gun a good contender for short-range pest control as well as for plinking. So with the rifle and bundled scope having earned a tick in the right box, what about all those accessories?
Firing off 10 pellets then taking a break to reload the magazine can be a welcome change of pace, especially if you’ve been concentrating hard.
But let’s face it – half the fun of a multi is the ability to rattle off plenty of shots in quick succession, something the Swarm does very well, and if that’s the type of shooting that you enjoy, then you’ll probably want to grab yourself a spare magazine so that you can double the number of instantly available shots.
Gamo’s Multishot system sits above the breech, accepts the magazine and seats a pellet every time the rifle is cocked. Pellets are inserted nose-first from the rear of the magazine, rotating the inner drum anti-clockwise as you go.
The magazine then slots into place with a positive click, and it’s notched to stop it being inserted the wrong way round.
When it’s empty you just need to depress the button at the rear of the unit and it pops up so you can remove it. Spare magazines have a recommended retail price of £31. I had no malfunctions with either of the magazines that I tested.
Gun fit is one of the most crucial elements that help create a successful shot.
Head and eye alignment with a scope is a particularly sensitive area, as any mismatch can result in the shooter adopting an unnatural position, straining their muscles and inducing parallax error. It’s not uncommon for the sightline of a scope to lie above the shooter’s eyeline with a non-height-adjustable stock.
This was the case for me with this particular rifle and scope setup, but luckily there’s an easy way to fix this in the shape of an add-on cheekpiece.
Gamo’s 10X Cheekpiece Storage Cover, with an RRP of £18.99, has a zippered pocket on the outside for storing small items likes spare pellets, magazines or a range/club ID card. For me the most significant feature is the foam riser block that effectively raises the height of the comb, lifting the head and allowing me to get a far better sight picture.
The cheekpiece is intended for right-hand use as the stowage compartment is on the right-hand side, but it can easily be used by left-handers as long as the compartment is left empty so the head can still make proper contact with the stock.
Most slings are attached to a rifle via sling swivels and the corresponding sling swivel studs that are screwed into the bottom of the butt and the front of the forend.
If the studs have not already been fitted by the manufacturer, then this will often mean drilling the stock, which can be done with synthetic stocks as well as wood.
This is a relatively simple process, but can still cause anxiety among shooters who’ve never done it before and are concerned about damaging their stock. The fitting of a sling is complicated with a break-barrel, where a barrel band is required to act as an anchor point for the swivel.
There is another way though, as illustrated by the Gamo Universal Rifle Sling, which is simply strapped round the butt and barrel,
without the need to break out a drill or attach any aftermarket parts. This sling costs £16, and works well with the Swarm, requiring the strap to be looped round the rifle at each end, then tensioned to take up the slack.
I found it best to tighten the bottom strap immediately behind the pistol grip, so the area where the grip flares out holds it in place and prevents it from riding any higher.
The sling is quite grippy over the shoulder, thanks to the soft rubber pad on the inside. You’ll need to remove the add-on cheekpiece before fitting it, but that’s a job that takes just a few seconds to do.
A gun bag is vital for carrying your rifle or pistol to the range, and while this might sound obvious, it must be big enough to carry the gun you’re intending to shoot.
I’ve seen people buy gun bags that are too small for their rifle, often having to unscrew their moderator before it would go in, and in one memorable case even having to remove their scope before the gun would fit. Needless to say this 120cm long bag is just the right size to carry the Swarm.
Something that can be overlooked is having a gun bag that’s too big. That’s fine if you intend to use it with more than one gun, in which case the bag must be big enough to take the largest rifle in your airgun arsenal.
But if you just need it for one gun, then having a bag that’s big enough, and no more, is better than having one that’s unnecessarily large.
As well as being the right length, this bag, which has an RRP of £23.99, isn’t overly thick, and has a soft lining. It’s deep enough to comfortably take the Swarm and scope combo, and there’s enough room in the bag to carry the rifle with a larger scope than the one it comes supplied with.
Despite the term “10X’’ being associated with target shooting, these pellets are a hollowpoint design and are intended for use in multi-shot rifles like the Swarm.
Although it’s a rare occurrence, multi-shot magazines may not cycle properly if the pellets are too long and therefore protrude beyond the face of the magazine.
Hollowpoint ammo like the Gamo 10X will have a shorter overall length compared with a similar pellet with a regular domed head, therefore reducing or even eliminating the chance of it fouling the mechanism.
Although I didn’t carry out a full testing regime as I would for one of my dedicated pellet tests, I did tip out the contents for inspection, finding just one tiny flake of lead and two deformed pellets in an otherwise pristine tin of 500.
I also weighed a small sample of 10 pellets, and while Gamo’s advertised weight is 7.56 grains, all weighed an identical 7.80 grains according to my digital scales.
These are impressive results, especially considering the pellets’ rather low RRP of £7.99. Being designed to cycle in Gamo’s 10-shot magazine, it was no surprise to learn that these pellets functioned perfectly, with no jams or mis-feeds at all.
Some shooters are confirmed plinkers, and while they might swear they’ll never need to shoot a paper target, I’d beg to differ.
At the very least, paper targets are useful for initial zeroing, and you’ll periodically want to repeat the process to confirm zero, especially if you decide to change pellets or are shooting in a different climate or weather conditions than before. And despite our love of reactive targets, shooting paper can still be fun.
Gamo’s 10X 10 Shoot Challenge paper targets cost £5.50 for a pack of 100. Hit markers numbered 1-10 are printed at various points around the card, so one way to tackle them is to start at the “1” marker and work your way up to “10”, this being the smallest, and therefore the hardest to hit.
If you can go from 1 to 10 with just one magazine’s worth of pellets then that would be really good shooting.
These targets can be pinned or taped to a suitable backstop, but a better way to present them is to use a dedicated pellet-catcher. These usually come in two sizes, 17x17cm or 14x14cm, and the 10X targets will fit the smaller size of catcher.
The Whisper X Swarm’s ability to offer a multi-shot capability from a break-barrel gas-ram makes it a good contender for anyone looking for fun on the plinking range or a fast follow-up shot for pest control.
I’d have loved to have seen a height-adjustable cheekpiece on the well thought-out polymer stock, but the ability to fit a dedicated add-on device minimises this concern and makes for plenty of enjoyable – and accurate – shorter-range shooting.