Editor’s gun test: Armex Walther Rotex RM8 Varminter Kit
- Credit: Archant
Minted! You don’t have to be, to own the Armex Walther Rotex RM8 Varminter Kit
What do we need to go hunting and stand a good chance of success? We require a rifle producing sufficient consistent accuracy and muzzle energy to despatch our quarry cleanly, a reliable sighting device and mount, a stock that promotes comfortable control, and preferably, a silencer to keep everything efficiently discreet. A protective case to keep it all in would be handy, and what about a bipod for those intensive zeroing and pellet-testing sessions, or for when you’re plotted up in the prone position to ambush rabbits? One last tick on many hunters’ wish lists would be an overall price tag that didn’t make their eyes water.
The big news, fresh in this month is, Armex have decided to offer all of that, plus their renowned care package, for a penny under £500. This has to be worth investigating, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
The Armex Varminter Kit
What we have here, is a Walther Rotex RM8 pre-charged pneumatic rifle, an Enfield 3-9 x 40 scope and mounts, a reflex Backdraft silencer, an adjustable bipod complete with Picatinny mounting blocks for lamp, laser or infrared illuminator, and a fully-padded rifle case in dark green, rather than the black one I’ve been using. It’s quite a package, then, especially for £499.99 all-in, but as we know, a bargain’s only a bargain if it does what we need it to do. There’s the next phase cued up nicely, then.
The Walther Rotex RM8
The rifle at the centre of the Varminter Kit is, not unnaturally, the Walther Rotex RM8 Varminter. This is the latest incarnation of Walther’s 8-shot, bolt-action sporter and features the familiar fixed, 200cc buddy bottle, fully-floating – fixed at the breech only – 19.7-inch barrel, and an ambidextrous, black, synthetic, thumbhole stock. That stock is a pleasing thing to handle and to look at, blessed as it is with all manner of sympathetic curves, contours and moulded grip panels. Those panels are among the grippiest I’ve ever used, too, so full marks to the Walther designers.
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The trigger is the tried-and-tested two-stage mechanism that offers an adjustable first stage and a factory set let-off pressure. Many airgunners would arch a cynical eyebrow at any modern PCP without a fully-adjustable trigger, but to them I’d say, see how you get on with it first. More of that later; for now I’ll finish the brief tour of the Varminter Kit.
Along with the Varminter itself, the Armex kit contains a Backdraft reflex silencer that slides over the rifle’s ½-inch UNF threaded barrel a full 6.5 inches, leaving just 3 inches protruding. The Backdraft is equipped with internal baffles and has all the volume required to swallow the RM8’s muzzle noise. This moderator is big, black and bold, but it somehow fits the whole package extremely well, and it works a treat, without messing up the rifle’s balance. I thought I wouldn’t like the Backdraft but it’s growing on me.
On the subject of balance, the Varminter Kit’s supplied bipod will definitely change the handling characteristics if you leave it attached and folded during general shooting duties. A swift twist with either a Phillips or flathead screwdriver releases the bipod from its Weaver-style mount, and the Varminter’s excellent balance is restored. As for the bipod itself, it sports height-adjustable, spring-loaded legs with squishy rubber feet and a couple of Weaver mount blocks for those attachments I mentioned earlier. This is a practical accessory that does its job extremely well, although I’d have preferred a quick-release facility so I could snap it on and off as required.
Scope and mounts
The Enfield 3-9 x 40 scope is perfect for those who prefer to keep things simple, reliable and unobtrusive. A duplex cross hair maintains the simple/practical theme and this is carried through by the low-profile turrets. The test scope endured a quick turrets ‘walkabout’ to test its ability to retain zero, and this exercise involves cranking the adjusters in 20-click increments up, left, down and right, to make sure it returns to its original point of aim. It did, so that was lovely.
The 3-9 x 40 format has to be one of the most popular in the wide world of telescopic sights, and for good reason. It provides enough magnification at the top end to spot pellet holes in paper out to 40 yards, and the lower settings give the shooter the wide-angle view required to locate and shoot close range quarry. A set of two-piece, medium height mounts holds everything in place and the more I study this scope, and the kit to which it belongs, the more obvious it becomes that this Varminter outfit is all about practical use, rather than frills.
The rifle case
Everything comes contained in a full-size soft case, reinforced with webbing and sufficiently padded to protect what’s inside it. As stated, I believe the cases will be green, but construction is identical, including the sturdy zip, which opens the rifle case fully to become a shooting mat. Again, it’s a sensible, practical product that does what it’s designed to do.
Charging and shot capacity
The RM8’s buddy bottle is charged to 232 bar via its supplied probe adaptor, and for the .22 calibre rifle on test, that’s sufficient compression to supply 180 shots, or very near offer. My initial chrono’ tests returned a figure of 178 shots at 11.5 ft.lbs., using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, and the ‘best’ 100 of those shots came 20 shots in to a full charge. This translates to filling just below the full 232 bar, and recharging after 12 magazines’ worth of pellets have been shot.
The RM8 is unregulated, so this ‘finding the sweet spot’ exercise is entirely worth doing, and having consulted my previous notes on other tests I’ve carried out on this rifle, I was interested to see that my findings have been consistent. The last two .22 RM8s I tested also preferred a charging pressure of slightly lower than 232 bar, and like this latest model, the average consistency throughout the 100-shot band was 14 f.p.s. I’ll shoot right through the charge for next month’s follow-up test, but as it stands, having 100 reliable shots to my credit as I set foot in the hunting field is all the potential I need.
I think Walther may have introduced a refinement somewhere along the line, because the previous tests I mentioned told me to expect 14mm diameter groups at 35 yards. This test rifle closed that down to 12mm, and sometimes smaller. This could be purely down to range conditions on the day, or the quality/compatibility of the particular batch of pellets I used, or even my form at the time of testing, but I have to say that the Varminter on test felt a little ‘slicker’ than previous models. The shooting cycle of the RM8 is unlike most PCPs in that I can feel the rifle’s internal hammer striking the valve to release air for each shot. It’s always been like that and it’s no big deal, but that sensation on firing has been reduced with this test rifle, or at least that’s how it feels to me.
Perception aside, the best way to cycle the bolt on this rifle, is to be smooth and direct with it. The rifle is cocked on the rearward travel of the bolt, and the magazine is indexed as the bolt is pushed forward to load the pellet and seal the system. Try to develop a ‘back-forth’ action, without hesitation, and you’ll have no problems cycling shot after shot.
I waited for someone from those who tried the Varminter to mention the trigger. Only one did and he expressed a desire for a slightly lighter setting. A gunsmith could achieve this, but the user can’t because the let-off isn’t adjustable. In all honesty, I’d leave it exactly how it is, with 12mm of first stage travel and a 1.5 pound let-off pressure. It’s a totally workable set-up and I predict the vast majority of airgunners will get along perfectly with it.
At £499, the Armex Varminter Kit has to represent a bargain. The rifle shoots accurately and handles efficiently. The trigger plays a positive role in overall accuracy and only true trigger freaks will find it wanting. This new stock is the best option yet and carries a genuinely credible mix of hardwearing practicality, good design and, yes, it’s fair share of style. Next month, I’ll concentrate on pushing the performance envelope to its maximum and see where that takes us, but for a penny under 500 quid, this kit is going to take some beating, no doubt about it.
Model: Rotex RM8 Varminter
Country of origin: Germany
Price: £499 including scope, mounts, bipod, silencer and rifle case
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic, 8-shot sporter
Calibre: 22 and .177 (.22 on test)
Loading: Via rotary, removable 8-shot magazine
Trigger: 2-stage, adjustable for pull-length only
Stock type: Ambidextrous, thumbhole synthetic
Weight: 3.8kg (8.4lbs) unscoped
Length: 1015 (40 ins) including silencer
Barrel: 500mm (19.7 ins)
Variation over 100 shots: 15fps for rifle on test
Average energy: 11.4 ft.lbs.
Average group at 35 yards: 12mm
Favoured pellet of test rifle: Air Arms Diabolo Field
Contact: Armex on 0121 643 4900