Umarex introduces the “Air Saber”, an inexpensive pneumatic crossbow that can be used against bears

Umarex is an American airsoft manufacturer of German descent that specializes in a wide range of civilian sporting firearms powered by compressed air. The “Air Saber” is a new product launched by the company in the second half of last year, which is a PCP air gun that specializes in firing arrows. It is a powerful hunting weapon that is easy to pick up and easy to use. Together with the dedicated sight and connecting ring, its suggested retail price is only $369.99, or $319.99 if you don’t want the scope, which is only half the cost of Benjamin’s “Vanguard Air Bow”, another common crossbow PCP on the market. In terms of power alone, the “Air Saber” is slightly inferior to the “Vanguard Air Bow”, even so, it is definitely a powerful weapon, and compared to the “Vanguard Air Bow”, it is lighter in weight, more consecutive shots, and has a higher cost-effectiveness ratio.

The test team conducts field shooting tests on the Air Saber

Instead of firing bullets, the PCP fired arrows instead of firing them seemed somewhat retro, because on early artillery or muskets the most commonly used projectile was an enlarged version of the arrow rather than a spherical projectile. The efficiency of switching to arrows is naturally not as good as that of warheads, but there are also practical benefits, that is, the mass and length of the arrows are much larger, so the kinetic energy of the individual projectiles is improved, and the lethality is also enhanced. At the same time, for some regions, this gas-powered crossbow is legally less regulated than firearms, although it may be more powerful than firearms.

Like other rifles from Umarex, the Air Saber is a full-size weapon that reaches a total length of 1.04 meters. At the same time, since it adopts the principle of front-loading, that is, the arrow is loaded into the barrel from the muzzle, the length of the gun of more than 1 meter plus the length of the arrow makes it not so easy to load, and perhaps it should be used by a large man with a long arm, although it does not look very bulky.

The Air Saber is a large, full-size weapon

The overall appearance of the “Air Saber” is similar to that of a conventional PCP or other air rifle, except that it has a sleeve outside the barrel, so it looks a little thicker. The gun features a synthetic hollow stock with thumb holes and cheek plates, and three Picatinny rails in front of the handguard, allowing attachments such as bipods, flashlights or arrow mounts. If you rely on a bipod or mount the gun on a branch, the accuracy of shooting will be significantly improved. The “Air Saber” is well made, there are no traces of processing on the surface of all metal parts, and a black coating is evenly applied, the markings are clear and sharp, the only drawback is that the olive green synthetic stock is relatively rough, and the surface has quite pronounced seam lines.

“Air Saber” with bipod and arrow mount

The “Air Saber” pressure gauge is located under the butt, in front of the trigger, which avoids the danger that some PCPs have the pressure gauge at the front and need to face the muzzle to check the cylinder pressure. The inflation port has a 1/8-inch quick coupling that is connected to an atmospheric cylinder or air pump for filling via a high-pressure hose or other device.

The Air Saber is equipped with 8 special arrows produced by Umarex. Using laboratory-grade digital balances, the HAM testing team tested their weight and found that the average weight was 22.8 grams, with the heaviest arrow weighing 23 grams and the lightest weighing 22.6 grams, with a positive or negative change of weight within 1%. The gun is supplied with a field target arrow, if you need to replace it with a hunting arrow, just unscrew the original arrow and replace it with the desired breed on the spot. There are 6 arrows per pack, and the MSRP is $39.99, which is not very expensive.

Special arrows produced by Umarex

Shove the arrow back from the muzzle to the position, and then you need to go into the ready state. On the Air Saber, this requires the user to operate the ball handle behind the receiver and pull the hammer back to the hang-up position. It must be pointed out that the hammer spring of the gun is really strong, resulting in a very laborious process of hanging up, and the advantage is that this power is acceptable. Moreover, as a hunter, there will be no chance to shoot many times in a row.

As a hunting weapon, the trigger of the Air Saber is designed to be very suitable, with an average trigger force of 2.35 kg and a variation of only 142 grams. The trigger stroke is long, the two stages are clearly bounded, the release point is relatively clear and consistent, and the overall performance is satisfactory. The only flaw may be the safety button on the side of the trigger, in general, this small safety device is simple and convenient to operate freehand, but when the deer hunting season comes, many areas have entered winter, frozen fingers in low temperatures or wearing thick gloves are difficult to operate such a small button, the only solution is to find a thin and warm glove!

The hammer at the tail of the “Air Saber” receiver with a transverse pulling handle.

In tests conducted by the HAM team in December 2019, the Umarex Air Saber showed a maximum muzzle velocity of 147 m/s, using Umarex standard arrows of 22.8 grams, and the maximum pressure of the cylinder was 3650 PSI, when the temperature was 1 degree Celsius. The arrow carried no less than 249.5 joules of energy when it was first fired, and the Doppler radar system was used to determine that the arrow still had 134.5 joules at 30 yards (27.4 meters), more than twice the energy required to hunt a deer, and even a third higher than the standard for killing a bear.

The safety button on the trigger of the “Air Saber”, due to its small size, is inconvenient to operate when wearing gloves.

However, the second shot, the muzzle velocity decreased significantly, only 132 m / s, and then gradually dropped to 127 m / s, 123 m / s … Since the arrow is fired more and more slowly, you need to constantly change the position of the aiming point if you want to hit the target, but this is easy to get used to.

Considering that many users use a hand pump to inject high-pressure air into the cylinder, although the maximum allowable pressure of the “Air Saber” is 3650 PSI, it requires a lot of force to achieve, so a reasonable inflation pressure of 3000 PSI is recommended. At this pressure, the highest muzzle velocity of the arrow is 119 m/s, and even if the muzzle velocity continues to decrease, the 10th arrow still has a speed of 100 m/s. The energy of the first arrow peaked at 162 joules and the tenth arrow at 114.8 joules, indicating that the Air Saber was capable enough to deal with large prey even at 3000 PSI.

The arrows fired dig deep into the target stack, and the prey has long been pierced.

According to Umarex, at a pressure of 3650 PSI, the Air Saber can effectively fire 25 times, and the Pioneer Air Bow claims a larger number, but the validity of the last few times has been questioned. And HAM recommends that it is best to limit the number of launches to 10 times per full charge. At least for hunters, 1 effective launch opportunity during the hunt for 10 days is also enough. Another reason is the recoil, since the arrow is much heavier than the buckshot, and the corresponding “air saber” has a little more recoil than the ordinary PCP, but it is not as large as the .30-06 caliber rifle, nor is it unpleasant.

Pressure gauge under the front bracket and inflatable connection at the back.

The “Air Saber” is very accurate in practical tests. The HAM team placed a target about the size of a white-tailed deer at 40 yards (36.5 meters) and marked its vital location with a 150-millimeter-wide rectangle. Although the continuous descent of muzzle velocity means that the shooter needs to constantly adjust the aiming point as the number of shots increases, the drop in the impact point is fairly consistent and predictable, and the accuracy can be achieved through multiple exercises in the field, so hitting the prey point at 40 yards is not a problem. Especially with the addition of the 4×32 scope of Axeon Optics, aiming will become easier, and you can adapt to this change with a few shots.

In addition, although the “Air Saber” barrel has a sleeve outside the barrel, it does not play a muffling role, its muzzle noise is still very loud, and because it is an arrow, it cannot install a muffler. However, this may not matter to the hunter, because if the prey had not been hit by the first arrow, it would have been scared away, even if there was no sound.

The “Air Saber” also has a sleeve outside the barrel, but the sleeve itself has no muffling effect.

The HAM evaluation team led by Stephen Archer finally decided to give Umarex “Air Saber” a gold medal level, its advantages include powerful, high accuracy, and affordable price, the disadvantages are mainly that the hammer is laborious to standby, the trigger safety is inconvenient to use gloves, and the specific index scores are: appearance and surface treatment 80 points, consistency with the manufacturer’s publicity 100 points, shooting performance 90 points, muzzle velocity and accuracy 80 points, trigger and trigger force 80 points, firing consistency 80 points, 70 points for sights, 50 points for noise level, 90 points for the worth buying and owning index.

The Air Saber was developed as a hunting weapon, but can also be used in range competition.

In terms of sales and after-sales service, the Air Saber is not yet as common in the market as a newly launched product, but it can be purchased through Umarex’s dealer partners across the United States, including Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot. Like other Umarex products, the Air Saber comes with a three-year warranty to ensure long-term safety.