Umarex has given the acclaimed Walther Rotex RM8 a revamp by launching this week’s Gun of the Weeek, the Ultra Compact variant, and Mat Manning reckons its scaled-down proportions make it an even better airgun.
Affordable PCPs aren’t just getting more numerous, they’re also getting better, and over the last five years, the Walther Rotex RM8 from German gunmaker Umarex has established itself as a top choice for hunters who want recoil-free performance without breaking the bank.
A few months ago, Umarex unveiled the RM8 Varmint in its new UC, or Ultra Compact, guise. There’s no denying that the original is going to be a tough act to follow, but with more and more shooters developing a taste for stubby airguns, I can see the shortened version being a big hit.
The quality and features that have won the RM8 its loyal following are still present, but I think the UC’s shorter dimensions make it kinder on the eye and even more pointable. And its £449.99 recommended retail price certainly makes it friendly on the wallet.
MAKER: Umarex, Germany
UK DISTRIBUTOR: John Rothery Wholesale (www.bisley-uk.com)
MODEL: Walther Rotex RM8 Varmint Ultra Compact
TYPE: Bolt-action multi-shot PCP
CALIBRE: .177 and .22 (tested)
OVERALL LENGTH: 910mm with supplied silencer, 790mm without.
LENGTH OF PULL: 365mm
BARREL LENGTH: 340mm
WEIGHT: 3.8kg (without scope)
SAFETY: Automatic, resettable
POWER: 11.4 ft-lb
The RM8 UC is noticeably more compact than the original model. It measures 91cm with the supplied silencer fitted, and a very stubby 79cm with it off. It feels robust without feeling cumbersome, and tips the scales at a reassuringly solid 3.8kg without a scope fitted.
Weight savings have clearly been made by the use of a synthetic stock, which, combined with the forend bottle, does result in a gun that feels a little front-heavy. It’s still nice in the shoulder, though, comes on to aim well and stays there once you’ve locked onto your target.
I reckon the ambidextrous synthetic stock is a very good one, both in terms of its design and the fact that it feels really strong. The forend is nice and long, and it’s equipped with an integral accessory rail, which will be useful for sling or bipod attachment.
The pistol grip has a wide palm swell and a steep rake, which combine to give good trigger attack. It is of a thumbhole design, and makes no provision for a thumb-up hold, but the generous cutaway is big enough to accommodate large hands.
Apart from featuring some very sleek lines that wrap it neatly around the bottle, the forend is also adorned with patches of stippling which extend right around the underside.
The pattern of the stippling looks quite random, but I don’t think its configuration is any accident; it’s sharp and angled to provide grip however you hold it.
Panels of the same stippling are also present on both sides of the pistol grip, and the result is a very secure and comfortable hold whether you’re shooting in wet or dry conditions.
The cheekpiece is high, which ensures correct eye alignment once you’ve kitted out the scope-only UC with a telescopic sight. Combined with the rest of the handle’s sculpting, it makes for a very good fit, and certainly doesn’t feel like there’s any obvious compromise from it being ambidextrous.
Although this gun has a recoil-free firing cycle, the back end of the stock is capped with a soft ventilated butt pad. It may not need to combat any kick, but the squashy pad still serves as a very comfortable point of contact with your shoulder.
Finish and features
Umarex turns out tidily finished guns. The RM8 UC continues that tradition. Engineering appears to be of a high standard. The black finish of the metalwork looks good and matches the stock nicely.
I’m always pleased to see a long scope rail with no interruptions, and Umarex has kept the magazine positioned below this one. I also appreciate the fact that the dovetail rails are low to the barrel because I don’t like to have to mount my scopes too high above the bore.
The UC’s 34cm shortened barrel comes fitted with the new K3 Neo silencer from Umarex. It certainly enhances the gun’s looks, and it does a very good job of keeping the muzzle report quiet. It also screws off to reveal a half-inch UNF thread so you can fit a moderator or muzzle brake of your own choice if you prefer.
Charging is by means of a quick-fill probe which pushes into an inlet set into the underside of the forend. The maximum 230 bar fill gives around 180 shots in .22 and 160 in .177, with muzzle energy around 11.4 ft-lb on the test gun – and it’s consistent, thanks to its regulated action.
There’s a clearly marked pressure gauge right next to the inlet so it’s easy to keep an eye on air levels ready for when you need a refill.
This variant of the RM8 runs the same reliable eight-shot magazine as the original, and it comes with a spare. To remove it from the action, you pull the bolt all the way back and pull back the retaining switch that’s positioned just beneath it.
The magazine then pulls out from the left. Hold the magazine with the side that features the silver-coloured cog facing you, and it’s simply a matter of pushing pellets in nose-end first.
When the magazine is full, push it back into the action from the left, push the bolt forwards (which automatically returns the retaining switch to the locked position) and you’re loaded up and ready to go.
As previously mentioned, because the magazine sits within the action and beneath the rail, there’s no risk of it getting in the way of scope-mounting.
Cocking and loading of the RM8 UC are driven by a side-bolt action which has been revamped with a bigger handle to make it even smoother and quicker to use.
The rearward stroke of the bolt cocks the gun and engages the automatic safety catch, and the forward stroke indexes the magazine and pushes the pellet into the breech. It has evolved into a reliable mechanism, which feels positive in use and worked without any flaws during the test period.
The trigger blade is made from a composite material and its profile – a gentle curve with a wide, flat face – gives plenty of feel. Straight out of the box, the two-stage set-up on the test gun was pretty good, with just about the right length and weight of pull.
The first stage comes to a clear stop before the second stage breaks with a very small amount of creep. It’s not the finest of triggers – and nor would I expect it to be, given this gun’s price bracket – but it is a decent unit that becomes very predictable in next to no time.
An automatic safety catch – set by the cocking stroke – is positioned at the rear of the action, and can be reset without recocking the gun. The rifle is safe when it’s in the backward position, and you have to depress the switch in the centre of the button when thumbing it forwards to make the gun ready to shoot. It’s an additional level of safety that helps to prevent accidental disengagement.
On the range
The RM8 UC boasts a lot of impressive features for a PCP that retails for less than £450. Out on the range, it quickly becomes apparent that all of that spend goes on performance rather than unnecessary extras, and it all comes together very nicely.
It’s a lovely gun to shoot, and that quick-cycling eight-shot magazine makes for great fun with spinning and knockdown targets. I did initially find the auto-safety a bit of a nuisance when trying to quickly flatten targets on the plinking range, although flicking it off soon became
And this gun is capable of much more than plinking. The test model wasn’t particularly pellet-fussy, and churned out sub-12mm groups at 30m with Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign, Bisley Super Field and Air Arms Diabolo Field ammo.
That sort of accuracy means it should also be a very effective hunting tool; its compact proportions would make it very well suited to hide shooting, and it’s certainly tough enough to give good service in the field.
I took it out on a couple of hunting trips during the test period – one targeting farmyard rats and the other shooting squirrels at a feeding station – and it fared very well on both of these occasions.
All in all, I reckon the Walther Rotex RM8 UC more than outperforms its price tag. It’s ruggedly built, but it still feels quite refined, and it certainly isn’t lacking in the accuracy department.
The original RM8 set a new standard for affordable PCPs and the addition of a compact carbine can only broaden its appeal.
The Airgun Shooter Verdict
Look and feel: 8
Build quality: 8
Sighting up: 8