It’s time for a review of something a little different; The Umarex Buck Mark URX is a spring-powered, pellet-shooting replica of the Browning Buck Mark target pistol. As you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, I rather like gas and CO2 powered replicas of firearms and I don’t review many spring-powered replicas, mainly because many of the decent spring-powered airguns aren’t replicas and many of the spring-powered replicas aren’t generally terribly good shooters.
However, I was tempted by this one. It is (sort of) a reasonable visual replica of a firearm, it is said to be a good shooter and, not coincidentally, it’s very cheap. And I rather like the idea of an accurate target shooter where I don’t need to worry about running out of gas or CO2. So, here we go: the Buck Mark URX. Is it any good? Will I get frustrated having to cock and reload for every shot? Would you want one?
The Browning Buck Mark
The Browning Buck Mark series of 22 semi-automatic target pistols can trace their lineage all the way back to the venerable Colt Woodsman designed by John Moses Browning in 1911. In the 1960s, JMB’s grandson, Bruce Browning, redesigned the Woodsman (while also using features from other popular target pistols such as the High-Standard Supermatic and the Smith and Wesson Model 41) to create a new model, the Browning Challenger.
This proved to be fairly popular but by the 1980s Browning were losing sales to cheaper models such as the Ruger Mk II and the Challenger was redesigned once again to become the Browning Buck Mark. Launched in 1985 these target pistols have proved so successful that more than twenty variants of this pistol are still in production today.
A Browning Buck Mark Contour URX fitted with a Buck Mark Reflex sight
All models fire .22 LR ammunition and all are provided with ten round magazines. This pistol features straight blowback action with a barrel that is fixed rigidly to the frame and an abbreviated slide that includes the striker mechanism. The design of the slide makes it simple to fit an optical sight to the fixed topstrap and many Buck Mark pistols are fitted with red-dot sights. There are three basic frame types; the UDX, UFX and URX and all models include fully adjustable rear sights. These pistols are available with traditional wood grips or, in models such as the URX Contour, moulded polymer grips.
The Umarex Buck Mark URX
This airgun was introduced in 2012 and it is a licensed replica of a Browning Buck Mark target pistol. It is a single shot, break-barrel, pellet-shooting replica and to date, this remains the only Umarex spring-powered (or “mechanical airgun” as Umarex call it) replica if we discount low-powered airsoft replicas.
Construction of the upper body is mainly metal, with the exception of the accessory rail and a thin layer of plastic which covers the zinc alloy outer barrel. The trigger-guard and grip frame are heavy-duty plastic, the trigger is metal and the grips are made of a rubberised material. The rifled barrel is just under 5½” long and is not concentric with the outer barrel shroud, being offset to the top.
The magazine and slide release catches are moulded in place and have no function but the manual safety on the right side of the frame is accurately modelled and fully functional. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation and a long, 20mm accessory rail is provided which can be used to mount an optical sight.
This isn’t a precise replica of any particular Browning Buck Mark pistol but it is a reasonable generic copy of the Buck Mark Contour URX.
Calibre: .177″ pellet
Barrel: 5.40″ (137mm), rifled
Overall length: 12″ (305mm)
Weight: 1.5lbs (680g) claimed, 1.53lbs (692g) measured
Capacity: Single shot
Sights: Front: Post, fixed. Rear: Notch, windage and elevation adjustment.
Claimed power: Up to 295 fps (90 m/s)
It seems as though there have been some minor changes to this replica since it was first introduced back in 2012. On early versions, the painted metal parts were a glossy finish, which contrasted with the matt-finish plastic exterior to the barrel and grips. However, on mine, everything was the same matt finish. There seem to have been a few other small external changes too; for example, on early versions, the “S” near the manual safety was within a raised circular area which now seems to have disappeared and there were raised and rather ugly ejector marks on the plastic barrel cover which also seem to have vanished. These are just the changes that I can see – I don’t know if there have been any internal changes since 2012.
Packaging and presentation (2.5/5)
My Umarex Buck Mark URX arrived in a simple card box that contains the replica and a short, multi-language user guide. I have also seen this sold in a plastic bubble-pack.
Visual accuracy 4/10
Overall, this looks a little like a Browning Buck Mark Contour URX pistol, though it certainly isn’t a precise replica. Things like the grips, rear sight, slide serrations and controls are all accurately recreated (though only the manual safety is operational) but the profile has been changed to accommodate the break-barrel design. Like the Buck Mark Contour URX this replica includes an accessory rail on the topstrap that can be used to mount an optical sight.
This is a licensed replica so it does include markings including the stylised deer’s head logo on the grips.
Functional accuracy 2/15
The only function this shares with the original is the operation of the manual safety on the right side of the frame.
Before we even start talking about shooting, I need to mention the trigger-pull on this replica. When I first took it out of the box, I tried cocking and firing without a pellet inserted. At first I thought that the manual safety was failing to disengage because pulling the trigger didn’t produce any result. After some head-scratching, I realised that the safety was disengaged but that the trigger was so horribly stiff that it at first seemed that it was jammed. I did a quick check and found that the pull was over seven pounds, way too heavy for accurate target shooting in my opinion.
That was more than a little disappointing but, to my surprise, the trigger pull improved quickly with use. After fewer than twenty shots, the pull-weight had reduced to between four and five pounds. In my opinion, that’s still too heavy, but at least it’s much better than it was out of the box. The only thing that the trigger does in this replica is to release the sear, so there is no reason for it to be so heavy. Out of the box, it felt unusable but it very quickly loosened up to become better and I assume that continued use will see it improve further. If you tried this in the shop, you might reject it on the grounds of a horrible trigger-pull, but it really does seem to loosen-off fairly quickly. It’s still a little heavy after a couple of hundred shots, but it is useable.
Anyway, preparing the URX for shooting couldn’t be simpler; just break the barrel and push it down through a little more than 90˚ until resistance stops. Then, place a pellet in the end of the barrel and move it back up until it locks. Cocking requires relatively little effort, less than twenty pounds of force is needed, and the spring-loaded detent locks the barrel positively and with no movement or wobble. Cocking the pistol automatically engages the manual safety.
When you are ready to shoot, disengage the safety by pushing it down and you’re good to go. There is absolutely no take-up or movement in the trigger. You just apply gradually increasing pressure until it breaks. It shoots with a subdued crack and there is a distinct jerk as the spring releases but this is much less noticeable than on some other break-barrel air pistols I have used.
The sights are standard notch-and-post with no white dots or aiming aids. The notch in the rear sight felt a little shallow to me, but it is still possible to get a good sight picture. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation using slotted screws. In theory, this means that you should be able to get the point of aim and the point of impact to coincide though on mine, with the sight adjusted fully for elevation, it still shot around ½” high at 6m. The sight radius is a fairly lengthy 270mm, which helps with accuracy.
I only used one type of .177 pellet while shooting this replica; Umarex 7.40gr Mosquito flat-fronted, target-type pellets. Running six of these over my chrony gave the following results:
Nothing stellar here in terms of power, but these are nice and consistent and all are above Umarex’ claim of “up to 295fps.” Not that power especially matters to me as I only shoot at 6 metres range (I just don’t have the space to shoot at 10m) and so as long as the replica has enough power to hit the target convincingly at that distance, I’m happy.
Ten shots, 6m, freestanding using Umarex Mosquito wadcutter pellets. Aim point was the base of the black inner circle. This is one of my better groupings and there are often flyers, caused by the heavy trigger rather than any inherent problem with accuracy.
Shooting at 6m isn’t really much of a challenge for this replica. I would assume that it is capable of very tight groups indeed at that range even if the heavy trigger-pull makes it difficult to achieve this consistently. The real test here is of your technique. That’s quite a change from most of the BB shooting replicas I own where accuracy at 6m may vary by up to 2” or even more. This leads to a very different shooting experience, but one that I came to really enjoy.
Shooting a blow-back replica, for example, often means shooting a string of shots fairly rapidly. Here, being forced to pause and cock and reload for each shot leads to much more deliberate shooting where I really tried to accurately place each shot on target. When I failed (which was most of the time) the fault was entirely mine and that presents a different kind of challenge where you must focus on your stance, grip and breathing. I did find that managing to achieve a tight group of six or ten shots close to the centre of the target was immensely satisfying on the odd occasion that I managed it.
Quality and reliability 14/15
This seems a robustly made and well-finished replica. It’s also mechanically very simple so there really isn’t much to go wrong. Mine has suffered from no problems and the black finish on metal parts is showing no signs of wear. It also arrived nicely lubricated, I have seen no reports of reliability issues with this replica and I would guess that it should last a very long time with minimal maintenance. I have seen reports that some people complain that the barrel wobbles. On mine, this certainly wasn’t a problem.
The plastic used to cover the barrel shroud and the painted metal parts are a good match which, to me at least, looks better than early versions where painted and plastic parts looked quite different (the picture on the front of the box shows this clearly).
Overall impression 14/15
I like this replica more than I expected. It seems well made and finished and it does just what it says on the box. It is the first spring powered airgun I have owned for many years (the last was an elderly Webley Senior) and I wondered whether I might find an inability to fire more than one shot without reloading a pain, but in the event, I found this more relaxed approach a pleasant change. This certainly isn’t the most powerful or accurate airgun available and it isn’t a great visual or functional replica, but it is fun to shoot. And, after all, that’s why we do this.
Although it is much better than it was previously, the trigger-pull is still a little heavy for my taste. I have seen several videos showing how to improve the pull weight by polishing the sear, and I may give that a try, though of course any attempt to modify a trigger should be undertaken with extreme care for safety reasons.
I am generally biased towards blow-back replicas that mimic the look and function of firearms. I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy this one and it surprised me by being very satisfying to shoot. If you enjoy ripping off a rapid volley of shots from a blow-back replica (or even a string of shots from something like one of the Umarex rotary-magazine pellet shooters), you may find this a little dull. However, if you want a replica that is accurate enough to really challenge your skills and that forces you to be more deliberate in your shooting, you may just find this is more fun than you might expect.
If you shop around, it’s also possible to find this for very little money – you’ll find a link to one supplier at the end of this review. However, this doesn’t feel like a budget replica – it’s well made and finished and it feels robust in use. The freedom from having to think about gas or CO2 is also an advantage; just cock, stick in a pellet and repeat as often as you want with no need to wonder if you have enough gas of CO2. And of course the accessory rail means that you have the option to add some form of optical sight. This replica gets a fairly low overall score here, mainly because it just isn’t a particularly good visual or functional replica of the original pistol, but despite that, I heartily recommend this to anyone interested in a very different kind of replica.
Overall Score: 71.5/100
I purchased my Umarex Buck Mark URX from the nice people at Sportwaffen Schneider in Germany. At the time of writing, it is available at a very reasonable €46.95. Here’s a link to their website:
This video provides detailed instructions on how to disassemble and lubricate this replica: