Most of the reviews I write for this site are done within a fairly short time of purchasing a new replica. However, I sometimes find that my initial impression changes over time. So this is the first of an occasional series where I take a look at a replica after I have owned and used it for a longer period of at least one year. Has my initial impression changed? Does it still work OK? Any problems or wear or tear? And probably most importantly, once the first excitement of ownership has worn off, is this a replica that I still shoot regularly or does it spend most of its time gathering dust at the back of the gun cabinet?
For the first in this series I’m looking once again at the Umarex Buck Mark URX which I purchased back in August 2020. You’ll find a link to the original review at the end of this one, but in brief, this is a break-barrel, single-shot, pellet shooting replica of the Browning Buck Mark target pistol produced as a licensed replica by Umarex.
The Story So Far
When my Buck Mark URX first arrived, I was impressed by its good weight and solid construction. I was less impressed when I tried to pull the trigger: straight out of the box, the pull weight was a fairly hefty eight pounds. With use, this rapidly reduced to between four and five pounds. Better, but IMHO, still a bit heavy for accurate target shooting.
I then tried a few things to try to reduce the trigger pull weight (you’ll find a link to that article at the end of this one) and it did improve, a little, though I still feel that it’s heavier than ideal.
The most important question is: do I shoot the Umarex Buck Mark URX often compared to my other replicas? And the answer is yes! I still like the same things that attracted me to this replica in the first place: i.e. I don’t need gas or CO2 and this replica is virtually unaffected by cold weather. Some of my Green Gas replicas get a bit breathless when the weather turns chilly so, over the winter, this is often the one I go to when I want a bit of paper-punching relaxation.
6 shots, 6m, freestanding, Gamo Match pellets using iron sights. Given that this is a replica rather than a specialist target-shooting air pistol, I’m happy with this group of just over 1” and I can replicate it regularly.
And it’s a satisfying target shooter. It still shoots about 1” above the point of aim at 6m, even with the rear sight adjusted as far as possible, but it’s spot-on for windage. I have also tried it with a Swiss Arms Red Dot sight fitted on the top rail, and using that optical sight it’s possible to get the point of aim and the point of impact to coincide precisely. Still feels a bit like cheating though…
The trigger pull feels much better and far lighter than it did when this replica first arrived. Now, it’s possible that is due to the changes I made, or it may simply be that the trigger action has lightened over time or it may even be that I have got used to it. Whatever, I find I can regularly put 6 pellets in or touching the black target centre circle at 6m, and that’s not something I can do with most of my other replicas.
OK, there is no blowback here and you have to load and shoot each pellet separately, but all I can say is that I find that after more than 18 months, I still enjoy shooting this one.
Wear and Tear/Technical Problems
Zip. No problems, no issues and the finish still looks almost new. There is a tiny wear point on the tip of the manual safety where the silver alloy is showing through, but it’s so small that it’s difficult to see in a photograph. The locking mechanism for the barrel is still working at 100% efficiency and nothing feels loose or worn.
I did read on another site that polishing the alloy sear can lead to accelerated wear that may cause this replica to fail to cock or to even to shoot when the safety is released. Well, I polished the sear in an effort to improve the heavy trigger pull, and I can report that mine is still working perfectly after (and I’m guessing here) somewhere between 750 – 1,000 shots since I improved the trigger pull.
Have I changed my mind since the original review?
Not really. I still feel that if the trigger pull was lighter, this would be even better. After an extended bout of shooting, I do sometimes suffer from an aching index finger. And the front sight is right where you want to grip the barrel to cock, though fortunately the barrel is long enough that you can cock it by gripping only the three inches or so between the sight and the break point.
Probably the most surprising thing for me over the last 18 months is how much I shoot this replica. I think the main factors here are accuracy and consistency. With a rifled barrel and shooting pellets, this is actually a fairly accurate air pistol. With the trigger pull improved so that it is no longer a factor, the main thing I need to address is my shooting technique. With the red-dot sight fitted, it’s all too obvious just how much the point of aim wanders around on the target. That forces me to work on my shooting technique in order to produce tighter groups, and that’s a different sort of challenge and one that I consistently enjoy.
So, would you want one?
This is an inexpensive replica and it’s just way more accurate than most BB shooters, which makes it very satisfying for target shooting. I mostly shoot at a range of 6m, but I believe that this replica would be perfectly adequate at 10m or longer range. It has been completely reliable in the eighteen months that I have owned it and is showing almost no signs of wear or distress.
After eighteen months of use, this replica still looks almost like new…
Being a break-barrel, single-shot air pistol, this is just never going to be able to replicate the functionality or feel of a firearm in the way that a CO2-powered, multi-shot replica with blowback can. However, if you are willing to accept its limitations, this is a fun shooter without the faff and fuss of CO2 or gas and it will shoot very nicely no matter how cold it is outside.
If you have read my review of the Umarex Buck Mark URX, you’ll know that I was quite impressed with it – for a budget airgun, it isn’t a bad shooter. However, for me at least, the shooting experience was not as good as it might be because of a heavy trigger-pull. The point of this article is to find out if this can be easily be improved. Caution is required here – as far as I am aware, it isn’t possible to buy spares for this replica, so if you mess things up, there is probably nothing you can do other than buy another. So, it’s sensible to go step-by-step, doing only a little at a time.
Disclaimer. Airguns can be dangerous. Taking them to bits and especially messing with things like trigger assemblies can make them shoot differently, unpredictably or even (if you are particularly unlucky) not at all. So, don’t do this modification unless you are confident about your air-gunsmithing skills. In fact, don’t even think about it… And if you do go ahead anyway and mess it up, don’t come complaining to me!
It’s also worth mentioning that you probably shouldn’t test fire this replica without loading a pellet. On most spring-powered air pistols, the effort required to force a pellet down the rifled barrel creates a cushion of air inside the piston chamber. If you fire without a pellet in the barrel, the piston slams forward with much greater force and this can damage the seal.
OK, with that stuff out of the way, let’s look at disassembly. Which fortunately is pretty straightforward and requires only a decent cross-head screwdriver, a 3mm hex key and something to drift out small pins. Before you start, make sure the pistol is not cocked!
Here is our starting point. Six shots, six metres, freestanding, Umarex Mosquito 4.3gr pellets. This is fairly typical of the groups that I’m seeing with this pistol before modification. I have shot smaller groups, but it always feels like I’m fighting the trigger pull. It isn’t terrible, but I am certain this replica is capable of better.
Let’s start disassembly. First, remove the two cross-head screws, arrowed, to release the grips.
Take them off and you’ll be left with this plastic frame.
Next, remove the two 3mm hex-headed screws that retain the accessory rail (the longer rear one also joins the upper and lower body).
Finally, remove the two cross-head screws, one either side just ahead of the trigger guard (arrowed).
And that’s it. Now gently lever the upper body from the frame.
Now we can see the trigger mechanism and the sear (arrowed).
When the gun is cocked, the sear engages with a slot in the front of the piston (arrowed).
When you pull the trigger, the sear moves down and allows the piston to move forward, propelled by the main spring. All that is making the trigger heavy is friction between the sear and the piston.
One thing that becomes immediately obvious with the gun disassembled is just how heavy the trigger spring is – my improvised gauge suggests that it alone accounts for almost three pounds of the pull weight. That’s a fair chunk of the total, so perhaps cutting a coil off the spring may make things better?
Before I do that, it’s time to look at the sear itself and think about what I can do to make it better? I’m going to do this step-by-step to try to find what, if anything, makes a notable difference.
The obvious answer is to decrease friction by simply lubricating the sear and the front of the piston housing. I did this using a PTFE grease with Teflon, which is also safe for use on replicas because it doesn’t degrade seals.
I reassembled the gun and tried shooting, and the result was; no discernible difference in the trigger pull. I wasn’t entirely surprised – on disassembling the pistol, it has obviously been well lubricated in the factory.
For the next steps, it’s easier if you remove the sear completely. This is fairly simple. Drift out the two pins (arrowed) from the right – both pins have knurled ends, and must be removed and reinstalled from the left side of the frame.
Then, the complete trigger and safety mechanism can be lifted out of the top of the frame.
This also gives access to the trigger spring, which is below the end of the sear and mounts on to a plastic pin moulded into the frame.
Next, remove the cross-head screw, arrowed, and remove the safety. This gives access to the single pin that retains the sear – again it must be drifted from the right and removed on the left.
With the sear removed, polishing is much easier. The face you need to polish is arrowed.
The next option is to try hand-polishing the sear. I don’t want to remove much material here, only to make the sear slide more easily as the trigger is pulled and hand-polishing removes very little metal. I polished the sear using Autosol-sovol metal polish until it looked nice and shiny.
Then I reassembled, and the result was, no difference. Hmm…
Next, I cut a single coil off the base of the trigger spring. You have to be careful here – the trigger spring keeps the sear pressed against the piston when the gun is cocked. Remove too much tension from the spring and the gun may not cock properly. Below you can see before (above) and after shots of the trigger spring. Removing only one coil does make the trigger-pull lighter and it does not affect function. You could remove more coils to make it lighter still, but there will come a point where the spring won’t have enough force to lock the sear into the piston.
With everything reassembled, the uncocked trigger feels noticeably lighter but, when I try shooting, there is no obvious difference and certainly very little improvement.
OK, time for the final and most drastic step – using a Dremel attachment in a power drill to polish the sear more aggressively. This is where you can all too easily turn a functioning replica into a wall-hanging, so you really must be patient, do a little at a time and then reassemble and test.
I do some initial polishing, reassemble, and I can’t really feel much difference. So, I try again and remove a little more. You can see the result below – I have actually removed very little material and only on the upper part of the face of the sear.
This time, when I reassemble, the trigger does feel different. Before, the trigger felt like an on/off switch – you pull, there is no response and you continue to pull harder until, suddenly, it releases. Now, you pull and you can actually feel the sear moving until it reaches the release point. That’s better, and it does feel lighter. And, just as it did out of the box, it continues to lighten-up more as I shoot.
Six shots, six metres, freestanding, Umarex Mosquito 4.3gr pellets after the final round of grinding. It took around twenty shots or so before the trigger lightened up enough to make this sort of group fairly easy to achieve.
Finally, there is an appreciable difference! I could go on to remove more material in an effort to make the trigger lighter still, but there is a risk that I’ll get to the point where the gun may not cock properly or may even fire when the safety is released. At the moment, it’s better than it was and everything works as it should, so I’m going to stop there.
Was it worth the effort? I think so. This is not a difficult replica to disassemble and reassemble and the difference in trigger-pull is noticeable and this directly translates to tighter groups. If you are fairly confident in your ability to work on airguns and patient enough to go step-by-step, I recommend this as a distinct improvement over the original.
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.
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.