El Gamo Model 68
When I was a child in the 1970’s it was very common for boys to have air guns, but that was not my case. Although I got my first shotgun, a CBC 8 mm rim fire “Mini-Skeet” when I was around eight, my father would not allow us to have an air gun due to an accident that he had around the same age.
In Brazil air guns were almost always a break barrel spring-piston rifle, and my dad had a Diana .177 (4,5 mm) and one day when he was crossing a barbed wire fence it discharged accidently and the pellet hit him just outside of the left eye. He came home covered in blood and the family in shock started to pray for Santa Luzia, the saint protector of eyes and eyesight. My father carried that pellet deeply embedded in his skull for the rest of his life, and although he did not loose his vision, the trauma may have been responsible for an early cataract, which he had corrected by surgery before he was fifty.
Because of the importation restrictions in place at the time, only Brazilian made products were generally available. CBC, Rossi and Urko made quite traditional break barrel rifles with wood stocks, and were the most common, but there was one that stood apart of the lot, the El Gamo.
The El Gamo was coveted because it had a grip “like a machinegun”. Initially the El Gamo was produced by a whole owned subsidiary of the Spanish company, but the in the 1980’s Forjas Taurus bought the company. Initially there were two models available, a single shot and a repeater – the Gamatic, and after Taurus took over a third model was added. It used the same folding steel stock of the Beretta/Taurus MT-12 sub-machinegun.
Even in face of my father’s objections I would shoot an air gun whenever possible, and one occasion I was able to had my mother’s brother Rossi on a long-term loan, but it eventually had to be returned.
Believe it or not, it was not until after I got married that I was finally able to get my hands on a El Gamo, but it did not last long. I got it from a colleague at work, and it was functional but in real rough shape. The barrel was wrapped in electric tape, and the plastic panels on the stock were painted black.
Even in that shape I shot several air gun matches at the Helvetia Gun Club close to Indaiatuba (SP), until a certain day when a “very helpful gentleman” said that he could refurbish the El Gamo for me. It would not take long, nor would it cost much. I don’t think that I need to tell that the SOB disappeared with my gun and I never saw him again. Since this happened about twenty years ago and ten thousands miles south of Michigan, I do not have high hopes that he will bring the gun back.
Last Friday I stopped by On Target Guns & Gunsmithing, on M-43 just west of Kalamazoo, MI, to wish my friend Eric a happy new year, and when I saw an El Gamo on the air gun rack I just could not leave the store without it.
This gun is known in the US as a El Gamo Model 68, and I started to shoot it in my basement range I was surprised by its performance. First of all it is very quiet and has amazingly little vibration for a spring-piston air gun, and although I was shooting it at only about thirty feet, it is surprisingly accurate. Well, it is no on par with my Hammerli AR-50 or my Walther LGR, but it was never supposed to be a 10-meter match rifle.
I got started by shooting shotgun shells and silhouettes, and I just shot a 10-shot string on an air pistol target and except for the first two shots; every other one was inside or touching the nine-ring. This is not bad when you consider that I am shooting an original condition open sights rifle off-hand, and that I currently have an incurable eye condition called middle age.
But the little El Gamo shines when shooting the Gamo Running Deer target. Just swing the little Model 68 ahead of the self-resetting steel target and pull the trigger and it is hard to miss.
In order to get full use of the El Gamo capabilities I probably will have to scope it, but I will do it in the safety of my basement, and no “very helpful gentleman” will ever get his dirty hands on my precious “blast from the past”.