Buy one at Umarex: https://www.umarexusa.com/Umarex-Steel-Force.html
I was not allowed to have a BB gun when I was a kid. This might be because my best friend did have a BB gun, and–by the time I was six–I’d already proven myself to be incompetent. I took a pot-shot at a squirrel sitting on a patio and ended up shattering a sliding-glass door. After that, there was no way my mother would let me play with guns.
Look at me now. When you try to keep your kids from playing with guns, they end up going to the dark side.
But this is not about me. I’m here today to preach the faith. Teach your kids about guns. Teach them about BB guns. And if you’re serious about the process, get them a serious BB gun.
Umarex makes some serious BB guns. This one has the potential to be serious, but it also has a classic giggle switch. Move the selector from safe to single shot and the gun runs like most of our AR-15s. Move it to the third position and the Steel Force pops out six shots.
I bet you real money it makes you smile.
The Umarex runs on CO2. 2 cartridges. They pop into the magazine, which has a key that makes tightening them down effortless. The mag inserts as most mags do, and it drops free (but won’t fall out until you thumb a catch on the body of the mag).
I’ve only found one thing that I think needs improvement. The gun is equipped with a ton of rail space. I’d originally thought I’d replace the sights on the Steel Force with a set of actual sights, but the front is not removable. It doubles as the gate through which you load BBs. Slide it back, pour them in. I don’t have an issue with that, but check out that front post. It is unnecessarily wide.
There could be two explanations for this. The width may be Umarex’s way of quietly acknowledging that this is a fun gun. And it is also more durable than a thinner polymer post would be. Either way, it doesn’t lend itself to pin-point accuracy.
But that’s not what this is about. This isn’t a rifled pellet gun. The gun is meant for serious fun. And it is still accurate enough to be gratifying. We set out a plinking course in the back yard that included plastic Easter eggs, Coke cans, pizza boxes with hand drawn targets, etc. The Umarex, even in the hands of an 8 year old, is capable of making called shots. “Shoot the green egg.” Pop. “Shoot the yellow egg off the Coke can.” Pop. No problems.
Loading the Umarex is easy. You can dump a boat load of BBs into the forend. Then you slide a spring-loaded catch up and shake 30 BBs into a trough in the forend. When you shoot, the 30 BBs empty out just as 30 rounds would from a mag. At then end, you have to re-prime the pump, so to speak. You won’t be out of BBs, but the gun won’t shoot until you load the chute again.
This is a great way of teaching about magazine capacity. Kids get the idea that they have to reload, without the endless capacity of some BB guns and most video games.
Umarex’s use of a rotational safety really makes me happy. This is one of the most important teaching tools on the gun. Imagine a scenario, however horrific, that puts a real rifle in the hands of an 8 year old. What if he or she would need to make it work in an emergency? Or make sure it wouldn’t work? Could they do it, or would the rifle be an impenetrable mess of switches and buttons.
I saw this first hand. I took the gun on a camping trip last weekend, and we set up a range. There were 30 or so folks with us, and all of the boys had BB guns. Most were the traditional Red Ryder style pumps. All of the boys (and some of the adults) wanted their turn with the Steel Force. And I handed it to each in turn, with the safety on, and watched how they struggled to make it fire. Not one of the kids made it work. And there were a couple of adults who had to ask for help.
Umarex has taken this attention to detail to the logical level. The forward assist doesn’t do anything. But the charging handle does. If you pull the trigger and the gun doesn’t go bang, you pull back the charging handle and the problem is usually solved. This happens most frequently as you near the end of the CO2.
Speaking of that, the CO2 will last for a substantial number of rounds. We could get over 600 shots from the two canisters. We didn’t count. But we would shoot for more than half an hour at a time, and reload multiple times. It was just enough for the thrill to begin to fade, but not long enough for boredom to set in.
And here’s my big pitch for safety–once the gun is out of gas, it won’t shoot. So when it runs dry, that’s a good stopping point. I’d tell my son that we’d shoot until it ran dry. And he was content with that. Then we’d pack up, and a perfectly safe gun would go back inside. And the 8 year old is then responsible for safe storage. Yet he can show it to friends (under supervision) without the risk of someone getting reckless (like they could with a pump).
Is this gun as safe as it possibly could be? I don’t think it is. Umarex has built a gun that looks exactly like a real SBR. So what would a cop think if he found my son in our yard with this gun? I can only assume. I’d like for the gun to have some visible indicator that it isn’t a real rifle. I’m tempted to use orange paint, though that might give the false impression that it is a toy.
I’m still looking for options. If you have suggestions, let me know. I’m taking the proactive parenting routes, educating the kid and all of his minions as best I can, but anyone who is a parent (or anyone who has parents) can tell you how effective that tactic is.
I still believe in the effort, though. I’ve got guns. My son is curious about them. And I want him to know everything I know. I want him to be more safe than I am now, and not make the mistakes I made then. And that’s where the BB gun comes in. I can tell already it is a gateway drug. After working out the Umarex, my son asked to see my AR. So we went inside, opened the safe, and had a couple of hours of exploratory learning. Unplugged. Man to man. Face to face. Father to son.