Perfect Christmas? Umarex Steel Force

A good teaching tool for an 8 year old who wants to learn to shoot.

A good teaching tool for an 8 year old who wants to learn to shoot.

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.

The Steel Force guns look like the real thing.

The Steel Force guns look like the real thing.

This one will be getting some orange tape and paint to make it look less like a .223 to cops.

This one needs something visual to show it isn’t a real rifle.

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 mag drops free.

The mag drops free.

It holds the two CO2 canisters that make the gun go.

It holds the two CO2 canisters that make the gun go.

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 like the rear sight just fine.

I like the rear sight just fine.

The front post is a bit wide for my taste.

The front post is a bit wide for my taste.

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.

To get BBs into the chute, you slide this spring-loaded stop down and shake the gun.

To get BBs into the chute, you slide this spring-loaded stop down and shake the gun.

As the channel empties out, the catch slides down toward the receiver.

As the channel empties out, the catch slides down toward the receiver.

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.

The safety works like it would an an AR.

The safety works like it would an an AR.

But this one does have a six shot feature that kids can't resist.

But this one does have a six shot feature that kids can’t resist.

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.

The safety is visible from both sides of the receiver.

The safety is visible from both sides of the receiver, which is useful for those of us who are helping with instruction.

The rest of the controls also work like they would on an AR-15. The mag drop drops the mags, but you still need to thumb a catch on the mag to get it free.

The rest of the controls also work like they would on an AR-15. The mag drop drops the mags, but you still need to thumb a catch on the mag to get it free.

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).

The barrel is protected by a faux brake.

The barrel is protected by a faux brake.

6 position stock.

6 position stock.

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.

There's even a spot in the mag to hold the key that helps crank down the CO2 canisters.

There’s even a spot in the mag to hold the key that helps crank down the CO2 canisters.

The rails are so much nicer than what you'd typically find on a BB gun.

The rails are so much nicer than what you’d typically find on a BB gun.

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.

The CO2 powered gun makes it easy for a skinny kid who can't (safely) work the pump on other air-guns.

The CO2 powered gun makes it easy for a skinny kid who can’t (safely) work the pump on other air-guns.

And you can shoot it in the back-yard.

And you can shoot it in the back-yard, which turns an ordinary deck into a fort.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Larry August 15, 2017, 12:49 pm

    Like Tim, we have always treated all guns to be respected and handled correctly. We also store cap guns, bb/pellet guns and airsoft along with our firearms in the safe. Safety glasses, ear protection, recoil pads; everything is here for our fourteen grandchildren who, other than the four toddlers, all shoot. We have never had an accidental discharge!

  • ronnal bruton December 9, 2015, 10:58 am

    I am not in favor of these kinds of BB or pellet guns like these .I received a single shot pump BB when I was 9, then a single shot co2 cross man , a at 12 22lr ,then 410 single shot and then win 30-30 ’94 ,made rifle team in ROTC. I still shoot when I can at 70.Never had a serious accident but lot of fun. Sick with the simple. Have fun.be safe.I Have a carry license.

  • Lance Revell December 3, 2015, 1:35 pm

    First thing I’d do is file that front sight a bit thinner. Personal preference of course. This certainly isn’t a target gun.

  • ChiGurh November 30, 2015, 3:22 pm

    Save a lot of hassle and get a Crosman. Very good performance to price ratio. Also, lead pellets over any kind of BB for a reduced chance of ricocheting accidents.

  • Frank November 30, 2015, 12:19 pm

    When my two sons asked for a BB gun because a neighbor friend had received one, I considered it for a moment and said, ” I will buy you each a .22 LR, but you will wait until you are 12 and go through the hunter safety course and lock them up with mine when not at the range. Their mom just about had the big one! I replied to them all that the only thing a BB gun would do is teach them all of the wrong things to do with a firearm. 3 days later, the neighbor’s son shot out a window as you did.
    Today my sons are avid hunters and one a police officer and the other Master Chief in the USCG. I rest my case.

  • Dave G November 30, 2015, 12:13 pm

    Based on reviews online, it’s a crapshoot how long it lasts before it breaks. And after warranty they offer no parts to fix it yourself, also based on multiple reviews. I wanted to buy one but I’m staying away. Umarex makes plenty of other fine products.

  • jim November 30, 2015, 10:08 am

    Dave Higgenbotham….that’s my doctor’s name! And this looks like a good prescription for fun for ALL ages. (I think the crows in my backyard will enjoy one too)

  • OZ November 30, 2015, 8:34 am

    I have the same Umarex steel force rifle. I’ve had no problems with the air rifle. My only issue is, when loading the bb’s in the chute, it can can be some what if a hassle. I mounted scope on it too. My son and I have a good time plinking though.

  • Doug November 30, 2015, 8:10 am

    I purchased the umarex steel force and it lasted about 6 months. Followed the instructions carefully for maintenance. Worked just long enough past the warranty. This gun is fun but a total junk throw away gun. Will never purchase an umarex product again.

  • Tim November 30, 2015, 6:26 am

    I am a father of two young kids and am introducing my children to the world of firearms in much the same way. By the use of pellet guns and bb guns you get to introduce them to the joy that is shooting. To address your question of “visible indicator” this is the way we have chosen to handle that. All of our pellet guns and bb guns are stored and handled in the same fashion as their “powder burning” counterparts meaning that they are locked up until it is time to go as a family to the range and shoot. By using them in the correct location under adult supervision (just as we would with “powder burners”) it puts them in the right frame of mind and respect for the tool (aka bb gun, pellet gun, or regular firearm) that they deserve. Great memories are being made, smiles all around and yes, even Dad finds himself wanting to shoot the bb and pellet guns even when the kids aren’t with him. There just too much fun.

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