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Small game hunting and plinking reactive targets with an airgun is an absolute blast, no matter what your age. And because airguns generate lower power and can be very quiet, they provide a means to hunt in suburban areas (where legal) and situations where a firearm isn’t practical. The Umarex Notos is a new airgun for 2023 and it’s already one of my favorite small game guns.
It comes with all the components to set it up as a large handgun or a very compact carbine, making it one of the most versatile offerings to come along in a while. It is also one of the best airgun values you’ll find at well under $300 with features of air rifles many times its price. Here’s what I think of the Umarex NOTOS after testing it in the field and at the range.
Umarex NOTOS Specs and Features
Barrel Length: 11.75 inches
Shrouded barrel (3 baffle SilencAir system)
Weight: 4 pounds
Maximum Velocity: 740 fps
Seven shot magazine
Side lever action
21 shots per fill
3625 psi operating pressure
Regulated to 1900 psi
The Notos is a PCP airgun, which means it has an air tank that needs to be filled by an external source. Two of the most common options are a compressor or a large air tank like the ones used for scuba diving. The compressor you use to fill your gun must be made for air rifles because it needs to fill to a very high pressure, 3,600 psi, and remove moisture from the air. If you go the tank route, you can buy a tank from an airgun supplier and fill it at a dive shop, paintball store, or firehouse.
Firearm silencers require a $200 tax stamp, paperwork, and a long waiting period, but sound suppression on air rifles is a different story, and it doesn’t require any additional paperwork. The Umarex NOTOS is kept quiet from a shrouded barrel and a moderator at the end of the barrel. Think of it like an integrally suppressed rifle like the B&T USA SPR300 Pro Rifle.
Testing the Umarex Notos in the Field
The NOTOS makes a great small game, plinking, or youth airgun. Jim Chapman
On a recent javelina hunt in West Texas, I brought the Umarex NOTOS along as my small game gun and started with some time on the range testing several pellets to determine what works best in this platform. I always do this with a new air rifle, as they can be picky concerning pellet preference.
I shot groups at 30 yards, and I should mention on a windy day, with the JSB Jumbo Express 14.35 gr round nose, the 14.5 gr RWS Superdome, the 18.1 gr JTS Dead Center round nose, the 18 gr Apolo hollow point, and the 17 gr Apolo wadcutter pellets.
I was shooting off a bench, the carbine rested on sandbags, starting with a full 3625 psi (250 BAR) charge of air. I continued shooting as long as the pressure gauge stayed in the green, refilling before the needle moved into the red. This is a regulated gun and should remain consistent as long as the tank pressure exceeds the regulator pressure (1900 psi).
The NOTOS is pellet tolerant, shooting decent groups with all five pellets. Jim Chapman
After getting sighted in, I sat down at the bench to shoot five consecutive five-shot groups at 30 yards, one each with the pellets listed above. The first thing to note is that the Umarex NOTOS was pellet tolerant and grouped well with all five pellets, which is frequently not the case when testing guns. The most accurate pellet was the 14.35 gr JSB Jumbo Express, followed closely by the 18.1 gr JTS Dead Center. The least accurate was the 17 gr Aoplo Wadcutter. This was not surprising, as in my experience, flat head pellets are generally less accurate at greater distances and do not perform well in windy conditions. I was surprised that they actually grouped as well as they did under these circumstances and still offered good accuracy.
As this gun is regulated, I shot one full string with the JSBs to gauge consistency, finding minimal variation. Next, I shot ten strings to get the average velocity for the other pellets. The results are shown in the figure above and demonstrate that the shot-to-shot consistency over the full string was good, with a spread of 28 fps. However, if we look at the first 19 shots in the string, the variation is 9 fps, leading me to believe that the tank pressure had fallen below the 1900 psi regulator setting in the last two shots.
Across the five pellets, the power output was 18 fpe to 20 fpe, which was well above the claims in Umarex’s advertising materials. I believe this power level is in the sweet spot for a mid-range small game gun. With these results, I felt confident taking the NOTOS out small game hunting, and cleanly bagged a couple of big jackrabbits at 45 yards on my first outing. Over a week, the NOTOS and I did a couple more rabbit hunts and bagged a few Eurasian Collared doves as well. My friends and I also managed to plink our way through a couple of tins of pellets. We had thousands of dollars worth of high-end guns with us, but you had to stand in line to get a turn with this little carbine.
What the Umarex NOTOS Does Best
This extremely compact carbine is accurate and lightweight.
The Umarex NOTOS is accurate and at 45 yards will send the spinners and reactive targets flying all day long. And then, when the shooter is finished with target practice and plinking, they can head out to the woods where this carbine is powerful enough to cleanly drop small game at the same distance. With lightweight and adjustable stock, this gun will provide a good fit for virtually any shooter, so it is a great youth rifle that will grow with the shooter. And to tie a bow on this package, Umarex has positioned it at a very competitive price point.
When taking all of these elements into consideration, I believe the NOTOS is probably the best starter or youth gun that can be found today. You can add a portable compressor and still be in the price range of many guns that don’t offer the same features.
But it would be a mistake to think of the NOTOS as solely a youth-oriented airgun. I think many experienced adult airgunners would also enjoy this carbine. It is a joy to pack over distances or when moving through thick cover, and while not overly powerful, in my experience, it does the job on small game. Match it with a compact scope, and you have one of the lightest small game setups available.
Read Next: Best Air Rifle Scopes
Where the NOTOS Can Improve
Nothing is perfect, and I have a couple of reservations when recommending the NOTOS. First, although this gun comes with pistol grips to configure it as a handgun, it is a large handgun. It is fine for a strong shooter that wants to hunt it as a handgun. However, it is probably too bulky and heavy for a shooter of smaller stature. I think that for a smaller shooter, a CO2-powered replica handgun would be a better fit.
Another thing to consider is that at sub-20 fpe, the power output is at the lower end of the spectrum. It is fine for small game inside of 45 yards but is underpowered for long-range shooting. To keep this in perspective, the legal limit for an airgun without a firearms permit in the UK is 12 fpe, and the British have been hunting rabbits, squirrels, and crows with sub 12 fpe rifles for decades.
The last item to consider is that you can get any caliber you want, so long as you want a .22. The NOTOS is only available in .22, so if you want another caliber, you are out of luck. Having said this, I think that .22 is the optimal caliber for this gun when looking at the performance potential. If the NOTOS was limited to 12 fpe I might consider a .177, or if it generated 40 fpe I might consider a .25, but as it is the .22 offers the best combination of accuracy, power, and shot count.
It’s obvious that I liked this little carbine a lot. If you are looking for a rifle to teach the young ones to shoot or want a compact small game gun for yourself, the Umarex NOTOS might well be a perfect fit. And what makes the option even more compelling is the value.
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