Pros: power, price, accuracy
Cons: weight, safety position
WHY DID I BUY IT?
I bought the Winchester 800 because I wanted a powerful air rifle that I only needed to cock once to fire. Before this rifle, I was used to having to pump my other guns multiple times before I could fire them. With some air rifles such as the Crosman 2100b, there is no way to know how much pumping is too much and with other rifles, you don’t get a large amount of power for all your effort.
With the 2100b in fact, I had to pump it 10 times to get a muzzle velocity of 750 feet per second.
With this 800 I only need to cock it once in order to throw a pellet at 800 feet per second.
Power and reloading speed are therefore the primary reasons I went with the 800. However, the price, at around $90, wasn’t bad either. You can also buy this gun with a scope included for around $130 but I suggest you look for it without the scope and add your own.
800 ~ 1000 fps rifles with spring mechanisms for under $150 tend to be of high quality and tend to be very efficient and affordable since you don’t need to purchase 12 gram CO2 cartridges to fire them. CO2 rifles typically do not offer this much power per shot and the more expensive Pre-Charged pneumatic rifles can cost well over $300 in this power range.
WEIGHT and SIZE
The Winchester’s stock is real wood and its barrel and metal components are steel. Its pretty damned heavy at over 6 pounds and can be a bit large for a gift for preteens learning to shoot. Also, at over 46.7” its pretty long and considerably larger than my Powerline 880, my Crosman 2100b and my Crosman 760.
The Weight can be an issue in fact when trying to fire it at a distant target. The majority of the weight however is in the stock, so large guys should be able to hold it steady enough to get a fluid trigger pull.
TRIGGER AND SAFETY
The trigger of the Winchester 800 is made of a high grade plastic and is one of the only two plastic parts of the gun – the safety being the other. The safety is at the rear of the barrel (like a hammer) and neither the trigger nor the safety become active until the gun is cocked.
Cocking the gun requires you to pull down on the barrel towards the rifle’s underside and then you must pull it back up to its locking position. This cocks the spring and keeps it in position. Fortunately in the safety department, spring rifles such as this one do not half cock and must be fully cocked in order to be fired at all. Also, the area where the spring and piston resides is almost impossible to get an adult finger into so there is no danger of accidental amputation – which can happen in some spring guns due to the violent act of the spring popping forwards.
Unfortunately, the safety’s position places it right under the scope . On large rimmed scopes, with short mount rings, it can become difficult to easily depress the safety hammer in order to prepare to fire. This can be a problem in fact. I would have preferred a crossbolt safety but I think the spring’s design makes that impossible. A small red mark on the safety lets you know that the safety is off and the gun is ready to fire, but, with a large scope it will be difficult to see.
Trigger pull is smooth and the gun will fire before the trigger is completely depressed.
The Winchester 800, naturally comes with universal mount dovetail rails to add a typical scope or red dot sight. However, it also includes its own front and rear sight. The front sight is non adjustable and is surrounded by a helpful round sight that can be lined up with the circumference of circles on paper targets. At the rear sight’s flattest position, all you need to do is line up the rear sight’s blade with the front sight’s blade and fire it to hit the target. The gun is very accurate without a mounted scope. At distances shorter than 20 meters, its very easy to hit 5 inch bullseyes, bottles or cans.
For distances longer than 40 meters or for varmint hunting, you’ll want to use a scope. I have mounted multiple scopes to this gun, but, the best I’ve used is a typical TASCO 4X15 riflescope (about $15) which is sold in most Walmart’s or Sport’s Authority stores. This scope is also sold under other brand names such as “Daisy” and “Bushnell” but I’ve found all of these scopes to be the same in quality.
I’ve been able to take down pests at distances over 300 feet with this combination.
The violent act of the spring releasing, however , can be jarring but, one can get used to it. Its definitely not as smooth to fire as a PCP rifle or even a 12 gram CO2 rifle but its power and lower cost make up for that.
When used as a varmint hunter, the Winchester 800 is a one shot killer, but, at close distances, it “ice picks” right through soft targets like birds. The 800 will blow perfectly perforated holes clean through wooden fence slats in fact. Its plenty powerful.
The best ammo to use for accuracy and for power delivery are the “Diabolo” rounded heads. Hunting pellets with pointed heads leave the wounded varmit alive and able to escape despite the newfound hole in himself. I’ve never used hollowpoints in this rifle because I’ve found Diabolos to work just fine. Wadcutters are also great for varmint hunting and are also accurate in this rifle. BB’s are not accepted by this rifle, but, since they are less accurate than pellets anyway, that is forgivable.
I’ve kept my rifle in my closet for a couple years now and there is some sign of rust, but that can be cleaned up easily with proper oiling – it can also be prevented with proper oiling or a good rifle bag. Naturally, you should buy a good cleaning kit (around $15) so you can clean the barrel.
The 800 by the way does require a good cleaning every now and then because this gun has the tendency to “diesel”. This is a minute explosion of the lubricating oil which flashes when the pressure inside the barrel hits its flashpoint. After firing lead pellets you can literally smell and even see some smoke coming out of the barrel. I’d recommend cleaning it after around 500 shots.
The Winchester 800 is great air rifle with plenty of power, a low pricetag, good accuracy and good precision. Weight is a little high but that’s to be expected in such a high quality product. If I had it to do all over again, I’d probably still buy the 800. It’s a solid performer in its class.