by B.B. Pelletier
First, a correction from yesterday. I said the Air Arms website shows the TX barrel to be 14″, and that was wrong. The tech data differentiates between the true barrel and the “overtube.” The barrel is 335mm and the overtube is 395mm. The TX200Mark III barrel length is really over 13″.
Today, I’ll address everything that I didn’t get to yesterday.
A recoilless TX!
The TX200SR was a recoilless version of the rifle that used the sledge anti-recoil system – much like today’s Diana RWS 54. I owned one for a brief time. I emphasize brief because the SR was as far from a TX as it’s possible to be! For starters, the action never locked up. It just flopped around loose in the stock all the time. Very disconcerting! If the rifle wasn’t close to level when you shot it, you felt the recoil. Since I bought it to shoot field target and had to shoot into a treed area, I felt the recoil a lot and as far as I was concerned, the mechanism was a waste of time. The trigger needed extra linkage due to the sliding mechanism – and it was horrible! The gun had a two-stage cocking effort that took nearly 60 lbs. of effort to complete – for about 12 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! On top of everything else, it wasn’t as accurate as my TX200 Mark II.
I sent my rifle to Ken Reeves, one of the top tuners at that time (1996). He specialized in tuning the SR, so it came back much nicer than it went out, but the trigger still had some creep. Ken suggested that I push the action forward in the stock during cocking to reduce the effort, but it was still 37 lbs. of force. A lot of work ($130 in ’96) produced a rifle that was still not up to the TX200 Mark II (the current model in 1996). I think today’s Mark III is even better than the Mark II. It’s no surprise that Air Arms quit making the SR at the end of ’96.
The Hunter Carbine
The TX200HC or Hunter Carbine is a shortened version of an already short rifle. It was developed when the longer Mark II was still the principal TX200, and at that time it represented a big difference in length. But the new Mark III is shorter than the Mark II, so the Hunter Carbine is not that much shorter anymore – just about three inches. The rifled barrel is just 9.5″ long, which is pretty short for a springer. I’ve never owned one of these but I have shot the 12 foot-pound models. They’re very similar to a TX200, but they have a shorter barrel that makes for an increased jolt when the gun fires. They develop less power in the FAC models, also because of the shorter barrel. And the shorter cocking lever means an increase in cocking effort – so much so that Air Arms puts a cocking aid handle on the Hunter Carbine that’s not on the regular TX200.
The Hunter Carbine is a more compact air rifle than its big brother – the TX200 Mk III.
Trigger and accuracy are pretty much the same as the TX200. Air Arms says you lose 2 foot-pounds in the .177 high-power FAC version compared to the TX200 and one foot-pound in .22. It has a threaded insert to accept a silencer. No legal silencer is available here in the U.S., so the muzzle report will be higher than the TX200.
What about .22 caliber?
The TX200 Mk III and Hunter Carbine are available in .22 caliber as well as .177. By virtue of its very short barrel, the Hunter Carbine does not develop much more power in .22 than in .177 (this data was taken directly from the Air Arms website). Only the TX200 Mk III shows the classic 20 percent power increase when you move up to .22. The TX200 isn’t a magnum spring rifle by today’s standards. Instead, think of it as the nicest combination of shooting behavior and reasonable power you can buy. Will it work for hunters? Absolutely! Is .22 caliber the way to go? Yes, in the TX200; not as positive in the Hunter Carbine, where the power increase isn’t that great.
Please understand that this whole report is based on my personal feelings about these air rifles. Any one of them would make a fine rifle, and I’ve been out-shot by all of them! I’ve tried to explain why I feel the way I do, and you must decide which gun to buy based on your own criteria.