Monday, December 07, 2009

Air Arms S200 Sporter - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier


Air Arms S200 sporter is based on a target rifle chassis.


The Air Arms S200 Sporter is a rifle readers have been after me to test for years! The sales volume is never very large because of the higher price and also because the S200 is a precharged pneumatic. Until the advent of the Benjamin Discovery in 2008, most shooters were reluctant to try a PCP. But that time has passed, and there's renewed interest in the precharged powerplant. The S200 fits into that by being a sporting rifle based on a former 10-meter CO2 design. This rifle has a trigger that's adjustable for the first and second stages, as well as the position of the trigger blade. I'll adjust it in a later report and tell you how it works.

This .177 rifle is set not to exceed 12 foot-pounds, which is the legal limit for air rifles in the UK. Above that energy they come under legislative controls and must be registered with Firearm Certificates (FAC). Until 2009, most Americans scoffed at 12 foot-pounds, but I see a change in the making. Since the rules for international competition for field target now limit rifles to 12 foot-pounds, as well, there's the beginning of an awakening of interest in this country for airguns with less power. I'm not saying the velocity race is over, and I doubt that it ever will end; but as airgunners get deeper into the sport, they'll start to appreciate guns of limited power. So, the future for 12 foot-pound guns may be brighter.

Before the Discovery came out, the S200 was in the enviable position of being the lowest-priced credible PCP on the market. Many shooters were able to test the waters because this affordable sporter opened the door.

What does 12 foot-pounds mean in .177 caliber? Well, it means a 7.9-grain pellet moving about 825 f.p.s., which isn't too shabby. You could certainly hunt with that, but you can also shoot it out to long range. While filming a field target episode of American Airgunner, we had Ray Apelles and his father, Hans, shoot at a field target that was 102 yards away. The kill zone was 1.5 inches in diameter. Hans was shooting his rifle at 16 foot-pounds, but Ray was shooting at 12. Both men managed to hit the kill zone twice in succession for us. So, don't think that 12 foot-pounds is limiting. Think of it as the power level used by champion shooters.

A short history
The S200 is descended from the Tau 200 CO2 target rifle. I watched the development, and here's how it happened. During the 1990s, some American field target shooters wondered if the Tau 200 could be converted to air to compete with the FWB P70s and other 10-meter rifles that were doing so well. A couple of them converted their rifles with good results. They communicated this over the internet and soon there were UK shooters doing the same. Air Arms, a forward-thinking airgun maker, decided to go straight to the source and have the factory convert the guns to air for them. A new product was born.

The S200 has the lines of a target rifle but the heart of a sporter. Expect accuracy and the best characteristics in a rifle designed for offhand shooting at small targets. However, there are a couple things missing. There's no manometer, for instance. You'll be counting your shots until you learn to discern the hollow sound that indicates the rifle has fallen below its performance curve. The scope base on the receiver is both very short and also divided into three separate sections, making two-piece scope rings an absolute necessity. Some scopes may be very challenging to mount because their tubes do not coincide with where the rings must be positioned. Just a word to the wise to plan ahead.


The receiver has three short scope bases. Two-piece rings will be required, and the scope will have to be selected so the rings can grab one of the short bases.


Description
The rifle is carbine-length, at just 35.25 inches overall. The beech stock is blocky and thick, making the gun feel larger than its length seems to indicate. The rifle weighs about 6 lbs., 3 oz., depending on the density and weight of the wood parts.

The barrel is a whisker longer than 19 inches. It's rifled by hammer-forging with a 12-groove right-hand twist at the rate of one turn in 17.71 inches (450 mm). Hammer-forging is beneficial for two reasons. The manufacturing process is inexpensive once the huge capital investment for the machine is paid, and it turns out a superior product. Only a handmade, hand-lapped barrel will be more uniform. These technical specifications appear in the five-language (Czech, English, German, Spanish and French) owner's manual, along with a complete, illustrated parts list.

Filling the tank requires the odd Air Arms fill adapter we've seen before. The tank also removes from the gun, though that serves no purpose on the sporter model unless you invest in a spare tank. The tank on the target model has a manometer on the end and removal from the gun is required for filling. The fill is 190 bar, or 2,750 psi. During the velocity, test I'll determine how many shots are in a fill.

The rifle has no open sights, nor will it be easy to install a set. Plan on scoping yours out of the box.

One observation I must make right away is how easy this rifle is to cock. The hammer stroke is long with a light spring, so it's very easy to cock. That's fortunate, because the S200 has a short bolt that's a little hard to grasp. Once you have it, though, everything is easy.

I also have to comment that the blocky stock is inviting me to attack it with a rasp. It seems to beg for some owner adjustment in the same way that a wooden block begs to be turned into a Pinewood Derby racer. I won't succumb to the temptation, but you might want to factor it into your plans, should an S200 be in your future.8KAABSC48DEE

32 Comments:

At December 07, 2009 8:22 AM, Blogger woguph said...

Morning BB,
Thanks for doing the S200 Review that I requested. If you are not needing more power the S200 is a nice little rifle. Power wise, it is in the sweet spot of a lot of popular springers such as the FWB 124, new version HW50S, or some are in the R-9 class. That is plenty of power for most backyards and for a lot of hunting situations.

I also read your article in a recent Shotgun News on quieting airguns. You did a good job on that article. I have a question regarding the article. Do manufacturer's that make airgun shrouds such as Benjamin or airgun silencers that cannot easily be attached to a firearm such as a Falcon quick fill moderator fall under the laws regarding manufacturing of firearm silencers? I know Falcon is manufactured overseas, but I am just using that as an example.

Thanks for all you do to promote airguns,

David Enoch

 
At December 07, 2009 9:12 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

David,

As far as I know, the shrouded barrel on the Marauder is free from federal restrictions. As for the Falcon, I cannot comment.

Until there is a court case, we may never know for certain what the status of certain airguns silencers really is.

Now that I'm reporting on the S200, I hope you will add your observations, as you feel they apply. You have had your rifle longer than I and I know you have shot it more than I will.

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 9:37 AM, Anonymous Frank B said...

BB,in the past I have used the collecting criteria"focus on the ones that have shaped history".Heck,with your explanations,they will all fit the criteria in one way or another!!!good morning and thank you;now I want another one.....Frank B

 
At December 07, 2009 10:51 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Frank,

My, but you're easy!

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 11:45 AM, Blogger tunnel engineer said...

B.B., Matt, and all others
Re: Mosin update

The issue with the extractor was apparently that it was too tight. For those who remember my previous posts on this, the extractor would not engage the rim of the casing and, therefore, the bolt would not close on all casings. Maybe it would close on one out of three or four.

I dipped the bolt head in solvent to try to remove any crude between the extractor and the bolt. Then simply "bent" the extractor outward with pliers by about half a millimiter. (I already ordered a new extractor and bolt head as I know it may now break after yielding it once)

Now, most casings feed normally.

Please note that the rim does not necessarily slide under the extractor claw as the bolt is pushed forward as many believe. This thing appears to be designed so that if the rim does not slide under, the claw jumps over the rim once the bolt is all the way forward and is being turned. In fact, the edge of the claw is angled to permit the claw to ride over the rim as the bolt is turned

T.E.

 
At December 07, 2009 11:48 AM, Blogger CJr said...

Uh Oh!
Should I get a Marauder in .177 or an S200 in .177 or the Edge for my eMatch target shooting! My palms are beginning to sweat! I feel dizzy! I'm going to have to go read the "How to Select the Proper Lawn Sprinkler" blog til it passes.

-Chuck

 
At December 07, 2009 12:11 PM, Blogger BG_Farmer said...

BB,

I like it, but I would take the Target version with sights and manometer for a few dollars more. The power level seems perfect to me, although it might have to be slowed down for 10M use, and the lack of a shroud could be a problem, even at 12fpe. If you have to scope it, I assume you'll test for accuracy at 20 or more; how about a trial with wadcutters at 10?

The stock is outright ugly, but in a way that makes you think it would probably work like a dream. Placed next to a Challenger, it would probably look respectable:). I especially like the high, straight comb.

 
At December 07, 2009 12:14 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

BG_Farmer,

I'll try to remember to test it at 10 yards, but I was going to test at 25.

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.B.

Aieee, the S200 at last. Thanks for doing this. Running through your observations, I would generally say that the S200 is surpassed by the duo of the Discovery and Marauder in just about every respect...except for one.

I suspect that there are numbers of people like me that simply do not have access to field target where the Crosman pcps shine. They also either do not have access to 10 meters, and if they do, they also want to have fun with long-range airgunning, out to 50 yards. Enter the S200 target that has aperture sights for formal target shooting as well as the power to go longer. I'm guessing that you can also dismount the aperture sights and mount a scope on the S200 target. If so, then here you have the missing link that works well as a formal target rifle and field target gun. It's what has been driving our queries about adjustable power for the Crosman Challenger and Marauder. Neither quite has it. And neither quite duplicates what the S200 target can do by virtue of its intermediate power and exchangeable sights...if I'm right in my speculations. Here's a market niche that I think is addressed better than the Katana, good as that rifle may be. Maybe Crosman should look into optional iron sights of various kinds for its pcps.

What exactly is the Air Arms S400 biathlon rifle? Is this just a name for a magazine version of the S400 target rifle? (I'm very fond of magazines.) Or is there really a biathlon event for airguns?

On the subject of the RWS 350 magnum, it seems to have been neglected here now that I think about it. From what I've read, this is a really super long-range rifle, perhaps the best among spring guns.

Matt61

 
At December 07, 2009 12:33 PM, Anonymous Frank B said...

BB,duely noted.But I must say you take far too little credit...LOL Easy Frank B

 
At December 07, 2009 12:59 PM, Anonymous twotalon said...

B.B.
What is hanging on the front end of the rifle?
Is it a weight, a brake, a phony brake, or a silencer?

twotalon

 
At December 07, 2009 1:28 PM, Blogger woguph said...

My observations about my S200T:
I bought a used .177 S200T after I had asked BB to review one. My gun came with the older two piece stock which some say is more comfortable than the one piece stock. Being a T (Target) version of the gun, it came with a gauge on the end of the tank instead of a fill adapter. To fill my gun, I have to unscrew my tank. There is a fitting that screws into my tank and I screw the tank to that fitting. From there, it is like filling any other tank. My gun came with a curious plastic muzzle brake that has a flat on the bottom side. What the heck is it flat on the bottom for? Well, I found that out when I needed to fill the tank. The flat section lets you unscrew the tank without removing the muzzle brake. My muzzle brake is not baffled but does take most of the bark out of my gun.

My S200 was turned up to 15 foot pounds by the previous owner. I have been told that you can't do that to a .177 S200T but apparently you can. My chronograph has been lost in my move this summer so I have not shot my gun over a chronograph. I seem to be getting 45 or 50 shots that are within a 1/4" to 3/8"elevation drop at 35 yards from what I can tell. I have not done extensive pellet testing yet. I have shot JSB Exacts and Crosman Premier Lights. Both of those shoot pretty well. I have not done proper accuracy testing either due to more lost stuff from my move. From shooting the S200 off a bench at 35 yards with a few blocks of wood and a rifle case for a rest, I get 8 out of 10 shots inside of a 3/8" diameter hole with a couple stray shots that would open the groups up to about 1/2" center to center. I feel the gun is capable of doing those groups without fliers once I find my shooting rest bags.

I have two other PCPs, a .22 caliber Gladiator, and .177 Cyclone. I like both of those guns. I find that I shoot almost all of my shots on the low power setting of their three power settings. I find low power to be just as accurate at 35 or 40 yards if the conditions are not windy and I get more shots per fill. As a confirmed springer shooter, I seem to enjoy a slow shooting pace. I have found that with a magazine fed PCP, I will bring the gun to my cheek, and shoot until the magazine is empty. I just waste a lot of lead that way. That is why I started looking for a single shot PCP. My first thought was a Discovery. I also looked at the Marauder with a single shot tray. Either of those had the potential to shoot as well as a S200, but, (and this is a big but) a lot of these guns have needed reworking to get to shoot well. I just didn't believe that Discovery or Marauder had the same build quality, or finish quality of the S200. I always keep in mind the re-sell potential of guns I buy. And, I know the S200 will keep is value better than a Discovery or Marauder. I was also influenced by two friends that after buying S200s, have sold their other PCPs and said that the S200 was the gun for them.

I don't know if my S200 will make me want to sell my other PCPs, but I do like having an accurate, easy to load and shoot, medium powered single shot PCP.

David Enoch

 
At December 07, 2009 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I am a new airgunner with a daisy 953. Reading today's blog mentioning the mounting rails in 3 pieces (instead of the normal 2) reminded me of a newbie question I've been wanting to ask...

What should be the proper/best positioning of the different aiming devices? And where should the position of the head/eye be with respect to these devices?

The rear open sights that my 953 came with was mounted on the front rail (closer to the muzzle). I see that peep sights are normally mounted furthest back on the rear rail, and the aperture is just about at that position. Meanwhile, scopes normally utilize both rails since it is long, but the "eyepiece" of the scope is often positioned a few inches further back from the rear rail. Are these the norms and why? And should the head/eye positions be different when using these different devices?

Thanks in advance. This is a great blog. I've learnt a lot from here.

Cheers,
Eddie

 
At December 07, 2009 1:37 PM, Blogger woguph said...

Matt61,
One of my friends turns his S200 down to match levels for the winter and uses a set of the new AirForce aperture sights on his indoor range. When it warms up, he switches back to the scope and turns the power level back up.

David Enoch

 
At December 07, 2009 1:55 PM, Blogger FRED said...

Eddie,

scopes have an eye relief of several inches. That is, to get a full picture through the scope, you need to keep your eye several inches away. It's also advisable to do so that you don't end up with a black eye when you fire the rifle (recoil). You position the scope so that you end up in a comfortable position when you bring the rifle to your shoulder and rest your cheek on the comb of the stock ( the top of the stock). Everyone is different hence the ability to move the scope back and forth not only on the scope rails but within the scope rings to get a full picture at the scope and have a comfortable shooting posture.

I have only one rifle with a peep site and while I'm far from the best on this blog, you need the peep fairly close to your eye to get a good picture of the front site and the target, more or less similar to the iron bladed sight a peep normally replaces. If you move the peep back and forth, you'll quickly find out what works best for you.

Welcome to the blog, Eddie. We all look forward to your continued presence, questions and eventually, responses to questions.

 
At December 07, 2009 2:52 PM, Blogger BG_Farmer said...

David,
It sounds like adjusting the S200 power level is quite easy. If you don't mind, could you describe the process? That was my big disappointment with the Crosman Challenger -- no option for going higher than match level:).

 
At December 07, 2009 3:03 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Twotalon,

The swelling at the muzzle is a cosmetic muzzle brake. It extends past the barrel by 1.5 inches.

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 3:15 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Eddie,

A peep sight makes your eye increase its depth of focus. The closer to your eye you can get the hole and the smaller the hole can be, the greater the precision with which you can aimt.

Post and notch open sights need dome distance from the eye to work well. The rear sight should always be out of focus, and the front sight the most in focus (with the target being second) but you have to be able to identify equal amounts of light on either side of the front post in the rear notch.

A scope has a range (closest to farthest) at which the image appears the largest and clearest to your eye. That's called the eye relief. That dictates where you position the rear of the scope.

I did a short video explaining the scope mounting fundamentals. See it here:

http://www.pyramydair.com/articles/how-to-scope-air-rifle/

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 3:19 PM, Blogger woguph said...

BG_Farmer,

You might not give up on the Challenger yet. If you will keep checking the blog on the Crosman site, Ray and Hans say that they will be upping the power on their Challenger and setting it up for FT. They say they will describe how to do this to your rifle as well.

Personally, and based on nothing, I suspect the AA S200 will be the better gun. Have you ever seen a Crosman up to that level of quality except for maybe the Skanaker pistol?

Here is part of an article that used to be on the web on tuning the S200 by Ian Pellant:

"Power Curve

With the factory settings, my S200 had a hump in the power curve that started as low as 10.25 fp muzzle energy, then crept up to just over 12 fp after 30 shots. The total number of shots was higher than expected and the slow rise to maximum from a full air fill all indicated that there was insufficient striker force to open the firing valve fully when the static pressure was high.

There are two power adjusters on the CZ 200. The primary controller is the spring pre-compression on the main spring driving the striker; the secondary adjustment is the venturi screw on the RHS of the action. The striker spring is factory set and sealed with a red dab to emphasize that the user should not change the setting; to do so can have legal ramifications in countries where muzzle energy restrictions apply. In the United States, we do not have such restrictions and since I had purchased a "FAC" spring as an accessory with the rifle, it was time to experiment.

The factory red dab is easily removed with acetone /acrylic thinner (or the wifes' nail polish remover) from the adjustment screw. The screw on my rifle had been set 2mm in from the rear of the action block, with the slot aligned vertically. I simply replaced the 16 Joule factory spring with the FAC spring, noting that the wire gauge was heavier, it is wound in the opposite direction and is a bright white finish compared to dull black. There is no chance of confusing which spring is which.

With the FAC spring fitted and the adjustment screw set flush with the rear of the action block, first shots with a full charge of 190 bar were over 12.25 fp. Power quickly rose to over 13 fp in the first ten shots or so. However, higher power with the accompanying higher noise and air consumption were not my current objectives, so: use the secondary adjustment to moderate it. The venturi screw has a tapered point; screw it in and it constricts the air passage from cylinder to breech; screw it out and it opens the passage. It can adjust the muzzle energy of the rifle over a range of about 4 fp. I screwed it in till the muzzle energy dropped to just under 12 fp.

Now came the tedious task of shooting long shot strings to determine the new power curve. A shortcoming in my chronographs and software was that I had no instant way to see muzzle energy over a long sequence of shots. Writing a new software that can run on my ancient DOS lap top computer provided the needed tool… Back to the testing and some most interesting results.

My general findings are that by increasing striker spring pre-compress (either by heavier spring, or screwing the adjuster in) and then restricting the venturi to balance the muzzle energy back to the original, a flatter power curve results at the cost of lower total number of shots.

Typically, my S200 now starts at a little over 11 fp from a full charge at 190 bar, then quickly rises to 12 fp over the next 10 shots where it stays quite closely for the next 40 shots before dropping again. This provides 55 useful shots with less than 1fp extreme spread. This is "tighter" and a "flatter" power curve than the factory settings.

The interaction of striker force and venturi constriction is a delicate balance. If you have the equipment or a willing airgunsmith it may be possible to tune your rifle a little finer than it came out of the box."

I hope this helps,

David Enoch

 
At December 07, 2009 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, a number of youth organizations have both winter and summer biathlon events, most notabley the Boy Scouts of America.
For these youth events (and some training programs for Olympic Biathlon) an air rifle is used. Most often these are standard 10m rifles by Anschutz, FWB, etc that have been mofidied to take a 5 shot clip.
CowBoyStar Dad

 
At December 07, 2009 4:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

b.b., a question (remember, there are no dumb questions ;-)
I have chosen the Leapers scope I want to put on my Slavia, and the proper rings are expected at Pyramyd mid December.
Does one loctite the various screws when attaching a scope to a low power springer?
CowBoyStar Dad

 
At December 07, 2009 5:00 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

CSD,

I don't Loctite the screws on weaker springers myself, but many people do. It certainly cannot hurt.

Remember the key to successful Loctite-ing is cleaning all the oil off the screw threads before applying the Loctite.

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 5:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update: I sent my Benjamin pump in for replacement and was sent back a new pump but it had a kinked hose and leaked. Upon contacting crosman, they sent me a shipping label to sent the kinked pump back, and i had another brand new pump within 10 days. However I'm now afraid of pumps breaking so I moved to tanks. If anyone wants a new Benjamin pump, post here..
I have two off topic questions:
my scuba tank is getting it's VIP and I'll have it back tomorow and finally be able to shoot after my 2 month dry spell. I enjoy making videos of me shooting and I know there are some camera buffs here so can you help me out?my budget it $200 and I would like a camera that takes great pictures and good videos (I want 640x480 or better resolution). And since shooting is done at a distance, I want high optical zoom.

Also, I'm planning to hunt some crows once I get reconnected with my gun, and it just dawned on me that I have no idea how to shoot at an angle.. If I'm standing 30ft from the base of a tree and there is a crow 30 ft up in the tree (45 degree from me) would I take the shot like it was a 30 route 2 flat shot?

 
At December 07, 2009 5:53 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Yes. The distance to the BASE of the tree is the distance of the shot.

B.B.

 
At December 07, 2009 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

David,

Yes, your S200 scenario is exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of. If Crosman has something similar in mind for its Challenger, that would be great. I believe we have a contest shaping up here between the S200 and the Crosman pcps in terms of value and versatility.

CowboyStar Dad, thanks for the info on the biathlon. I like the magazine but I don't care for raising the heart rate and trying to shoot. That doesn't seem very healthy, so I will remain a spectator.

Matt61

 
At December 07, 2009 7:17 PM, Blogger DB said...

Anonymous,
OK I'll bite. What deal are you wanting for the new hand pump?

I have one and a second would be nice. Mine works fine.
DB

 
At December 07, 2009 7:27 PM, Blogger FRED said...

Anonymous SCUBA Tanker,

check this website out for info on cameras.

http://www.steves-digicams.com/

Steve has a section called "Best Cameras" from his point of view with 6 choices. I don't know if you want the super zoom cameras or a 3x or 4x zoom will suffice but they all appear to take movies as well as stills. So, time to do some research.

Also, Cowboystardad sells cameras for a living and he may have a specific camera that will meet your needs.

Fred

 
At December 07, 2009 8:30 PM, Blogger BG_Farmer said...

David,
Thanks, that information (about both rifles) is helpful.

 
At December 07, 2009 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

DB-
it's brand new
nb.hc2011@gmail.com

 
At December 08, 2009 12:46 AM, Anonymous wayne said...

Thanks B.B. and David,

I've been wanting to try the AAS200 for some time now. Two of my new field target buddies bought them for their kids starting out in FT... but they like to shoot them too!

The .22 cal version with the mag insert makes a fine little hunter. And if I remember right, they can be set up to 18fpe!

I'll get one or two of the single shot .177 versions for the club by spring.

Great report, I'm anxious to see "the rest of the story"..

Oh, guess what, I just bought Billy Lo's USFT #6. This is the gun he won first place with in the 2005 open class field target nationals.
It's a 20fpe version. I bought the prize he won with that gun, a 12fpe USFT #44,(specially tuned for the world field target finals) last year... and the BSA 10-50x60 Platinum that went on #6.

So, even though I'm having to liquidate half my collection of pre-war springers .. it's more than worth it! These pieces are way more rare and should really gain in value over time. Especially, since Billy is writing me a little story about them all!

And I can use them to compete with them too! ... I'm a very, very happy camper!!

My first add on the yellow is on page 3 or 4 now, and mostly sold out, but I'll post another one in a day or so... I'll let you all know first.

Wacky Wayne MD. Ashland Air Rifle Range

 
At December 08, 2009 2:17 PM, Anonymous Benjamin pump said...

If anyone has Ny interest, please shoot me an email.
BB how would this compare to a LWS model 38?

 
At December 08, 2009 2:23 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

What is an LWS model 38?

B.B.

 

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