by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Air Arms TX200 Mark III at 50 yards. I can tell you that I learned a lot from this test. But that will all be summarized as we go. Let’s get started!
I shot the new TX directly off the same sandbag that was used at 25 yards. As you remember, I showed (after much coaxing from you readers!) that the TX shoots as well or better when rested directly on sandbags as it does with an artillery hold. The bag was crossways to the rifle, so the contact with the stock was minimized.
The day was perfect for the test. Not a breath of wind the entire time I was on the line!
The rifle is mounted with the AirForce 4-16X50 scope, which was selected so I could conduct another test for reader Duskwight after the regular test was completed. This scope is clear and sharp; and at 50 yards, I was able to bisect the small bullseyes with the reticle.
The rifle was still zeroed for 25 yards, so it had to be adjusted for 50 yards before anything else could happen. The first shot landed 3-1/4 inches low and 1-1/2 inches to the left. It then took another 2 shots before I was reasonable on the target. Then, I fired the first group with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. Ten landed in a group measuring 1.562 inches. It’s a fairly round group, but not as small as I would like from this rifle. So, I switched pellets.
JSB Exact Monsters
Next I tried some JSB Exact Monsters, which weigh 13.4 grains in .177 caliber. They went all over the place. When I went dowrange to retrieve the target, I saw that they were tumbling or yawing. They must be too heavy for the velocity the TX is able to generate.
Crosman Premier heavy
The third pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier heavy. I meant to bring Crosman Premier lites, but I grabbed the wrong box when loading up for the range. Fortunately, the heavy pellet was wonderful! Ten of them gave me a group that measured 0.658 inches between centers — or about as good as a top-flight PCP can do at the same distance! This is phenomenal accuracy for any air rifle at 50 yards!
First lesson learned
The new TX200 Mark III is every bit as accurate as my TX that’s well broken-in. No accuracy has been lost over the years, and the rifle can shoot this well right out of the box!
With lesson one under my belt, I adjusted the scope to lower the point of impact and moved to the next bull. The first shot landed where the last group was, then the pellets moved to the new sight adjustment.
Second lesson learned
Some scopes have stiction. After adjusting them, it’s best to shoot a couple shots to vibrate the reticle to its new location. I knew that, but made the mistake anyway. So, I’ve included the first shot, along with the group, to show you what it looks like. If this group had been as small as the one before, that first shot would really stand out. But I lost my concentration on this one and wasn’t holding the rifle as softly as I might have. This group of 10 measures 1.435 inches between centers, which isn’t that far from the first group of H&N Baracudas!
The second group of Premier heavies opened to 1.435 inches. That’s more than double the size of the first group! Top hole to the left of the pellet was the first shot, which I disregarded, after the scope was adjusted.
Third lesson learned
While a rifle may be capable of shooting 10-shot 50-yard groups smaller than one inch, it may not do it every time! That small group may represent what the rifle is capable of, but not what it will always do.
Duskwight, our blog reader from Moscow, asked me to test the difference between a rifle shot with a low-power scope and the same rifle shot with a high-power scope. In other words, does magnification improve a rifle’s ability to group?
Well, common sense tells us that it does. Right? I mean, surely, if you’re able to parse the target to a finer degree, you must be able to group your shots closer together. Right? That’s what this test will determine.
That’s why I used a 4-16x scope on this rifle. I’d been shooting with 16x to this point, so now I dialed the power back to 4x and shot another group.
Wow! At 4x, the intersection of the crosshairs almost completely covers the small bullseye at 50 yards. As I shoot, I’m almost certain how this test is going to turn out. And it does. Ten shots on 4x with the same Premier heavy pellets landed in 2.208 inches. Looks like I was right about what low magnification would do.
The third group of Premier heavies — shot with the scope set to 4x — was 2.208 inches between centers at 50 yards. That’s quite a difference from the previous group, even though that group was already admittedly large.
But something nagged me about this group. I knew in my heart that I’d not given the rifle my best. I knew this group was going to be bigger than the last one while I was shooting it, so I was even sloppier with my hold.
It probably sounds like I need medication to suppress my dual personalities while at the range, but I assure you I’m not talking to myself — at least not loud enough for others to hear. What I’m doing is a little soul searching while I’m still out at the range and have the time to do something about it.
I adjusted the scope back to 16x and shot another 50-yard group. This time, I did everything the way I should have. The hold was completely relaxed. I fully expected to be rewarded with another of those sub-inch groups, but that didn’t happen. This time, I shot a 10-shot group measuring 1.935 inches between centers. Oh, well! I was probably tiring out from all the concentration.
Fourth lesson learned
Sometimes, you just can’t will the results to happen the way you would like. I put my whole heart into this group, and this is what I got. Maybe that’s what it feels like to be 66, dried-out and ready for the old-folks home!
Fifth lesson learned
I called that first great group of Premiers a screamer. Now you see why that is.
Nevertheless, I owed it to Duskwight to try the rifle on low scope magnification one more time, and this time to do my very best. So I did. This time, 10 pellets went into a group that measures 1.481 inches between centers. That’s right, it’s SMALLER than the group shot on 16 power! I noticed that the bull was just visible behind the crosshairs; and if I really tried, I could hold on the target in exactly the same way every time. Apparently, I did, because this group fired on 4x is smaller than the previous group that was fired on 16x.
Sixth lesson learned
Although it isn’t conclusive, it looks like you can shoot just as accurately on low scope magnification as you can on high magnification if you take the time to do things right.
Seventh lesson learned
Looking at both groups fired on 16x and both groups fired on 4x, it sure looks like the point of impact never changed! Some of you have asked about that in the past. The design of the scope determines whether the impact point will move when the scope’s power is changed, but these days a lot of variable scopes stay right where they were when the power’s adjusted.
Eighth lesson learned
Of the five groups fired with Premier heavy pellets on this day, only one is smaller than one inch. And it’s significantly smaller! When you see those great groups in the future, you must ask yourselves what the rest of the groups look like.
Ninth lesson learned
I may be old and dried-out, but I can still shoot — a little. I get tired as the shot count increases, so that needs to be factored in to my tests from now on.
I’m very pleased with what this new TX200 Mark III has done so far. I think the rumors that the TX quality may have slipped are just that — rumors! Individual guns may have problems; but overall, the TX200 is one fine air rifle. Next, I plan on mounting a red dot sight and testing it for accuracy, again, to see what the differences are.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’m testing the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle for accuracy at 25 yards. This is going to be a very different accuracy report, for I have no targets to show you. Well, there is one target, but it wasn’t shot with the test rifle.
In the last report, I mentioned that I wanted to mount a different scope on the test rifle and test it at 25 yards. I thought the Bug Buster 3-9x scope would be a good one, and I also shimmed under the rear ring because the rifle was shooting low in the 10-meter test.
I thought the rifle would group about 3 times larger at 25 yards than it had at 10 meters, but I also hoped some pellets might remain tighter than that. What happened, however, was just the reverse. Instead of 3-inch groups I got 5- to 6-inch “patterns.” I won’t call them groups because not all pellets fired even hit the target trap. And when that happens, I stop shooting that particular pellet immediately.
Crosman Premier lites
First up was the pellet I thought had the best chance to do well — the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. They had done well at 10 meters with just 2 pellets outside the main group. Had they held to my 3X size increase, they would have grouped into about 2.2 inches; but when the third shot landed 6 inches away from shots 1 and 2, and then shot 4 landed 5 inches from that pellet, I stopped shooting.
I checked the scope mount to see that it was still tight. It was, and I’m pretty sure this scope is a good one because it has done well in other tests on other airguns. So, Premier lites are out.
H&N Baracuda Match
Next, I tried some H&N Baracuda Match pellets. But they were no better. They hit the target lower than the Premiers, and 3 shots landed in about a 5-inch pattern. Then, one pellet missed the target trap altogether. I stopped shooting after that shot, but I wasn’t done with this pellet.
I got the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater and deep-seated a couple Premier lites to see what affect that would have. The point of impact changed, but the accuracy didn’t improve. And when the third shot missed the trap, I stopped shooting Baracudas.
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which gave such a nice, round group at 10 meters. Two shots landed together, and I thought we were on the right road; then the next shot hit about 6 inches away from them. The 4th shot missed the trap altogether, and I stopped shooting that pellet.
By now, I was in a quandary. Was it me or the gun or the scope? I went back to 12 feet from the target and confirmed that the scope was still shooting to the same point, then I went back to 25 yards and tried an RWS Superdome. I had confirmed at 12 feet that the Superdome would be on paper at 25 yards and the first shot was. It landed high, but in good enough position to keep shooting. The next shot missed the paper altogether and I don’t know where it went. That was it for Superdomes.
What to do?
By this point I was really shaken. My confidence was ebbing fast and I needed to end this session on a high note. So I grabbed my Beeman R8 Tyrolean and a tin of Air Arms Falcon pellets and shot a final group of 10 at 25 yards. This one turned out good, as I expected it would. That’s where today’s target comes from. It isn’t the best group I’ve shot with the R8, but it’s a darn sight better than I did with the MTR77NP. Ten shots went into 0.41 inches.
I need some time to think about why this rifle might be performing like it is. If one of you made a report like this to me, I would tell you to check the scope because that sure seems like what it is. But I did check the scope and found no problems. The one thing left to do is to crank the elevation down all the way and all the way to the left and shoot a group. If it tightens up, then it was the scope. If not, it’s either the mounts or the rifle.
A little tip
What I did with the R8 today is a handy tip to remember. Sometimes the problem is you — or you wonder if it might be. Shooting a good group with a rifle of known accuracy is the best way to rule that out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m writing this extensive report to fully explore the fabulous Air Arms TX200 Mark III, which is without a doubt one of the finest spring-piston air rifles in the world! The good news is that it’s still available today. The better news is that it’s everything it’s cracked up to be! Writers have a few trite phrases to convey quality in the airgun world. “As good as a TX 200″ is one of them, and it’s very high praise.
There are 9 links above that will take you all the way back to the beginning, when I started by testing my own well-broken-in TX 200. But now I’ve shifted over to a brand-new rifle that Pyramyd Air sent to me to test. Some readers wondered if my rifle, which is so well-used that it might be performing above the bar, so to speak, because of the use it’s had. They wanted to see a rifle that’s being made today, and also one without all the wear on the parts. That’s what we’re testing now — a brand-new TX whose only shots are the ones you have witnessed on this blog.
The TX has no sights and must be either scoped or have some other kind of optical sight mounted. One of the tests we’re going to do with this rifle is to mount a red dot on it and see what that does for it. Blog reader Mannish from Mumbai asked for that test a long time back.
We’re also going to test the effects of shooting the gun at 4X and again at 16X with the same scope. Reader Duskwight asked for that — to see if the increased magnification would affect the group size. I also want to see if changing the magnification changes the point of impact, so that test will be a twofer.
I’m leading up to the scope I chose for this test. I might have selected the same Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder that was on my TX when I tested it, but that didn’t give me all the magnification I wanted for Duskwight’s test. So, I selected a vintage AirForce 4-16X50 scope, instead. Mine is older than the model being sold today, but the specifications are essentially the same. For a mount, I selected a nondescript 1-piece mount. I chose it because it has a vertical scope stop pin for the TX scope stop holes, plus it has the height needed for the scope’s objective bell to clear the spring tube. I have no idea who made it.
I started sighting-in at 12 feet, putting 3 pellets into the target and adjusting until they were in line with the center of the bull, more or less. They were high, so I cranked down about 4 complete turns on the elevation knob, knowing that back at 25 yards the gun would be shooting higher than at 12 feet.
When I shot the first pellet at 25 yards, it was still about 1.5 inches high, so a couple more turns down on the elevation knob brought it to the center of the bull. As always, I tried to intentionally keep the pellets from striking the center of the bull, as that erases my aim point very quickly. The sight-in was now complete with about 7 shots being expended.
All of today’s shooting is at 25 yards, which is really close for a TX. I rested the rifle directly on my sandbag, with the bag turned sideways, so the rested area touched about 5 inches of the forearm. I used an ultra-light hold, and the groups showed the results. I selected a couple pellets that had done well in the test of my personal TX and one that had never been tested for accuracy before.
H&N Baracuda Match
The first pellet was the one I used to sight-in the rifle — the H&N Baracuda Match. It was landing to the left of the aim point and in the center of the bull for elevation. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.417 inches between the centers of the 2 pellets farthest apart. That’s well within the range fired by my personal TX at 25 yards.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried a pellet I haven’t tried for accuracy in the TX — at least not that I can remember. The JSB Exact RS dome is a very lightweight pellet for a rifle this powerful. The first shot landed about 1.5 inches above the spot where the Baracudas were hitting, but it was still on paper, so I continued to shoot. Each shot that followed seemed to drop a bit lower on the paper, and as I was shooting I discovered something important. The rifle shoots this pellet very well, but it is extremely hold-sensitive. Moving the rifle a quarter-inch on the sandbag makes a tremendous difference. So, I was able to adjust the hold carefully and get the pellets to land closer together.
I think the RS pellet can be made to shoot, but it isn’t worth the effort when there are other pellets that shoot even better without all the fuss. The 10-shot group I got measures 1.501 inches between centers, which is terrible; but 6 of those pellets were the ones I took special pains to hold exactly the same, and they measure just 0.496 inches between centers. That’s the potential of this pellet when you handle the gun like it’s a soap bubble!
Crosman Premier heavy
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier heavy. The group was a phenomenal 0.333 inches between centers! That’s slightly better than the best group I shot with my own TX at 25 yards, but the difference is only 3 one-thousandths of an inch and could easily be hidden by an error in measurement. So, the 2 rifles are equivalent.
I could have shot other pellets and shown you more targets, but by now you’re getting the picture. The new TX is the same as it has always been — one of the finest and most accurate air rifles on the market.
Next, I’ll test this rifle at 50 yards. I’ll do essentially the same test that I did with my own TX at that distance, but then I’ll add the 4-16X test. That will tell us if there’s an advantage to more magnification, and it will also show if the point of impact changes as the magnification changes.
After that test, I plan on mounting a red dot sight on this rifle and testing it at 25 and 50 yards. I think that will end the test of this rifle, unless something else comes up.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the first of 2 accuracy tests planned for the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle. As you know, this rifle has no open sights; so, the first thing I did was mount the Centerpoint 4X32 scope that’s included with the gun. That went quick because the scope caps have 2 screws each, but there was no slippage of the scope in the rings during this test.
The scope is very bright as you would expect a 4X scope to be, but at the 10-meter distance I shot in this test, it was fuzzy. The parallax is fixed for a further distance that isn’t indicated on the scope. I can tell from examination that it’s set farther than 25 yards.
I’m testing at 10 meters today and will take the best pellets into the next test, which will be at 25 yards. The first pellet up was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. You will remember from the velocity test that the test rifle shoots considerably slower than its advertised velocity of 1,000 f.p.s. with lead pellets. It went an average of 866 f.p.s. with 7-grain RWS Hobbys.
I discovered that the rifle is shooting low, even with the scope adjusted up high. For the next test, I’ll shim the rear scope ring. That should raise the pellet up far enough.
Crosman Premier lites
At 10 meters, 10 Premier lite pellets made a group that measures 0.721 inches between centers. The group has a main group of 8 pellets within it and 2 flyers, though there were no shots that were pulled. This is a case where a better scope might do better on target because the image was so fuzzy that I might have been off the aim point by 1/8 inch at times.
The MTR77NP fires with a solid thump. There’s no vibration, and the shot cycle is very quick. The recoil through the butt isn’t sharp the way it is on many gas-spring air rifles. And the A2 stock seems to be ideal for handling the recoil of this rifle without stinging your cheek.
Now that I’ve shot the gun for accuracy, I can tell you the trigger-pull is very long in stage 2. The pull length of stage 2 is supposed to be adjustable, but I turned in the screw about 7 full turns and nothing changed. It feels like a placebo screw; or if it does adjust anything, the effect is very small.
H&N Baracuda Match
The next pellet I tested was the heavy H&N Baracuda Match. This pellet showed some promise in the velocity test, and I thought it might do well in this rifle. Ten of them went into a group that measured 0.982 inches between centers. Like the Premier lite, there were flyers outside the main group, though I did not see them when shooting. I’m beginning to think that the next test needs to be conducted with a different scope.
The scope mounts had loosened by this point in the test. The rings remained tight, but the screws that attach the rings to the base on the rifle loosened up. I tightened them and also checked them after every 5 shots from this point on.
Next, I tried 10 RWS Hobby pellets. They went much lower and also to the left. They actually missed the target paper. The group was round and measured 0.826 inches between centers.
Crosman SSP Hollowpoint
I did check the Crosman SSP hollowpoint that was the lead-free pellet I tested in the velocity test, but after 2 pellets missed the target backer altogether, I stopped shooting. Not the pellet for this rifle.
JSB Exact Express
The last pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain JSB Exact Express dome. I haven’t had much luck with this pellet in the past, but I keep trying it just in case. Alas, the MTR77NP doesn’t like it, either. Ten pellets went into a vertical 1.661 inches at 10 meters. Another pellet to not use in this rifle.
Evaluation so far
I like the way the rifle feels when it fires. It has good power and a solid thump when it fires. The trigger-pull is long but not too creepy.
The scope leaves a lot to be desired. I think I’ll replace it with a Bug Buster 3-9X scope for the next test, and I’ll shim the rear scope ring before mounting it on the rifle. That should give the rifle the best chance to do well at 25 yards.
Obviously, the pellets to try are the Crosman Premier lite, the H&N Baracuda and the RWS Hobby. The Hobbys will be at their maximum recommended distance, but they may surprise us.
If you like black rifles and have been considering the MTR77NP, I think it’s worth a look. We’ll know better after the next test.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
With the Christmas season approaching, I’m on the fast track to test several new airguns this month. Today, I want to begin our look at the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle. It’s a .177-caliber -only copy of the M16. When I saw this one at the 2013 SHOT Show, I couldn’t believe my eyes! I actually had to break it down to prove it was a breakbarrel spring rifle because the M16 look is so authentic. But for a couple small clues, you would say the same thing.
And now that I own an AR-15, I’m no longer the barnyard Bubba whose last recollection of a military rifle is a Garand or a Mauser. I know what a black rifle looks and feels like, and I tell you — Crosman has nailed it with this one. And, when the barrel is closed, it’s just as solid as the firearm it copies. But the one thing I could not do at the show was cock the gun because the SHOT Show doesn’t allow firearms or airguns that are capable of firing to be displayed. So, the spring unit was out of the gun on display. I’ve been waiting all year for the opportunity that is now before us.
Before I continue, let me tell you this rifle comes in 2 versions — one is the flattop scoped version that I’m now testing, and the other is a version with a carry handle and conventional M16 sights (peep and post). That one is just $10 less than the scoped model, and both of them have Crosman’s Nitro Piston (gas spring) for their powerplant.
This rifle is most like the M16A1 that I remember from my days of “owning” several in Germany. The stock is the triangular A2 that I prefer over all others. Crosman missed an opportunity by not putting a storage compartment in the butt like a real A2 stock has — this one has a solid checkered plate. The handguard is the web-reinforced, tapered cylinder that grips your hand so well — even when wearing gloves! Naturally it has a cocking slot on the bottom and a slot on the top to allow access to the breech when the barrel is broken open. But you can’t see either one from more than 10 feet when looking at the profile.
Not only is the look right on, but the weight is, too. The rifle weighs 7 lbs. on the money without the scope, so you can’t tell it from the firearm. Most of the controls such as the selector switch, charging handle, ejection port cover and bolt release are simply cast into the synthetic receiver, but these days that doesn’t detract much. They still look very realistic. The forward assist is more of a hint than an actual copy, but you don’t pick up on it because of the rifle’s non-reflective finish.
The one thing that’s different is the safety switch that’s located ahead of the trigger. It’s a MANUAL safety — thank you very much, Crosman! You decide when to put it on and take it off.
They advertise the cocking effort at 45 lbs., which seems pretty close to what I’m experiencing. This is a gas spring, so you can expect that resistance from the moment the barrel is broken open. That makes the MTR77NP an adult’s rifle, for sure, and the adult had better be ready to work!
One thing I admire about Crosman that hasn’t changed over the years is their institutional memory. They have a morgue of airguns. It’s really a large closet filled with many of their old models, prototypes and some other guns, as well. But it allows them to look at the past and choose what was good for their future endeavors. On this rifle, it was the magazine. They copied the M1 Carbine BB gun magazine that was a removable container for BBs; only on the MTR77NP, it’s for pellets and it’s much larger. Of course, the rifle’s magazine release button is fully functional.
The rifle comes with sling swivels built in, which is probably good, for many hunters may reach for this rifle. Given its potential power, which is rated to 1,200 f.p.s., I think it could be a great hunting gun if the gun is also accurate. Remember, you can leave a gas spring cocked for hours without degradation.
This rifle has no sights, so of course it comes with a Centerpoint 4X32 scope and mounts. The scope appears clear and bright upon initial examination, but I’ll give you a more detailed report when I test the gun for accuracy. It has a duplex reticle with mil-dots.
It also comes with scope rings. But unlike the photo that’s lithographed on the box, the rings have 2 screws per cap instead of 4. And everything clamps to a 1913 Picatinny rail that will accept Weaver mounts, as well.
Of course, I tried the gun. I cocked and fired it a couple times just to familiarize myself with its operation. The Nitro Piston causes a heavy lunge forward on firing, but there’s very little vibration. The report is a bit louder than many powerful spring rifles. That may be due to the gas spring that always sounds a little snappier than rifles that have coiled steel springs.
The 2-stage trigger is crisper than most, though stage 2 does have some travel. But there’s very little creep in the movement. I believe I can do good work with this rifle.
This should be a fun gun to test because it’s so different from the rest of them. It’s a blend of the good old days of lookalike airguns and modern magnums. Let’s hope they chose the best of both worlds!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
It’s been some time since I did Part 3 of the Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle. Just to remind you of where we left off, I found the gun difficult to shoot with the UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster rifle scope because of the medium-height scope rings. I removed that scope and mounted the UTG 3-9X40 True Hunter rifle scope that comes bundled with high 2-piece Weaver rings. They were better, but even they seemed a bit too low because of the bullpup configuation. This is the same scope I used in the test of the Hatsan AT P1 PCP pistol.
Today’s test was done at 50 yards on an outdoor rifle range. The weather was perfect, without a hint of breeze. I didn’t sight-in the scope before going to the range, so I sighted-in at 50 yards. Luckily, the scope wasn’t that far off, and I was on target in 3 shots.
The 25-yard test that was done in Part 3 showed that only 2 pellets were worth trying at 50 yards. I shot just them and nothing else.
I also want to remind you that the rifle likes to be filled to 2,900 psi according to my tank’s gauge. It has more than 10 shots on a fill, but it does go through air pretty quick. So, just for continuity, I refilled after every group.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes
I sighted-in with the best pellet from the earlier test, which was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. Since the third shot landed where I wanted, I continued to shoot and made an 8-shot group for starters. That group measured 0.961 inches between centers. I noted that the bullpup-style stock made the rifle difficult to hold steady on target, so this group was as steady as I was able to hold. I was fighting the trigger, which breaks at 6 lbs., 10 oz. It’s hard to hold on target with a trigger this heavy. Also this rifle is tall and narrow, so it wobbles from side to side when you hold it. I didn’t see a way around that at first, but then I figured it out.
Next, I shot a 10-shot group with the same JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. The rifle’s circular magazine holds 11 pellets, but I loaded it with only 10 to keep things consistent with most of my other 50-yard tests.
The scope had been adjusted higher for this group, so the shots landed higher on the bull. Ten pellets made a 1.501-inch group. I must comment that during this group I saw the crosshairs move around on the bull a lot more than I would like. That heavy trigger caused it. In the group that resulted, I see 2 separate points of impact that are one above the other. That isn’t what I would expect a sideways wobble to produce, but something was wrong with my hold. I had to solve that first.
Toward the end of the first full group, I found a way to stabilize the rifle pretty well. I was shooting off a sandbag rest that helped with stability, and I found that if I gripped the frame tight (where the forearm would be on a conventional rifle) the wobble stopped. That made me more confident that the group I would be getting was what the rifle could actually do.
Following that group, I shot a second group of 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies that measured 1.406 inches between centers. This one is fairly well centered on the bull and doesn’t have the 2 separate points of impact like the first group. I think the improved hold was responsible, although I can’t see why a sideways wobble would do what I’d seen before. Maybe the wobble was greater than I thought?
The second full group was a little smaller than the first — at 1.406 inches between centers. I felt the rifle was held well for this group. This is as good as this pellet can do (in general) in this rifle with me on the trigger.
Next, it was time to try 10 Beeman Kodiak, which was the second-best pellet at 25 yards. It didn’t do as well. The first few shots scattered all over the place, landing far to the left of the aim point and also a bit lower. When all 10 shots were finished, I had a 2.32-inch group that looks more like a shotgun pattern than a group from a rifle. However, I must note that 9 of those shots did land in a 1.331-inch group. But the one lower shot that opened the group wasn’t the last one. It was the third shot. Based on that, I would scratch Kodiaks for this rifle and stick with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies.
I’ve come to the end of my test of this air rifle. It’s been an interesting journey, and I’ve learned some things from it. First, when you scope a bullpup, get the highest scope rings you can. Ring risers might be a good idea. Second, the idea that bullpup actions have poor triggers is apparently true. And finally, when the cross-section of your rifle is as flat as a flounder, it will be harder to hold steady.
The Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle is definitely a different beast! It holds different and shoots different than a conventional PCP. If you’re looking for the bullpup styling, then either this or the Evanix Max bullpup is the airgun you want. It will produce acceptable accuracy out to 50 yards when you do your part. Just remember that the trigger is stiff and creepy, and the rifle needs a firm hold.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This is an ongoing series about scope questions and issues. Blog reader David Enoch asked for it originally, but many other readers have jumped in since it began. Today, I’m going to give you some scope tips I’ve learned over the years.
Tom’s scope tips
1. Get good glass!
You can’t hit what you can’t see! The quality of the glass in the lenses; the coatings on the glass; and the perfection with which the optics were ground, finished and handled during production are all more important than superfluous features like illuminated reticles and mil dots.
I look for clarity in a scope long before I consider anything else. I’ve been known to select a 4x scope over a 4-16x just for this reason.
If you have a chance to test a scope before buying, test it by trying to focus at close range and read fine print. Look out at the edges of the image. Are they as sharp? Point the scope into a dark area and see if it highlights what’s there or just muddies the image.
2. Don’t shop for a scope by the brand name.
Brand names mean nothing these days. Even Leupold, which does make some superior optics such as the Vari-X III models, also makes mediocre scopes…like the Vari-X II line. The same holds true for Leapers, Hawke and most others. I’ve seen Nikon, Burris and even Nightforce scopes that weren’t very clear. The fact that a scope company can make superior scopes has no bearing on what they put into your scope.
Shop for scopes by the model and look only at reports for that exact model. You may get a sense that some makers put a lot of quality in certain scopes, and if you do, use that information. For example, I’ve told you several times that the Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder is a super scope. It stands head and shoulders above many other models and brands in the same price range. I know it’s not cheap, but it’s worth the price.
I have also touted several Leapers scopes in my reports. Leapers has been working to improve their scopes for the past 15 years, and it really shows. The top line of Leapers scopes is the Accushot Premium series, branded as UTG Accushot scopes. The UTG 8-32X56 Accushot rifle scope is an example of a scope that delivers about twice as much value as the price indicates. Yes, it’s also not cheap, but it has all the desirable features.
What should you look for? Look for glass lenses. Look for etched-glass reticles that will automatically have the fine (but visible) crosshairs you need. Look for single coatings of magnesium fluorite or emerald on the lenses. Both will enhance light transmission, where multi-coated optics are always a compromise. Look for 30mm scope tubes whose lenses are larger and also transmit more light. And look for lockable reticle adjustments that don’t need tools to adjust.
3. Don’t adjust any scope above 3/4 elevation or more than 3/4 to the right.
This has become my mantra because I see it crop up every time there’s a problem with “scope shift.” Scope shift seems to be almost non-existent, except when shooters adjust the scope too far up or too far to the right that the erector tube return-spring is relaxed. No scope in the world can hold its zero at that point.
The problem is universal, and the diagnosis is simple. Simply adjust the scope knobs down and to the left a lot, then shoot a group at least 25 yards away (farther is better). Sure, it won’t be in the right place; but if it’s tight and you can shoot repeatedly without any wandering, you know the problem is not with the scope. It’s with the mount. You need to align the scope’s axis with the barrel axis, and the problem will be solved. Either shim the scope or use an adjustable mount…you can stop criticizing the scope and get on with the fix.
4. Pick the power carefully.
Just like you don’t buy scopes by their brands, don’t buy them by their power, either. An excellent 4x scope can often outshoot a mediocre 16x scope. And it’s certainly easier on your eyes.
This is one reason I have so many vintage scopes. They don’t have the power of the modern scopes, but their optics are so clear that it doesn’t matter. This goes back to my first tip: Get good glass!
5. Consider a sidewheel objective adjustment.
It takes only a few minutes shooting field target to make this lesson clear. Instead of reaching out an arm’s length to turn an objective bell that’s probably very stiff to turn, a sidewheel objective adjustment puts the controls at your fingertips. I’d say that it’s the difference between power brakes and manual brakes on a car, but very few who are under 40 know what manual brakes are anymore. You young guys will just have to trust me on this.
6. Think about where the scope will be going.
If you don’t consider where the scope has to be mounted, it may not even fit on the gun you have or are about to buy. The same holds for scope mounts. Will they fit on the gun? Where’s the scope stop located, if you need one?
The biggest mistake shooters make on this account is that they try to mount a short scope on a rifle whose scope stop puts the eyepiece too far from the eye when the rifle is held naturally. This happens a lot with UTG Bug Buster scopes on springers like Gamos and Hatsans. You’re better off mounting a scope with a long eye relief, such as the CenterPoint Power Class 1TL 3-9×42 AO scope, on rifles like this, unless the scope tube is long enough to reach back.
7. Consider target turrets.
This may put some shooters off, but a scope with target turrets is so much easier to work with than one that cannot show you how much elevation and right adjustment has been applied. Target turrets usually cost more because they’re found on better scopes, but they pay you back when you’re setting up a gun or swapping the scope to a different gun.
Which adjustment gives the most information about the scope’s current state? The coin-operated knob on the right or the target turret on the left?
8. Get adjustable parallax!
Parallax does matter to airgunners because we always shoot so close to the target. Parallax changes dramatically between 25 and 50 yards, but almost not at all between 100 and 150 yards. Firearm scope users seldom need parallax correction (what some call focusing) like airgunners do.
Yes, you can change the distance for which a scope is adjusted when it has fixed parallax; but after you do, it’s still fixed. It’s only good (focused) at that distance.
9. Shop for a good dealer
The dealer is the bottom line. One dealer will stand behind everything he sells and another will not. I will pay a premium to do business with good dealers. Yes, I’m talking about Pyramyd Air, but it doesn’t stop with them. There are many good dealers out there, and I make it my business to find out who they are before doing business with them.
Optics can have problems from the factory. More than other items, they’re products that do need to be returned sometimes. Having a dealer support you when that happens means a lot.
If you were to talk to me in person about scopes, these are some of the things I would tell you. And I would jump up and down about the third tip. That’s the one that hits me every time I’m called in to solve a scope problem. If the scope has target turrets, I can spot this problem from 10 feet away. I can also do it just by listening to the shooter converse with his buddy on the range…”I need more elevation, but I’ve got the scope dialed up as far as it will go!” That’s a problem just waiting to be discovered.