Posts Tagged ‘AirForce 4-16x50AO scope’
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
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
Let’s look at the Walther 1250 Dominator accuracy at 25 yards. In deference to the 8-shot clip, I’m shooting 8-shot groups rather than 10. The way this rifle loads, with the clip almost disappearing in the receiver, it’s too difficult to keep track of those 2 extra shots.
I’ll be honest — I stalled testing this gun in the house because of the noise. It’s one of the loudest airguns I’ve ever shot indoors.
I said last time that I would give you a shot count once I filled the rifle to 4,350 psi (300 bar). Well, that didn’t happen. I filled it as far as my freshly filled carbon fiber tank would go, but that was only to 4,200 psi on the tank’s gauge, which seems pretty accurate. The rifle’s gauge showed a lower fill pressure, but I chalk that up to small pressure gauges never agreeing.
I didn’t get a complete shot count. I did, however, fire about 40 shots in the test and still had air remaining for at least another 15. If you can get the gun completely filled, there have to be at least 55 full-power shots available. Probably more, but at least 55.
I mounted an AirForce Airguns 4-16X50 scope on the rifle in a BKL 1-piece cantilever mount. The scope was low over the receiver, even though the BKL mount is a high one; but because the circular clip is entirely contained within the receiver, there was no interference.
I shot from a sandbag rest at 25 yards off an MTM Case-Gard Predator shooting table. In a moment that will become important to know.
I sighted the rifle in and started shooting with the H&N Baracuda Match pellet. It was accurate enough, but I felt the rifle could do better. Eight shots went into a group measuring 0.597 inches between centers.
The Baracuda Match pellets didn’t give me what I wanted, so I switched to 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy domes. They started out doing better than the Baracudas and produced a 0.522-inch 8-shot group. But two pellets strayed from the main group. I called the one that went to the left, but not the other one that went high. So, as good as this pellet is, it isn’t the best pellet in this rifle.
Then, I tried RWS Superdomes — a pellet that many of you favor over just about all others in .177 caliber. And this is where I had an epiphany with this rifle. The first 8-shot group measured 0.461 inches, but it was full of wild shots that went off when I wasn’t on target. That was both the fault of the trigger and the rifle’s light weight. I’ll address it in a moment. But this target told me that this rifle could shoot much better if I really tried.
The Walther 1250 Dominator is a very light rifle, and the trigger isn’t that light. As a result, the gun moves more than a little as the trigger is squeezed. This can be overcome by paying extreme attention to detail on each shot, but it’s something I normally don’t need to do when shooting an accurate PCP.
That’s why I mentioned the shooting table and sandbag rest. Normally, such things are an absolute lock for the guns, but this time the rifle is so light that it still moves around too much. You’re only going to solve that with technique.
The next group was shot with as much concentration as if I were using the artillery hold. And the payoff is a 0.404-inch 8-shot group. That represents the best I can do with this rifle and pellet at 25 yards.
The bolt is hard to cock and sticks when pushing it forward to load the pellet. It isn’t much of a hinderance, but you do notice it. I did discover that if the bolt is worked fast and with authority, it does become smooth. So, the rifle likes to be treated like an SMLE.
Opinions thus far
I found things to criticize on the Walther Dominator 1250. No. 1 is the need to fill it to 300 bar. That’s just too much pressure, and it uses all the air I can get. The rifle is very loud, and I’m no longer used to pneumatic air rifles being so loud. The trigger is too heavy and long, and the rifle needs to weigh at least 2.50-3.00 more lbs. to be stable. However, all that pales when we look at the accuracy.
This is an accurate air rifle — make no mistake. Today’s test was at 25 yards, so it’ll be very interesting to see what happens when we move to 50 yards.
by B.B. Pelletier
I’ve been meaning to write this report for a long time, and when we recently had a heated discussion about the rifle, I knew the time had come. This will probably be a longer report, because the AirForce Talon SS isn’t just one air rifle — it’s a whole shooting system!
The Talon SS was the very first air rifle to intentionally use a shrouded barrel to quiet the muzzle report. Ten-meter target rifles had been doing it unintentionally for years; but when John McCaslin, the owner of AirForce and designer of the rifle, put the SS together, he intentionally used the shroud technology for that purpose. Today, it’s hard to find an air rifle that isn’t shrouded, so it’s difficult to keep in mind that the whole movement to shroud began as recently as one decade ago.
The Talon SS is a single-shot precharged pneumatic rifle with a shrouded 12-inch Lothar Walther barrel. The frame extends several inches beyond the end of the barrel, and a special end cap strips off much of the energized compressed air that leaves the muzzle. The report of the gun is muffled, though it’s not as quiet as some silenced guns. I always tell people that a shot on high power sounds like hands clapping once.
The rifle is sold in all four smallbore calibers — .177, .20, .22 and .25. Because the barrel can be changed by the owner in about five minutes, each rifle is capable of being any caliber and also any of three barrel lengths — 12 inches, 18 inches or 24 inches. This is the only air rifle with that kind of flexibility. But only the 12-inch barrel has the benefit of a shroud.
On the left side of the frame, a power adjustment wheel allows the shooter to adjust the rifle’s power across a broad spectrum. I will test my factory-stock SS for you to demonstrate the range, so we’ll look at that in the velocity test. But the power adjustment is somewhat confusing to new owners.
The knurled wheel has numbers that align with a white index line on the right side. The Allen screw head in the slotted window to the right of the power wheel moves along a scale of numbers. These numbers are put there so the owner can return to certain settings. They do not indicate the same power level from rifle to rifle, because each rifle is different. But new owners often think that if someone else’s SS is doing well at a setting of 8.13 (the Allen screw on the number 8 and the power wheel indexed at the number 13), their rifle should do the same. It doesn’t work that way, because this isn’t a measuring device — it’s a memory marker for each separate gun. While the guns all perform similarly, each is also unique; and the power adjuster has to be set for just that gun.
The trigger is two-stage and not adjustable. It typically breaks at between 2.5 and 3.5 lbs. in a new gun, and it usually has a little bit of creep in the second stage. This is another place where people get confused. The trigger in an AirForce rifle is a fairly complex set of parts that each affects the others. Some parts are case-hardened to a specific depth, so no polishing or stoning is recommended. All parts that move are coated with a dry-film molybdenum disulphide compound that bonds with the metal; and over time the trigger becomes both lighter and smoother in operation — not unlike the triggers in BSF spring rifles.
Leave the trigger alone and after a few thousand shots it will be perfectly crisp and light. But try to work on it, and you can ruin the gun in minutes — plus void the warranty. It was my experience with the AirForce triggers that cautioned me to leave the National Match trigger in my AR-15 alone. I know it will break in to be exactly what the spec states.
Along with the trigger comes an automatic safety. It sits in front of the trigger and is pushed forward to release. It’s a formed stiff wire that is often too stiff to push off with the trigger finger when the gun is new, but like the rest of the trigger, it breaks in and can be easily pushed off with the back of the trigger finger once the gun has broken in. At the LASSO shoot a couple weeks ago, Greg, the new shooter from Austin, Texas, borrowed a new Condor from the AirForce booth, and I noticed that the safety was as light and smooth as mine, so some safeties may be lighter from the start.
Style and construction
AirForce rifles are all styled with a black rifle look. They are based on an aluminum frame that houses the action and barrel. Only the air reservoir, which also serves as the butt, is separate. There are two frame sizes. The AirForce Talon has a short frame, and both the SS and Condor have a long frame. The Condor has a longer carry handle than the SS, but otherwise the two frames are identical. Because of that, the SS can easily accept the optional 24-inch barrel, which effectively doubles the gun’s power with the same amount of air. I will explain more about that in a future report, but it’s one advantage you get from a shooting system, rather than a single rifle whose caliber and barrel length cannot be changed.
The frame has long 11mm dovetails along its upper and lower surfaces, as well as the top of the carry handle. As a result, the rifle can accept all manner of accessories like lasers, scopes, night vision, tactical flashlights, sling swivels, bipods and much more. It’s like a Christmas tree that’s ready to accept any and all ornaments you desire.
The construction of the rifle lends itself to manufacture by a CNC center rather than more costly human labor. As a result, AirForce is able to keep up with the thousands of orders they fill each year. They still have a workforce, of course, but they do the jobs for which machines are not adapted and those jobs requiring skills.
The finish has been a black anodizing since the beginning, but a couple years ago AirForce started offering guns in other colors — red and blue. They’re keeping their options open for other colors, though at present black still seems to be most in demand.
There are parts of the gun that are not made of metal. The trigger shoe, bolt, power adjuster wheel and a few other parts are made from modern synthetics. The material for each part was chosen for its performance and not for manufacturing economy. As the airgun world learned from the Logun S16, an all-steel air rifle can also be a boat anchor when the weight gets to be too much. That isn’t a problem with the Talon SS, which weighs just 5.25 lbs.
The light weight is coupled with a cocking effort of just 4 lbs., making the SS a breeze to carry and shoot. Because the weight is low, a larger, heavier scope does not weigh down the rifle like it would many PCPs, so the SS can accept a scope that’s up to its long-range capabilities. I personally find a 4-16x scope to be about ideal for both the SS as it comes from the factory and also when I install the longer barrel and double the power. The AirForce 4-16×50 scope is a perfect match for both the SS and the Condor.
I maintain that the .22 caliber is best for the Talon SS, given its power potential. In factory trim, you can expect it to develop 23-25 foot-pounds maximum with accurate pellets. That can be boosted to 40-45 foot-pounds when the 24-inch barrel is added. Of course, any of the four smallbore calibers will work well with the rifle, and the beauty is that you don’t have to choose. Start with one caliber and add the others as you feel so inclined. The rifle I’ll be testing for you in this report will be a .22 caliber.
How the rifle comes
One of the things a reader had confused when we talked about the Talon SS a few weeks back was that the rifle can be ordered with or without a fill clamp. He’d purchased a used gun and didn’t get to see it as it comes from the factory, so I’ll show that here.
The Talon SS comes in a cardboard box with fitted foam inserts holding the rifle and air tank, a DVD of the owner’s manual, a paper owner’s manual, AirForce catalog and warranty card. If it was ordered, the fill clamp also comes in the box. The section containing the rifle has been brightened to show the dark gun more clearly.
The rifle is sold with or without a fill clamp so people buying multiple rifles don’t have to continue to pay for parts they don’t need. Many owners of AirForce rifles own more than one gun. I own three, and I think blog reader twotalon’s handle speaks for itself. So, AirForce made it easier to buy the rifle in the configuration that you need, rather than paying for parts you already have.
I have a special fill adapter that’s much simpler than the AirForce fill clamp and works better with the carbon fiber tank I use to fill the gun. I’ll show it to you in a future report.
This is where I’ll end this report, though there are several more general topics to address. I’ll cover them as we encounter them during the extended test. I’ll even show you how easy it is to replace barrels when I switch from the 12-inch barrel to the 24-inch barrel. Please ask your questions as we go, and I’ll try to answer them in the body of the reports that follow.