Posts Tagged ‘Hawke Optics 4.5-14x42AO Sidewinder Tactical Rifle Scope’

TX200 Mark III: Part 13

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

TX 200 Mark III new rifle
Brand new TX200 Mark III. It’s very similar to my TX; but the checkering is different, and the line of the forearm is more scalloped.

I didn’t plan on this test, but a big goof made during the last test of the red dot sight on the Air Arms TX200 Mark III forced me to rerun the test. The dot sight I used wasn’t anchored and was loose on the rifle at the end of the test. As long as I’m doing this again, I decided to make some lemonade. So, I’m going to show you a quick tip I use to anchor a scope or other optical sight when the mounts I choose have no stop pin built in. I may have covered this in the past, but bear with me as this is important to today’s test.

I want to get this test completed to clear the TX200 Mark III for the next test of the See All Open Sight. It turns out that the See All folks knew all about the problems their sight has with straight-line rifles like the M4, and they cover it in their FAQ section on their website. I didn’t read the FAQs before testing the sight; I just read the owner’s manual, so I missed that. But I thought you should know that they’re aware of the problem.

A quick fix to the scope stop situation
I often have to improvise things, and scope stops can give me problems. Since I have 25+ scopes on as many rifles, with a few extras sitting in the cabinet waiting to be mounted, I often run into a situation where the mounts that fit the scope I want to use (as well as the airgun I’m testing) don’t have the right stops. If the rifle has vertical scope stop holes like those on the TX200, the problem is solved by this quick tip.

The pictures show everything, but here’s what’s happening. A recoil pin is selected to fit in one of the rifle’s vertical scope stop holes. It doesn’t need to be attached to the scope mount — just dropped into the hole. Once it’s in the hole, slide the mount against it and tighten down the mount. As the rifle recoils, the mount tries to slide back, but that only jams it harder against the stop pin.

TX 200 Mark III quick scope stop pin
I used a real scope stop pin, but anything this size will work.

TX 200 Mark III quick scope stop pin in hole
Drop the pin into the vertical scope stop hole on top of the rifle. Yes, this is upside down on purpose. It fits the hole better that way.

TX 200 Mark III mount butted against scope stop pin

Slide the scope mount against the pin and tighten down the mounts. As the rifle recoils, it will just try to slide back and wedge against the pin tighter, so there will be no movement. The UTG Weaver-to-11mm adapter can be seen at the bottom of the mount. It’s the dark thing jammed against the pin.

Now that the fix is in place, we can begin the test. Since the red dot sight was off the rifle, I need to sight-in again. Hopefully, the sight will be pretty close this time! All shooting was from 25 yards with the rifle rested directly on a sandbag.

It took 3 shots to get on target this time. The sight was farther off than I expected.

Baracuda Match
The first pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match. They did well in the last test when the sight wasn’t well anchored, so I figured they would continue to do well today. And they did. Ten shots went into 0.753 inches, and 9 of those went into 0.477 inches. That group is very round and uniform.

TX 200 Mark III Baracuda Match group
Ten in 0.753 inches and 9 in 0.477 inches. The H&N Baracuda Match pellets shot well using a dot sight.

JSB Exact RS
Next up were JSB Exact RS domes. At just 7.33 grains, they’re very light for a rifle having this much power. But they sometimes give surprising accuracy. Not in the TX200, however. The group was open and was the largest of the 4 pellets I tested. Ten RS pellets went into 1.071 inches at 25 yards.

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact RS group
Ten in 1.071 inches at 25 yards. The JSB Exact RS dome is obviously not the right pellet for the TX200 Mark III.

Crosman Premier 7.9 grains
Then, I tried a group with the Crosman Premier lite. Ten went into 0.641 inches, with 9 making a 0.397-inch group. So, this light pellet that I didn’t know could shoot in the big TX turned in the second best group of the day — besting the Baracuda Match pellets!

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite group
Ten in 0.641 inches at 25 yards, and 9 in 0.397 inches. This is a great group!

Crosman Premier heavy
The last pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. I expected them to beat the Premier lites, and that’s how it turned out. Though the group appears larger than the Premier lite group, it isn’t. Ten heavys went into 0.583 inches at 25 yards and this time there were no fliers. The group is elongated but has no one pellet apart from the group.

TX 200 Mark III Premier heavy group
Ten Premier heavys went into 0.583-inches at 25 yards, with no stragglers. This was the best group of the day!

Results
This test was conducted correctly, with the red dot sight anchored firmly to the rifle. I inspected the mounts after the shooting was finished, and the scope stop pin is still holding the rear scope mount firmly. These groups are representative of what I can do with a dot sight on a TX200. But how do they compare with the same rifle when it’s scoped?

With Baracuda Match pellets, the scoped rifle put 10 into 0.417 inches at 25 yards, while the same rifle and pellet made a 10-shot group measuring 0.753 inches with a dot sight. With Premier heavy pellets, the scoped rifle put 10 into 0.333 inches, while the same rifle and pellet made a 0.583-inch 10-shot group using a red dot sight. Clearly, the scoped rifle is more accurate than the same rifle with the red dot, although it’s still very accurate with the dot sight.

The question now is what will happen when I mount the See All Open Sight on this airgun? Can the groups be as small as those made by the red dot sight? Can they be smaller? We’ll find out next week.

TX200 Mark III: Part 12

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11

TX 200 Mark III new rifle
Brand new TX200 Mark III. It’s very similar to my older TX, but the checkering is different and the line of the forearm is more scalloped.

Today, I’ll use the new Air Arms TX200 Mark III to test how a red dot sight works on a precision air rifle. This test was requested more than a year ago by blog reader Mannish in Mumbai.

Going into the test, I thought about the recent test of how high and low scope magnifications affect accuracy on the same air rifle. That test was suggested by blog reader duskwight from Moscow; and not only did I test the premise (in Part 11), he also tested it with a special guest blog. Both of us discovered that the magnification has no bearing on accuracy, and duskwight’s test was skewed toward favoring the lower-powered magnification!

I’m shooting the new TX200 Mark III with a Tasco Pro Point 30 red dot sight. The sight does not magnify the target at all; so, in essence, I’m shooting with open sights. I chose 25 yards indoors for the test, feeling that was enough range to show the trend. From the past testing of this rifle, I selected the H&N Baracuda Match pellet because I thought that it had demonstrated the best grouping at 25 yards. It was only after the test was completed that I discovered I’d selected the results of the other TX200 that’s my personal rifle. Oh, well! I do make mistakes from time to time.

Baracudas are still very accurate pellets in a TX200, and today’s test was not invalidated by their use. When you see the results I got, you’ll agree that this test is valid.

Dot sights in general
A dot sight is one that projects a red light in the center of the lens on the inside of the sight. No light leaves the sight, so this is not the same as a laser. Only the shooter sees the dot.

The dot is adjusted to shoot the pellet to the place you want it to go. The adjustments are the same as for a scope, but there’s no erector tube involved. Think of the dot as the intersection of the crosshairs. Canting the rifle is still possible and has the same affect. And, on a quality sight like this one, the brightness of the dot can be varied. That’s important because, as the dot grows brighter, it also appears to grow larger — covering more of the target. You want to cover as little of the target as possible, while still being able to clearly see the dot in the light you have. The Tasco Pro Point has a rheostat with 11 different brightness settings.

I adjusted the setting to No. 8, which gave me a dot I could see, yet was smaller than the black bull on the 10-meter pistol target I was using. I found that using the dot was the reverse of using a precision target aperture sight with an aperture front insert. There, you encircle the bull with the front aperture — with the dot you place the red dot inside the black bull, so the black encircles the red. Once I figured this out, I was satisfied that I could aim with precision.

Sight-in
The first shot was fired from 12 feet and landed at 6 o’clock, just below the bull. I was on paper, so it was safe to move back to 25 yards, where I fired a second shot. This one landed at about the same height as the first, but 2 inches to the right. I adjusted the sight up and to the left (the adjustments work just like the ones on a scope) and shot again. The third shot landed more to the left but was too high. The sight was adjusted again and the next shot nicked the 10-ring of the bull, so sight-in was completed.

I fired 9 more shots with this sight setting and never once looked through the spotting scope. The rifle was rested on a sandbag because we’ve learned the TX200 does very well that way. With each shot, I paid particular attention to centering the red dot inside the black bull. That was easy to do because I had the dot sized perfectly against the bull. But on shot 7, I noticed that the sandbag had moved forward by several inches, so the rifle wasn’t always resting at the same spot. I would correct that when I shot the second group.

When the group was finished I walked down to the trap to change targets. The first time I saw the group was when I entered my garage and saw one ragged hole! Holy cow! I did it! The dot sight is incredibly accurate!

TX 200 Mark III new rifle sight-in target and group
Here’s the first target. You can see how the pellets landed during the sight-in, plus you can see that first 10-shot group!

TX 200 Mark III new rifle first group
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this 0.619-inch group at 25 yards using a red dot sight.

While this group looks very good, it’s almost double the size of the 0.336-inch group I shot from my own rifle at 25 yards with this same pellet while using a scope. So, it does appear that using no magnification has opened the group just a little. The next group would tell for sure.

Back I went to 25 yards to fire a second group. This time, I paid attention to the exact spot that the rifle was rested on the bag, and I was also careful to center the dot every time. I really thought this group would be smaller than the first. When I walked down to see it, however, it was not only clearly larger — at 1.177 inches between centers — but it was also very horizontal. The first group had been vertical, if anything. I wondered what had happened.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle second group
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this very horizontal 1.177-inch group at 25 yards. This is clearly not as good as the first group, plus what’s with that flier on the right? There were no pulled shots in this string!

The first group had satisfied me that the dot sight was accurate. Perhaps I was losing concentration by the second group, which really wasn’t that many shots. Only 24 shots in all had been fired. And why had the rifle thrown a shot wide to the right like that? It was almost as if the sight was loose or something.

Oh, no!

That was when I remembered that I had done nothing about installing a vertical scope stop with this dot sight! I preach about scope mount slippage all the time to you readers, but apparently I can’t be bothered to do it right myself.

Sure enough, an examination of the mounts revealed they had slipped backwards on the rifle by 2 full inches! The Tasco mounts are 11mm; but being made for firearms, they have no provisions for a vertical scope stop, and so the inevitable had occurred. Naturally, I didn’t discover this until the range was completely knocked down and put away.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle mount slippage
All that work for nothing because I didn’t use a scope stop. The rear mount is only on the rifle by about a quarter inch! No amount of clamping pressure, alone, can hold a scope mount or this dot sight mount from moving, unless you’re using BKL mounts.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle mount slippage detail
This enlargement makes the rear mount easier to see. It’s almost off the rifle!

I don’t think this is so bad. After all, the rifle and sight turned in a good performance, even when the mount was not locked down. Imagine what it might do if it was solid.

What do I do?
There’s only one thing to do — rerun this test. I will install a vertical scope stop next time, and I’ll show you how easy that is to do. Then, I’ll shoot the same pellets at the same distance, and we’ll see exactly what a red dot sight can do. Since this was supposed to be the final test of the new TX200 Mark III, it seems I have a reprieve. I can’t argue with that!

TX200 Mark III: Part 11

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

TX 200 Mark III new rifleBrand new TX200 Mark III. It’s very similar to my TX; but the checkering is different, and the line of the forearm is more scalloped.

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.

Sight-in
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.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle 50-yard target HN Baracuda Match
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this 1.562-inch group. It’s a bit large for a TX200.

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!

TX 200 Mark III new rifle 50-yard target Crosman Premier heavy
Ten Crosman Premier heavies went into a tight 0.658-inch group at 50 yards. This one is a screamer!

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!

TX-200 Mark III new rifle 50 yard target Crosman Premier heavy group 2
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.

Special test
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.

TX-200 Mark III new rifle 50 yard target Crosman Premier heavy group 3
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.

TX-200 Mark III new rifle 50 yard target Crosman Premier heavy group 4
Ten shots at 50 yards with the scope set to 16x netted this 1.935-inch group.

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.

TX-200 Mark III new rifle 50 yard target Crosman Premier heavy group 5
Ten shots at 50 yards with the scope set to 4x made this 1.481-inch group.

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.

Summary
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.

TX200 Mark III: Part 10

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

TX 200 Mark III new rifle
Brand new TX200 Mark III. It’s very similar to my older TX, but the checkering is different and the line of the forearm is more scalloped.

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.

Scope
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.

The test
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.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle H&N Baracuda Match 25-yard group
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 0.417 inches at 25 yards. The rifle was rested directly on the bag.

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!

TX 200 Mark III new rifle JSB Exact RS 25-yard group
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.501 inches at 25 yards, but 6 of them are in 0.496 inches. It’s too much trouble to shoot that carefully, if you ask me, but the rifle can do it.

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.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle Crosman Premier heavy 25-yard group
Ten Crosman Premier heavys made this 0.333-inch group at 25 yards. Clearly, the new TX 200 Mark III is a tackdriver!

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
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.

Scope dope — I hope! Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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.

Scope turrets
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.

Summary
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.

TX200 Mark III: Part 6

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Air Arms TX200 MkIII air rifleBB’s TX200 Mark III.

This is my second trip to the rifle range to shoot the TX200 Mark III at 50 yards. Last time, I shot only heavy pellets; today, I’ll shoot the hopefully more-accurate lightweight pellets, plus one JSB medium-weight pellet that several blog readers have had success with.

I also shot the rifle laying across the sandbag, instead of in the long groove down the center. Several readers said that was the best way to rest the rifle directly on the bag.

TX 200 Mark III rested lengthways
When I tested the rifle last time with heavy pellets, this is how it laid on the sandbag.

TX 200 Mark III rested sideways
For most of today’s test, the rifle laid sideways on the bag.

The day was perfect for shooting pellet guns at long range. There wasn’t a breath of air during the entire session.

Crosman Premiers
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier lite — a 7.9-grain dome that some say is the most accurate pellet of all in the TX200. The group landed about 2-1/2 inches above the aim point because the rifle was still sighted for heavy pellets. But it was centered perfectly, and 10 pellets made a group measuring 1.077 inches between centers. That’s not a bad group, but I’ve seen TX200s do better at 50 yards.

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite sideways group
The first group was 10 Crosman Premier lites. It measures 1.077 inches between centers.

That was a good start. The group was only slightly larger than the smallest group fired in the session before, which was 1.042 inches.

Following the first group, I adjusted the scope down several clicks. I wanted to keep the shots on or near the bull at which I was aiming.

JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome
Next up was the JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome, a pellet that several readers said was the most accurate one in their TX200s. Alas, that wasn’t the case in my rifle. When the first 5 pellets landed in a very vertical 2.40 inches, I stopped shooting. There’s no way the last 5 shots can improve things. Clearly, this isn’t the pellet for my rifle!

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact group
Five JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes landed in 2.4-inches between centers. This is not the pellet for this rifle.

JSB Exact RS
The next pellet I tried was one I had high hopes for — the 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS dome. It does so well in so many spring rifles; but, once again, the TX200 Mark III is not one of them. Ten pellets made a group that measured 1.957 inches. It’s a vertical group, as well.

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact RS group
Ten JSB Exact RS domes made this 1.957-inch group. Another non-starter for my TX200.

Air Arms Falcon
About this time I was suspecting that the rifle does not like lightweight JSB domes. The next pellet up was the Air Arms Falcon, another lightweight domed pellet that’s also made by JSB. While Falcons are great in many air rifles, the first 5 landed in an open group measuring 1.658 inches, and I stopped right there. It looked like this pellet wasn’t for my TX, either.

TX 200 Mark III Falcon group
Five Air Arms Falcons spread out to 1.658 inches, so I stopped. No sense finishing the group.

What was happening?
Three out of 4 pellets I brought to the test were not good. Had I made a mistake with the Premier lites, as well? Was that good first group just a random event? I decided to shoot another one to see. This time, though, I laid the rifle the long way in the bag to see if there was any discernible difference.

Ten pellets went into a group measuring 1.241 inches this time. That is much closer to the first group than any of the other 3 pellets tried on this day, though it’s still larger. Maybe, laying the rifle lengthways made the difference? I don’t think so.

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite lengthways group1
Ten Premier lites went into 1.241 inches when the rifle was laid lengthways on the bag.

I decided to shoot another group with the rifle laid lengthways, again, just for comparison. This time I hit the jackpot and all 10 pellets went into 0.658-inches.

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite lengthways group2
Now, that’s a group! Ten Premier lites in 0.658 inches. The rifle was laid lengthways, once again. This is what I was expecting to see from my TX.

Lessons learned
The TX 200 Mark III is capable of phenomenal accuracy at 50 yards, even when rested on a sandbag. From the limited testing I did I can’t say laying it crossways or lengthways is better. It works well both ways.

My rifle seems to shoot best with 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets. It does not seem to like any light pellets made by JSB.

This is not the end of our testing. Pyramyd Air has sent me a new TX200 Mark III that I promised you I would test right out of the box. Some of you have been concerned that my rifle is too well broken-in, and you think it may not reflect what you will get if you buy one. So, we shall see!

As a final note, I’d like to point out that I got several groups that were okay with the Premier lites and one group that’s exceptional. That’s the way it goes with any airgun — I don’t care which one you’re talking about. All the talk about half-inch groups at 50 yards has to be taken with this firmly in mind. You’re going to shoot larger groups most of the time.

That being said, Premier lites seem to be the most accurate and also the most forgiving pellet we’ve tested in my TX200. They may not always shoot into a super-tight group, but they’ll always shoot where you want them to. That’s what’s important.

TX200 Mark III: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

TX 200 Mark III
BB’s TX200 Mark III.

Yesterday, I shot the TX200 Mark III at 25 yards and discovered that it can shoot accurately when rested directly on a sandbag. Today, I’ll take the rifle to the range and shoot it again at 50 yards.

I decided to continue shooting with the rifle rested directly on the bag because it seems to work well, and also because I haven’t settled down yet. The bag-rested results should be a fair representation of what the rifle can do.

The day was dead calm throughout the test. Conditions were perfect for the rifle to do its best. But the results were most interesting and not what I expected.

H&N Baracuda Match
You will recall that, yesterday, I got the rifle sighted-in with the point of impact hitting about quarter-inch high and a half-inch to the left of the aim point. I left the scope setting where it was, so you could see what happened out at 50 yards. I’m shooting with the same H&N Baracuda Match pellets that were used yesterday.

TX 200 Mark III H&N Baracuda Match group 50 yards

Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets didn’t do very well at 50 yards. Yes, there’s the one pellet off to the left, but there are 3 more to the right of the main group. Group measures 2.2 inches between centers, with 9 pellets going into 1.199 inches.

The new point of impact (center of the group) is about 2-1/2 inches low and 1 inch to the left. This pellet dropped 2-3/4 inches, going from 25 yards out to 50 yards. The group is pretty large, measuring 2.2 inches between centers. It was shot 2 that strayed over to the left. The other 9 pellets are in 1.199 inches, or about one inch less. That’s still on the large side.

JSB Exact Heavy
Next up were JSB Exact Heavy pellets. They weigh 10.3 grains and are often the most accurate pellets in premium airguns. They certainly were this day, as the first 10 turned in a group measuring 1.042 inches. It was the best group of the day.

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact Heavy group 1 50 yards
Ten JSB Exact Heavys made this 1.042-inch group.

The other 2 groups I shot with the JSB Exact Heavy pellets were larger. One measured 1.289 inches, and the other measured 1.66 inches. I did adjust the scope between groups, but I was careful never to hit the aim point of the target bull.

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact Heavy group 2 50 yards

 The second group of JSB Exacts measures 1.289 inches between centers.

 

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact Heavy group 3 50 yards

The third group of JSB Exacts measures 1.66 inches between centers.

Crosman Premier Heavy
Seeing that I’d given the JSB Heavys a fair chance, I then shot a group of 10.5-grain Crosman Premier Heavys. They made a 10-shot group measuring 1.365 inches between centers. Since its size is about in the middle of the 3 JSB groups, I think it’s safe to say this pellet is about as accurate as the JSB Exact Heavy. I’m not making any claims, though, because I don’t think I’ve done the TX200 Mark III justice in this test.

TX 200 Mark III Premier Heavy group 50 yards
Ten Crosman Premier Heavys made this 1.365-inch group at 50 yards. That puts them on par with the JSBs.

The bottom line is that I’m not satisfied with these test results. I’ve seen this rifle do better, and I believe it still can — I just need to change something. I’ve never before shot a spring rifle directly off a sandbag at 50 yards, but I don’t think that’s the problem. I think I was using the wrong pellets.

Some observations
Remember at the beginning that I told you how far the group dropped when I went out to 50 yards with the 25-yard zero? I also shot the TX200 at 100 yards on this day. I didn’t shoot an entire group, just 3 JSB Exact Heavy pellets. I used the 50-yard zero after adjusting the scope at the range. The 3 pellets went into about 6 inches, but what’s really interesting is the fact that they struck the target more than 2 FEET below the aim point. Don’t let anyone kid you that shooting at 100 yards is simply double shooting at 50 yards. The transition out to 100 yards is very dramatic! I did this just as an aside to see what would happen. Well, I saw all right!

I also think by shooting only heavy pellets on this day that I hindered the TX200′s chances to shine. I want to rerun this 50-yard test with some lighter pellets that are known to be accurate. Someone asked me about that already, and I think it needs to be tested.

Finally, blog reader Tunnel Engineer asked me to try resting the TX on the sandbag close to the triggerguard and again out at the cocking slot. He wanted me to compare group sizes and point of impact with the 2 balance points. But the bag I use is very long and runs all the way from the triggerguard to the cocking slot, so I don’t see how I can do that.

Swiss Arms P92 replica pistol
Swiss Arms P92 CO2 BB pistol

More and more, we're hearing that airguns are ideal for firearm training when it comes to improving trigger control, acquiring a target and increasing accuracy. While all those are big pluses, let's remember the other reasons: (1) Save a fortune on ammo (if you can even get firearm ammo!). (2) Shoot at home. (3) No hearing protection needed. (4) Airguns are a fraction of the cost of firearms. So, click on the image & add this to your gun vault.

New .22-cal. Sheridan!
Sheridan 2260MB CO2 rifle

Sheridan has always made .20-cal. airguns. So, this new .22-cal. rifle is particularly exciting. And, it's available only in limited quantities. If you collect Sheridans (or just love them for their quality), you MUST add this to your gun vault. It's a single-shot CO2 rifle with a metal breech. Bolt-action single shots like the 2260 are ideal for teaching proper gun handling. Everything you love about Sheridan guns…and more. Get yours NOW before they sell out!