Posts Tagged ‘Hawke Optics 4.5-14x42AO Sidewinder Tactical Rifle 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
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
The day was perfect for shooting pellet guns at long range. There wasn’t a breath of air during the entire session.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
The second group of JSB Exacts measures 1.289 inches between centers.
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.
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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s lesson is about sighting-in a rifle scope. I know that scope mounting and sighting-in seems daunting, but it isn’t as hard as you might imagine. In the last report, I sighted-in at 10 feet. Because I got lucky, it took just 2 shots to sight-in the rifle; and when I finished, I told you I was ready to try the rifle at 25 yards. I said, based on the results of my 10-foot sight-in, it should be on paper at that distance (actually it would be on target at any distance between 20-35 yards, given the TX 200′s velocity), but it probably wouldn’t be exactly where I wanted it. Today, we’ll find out if that prediction is correct.
Let’s get to it
So, I set up the bench and started shooting at 25 yards. I chose H&N Baracuda Match pellets because they were the pellets I used at 10 feet. If you forget what happened during the 10-foot sight-in, you really should read that report first to appreciate what’s happened here. A quick summary would be that I guesstimated how high above the bore the center of the scope is, and shot at a dot the same distance above the desired point of impact. Aiming at the upper dot, I was trying to get the pellet as close as possible to the dot beneath, which meant the scope would be shooting to exactly the point of aim (offset by the scope and barrel centers) when all trajectory was removed from the equation.
The two dots are separated by approximately the same distance as the center of the barrel and the center of the scope. Aim at the top dot and hit the bottom dot. This is the first shot. After I adjusted the scope, the second shot went through the bottom dot.
Shooting at 25 yards
The first shot at 25 yards landed slightly above and to the left of the bullseye. I then shot 4 more that moved over to the right just a little. I took the center of the larger 4-shot group as the place where the scope was really sighted, and I adjusted from there. In all it took me far less than 10 minutes to sight-in this scope, even though I spread the reports over a period of 2 weeks.
The first 5 shots at 25 yards landed high and to the left, with the very first shot landing farthest to the left. I took the center of the main group of 4 to be the point of impact. From there, I adjusted the scope down and to the right.
Bear in mind that I do not want to hit the dot at the exact center of the bullseye, if possible. That’s my aim point; and if I destroy it, I have to guess where to hold the crosshairs.
Now that the rifle is sighted-in, I shot the first 10-shot group at 25 yards with the stock rested on my open palm, next to the triggerguard. I got a fairly good 9-shot group, but I managed to throw one shot to the left. Nine went into 0.376 inches, but that one stray shot opened the group to 0.605 inches. I was moving around too much in the artillery hold, and I could see it through the scope.
Stability seemed to be my problem, so I slid my off hand out to where I could feel the cocking slot on my palm. The rifle seemed to rest steadier, but the group doesn’t reflect that. Ten pellets went into 0.714 inches, which is horrible for a TX200. Obviously, this wasn’t the right hold for the rifle. And just as obviously — I was having a bad day.
Sometimes, a disaster (okay, maybe just a small setback) contains the seeds of discovery! Since I couldn’t hold the rifle steady enough to shoot a good group on this day, could I rest it directly on the sandbag and do better? We’ve been interested in the fact that some spring guns don’t seem to need the artillery hold. I already told you the TX200 is one of them. Perhaps, this was the day to find out.
For the next group, I rested the rifle in the long vee-groove in the top of my sandbag. The bag is so long that the rifle rests there without needing a rear bag for support. It was dead-steady when I sighted this time.
The results tell the story! This time, all the shots went to the same place. The group is very round and tight, at 0.336 inches. This is clear proof that the TX200 can be bag-rested when shot, and also that the rifle is incredibly accurate. I’ve shot even better groups with it in the past; but whenever I do things right, I always get good groups with this rifle.
Notice that in today’s test only a single type of pellet was used. That kept things simple and allowed me to look at other things without worrying about which pellet to choose.
So, we’ve learned 2 things. The first is that it’s easy to mount a scope on an air rifle and to sight it in. It doesn’t take a lot of time, nor do you need any fancy equipment. Of course, if your rifle has a drooping barrel problem there will be more to do, but these are the basics.
Second, we’ve learned that the TX200 can shoot as well or better when rested directly on a sandbag as it can with an artillery hold. That’s certainly true if you’re shaking when holding the gun.
Tomorrow is the 50-yard test, followed by a full test of a brand-new TX200 Mark III, I hope. There are some other things that can be explored with this rifle as our testbed. All in all, we have a lot of things left to do with this air rifle!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
As you read this, I’m driving to the Roanoke airgun show. This is just a reminder that I’d like you veteran readers to help answer the questions we get from the new readers while I’m away from my desk. I’ll read the comments a couple times each day and answer those I need to, but I don’t have as much time when I’m on the road. Thanks!
Today, I’ll mount a scope on the TX200 Mark III and sight it in. This is normally accuracy day, but I’m slowing down this report so I can explain several things that are usually glossed over — such as mounting a scope and sighting-in.
This report will look like a photo gallery. And the photos were all taken with flash because there are so many of them. I apologize for that, but I have examined each picture and you will be able to see each thing I refer to.
Let’s get started. Someone said I should used the Hawke 4.5 to 14 X42 Tactical Sidewinder scope, so that is what I mounted. I used a set of Leapers 30mm medium-height rings because they’re high enough for this scope and have the vertical scope stop pin that the TX200 needs.
Does the scope fit the rifle?
The first step in the process is to lay the scope next to the gun, positioning the eyepiece where you think it needs to be to fit your eye position. That will tell you how the scope is going to fit on the rifle.
Laying the scope above the rifle where the eyepiece needs to be tells us how the scope will fit on the rifle. Notice that the objective bell will hang over the loading port a little; but as I mentioned in Part 2, that’s not a problem.
Seeing that the scope will fit, the next task is to position the scope rings on the rifle. I used 2-piece rings, so I will first position the rear ring with the scope stop pin. The TX200 Mark III has three holes for a vertical stop pin. Pick the hole you like and make sure the stop pin fits into the hole when the ring is installed.
Adjust the vertical scope stop pin in the base of the rear scope rings so it goes deep into the hole on the rifle. On some rings, it will be necessary to peel up the anti-slip tape to access this pin for adjustment.
Now, you can mount the rear scope ring, making sure that the stop pin goes into the hole you’ve selected. Try to slide the ring to the rear of the gun so the stop pin makes contact with the rear wall of the stop hole. Then, you can tighten this ring in place.
Once the rear ring is positioned, you can position the front ring, using the scope as your guide. Leave room on both sides of both rings to slide the scope back and forth, if possible. This is where the advantage of 2-piece rings shows up.
Once both ring bases have been installed, carefully lay the scope in them and see how it fits the rifle.
Now that I know the scope fits as planned, I check it for fit with my eye by holding the rifle in a shooting position. The scope is still just laying in the bottom rings — the caps haven’t been attached yet.
By looking through the scope, I determine that the rings have been positioned correctly. I adjust the scope slightly to align the vertical reticle and also to position the eyepiece for maximum light when the rifle is held comfortably. The caps can now be installed and secured.
Aligning the scope
You can go through all kinds of machinations to align the scope perfectly vertical, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that it looks vertical to you when you hold the rifle comfortably because that’s the way you’re going to align the scope every time you use it.
I used to do all sorts of things to “level” the scope before I finally understood that the scope will NEVER be level! Level is what looks level to you; and if you hold it the same way every time, that’s all that matters.
Now that the scope is mounted, it’s time to sight it in. For that, I made a white card with two black dots made by a felt-tipped pen. The top dot is my aim point and the bottom dot is as far below the top dot as the center of the bore of this rifle is below the center of the scope. That was just a rough estimate — I didn’t use a ruler. I’m going to sight-in the rifle at 10 FEET. That’s right — 10 FEET!
If this seems strange, you haven’t read my article about a 10-minute sight-in. When I worked at AirForce Airguns, I used to mount scopes and sight-in all the rifles that were sold directly by the company. It took less than 30 minutes from the time I was told what rifle and what scope was needed until I had the scope locked down and sighted-in at 23 yards. This procedure is how I did it so fast.
I step back about 10 feet from the card with the 2 dots and put the crosshairs on the top dot. I fired one shot. I used H&N Baracuda Match pellets because I know they do well in this rifle.
The first shot lands slightly high and to the right of the lower dot. Remember, the lower dot is where the pellet should go if it comes straight out of the barrel while the scope is aimed at the top dot.
Shot 1 was a surprise. Usually the first few shots are a lot farther off the mark than this. But I adjusted the scope from this — left and down.
How much left and down is not a precise thing. I do it by spinning both adjustment knobs and not even counting the clicks because I know that at 10 feet I have to move the crosshairs a lot to make them move at all. If I had to guess, I would say it was 16-20 clicks on each knob. Then, I fired the second shot.
Now, the rifle should be on paper and close to on-target at 25 yards. It may not be exact because this is a loose method — but it will be close enough.
Next time, I’ll shoot 25-yard groups, and I’ll start with where this sight-in lands me.