Posts Tagged ‘shrouded’
by B.B. Pelletier
I’ve reviewed this rifle before, but it’s been a long time and many of you are asking about it again, plus I’m going to look at the Benjamin MAV 77 later this year, and I promised a comparison with this rifle. So, for those reasons, I decided that it’s time to look at the Air Arms TX200 Mark III, again.
Some of you may know that Bill Sanders, the managing director of Air Arms, passed away recently. Bill was very uncharacteristically enthusiastic about all the guns he made. I say that because most principals in this industry are not shooters, nor do they own the guns they make. But Bill did, and he also knew how to use them. Maybe that’s why, in the more than 20 years the TX has been around, the quality has only gone up.
The TX200 came about in the late 1980s as an improvement on the design of the HW77, which was considered the best spring rifle around at the time. The first model was simply called the TX200. But after several years, Air Arms added a ratcheting catch to hold the sliding compression chamber from slamming closed during loading. That rifle was called the Mark II. I bought one and competed with it in field target for a couple of years, until I switched over to a PCP. My rifle was tuned first by Jim Maccari and then by Ken Reeves so I could write about each of the tunes. In truth, the TX was pretty smooth right out of the box, but the Reeves tune did make it just a bit smoother.
When the TX200 Mark III came out, I bought one to test for The Airgun Letter. I found that rifle to be just as smooth as the Reeves-tuned Mark II, plus it had a shrouded 9-inch barrel, which made it very quiet, to boot. I didn’t need two perfect guns, and the Mark II was sold. I still have the Mark III, which is the gun I’m testing for you here.
I recently had the opportunity to shoot a brand-new Mark III, and I see that the performance and looks of the gun are unchanged, except for better checkering on the new model. Instead of diamonds, they now have a fish-scale pattern that usually comes only on very costly guns.
Hump-backed look for high-tech design
When Beeman Precision Airguns started selling TX200 air rifles in the U.S., the first thing I noticed was that the rifle had a definite hump-backed profile. Why? Remember I said the barrel is 9 inches long? Guess what? All the science you have been reading about on this blog really works. And Air Arms applied it to its maximum in the TX200.
They put the center of the barrel in the center of the compression chamber, so the air transfer port aligns with the bore. That gives the most efficient airflow, but it also means the barrel, which is a smaller diameter than the spring tube, has to be mounted lower than the top of the spring tube. Hence, the hump-backed profile. Study the first photo, and you’ll see what I mean. Look at the place where the barrel connects to the spring tube. On most other guns, they’re level.
A 9-inch barrel prevents friction from slowing the pellet after it’s accelerated to maximum velocity. A spring-piston gun develops maximum velocity in the first 6-9 inches of barrel. After that, the pellet is just coasting. The baffled shroud that houses the short barrel is much longer and gives the appearance of a bull barrel, hence the barrel length is often listed as longer than it really is.
Air Arms has used everything that’s known about spring-piston guns to wring the maximum performance from a relatively short stroke and small piston bore. They do it without fanfare, but anyone who works on spring guns knows what they’ve done.
The TX200 Mark III is an underlever spring-piston rifle that has a sliding compression chamber. The chamber slides back, giving access to the rear of the barrel for loading. Then it slides forward again, once the anti-beartrap latch is held down. The old Mark II has many stops in the ratchet, causing it to click loudly when cocked. Shooters objected to that noise. The Mark III has just three notches and is much quieter.
All metal parts, except the trigger and safety button, are highly polished and deeply blued, resulting in one of the finest finishes in the airgun world. The standard stock is beech, but the wood is shaped very sharply for either a right- or left-handed shooters. No compromise here. Fish-scale checkering roughens both grip panels and the forearm. The optional walnut stock is a good choice because it subtracts weight from the gun as well as adding interest. Blog reader Jerry got a walnut stock on his TX, and it looks very similar to the rifle pictured above.
The long lever, located behind the silver sliding compression chamber, is the beartrap release. After cocking, this lever is held down to close the sliding chamber, as the cocking lever returns to the stored position.
The TX trigger is not just an improved Rekord, it’s a new design that offers greater flexibility when adjusting, so you can get the pull weight and release down to a finer, lighter value than with a standard Rekord.
Years ago when Ivan Hancock was still building airguns, I bought one of his Mach II trigger, which are handmade copies of the TX trigger to replace the Rekord unit in my Beeman R1. That trigger cost half as much as the entire rifle, but it was very finely adjustable. The current trigger in my TX200 is the standard one that comes with the rifle, yet it’s just as fine. When I report on its performance, I think you’ll be surprised.
Several “truths” negated
The success of the TX200 reminds me of a friend who built engines for Formula Vee racing. Those cars look like Formula 1 racers, but they’re much slower. However, this builder’s engines were always in demand because they out-performed the others. Everybody was always looking for his “secret.” The secret, of course, was that there was no secret! What he did was pay scrupulous attention to detail when building his engines. All parts were balanced to the last gram, and all tolerances and torque specifications were followed. The engines were what racers refer to as blueprinted, and that, alone, gave them their edge.
Well, you may think of a TX200 as an air rifle that’s been blueprinted. The piston isn’t wide and the stroke isn’t long, yet the rifle develops remarkable velocity. The trigger appears dirt-simple, yet it can out-perform so-called “target” triggers in much more expensive guns. The mainspring isn’t under much pre-tension, yet the rifle doesn’t buzz when it shoots. Everything is just right.
Rolls Royce is the standard by which all cars are compared, and the TX200 is the standard for spring-piston air rifles. Even when the Whiscombe was being made, I used to say that the TX200 was its equal for accuracy.
Yes, this air rifle is heavy. Especially the model with the beech stock. But for its purpose, which is field target first and hunting second, the weight is ideal because it promotes stability.
It’s hard to cock!
It will seem hard to cock a TX if you’re used to a smaller rifle like a Diana 27. But compared to the current magnums, the TX cocks easily. How it feels depends on your experience. I’ll publish the cocking effort of mine in Part 2.
It has been several years since I shot my TX, so this is a chance to get behind the trigger, again. I expect to find a pellet that will give around 1/4- to 1/3-inch 10-shot groups at 25 yards. That’s a tall order for any spring gun, but we shall see!
by B.B. Pelletier
This is the test I promised at the end of Part 3 of the .22-caliber Benjamin Marauder air pistol report back in December. You’ll remember that I didn’t think the scope I used for accuracy testing in Part 3 was doing all it could for the gun. I said I would try it again with the 30mm Centerpoint scope Crosman had sent with the gun, once I had a set of rings to mount it.
If you’re just learning about the Benjamin Marauder pistol for the first time with this report, you need to know that this pistol has taken the airgun world by storm. Just as the Benjamin Marauder rifle holds its own with European PCPs costing two to three times as much, the Marauder pistol does the same when compared to the high-priced PCPs coming from the same European companies. It’s a red-hot seller that offers unprecedented power and accuracy at an affordable price.
It has a choked Crosman barrel that stands equal to tubes from Anschütz and Lothar Walther. The reputation hasn’t been built yet, but the performance is undeniable. The trigger is very sweet and fully adjustable, and of course the pistol is shrouded. When fired, it sounds like a Daisy Red Ryder instead of the 15 foot-pound hunting airgun that it is.
I wasn’t satisfied that I’d seen all the accuracy the pistol had to offer in the last accuracy test, so this additional test was added to give us a second look. What I learned this time was remarkable and worthy of note, but I’ll get to that later.
For this test, I mounted Centerpoint’s 3-12×44 Power Class scope with mil-dot reticle and sidewheel AO in a set of two-piece Centerpoint 30mm high rings that Crosman provided. The high rings raised the scope up so high that I had to rest my chin on the comb of the detachable shoulder stock to see a clear image. If this were my pistol I would attach about an inch of firm foam padding to the top of the shoulder stock comb to bring my eye comfortably up to the right height.
This scope is sufficiently clear and bright enough that it enhanced the sight picture rather than detracting like the last scope did. Although the reticle lines are not thin, I was able to see the intersection of both the horizontal and vertical lines clearly inside the 10-ring of the bull, so aiming was more precise than it had been during the test in Part 3.
Which pellet to use?
Normally, when testing the accuracy of any airgun, I select four to six different pellets that I think will work, given the power and potential accuracy of the test gun. Then, we’ll see how they actually do on the range. Picking pellets for accuracy testing is fairly straightforward and based on the past performance of those pellets in similar guns. But not this time. I tried five different types of .22 caliber pellets, in addition to two other pellets that were used in Part 3 (Beeman Kodiaks were reused in this test because they did so well the first time around). However, nothing I tried wanted to group — except the Kodiaks. Kodiaks grouped so well that the pistol is an undeniable tackdriver. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Unfortunately, I didn’t pick Kodiaks from the start to sight-in the new scope, therefore I stumbled around with two other pellets for quite a while before realizing what was happening. They were RWS Superdomes and 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes. Both gave mediocre groups of about one inch at 25 yards in the test pistol, which made sighting-in very difficult. Then, I just gave up and defaulted to the Kodiaks that had done so well in the last accuracy test I delivered in Part 3. That’s when the gun started to perform.
In fact, the first “group” of Kodiaks was just for kicks to see where 8 pellets would land. Eight instead of 10, because that’s how many the magazine holds.
After that, I shot group after group, and they were all similar. After several tight groups had built up my confidence in the gun, I was reminded of my old Hakim rifle that used to lob them into a similar round group at 10 meters. I would get so mesmerized by how accurate that rifle was that I couldn’t stop shooting. The sight of each new tight group when I went downrange to change targets was a turn-on. In the case of the Marauder pistol, I could watch through the scope as shot after shot went into the same ragged hole, only not at 10 meters but 25 yards. Thinking about my old Hakim also reminded me that the most accurate pellet in that rifle was the RWS Superpoint, which is now called the Superpoint Extra.
So, I got a tin of those and tried them in the pistol. Wrong! The groups opened up to almost one inch once more. So I wondered whether the heavy 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbos would perform more like the Kodiaks. After all, they are within a couple grains of the Kodiak’s weight and they are made by JSB. But I might as well have been shooting a shotgun, for all the good they did. No, this pistol wants to shoot Beeman Kodiaks, and nothing else!
I know this photo looks fishy, like I’m hiding a pellet hole under the coin, but I’m not. It’s just difficult to position a dime next to a target on a scanner. This group of eight Kodiaks measures 0.529 inches between centers. The top and bottom holes have closed, making the group appear smaller than it really is. This group is about the average size of all the Kodiak groups I fired.
Then, I had a thought. What about those new copperplated Kodiaks? Would they do just as well as the regular Kodiaks? If I didn’t try them, someone would bring it to my attention. I didn’t think the copperplated ones would perform the same as pure lead Kodiaks, but the only way to know for sure is to shoot them. I loaded a magazine and gave them a try. Much to my surprise, they did just as good as the all-lead Kodiaks.
That’s my report on the Marauder pistol. Some will read it and grouse about the pistol not doing well with a wide range of pellets, but the black powder cartridge shooter in me says that as long as there’s one bullet or pellet that shines, the gun is alright. Once I find that one best pellet, I never mess with the others anyway. In the test pistol, Beeman Kodiak pellets are the clear winner. I would continue to try other pellets from time to time, but Kodiaks would remain my standard ammo until displaced by something even better.
The Benjamin Marauder pistol is every bit as stunning as the Marauder rifle, by reason of accuracy, power, trigger and quiet operation. As long as you use the shoulder stock that comes with the gun and as long as you mount a good-quality scope, this pistol is a real shooter. If you’re looking for a stealthy hunting air pistol, give this one serious consideration.
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas to all our readers. I hope this holiday brings you all that you hoped for and more. And, let’s not forget the real present that was presented to all mankind on this day several thousand years ago.
This is Part 3, but there’s going to be a Part 4 coming. I’ll explain why in this report.
Mounted the scope
Crosman sent me a special one-piece cantilever scope mount and a CenterPoint Optics 4-12×44 compact scope with an adjustable objective (AO). There’s just one problem. The mount had one-inch rings and the scope has a 30mm tube. As I had only a brief time to run the test because of other pressing things, I replaced the scope with a Leapers 6x32AO compact scope with an illuminated reticle.
I cannot say for sure that the scope is a Leapers, for no brand name appears on it anywhere, but it certainly resembles one in all other aspects. The small scope size is perfect for a carbine, but the optics were not as sharp as I would have liked them to be. I want to go back with the same pellets and see how much better the pistol can do with the CenterPoint Crosman sent.
The test was 10 shots from a rest at 25 yards. I swapped the two grip panels for the detachable buttstock to make shooting easier. And, I rested the gun across a shooting bag. After I got it sighted in, I started shooting for the record.
The first pellet I tried was the Beeman Kodiak. I was surprised by how loud the gun is when shooting this pellet. It’s like a Sheridan Blue Streak on 8 pumps of air, which is quite a bit louder than what I told you in part 2. The first magazine failed during this part of the test. It allowed me to shoot down to four pellets remaining, and then it stopped feeding. Fortunately, Crosman had sent a spare mag that got me back in the game in no time.
I wish you could have seen the gun shoot! It lobbed pellet after pellet through the same hole, enlarging it only slightly as the shot count grew. At the end, I was looking at a vertical group that measures 0.61 inches. I thought about that vertical stringing until the next group stretched horizontally. So, it wasn’t the pellet or the gun. It was me. I was unable to precisely place the scope’s fat reticle against the small target time after time.
The last time I watched a rifle shoot like this, I was shooting an Egyptian Hakim military trainer. At 10 meters, it made groups of about the same size. That built my confidence in the gun tremendously.
Satisfied that the pistol could shoot, I switched over to Predator pellets — the ones with the red polymer tip. One of our readers touted these to the skies, so I thought I’d check them out. On shot No. 1, there was a marked difference in the muzzle blast. It now sounded like a silenced airgun. So, I didn’t imagine anything in Part 2. This pistol really is quiet!
But better than that, the Predators are accurate pellets, too. Not quite as tight as the Kodiaks, but accurate enough to land 10 in a group measuring 0.745 inches. Like the Kodiaks, I got groups that were both vertical and horizontal, so we know it’s the aim point that needs refining.
The Marauder has a choked Crosman barrel, so it should perform well with Crosman Premier pellets. But, on this day, it wasn’t up to the standards of the other two pellets I tried. Again, I blame the lack of aiming precision, except in this case it really looks like the Premiers came in third out of the three pellets tried. They fit into just less than one inch at 0.961 inches.
The Premiers are on the loud side, as well. I think what the Marauder wants are pellets with thin, soft skirts. In the next accuracy test, I’ll try some new pellets, as well.
I think we have a clear winner in the Marauder pistol. This is one to write home about, but I think there’s more than we’ve discovered. That’s what I’ll put in Part 4.
by B.B. Pelletier
Man, there was strong interest in this new pistol when Part 1 was published. It’s riding the coattails of its rifle siblings, but I see that many people feel this smaller format will be just right for them.
First things first
I promised Kevin that I would try to run the drawing of the pistol’s trigger, so he could get some sense of how it works. So, we’ll do that right now.
I doubt that loading the 8-shot magazine could be any easier than it already is. A counter window faces the shooter, informing him which pellet’s on. But, when the last pellet is fired, the gun cannot be shot again until the mag is removed. The mag rotates to block the bolt from going forward so there’s no doubt that you’re out.
The counter window on the Marauder magazine tells at a glance where you are with respect to expended pellets. If you just cocked the pistol and loaded a pellet, the counter tells you it’s the last one.
When you insert the magazine back into the receiver on the right side, there will be a sharp click to tell you the mag has gone home. Then, simply cock the bolt which loads a pellet, and you’re ready to shoot.
Shooting the Marauder pistol
There’s noticeable recoil when the pistol fires. Not as sharp as a rimfire cartridge — it feels more like a rocket push. But the gun definitely moves.
The trigger breaks too cleanly to feel, in light of the recoil and noise of the discharge. And, speaking of the noise, the Marauder pistol makes less noise than a silenced Ruger Mark II shooting CB caps. That’s about equal to a Talon SS with a 24-inch barrel and an Airhog bloop tube. Read this report. You’llmake more noise clapping your hands.
I filled the gun to the recommended 2,900 psi and was surprised to note that the gauge on the gun and on the tank were in complete agreement. That doesn’t happen too often. I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience, but I liked it! Time to shoot.
The first pellet I tried was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. The first string of 10 averaged 655 f.p.s., with a spread of 25 f.p.s. They ranged from 638 to 663 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy of 13.63 f.p.s. They dropped into the magazine with great ease and there were no feeding problems.
Because they were the first pellet and because they’re Crosman pellets, I continued to shoot until the power was on the way down. How many shots do you think I got? One magazine? Two? Before I started the test I guessed there would be as many as 20 good shots in the pistol from a single fill, but that was way off. I shot four full 8-shot magazines, plus one extra shot, for a total of 33 shots from the initial fill. Shot one registered 638 f.p.s. and shot 33 registered 639 f.p.s. The fastest pellet went 677 f.p.s., and there were three that went that fast. The average velocity for all 33 shots was 663 f.p.s. and the gun pressure had dropped just below 1,600 psi. In case you aren’t a precharged buff, that’s some impressive performance! And looking from that perspective, the gun generated 13.96 foot-pounds.
Next, I tried RWS Superdomes. They weigh 14.5 grains in .22 caliber and averaged 665 f.p.s. in the test gun. The spread went from 649 to 671, which is a 22 foot-second spread. The average muzzle energy was 14.24 foot-pounds. From a pistol! Yes, they’re a little heavier, but they’re also made from a nearly pure lead alloy, so they’re self-lubricating. Also, they have a thinner skirt, which helps seal the bore behind the pellet.
The last pellet I tried was the tried-and-true Beeman Kodiak. If you’ve got a .22 caliber PCP, you’ve got to try it with Kodiaks. It’s a heavy pellet, but it’s made of pure lead and therefore a little faster than if it were harder, because there’s not quite as much resistance when it goes down the bore.
But with Kodiaks, I noticed two additional things. The Marauder made half as much noise with Kodiaks as it did with either of the other two pellets. And, perhaps because it was quieter, it seemed to whack the target harder than either of the other two pellets. The quiet pellet trap actually moved when hit by Kodiaks.
Kodiaks averaged 584 f.p.s., with a 9 foot-second velocity spread from 578 to 587 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy came out to 16.01 foot-pounds. So, the Marauder pistol I’m testing is a 16 foot-pound gun. Pretty impressive for an air pistol, don’t you think?
I have to tell you that I’m lovin’ this pistol so far. If it turns out to be accurate, as well, I might have to buy it, rather than send it back.
by B.B. Pelletier
When Crosman announced the new Benjamin Marauder PCP pistol at the 2010 SHOT Show, airgunners in the know turned into preschoolers awaiting Christmas. And, without a bit of irony, we’re now there and the pistol is out! The release of the first 100 guns was widely celebrated on this blog, as well as many other popular hangouts on the internet.
What is the Marauder pistol?
Okay, I plan to discuss this next aspect well enough that everybody should get it. Yes, the Marauder is an air pistol, but no, that doesn’t mean that you can put it in your pocket or that there is a holster for it — yet. When you think of the Marauder pistol, don’t think of a smaller sidearm like a Colt M1911A1 or a Ruger Blackhawk revolver. Those are one-hand guns. The Marauder is more like a Thompson Center Contender pistol that can be chambered in .270 Winchester and can drop a mule deer at 200 yards. You need to think about that as you lust for one. It may be an air pistol, but it’s a big one.
The gun is 18 inches long. It has a 12-inch barrel that’s fully shrouded, which is where some of the size comes from. And, veteran readers of this blog understand that, in a pneumatic gun, the length of the barrel equates to the power of the gun, because the air needs time to push on the tail of the pellet. In spring guns that use a tiny fraction of the amount of air the Marauder precharged pistol uses, the air is compressed and released in an explosive blast that lasts only a few milliseconds. Pellets shot from springers are like champagne corks bursting from bottles; pellets shot from PCPs are like ballistic missiles that have calculated burn times.
The grip frame of the gun will look remarkably similar to one from a Crosman 2240 pistol — this is the model 2220, after all. It looks that way because that’s where it comes from, but the trigger’s much better. As I look the gun over, I’ll have more to say about the trigger; for now, know this — it’s two-stage. Stage two is adjustable for pull weight, stage one is adjustable for length of pull (travel) and can be adjusted out to make the trigger into a single-stage unit. There’s also an overtravel screw that can be set to stop movement of the trigger blade the moment it’s released the sear. That gives you the feeling of precise trigger control. And, of course, there’s a positive trigger-blocking safety that’s fully manual. In all, this is a fine trigger and fully what you’d expect to find on a Marauder.
Shoulder stock extension is standard!
One additional blessing this grip frame brings is that there will be aftermarket and Crosman Custom Shop grips in no time at all. And, in what has to be one of the best single decisions I have seen in a long time, this gun comes standard with an extension shoulder stock! Yes, they knew we wanted one and they provided it without our asking. Brilliant move! It stops those asking for a Marauder carbine before they can ask.
Being a pneumatic, the pistol needs an air reservoir, and, given the overall size of the gun, it has a generous one. That’s important, of course, because the Marauder is a .22 caliber pistol. This is a hunting airgun and a serious bruiser that we will measure well in part 2 of this report. The reservoir fills at the front, just like the Benjamin Discovery and the Benjamin Marauder air rifle.
In the forearm, there’s a reliable onboard pressure gauge to tell you at a glance the state of the air charge. Once you start becoming familiar with your own gun, you’ll quickly learn the nuances of this gauge that should become part of your shooting procedures. By that, I mean that each gun is an individual and your gauge will help you learn exactly how your gun performs.
According to the manual, the gun comes set to operate on a 2,900 psi fill but can be adjusted up as high as 3,000 psi. I don’t plan to adjust the fill pressure during this test, because it doesn’t affect the performance of the gun that much. I want to know the realistic power and accuracy of the gun as I received it, and I’ll leave the fringe testing to the soon-to-be hundreds of new owners. No doubt, the next year will be a very busy time for them as they explore the limits of this fine new pistol.
There are no sights, so some type of optical sight will be required. The top of the aluminum receiver is grooved for 11mm dovetails. There’s zero recoil, so no thought need be given to a scope stop. The magazine sticks up above the top of the receiver, so two-piece mounts will be required to straddle the protrusion.
As if all of the above weren’t enough, the bolt handle is designed to work equally well on either side of the receiver. It comes from the factory set out to the right side, but if you want it to stick out to the left, the change is possible. Some disassembly of the gun is necessary to make the change, and Crosman recommends sending it back to them, but I know that savvy airguners will make their own changes.
And then some more…
Just like the Marauder rifle, the pistol lets you adjust the power curve and air fill pressure level. Experimenters will delight in finding just the right combination of pellet and fill pressure to give what they feel is the optimum number of shots correlated to the power level. The one thing the pistol doesn’t have that the rifle does have is the variable air transfer port. Instead, it offers both the hammer spring tension and the length of the hammer stroke. It should satisfy most owners, and old guys like me will find one setting that works and forget the adjustments exist after that.
Is that a lot of innovation? Well, it doesn’t end there, because the Marauder pistol is an 8-shot repeater, as well. So, in my mind, it simply doesn’t get any better. What more could you ask for, besides a revocation of the laws of physics that those unfamiliar with airgun operations dream up while sitting on their thinking stools…
“Benjamin really missed the boat with this one. What I would like to see is a full-auto pistol with at least 100 shots before it needs refilling! And, an onboard chronograph that speaks to you would really be cool, too.”
I like the gun
Can you tell that I like the new Marauder pistol? I’m sorry that this report sounds like a sales pitch, but I really am impressed with everything I see. I’ve avoided nonsense observations like the plastic-to-metal ratio (only the grips, forearm and shoulder stock extension are plastic) or where the freaking’ barrel band is placed (except to note that it’s never in the right place), because in my time of looking at airguns I haven’t seen very many with this level of innovation and value. I’m sorry that the gun costs almost $400, but my gosh, a gallon of gas costs me almost three dollars and I still seem to buy as much of it, as I still need to go where I want to go. I guess what I’m saying is that this new airgun is a serious shooting platform, and the data of how cheaply an offshore manufacturer can produce a gun I would never buy has no impact here. If you want nice toys, you have to pay for them.
This is Friday. Please chew this one up and digest it for me, so I’ll know what I need to look at in future reports. I really do value all of your observations.