Testing with optics
The Walther MRS
By Dennis Adler
I’ve tested air pistols equipped for optics with a variety of red dot sights from those costing less than $100 to professional red dot optics costing $400 and up, and what I have learned is that they eliminate almost every random factor outside of shooter error. The only way to eliminate that is to use a Ransom rest, but in the world of competitive shooting or just leisure time target shooting the random element, the person doing the shooting, has to participate! By adding the optics bridge to the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open the CO2 model moves up into the same category as the Tanfoglio Gold Custom. There are very few blowback action CO2 models that can match the Gold Custom for handling or accuracy. The variable is choice of optics, and I have shot this gun with everything from a low dollar Truglo red/green dot sight (about $47), and Walther MRS ($64.95), all the way up to a $400 C-More STS2 (Small Tactical Sight), and the Tanfoglio performs no matter what is riding on the optics bridge. To give the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open an even footing, I have equipped the Tanfoglio Gold Custom and the Sig with Walther MRS optics, thus this third and final evaluation will come down to trigger pull, slide action, and the wild card, the steadiness of the shooter’s hand!
About the MRS
Among affordable red dot sights, the Walther MRS ranks high with a choice of four reticle designs (thus the designation MRS for Multi Reticle Sight), seven brightness levels to give you clarity from low light to high noon, 1/3 MOA and a 17 yard field of view at 109 yards, fully and easily adjustable windage and elevation screws, an integral Weaver rail mount with two large hex-head screws, and a long life CR 2032 battery. It outranks many more expensive pistol optics and retails for less than $65. I went with this sight for its optical features and a price that is in line with the cost of either gun. The wisdom of my using optics that cost three to five times as much as the airgun has often been questioned, but I can justify it by using them on the real cartridge-firing models. Training with the same optic is an advantage.
To put the Sig Open into a head-to-head competition with the Tanfoglio Gold Custom, the shooting test will be shot offhand from 21 feet using a Weaver stance and two handed hold. To make it just a little more interesting the target will be a cardboard IPSC silhouette. Each IPSC target will have 10 rounds fired at 1-second intervals and the best total score (overall spread and best 5-shot group) will determine which gun is the winner. Since the optics are identical on each gun, and hopefully I shoot each one the same way, the decisive feature will be the triggers, quality of the barrels (even though both are smoothbore), the blowback action recoil, barrel realignment as the slide closes, and balance in the hand. Going into this I can admit to knowing the Tanfoglio has a lighter trigger, both have quick reset and with their metal compensators excellent balance, although the Tanfoglio is a little smaller, a bit lighter and has a shorter barrel. The question is with a little more heft and extra barrel length, can the Sig Sauer with optics outshoot the almost undisputed leader in blowback action .177 caliber target pistols?
Just to recap, the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open has a DA/SA trigger with a single action trigger pull that averages 3 pounds, 10 ounces, with 0.438 inches of take up, slight stacking during the second stage of the trigger pull, and a very short 0.25 inch release to reset. The Tanfoglio Gold Custom’s SAO trigger has an average pull of 2 pounds, 13.5 ounces, 0.375 inches of take up, a firm pull and 0.25 inches or release to reset (this is different than the reset on the Tanfoglio Limited Custom). The Sig weighs 3 pounds, 9 ounces (empty) with the optics bridge and Walther MRS optics; the Tanfoglio 3 pounds, 6 ounces. The MSRP for the guns, as shown (without the Walther MRS), are within $20 of each other, the Tanfoglio being the most expensive at $189.95.
Off to the range
For this test the ammunition will be Hornady Black Diamond .177 caliber black anodized steel BBs. Velocity at the muzzle for the Sig measured 329 fps (a high of 339 fps and a low of 320 fps). The Tanfoglio clocked an average of 328 fps (a high of 338 fps and a low of 320 fps). The Sig Open has a more robust recoil (especially the first couple of magazines with a fresh CO2 cartridge), while the Tanfoglio has less felt recoil and a much smoother slide action. Combined with the target trigger the Gold Custom is more consistent from shot to shot.
The Sig delivered 10 rounds in the IPSC target’s A-Zone with a spread of 1.5 inches and a best 5 shots covering 0.75 inches. Two additional tests gave the same results within a fraction of an inch. The Sig Open (at least this example) is not as accurate as the standard model even with the addition of optics.
The Tanfoglio with the Walther MRS delivered its 10 shot charge almost on top of the A in the A-Zone with a spread of 1.24 inches and a best 5 shots grouped at 0.56 inches, to beat the Sig Sauer by 0.19 inches. I love the Sig but I love the Tanfoglio more.
A Word About Safety
Blowback action models like the Sig Sauer P226 X-Five Open and Tanfoglio Gold Custom provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. All arguns, in general, look like guns, but those based on real cartridge-firing models even more so. It is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.