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Education / Training UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 sniper rifle – Part 1

UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 sniper rifle – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

09_19_07_UTG_Shadow1
It shoots as good as it looks! The UTG Shadow Ops is an affordable airsoft sniper rifle.

A lot has changed in the world of airsoft in the past two years. New models and even entire companies have burst on the scene with features formerly available in guns costing three and four times as much. This really is the age of value in airsoft guns – and nowhere is that more the case than with sniper rifles.

I’ve already reviewed the UTG Master Sniper the Tokyo Marui VSR-10 G-Spec MG 315 and the UTG Special Ops M14 Sniper Rifle for you. Today, I want to start looking at the UTG Shadow Ops rifle. It’s an airsoft version of the UK’s famous L96 sniper rifle made by Accuracy International.

History
Before researching for this report, I was not aware that sniper rifles of the 20th century were notoriously inaccurate. According to a recent article in American Rifleman, Carlos Hathcock’s rifle was only capable of two minute-of-angle accuracy, during an era when half-minute accuracy was the norm for tuned varmint rifles. That he was able to do all he did makes his story all the more interesting.

Accuracy International advanced the state of the art to the three-quarter-minute level with their new L96. The gun uses a patented 2-piece stock design with a bedding system built in. It delivers superb performance in the field, though not quite what the urban legends want us to believe. Instead of the 2″ groups at 600 yards that one Russian website claims, the actual claim is a first-round hit (on a human torso) at the same 600 yards. Three-quarter MOA would be a group slightly greater than 4″ at that range, but even the reality of a first-round hit seems impressive.

And, the UTG Type 96 copies the L96 quite well. In fact, when you see it for real, the very shape and substance of the gun conveys the image of accuracy to your senses. It’s a heavy airsoft sniper rifle, weighing just over 10 lbs. with scope and bipod mounted. The bipod comes in the box with the gun, but the scope must be purchased separately. As far as I’m concerned, the only scope for this rifle is the UTG Tactedge 4×40 scope with Weaver/Picatinny rings. It mounts on the Picatinny rail that comes standard on the gun. I covered this scope for you earlier this year. In that report, I said it would make a good hunting scope. What is sniping, after all, but the ultimate in hunting?

Although the rifle is budget-priced at $130, it comes with a host of accessories: bipod, sling, two 23-shot magazines, speedloader and a plastic cleaning rod to clear jams…though in over 500 shots, I never saw a one. The scope adds $50 to the cost, but you won’t find another scope more suited to this rifle. It has an extra-long 5″ eye relief that makes acquiring the sight picture a snap.

Power
Two years ago, power was something you had to upgrade to get. It didn’t come in stock airsoft sniper rifles. Not only has that changed, it has now trickled down to highly affordable guns, so there is nothing you need to give up when shopping for a sniper rifle on a budget. Pyramyd AIR reports velocities of 465 f.p.s. with 0.20-gram BBs and 415 f.p.s. with 0.28-gram BBs from the Type 96, but I actually got 465 f.p.s. with 0.20-grams and 428 f.p.s. with 0.25-grams. That’s smokin’!

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about the accuracy and firing behavior of the gun.

author avatar
B.B. Pelletier
Tom Gaylord is known as The Godfather of Airguns™ and has been an airgunner for over a half-century, but it was the Beeman company in the 1970s that awoke a serious interest in airguns. Until then, all he knew were the inexpensive American airguns. Through the pages of the Beeman catalog, he learned about adult airguns for the first time. In 1994, Tom started The Airgun Letter with his wife, Edith. This monthly newsletter was designed to bring serious reports about airguns to the American public. The newsletter and Airgun Revue, a sister magazine about collectible airguns, was published from 1994 until 2002, when Tom started Airgun Illustrated -- the first American newsstand magazine about airguns. Tom worked for three years as technical director at AirForce Airguns, the makers of the Talon, Condor, and Escape precharged air rifles. Today, he writes about airguns and firearms for various publications and websites. He also makes videos, and you'll find short clips embedded in some of his artices on Pyramyd AIR's website. Tom is a consultant to Pyramyd AIR and writes under the name of B.B. Pelletier.

46 thoughts on “UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 sniper rifle – Part 1”

  1. BB

    hi, nice write up on the Airsoft rifle.
    I am fairly new to shooting (4 months) but i love target shooting. I am currently only really shooting from a bench (actaually its my garden table with a cushion on) but i am shooting an accurate rifle (Daystate Airwolf). I shot at 25M and 50M. What would you consider a GOOD group size for 5 shots? I would like to know a real world figure as i have read about many people on forums who can group at half an inch at 50M or 3/4 of an inch at 100m, but franky, i dont believe them. Im just looking for the real figure so i know what i have to achieve to be concidered a good shot.

    Thanks

    Paul

  2. Paul,

    Honestly on a calm day it shouldn’t be too difficult to get a half-inch group with that rifle. Shoot JSB Exacts or Beeman Kodiaks for best results. I get half-inch groups with my Condor often enough, and I know the Airwolf is supposed to be more accurate.

    You should never get groups larger than 0.75-inches unless the winds is blowing or you are using bad pellets.

    B.B.

  3. BB

    wow, then i still have a way to go. my best groups at 25M are 7mm, roughly 1/4 of an inch and i was well pleased with these lol. My airwolf is a 12ft/lbs gun and ANY wind whatsoever seems to push the pellets off course quite a bit. I tried using JSB exacts jumbo, but i find Crossman Accupels give me less fliers. I have yet to try the Kodiaks.

    Back to the practice table i think 🙂

  4. Since the RWS 460 Magnum rifle just got into Pyramid Air, and admittedly I bought one but haven’t received it yet, could you give any information on this rifle. I have expectations of this, but not too high I realize what it can and cannot do. Just thought that an independent opinion would be nice. Thanks.

  5. I have an RWS Diana 460 Magnum, but it isn’t living up to its published velocities. I don’t want to test a broken gun.

    The rifle is very large, and is one of the best-balanced rifles I have held.

    Cocking is very heavy.

    More than that and I start a test./

    B.B.

  6. B.B
    Am I missing something? In your response to Paul ” 25M groups should be in the 0.10-0.15″ range”. Isn’t that measurement SMALLER than the size of one pellet(.177)? If so, then you must be prety much putting shots 2-5 in the same hole as #1. Maybe I need a lesson on maesuring groups. Please help !
    JR

  7. JR,

    Group size measurements are always center to center of the two pwellets farthest apart. For any group size, add one pellet diameter to find the absolute group size.

    And, yes, a 0.1″ group means that all five pellets pass through the same hole.

    B.B.

  8. B.B.,

    Off topic-Re: HB22. I bought one more than a year ago and have not bothered to touch it since because of the rear sight adjustment. I contacted Crosman and they told me to adjust my aim. Did I get mad at that kind of advice?, “YES”. Then, I came across your blog on HB22 which right there and there solved my problem and now I’m enjoying shooting that gun. Many thanks also to Hank’s advise, it was so simple that I laugh at myself. I’m telling you BB that this blog helps people like me big time.

  9. Paul,

    my airwolf had a prob with the pellet hitn the shroud. Could that be your problem? It would shoot a 1 inch group at 50 yards with the factory shroud but i got a custom shroud and it now shoots well under 1/2 an inch at 50 yard (about 45M). I have not used my gun past 50 but i plan to and i expect great groups from what i have seen so far.

    I did not have much luck with kodiaks, ONLY .75 inch groups at 45M. My gun is 43 foot pounds when i use eun jins on full power. I have been an airgunner for years and i have had the airwolf for about 3 months and i got it working about a week ago.

    that part on the end of the shroud (the cap) is two peices. Take it off to see if the gun is affected.

    Good luck!

    -sumo

  10. Sumo and BB

    thanks for your ideas. I have already cleaned the barrel with JB paste, and i dont think the pellets are hitting the shroud or my groups would be far worse. As ive only been shooting for 4 months i imagine its just that my technique isnt as good as it should be. Over the last 4 months i have gradually improved, and i hope to keep doing so until i get to your levels of skill.

    Paul

  11. Paul and bb,

    my gun was still accurate when the pellets hit the shroud. It could shoot 1.5 inch groups with the problem at 45M! BB has many articles on how you can train yourself to be a better shot. Please read them. I shot my groups with a rest.

    Please try taking off the end cap. JSBs are most accurate in my gun. You said:

    “I tried using JSB exacts jumbo, but i find Crossman Accupels give me less fliers. I have yet to try the Kodiaks.”

    I think your gun likes jsbs but it has more “fliers” with them because your shroud has a problem. So did mine. just unscrew the cap to see(that grippy piece at the end of the gun).

    The skirt diamiter on the jsb is 0.0762mm larger than on the crosman in .22 caliber. I agree with bb, you should try loguns because my guns factory shroud worked with them for some reason.

    good luck!

    -sumo

  12. BB,

    A comprehensive discussion on rifle accuracy will not be complete without citing the things the Carlos Hatchcock did.

    This is off topic, but can you please post about Hatchcock, from an accuracy perspective of course.

    The core desire for airgunners being simply accurate airguns.

    Thanks.

    David

  13. Paul,

    I have to agree with Sumo on this. I think some of your pellets are touching at the muzzle. I don’t know if you have read my Daystate posts but I reported that a tight muzzle is a Daystate characteristic. Fix it and the problem goes away.

    Here’s the link to the last post on Daystate and there are links within that article at all the earlier ones:

    /blog/2007/09/the-daystate-saga-part-4-moving-into-the-third-millenium/

    B.B.

  14. David,

    I’ll give that some thought. Carlos Hathcock has been so well-covered that all I can do is rehash some of his exploits – the most famous of which was used in the movie Saving Private Ryan. I’m referring to the shot through the enemy sniper’s telescope.

    And Mythbusters debunked that – not once, but twice.

    B.B.

  15. BB,

    This is off topic, sorry!

    I would like to tune (accurize) my airgun to the best it can do. How do I do it without a chrono? I just want to be realistic here and accept the limitations of my airgun without having to buy a new match barrel.

    How do I go about it? I mean what parameters should I look into? Crown, valve, gas port, what else and why?

    Thanks a lot.

    Dave

  16. BB,

    My rifle is CO2 powerplant. I know my barrel is somewhat mediocre, but since I have been tinkering, there are times I notice this rifle gives really tight groups at 20 yards, literally pellet piling upon pellet. Then, for reasons I do not understand, I lose that accuracy.

    Dave

  17. BB,

    I really enjoy your articles, they’re well written and informative. I’m hoping you can help me understand the effect of velocity vs. weight in this scenario…

    Assumptions:
    — 9mm and .50 fired with same muzzle energy
    — both under 900 FPS MV
    — bullets same design & proportions, “medium weight” for their respective calibers. So, I’m assuming 9mm is lighter and faster than .50.

    Question: how are the 2 bullets likely to compare to each other in these areas?
    — penetration
    — expansion
    — rate of velocity loss

    Thanks!

    Tedd

  18. Tedd,

    The 9mm has to be faster than the .50 to have the same energy, because it is lighter.

    The .50 will out-penetrate the 9mm. Expansion will be similar (perportionally) but the .50 starts out with a large advantage. The 9mm will lose velocity faster for a while, then it will be equal to the .50. That means it will retain velocity farther from the muzzle than the .50 becauase it started out faster.

    I know you wanted everything to be equal, but setting the ME equal means the velocty has to differ.

    B.B.

  19. BB,

    Re: 9mm vs .50…

    In case it matters, let’s compare penetration at the muzzle. If the .50 will out-penetrate the 9mm, is it because the .50 is heavier, even though it’s slower? (still given that both have the same energy)

    Tedd

  20. Tedd,

    Yes, the .50 will penetrate farther because of the greater weight. This is an old battle between large-caliber fans and high-velocity fans, and it seems it will never be over.

    Greater mass sheds energy slower. Or, put another way, which takes longer to stop, a car or a freight train, if both are travelling 10 m.p.h.?

    B.B.

  21. BB,

    I understand your car/train example, but it isn’t like my scenario because the car and train won’t have the same energy.

    To summarize, if the 9mm and .50 have the same design and initial energy, and the .50 is heavier and slower, it will penetrate more and lose velocity at a slower rate. Is that right? If so, then the heavier/slower one will have more penetration and more energy at any distance, right?

    It seems caliber doesn’t matter. If you have two 9mm of the same design and initial energy, the heavier/slower one will have more penetration and more energy, right?

    Thanks again!
    Tedd

  22. Tedd,

    You’re right about the car/train. But the car would explode on impact vif accellerated fast enough to have the same energy as the train. The train would just plow through.

    So, yes, a slower-moving projectile with greater mass penetrates deeper. Elmer Kieth proved that in his book, Sixguns.

    What you mean by your final 9mm question is really RETAINED energy. And mass retains energy better than velocity.

    B.B.

  23. BB,

    blogger.com has been giving me errors delaying my post here.

    Anyhow, my rifle is basically a philippine copy of the Crosman 160. It has a 19 inch steel barrel, cal .22, co2 powerplant. Over the years, I have tinkered with it, modified some in the valve, trigger, dremeled here and there in the hammer block, all sorts.

    Once in awhile I come up with splendid performance but this is not repeatable. Again mine is a trial and error since I do not have a chrono.

    As of now, I am toying with the idea that there is something in the pellet probe messing with the pellet skirt upon loading hence introducing error upon leaving the crown. Or maybe I need to redesign a probe that do not touch the skirt when loading.

    Thanks sir.

    Dave

  24. Dave,

    I have tested a number of Philippine CO2 rifles and can tell you their main problem is the barrel. It isn’t rifled very well. Look at the transfer port, which probably has burrs aroung the opening. Also, use the fattest pellets you can find. I used Eun Jins in one and it became more accurate.

    B.B.

  25. Re: 909s

    I’ve read guns like the 909 can be tuned for more power, any idea on these?
    — who does it and cost?
    — how much power is gained?
    — any change in accuracy?
    — any change in number of shots per air fill?

    Thanks!

  26. Tedd,

    Almost any airgun can be tuned, which seems to mean more power the way you are talking. Who does it is a problem, because I don’t know any reliable tuners for Korean big bores. No doubt there are some out there, but because they are below the radar, their work is difficult to assess.

    No additional accuracy from the gun, though as power increases you can use heavier bullets and no telling where that will lead.

    I would imagine a tuner could boost a 909 to 300-400 foot pounds pretty easily. It might cost $200-400.

    Big Bore Bob who tunes Quackenbush airguns might do the work. He’s at http://www.bigborebob.com

    B.B.

  27. i have a utg 96, just got it a month ago. its getting nice outside so its time to play with it. i was wondering what would be a good distance to sight it in at? id like to get it sighted in as far away as i can but wondering what would be a good starting distance?

  28. The scope you have listed will work fine on the 96. Since your shots will be limited to probably no more than 50 yards, it’s all the power you need, because the 96 is not a tight-grouping pellet rifle. All you need to see is the silhouette of your target.

    B.B.

  29. hey paul im getting this sniper hopfully sunday im also plaining on get a machine gun with at least 410fps with .20’s i have a broxa evolution but my dad fell down the stairs with it so the front plating came off, and my clip turning spring is breakin every so often so i want a new gun but that the same, im experinced at airsoft but im not sure what i want to get i dont want to spend more then 250$ i was thinkin the thompson but any othr ideas?

  30. Anonymous looking for machine gun ideas,

    Assume you’re referring to the Thompson cybergun M1A1? If so it has first rate reviews.

    Have you also considered the KSC M11A1 submachine gun? Maybe the HFC M190 full/semi auto pistol?

    Let us know what you end up choosing and how you like it. Please post your comments by clicking on “comments” under the MOST CURRENT ARTICLE that B.B. has written (B.B. writes a new article every day, Monday-Friday). Here’s the link that will always take you to the most current article (you’ll need to copy and paste):

    /blog//

    Look forward to seeing you there!

    kevin

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