by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Let’s get right to it. I’m impressed by the function and quality of this sniper rifle. Less than five years ago, I critically tested a Classic Army M24 sniper rifle very similar in performance to this gun. That one sold for close to $300 new, then had about $800 of extensive gunsmithing done, but it wasn’t as nice as the UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 from the box.

For starters, the Classic Army had a 190 mainspring and powerplant upgrade to get it up to the same velocity this rifle gets from the beginning. That made the bolt extremely difficult to operate (I can’t remember whether it cocked on opening or closing). The UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 is very nearly as easy to cock as the Marui VSR-10 G-Spec, which is to say, very easy, indeed. And, it gets 160 f.p.s. higher velocity than the Marui at the same time! That’s what I find fascinating.

Many shooters are wary about scoping a rifle, but if you use the UTG Tactedge 4×40 scope that I recommend, you don’t have to be. This scope comes with the rings already on it, and all you have to do is clamp them to the Picatinny mount on top of the receiver. If the rings are in the wrong place to mount, loosen one ring and slide it forward or back until the rings fit the mount.

Mounting the bipod
You’ll want the bipod mounted before you start shooting because not only does it provide a steady rest for shooting – it also makes a great stand for when you want to set the gun down. It has a Weaver mount that couples with the short Picatinny rail extending from the front of the forearm. Two rails are left after the bipod is mounted, so there’s room for a tactical flashlight and a laser. If for any reason you want to quickly remove the bipod, the entire Picatinny rail is released from the forearm with the push of a button!

Firing behavior
Cocking is surprisingly easy, as you know. The feed from the magazine is 100 percent positive. The trigger-pull is strange because the trigger is one of those modern two-lever blades in which the thin blade is the first stage, but it works very well and the second stage is a crisp and repeatable 4.5 lbs.

The power level of the gun suggests 0.25-gram BBs, though the literature also says 0.20-gram BBs may be used. At 20 yards, the 0.20-gram balls gave 10-shot groups larger than three inches, which is not good for a sniper rifle. It also indicates that no amount of Hop-Up adjustment will probably tighten the group, since the BBs are scattering so fast in all directions.

20-yard 10-shot group of 0.20-gram BBs is not what we’re looking for.

But, 0.25-gram BBs were quite different, as you can see. They proved that this gun can be very accurate despite its low price.

10 0.25-gram BBs at 20 yards made a group we can be proud of.

Long-range accuracy
Once I was on paper at 20 yards, I went to the range, where I shot at a full-size silhouette at 50 yards. The rifle shot too high, so I would want to shim the front ring to lower it, but the results were quite satisfactory. You don’t shoot groups at 50 yards in the 15 m.p.h. winds I had to battle, but the preponderance of the shots did hit the target. Those that missed were always the BBs with voids. You can tell when you shoot one of them because they spin off wildly in all directions. While there is an adjustable Hop-Up, the rifle was so on target, except for the elevation, that I didn’t have to adjust it.

50 yards on a windy day is far for airsoft!

Is this gun a good deal? You bet it is! If you’re looking for an inexpensive sniper rifle that still has most of the performance of an expensive tuned gun, try the UTG Shadow Ops Type 96 from Pyramyd Air.