by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- The artillery hold
- Today’s test
- The TX
- Test structure
- FWB 300 — best pellet
- TX200 — best pellet
- FWB300 — Qiang Yuan pellet
- TX200 — JSB Exact Premium pellet
- What has been learned?
Today’s report is a head-to-head match between the Air Arms TX 200 Mark III and the FWB 300 target rifle. A reader from the Netherlands, Dutchjozef, asked for this test more than a year ago. In fact I think it has been longer than 2 years since he asked.
I resisted because I couldn’t see the point of the test, but I did write it in my book and came across it several days ago when going over some old notes. We have a different readership today than we had two years ago and many of those who comment on the blog today are interested in things just like this. Was I being a fuddy-duddy for not doing it?
To my thinking, the FWB 300 is a 10-meter rifle, plain and simple. And the TX200 Mark III is a powerful long-range sporting air rifle. Having a shootoff between two guns like this is like racing a P51 fighter against a AA fuel dragster. They are two very fast machines, but they live in totally different worlds that have nothing in common.
But I realized a couple days ago that because conducting a test like this is so far-fetched, no one ever does it. And maybe that’s wrong. Sometimes you should try something just to see what happens. That’s how the artillery hold was invented.
The artillery hold
I was testing a scoped Beeman C1 carbine in my basement range in Maryland about 25 years ago and it wasn’t grouping well at 10 meters. So I read and re-read all the Beeman catalogs I had (we didn’t have much airgun literature in the early 1990s) and they said to hold the stock firmly. Well, I had been doing that without much luck. So I wondered just how bad it would be if I didn’t hold the rifle tight. Lo and behold, with a light hold the rifle grouped tighter than ever. I tested and re-tested it and got the same result each time. So I wrote a long letter to Dr. Beeman describing what I had discovered and said perhaps he could try it and see if he got similar results — maybe even put something into his catalog.
I sent that letter but never heard anything back. So several years later when Edith and I started The Airgun Letter, I made sure I wrote a lot about the artillery hold, as I now called it. The rest is history. Thousands of people have now discovered that a light hold on a recoilling spring rifle is exactly what’s needed for accuracy.
Today I’m testing the accuracy of a TX200 against an FWB 300. All shooting is at 10 meters because the FWB falls apart at longer distances. I’m using the most accurate pellets I have for both rifles, because I want both of them to do their best. For the FWB 300 that would be an H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet with a 4.50mm head that gave me a 0.094-inch group of 5 pellets four years ago. I may not be able to shoot that well today, but I will be shooting both rifles, so the test will be even.
Five H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets with 4.50mm heads gave me this 0.094-inch group at 10 meters from the FWB 300 on February 23, 2012. This is the best group I ever shot with this rifle. The same day I also got a 0.117-inch group with the same pellet.
I also thought I would try another premium pellet that I have never shot in this rifle. For that I chose the Qiang Yuan Olympic pellet.
I never really tested the TX200 at 10 meters, so I have no results from that distance. The closest I have recorded results for is 25 yards. At that distance the best pellet is the Crosman Premier heavy. We’ll just have to see what they can do at 10 meters today.
For the additional pellet in the TX I will shoot the JSB Exact Premier pellet. These are hand-sorted pellets that I have been wanting to test for a couple months. My problem was always how do I know what gun they will shoot well in? Today I’m giving them their first little test.
All shooting will be done at 10 meters. The rifles will be rested on a sandbag, the condition in which both rifles do their best. I will shoot some with each rifle to warm up the action, and then I will shoot two groups of the known best pellet and select the best one to show you. For the other pellet I will only shoot one group, because that pellet has no track record with either rifle.
I will only shoot 5 shots per target. These groups will be so small that they will probably all be in a single hole. Here we go!
FWB 300 — best pellet
After warming up the gun with five shots I shot two 5-shot groups with H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets. The second group was smallest at 0.16-inches between centers. Not as good as I have done in the past, but still pretty small. The larger group measured 0.228-inches between centers.
TX200 — best pellet
I warmed up the TX200 similarly. I also had to adjust the scope higher because this was 10 meters instead of the 25 yards it was sighted for. The best of the two groups shot with Premier heavies measures 0.198-inches between centers at 10 meters. The second group measured 0.217-inches. That’s pretty consistent!
The best group shot by the TX200 Mark III is five Crosman Premier heavies going into 0.198-inches at 10 meters.
FWB300 — Qiang Yuan pellet
Now I shifted to the unknown premium pellets for both rifles. The FWB was first. Five Qiang Yuan Olympic pellets went into 0.17-inches at 10 meters. That is so close to the best results with the Finale Match Rifle pellets that I think I have to try this pellet some more in this rifle!
TX200 — JSB Exact Premium pellet
Now it was the TX200’s turn. Five JSB Exact Premium pellets went into 0.252-inches at 10 meters. I don’t need to try any more of these in this rifle. They are clearly not a good pellet for this TX. That doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful in some other rifles — just not in this TX.
Incidentally, notice how small the group is that I’m calling bad for the TX200. That demonstrates the difference between a TS200 Mark III and most other spring piston air rifles. With most other spring rifles a group like this would have me dancing in the street.
What has been learned?
For starters I’m thankful that today’s test allowed me to shoot a couple of my favorite air rifles. Spending time with them for any reason is always a treat.
I went into the test thinking the TX would beat the FWB. It came close, but the FWB 300 was the more accurate rifle at 10 meters. So I did learn that. Perhaps Dutchjozef will tell us what he had hoped to see from today’s test.
And finally I have a new pellet to test in the FWB 300! That’s always good.