by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Lookalike and much more
- Combination tool
- Air reservoir
- Discharge sound
Lookalike and much more
The Sig ASP MCX Virtus PCP is a pellet-firing copy of Sig’s MCX Virtus Patrol rifle. The firearm weighs 7.9 lbs. The air rifle weighs 7.5 lbs. The air rifle is finished in gray, which is one of the finishes the firearm comes in. So there are a lot of similarities, but also a couple of important differences.
Sig is careful to report that the MCX Virtus Patrol is not an AR-15, because the buttstock folds to the left side of the rifle. There is no buffer tube on the Virtus firearm that an AR would require. The butt also adjusts to one of 5 positions to vary the length of pull. But the Virtus air rifle uses a 213cc air cylinder as its buttstock, so it neither folds nor adjusts for length.
That said, this air rifle does touch upon a wide range of interest areas for airgunners. I’ve already mentioned the lookalike aspect, but the Virtus does it with a difference. Most lookalikes are powered by CO2 and more emphasis is put on appearance than operation. There are a couple exceptions to that, but not many. Most are either BB guns or pellet guns that are useful to short distances, only.
The Virtus pellet rifle is a .22-caliber 12 foot-pound air rifle that is supposed to have excellent accuracy. That puts it ahead of most lookalikes. I shot it at Sig Range Day last month and once I started using the back up iron sights (BUIS) I found the rifle quite accurate. But I was shooting at steel swingers at 10-15 yards and judging accuracy by where the pellet was chipping paint off the paddle. I want to see how it performs in the real world — against paper targets at real distances.
Yes, I did say the Virtus is a .22 and gets up to 12 foot-pounds. That puts it into the realm of air rifles that can be used for hunting. American airgunners may not be used to that level of power but our UK cousins do it all the time with success.
And here is the big deal of the day. The Virtus is a true semiautomatic. That’s great for us, but it destroys the salability of the rifle in many other countries where semiautos are prohibited. So this one is for us, as in the US.
The Virtus is a .22 caliber 30-shot semiatomatic repeating pellet rifle. The firearm provides for caliber changes by swapping barrels, but I doubt the pellet rifle does or ever will. At least at this point there is no mention of that feature.
The air rifle is slightly over 37-inches long and the pull that cannot be adjusted is 13-1/2-inches long. The rifled barrel is 17-1/2-inches long. The flash suppressor that serves no purpose on an air rifle is the open-ended 3-pronged type that was on the M16 back in the 1960s.
The front sight adjusts similar to the AR-15 front sight, but you don’t need a 5.56mm cartridge to adjust it. Sig has included a combination tool in the grip cap to adjust the front sight, the rear sight, seat the pellet in each chamber of the magazine belt and tighten the Allen screw on the buttpad that slips over the end of the air tank. Not only is this tool invaluable for operating the Virtus, it’s also held in the grip cap tight, so there is no rattling sound.
The combination tool fits inside the pistol grip, where it is held tightly.
To load the magazine you remove the 30-round belt. Load each chamber then insert the belt back in the mag on the central track and push up. It loads and unloads quite easily.
Take the belt out of the magazine to load it.
I know most shooters will mount some kind of optical sight on the Virtus, but it does come with fully adjustable open sights that flip down out of the way when you don’t need them. The butt is straight and the butt pad doesn’t adjust, but with my face on the air tank and the rifle shouldered, the sights align perfectly.
The front sight is an open post flanked by two protective ears — very similar to an AR front sight. It adjusts up or down for elevation.
The front sight is a squared-off post that adjusts up and down.
The rear sight is a flip-up peep sight with a smaller hole for precision and a big one for rapid target acquisition. The combo tool has a flat screwdriver blade to adjust it for windage only.
The rear sight adjusts for windage and has an index scale for reference. There are two different peep holes to choose from.
There is a Mil Std 1913 Picatinny rail on top of the gun that is about 21 inches long, so there’s plenty of room to mount optional equipment. There are no other Picatinny rails on the rifle but the forearm has M-Lok slots on both sides and on the bottom. Even though the airgun Virtus forearm is made of polymer, there is a standard for mounting M-Lok accessories to a polymer forearm. Tighten both polymer and aluminum accessories to 15 inch-pounds.
The Virtus operates on a fill to 3,000 psi/206 bar. The tank will seem familiar to anyone who has used the Air Venturi 13-cubic-inch tank, as I did when testing the Sen-X Onyx crossbow. It has a male Foster fitting for filling and a gauge to tell you where the fill is. And of course it is regulated.
When I tested this at Sig Range Day it seemed very quiet, but I was wearing electronic earmuffs on the range and maybe they masked all the sound. Pyramyd Air says it’s a 4 out of 5 on the noise-ometer scale, which is pretty loud. We shall see.
It’s difficult to evaluate the trigger without shooting the rifle and that comes in Part 2, which is velocity day.
The Virtus cocks via a charging handle at the rear of the action. Pull straight back and release. Once cocked the rifle cocks automatically after every shot.
The safety is manual — hurrah! It’s located on the left side of the pistol grip where an M16 selector switch would be. There is no setting for full auto. If you served in the military the chances are you carried an M16 or M4 and the switch will seem natural.
The new Sig Virtus has a lot going for it. In this series I will test it in the normal way and, if the accuracy warrants it, I will push the limits a bit. This ought to be interesting so sit back and enjoy.