Comparing the TX200 Mark III and the Walther LGU

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

My report covers:

• This test
• Introduction
• Specifications
• TX200 Mark III Evaluation
• Walther LGU Evaluation
• Summary

This test
This will be the first official comparison test report I’ve ever written! I was opposed to comparison reports until it was recently pointed out to me that we buy electronics that way. Since I’d just purchased a new digital camera using the same method, that was hard to argue.

TX200 Mark III
TX200 Mark II from Air Arms is the high-water mark for spring rifles.

Walther LGU
Walther’s new LGU challenges the TX200. Is it serious?

Introduction
I selected the TX200 Mark III and the Walther LGU for this comparison. These are two high-end spring-piston airguns that are similar in price, features and quality. When a buyer looks at these guns, he should not be distracted by other spring guns or even by other powerplants. He wants a good, solid underlever spring-piston air rifle, and these 2 are at the top of the list.

New buyers may be confused by these 2 rifles that appear so similar. This report attempts to show their qualities as well as any differences between the rifles, so buyers can make an informed choice.

I’ve written several reports on the TX200. It’s been around longer, and I’ve tested it many times over the past few decades.

The Walther LGU is brand new, and the 4-part report I wrote about it was thorough, but cannot compete with the volume of reports I’ve written about the TX. It showed itself capable of shooting 10-shot groups that were slightly smaller than one inch at 50 yards, which means it’s a very accurate pellet rifle. With more testing, I’m sure this rifle would produce even better results. Here are some comparative specs:

Air Arms TX200 MK III and Walther LGU specs

TX200 Mark III Evaluation
The TX200 Mark III represents the highest point in the evolution of the spring-piston air rifle. It comes from the box with nearly zero vibration in the shot cycle and only a little recoil. Cocking is butter-smooth. The initial velocity of the several rifles I’ve tested over the years has varied from 875 to 915 f.p.s., but within a few thousand shots it was over 930 f.p.s. (with Premier lites) for all of them. My personal rifle, which is over 10 years old and has over 10,000 shots on the powerplant (with no tuning of any kind), now averages 963 f.p.s. with the Crosman Premier lite.

The stock is profiled for the sport of field target, which makes this rifle ideal for hunting and shooting offhand, but also works well in a bag rest. A flat spot on the forearm just forward of the trigger is ideal for the off hand. The rifle balances with a pronounced muzzle-heaviness that competitors feel makes the gun more stable. The pistol grip is very vertical and deeply scalloped for either right- or left-handed shooters, but be sure to get the model you need, for the stock is dedicated only to one side of the body. The left-hand stock also moves the pellet-loading port to the left. All other things are the same as they are on the gun with the right-hand stock.

The rifle has baffles built into a shrouded barrel. The shooter cannot detect any sound reduction, because the sound of the powerplant is conducted through the facial bones, but bystanders can tell the TX200 Mark III is a very quiet spring rifle.

The safety comes on automatically when the rifle’s cocked, and it’s located on the left rear of the receiver, where it favors a right-handed shooter.

Some shooters feel the TX200 is heavy. It certainly is heavier than you want to carry while hunting all day unless you add a sling. The weight does add to the stability of the rifle when it’s fired, and competitors find the weight to be a plus.

The TX200 Mark III has superior accuracy. I’ve shot 10-shot groups at 50 yards that were as small as 0.658 inches between centers, though one-inch groups are by far more common.

The finish of the wood and metal are flawless. This is a rifle you will be proud to pass on to your heirs.

Walther LGU Evaluation
The Walther LGU comes to this comparison as the contender. Its rival has been around since the late 1980s, while the LGU was launched in 2014. A cursory examination of the size, weight, layout of controls and form of the stock shows the designers were well aware of who their competition was. In fact it might seem that the LGU is just a copy of the TX200. That would be incorrect. There are several differences between the rifles

The LGU has a higher comb and cheekpiece on both sides of its butt, which elevates the eye high. High scope mounts can be used easily. The trigger is adjustable, but not to the same extent as the TX trigger. So, the trigger-pull is measured in pounds rather than ounces, once adjustments have been made. The trigger does break cleanly and crisply.

The LGU has a muzzlebrake with one large chamber that does quiet the report. But like all other spring rifles, the shooter’s face touches the stock where all the powerplant noise gets transmitted through the facial bones. Others will hear a quiet report, but to the shooter it will sound loud.

There’s a buzz when the rifle fires. It isn’t annoying, but the shooter will be aware that it’s there. The recoil is very moderate.

The shape of the stock differs from the TX stock in that finger grooves are on either side of the forearm. The tip of the forearm ends in a decorative schnable. The LGU stock is also ambidextrous, with a rollover cheekpiece. The automatic safety is located on the tang — equally convenient to either hand.

Both rifles have similar power; but when I tested a brand-new gun, the LGU was a bit slower than advertised. The TX starts out around 900 f.p.s. with Premier lites and keeps increasing in velocity as it’s shot. The Walther LGU starts just under 900 f.p.s. and will probably increase with use, though my testing was not sufficient to evaluate that. In my limited testing, there seemed to be about a 30-40 f.p.s. difference between the rifles in favor of the TX200 Mark III, though this may vanish as the LGU breaks in.

At 50 yards, the LGU put 10 pellets into less than one inch. While the groups it shot weren’t as small as the best group shot with the TX200 Mark III, I didn’t shoot it as many times at that distance, either. Since this is a brand-new rifle, it hasn’t had the testing exposure that the TX has had. Figure the accuracy to be the same for both rifles.

Fit of the stock and finish of the metal is equal to that of the TX200.

Summary
These two rifles appear very similar on paper. When you shoot them, though, you find the TX200 Mark III to be the more sophisticated and refined air rifle. But the Walther LGU has good bones and should be able to be tuned to equal its rival in all areas except the trigger. Although it has an adjustable trigger, it’s not as refined as the trigger on the TX.


If I could keep just one…

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• Silly exercise
• What’s the point?
• Airguns I like
• My one airgun
• Firearms
• See where this is going?
• My one firearm
• What this tells me
• How my life has changed

…what would it be? Not long ago, blog reader Kevin asked me this question and I promised to get back to him with an answer. Today, I’m keeping that promise, although I’m not at all positive that in a year my answer won’t be different.

Kevin asked what airgun and what firearm I would keep. There were no other guidelines beyond the number one — of each. This isn’t the first time he’s asked a question like this. Earlier this year, he asked me what guns I enjoyed shooting, and I wrote a blog titled What would B.B. shoot?

Here is what he asked me this time.

“B.B.,
Some of us have gone through difficult financial times, some of us are going through difficult financial times and some of us will go through difficult financial times in the future.
For this reason I’m very interested to hear what the ONE airgun is that you would keep and the ONE firearm is that you would keep while you would endure a financial crisis.
This is not a “WHAT GUNS I KEPT AND WHY” this is a ONE airgun and ONE firearm question.
kevin”

Silly
This is such a silly exercise — don’t you think? At least it is until you try to form an answer. Because to do that, you have to think about all the airguns and firearms you own, as well as the ones you have owned in the past — and I suppose you can throw in any you might like to own but never have. Once you have all of them in front of you, it’s time to weed through the mass and see what comes out the other side.

What’s the point?
There is no point to this. Nobody is ever going to be confronted with this decision in quite this way, so why bother thinking about it? Well, it does force you to think about things at a fundamental level — a sort of giant who-do-you-love-and-why game. And Edith and I did actually go through it — not once but twice.

Airgun first
Because I write about airguns, you probably think it’s harder for me to pick a single airgun, but it’s not. It’s actually much easier. When all the facade of accuracy, power and performance is stripped away and I’m no longer thinking about survival on a desert island or how many pellets I can carry in a backpack, the choice of a single airgun becomes simple. I shoot airguns for fun, when all is said and done.

Shooting for fun means I don’t have to justify an airgun based on its power, long-range accuracy, nostalgia, value or anything beyond how much fun I derive from shooting it. That narrows it down a lot, but not to a single gun. I suppose there are at least a dozen, but probably more like 25 nice airguns that I really enjoy shooting.

Airguns I like
For example, I like to shoot my Beeman R8. It isn’t powerful, but at 25 yards I know I can put a pellet within a quarter-inch of the aim point every time. The trigger is light and crisp, and the Burris 4.5-14×32 scope is so clear and sharp that the rifle is a delight to shoot. But it’s not my one airgun!

I also really like my Crosman Mark I target pistol that holds so well and has such a beautiful trigger. But it’s not my one airgun, either.

My one airgun
The one airgun I would keep, after having to get rid of all others, is my little .22-caliber Diana model 27. It’s not really powerful enough to hunt with, but that’s not why I’m keeping it. I’m keeping it because it’s simple and accurate, light and easy to cock. It’s an all-day airgun that I just enjoy shooting very much.

Diana model 27 breakbarrel air rifle
The Diana model 27 — this one badged as a Hy-Score 807 — is my favorite airgun. It isn’t powerful, but it’s light, accurate and has a great trigger. That’s all I need.

I’ve owned several Diana 27s over the years. The first one was a rust bucket that I bought for $18 in a pawnshop in Radcliff, Kentucky, while stationed at Ft. Knox in the late 1970s. It looked terrible. You needed a tetanus shot just to hold it! But it shot like a dream, cocked smoothly and was accurate. I fell in love with it and the love has endured.

The second .22-caliber Diana 27 I ever owned is the one shown in the above picture. I bought it from the late Richard Schmidt at the Winston-Salem airgun show (the forerunner of the Roanoke show) in 1993. I paid $110 for it, which was way too much; but for some reason, they all went for way too much back then — and they still do today.

I pulled that rifle apart and lube-tuned it for my Airgun Letter and learned how to assemble the squirrel-cage of parts that Diana calls a ball-bearing trigger. I later pulled the gun apart a second time and tuned it, again, for a different magazine article. Since then, it’s never been apart. That was more than a decade ago.

Some time in the late 1990s, I wrote an article about how to adjust the ball-bearing trigger. Diana triggers can be adjusted very fine if you know what you’re doing; and, oddly enough, all you need is the owner’s manual to learn how. Or you can just read the blog I wrote about it.

Every time I chronograph this rifle, I’m reminded of just how weak it is (under 500 f.p.s.). But that doesn’t matter. I don’t shoot airguns for their power — that would be futile. I shoot them for fun, and the Diana 27 has more fun per pound than any other airgun I know of. When I worked on the Bronco project, the Diana 27 was my inspiration.

The third Diana 27 I owned was a Winchester model 427. It’s now owned by one of our readers. Why did I sell it? Because I didn’t need two perfect airguns.

Don’t think that I don’t love many of my airguns a lot, because I really do. My Air Arms TX200 Mark III gives me immense joy, and of course I love my Whiscombe JW75. But the last airgun I’ll sell is the Diana 27.

Firearms
What was far more difficult was to choose from all my firearms. I have been quite blessed at this time of my life to own some of the finest firearms that exist. My Wilson Combat CQB is especially dear to me, not only because of what a wonderful shooter it is, but also because it was a very special gift from Edith. I have a Dillon press permanently set up to reload .45 ACP ammo, and I cast all my own bullets for the round. While the rest of the world pays inflated prices for ammunition, I’m set to reload tens of thousands of rounds at less than a nickel a round. I can’t shoot .22 rimfire as cheaply as I can shoot this pistol. But it isn’t the one firearm I would keep.

Speaking of gifts, the readers of this blog gave me a Single Action Army revolver that means the world to me. I remember coming home from the hospital several years ago and seeing that revolver for the first time. I wasn’t strong enough to hold it up to shoot, and my eyes would need another year to regain their strength, but I got out to the range with that revolver just as soon as I could. Every time I look at it, I think of you blog readers.

I shoot that handgun several times a year, and it always makes me smile when I do. The gun has an authentic fire blue finish that Colt put on their guns during the 19th century, and mine looks brand new. It’s a gorgeous handgun, but it’s not the firearm I would keep.

Single Action
The single-action revolver I received from the readers of this blog is one of my favorite firearms. It shoots as nice as it looks.

I could go on and on with this thought process. Certainly, I would keep the Ballard. I certainly would not! While it’s intriguing and a beautiful rifle, there’s nothing practical about a Ballard built in 1876. The one firearm I keep has to be practical.

Ballard
The Ballard rifle is beautiful and accurate, but it isn’t the all-around firearm I need.

What about a nice .22 rimfire? I certainly own several of them, and lots of various kinds of ammo that would last me a long time — no? No. A .22 rimfire is not universal enough for me. Since I reload, I can turn almost any firearm into a .22 rimfire if I want to. What I need is a firearm that can be something more than a rimfire if the occasion calls.

See where this is going?
I am heading for a firearm that is as universal as it can be. Through reloading, it can be made to plink or pop squirrels, but it can also kill a grizzly bear if needed.

It has to be reliable, so complex is out and simple is in. That eliminates all semiautomatics.

It has to be accurate; but in my gun collection, there are no inaccurate arms. I just don’t keep them. On the same note, I don’t need my universal firearm to be suited for target use, so super-accurate guns with big scopes are also out. In fact, the scopes would eliminate the guns all by themselves.

My one firearm
The one firearm I would keep if all the others had to go would be my 1903A3 Springfield. It has a rugged bolt-action that has been proven over more than a century, and this one has adjustable peep sights that maximize the potential for accuracy. I’ve shot 5-shot groups under 2 inches at 100 yards, so the accuracy is all that I need.

When I reload, I have a choice of 5 lead bullets I can cast to produce everything from a .32 automatic up to a full-blown .30-06, if I need it. The cheapest rounds I make cost around 5 cents, and the most expensive costs under 50 cents. That’s so much better than anything I can buy; but if I do buy, this caliber is certainly ubiquitous throughout most of the civilized world.

I have around a thousand empty cartridges; and with my reduced loads I’ll get several hundred firings from each of them. And with reduced loads, I can use pistol powders and primers. So, ammunition will never be a problem.

O3A3 Springfield
The O3A3 Springfield is a plain-jane rifle, but it’s everything I need if I can only have one.

I got this rifle from my friend, Mac, but that’s not why I’m keeping it. He sold it because it kicks pretty hard. But I discovered the secret. Soldiers wore field jackets and coats in the field, and the short pull of their rifles was compensated for by the thick clothing. When I shoot this rifle with powerful loads, I always wear a heavy jacket. The rest of the time a t-shirt is all I need. I can hit a pop can at 100 yards every time with my reloads, shooting from a prone or supported position.

What does this tell me?
Kevin forced me to look at my shooting from a very practical standpoint today. It wasn’t sentimentality that helped me decide. And it wasn’t value or beauty. It was utility.

I hope I never have to make a choice like this, because it would break my heart to say goodbye to many of my airguns and firearms. But now I know the two I would keep under any circumstance.

How the blog changed my life
Kevin’s question prompted me to do more than just think about guns. This blog has had a major impact on my life. And from the comments many of you make, I believe it’s also impacted your lives.

If you want to help me better understand my readers, I invite you to send me an email telling me the impact that this blog has had on your life. Pyramyd Air has created a special temporary email address for this. I’ll be the only person to get these emails, and we’re not going to generate any lists from the addresses.

My plan is to publish one or more blog reports with the more interesting comments. If you want, I will use your real name or blog handle; but you can be anonymous, too. I won’t use your name or handle unless you give me written permission to do so.

This email address will be live for only a few weeks. We have tens of thousands of readers worldwide. Even if you’ve never commented on the blog, you can email me your message if you like. If you’re reading this blog after July 2014, email submissions will no longer be forwarded to me, and you may get an auto-reply email stating that or your email might bounce back to you.

This could be interesting. I have no idea what will happen.


Are we finished?

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

In almost every field of mature consumer technology, there’s a sense that the science and achievement have gone as far as they possibly can. The days of innovation are over and, from this time forth, all new models will be repaints and reskins of what’s gone before. So it is with airguns.

So the question must be asked, “Is this all there is for airguns?”

Today, I’m going to try to hopefully restore your faith that airgun technology still has new frontiers to be explored. There are still new things yet to come; we haven’t opened the last of our presents, yet. In fact, in my opinion, there’s more that lies ahead of us than all that’s happened so far.

I periodically give new ideas to several companies just to gauge how quick they are to grasp the possibilities. Often, they give lip-service to ideas that sound like they want to advance the technology; but in over 95 percent of the cases, my ideas remain unexplored. In the few cases that do get developed, over half veer sharply off-course during development and end up as hopeless failures. In terms of what’s possible, I think there are a thousand acres of fertile land lying before us and, at present, we only have a hoe — or at best a rototiller — to work the soil.

Spring-gun technology
Some folks may think we’ve gone as far as we can go with springers because we’ve hit the maximum velocity barrier. They think that nothing is left for airgun companies, short of reskinning existing models and coming up with new buzzword names and bizzare camo paint patterns for the stocks! But they’re missing the boat. No one yet has built a spring rifle that is easy to cock, yet produces over 20 foot-pounds. I’m talking about a rifle that cocks with 20 lbs. of force, and delivers a medium-weight .22-caliber pellet out the spout at 850 f.p.s.

Can it be done? Of course! I’ve even given the concept of how to do it to one company, where it’s currently lying on the floor, getting trampled by engineers who are busy designing great new ways to encapsulate 30 foot-pounds into ever less-expensive envelopes.

How about a spring gun that can put 10 pellets into a dime at 30 yards? We know that’s possible because there are several such rifles already in existence. The FWB 124 is one, and the TX200 is another. But the bulk of the new models coming out today are hard-pressed to keep 10 shots inside an inch-and-a-half at that distance. We’ve explored the very way to make a rifle shoot that well here in this blog, yet we keep getting new spring guns that are designed as exercise machines, rather than for shooting. If you want to know how to make a spring gun more accurate, refer to this blog report.

Precharged technology
Surely, we’ve seen the ultimate in PCP possibilities? The answer is “Yes,” if by ultimate we mean finding out how much the market is willing to bear in terms of cost. But there are places the PCP technology has yet to go. How inexpensive can a gun of reasonable quality be? Can we make a PCP that can sell for $150 and still return a reasonable profit? I think it’s possible. Maybe not under the existing manufacturing paradigm; but if a new process of building was created at the same time as the design, then, yes, I think it could be done.

But, the marketeers all shrink from such thoughts. Where’s the profit in a low-cost air rifle? A century ago, a man asked the same thing about automobiles. He took the average price for an entry-level car from over $800 to under $400 inside of 15 years. In the process, he created the world’s first vertically integrated manufacturing plant and also put humanity on wheels. I’m speaking of Ford, of course. I understand he was able to make a few dollars along the way.

Optics
Leapers will bring out a scope with an internal bubble level in a few months. That’s an idea that’s been bubbling along for years, pun intended. Such scopes were hand-made in the 1990s and Sun Optics makes them today, but their models don’t achieve their rated magnifying levels. Leapers has worked on this idea for several years, and they’re close to bringing a quality optic to market. The bubble level will end the problem of canting, which is extremely important to accuracy for airgunners.

Are we finished with optics? Never! There are still so many things to be done. Where is that great air pistol scope, for example? And where’s that scope base that makes mounting a scope easy? Benjamin uses Weaver bases on many of their springers, which is a step in the right direction. We need more of that.

When Leapers made the drooper mount bases for Diana rifles, they solved a decades-long problem for airgunners. However, they did even more than that. They focused Diana’s attention on the problem and the need to end the drooping barrel problem. If airgun barrels didn’t droop, drooper mounts wouldn’t be required. The Diana 350 Magnum proves that it’s possible to make breakbarrels that don’t droop.

What about a simple, foolproof scope-mounting system? Where’s that? When the market supports people paying money to have their scopes mounted by someone else, you know there’s room for improvement.

Open sights
There’s plenty of room in the world of open sights for improvement. For starters, how about a muzzlebrake that incorporates a front sight post, or even a selection of front sight elements that can be folded out of sight and stored when you want to mount a scope? Wouldn’t that be welcomed by a lot of shooters?

Triggers
While the technology has advanced in so many areas, the one place it has actually gone in retrograde is the trigger. There were better triggers in the 1880s than exist today. We still rely on the simple sear with a small contact area, when there’s a universe of mechanical possibilities yet to be explored. An over-center geometry that collapses when pushed past center is just one way to build a reliable adjustable trigger. And people make so much of triggers that I’m certain there would be a small but profitable market for a single-set or double-set trigger as an upgrade on certain premium airguns.

Borelines
Chiappa figured out that if the barrel of their Rhino revolver was lower, the perceived muzzle jump would be less. We need air pistols that do the same.

Sling anchors
Hunting is growing fast these days, and everyone who goes afield knows the value of a sling. There’s certainly a market for a easy-to-use sling swivel attachment that could be conveniently installed on an air rifle. Mossberg had them in the 1940s, but nobody ever looks to the past to find the things we need now.

Things to avoid
While thinking of the things we need, there are some things that must be avoided….

More power in spring guns
The horsepower race among smallbore spring-piston airguns has painted several companies into the corner. They can’t find enough adjectives to describe their next new magnum gun. What they fail to realize is that the parade has already passed by the power race. The max velocity possible is well-known and now shooters are looking for a gun with adequate power that can also hit what they shoot at. I’ll agree that the uneducated buyers don’t understand this yet, but the moment they get saddled with a jackhammer that takes 50 lbs. to cock and removes their fillings when it fires…they will. They’ll also leave airgunning, never to return!

Higher fill pressure
The usefulness of higher fill pressures has peaked and gone past the optimum, into the weeds of excessive pressure that offers no benefit. We thought that 3,000 psi was necessary until Tim McMurray and Crosman showed us different with the USFT and Benjamin Discovery rifles, respectively. Going higher than 3,000 psi is the marketing kiss of death, because nothing in this nation supports such pressure.

Scopes of higher magnification
I used to shoot field target, and we thought the higher-powered scopes were necessary for success. We thought that because we wanted to be able to see blades of grass at 55 yards, so we could focus on them and be able to determine range. When the magnification passed 40x, the scopes started getting darker because the optics inside couldn’t support that great power. And we were unwilling to pay the $2,000 required to buy the kind of optics that could. Instead of chasing magnification or objective lens size, what the optics companies need to do is come up with an erector tube that doesn’t float when it gets too high or right in its adjustment.

In summary
These are just a few of my thoughts. I think there has never been greater opportunity for new airguns than right now. There’s an established base of educated shooters who understand airguns well enough to accept a good new gun and make it profitable for the builder. In that respect, we’re much better off than we were a decade ago. But are the airgun makers in the same position? Only time will tell.


Testing the Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we begin, we have an announcement. On July 7, we showed you a short video tour of Pyramyd Air’s new website. Today, we’re including a second tutorial that’ll show you some more new features. The site is still in the beta stage, and we’re making daily improvements based on customer feedback.

Now, let’s get to today’s report

Part 1
Part 2


The Air Arms Pro-Sport underlever rifle has a unique look and style.

Today is accuracy day, and I know some of you have been anticipating this part of the report very eagerly. We learned in Part 2 that the Air Arms Pro-Sport performs about the same as a TX200 Mark III out of the box and that it will speed up as it breaks in. We looked at the cocking linkage, which most shooters find to be awkward, but we also learned that the cocking effort of 40 lbs. is not that much greater than that of the TX200.

Of course, the trigger is identical to the one found on both the TX200 Mk III and the TX200 Hunter Carbine, and it would be difficult to find a better sporting airgun trigger anywhere. It’s based on the Weihrauch Rekord, but it has more adjustability that allows you to finesse the trigger exactly the way you like it.

A question of style
Up to this point, then, the main difference between a TX200 Mk III and a Pro-Sport is a question of style versus convenience. Do you like the sleek shape of the Pro-Sport enough to put up with the location of the cocking lever fulcrum? Many shooters will. So, then, is the Pro-Sport as accurate as the TX200? That’s what we’ll learn today.

Scope
I wanted to give the test rifle every chance to excel, so I mounted the fine Hawke 4.5-14x42AO Sidewinder scope on the gun. I gave the Hawke its very own test report back in March of this year and have used it on a couple other rifles that promised superlative accuracy. While it certainly won’t make an airgun more accurate, it will allow all the accuracy that’s present to emerge.


The Hawke 4.5-14x Sidewinder scope is a good match for the Pro-Sport.

The accuracy test
I shot the rifle off a rest, indoors, at 25 yards to give it every possible advantage. The sight-in pellet was JSB’s Exact dome that weighs 8.4 grains. I had a feeling it would be an accurate pellet in this rifle — and it was!

This pellet fit the breech of the rifle very well — not too loose, but also not tight. This is important for a rifle that has a sliding breech because you often have the muzzle elevated when you load the pellet.

The best group I got with this JSB pellet was ten shots into 0.365 inches at 25 yards. There was a small amount of movement to the rifle when I held it and that no doubt enlarged the group. The movement was due to an odd balance (for me) to the rifle. It’s very light in the muzzle, and that allows the muzzle to move around more than I like.


Ten JSB 8.4-grain domes went into this group measuring 0.356 inches at 25 yards.

Next, I tried Air Arms Falcon pellets. At just 7.3 grains, they’re very light and fast, yet they also fit the bore of the gun pretty well. If anything, they’re a trifle loose in the breech.

But at 25 yards, they grouped even better than the JSBs. I was still struggling to hold the rifle steady, so some of the 0.317 inches of group was due to my wobble, but it’s still a pretty impressive target.


Air Arms Falcon pellets tightened things even more, as this 0.317-inch group demonstrates.

Then, I thought I’d try some heavier pellets. First up was the Beeman Kodiak dome. But right from the start I could see that this is not the right pellet for the Pro-Sport, so I didn’t continue testing it. Next, I tried the JSB Exact dome that weighs 10.2 grains. It was another non-starter. Apparently, the Pro-Sport likes light pellets, and that’s all there is to it.

The last pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier that weighs 7.9 grains, and it proved to be the most accurate pellet of all in the test rifle. I shot only a single group that measured 0.256 inches, but it was even smaller than that until the final shot. For some reason, these Premier Lites act like they’re on rails when shot from this rifle, so I tried an experiment that I haven’t tried in a long time.


Though it doesn’t look much smaller than the previous group of Falcons, this batch of 10 Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets measures just 0.256 inches between centers.

Shooting directly off the bag
I rested the rifle directly on the sandbag instead of on my hand and proceeded to shoot the first five shots into a hole that would have measured about one-tenth of an inch. Of course, the rifle has to be taken off the bag to cock every time, so each time it must be laid exactly where it was before or the point of impact will change. On shot six, I didn’t get it right, and I knew I wasn’t in quite the same place when I settled in. But I shot anyway and ruined the group. The next two shots were also outside the tight original group and the final shot went back to the original group, but hit on the edge and opened it up. The group doesn’t look very good, but the ramifications are wonderful! As long as you’re very careful to place the rifle in exactly the same place every time, the Pro-Sport is a spring gun you can shoot directly off a sandbag. I knew the TX200 could do it, but this is the first time I’ve tried it with the Pro-Sport.


Even fired straight off a sandbag rest, the Pro-Sport grouped surprisingly well. The openness of this group was due to imprecise positioning of the rifle on the rest.

Muzzle report
Is the Pro-Sport a quiet air rifle? While I lack the instruments to measure the sound, I do have a good backup way of assessing whether the air rifle makes too much noise. Punky, one of our three cats, laid slightly to the right of the muzzle the entire time I shot this test. The only movement I detected from him was one time when he yawned.

Lest you think this was a setup, allow me to explain that you cannot pose a cat. They either do what their agents request or they do what they like, but they certainly don’t pose. For Punky to have slept through the entire shooting session was a good indication that this rifle is not loud.


Punky slept through the entire session. Though it doesn’t look like it from this angle, the rifle is about 18 inches above the cat.

Conclusions
At this point, I feel I can make a good judgement of the Air Arms Pro-Sport. It’s everything I remembered and perhaps something I didn’t remember. The power and accuracy are certainly in the same class as the TX200. What I didn’t remember was how light the muzzle is, or how much that affects my shooting. I guess I need the extra weight out at the muzzle to stabilize the rifle.

I’m so glad I got a chance to test this rifle the way that I did. Although it wasn’t a direct comparison with the TX200, it felt like one. I can certainly see the styling that many shooters find so attractive in the Pro-Sport. The TX is much blockier or club-like in that respect. I have always been a function-over-form kind of guy, and so the TX200 wins the day in my book. But I can see why so many shooters like the Pro-Sport.

You certainly cannot go wrong with this rifle. You may have to learn how to cock and shoot it. Once you do, you’ll have a rifle you can be proud of for the rest of your life.


Testing the Air Arms Pro-Sport: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


The Air Arms Pro-Sport underlever rifle has a unique look and style. This one is stocked in walnut.

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the Air Arms Pro-Sport, plus a few additional things. Because I also tested my TX200 Mark III with the same pellets, I’ll give you a comparison of the two. I normally don’t do that because I think it’s dangerous and can lead to bias, whether intentional or not. But when people contemplate buying one of these rifles, it usually comes down to a choice between one or the other. Other underlevers — like the Beeman HW 97K — are never in contention when these two are on the line. That’s not a slur against the 97. It’s just that when an airgunner starts considering one of these two Air Arms guns, the field narrows very fast.

This will not be a fair test because the Pro-Sport I’m looking at is brand new and my TX200 has been broken in with thousands of shots over the years. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that Air Arms spring rifles do get a lot faster when they break in. A lot faster. I’ll attempt to extrapolate the Pro-Sport numbers out to a gun that’s broken in for you. I’ve owned two TX200s and one Pro-Sport, as well as having tested many other Air Arms spring rifles, so I have some experience with this.

My TX200 still has its factory tune. I’ve opened the gun, but I haven’t tuned it because it kept on getting faster and faster just as it was. Although it’s well broken-in, nothing special has been done to the powerplant.

Velocity test
First thing, let’s test its velocity. Crosman Premiers weighing 7.9 grains are first up. They’re such a standard for accurate spring rifles like the Pro-Sport that they must always be included in any accuracy testing, so of course they get tested for velocity as well.

Premier lites averaged 909 f.p.s. in the test rifle. They ranged from 892 to 918, but you must remember that this is a new gun and will settle down some as it gets more shots on the powerplant. At the average velocity, the gun produces 14.5 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. In comparison, my broken-in TX200 averages 961 f.p.s with the same pellet, for an energy of 16.2 foot-pounds. The last time I tested the velocity of this pellet in my rifle, it was in the 930 f.p.s. region, so it’s still increasing in power. When it was brand new, the same rifle averaged less than 900 f.p.s. with Premier lites, so I would guess that the Pro-Sport will shoot at least as fast as this one when it’s broken in.

Next up are JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes. They averaged 863 f.p.s. in the Pro-Sport and ranged from 858 to 875 f.p.s. At the average speed, they produced 13.89 foot-pounds of energy. By comparison, the well broken-in TX200 averaged 915 f.p.s. and averaged 15.62 foot-pounds. I think you could expect the Pro-Sport to equal or surpass that number when it’s completely broken in.

The final pellet I tested was the venerable lightweight RWS Hobby wadcutter. The Pro-Sport launched them at an average 1003 f.p.s., with a spread of velocities from 997 to 1011 f.p.s. That’s very tight for such a light pellet. At the average velocity, they churned out 15.64 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. In contrast, the TX200 sent them downrange at 1065 f.p.s., for an average muzzle energy of 17.63 foot-pounds.

Trigger-pull
I then measured the trigger-pull of the Pro-Sport. It broke crisply at exactly one pound, and that’s right out of the box! No other sporting spring rifle trigger I’ve tested has been so right-on from the start. My broken-in TX200 trigger has been adjusted by me to release at 8 oz. and is every bit as crisp as the trigger in the Pro-Sport. But they’re the same unit, so the Pro-Sport trigger should adjust to the same place as my TX200.

Cocking effort
I’ve said a lot about the Pro Sport’s cocking effort, because the location of the fulcrum for the underlever puts the force in a tough spot to handle. However, on my bathroom scale, this rifle requires just 40 lbs. to cock. My broken-in TX200 needs 35 lbs. to cock, so they’re closer than you might think. You’ll just have to find the best way to position the Pro-Sport to cock it.

Firing behavior
The Pro-Sport started out very buzzy when the velocity test began; but after just a few shots, perhaps as few as three, it got noticeably smoother. There’s still a hint of buzz, but it’s nothing like it was in the beginning. The TX200 is dead calm and always has been.

Where are we now?
I hope this comparison is helping those who are undecided between these two fine air rifles. What I say about the Pro-Sport getting faster as it breaks in is something I know to be fact. But I wasn’t as aware of the fact that it would also get smoother. I wish I could put a couple thousand shots on it and do a follow-up report for you, but perhaps some lucky reader will buy this gun and do just that for us down the road.

Next, I’ll test accuracy, and I don’t see running a comparison with the TX200 for that one. The Pro-Sport has always been an accurate gun and can stand on its own in that regard.


Testing the Air Arms Pro-Sport : Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

I love my job! Today, I’ll start a report on a rifle I have been commenting about on this blog for the past six years. The Air Arms Pro-Sport. The rifle I received is in .177 caliber, but it also comes as a .22. I asked for the .177 because this rifle is one that turns up at field target matches from time to time.


The Air Arms Pro-Sport underlever rifle has a unique look and style. This one is stocked in walnut.

Before I forget, the serial number is 105224. When I mentioned that I would be reporting about this rifle a few weeks ago, one reader noted that it was priced significantly higher than the TX200 Mark III, and he wondered if it was worth the extra money. I checked and, indeed, the Pro-Sport with the beech stock now costs $110 more than a similar TX200. A walnut stock adds another $130 to that. So the question is: Is that expensive?

Descended from royalty
Not from my perspective, it isn’t. What you may not know is that this rifle copies the Venom Mach II that was handmade for a brief time by Ivan Hancock. That rifle cost over $4,000 way back in the 1990s; and when the Pro-Sport came out at a tiny fraction of that price, it allowed mere mortals, including me, to own one. The problem was that I’d shot the $4,000 rifle extensively and expected the Pro-Sport to shoot the same. That’s like thinking that a Cobra replicar, as nice as they are, is like a genuine Cobra made by Carroll Shelby. They’re not the same, no matter how much they may look alike. But, I couldn’t get the feeling of that fine custom rifle out of my head, and frankly the Pro-Sport I owned paled in comparison.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since those days. I thought it was high time I tested another Pro-Sport to give it every chance to live up to its heritage. Yes, it still has its TX200 sibling to contend with, but the impression of the handmade rifle has dimmed enough to let me at least appear to be impartial.

Underlever
It may not appear to be an underlever when you look at the profile, but it most certainly is. It follows the style created by BSA with their Airsporter series rifles back in the 1940s, where the underlever is concealed within the forearm. This is not as unique as you think, because Falke used it for their models 80 and 90, as well as Anschutz for the Hakim trainer and possibly others as well. But the lines of the Pro-Sport are so svelt as to mislead the viewer from the actual power source. So, I’ll show it here with the cocking lever extended to let you know where it lives.


Now you know where the underlever hides when it’s not in use.

This arrangement of the underlever does lead to an operational tradeoff. I’ve said that the Pro-Sport is hard to cock. Indeed, I waited this long to test it so my hernia surgery could heal. In fact, it isn’t that the cocking effort is that high as much as where they had to put the fulcrum to hide the lever inside the forearm. It’s located way back toward the rear of the rifle; and when you cock it, you soon run out of the leverage that’s always there in rifles whose levers are located in the forward position. So, prepare yourself mentally for a harder cocking effort with this rifle; and if that seems like a good tradeoff for the sleeker look, then you’ve made the right choice.

On the plus side, there’s no ratcheting lever release on the side of the Pro-Sport. It acts just like an air rifle from the 1950s, except for the automatic safety. Pull the cocking lever down until it cocks, load the pellet and close the lever. Nothing else to do. Owners of other rifles with sliding breeches, including the TX200, are used to pushing buttons before the cocking lever can be moved back to the stowed position, but not on this gun.

Baffled barrel shroud
All the years American airgunners have been debating the legality of barrel shrouds, Air Arms has been steadily selling them on their rifles. The Pro-Sport has a baffled shroud that entirely conceals a barrel 9.50 inches long. Because of the shroud, observers will think the Pro-Sport is noticeably quieter than other spring rifles. The shooter, however, hears all the sound transmitted through the stock and the bones in his skull, and the gun doesn’t sound as quiet as it really is.

Trigger
Like its other spring-piston siblings, the Pro-Sport has the same wonderful trigger that is so adjustable. It’s an updated redesign of the famous Rekord, only the Air Arms trigger is even more adjustable. There’s no reason not to have exactly what you want with a trigger like this. The safety is also like the one on the Rekord and only pops out when the rifle is cocked.

Finish
There’s no denying the best finish in the airgun business. The metal parts sparkle with a deep mirrored black that resembles a Colt Python Royal Blue finish. The wood is equally beautiful, with sharp detailing on the Monte Carlo comb and deeply scalloped cheekpiece for right-handed shooters.

The pistol grip and both sides of the forearm have sharp impressed checkering that does feel rough to the touch. The aluminum cocking linkage and bright steel sliding compression chamber are both silver and the trigger is plated with gold.

Because of the underlever residing in the forearm, the stock is split nearly in two, which leads to additional vibration with each shot. Were this my personal gun, I would get some tar on the mainspring to quiet it down.

The metal and wood this rifle is made from puts it on the heavy side. The nominal weight of just over 9 lbs. is given in the specs, and of course that’s without a scope that’s necessary. The TX200 is a few ounces heavier, but there isn’t that much difference between the two.

Scope mounting
An 11mm dovetail is provided on the top of the rear spring tube, and there are three holes for positioning a vertical scope stop pin. Mounting a scope on this rifle is very easy for anyone.

What’s ahead
This is an important look at an important airgun, because people labor long and hard deciding between this rifle and the TX200. I’m going to try to show you as many of the differences between the two air rifles, while still giving the Pro-Sport its turn in the spotlight.