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Review of the Air Arms TX200SR

Air Arms is a legend in the airgun world, and the tx200 is a legend in the field target community. I believe at this time it is the most common model in the spring piston category. The reason I believe, is it's consistent accuracy in an affordable package. Now, I am reviewing here what I think is a one of a kind field target rifle: the SR version or the semi-recoilless. Recoilless or semi-recoilless spring-piston rifles have been on the shooting scene for decades, but mainly confined to the 10 meter competitors. The basic mechanism is the action on a sliding rail that moves when the piston moves. I liken it to the recoiling artillery pieces where the barrel slams back but the carriage remains essentially in the same place. The only difference with the tx200sr is the action moves forward first, and then back. The purpose of all this moving is accuracy. The artillerists of the past figured this out over a hundred years ago; it is crucial to have a recoiling gun exactly repeat it's movement during the firing sequence to maintain consistency. Tom Gaylord of the Airgun Letter has coined the loose hand hold as the 'artillery hold'--allowing the gun to easily move. This is just applying the same theory. That is the beauty of the tx200sr--it has a recoiling rail so the hand hold on the gun is not as important. This is an important point. The standard tx2000 has the same powerplant and barrel, and essentially has the same intrinsic accuracy, it's just harder to shoot as consistently. This is not to say the SR will shoot off a bench well. It still needs a hand hold, and the same every time. I have tried it off a bench and the pellet goes to another zip code, compared to when I held it.

Let's talk about specifics. The gun cocks very easily with an underlever, and is ratcheting indicating an anti-beartrap mechanism. The pellet loads from the right side, and can be kind of tricky to place in the breach if your fingers are large. A safety latch must be released to close the breach. Then another safety must be pushed in to release the trigger. This is one safe piston gun. The trigger is two stage adjustable and confusing. Mine was quite light at the factory setting so I have not ventured inside. It will go down to a few ounces. It comes with the unclear British instructions. The amount of recoil is adjustable as well by screws below the inside rail. Basic blued steel with no sights. There are scope grooves on the receiver; which by the way is rounded on top. I much prefer a flat top receiver to aid in leveling the gun. Stocks are variable. I bought mine unfinished and corrupted it on my own as you can see from the picture. As you can see in the top picture,  I added a butt hook, a bipod, and a palm rest of my own design. In the picture to the right you can see how the support works in a seated position. If you have seen a tx200 stock, the SR is almost identical.

Accuracy. This is the where you get the bang for the buck (or pound sterling depending on what country you are in). With practice and some super tuning it may be possible to get 1/4" groups at 25 yards, and 1/2" at 50. Out of the box I achieved 1/2" at 25 yards and 3/4"-1" at 40 yards. My velocities are 865 fps with 7.9 grain Crosman Premiers, which I surprisingly found better than the Beeman Trophys. I have noticed the velocity does change with break-in and will vary day to day, depending on the temperature. This has made figuring out the scope settings quite a chore. I also tried RWS superdomes, because the Airgunletter had very good results with this pellet. I did not. After almost six months of FT shooting I noticed a decline in accuracy and an increase in the spread of velocities. First I blamed myself, and then I sent it to Ken Reeves for a tune. I hope to get the pellet velocity spread down to 10 fps and the standard deviation to 4fps. If this is confusing to you, all it means is I want to get it to shoot consistently; for that is the key to accuracy.

I used this gun to win the Florida State Championship (for piston class) in the 90s and scored an 88/100, which was close to the top precharged shooters. The only advantage a PCP gun has is it's consistency in terms of fps velocity. A good PCP gun will have a standard deviation of 2-3 fps. The spring piston guns may vary 10-15 fps. At 40-50 yard distances this separates the two types of guns easily, but for most targets, which are in the 25ish yard zone, it's even-steven. Fun fact: The SR shoots the pellet at about 12 fp (foot pounds) the max in many countries. This is a measure of energy. A competitive precharged gun shoots at about 20 fp.

I now believe the tx200sr is no longer being made, though the regular tx200 is still on the market. Why? I don't know. There are many SRs on the used market in good condition. Prices hover in the $400-600 range. Pretty good I think for arguably the most advanced spring-piston "field target" rifle ever mass produced.

Update 2023: I picked this gun to try it out--after a long time in the closet, and it sounded strange. Looking inside I could see the front piston seal had disintegrated. Luckily this is a popular model and I was able to buy a seal kit and new spring. That's the nice thing about buying popular models--support for them lasts. Compare that to the QB88 listed below. I doubt you can find any parts for that. I took off a bunch of the competition mods, and just enjoy high precision plinking. There are lots of video tutorials on disassembly-so replacing the spring and seals is pretty simple. It is now back super accurate .177 spring piston fun. ( Not all the seal parts are in the picture below, they are in the gun. Pictured is the old spring. I got them from Pyramid Air, in case you were interested. No affiliation/sponsorship....I wish...)

Review of the QB88

picture of the QB88

The QB88 Magnum, also called the Tech Force Chinese made spring piston sidelever of .177 and .22 caliber. Both use the same power plant. I know this because my .22 is labeled .177 on the spring housing. The lever is on the right and kept secure by a gravity catch/safety. The lever pulls back to about 90 degrees and is fairly easy to cock. Once the lever is retracted, the pellet is loaded into the barrel end directly. The piston is held safely in place by two catches which are released by a button below the stock. This was kind of a mystery to me at first since the manual is a poor translation from the Chinese and basically useless.

The barrel is heavy and strong with a 12 right twist, and topped by a very nice hooded front sight. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. The receiver is grooved for a telescopic sight. Weight is 7.26 pounds.

The trigger is a good but strange affair. The safety is forward of the trigger. That's not so strange, but what is, is the travel of the trigger and the angle upon release. By the time the sear is tripped the trigger blade is angled so far back you are almost pulling it upward. This is an exaggeration, but you get the point. This is probably due to the long travel. Regardless, the pull weight is about five pounds, and smooth along the way. The pull weight is adjustable, but again no help from the manual. As I have stressed before the oh-so important trigger is a complement to this gun.

The stock is some kind of hard wood with a dark stain and heavy varnish. It is solid and generous. A rubber but plate and plastic spacer is included. Very solid. As for price I think the QB88 was named because it is Quite a Bargain for about $88, and the best part of the gun.

Now for the testing. Groups are under an inch at 25 yards, by they could be better except for frequent flyers. This leads me to believe the spring piston powerplant lacks a certain consistency (or it's my hold on the bench). It's hard to say. The vibration is acceptable. I tried a variety of .22 pellets with no real change in group size. I think it has more accuracy potential though with proper spring-piston lubrication. It seems to be a popular gun. The supplier said he sold out quickly and I had to wait for his next shipment. The advertisement claims ~900 fps. I have not tested this. In total I am happy with this gun and surprised at the quality for the money. If anyone has great success with tuning, let me know. I have already seen one version in a homemade field target stock.

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