Air Arms TX200 MKIII
By: Mark Camoccio
Even today, spring powered air rifles remain the most popular type by far. The good old break barrel accounts for the bulk of those too, yet where ultra precise shooting is called for, the pinnacle of design sits fairly and squarely with the fixed barrel models.
Air Arms have earned a great reputation in this area, and with their TX200 range standing the test of time, it’s fair to say that the original designers, including the highly esteemed Ken Turner, really knew their stuff. This latest MKIII version is a truly impressive piece of kit, so let’s see just what we get for our hard earned cash.
The TX200 needs little introduction, but for the record, it is a fixed barrel, spring powered air rifle, utilizing an under lever cocking action, complete with sliding breech. The action is fitted with a sporter style stock, and the overall impression is of an adult airgun, designed for the serious connoisseur.
Overall build quality and finish are well up to the usual standards of Air Arms, and for that read deep lustrous chemical blueing and finely engineered parts; hardly surprising since CNC machinery is utilized throughout the cutting edge manufacturing process.
The latest woodwork is fashioned by Minelli in Italy, and with several big names in the airgun industry using this brand for their furniture, the customer can rest assured that the likes of Air Arms wouldn’t compromise their quality or outsource without demanding an ultra high production spec. Originality comes with the inclusion of that striking fish scale chequering, adorning both sides of the pistol grip and fore end; and given the distinctive patterns, there really is no mistaking a modern TX200. My test model is beech, and the design is even more stunning when cut into tasteful walnut.
The addition of rosewood capping on the grip lends further class, but more important by far is the configuration of the grip itself, which is nicely slimmed down. Where many designs theses days opt for the ambidextrous approach in a bid to keep everyone happy, the TX offers an unashamedly dedicated right-hand palm swell. Couple this grip with a set back trigger blade, and the subtlety of the whole design becomes clear. Incidentally a left hand spec stock is available at extra cost.
At 9.25lbs, this rifle is no lightweight, yet balance and weight in general are matters of personal taste, and with the TX being particularly muzzle heavy, I find it sits on the target rather well. Weight alone then, can limit this rifle’s appeal, with less well built shooters best to consider their options; yet the cocking effort, as we shall see, has been significantly reduced on this latest version. The MKIII specification changes for the TX range included increasing the stroke, and by so doing, decreasing the final cocking effort required. The result is really noticeable, with the result that the downwards cocking stroke is highly civilized - certainly compared to previous models.
The piston still runs on nylon studs, so everything is ultra smooth in operation. Cocking the rifle is achieved by releasing the under-lever (clipped at the muzzle), then pulling the lever all the way down and back until the trigger sears engage with the piston. At this point, and with the lever safely gripped in the left hand throughout, a pellet can be chambered directly into the lip of the barrel. To close the breech, the safety mechanism has to be first disconnected, by pressing down the ‘Safe-lok’ button to the right of the breech whilst the lever is returned. At this point, the automatic safety should need to be pressed off with the thumb, before the shot can be readied. Just occasionally however, the action will cock without priming the safety, so a positive pull of the lever at the final stage of its travel is good practice.
One point worth mentioning here is that because the under-lever is purely held by a sprung ball détente, and not locked, the fitting of sling swivels needs to be carefully done; since the lever could open under pressure with a swivel fitted too near the muzzle end.
Fixed barrel design is the key with these rifles, and the fact that the shooter can feed pellets directly into the barrel, feeling how well they fit the rifling, is a major advantage. An overly slack or overly tight pellet fit, can be detrimental to consistency, but this gun enables the shooter to indeed ‘call’ the shot, and chamber another pellet. Of course the absolute rigidity in the physical structure of the gun (with no pivoting barrel to weaken over time) ensures consistent accuracy and longevity of life, that some break barrels will find hard to compete with.
This style of rifle does throw up some safety concerns, with an open breech bay beckoning fragile fingers. That’s why Air Arms eliminate the risk with that fail safe ‘Safe-Lok’ feature, which is so over engineered, the shooter can just relax and enjoy the advantages that such a design brings.
Top class guns deserve good triggers, and the CD (computer designed) unit that’s fitted to the TX range, is a genuine rival to Weihrauch’s famed ‘Rekord’ trigger unit. Both designs will benefit from being set up by someone who really knows what they’re doing, and having owned a Prosport that had been tweaked by Ken Turner himself (using only the factory parts), I can vouch for the near match capability of this design in the right hands. My test model came fairly lightly set, so good results were beckoning.
On the range, this class of gun is expected to show its true colours, and this Air Arms didn’t disappoint. Chronograph readings revealed total variation of 13fps over a ten shot string, using Air Arms’ own JSB derivatives - Diabolo Field. Impressive figures, but accuracy is always the acid test when all’s said and done.
Over 30yds, this TX showed just why variations of this rifle have taken major spring gun FT events up and down the country; with genuine quarter inch groups regularly achievable on test, using both the Air Arms Diabolo and Falcon Accuracy Plus ammunition - shot from the over-arm FT stance incidentally. The action of this TX is also nicely muted. Of course sheer mass is likely to absorb much of the recoil, yet it’s only fair that the super slick action takes some of the credit. In short, hunting and outdoor competition work, be it HFT or FT, is seriously on the cards, given this rifle’s performance.
The TX200 has been an extremely successful gun for Air Arms, and rightfully so. Admittedly based on the legendary Weihrauch HW77, it was a classic from the start. The MKIII version here, takes the concept forward with some subtle improvements to the original blueprint; with the result that one of the very best spring powered airguns on the market can rightfully claim to be better than ever!
|Model||Air Arms TX200|
|Type||Fixed barrel, under-lever cocking, spring power|
|Overall length:||41.5 inch|
|Calibre:||.177 on test (.22 available)|
|Stock type:||Sporter style beech|
|Average spread||13fps (with Air Arms Diablo pellets)|
|RRP||£355 (rifle on test|
|Options||£415 (walnut stocked version)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates