TAU BRNO MK300 Sniper HFT/FT Rifle
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
Something tells me the sport of Hunter Field Target shooting has really come of age, and it’s all rather exciting. Inevitably, as the sport gathers momentum, manufacturers are choosing to get involved; and with a rush of new models arriving of late, all aimed specifically at this highly demanding discipline, it’s obvious that HFT is being taken seriously.
Air Arms with their HFT500; BSA with their Gold Star specials; and now the model on show here, the MK300 Sniper from TAU BRNO in the Czech Republic, are all jostling for a piece of the cake.
Apparently this model has been available in Europe for some time, but Sure Shot Airguns are the first to import them to the UK. HFT shooters are a demanding bunch for sure, and whilst the sport permits the use of most makes of airgun, any model destined to make a serious impact, needs not only serious performance, but some inherent sophistication built in.
First impressions of the MK300 Sniper are certainly favourable, and I was intrigued to see how this compact target-oriented rifle would shape up on test.
Slab-sided best describes this model, and there’s no denying the forend is very boxy, chunky, and squared off. Look closely though, and the features stack up: muzzle air stripper, adjustable cheek piece and buttpad, full target grip, full-blown match trigger, side-lever cocking, regulated recoilless action, and barrel mount. Quite a features list, so let’s get started.
One thing that really hits you with this model, is the ultra compact design; and despite coming fitted with super dense laminate furniture, an overall weight of just 7.1lbs un-scoped, has to make this TAU BRNO MK300 one of the lightest rifles of its type.
My test model came fitted with the Blue Laminate woodwork, which displays plenty of attractive grey/blue figuring through the layers. Whilst the forend is particularly boxy (ideal for bench rest disciplines), the butt section has been trimmed of unnecessary wood on the underside, with no compromise to performance. This all helps trim overall weight of course, yet the design still manages to incorporate a full target drop down grip with finger/thumb shelves. Negative observations have to include the lack of a ‘thumb-up’ groove at the back of the grip, and in keeping with other full-blown match rifles, I would round off the very tip of the forend, since this is a little boxy in the aim. A few small air bubbles were present in the lacquer finish of my test gun too; yet overall, the feel and handling of the stock is well above average.
Adjustability is becoming increasingly popular lately, and this model competes with Air Arms’ HFT500, by offering an adjustable butt section and cheekpiece. The same interchangeable plastic spacers are used in the butt and cheek assemblies, and whilst they are a little fiddly to set up, it’s all fairly straight forward. To set the butt, the back screw in the adjustable sliding rubber pad first needs to be slackened, then the pad slid down and up in turn, to reveal top and bottom bolts. With these slackened off, additional spacers can be slid into place, and the bolts re-tightened. Once set of course, most shooters will then leave well alone, so its largely a one-off inconvenience, and wholly worthwhile, to get scope/ head alignment exactly right.
Final feature of the woodwork is that standard accessory rail, neatly recessed into the underside of the fore-end, to accept a bipod, counterweights, or other add- ons deemed necessary.
Looking to the action, the barrel and block are chemically blued to a good standard, although a little dull when compared to some. To charge the MK300 Sniper, the main cylinder does need to be removed from the action; and whilst I’m no fan of dismantling large sections of action each time you want to fill the gun, to be fair, the HFT version of this model will come with a quick detachable cylinder filled in situ.
For the record, to charge my test rifle I first had to press the button just to the left of the breech, which is the ‘dry fire’ function. This allows the trigger mechanism only, to be cocked and fired for practise, without expending air. A handy little feature, but cocking it before unscrewing the cylinder, effectively seals the valve and prevents total air loss. Unscrew the cylinder, then screw it directly onto a diver’s bottle, and charge to the prescribed figure. The MK300 Sniper’s fill pressure varies, from a minimum of 200 bar, up to a whopping 300 bar. Most will stick to a more practical 200 bar, so I did, for the test.
Fitting a scope to this model is fairly easy, and unusually, it comes fitted with an additional dovetail block, which can be slid along the barrel itself, then tightened in place. Sure-Shot Airguns, the importers, assured me that several FT shooters were keen to mount and bridge directly across the barrel, with a view to minimising zero shift. Personal taste will play a part here, but it’s an intriguing inclusion. If you don’t like the idea, then the usual two part rail spanning the breech block can be utilised.
One other point of note concerning the barrel is the way it runs through that support block with a snug fit. With many enthusiasts preferring a fully floating configuration, this may be an area where customisation comes into play.
Any match rifle with high aspirations, needs a proper match trigger, and this model comes fitted with the real McCoy. Release weight is adjustable down to around 2oz, which pretty much says it all; but with further adjustment for blade position, angle, and first stage, everyone should be happy.
As for that subtle side- lever, pulling it back to cock the hammer mechanism is a smooth and effortless operation. Looks-wise, it is rather shapeless and basic, and could do with being beefed up a little. Likewise, the loading channel is a little cramped, but everything does its job nonetheless.
When I first saw this model and clapped eyes on that air stripper at the muzzle, I was intrigued to see how it performed. In theory, with four separate ‘chambers’ that the pellet passes through, plenty of turbulent air should be stripped out, leaving the pellet to continue its path in stable flight. In my experience, a particular barrel may shoot accurately in any case, even with the stripper removed, yet the theory is compelling. One thing is for sure, this MK300 Sniper has a particularly distinctive and satisfying signature on firing; very slick, with no rasp.
As for performance, I began with a chronograph check, and from the 200 bar fill pressure, I recorded 100 shots with a total spread of 28fps using Air Arms (JSB) Diabolo Field pellets. Obviously 300 bar would greatly increase the shot count but, frankly, so what? It’s unnecessary.
Quarter inch c-t-c groups at 35 yards, and half inch or better over 45 yards, was near text book for this grade of gun, and all the evidence I needed to conclude how effective it should prove in any outdoor target disciplines. UK importers, Sure-shot Airguns are set to offer FT accessories, a range of hard cases, and quick fill cylinders; all of which should be on stream by the time you read this.
An extraordinary lack of weight and a host of subtle features has to grab the attention. Match that ultra-manageable configuration with slick operation, and serious down range accuracy, and this TAU BRNO MK300 Sniper can’t fail to impress, right across the board. Yes, the lack of heft should find favour with ladies and juniors, but with such an impressive technical specification, this model’s appeal goes much further.
A bright future then for the brand; coming soon, to an HFT or FT or Benchrest course near you.
PRICES: £840 as tested inc. charging adaptor and tools