So recognizing that you have a problem is the first step. When your wife tells you to get into some cheaper hobbies, like heroin, you might have a problem. Ignoring the problem and soldiering on is the next step. DON’T JUDGE ME!!! Look I have never made any bones about my financial sense falling somewhere between NFL college draft pick and congress, so basically I am fully aware that I have a weakness for toys. I have also been VERY blessed in my life and I am EXTREMELY thankful to have been able to pursue my penchant for shiny things. Alas heroin holds no allure for me as I am trigger puller at heart and bang sticks are my drug of choice. Sorry honey.
I am what you would call a shooters shooter. If it has a trigger and expels a projectile while leaving me with all my fingers and eyes intact I like it. Rimfires, air guns, handguns, beltfeds, rifles, revolvers, Nerf guns and spitballs if necessary. I like my kinetic projectile relocating devices. Well due to the current ongoing unpleasantness my fix as of late has shifted more towards my air gun passion and what am I to do with the gun budget these days you ask? NO HONEY I WILL NOT TRY HEROIN I KNOW IT’S A CHEAPER HOBBY……where was I oh yeah what frivolous expensive toy should I shift my gun budget to. Well I picked up a little CZ rifle so to speak.
I have hemmed and hawed for many, many years about getting a pre charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle. I have shot them but the thought of the limited shot count, arduous and or expensive nature of keeping them filled and a combination of the sheer pleasure I get from spring guns and the lack of practical experience with PCPs have kept me away until now. I figured now was the perfect time to experiment with PCP ownership. I had several requirements as I began my search.
1-I wanted a known quantity. I didn’t want the latest and greatest I wanted something with a little history.
2-I wanted fairly low power and .177 caliber. Unlike many PCP owners I am NOT looking for large caliber high powered guns. I have real guns for those needs. I wanted a target rifle.
3-I wanted a fairly high shot count. I wanted a minimum of 50 shots per fill.
4-I wanted a fairly quiet rifle. I didn’t want .22LR decibels or the need to suppres……errr collect lead dust.
5-I didn’t want to break the bank. PCP guns require both the rifle and ancillary gear to keep them charged. For the initial investment that can get expensive. I put around and $800ish cap on what I wanted to do.
6-I wanted open sights or at least the ability to run them.
So with all that in mind I ended up picking up a new Air Arms S200t rifle. You can clearly see the Air Arms pedigree from the box it came in……..
Seriously though, the rifle is made for Air Arms by CZ. The T designation is for the lower powered target model. The target model is designed around .177 pellets moving at around 550 fps, so no powerhouse of course but I didn’t want or need POWWWAAAA!!!. So let’s get on to my observations, shall we? I know it’s long winded…………I’m not making you stay, besides you’re probably bored anyway.
VALUE – 5
The S200 series of guns does, IMO, represent a good value in the PCP market. At $499, for my example, you get a gun that has been around for a long time, with a very positive history, a removable/replaceable air reservoir, decent iron sights and reputation for accuracy and durability. CZ makes good products. They always have. Now this is NOT the air rifle for everybody as it is a fairly small gun and is absolutely low powered but all in all if it is something that would fit your needs I feel like it offers a fairly good return on your dollar.
FIT/FINISH/MATERIALS – 2
I know this seems like a harsh rating. Let me explain. The fit and finish on my rifle is very good. External bluing is even, the beech stock has a nice grain to it, the air cylinder is very nicely done and the brass ends/gauge look sharp in my opinion. Where things start to fall down is in the use of all the plastic. The front sight is plastic, the bolt handle is plastic, the barrel band is plastic, the trigger is plastic etc. Now I knew all of this going in, so none of this was a surprise and none of the plastic feels CHEAP with the exception of the bolt handle. Metal replacements are available and I will probably replace mine. It works perfectly fine it’s really more of a tactile thing for me. The point is this was THE entry PCP rifle with any level of quality for a long time and to get there you have cut corners somewhere. I say this not in disappointment but as a data point for anybody else looking at this rifle.
The trigger is a plastic part but in my opinion feels pretty good. Some folks don’t like the wider profile at the top that narrows as it goes down but it doesn’t bother me a bit. I tend to rate trigger pulls as they come out of the box. The CZ trigger is adjustable but I am only going to speak for it’s out of the box performance for me. It is a two stage affair with a light, but a bit creepy take up. The break is a little on the heavy side but mine breaks very cleanly when it does. All in all I haven’t felt like the trigger is a hindrance in any way to my shooting. It’s middle of the road decent trigger. It is, however, not in the same league as the Rekord or even a good T06.
Welcome to shooting with cheat mode enabled. There is no pomp and circumstance, no recoil of course, very little noise and pellets are magically sent through the same hole with aplomb at 20 yards. The gun is really meant for a 10m setup but I tend to shoot around 20 yards and it’s probably the easiet gun of any type I have ever shot. It’s like having an aimbot built in to your shooting. 10 shot groups such as the following are simple affairs after sighting in. Keep in mind I am shooting with iron sights and I am FAR from a skilled shooter. If you have accuracy issues with this rifle, and remember it’s your real friends who tell you the truth, its you man…..all you.
I was a little worried about the length of pull on this rifle but my fears were unfounded. This is such a wonderful feeling, super light weight, pointable, little rifle. There is no external safety to mess with, the trigger comes to finger easily, the sights come to eye easily and the cheek piece feels good. It’s just a magnificent little rifle in hand. Think PCP HW30,with a little more length of pull. I have no complaints about how this rifle shoulders or rests.
RECOIL/SHOT CYCLE -5 (5 BEING THE MOST MILD)
It’s a pre charged, low power, .177 air rifle. There a Pffft and a hole magically appears in your target. I don’t know what else there is to say. One could say it’s almost “digital” shooting.
POWER-1 (WITH 5 BEING THE MOST POWERFUL)
This is a low powered target rifle. No more no less. Now giving it a 1 is not a negative unless you are looking for a powerful rifle. I, myself, was not. I specifically wanted a low powered 10-40 yard target gun and that is exactly what this is.
The iron sights included with the rifle are excellent in use and easily give me scoped capability at the 20 yards or so I generally shoot at. My only complaint about them is the fact that the front sight is plastic. There are several front sight inserts to tailor your gun to your needs. If I had any complaints other than the plastic front sight it would be that I would have like to have seen a blade sight drop in or two included.
SHOTS PER FILL – 5
For my uses the shots per fill have exceeded my expectations. I can easily get 80 shots and likely up to hundred or more. The VAST majority of my shooting sessions with a single gun top out at 50 shots so considering the size of the reservoir and fairly low charge pressure of 170-190 bar I am thrilled with the shots per fill. This was one of my PCP fears and at least in this case was unfounded.
-I went into this experiment planning to charge with a hand pump, see if I liked it well enough and figured If I did I would pick up a compressor. After charging the cylinder a few times now with the hand pump I doubt I will go compressor. Charging the tube to 170-190 bar is almost trivial. Now keep in mind I did purchase a higher end pump, a HILL MK5, so that may be part of the equation at play.
-PCP’s have a high barrier to entry due to the need for an external set of equipment to charge them. That could be anywhere from $150 to $1000 on top of your gun investment. That said once you buy that equipment future PCP purchases should be easier. Also if you are charging a fairly small air reservoir give the pump a shot, you may be surprised at how easy it is. I cannot speak to large bottle type rifles but could see how those would get tedious and I would likely gravitate towards a bottle or compressor.
-There is a nice marked mounting point under the stock of the S200t for mounting match weights or bi pods etc. Nice touch.
-The S200t is a single shot rifle out of the box but a magazine fed conversion is available.
-I like the stock grain that came on my particular rifle and I like the stippling on the pistol grip portion. The pistol grip fits me well.
-Setting up the pump/compressor/bottle fittings the first time can be a little bit of trial an error. If you are not mechanically inclined I would probably talk to somebody at your vendor and ask about the proper setup. I happen to be a lucky idjit who happens into getting things right time to time.
So all in all my first foray into the world of pre charged pneumatic air guns has been overwhelmingly positive and I was pleasantly surprised to see that some of my fears, at least for this particular gun, were unfounded. That said pneumatic air guns of all kinds are basically like shooting with cheat mode enabled and while that can certainly be fun and there is certainly a place for it, I myself take a certain level of pride, satisfaction and joy shooting a nice spring rifle with the recoil characteristics of a trebuchet. I doubt PCP guns will woo me away from the springers but they have proven they have place in my collection and shooting and sometimes after a hard day, an easy button isn’t the worst kind of therapy.
As always take care and shoot safe.