Shawn Minchin has a problem with one of his favourite air rifles, and while it’s a quick fix it’s also a good excuse to add another gun to his armoury.
Whenever I am out on the road, I always make a point of giving way to courier drivers. The reason, of course, is that they often bring boxes of happiness to their recipients!
One such bundle of joy arrived just a few days before I started writing this piece: a used, but beautiful HW95 complete with gun bag, scope, a ‘hamster’ support for target competitions, a sling and even a couple of tins of pellets. More on this addition to my ever-growing stable of air rifles a little later on.
The reason it arrived was because my usual springer stalwart, the venerable Air Arms TX200HC, had developed a somewhat recalcitrant – or rather over-enthusiastic – attitude to shooting. This rifle, as many already know, is quite a beast. It weighs in at nearly 4kg in its walnut guise, yet is well balanced and extremely accurate.
This is the Mk3, identified by the irregular spacing of the third notch on the cylinder tube that moves when you cock the rifle, and bought new from a gun shop a year ago. But barely with a tin of pellets through it, a recent test over a chronograph revealed it was heading uncomfortably towards the 12 ft-lb legal limit.
This is something that can happen to many spring-powered air rifles of any make at some point, particularly when used during the very warm weather we had back in the summer when air temperatures touched 34C.
The spring is nicely bedded into the action and the heat further thins the grease, improving lubrication of the internals, which in turn reduces friction amongst those moving parts.
The result is the whole action becomes more efficient and the pellets come out faster. It is what it is, and it’s why a chronograph is an important addition to any airgun shooter’s arsenal of equipment.
So what to do? Well, I had in my mind that there were a few washers inside, slightly compressing the spring, so removing one or two would release a little bit of that tension and bring the power down three or four tenths of a foot pound.
I set about finding out how to safely take the action apart from a video on YouTube. The TX200 is easy to dismantle and has to be one of the best designed guns around.
But to my dismay, once all the bits were on the bench, no washers could be found. I put the rifle back together and fired a few more shots over the chrono, and let’s just say the situation was not getting better!
What’s more, there was now a ‘twang’ to the action which wasn’t there before, so no doubt my reassembly hadn’t been perfect.
I had three choices: send the rifle back to the gun dealer, but that dealer is more than 50 miles away. Or I could buy a drop-in tuning kit – they seem to be ever more popular these days – but then again my assembly skills are not that great.
Or give Air Arms a call and see what they said. I plumped for the last option. An email was sent and then quickly followed a call from their service department. I ran through the issue and the very helpful chap said to send him the action.
Within an hour it was out of the stock (yes, I can do that easily), carefully packed and sent off to Air Arms. As I write, I had a call from him to say that the spring had been replaced, everything re-lubricated and was performing sweetly with Air Arms Field .22 at 5.52 head size.
But now I had another package sitting on my living room table. The HW95 in .177 calibre had been bought from one of the respected airgun forum sites and those who sell there know that reputation is everything. A bad sale is a bad sale, but thankfully in my many transactions I haven’t had any unfortunate incidents – nor others that I know.
More from Shawn Minchin
Good communication, honesty about the condition of the product and a quick look at their history on the forum (number of posts, years contributing etc) helps give you an idea of the person you’re dealing with. This seller ticked all the boxes and so it was an easy decision and within a few days the parcel arrived.
Packaging was comprehensive, to say the least! It took me 10 minutes to get through the tape! Inside, newspapers had carefully cushioned everything during transit, and the action was out of the stock to make the parcel a reasonable size. It was labelled well for Parcelforce 48: clearly marked ‘Do Not Fly’ and ‘Strictly for Addressee Only’.
Half an hour later and the gun was back together and scope attached. A test shot revealed a smooth firing action – the internals were fitted with an aftermarket TbT drop-in kit.
And as for power – perfectly hovering around the 11.2 ft-lb mark. The trigger was super smooth, apparently the sears had been polished and were crisp, perhaps a bit too crisp. An adjustment of the large screw clockwise added a bit more pull requirement to make it less snappy.
The proof of the pudding is pellets on target, and once zeroed at 30 yards
it seemed to enjoy the diet of Field Target Trophy. Four out of five spinners at 55 measured yards were being hit, which surprised me, it was that good, albeit the slightly larger square portion of the spinner target.
A couple of days later and my TX200HC arrived from Air Arms. A few test shots revealed the annoying twang had gone and it was that satisfying dull thud of the .22 being launched. Air Arms said power was now at a very acceptable 11.2 ft-lb with Air Arms Field.
Now it was time for me to compare them both on the range. I love the lighter weight and feel of the 95, my only criticism of the TX200HC is that it is quite a heavy gun.
It’s impossible to prefer one over the other when shooting: both shoot differently, but deliver in equal measure that acute sense of satisfaction you get firing a spring rifle. Both of them are now zeroed at 30 yards.
I’m pretty fastidious when it comes to looking after my rifles, and after each use they get a wipe down with an oily rag impregnated with that VP90 rust inhibitor stuff.
Recently, I discovered that the manufacturer Napier makes VP90 Field Patches, and I highly recommend these to wipe down the metal areas. One wipe (there’s one per sachet, and each box has 10 sachets) is enough for two or three rifles at a time.
I’m still on the hunt for some more hunting permissions: during this year of Covid-19 everything has slowed down, sadly including my ability to get out there and secure more permissions.
And while we all enjoyed some spectacular weather this summer, the subsequent downpours curtailed many of our chances to get out. On one rather gloomy day, even the woodpigeons were looking very much under the weather.
But right now I have an interesting evening lined up. Going with another shooter to control rabbits using rimfires and maybe something with even more potency. “This isn’t hunting,” he tells me. “Everything needs to be cleared as we come across them.”
He has the full array of night vision and as the recent rain has eased to deliver a day of bright sunshine, the rabbits running amok in the paddocks will be thinned out. It should be an interesting trip – and hopefully by next time I’ll be able to report that I have another permission of my own.