One of the most successful TX200's ever?

Brian Samson's Air Arms TX200 Mk1 (Sn:00803) was manufactured on 20th February, 1992 making it 31 years old today (20th Feb, 2023) and is possibly the TX200 with the most competition success ever made.

The bluing on the barrel by the cocking lever has worn away on one side, there are signs of rust under the action, the safety catch has been removed after it wore out and stopped working reliably 10 years ago, the original stock was replaced at least 15 years ago and during its 31 year lifespan it has shot many hundreds of thousands of pellets and worn out numerous mainsprings, seals and guides.

...But... it’s still going strong, and only this last season Brian won the UKAHFT National Hunter Field Target series recoiling title with it, attaining the highest recorded series aggregate score in that class in the history of the event.

Trophy haul

This rifle has also taken a huge haul of trophies in both FT and HFT and travelled all over the World during its 31-year history.

These are just a few of the most notable national and international titles:

  • WFTA Field Target World Champion (Piston) – 2014
  • WFTA Field Target 2nd place World Championships (Piston) – 2013
  • WFTA Field Target 3rd place World Championships (Piston) – 2016
  • British Recoiling Champion – 2014
  • BFTA Grand Prix Series Winner (Piston) – 2016
  • BFTA Grand Prix Series Winner (Piston) – 2014
  • BFTA Grand Prix Series Winner (Piston) – 2013
  • EFTA English Open Champion (Piston) - 2020
  • WHFTA Hunter Field Target World Championships – 3rd place Recoiling – 2022
  • UKAHFT Series Champion (Recoiling) – 2022

Together with a whole host of titles in both regional and local events.

As far as we know, no other rifle (either PCP or Springer) has won national series titles and World Championship podium places in both Field Target and Hunter Field Target.

Is it all still original?

Well after 31 years a few things have needed to be replaced but for the most part the action and barrel are still as they were when first manufactured in 1992 albeit with a few additional ‘battle’ scars.

The action, barrel, trigger and the rifles internals (apart from some of the consumable seals and guides) were all as standard when Brian won the FT World Championships back in 2014, as well as some of the other major titles taken with the rifle around that time.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Mk1 TX200 is the lack of an anti-bear trap safety mechanism, which means that the compression tube doesn’t have any notches on the side and is missing the anti-bear trap release catch that can be seen on later models of the TX200 from the Mk2 onwards.

The original compression tube (without bear trap notches) quite literally started to wear away around 2016 and the compression tube had to be swapped for a more modern Mk3 version temporarily while attempts were made to repair the distinctive notch-less original compression tube.

Nick Gibney first fitted a thin (just over 1mm thick) liner inside the original compression tube to cover the damage and allow the tube to continue to be used, although because of the reduced internal diameter of the tube a smaller replacement piston/spring and seal had to be fabricated.

Reduced diameter compression tubes on TX200’s were still relatively new and largely untested at the time and as a result a few different versions were trialled by some notable TX200 tuners such as Jon Budd, Nick Gibney and Tony Leach before a version was found that shot as well as the original internals did and the original compression tube was able to return to service from 2018 onwards with a new piston seal and reduced diameter piston from Tony Leach.

Tony later went on to produce a very similar set of internals in complete kit form which has been very successful in other TX200’s, most notably most of the top 10 placings from last year’s FT World Championships in Italy, not to mention the World Championship title itself and Brian can whole heartedly recommend Tony’s tuning work.

Over the years this particular TX200 has also received the attention of several other very notable gunsmiths and tuners, and these include Nick Murphy, Roger Moy, Warren Edwards and Maccari.

How often is the rifle serviced?

In one particularly busy year, Brian kept track of how many tins of pellets he’d used and it was over 104 tins! – that’s over 52,000 shots fired in just one year at an average of two tins of pellets every single week for the whole year. With that level of constant use, standard service items such as piston seals, springs and spring guides wear out or break usually every couple of years on average... So even with a short-stroked, high compression action such as the Mk1 and Mk2 TX200’s you can still expect many tens of thousands of shots before anything needs to be replaced and fortunately many of the service items are very cheap and easy to replace with basic tools. The current (Mk3) TX200 has a slightly less torturous longer stroked firing cycle, so I’d expect those to last even longer.

What custom tune do you recommend?

The question Bri gets asked the most about his TX200 and all TX's in general is without a doubt 'What custom tune do you recommend?'

If you've taken the time to read all of this article, there are at least two notable takeaways from reading it - firstly that it happens to have a reduced compression tube and Tony Leach piston, and secondly (and more importantly) that Bri spends a lot of time practicing with it!.

We would all love for there to be a shortcut to success - wouldn't it be nice if you could buy a gun, spend an extra £200 on an exotic tune and go out and win everything.

Most of Bri's success with his TX200 was when it just had a standard set of Mk1 TX200 internals, coupled with shooting over 50,000 pellets practicing.

So the answer to the question is that any custom tune that makes practice easier and/or more enjoyable is worth having because the secret to knocking targets over when it counts is to spend lots of time practicing, and that advice applies to PCP's as well.

What does the future hold?

This TX200 is taking a well-earned rest in 2023, but you may see Brian shooting it just for fun at Doncaster Airgun Range from time to time.

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