These are two of the most commonly compared air rifles, at least in my hearing, these days, and I feel like it would be a good idea to talk about them both to figure out which one is the better investment. Part of why they are so often compared is that, quite frankly, they have a lot in common. They’re around the same price range, size, power, and stock style. I’ve even seen people get into shouting matches over which one is better, so I know I’m stepping in dangerous territory weighing in. That being said, let’s keep in mind that the best air rifle is the one that is best for you, and I’ll be supporting my preferences with observations. If you agree with my reasoning, then you’ll probably agree with me.
Regular readers will know that I consider weight on two levels: how heavy it is to carry with me on a long day of hunting and how well balanced the weight is. If you’re just plinking, the former won’t matter to you as much since you can set up and just fire away all day. However, the second is vitally important to how you shoot. For this review I ordered both rifles in .22 caliber because I prefer the greater knockdown power in case I run into some larger game like rabbit or raccoon. However both rifles are also available in .177 if your looking for something for bird hunting or plinking in the back yard.
The Air Arms TX200 MkIII weighs just a touch more than the Beeman HW97K, but I tend to prefer it because the weight is balanced well across the rifle. I can pick it up from anywhere and quickly find where the balance point is, and I neither have to worry about the weight of the muzzle dragging my shot down or the weight of the stock dragging it up. This has surprised me to no end, since very rarely do I come upon a rifle that has taken this little effort to get the balance right, but my shots showed the difference almost immediately.
The 97 had some weight problems as far as I was concerned in that I couldn’t really find where it balanced, so setting up my shot was a lot more difficult. The slightest move could send the weight in a drastically different direction. Again, if you’re set up on a stand this is less of an issue, but if you want to go hunting it can be a problem.
The finish is another place where I couldn’t help but see a drastic difference between the TX200 and the 97 in that the bluing on the former was absolutely perfect and on the latter was poorly done and splotchy. I will admit that I am basing this only on the items I got, but we’re talking about a seriously poor job on the 97. I can imagine that the barrel will be corroding very soon, especially with extensive use, whereas I have confidence in the TX200 to last me for a while, which when you’re starting to get into mid-range rifles is what you want to justify your investment.
One thing I will say about the Beeman 97 is that I absolutely love the trigger. It comes with a gold Rekord trigger which is incredibly customizable. Even taking it out of the package I knew that I would be able to find a pull weight that I was comfortable with. Having that level of customization makes me much more favorably inclined toward the rifle, especially since I had much less of an option with triggers on the TX200.
Review of Air Arms TX200 MkIII>>CLICK HERE FOR PRICING, RATINGS, AND REVIEWS FOR THE AIR ARMS TX200 MKIII ON AMAZON.COM<<
When it comes down to it, the TX200 is about as easy to get started with as a rifle gets. You can pull it out of the package, mount a scope, and start shooting, breaking it in in under 100 rounds. I remember being surprised by how quickly I was able to get it working at its highest capacity, but the fact of the matter is that it’s made to be shot. There’s a reason why so many competition shooters end up with the TX200: it falls into line quickly and easily.
The cocking effort, at 29 pounds, is actually ridiculously light considering the power behind this. It rates at 755 FPS, which with a 14.3 grain pellet yields about 18 FPE, but it feels like a lot more than that and consistent shooting has forced me to add a metal-lined box behind my target because the pellets were going clean through and I don’t want to hit anything behind it if I can. The way this is accomplished is by designing the spring and its associated mechanisms to get the most out of the power. In other rifles, I would have had to spend hours playing around with the mechanism, replacing or adjusting parts, to get it this accurate with so little effort, but with the TX200 I don’t have to worry about a thing.
Another thing that stood out about this was how quiet it was. I could hardly hear the pellet firing and the smooth spring release is almost silent. As a result, there is also very little recoil on this rifle, so much so that I almost didn’t feel a tug pretty often, and the shots remained easy and on target. I really enjoyed the trigger on this rifle, and it was set perfectly for me from the factory. The pull is about 2 pounds, and it is set back far enough to be able to get a good finger hold on it.
As to accuracy, this gun is really astounding. As I mentioned above, it breaks in with as few as 50 to 75 rounds and then I was making ragged single holes at 35 yards. I mounted a Hawke Optics Sport HD 4-12 x 50 mil dot scope, and it turned out to be a deadly combination. Some people might say that scope is a bit much for an air rifle, but I say better to have too much than not enough. Considering that this is a mid-grade and not a high-end rifle, I expected there to be a little more fight to it, but in my experience the TX200 hits where you point it. Of course, when we’re having a bad day, we can’t blame it on the gun anymore, but I think that’s worth the tradeoff.
That’s probably the best thing about this rifle: I can count on it to shoot where I want it to. As a small game hunter, it’s important not just that I hit what I’m shooting at, but that I kill it quickly. I have no desire to see an animal suffer needlessly, so accuracy means a lot. If I were shooting in competition, I would probably feel the same way about how accurate the rifle is.
I also like that every piece of this looks like they put effort into getting it just right. The balance, the bluing, the striations and hand-cut checking on the stock all have the mark of quality that I want to see in a rifle.
Along with the quality Air Arms took extra precautions in the safety department. Knowing how dangerous underlever rifles can be when you have your hand in the breech loading a pellet Air Arms went an extra step to provide assurance that the breech won’t accidentally slam closed. If you look closely you’ll see three notches in the breech closure and a lever behind it. This is an additional safety feature in addition to the anti-bear trap mechanism that you must physically release to close the breech. It actually saved me once when I didn’t realize that I hadn’t pulled the cocking lever all the way back.
There is very little that I can say I don’t like about this rifle, but I always try to point out areas for improvement when I see them. The lack of open sights is both confusing and frustrating for people like me who don’t always want to have a scope with them everywhere they go. Sometimes it’s just easier to aim with the open sights.
My biggest gripe is how the cocking lever arm didn’t always catch the indent ball to hold it in place. After firing about 50 rounds through all of a sudden I took a shot and the lever dropped about two inches out of its stored position. My heart instantly skipped a beat as I thought my brand new rifle was broken before I even had a chance to fully break it in. I was just about to start cussing those darn Englishmen when I realized that the catch in the end of the cocking lever was threaded in and had just moved about a half turn. I pulled out my blue locktite, applied some to the threads ,and set the catch where I wanted it. Problem solved. I would also recommend using the blue locktite on all stock bolts as with any springer rifle they have a tendency to shake loose. These were easy fixes, but I always wonder why nobody at the factory ever thinks to do these things before the rifles are shipped out.
Review of Beeman HW97K>>CLICK HERE FOR PRICING, RATINGS, AND REVIEWS FOR THE BEEMAN HW97K ON AMAZON.COM<<
I want to start by pointing out that I like the 97, but the problems with it tend to be glaring and hard to ignore. This isn’t to say that it’s bad, but rather that I expect a lot more from Beeman than I would a different manufacturer, so when I have to deal with the weight and bluing issues mentioned above, it puts me off.
Power is also a place where I was left disappointed by this rifle. With a 35 pound cocking effort, I expect a lot more consistent power than what I got with this. Again, it’s not that it was bad and the firing rate was generally someplace around 750 FPS, very similar to the Air Arms, but the shots were inconsistent with every fifth or six shot not firing at the same rate or with the same power as the rest of them. I’m not sure if this is about the quality of spring or the mechanism, but if I am pulling that much to cock it, I want it to drive nails every time.
One thing I will say, this rifle is incredibly quiet and doesn’t have a terrible recoil at all. I can hear the spring moving back into place at the end of the shot, but that’s about it. Otherwise, it was quiet as a mouse. As to recoil, I had more trouble with the balance shifting the barrel down than up. Sometimes this was the result of a powerless shot, but in most cases the rifle was just directing the energy where it needed to go.
The trigger, again as I mentioned above, is a gold Rekord and can be adjusted to exactly the pull that you want. I love this trigger and feel incredibly comfortable knowing that I can change it to suit my needs, the weather, or anything else. However, I do not like the placement of the trigger. It sat just a bit too far forward for my hands, and I felt like I had to stretch a bit to get a good hold on the trigger.
And I will say that this is one of the most accurate springer air rifles I have ever shot. I mounted a UTG 3-9 x 40 AO True Hunter scope on it, and it seemed to be a pretty solid combination. From about 100 rounds in after I first got it I was able to shoot dime-sized groups from 40 to 50 yards out without any issues. Other than the times it didn’t push like it was supposed to, I had no trouble with either targets or small game.
Ultimately, I like the 97 when it does what it’s supposed to. When the shots have the power behind them and the weight is balanced right and the trigger is set the way I like it, this can be a pretty good gun that I would be willing to take out hunting with me when I know there will be plenty of game. If there isn’t much out there and I might run across only a handful of animals, I probably wouldn’t take the risk.
That’s my biggest problem with this rifle: it’s unreliable. I can’t count on it to shoot the way I need it to. I’m sure with plenty of adjustments that I can make it much better, but I shouldn’t have to put this much work into a rifle just to get it working.
Further, where they didn’t put any effort in, it’s obvious. The bluing is absolutely the worst as far as I’m concerned because I have to keep looking at it every time I aim. Again I would suggest some blue locktite on all the stock bolts as they quickly came loose and started to affect accuracy.
If you are willing to put in the effort making it work properly, though, you actually have a really fantastic weapon with the Beeman HW97K.
Comparing the Rifles
What we have here is less about quality and more about preference in many cases. Are you the kind of person who likes something to work right away or do you like a project? I know a lot of people who prefer their rifles to have problems that they can fix and adjust while there are others that would rather just use the rifle for its intended purpose and not have to worry about making too many changes.
The Air Arms TX200 MkIII is absolutely the weapon for people who want something that works right out of the package. You don’t have to play with the trigger to get it to pull right, you only have to put a few rounds through it in order to break it in, and you can be sure that everything will give you the same consistently powerful shot every time.
The Beeman HW97K is more for the hotrodder air rifle enthusiast. It’s going to come with a spring that doesn’t quite work the same way every shot and you’ll have to figure out why. It has a trigger that is designed to be able to adjust in very tiny ways so that it will match your exact specifications. You’ll probably have to replace the barrel if it starts to corrode because the bluing is so poorly done. That being said, you’ll always be able to make adjustments, and for some people that’s half the fun.
Both are incredibly quiet, but the TX200 is just a tad more so. I was able to hear the spring locking back into position at the end of every shot of the 97, a very subtle twang, but I had to strain to hear similar from the TX200 and both fired very, very quietly.
When it comes to accuracy, baring the power problem I keep mentioning on the 97, both seem to hit at roughly the same rate. I was thoroughly impressed with how accurate both could be, especially since both broke in very quickly and easily.
The TX200 was much easier to cock by about six pounds, which considering it ended up giving a more powerful shot is saying something about how design matters. There’s more to creating a weapon than just putting the parts in place, every aspect of it means something and has an effect on the shot.
As far as quality goes, Air Arms wins the day hands down. From the deep bluing of the barrel to the beautiful checkering and rosewood inlay of the stock you can tell that Air Arms takes pride in the quality of their product. That’s not to say that the Beeman was poor quality, it just wasn’t up to the same standard in my opinion.
In both cases I was able to use fairly cheap pellets. For the TX200 I found that regular Crosman domed or hollow points worked best, and for the Beeman any of the branded pellets shot nearly perfectly out of it.
The Bottom Line
I don’t want to say that one is better than the other, but there are certainly aspects of the TX200 that I think are superior to the 97 and the only way that holds in reverse is with the trigger and the customizability. I like to adjust the weapons I use and try to find the right things to change so that it will shoot just a little better, get slightly more accurate, but ultimately I do that because I enjoy it, not because I need to in order to be able to rely on the weapon and that’s what you end up having to do with the 97.
As I mentioned above, if you like to play with your weapons more than you like to shoot them, the Beeman is for you. It’ll give you plenty to tinker on, lots of options to change things out, and has cheap enough ammo that you won’t have to worry about how much you’re spending trying to get it right. On the other hand, if you just want a reliable weapon that will last you a long time and not require a bunch of time on the workbench in order to hunt or plink, then you’re much better off with the Air Arms TX200 MkIII.
Neither has open sights, which bothers me, but a good scope will do just fine on either. Otherwise, you’re pretty good with the factory parts and accessories in both cases.
While in my opinion the Air Arms TX200 MKIII is the clear winner I would recommend either weapon if you’re looking for something highly accurate that you can hunt or shoot targets with, so pick the one that better fits your personality.