THE 200 SERIES

Having seen a significant drop in sales of their live ammunition rifles, Czech company Ceska Zbrojokia, AKA CZ, headed to the 1997 IWA show in Nuremburg on the look-out for new opportunities.

CZ already had a relationship with Air Arms due to their joint pellet manufacturing venture so they approached them at the show and left some product brochures.

Air Arms later went back to them and expressed an interest in a CO2 powered junior target rifle that had caught their eye. The rifle in question had never got past the early development stage with the prototypes being gifted to a local air gun club. The prototypes were quickly acquired from the club and sent to Air Arms.

Their followed a 3 year programme of development and after complete re-modelling, numerous prototypes and plenty of tweaking Air Arms believed they were ready for CZ to start production of the now compressed air powered rifle.

Advert from 2002 picturing a prototype that almost made production

The launch was expected to be early 2001 but further development needs were identified. It had been found that the loading bolt located half way along the side of the action caused issues when diopter sights were fitted. With Air Arms wanting the rifle to be potentially used as a junior target rifle the bolt was moved to the rear of the action.

Delays were compounded by final tweaks to meet American shooters preferences and legal requirements.

After around 6 months delays from its anticipated launch the eagerly awaited S200, named after the intended retail price of £200, was finally with retailers late in the summer of 2001.

Mk1 Sporter - no cut-away to fore-end

Mk1 Sporter - cut-away to fore-end

Caliber - .177 & .22

Weight – Approx. 2.75Kg/6lb

Length – 907mm/35.7 (with silencer) 871mm/34.3in (with muzzle brake)

Barrel – 482mm/19” choked CZ match barrel

Shot count – Approx. 40

Trigger – 2 stage multi adjustable

Trigger blade – curved plastic

Stock – 2-piece stained beech with black ventilated butt pad

 

Being lightweight and compact with a short length of pull the S200 instantly appealed to women and children.  The high-quality build backed up with a fast lock time & great accuracy due to the top end barrel meant the new rifle also appealed to all manner of shooters. In particular it was seen as an ideal stalking rifle.

Given all its attributes and budget price it was not long before initial stocks sold out and waiting lists grew - over the first six months sales were double what Air Arms had anticipated.

S200 Feature - Airgun Wolrld - June 2003 - Part 1

The S200’s target rifle ancestry was evident though such features as the vertical grip and flat based fore-end and it was not long before Air Arms released a dedicated target version in the form of the S200T/T200.

This version had an accessory rail underneath the fore-end stock and an adjustable cheekpiece and butt pad - which could also accommodate spacers to add length. The standard version also had a removable cylinder with a pressure gauge in place of the quick fill of the standard S200.

The T200 was offered in 6 foot pound and 12 foot pound versions which came with a set of Gamo diopter sights, with a specially made muzzle end being able to accept the fore-sight.

S200 Feature - Airgun Wolrld - June 2003 - Part 2

Although there have been many changes to the S200 over the years Air Arms have never noted these changes by referring to different marks/Mk’s. However, several particular stages of the continuing development of the rifle have led to 3 commonly referred to Mk’s.

The early versions are referred to as Mk’1s and can be recognised by the floated barrel, alloy filler cap and alloy loading bolt. Also, the muzzle end of the Mk1 barrel was turned down from 15mm to 10mm in order to accommodate the 400 series silencer of the time.

This “Mk1” era saw some small changes with the most noticeable being a cut out being introduced to the top of the fore-end woodwork.

S200 Feature - Airgun Wolrld - June 2003 - Part 3

Toward the end of 2003 several significant changes were introduced resulting in the Mk2. The most significant change was the addition of a plastic support band attached to the front of the fore-end stock, through which passed the cylinder and barrel.

The barrel on the Mk2 was no longer turned down and the filler cap and loading bolt were now made of plastic – although the loading bolt later reverted back to an alloy construction.

Mk2 Sporter

Mk2 Target

Calibre - .177 only

Weight – 3kg/6.6lb (With dioptre sights)

Length - 871mm/34.3in

Barrel – 482mm/19” choked CZ match barrel

Shot count – Approx. 40

Trigger – 2 stage multi adjustable

Trigger blade – curved plastic 

Stock – 2-piece stained beech with adjustable cheekpiece and butt pad. Accessory rail under fore-stock.

 

A number of changes were made throughout the lifetime of the Mk2 including the snap fit fill valve being replaced in 2005 with one of Air Arms own design which has not changed much since its introduction. In 2007 Air Arms introduced anti tamper measures including a shear bolt over the transfer port adjuster on the right-hand side of the action.

In 2004 a 10-shot retro fit magazine conversion kit was introduced further enhancing the S200’s appeal to hunters.

Advert from 2005

Late 2007 saw the Mk3 launched. There were a number of small changes and one significant and obvious one as a the 2-piece stock was replaced by the 1-piece stock still seen today. Although it can’t be denied that the 1-piece stock gives the S200 a more modern look and feel there are many, including myself, that prefer the quirkiness and feel of the 2-piece stock.

Advert from 2010

Throughout its life the S200 has shown itself to be a simple, reliable & accurate rifle with a quality build whilst having a budget price tag. Many would say that “pound for pound” it is one of the best PCP rifles there is and it certainly punches above its weight - be it as a 10m target rifle, a hunting/stalking tool, a very capable HFT/FT rifle or simply for enjoying a session of plinking in the back garden.

S200 Mk3 Review - Airgun World - January 2008

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