Whilst working on early prototypes of the TX200 that he had been commissioned to design, master airgunsmith Ken Turner had experimented with adding what was referred to as a “recoil suppression device”.
The device was a rail inside the stock that allows the action to move rearward on synthetic bearings during the firing process, minimising the recoil felt by the shooter and thus reducing the hold sensitivity of the rifle.
Air Arms saw potential in Ken’s semi recoiling rifle as although the popularity of PCP’s was growing there were still shooters that preferred self contained air rifles and a semi-recoiling rifle could be appealing to them.
Prototypes of the new air rifle were on display at the International Shooting Sports Exhibition at the NEC in March 1992 and later in the year the TX200SR was with retailers.
The “T” was for Turner and the “SR” for semi-recoiling. The initial run ran out fast and waiting lists grew.
The SR received rave reviews, early sales remained strong and in 1993 it was awarded Air Rifle of the Year by Airgun World.
Mk1 Review - Airgun World January 1993
Around the end of 1993, an anti-bear trap device was added to the rifle in its Mk2 version. This was the only significant change.
With production of the SR ceasing in 1998 it had a relatively short life of around 6 years.
I don’t know the reason for Air Arms deciding to discontinue production of the SR but after the initial strong sales demand would seem to have dropped off quite quickly given that total sales over its 6 years were only around 1500.
Advert From 1994
The growing popularity and affordability of PCP’s would have affected demand as would the change in Field Target rules meaning the SR could no longer be used in the recoiling class. In an Air Arms advert from 1997 they sated “TX200SR - hugely popular with FT shooters as an alternative to traditional PCP recoilless rifles”. If this was the case I reckon it is more likely be a case of Field Target shooters who had been using the SR continuing to do so in the recoil-less class for a while whilst saving up for a PCP.
It is also worth noting that although the SR had been used by some FT shooter, the standard TX was still favoured over it. In the 1995 World Field Target Championships the standard TX took first and second place in all 3 recoiling classes whilst the SR only managed a 3rd place in one of the classes.
Another contribution to the demise could have been that the standard TX200 was so good that to some the extra cost and higher maintenance of the SR was a put off - the sledge/action had to be set up carefully to retain zero and would need re-setting whenever the action was removed from the sledge, which in itself was a bit of a chore.
Writing this has actually made me wonder whether the downfall of the TX200SR was down to the fact that it failed to compete well enough with its main rival – the standard TX200.
Despite having some flaws the SR it is still talked about with fondness by those who own or have owned one and it has a certain charm about it that makes it a very desirable rifle.
Mk2 (Walnut stock)
Barrel length: 14.75in
Calibre: .177 & .22
Apart from the trigger unit being isolated and some minor changes to allow the action to be attached to the sledge the action on the SR Mk1 & 2 are the same as those on the standard TX200 Mk1 & 2.
A solid steel piston, with a bore of 25mm runs inside a polished compression tube. With a pair of delrin bearings being present at each end the piston is radially floating, meaning there is no metal to metal contact and it can rotate during travel. The system eliminates the torque on fixed piston rifles that leads to twist being experienced when firing, providing greater spring efficiency and smoother operation. Adding to the efficiency of the rifle is the concentrically designed breech/transfer port which ensures a smooth flow for air on firing.
The SR has a stroke length of 82mm, the same as the standard TX. A few extra few millimetres of under-lever travel sets the sledge. As the rifle is cocked you can see the action move forward and lock, allowing around 10mm of rearward travel during recoil. When un-cocked, the action can move freely on the sledge.
As with all the TX range, the SR benefits from a 12 groove precision choked Walther barrel.
The muzzle end assemble is a one piece assemble with a built in silencer and the under-lever catch below. The catch uses a simple sprung ball mechanism with a synthetic stop to prevent over-travel.
The ratcheting anti-beartrap mechanism was introduced on the Mk2 TX200SR and was referred to as the “Safelok”. There are 10 notches cut along the piston shroud, 3 evenly spaced ones can be seen with the other 7 being hidden further back and out of sight. The small black lock on the side of the action engage with the notches as the rifle is cocked. After cocking the lock must be depressed before the breech can close as the under-lever returns.
A new trigger unit was developed for the TX range in the form of the C.D. unit – the C.D. being an abbreviation of “Computer Developed”. This is a multi adjustable 2 stage match trigger with sears machined from solid steel and a chassis screwed together rather being formed from folded steel. At the end of the cocking stroke the top sear automatically locks and the safety catch is set. The standard trigger blade was the same curved on as used on the TX200, with the option of a straight blade being offered.
The sporter style stock is very similar to that of the standard TX200 of the time. It was available in beech or walnut and featured:
A fore-end that was deeper at the rear than the standard TX stock and had a cutaway to allow for the movement of the action
Finger grooves to the fore-end
A rollover cheek-piece with a high comb to aid scope/eye alignment
Raked pistol grip
Chequering to the pistol grip and fore-end
Black rubber ventilated butt pad
Stripdown Guide - Airgun World July 2002