Recently, the good folks at Crosman Corporation sent me a sample of the Crosman TR77 air rifle. Right on the box it says “Tactical Break Barrel Rifle,” and that got me to wondering: what makes an air rifle “tactical?” Then I read further: “military-style all-weather synthetic stock” and “tactical muzzle break.” Then I got it: “tactical” is really marketing shorthand for “military look.” Okay, I’ll accept that.
The TR77 certainly is an interesting looking rifle. It stretches 43 inches from end to end and weighs just 7 lb. 6 oz. including the CenterPoint 4X32 scope and mounts. At the extreme aft end is a rubber butt pad which is attached to a molded black synthetic stock. The stock is fully ambidextrous and has a slight rise toward the rear that functions as a cheek piece. Ahead of that is a short section of stock that has a cross section like an I-beam. Ahead of that is the main receiver with a pronounced pistol grip at a fairly steep angle. The same black polymer forms a trigger guard around a black polymer trigger and lever-type safety. Forward of that, there is a slight indentation on either side of the stock, followed by a section of forestock that has fat ridges for easier gripping.
Underneath the forward end of the forestock is a long slot that allows clearance for the barrel during cocking. Forward of that is the barrel, which has a fluted polymer muzzle break on the end that can be gripped during cocking. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech block and main receiver. Near the aft end of the receiver, there is a dovetail for mounting the CenterPoint 4X32 scope and mounts, which are included with the TR77.
To ready the TR77 for shooting, grab the muzzle break and pull the barrel down and back until it latches. I estimate that cocking effort is in the 30-35 lb. range, and the cocking stroke is surprisingly free of creaks or groans or other noise. This opens the breech for loading. Slide a .177 pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. Push the safety lever forward to the FIRE position, and squeeze the trigger. The first stage requires about 2 lb. 5 oz. of effort, according to my digital trigger gauge. The second stage is long, with lots of creep, and ultimately requires 6 lb. 7 oz. of pressure.
While this is clearly an air rifle that could benefit from some trigger improvement – either a trigger job or an aftermarket trigger – I found that I could shoot reasonably well with it and produced nickel-sized five-shoot groups from a rest at 13 yards using Crosman Premier 7.9 grain .177 pellets. I suspect that I could have achieved tighter groups with a higher-power scope, but the TR77 came with the CenterPoint 4×32 scope, so that is what I used.
What really surprised me was the speed and consistency of the TR77. It put 7.9 grain Crosman Premier pellets through my chronograph at an average speed of 943 fps, and the variation from high (946) to low (940) was only 6 fps! I find that quite remarkable in an unturned, inexpensive factory air rifle. Despite the TR77’s speed, the shot cycle was not harsh, and the report was typical of a medium-power springer.
The other surprise that the TR77 has for the shooter is that the butt pad can be peeled off to reveal two small storage chambers inside the butt stock. This really spoke to me.
Ever since I was a kid, I have had a fascination with survival scenarios. Starting with Robinson Crusoe and the stories I would read in Boy’s Life and Outdoor Life, I loved reading about people who find themselves in survival conditions and the tools and ingenuity they use to stay alive.
In particular, I remember the story of three young men who decided to paddle the length of one arctic river. They had planned pretty well, but lost some of their gear (if I recall correctly) and found themselves in a subsistence situation. It seems to be that if game were available, an air rifle might be pretty useful for keeping body and soul together. I have even written about this idea a time or two in this blog and elsewhere.
So I could envision setting the TR77 up as a survival rifle, storing a supply of pellets, an allen wrench for the scope mounts, and some fire starting materials in the cavities in the buttstock. Maybe I would wrap some parachute chord around the I-beam section of the stock. The possibilities are endless, and I think the TR77 would be a fun gun for this type of project, defending the garden, or hunting small game.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott