Over the years as an airgun writer, I’ve heard or read or seen some wild and wooly tales relating to wound ballistics and airgun lethality. An airgun manufacturer had a video showing a wild pig being killed by a .177 magnum breakbarrel springer. On one of the forums, a fellow claimed to have killed a coyote instantly by putting a .177 pellet in the coyote’s ear canal. A trusted source told me that he had inadvertently killed a deer with a cheap Chinese springer. He was trying to shoot the deer in the behind, to chase it off his ornamental plants. The deer turned, the pellet went between the ribs, a pneumothorax resulted, and he found the deer dead in the flowers the next morning. So, yeah, you can kill really big game with really small pellets. (Along the same lines, archer Howard Hill once killed an elephant with a long bow.)
But then you have to ask the next questions: Is it a good idea? Is it recommended? Is it a “best practice?” The answer, in my view, is emphatically: NO! (If you are the Howard Hill of airguns, then you already know what you can and cannot accomplish with various calibers and power levels of airguns; this blog is addressed to the rest of us ordinary mortals.)
In general, if you want to hunt small to medium sized game and/or do pest control with an airgun, you want enough power to penetrate deeply into your quarry and a wound channel that is big enough to damage organs and cause lots of bleeding. Incidentally, the only sure way to cause instantaneous death in any creature is to disrupt the central nervous system. That’s why police snipers will, in general, aim for the brain stem – the spot where the brain connects to the rest of the nervous system.
And that brings us to this week’s airgun, the FX T12 400 Synthetic. www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me one to test, and I have to say that I am impressed. First, I just plain like the way this air rifle looks. It’s clean, purposeful. No frills, no foofaraw – just the stuff you need and everything in its place. It stretches 39.75 inches from end to end and weighs just 6.5 pounds before you mount a scope. It’s available in .22 or .25 caliber. I tested the .25 version. The T12 400 is a “bottle” gun, that is, it has a large bottle-type air reservoir that, in this case, holds 400 ccs of air. That’s where the “400” designation comes from.
At the extreme aft end is a thick rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically after loosening a screw. Forward of that is a matte black ambidextrous synthetic stock that has a fairly vertical pistol grip and thumb rests on either side at the top of the pistol grip. The finish on the entire stock has a soft rubbery feel that is pleasant to touch and easy to keep a secure grip on.
Forward of the pistol grip is a black metal trigger guard that surrounds a black metal adjustable trigger. Forward of that, on the underside of the forestock, is a pressure gauge to let you know how much pressure is left in the air reservoir. Moving forward again, at the end of the forestock you’ll find the air reservoir. Above that is the barrel, finished in black with a sound moderator permanently affixed to the muzzle end.
Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find a steel sleeve that brings additional rigidity to the barrel for improved accuracy. Aft of that is the receiver which has a large breech slot that accepts a rotary magazine. On top of the receiver are dovetails fore and aft of the breech for mounting a scope. On the right side of receiver is a large bolt handle which has two positions: locked closed and locked open. Also on the right side of the receiver, forward of a breech, is a male foster fitting that is used for filling the reservoir.
Next time, we’ll look at how well the T12 400 shoots.
Til then, aim true and shoot straight,
– Jock Elliott