Chinese Air Rifles

by Noodle
Originally published in the mid 1990s

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Those who have one usually praise it, and those who don't are missing out: Chinese .177 cal air rifles are an excellent compromise between the high-priced accuracy of German air rifles, and the typical KISS principle Chinese milspec product. While the most common Chinese air rifle is the TS-45 model, an adult-sized, maple-stocked, under-barrel-lever-cocking rifle, I shall use the TS-45-2 rifle as my main example, since it is the only model that I own, though I have shot the others. Currently, the trade flow of these single-shot rifles is being impeded by the Crime Bill's ban on Chinese firearms, but the supply is expected to improve shortly, as they are only pellet rifles, not firearms.

Three types of Chinese air rifles are available; the side-lever, under-barrel-level, and break-barrel models. There is also a break-barrel Chinese pistol available which I bought from The Edge Co., but its accuracy and power are abysmal, so I will not be bothering to cover it.

The break-barrels, Model 61 and 62, are sometimes hopelessly inaccurate, and tend to be cheaper and more hand-fitted than the other models. These rifles are the lowest-priced of all Chinese-imports, and have corresponding accuracy, though they retain the high velocities of the other rifles, having basicly the same action.

The under-barrel-lever appears only on the B3-1 series, the largest, and most powerful and accurate of all the rifles, which is currently selling for around $50, depending on your source. It has an advertised velocity of 850 fps, and range of 400 yards. Recently, B3-1s have been advertised with scope mounts, as have the other Chinese air rifles, which either have scope mounts or actions grooved for scope rings. These are the largest of all the rifles, and I would assume have the best accuracy.

The side-lever-cocking models are the original TS-45, the TS-45-2 (XS-B3, the author's rifle) and the recently introduced B4-1, which is basicly the TS-45 with a more robust adult stock, and an action grooved for scope. The TS-45 is a side-lever rifle, with SKS-style sights, the front post can be adjusted using SKS/AK tool. The TS-45 with wooden stock strongly resembles the SKS, the weapon that it trains Chinese youth for use of. The TS-45 is reportedly made by Norinco.

The TS-45-2, externally resembling the AK, is complete with stamped metal receiver, maple pistol grip and forend, and unusually solid metal skeleton folding stock, reminiscent of the RPK's hinge system. The TS-45 series all feature side-lever one-stroke cocking, varnished maple wood, blued parts, and all components save the safety are either stamped or milled steel. There isn't one bit of plastic on these rifles, except for the removable Bakelite stock inserts that come on the TS-45-2's folding stock. On the TS-45-2, two large screws hold the action to the receiver; one smaller screw with washer is on the bottom of the wooden forend and screws into the parts of the action where the barrel goes into the main assembly, the other screw is much larger and is on the rear top of the action, going through the part that went airborne as described later, and goes into a steel square in the rear of the receiver. The receiver holds the M-16 style safety on the right, which is cast from an old die, and the trigger guard. The trigger and cocking mechanism is part of the action, which separates upon the removal of the two screws. The TS-45-2, (The "Pioneer" XS-B3 as specified by the pamphlet included) is the same as the TS-45 only in its bolt system, which is simply a stainless steel bolt with an extremely powerful spring behind it (as the author learned when he disassembled the rifle, only to have the rear, milled part of the action fly off the gun and make a large dent in the wall when he removed the rear pin) which powers a piston within the bolt which, upon pulling the trigger, flys forward and powers air down the barrel, which has a plastic seal with the bolt. To load, the pellet is placed directly in the barrel when the side-lever is drawn back, then the side-lever is pushed forward again and the lever locks against the side of the receiver on a notch and the rifle is ready to fire. Upon pulling the trigger, which is rough and heavy, the piston's impact actually creates recoil, and an audible report, unlike your typical Crosman pump gun. The TS-45 series is also much more accurate than even a top-of-the-line Crosman witha scope no less, as the author learned when shooting the pair simultaneously. The TS-45-2 that the author purchased needed no sight adjustments to out-shoot the Crosman, by printing groups well under an inch at 45 feet. The TS-45-2 that the author purchased from The Edge Co. for 79.95 came with a color pamphlet, complete with Chinese and something that resembled English instructions. Documents included with Chinese products are always good for comic relief, and often nothing much else. I quote: " Features- The air rifle B3 is a species spring, piston closs the air rifle general, it is used for competition military physical culture training... As it employs a folding stocK and side-lever cocking mechanism, easy to carry. Safety device safety reliability and adjustable rear sight and front sight. The major components of this rifle are mate of super guality steels and with rine workmanship, and have undergone special treatment. Thus showing high rigidity and durability... Precautions-Please you claen your air rifle then hour a lttle of lubricating oil on the motion hart after you had bean used... The air rifle must lead pullet for 4.5mm instead of it coith ron nail efc."

Its high power, foldable stock, rugged design, and impressive accuracy make for an excellent rifle that is incredibly affordable- while the TS-45-2 is much more xpensive than the standard TS-45, Federal Arms offers the TS-45-2 for a little under $50, wholesale, while the lowest price I've seen advertised nationally is $69.95, from Midwest Sports Distributors. The TS-45-2 is the rifle that the author would recommend as a youth's first serious rifle, or a basement rat-nabber, though it is much too powerful for use as a cat-aggravator. When Tabby starts singing in the middle of the night, wipe the dust off of your Crosman, since that's the only thing you'll find that it's good for, after purchasing the TS-45.


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