The Anschutz ZM2002 FT Air Rifle

By Wade Sutherland
Photos courtesy of US Airgun Magazine
Originally printed 2002


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The Anschutz CA2002 is the newest air rifle to come from the stables of the winningest small bore rifle manufacturer in the world. The CA2002 is the compressed air version of their 10m match air rifle. This rifle holds the world record in 10m with a 598 out of 600, which was previously held by the 2002 pneu- matic with a 597. The 6 foot pounds of energy produced by the CA2002 provides vibration free shot release. With the 4.8 milli-second lock time, the pellet is down and out of the 16.5" rifleing, quickly, efficiently and with pin-point accuracy. Well, that's very nice, you say, but what good is 6 foot pounds to a Field Target shooter. These days the Open Class competitor wants to have at least 17+ ft.# of muzzle energy for those long and difficult targets. Obviously there would have to be some drastic modifications to achieve that velocity with a 10.5 gr. pellet, and still maintain the smooth shooting cycle of the 10m rifle. This is where the "ZM" comes into the picture, meaning Zasadny Modified.

Allen Zasadny has been working with PCP's over the years, trying to find that perfect platform from which to build the best FT rifle available. The Anschutz was chosen as Allen said, because "it lended itself as having the best potential for the conver- sion". However, once he started on the conversion, little was left of the action except for the barrel and breech block. The regulator was thrown out and replaced with a Joe Korick reg. According to Allen, "the Korick reg is the best regulator in the world, bar none". The valve housing and valve stem were both mod- ified to handle the much larger volumn of air output needed in order to obtain a higher velocity. The springs for the valve as well as a new spring for the hammer were wound, shot peened and oven tempered by Allen. The air reservoir was also replaced with a 23" chromed hydraulic cylinder that will hold enough air for a 50 shot match and still have enough to shoot a couple of side shoots. The barrel is sleeved in aluminum from the breech to about 10" beyond the muzzle, where a still air moderator captures the muzzle blast and turns it into the faint tick of the hammer hitting the valve. With all the modifications made and put together and the task of tuning was all complete, the only thing left to do was put it into action and see how she performed.

Allen called me on Saturday, April 18, 1998 and asked me if I would be interrested in shooting his new gun at the Cajun Spring Nationals this year? Well, of course, I would be honnored--BUT-- it's only a week until the match and the gun isn't even here yet. The gun arrived on Tuesday, just 2 days before I was to leave for Baton Rouge. I decided to do some bench rest shooting to get an idea of the accuracy that Allen had been raving about, so I set out a target at 50 yds. The first 4 shots were in the same hole! The next shot just opened the hole up to a little over a 1/4". WoW! That was the best group I'd ever shot at 50 yds. and I wasn't even warmed up. The groups didn't get any better but they were consistantly sub 1/2" and most were between .350" and .450" oto. My best 5 shot group measured .143" ctc. Without a doubt, that was the best shooting I had ever done. So I packed up the sand bags for some FT shooting. After some adjusting of the custom made butt hook, knee block and a new device at the pistol grip that Allen attached to turn your hand out in a much more relaxed position, I found the gun to be rock steady. It was amazing to find it so well balanced that I could hold the cross hairs on a hole the size of a pellet at 50 yds. The groups were even looking like the benchrest groups. What was really blowing my mind was all the while the wind was not effecting the groups. The pellets were not drifting off as I was expecting them to. It seemed as if they were cutting right through the wind. This prompted me to get my Ripley out to do some wind drift comparisons. The Ripley is my most accurate air rifle in my collection to date and it shoots a 10.5 CP @ 850 fps. Shooting 10 shot groups, the Anschutz consistantly shot tighter groups, by as much as 1/2". This gun performed like no other air rifle I had ever seen with only the short amount of time I had had with it. The real test was going to be on the coming weekend.

The 10th Annual Cajun Spring Nationals is the first major match of the '98 season, and the guys (and ladies) of the Bayou Airgun Club put on one of the premier matches in the country. The compe- tition comes from all over the US to shoot here, and the trophy will be well earned. On sight in day everyone got the first glimps of the ZM2002, and it was love at first sight to almost everyone. Most people who took their turn shooting it had about the same comment; "it's a little awkward, but it sure does shoot good".

The awkwardness comes from the accessories that take some person- al adjustments for one to feel comfortable. Once that part is sorted out it's like sitting in a top fuel dragster, but without the roar of the power plant.Saturday morning the shooters meeting was just about to begin and I was getting very nervous thinking about what I was about to do. Debuting a gun that has never before been tried in competition, and doing it with only 3 days in my possession against the top shooters in the country was an overwhelming thought. By the time I reached the first lane I was a wreck. My nerves were tied in knots and my heart was doing about 180, but to my amazement, the rifle just stayed right in the kill zone. All I had to do was just squeeze the trigger. Oh yea, the trigger! The 5018 match trigger is the top of the line Anschutz trigger which has adjustments for every conceivable setting a shooter could ask for. I had to set the weight up a little from Allens setting of about a 1/2 oz. to about 4 ozs. After the two courses were shot on Saturday I was in a 3 way tie for 2nd place. Dropping only one shot all day was good enough for me to have the confidence to go into Sundays match and tie a course record of 98 out of 100. Needless to say that as soon as I got home I called Allen and placed my order.

The next match was the US Championships and Allen wasn't going to have my gun ready yet, so he sent me his gun once more. During this time I had some guests from the UK who were visiting with me and competing in the match. Nick Jenkinson and Dave Welham are two well known characters from across the pond who had a chance to evaluate the Anschutz. After the two had a while with the gun they came away saying that it was by far the best thing they had ever shot. Com- pletely "dead" shooter and impact was precisley where the cross- hairs were at release, was the concensus of the two world class Brits. During my preparation for the match it dawned on me; the two times that I have received this gun after shipment, I have not made any elevation or windage changes. Now that I think about it, I had not made any when I got to Baton Rouge, either. I had never been to Baton Rouge and not had to make an elevation correction of about 6 clicks or more, but not this gun, not one click out. WoW! Anyway, without going into my excuses I still came in 2nd place. Now when you have to help run a match and feed 120 people for two days and so on and so forth--whoops! sorry, didn't mean to start with the excuses.

Since those two matches several ZM2002's have found new owners. I'm sure the competition for the 1999 season will be one of the most interresting, as the top shooters are all looking at this rifle if they haven't already ordered one. I received my ZM2002 in July, and it is an exact copy of Allens in every way with almost identical performance. The attachments that I ordered included a stabilizer that is adjustible for that perfect balance in relation to ones knee position. The elevation knob on my Burris 8-32 was also set up by Allen, and shows every yard from 10 to 60 yds. The weight comes in at 16 pounds with all the bells and whistles, which some people might think is a little hefty. My experience has shone me that weight is one of the keys to steady hold and wind resistance.

The Anschutz ZM2002 has not crossed over into any other sport as of this writing, but that is only a matter of time. In the BR-50, (which is now called BR-V) the Anschutz CA2002 has become the most popular 10m air rifle on the line, according to Larry Brown. Larry, inventor and operator of the of the BR-V goes on to say " the ease of scoping, cocking, best trigger by far, and reservoir capacity are all the major pluses going for it ". The Olympic Gun class is shot at a distance of 22 yards, and Larry DeLong of Indiana, won the 1998 BR-50 Nationals with an Anschutz CA2002. He is an accomplished BR-50 and centerfire benchrester, however, this was his first year with an airgun. For all other type airguns the distance is 30 yards and this is the area that the ZM2002 will be filling. The top score for the 50 shot target, at the revised 22 yards, is 4950 out of 5000. I believe that the ZM will easily match that record, and go on to set new records in the 30 yard discipline.

Silhouette shooters will also find the ZM2002 a great advantage, because of the variations available in the stock and actual length of air reservoir and barrel shroud. The other advantages of unequaled accuracy, superb match trigger, simple cocking, ease of loading, high velocity and number of shots per fill make this rifle a great choice for many airgun sports.

The ZM2002 is the Lamborghini of Field Target Air Rifles and the high standard of performance and workmanship should be a wake-up call to all manufacturers that this is what it will take to go into the next millennium of field target competition rifles.

 

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