XCortech X3200 MK3 Airgun Chronograph Review

If you are serious about airgun shooting or tuning, you’ll buy a chronograph or two. I’ve been using a Shooting Chrony F1 for the last 15 or so years. It works well, but can be very light sensitive, even with diffusers in place. Because of this, I decided to give the X3200 a shot.

The XCortech X3200 MK3 is made specifically for airsoft, but has a few features that made it attractive to me as an airgun enthusiast. It is smaller and lighter than most chronographs, making it easier to pack for a hunting trip. It uses AA batteries and can also be powered via mini USB. You can program up to 3 different pellet weights/calibers and it will calculate muzzle energy on the fly.

The X3200 uses very little power, running directly off this small solar panel.
The X3200 uses very little power, running directly off this small solar panel through a mini usb connector on the back.

Its velocity readings are comparable to the readings I get from the F1. I’ve tested it with my weaker airguns as well as my more powerful ones and the average velocities are within a few fps between the two chronographs.

The X3200 also features a 25 shot memory, making it easy to track your shot to shot consistency. I have yet to fire a shot that it doesn’t pick up, unlike the F1. This is due to the fact that it has its own infrared light source, an expensive upgrade ($35+) for most chronographs.

Using my phone camera, you can see it provides its own infrared lighting.
Using my phone camera, you can see it provides its own infrared lighting.

No review is complete without some negatives. This is really a airgun only chronograph, so if you want to measure the speed of arrows or bullets, you’ll want a less specialized chronograph. While you can read your speed in fps, all other units of measurement are metric. This means you’ll have to put your caliber size in mm, your weight in grams, and read your energy in joules.

If you want a dedicated airgun chronograph, I can highly recommend the XCortech X3200 MK3. Did I mention it is a good $15+ cheaper than most chronographs?

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Crosman Piranha vs. Destroyer EX

I’ve been doing a lot of hunting and shooting with my Daisy 880. In keeping with the theme of a locally available air rifle, I’ve been feeding it a diet of locally available pellets. It has also been heavily modified since my last mod post, I’m a bit behind on documenting my progress. Suffice it to say that with 15 pumps, it will shoot a 10.5 grain Piranha at 720 fps, making 12.1 fpe. With the same number of pumps, the 7.4 grain Destroyer EX will exit the muzzle at 800 fps, making 10.5 fpe.

Two Crosman pellets go head to head
Two Crosman pellets go head to head

Like pellet rifles, pellets themselves are subject to a lot of marketing hype. These pellets are no exception. The packaging on the Piranha claims to be the ultimate hollowpoint with an extra bite. The Destroyer EX claims to have maximum penetration and expansion. Let’s put these claims to the test.

I set up a couple aluminum cans filled with water at 15 yards. A lot of the small game I take is shot at that distance. Here’s the entry side of the cans:

Can you guess which can was hit with which pellet?
Can you guess which can was hit with which pellet?

The can on the left was shot with the Destroyer EX, the one on the right with the Piranha. In spite of leaving the muzzle with 1.6 fpe less energy, and shedding more energy over the 15 yards it traveled, it managed to rip a larger hole in the can than the Piranha did. Here’s the exit holes that suggest why:

The exit holes tell the story.
The exit holes tell the story.

The exit hole from the Destroyer EX shows that the pellet expanded, while the Piranha expanded very little. From this simple experiment, it seems that the Destroyer EX takes some bite out of the Piranha, especially shot from a mid powered air rifle.

How does this test compare to real world hunting? I can tell you from experience that both pellets are lethal on small game, even with slightly misplaced shots. Both pellets fail to exit the animal the majority of the time, meaning they expend all their available energy into the animal, resulting in 100% recovery rates so far. Here’s some Destroyers that I’ve recovered from game:

The one on bottom is unfired for comparison
The one on bottom is unfired for comparison

Notice the expansion. This results in clean kills. The Piranha is a different animal. It seems to be made of a harder alloy that expands very little. Here’s a couple Piranha pellets I’ve recovered:

Piranhas expand very little.
Piranhas expand very little.

Instead of expanding, they break bones and change direction of travel, usually coming to rest right under the skin, somewhere a couple inches away from the entry hole.

Which one is better? It really depends on your air rifle and needs. My Daisy 880 shoots both with similar accuracy, so we have to take other things into consideration. The heavier Piranha will carry energy farther, a good thing if you are taking distant shots, a potentially bad thing if you are doing pest control near other animals and buildings. The Destroyers lose their energy quickly, bad for long shots, but good when you want to minimize collateral damage.

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Bit by the tuning bug again!

Many thousands of pellets have flown downrange since I’ve written here. In that time, I’ve purchased a Beeman QB78 and converted it to PCP. It has topped out as a 33 FPE monster, but I’m not here to write about that right now. I made the mistake of picking up and shooting my B3-3 the other day and decided I needed to go back to my springer roots.

I have break barrels and underlevers, so I decided it is time to get a side lever. Do you know how hard it is to find an affordable side lever? Diana seems to be one of the few companies still making them, but I don’t like to spend over $400 on an air rifle when I can have fun tuning three or four for the same price. Luckily for me, Mrodair had a side lever more in my price range.

Today, I received a B5, a Chinese spring piston AK-47 looking thing. Mine is in .22 and is almost all wood and metal construction. The only plastic I see on this airgun is the sides of the folding stock and some grip material to make the side lever more comfortable. Like most guns from overseas, there was cosmoline and some unknown oil everywhere.

My new B5 in .22
My new B5 in .22

I ran a couple patches through the barrel and a shop rag over the exterior and loading area. I then mounted a dovetail to picatinny rail and topped it all with my UTG 4×32 AO scope. I decided to test it out initially with CPHPs to work out the bugs. The cocking was the smoothest out of the box I’ve ever experienced with a cheap springer.

Then I took aim and squeezed the trigger. Must be on safe. No, it isn’t on safe. I took aim again and squeezed the trigger, this time much harder. Much, much harder! This thing must have the heaviest trigger in the world, I’d guess it broke around 15 pounds. If I don’t do something about this trigger, my finger is going to look like Quagmire’s arm after he discovered the dirty side of the internet! (If you have a devious sense of humor look that up on YouTube)

After a few dozen shots, I decided it was time to get a benchmark on accuracy before I tear it down, chop it up, and tune it. Most of my Chinese airguns really like RWS Hobby pellets, so I decided to use these for testing. I set up a grid target at 10 yards and took my favorite seated position. If you click on the picture in this post, you’ll notice I circled the group in red.

A half inch group at 10 yards with the worst trigger I’ve ever squeezed and no tune! I’ve got a real diamond in the rough here and I’ll be sure to update this site as I make progress.

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