SIG SAUER MCX Air Rifle Test Review
February 13, 2016
Supplied by SIG SAUER.
Its a blast to shoot!
Exact replica of the MCX firearm.
30 shot magazine.
Low muzzle velocity.
Heavy (but realistic) trigger pull.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is a different type of air rifle from almost anything else in its price range. All competitive air rifles concentrate on muzzle velocity or power and accuracy. By comparison, the MCX is weedy and inaccurate. And at a Street Price of $270.00, it’s not cheap.
So how can it possibly offer good value for money? Maybe we need to look at this airgun differently.
SIG SAUER is taking a new approach to the air rifle business. The MCX is closer in concept to the many – hugely popular – BB-firing CO2-powered replica air pistols, than it is to any other air rifle in its price range. Like the MCX, these BB pistols are low powered and relatively inaccurate. Yet they convey the FEELING of the firearm they replicate and people love shooting them. They’re also great firearms training tools.
So, if you’re a replica BB pistol shooter looking for an air rifle, you’re probably going to love the SIG SAUER MCX. It will give you more smiles per hour than any other air rifle out there. Pinpoint accuracy’s not critical and the low power means that you can use it safely in your indoor shooting range. For you, it offers outstanding value.
For the “traditional” air rifle shooter, however, the low muzzle velocity and poor accuracy mean it’s of no value as a target rifle or for hunting. It’s a high priced plinker only. That’s a big thumbs down in the value for money department.
So how do we give a HAM score to the MCX for Value For Money? We’re splitting it down the middle with a 50% score…
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
SIG Sauer MCX CO2 Rifle + Scope, Black
SPEED AND ACCURACY
The SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is powered by a 90 Gram CO2 cylinder. You also need to know that it was tested by HAM in an indoor range at 60 degrees F. This is important because the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle – like all CO2-powered airguns is sensitive to temperature and shoots slower in cooler temperatures.
This means that no muzzle velocity figures for the MCX – or any CO2-powered airgun – has any meaning unless it is combined with both the weight of the pellet fired AND the temperature of the gun and its surroundings.
Below. A 90 Gram CO2 cylinder is housed in the buttstock of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle.
Based on testing with other CO2-powered air rifles, we would expect the muzzle velocity of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle to increase by about 2 fps per degree Farenheit and to peak at a temperature of around 95 degrees.
So, the muzzle velocities achieved by the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle tested by HAM should be understood in the light of the above.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||597.58 FPS||3.7 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||583.92 FPS||4.2 Ft/Lbs||Poor. Best Tested.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grains||544.00 FPS||4.6 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.90 Grain||518.71 FPS||4.7 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||477.55 FPS||4.3 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||483.54 FPS||4.5 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||438.33 FPS||4.5 Ft/Lbs||Poor|
As you can see, the maximum muzzle velocity achieved by HAM in its testing of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle was 597 fps. This was achieved with 4.7 grain Gamo alloy pellets at a temperature of 60 degrees F. This would become a muzzle velocity of approximately 670 fps at 95 degrees F just by shooting the gun at that higher temperature!
Because CO2 is a refrigerant gas, shooting the gun fast also causes the gun to shoot slower. The HAM tests were made with one shot every 5 seconds. This may not sound very slow, but just try timing it yourself! Waiting 5 seconds between shots feels like a very long time when firing a semi-automatic rifle.
Best accuracy was achieved using H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets. But even that group was nothing to write home about. Overall accuracy for the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle tested by HAM could only be described as plinker-grade. This is not a precision target rifle, nor is the accuracy or power suitable for hunting. But then, the MCX firearm was not designed to be a sniper rifle either!
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets, .177 caliber
Accuracy may not be enhanced by the way the 30-round magazine belt grips the pellets. If pellets are loaded into the belt of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle and then removed without being fired, it’s clear that every pellet is being scored on the head and skirt.
Our photograph below shows these marks on some H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. We saw the same pattern of four notches around the circumference of the heads and skirts of all the pellet types we tested. Deforming pellets damages accuracy.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The SIG SAUER people tell us that the trigger of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is designed to replicate that of the firearm version. This means that the trigger pull weight is heavy at an average of 8 lb 11oz on the gun tested by HAM.
The metal trigger blade pulls back through a long, somewhat clattery “first stage” until a significant, but predictable, resistance is felt. Pull back hard and the gun fires after a short further travel.
HAM tester Stephen Archer considered the trigger pull felt best if it was pulled back fast and hard – as would be done in the heat of battle with the MCX firearm. That gives shooting high on the fun factor but is not best if the aim is pinpoint accuracy.
Although that – close to 9 lb – trigger pull weight sounds frighteningly heavy, it actually didn’t feel bad at all: probably because of the comfortable hand position provided by the pistol grip and the substantial overall weight of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle.
There’s a very effective, ambidextrous manual safety. Located just above and to the rear of the trigger, it’s ideally placed to be operated by the thumb of the trigger hand. Push down to fire, up for safe. Shucks, there’s no “rock and roll” setting 🙁
The ambidextrous cocking handle (equivalent of charging handle on the firearm) is very light and easy to use. As you’d expect, it’s only operated once on inserting a new magazine and so the cocking effort for this semiautomatic air rifle is close to zero.
Below, the cocking/charging handle is at the rear of the Weaver/Picatinny rail. The safety is shown in the vertical, “Fire”, position behind the trigger. Ahead of the trigger is the magazine release. The bolt release is non-functional.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The manufacturer claims that the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is a realistic copy of the firearm original. Yip, it’s a dead ringer in just about all respects!
More contentiously, the maximum muzzle velocity of the .177 caliber version is claimed as 750 fps. As indicated above, HAM estimates a maximum attainable muzzle velocity of around 670 fps using the lightest pellets in 95 degree F temperatures.
Overall, the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is a consistent shooter.
As you can see from the test targets below, even the 5 second pause between shots allowed the CO2 pressure to balance itself quite well. This kept the Standard Deviation of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle tested by HAM to an average figure of 9.76 fps, which is very good. But – as with any CO2-powered airgun, rapid fire will cool the gun and lead to lower muzzle velocities and stringing down the target.
HAM estimates that the 90 gram CO2 cylinder provides enough gas for around 180 – 200 consistent shots. Your mileage may vary depending on your shooting conditions, but it should be in that range.
The trigger pull weight was also quite consistent, varying by only plus or minus 7 ounces around the 8 lb 11 oz average.
Accuracy was also plinker-grade consistent. The HAM standard test suite of pellets includes many types that are known to be accurate in many air rifles, but none of them excelled in the MCX tested by HAM. That means that it’s not likely that the grouping achieved in these tests will be significantly bettered by other pellets.
Noise level of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle was about average for an air rifle. Although subjectively somewhat louder than would be expected from the power level produced, it’s fine for indoor use without ear defenders and quite quiet out of doors.
That chubby black cylinder on the front of the gun looks like it could be a silencer, but not so. The SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is unsilenced. Unscrewing that barrel shroud proves the lack a silencer, below. And did you expect the barrel to be such a thin soda-straw type?
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is available in bundles with either iron sights, a red dot sight or a scope. These sighting bundles reflect the battle rifle heritage of the MCX. They indicate that SIG SAUER sees the airgun version as a plinker or firearms training unit.
The gun tested by HAM was supplied with a 1-4 x 24 scope with Weaver/Picatinny rings.
The scope mounted well onto the gun. The ring height gives a surprisingly good cheek weld on the tubular buttstock, while the almost-endless length of the rail allows for the right eye relief, whatever your eyesight.
A 1-4 x scope is unusual for an air rifle: 4 x power is usually a minimum, rather than a maximum value. Of course the low magnification helps to give a wide field of view that assists in rapid target acquisition. It also allows for focusing down to 10 yards (and maybe less for some eyes) without the need for AO (Adjustable Objective) functionality and gives a fairly long eye relief. All of these are good things.
The capped turrets operate positively and there is – thank goodness! – a mil dot reticle provided as standard. (Why can’t this be standard on all air rifles?).
HAM tester Stephen Archer found the scope’s optics to be bright and sharp, with good contrast. Overall, this is a far better quality scope than is found bundled with the vast majority of air rifles.
The SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is simply a blast to shoot!
Forget all you usually think about with air rifles, like that achieving pinpoint accuracy stuff. Just blaze away and enjoy it like HAM tester Stephen Archer did.
At 8 lb 9 oz all-up weight with scope and CO2 cylinder, the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle feels a real handful. But it balances well. The pistol grip and forward vertical grip provide a very solid, secure, yet natural aiming stance. All of this feels very good and “just right”.
If you’re an enthusiast for carbine-length military rifles like ARs, AKs or H&Ks, you’re going to love how the MCX feels in your hands. If you’re not a battle rifle kind of guy, or gal, let yourself go for once and enjoy the experience!
No jams were experienced during HAM testing.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Overall appearance, fit and finish of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle tested by HAM was outstanding for an air rifle in this price range.
All external parts are beautifully finished and assembly was obviously fastidious.
Yes, this is yet another “black rifle”, but close examination reveals precision molding of the synthetic parts, high quality metal castings and a range of high quality surface finishes. Oops, sorry about the finger prints in the photo below!
BUYING AND OWNING
It’s not common for HAM to publish photographs of packaging, but we’re doing it here! The packaging of the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle is of absolutely outstanding quality, with beautiful exterior design and graphics on the sturdy card carton.
Even more important is the very high quality foam interior that hold the gun tightly for shipping. That’s important because it means that there’s much less chance of any damage happening to the gun during its travels to you.
The SIG SAUER MCX air rifle has the expected 12 month warranty with normal return to manufacturer terms.
Now, how do we load that 30-round magazine?
Well firstly, it’s not as difficult as it seems it’s going to be. But secondly, you do have to treat the loading process with respect and have a solid table top (or similar) to do it on. This is not a process you want to undertake in the field. Given the potential for lots of shooting with the SIG SAUER MCX air rifle, it makes sense to buy additional magazines and belts and load a ton of pellets before you start pulling the trigger.
After dropping the empty magazine from the gun, open the magazine’s side door. You’ll see the belt inside. Take care to note that it only rotates one way – as shown.
The belt itself has black links at either end. This makes removal simple.
Below the belt is on the table – metal side down. Pellets are first pushed into the empty links by hand. Then the pellet seating tool that’s supplied with the gun is used to set the pellets to a uniform depth.
Then the full belt is loaded back in to the magazine. The door is shut, one pellet aligned with the aperture in the top of the magazine and it’s ready to insert back into the gun.
So far, so good. The pellet seating tool was a late addition to the MCX – it’s not mentioned in the multi-lingual instruction manual. But then that manual also fails to tell you that the MCX needs to be cocked by pulling back the charging/cocking handle after locating the magazine and before firing a shot! Fortunately most MCX buyers are likely to know how to cock a semiauto battle rifle…
It has to be said, too, that the pellet seating tool is almost guaranteed to roll away and get itself lost very rapidly. Really it needs a hole drilled in the end and a chain (or something) attached so that it can be kept safely. Hopefully SIG SAUER will have plenty of spares in stock.
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
SIG Sauer MCX CO2 Rifle + Scope, Black
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.