SIG MCX Virtus PCP Air Rifle Review .22 Caliber
Testers: Stephen Archer
Model Number: AIR-VIRTUS-22
Test Date: March 30, 2021
Serial Numbers: 20J0379-1
Source of Supply: Supplied by SIG SAUER
High shot count
Realistic copy of centerfire Virtus
It’s a SIG!
We Don't Like
Accuracy should be better
Many non-functional controls
- Value for Money 80%
- Comparison to Makers Claims:100%
- Consistency 90%
- Appearance and Finish 100%
- Buying and Owning 90%
- Realism, Look & Feel 80%
- Realism, Trigger Action 80%
- Accuracy & Point of Aim 80%
- Shot Count 100%
- Muzzle Velocity 100%
HARD AIR MAGAZINE TEST CONCLUSIONS
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is a popular, fast-firing firearms replica that’s ideal for plinking and firearms training. Mid-weight domed lead pellets provide the best performance.
It’s a good reproduction of the manufacturer’s centerfire Virtus and provides many options for accessorizing with scopes, lights, bipods etc.
However, this is clearly not a target gun. Nor is it recommended for hunting by HAM. As a PCP, you’ll also need to budget for HPA filling equipment – a handpump, tank or compressor.
Although it scores a high 87%, the price holds it back to a Bronze Award.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is an unusual product in the “firearm replica” market. Firstly it’s relatively expensive at a Street Price of $299.95. Secondly it’s a PCP. The overwhelming majority of such models are powered by CO2.
This means that any customer buying a Virtus will also need to invest in a HPA hand pump, tank or compressor.
However the price and need for charging equipment has clearly not harmed sales of the Virtus. It appeared in Pyramyd Air’s top-selling air rifles of 2020 list! So the customers have spoken. They clearly consider the Virtus to be good value for money…
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Sig Sauer ASP MCX Virtus PCP Air Rifle 0.22
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
SIG Sauer MCX Virtus
REALISM – LOOKS AND FEEL
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is one of the family of SIG Air versions of their fast-firing centerfire counterparts. Below we see the Virtus, MCX, MPX and M17 pistol models – all airguns.
In fact, the Virtus PCP is an airgun version of the SIG MCX Virtus Patrol firearm. The photograph below is of the firearm and the similarity is very clear. Overall length and weight are close to identical for both airgun and firearm Virtus models. The main obvious visible difference is where the firearm’s buttstock is replaced by the HPA air cylinder of the SIG MCX Virtus PCP.
Once the PCP’s HPA tank is covered with an aftermarket stock “cover” intended for airsoft use, the appearance becomes even more similar. You can read about this stock in this previous HAM post. We also installed an UTG bipod using the M-Lok slots in the forearm. Bipod installation details are in this other post.
Now we have this!
Appearance-wise, we now have a SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle dressed-up very much like the centerfire version. However it remains disappointing for enthusiasts that sundry “minor” controls are fixed and non-operable. This includes the forward assist and cartridge ejection cover, the bolt catch and the left side magazine release.
On the positive side, the charging handle can be operated as expected. It’s not truly functional, however it is very satisfying to operate. The safety lever is ambidextrous and works just like the firearm.
Also matching the firearm, the PCP Virtus has a 30-round magazine. That’s another good point of similarity.
ACCURACY AND POINT OF IMPACT
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is supplied with adjustable front and rear iron sights. These are of the “BUIS” type that fold own when not in use.
The front sight is adjustable for elevation. The rear sight has large and small apertures and is adjustable for windage.
As the Virtus has a full-length Picatinny rail along the top of the gun, HAM has shot it using a variety of riflescopes – as can be seen from the photographs in this review and associated posts. We found that an UTG riser rail gave clearance to leave the rear BUIS sight in place, folded down. If not, they can simply be removed.
All of which is to say that there’s no shortage of ways to achieve an accurate point of impact on the target.
As for accuracy, this was generally “Minute of Soda can” good at 10 yards range with the standard suite of HAM test pellets. The best 10-shot group was achieved using H&N Field Target Trophy pellets with a horizontal CTC of 0.9 Inches and a vertical CTC of 0.5 Inches.
This level of accuracy would be suitable for plinking and informal target shooting out to about 20 Yards. That’s suitable for the “firearms training” intent of the Virtus, although not for ethical – one shot kill – hunting.
The test targets were shot using a Leapers UTG 3-12 x 44 True Hunter Classic scope. (Shown in our heading photograph, above).
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
Of course, the centerfire Virtus uses a gas-operated, semi-automatic action. The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is, however NOT semi-automatic. In fact, it operates something like a double-action revolver.
The first stage pull of the trigger actually operates the belt activator, rotating the 30-round belt in the magazine. It positions a pellet ready to be pushed into the barrel by the bolt when the second stage of the trigger releases the sear. This is why the trigger pull weight is so heavy.
It also explains why the trigger pull weight was heavier with some pellets than others. The hard alloy pellets are tough to extract from the belt and chamber in the breech. Likewise, the long, heavy H&N Baracuda Match pellets caused a very heavy trigger pull before failing to feed.
The photograph below shows the action that’s visible inside the magazine well.
Pulling the trigger positions the pellet, cocks and fires the gun. It’s not just a simple sear release – as in a semi-automatic action – where the projectile is loaded (normally) as the result of the recoil from the previous shot, or operation of the charging handle.
It’s important to understand this as there are some claims that the SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle has a semi-automatic action. Note that the SIG website does not make this claim. However, the side of the packaging does carry the words “Action SEMI”.
What we have here is an air rifle with an action that feels like a semi-auto. However it technically is not.
SIG Air claims a Muzzle Velocity of up to 700 FPS. In HAM testing, we significantly exceeded this number with a maximum of nearly 750 FPS using H&N Field Target Trophy Green alloy pellets.
As a regulated PCP air rifle, we expected to see good consistency of Muzzle Velocity from the Virtus. The shot count graph below shows how the example tested by HAM delivered 180 reasonably-consistent shots before the regulator set point was reached and the FPS started to decline steadily.
The average for these 180 shots was 607.5 FPS with 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Express pellets. That’s an average of 13.01 Ft/Lbs Muzzle Energy. The Extreme Spread was between a minimum of 574 FPS and a maximum of 639 FPS.
This level of consistency is easily good enough for the intended purpose of the Virtus as a firearms training tool. The huge shot count is due to a combination of relatively low power, together with an expansive 1,100 PSI regulator setting and a maximum fill pressure of 3,000 PSI.
The regulator is actually part of the tank. It’s in the assembly seen below between the aftermarket accessory buttstock and action.
Trigger pull weight was – as descried earlier – somewhat variable. It also varied depending on the type of pellets being fired.
In HAM testing of this SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle, we registered a minimum trigger pull weight of 10 LB 8 Oz. The highest pull weight is not known as it exceeded the maximum of 12 Lbs that our Lyman digital trigger gauge is able to record.
REALISM – TRIGGER AND ACTION
As discussed above, the SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle has a trigger pull feel that is similar to that of the semi-auto firearm version, but even heavier!
This is not a blowback gun, so there is no felt recoil when shooting. The 30-round bet-fed magazine is not of the “drop free” type either. It’s a two-handed release.
The prong-type flash hider does, of course, not minimize the report when shooting so the Virtus – while not exactly loud – does give a reasonable sound level to add to the realism.
180 consistent shots from one fill of High Pressure Air is a good number for any PCP air rifle! That’s particularly so given that the maximum fill pressure of 3,000 PSI is attainable using a hand pump.
The regulated design of the Virtus means that the HPA tank can be filled to lower pressures, if required for easier pumping. So, you could choose to fill to just 2,000 PSI and still obtain a reasonable number of consistent shots – say 60-70 – while retaining the same FPS. This gives flexibility in filling to match your needs or equipment capabilities.
The maximum Muzzle Velocity achieved by the SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle tested by HAM was 747.75 FPS using H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain alloy pellets.
As expected, the 11.9 Grain RWS Hobbys were the fastest lead pellets, with 668.15 FPS.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain||747.75 FPS||12.46 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Predator GTO Alloys 11.75 Grain||704.10||12.94 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|RWS Hobby 11.9 Grain||668.15 FPS||11.80 Ft/Lbs||Good.|
|Crosman Premier HP 14.3 Grain||605.71 FPS||11.65 Ft/Lbs||Good.|
|JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain||607.24 FPS||11.75 Ft/Lbs||Good.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 14.66 Grain||608.41 FPS||12.05 Ft/Lbs||Good. Best tested.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain||500.85 FPS||11.78 Ft/Lbs||N/a|
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle feels very substantial and well put together. The cast metal receiver is covered with a grey enamel. It looks and feels very durable.
Likewise the synthetic molded handguard, grip and buttstock. All are well finished and manufactured from high quality materials.
Overall appearance and finish is completely appropriate for the intended use and a good match for the centerfire version. After all this is a gun built for hard, tactical use. It’s not a mega-expensive, luxury side-by-side shotgun!
Below. Only the safety (and trigger!) are functional when the receiver is viewed from the left side.
BUYING AND OWNING
With SIG’s outstanding distribution capabilities throughout the firearms market, the SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is likely to be found in many gun shops and big box sporting goods stores. It’s also widely available online from specialist airgun dealers such as Pyramyd Air and Airgun Depot.
Particularly when buying online, it’s reassuring to know that SIG’s packaging for this air rifle is about as good as it gets. There’s a solid card box and plenty of molded polystyrene packaging to protest your purchase from the best (?) efforts of shipping companies!
The Virtus is supplied with one magazine and a pellet-seating tool. Use of this tool is required to obtain the best results when shooting. It lives in the pistol grip when not in use.
The operator’s manual is simplistic, with sufficient illustrations to accompany the text. It’s in English, French, Spanish and German.
SIG Sauer provides a one year warranty with the SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle. Although far beyond the 3 – 5 year warranties now becoming commonplace in the airgun industry, it is considerably better than the 60 day warranty that’s (incorrectly) listed on the Pyramyd and Airgun Depot websites.
Then, of course, there’s the need to provide a supply of High Pressure Air. Although most HAM readers will already be familiar with this, there will still be some customers who will be surprised that they cannot fill their new air rifle from a shop compressor – or even that it requires charging equipment at all.
Naturally, any good airgun dealer will explain to a newbie the need for an HPA supply and the best way to do this…
SAFETY FIRST. Due to the realistic appearance of this product, handle it as you would a firearm. Do not display it in public or in any place where it could be mistaken for a cartridge firearm.
10-YARD TEST TARGETS
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Sig Sauer ASP MCX Virtus PCP Air Rifle 0.22
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
SIG Sauer MCX Virtus
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.