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Old 11-24-2011, 02:25 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: northern Chicago suburbs
Posts: 42
Default Stoeger X20 Review


Stock: 8/10
I'm one of those guys who would rather have a quality plastic stock than a badly-finished wood stock. This one does not disappoint. It is very solid, has a bit of flex if it is hit, and I bet it is all but unbreakable. The checkering is sharp, and it has raised cheekpieces molded in each side of the comb.

Fit & Finish: 8/10
Machining is great. I took off a point for lack of polish on the trigger group, and a point for the blueing not being of the same depth as an Air Arms airgun or a fine firearm. Cocking cycle is fairly smooth. I'd say 20% worse than a Beeman R9, but twice as good as a Crosman Raven. There are no machining marks or mold flashing on the exterior of the gun. The stock screws had thread locker on them, but the ones in the front hadn't been tightened quite enough.

Trigger: 5/10
This was by far the worst part of an otherwise excellent gun. I have since replaced it with a Charlie da Tuna GRTIII trigger, and now it is much, much improved, but this review is about the stock gun, so I had to deduct some big points for this mess-up. The trigger has an extra spring in it to simulate a two-stage trigger. But I bet the main purpose was to make the company lawyers happy. It is one of those triggers on which one squeezes and it moves slowly and heavily back, with no stacking. Then, it gets to the "second stage" and gets a lot heavier. It starts stacking, and then POP, the pellet is sent on its merry way. I did OK with the stock trigger. Sometimes OK, sometimes horrible, all on account of the trigger, I think. Squirrels within 30 yards would be in serious danger, but bullseyes and sparrows would probably not be.

Scope: 9/10
I rate this 3-9x40 highly for its value. If it had mil dots, I'd have given it a 10, and it would still be on the rifle. (it is quite a beast now, on the light weight Daisy 953!) The rifle cost me $220 at Bass Pro; the same package online costs $180. *The package without scope cost $130, I believe, and this is a steal too. But the stock scope is worth $50. The optics are quite clear. The zoom action is nice. The included bikini-style caps are nice too; nicer than the ones UTG/Leapers includes with their scopes. You know, those cheap flip-ups that take so much force to open, they get pulled half off each time? The scope has an adjustable objective down to 10 yards, so it is truly useful for target shooting. I noticed the new Stoeger X20S (Suppressor) package only includes a fixed 4X scope; better than open sights, adequate for small game, but not for target shooting. BOOO Stoeger, Booo! It also came with the one-piece mount. I mounted the scope & mount with a tiny dab of blue thread locker on the end of the threads of each screw, and it has held fast throughout hundreds of shots. In case you all are curious, I replaced it with a Leapers 3-12x40AO with mil dot reticle and red/green illumination, in case I decide to hunt raccoons at night without enough light.

Overall Design: 9/10
They really though of all the details on this gun. Even though I'm a righty, I can appreciate the effort they went to when they were seeing to the details. Double cheekpieces. The automatic safety at the back of the receiver that can be pushed in with either thumb. The high quality plastic used for the stock. The curved rubber buttpad. The cocking grip up near the front sight. All the basic engineering is solid. It would benefit from a tune to smooth up the spring action, and of course the trigger, but at this price point, I'm happy. It is a $130 gun, not a $500 one. By just shooting it and replacing the trigger, it feels like a $300 gun now. Back to the plastic cocking grip: It looks a bit like it is masquerading as a suppressor, which turned me off at first. However, I really like that I can pick up the gun by this area and not be worried about leaving my skin oils on the barrel, where they will turn to rust later if I forget to wipe it down. Also, plastic feels warmer to the hand than steel, so it just feels that little bit nicer to cock. The cocking action does not require a slap to get the barrel to break loose. Yet it locks up firmly. How they did it, I don't know, but it is nice.

Sights: 8/10
Meh. They're fiber optic, which is all the rage. But on an airgun? C'mon. I guess they could be usable in moonlight, but that is stretching things. If they've got to be fiber optic, they could at least have thin rods for finer aiming, instead of big fat ones that look bright in the store, but then are mostly useless for any kind of target shooting. So -2 there. If they had left them off altogether, I'd give them a 9, and if they were present but useful for target shooting and removable, I'd give them a 10. As it stands now, I unscrewed and removed the rear sight, but the front one is molded integrally with the cocking grip area at the end of the barrel. I keep thinking about getting out the ol' cutoff wheel on the Dremel and slicing it off, then clean it up with a file. But this gremlin in the back of my mind tells me: "NO, you moron, you'll ruin any resale value it might have, if you decide to sell it later!" At 3x and 4x in the scope, I can see the front sight, epecially when I'm shooting at 10 yards.

Safety: 9/10
The big knob on the back of the receiver pops out and engages the safety when the gun is cocked. At first, it took probably 15 lbs. of force to push it in, but it lightened up nicely. Now, it's probably 5 lbs. It is a solid click and can be pushed in with whichever thumb you've got up there. It takes more effort to release than the classic R9 side button safety, but it is really the same whether you're a righty or lefty.

Noise: 7/10
I don't have a lot to compare it to, but I think it sounds about like every other 14 ft-lb. gun that doesn't have a shroud. Nothing like a rimfire powderburner, but not exactly stealthy either. It's probably 3X louder than a quiet PCP gun. If I had a backyard and wanted to drill a pest every once in a while, I'd quietly do the deed, then walk back in and put the gun away. If a neighbor is outside, she might wonder what the pop was, but after not hearing it again soon, she'd soon forget it if she didn't see from whence it came. Keep shooting though, and you'd better have some cool neighbors. It sounds about like a multi-pump pneumatic. From what I've read about the suppressor model, it isn't much quieter, despite all the aggressive advertising.

Shooting: 7/10
Minus one point for the slightly rough cocking and firing cycle. Not more than one point, as this really has no effect on accuracy. It's just a matter of feel. Mine two points for the trigger. Shame on you, Stoeger. You took a Chinese BAM B19 design* and improved it in some areas, but then neglected the trigger. Even so, this gun may become a cult classic. It is backed by Stoeger, so if something goes south, someone outside of China will have a much easier time getting after-sale support. Doing the math, one can see that this is a 9/10 shooter, once the good trigger is installed. This is why Chinese airguns are so popular. It isn't because we fans are deluding ourselves that they're as nice as good German or Czech guns, it is because we can buy a gun for $150, then put another $32 into it and have a really nice shooter for less than the cost of a European gun.

* - More info on this can be found in the clone table here:

Overall: 8.5/10
For reference, I'd give the Beeman R9 a 9, and probably a TX200 a 10. This one falls short a bit because of the trigger, and a bit because of the sights. If you like wood furniture, you may or may not like the X20 in wood. The wood itself is good, but the finish on the one I saw in the store was really scratched up; it didn't seem durable. Probably some cheap Chinese spray-on finish. To me, the thing that is most telling that this is a good gun is my situation: I bought this as my re-entry gun for airgunning. As a kid, I shot multi-pump pneumatics. As an adult, I wanted "A Real Airgun." (which to me, meant springer of at least 850 fps.) I got it after not a ton of research or savings, and now that I'm more educated an have experienced some truly fine guns, I still don't have the urge to replace this one. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking about a Beeman R9 or Diana 48 and even thinking about buying one in the Classifieds. But then I return to reason and ask myself: "What does that gun do that your X20 won't?" The answer is: a) look a bit nicer, b) feel a bit nicer. c) shoot a bit harder (in the case of the 48). But in each case, it is not (to me) worth the expense and valuable real estate in my small condo.

I highly recommend this gun to someone looking for a powerful spring piston airgun that is not overly powerful or poorly manufactured. Just a good, solid airgun at a fair price. Unless you're really into fine wood furniture, just factor in an extra $32 for the trigger, and you'll be happy with this gun.

Pix, First Batch:

More to come as I think of it.
"Well begun is half done." - Aristotle
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