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How does the Crosman MTR77 NP compare to the M16? PART 1

PUBLISHED: 16:25 23 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:47 24 January 2017

With dimensions identical to the M16A2, the Crosman handles just like the firearm

With dimensions identical to the M16A2, the Crosman handles just like the firearm

Archant

John Milewski compares the Crosman MTR 77 NP to the classic M16 Service Rifle

As a long-term student of military history, I have always had a fondness of military-styled rifles, as long as they resemble a classic design. Crosman’s MTR77 NP is a dead ringer for the American M16 Service rifle.

When introduced, the M16 was plagued with reliability issues, such as jamming, and so was blamed for the deaths of numerous US servicemen in Vietnam. These performance problems were addressed through the introduction of chrome-lined chambers and barrels and a change to the cartridge propellant, both of which were, ironically, part of the original concept. They had been dropped due to their increased cost.

At 7 1/2 lbs, and 39 3/4 long, the Crosmans dimensions mirror the M16A2.At 7 1/2 lbs, and 39 3/4 long, the Crosmans dimensions mirror the M16A2.

The demand for minimal cost resulted in troops paying with their lives, before the M16A1 was introduced and found to be more reliable. The Crosman is based around the M16A2, introduced during the mid-1980s.

Later variants were fitted with a flat-top ‘Picatinny’ or Weaver-style rail, rather than a non-removable carrying handle. A removable handle remained an option until 2009, when it was finally discontinued in favour of the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (ACOG), which became standard issue for the M16 and the current M4 series of rifles.

I fitted a washer behind the mount to prevent creepI fitted a washer behind the mount to prevent creep

Incidentally, the M4’s designation continues on from the M1/M2 and M3 carbines rather than the M16, on the basis that it is a compact carbine rather than a standard rifle. The US wanted a service rifle as compact as a sub-machine gun and the M4 series is very close to this ideal. American service personnel gave the M4 an 88% overall satisfaction score in a 2006 survey carried out for the Centre for Naval Analysis. The older M16 scored 75% in the same survey.

The MTR77 NP is a standard, break-barrel air rifle powered by a nitrogen piston, rather than a spring (hence the ‘NP’). UK shooters will be more familiar with the gas-ram concept originally developed by Theoben, which is the same thing. Rather than a spring compressing air prior to the shot, a nitrogen-filled reservoir is compressed and provides the energy.

The forward assist and case deflector are both mouldings, whilst the magazine release catch worksThe forward assist and case deflector are both mouldings, whilst the magazine release catch works

The American-designed MTR77 NP is made in China and imported into the UK by ASI. Two basic versions are made – one fitted with a detachable carrying handle and open sights, while the other comes with a 4 x 32 scope. Unfortunately, only the scoped variant is currently available in the UK and I had to order a carrying handle, along with a front sight, from airsoft sources. I wanted the test rifle to resemble the M16A2 as closely as possible, so the scope is still in its box.

The Crosman weighs 7 1/2 lbs (3.4 kilos) and measures 39 3/4 inches (110 cm), identical to the M16A2. A dummy magazine can be inserted and released, using a working mag’ release catch placed in the correct position on the rifle, adding to the realism. The magazine is hollow and can be used to store pellets or perhaps a cleaning kit.

The hollow magazine detaches and can be used to store pellets or a cleaning kitThe hollow magazine detaches and can be used to store pellets or a cleaning kit

One break from realism is that the magazine is based on the 20-round version, rather than the curved 30-rounder the M16A2 was issued with. Other catches, such as the bolt release, are mouldings and make the Crosman ‘look right’, in my view.

Red-dot sights are ideal for this rifle and I bought a PAO red/green-dot sight from Crawley Surplus, who supplied the rifle. I would recommend this shop to anyone looking for a new air rifle or pistol – their advice is sensible and the shop is full of airguns and associated products.

Adding a red-dot sight decreases target acquisition timeAdding a red-dot sight decreases target acquisition time

This sight has a standard mount, which can be reversed to fit Picatinny rails, and I obtained some excellent results at distances up to 25 yards.

I did not, however, find the red-dot-sighted rifle comfortable due to the ‘in line’ stock and raised sight line. The mounts were a little too low for me and I had to press down on the stock in order to centre the dot within the sight. Higher mounts would probably help, but a far more comfortable sight picture resulted when I fitted the carrying handle and foresight.

In part two of this review, John sees how the rifle performed on the range.

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