Build a sniper nest in your kitchen!

The SIG SAUER MCX Virtus PCP Air Rifle looks and acts like the real thing,
but is much more polite in the backyard.

Suppose you could reduce the power of your decked-out modern sporting rifle by a factor of 100. Consider the possibilities — you could shoot it in your backyard, garage and (when your significant other is away), down the hallway from a sniper hide in the kitchen. Which brings up an important question — is it acceptable to use dishtowels as a shooting mat?

Here’s the good news on a “low-power” modern sporting rifle idea: you can, which means one thing — those despot tyrants running the neighborhood association will stop tormenting you for shooting real ARs in your backyard.

Depending on your choice of caliber, .223 Remington or 300 Blackout, and your specific load, the “loud” version of the SIG SAUER MCX Virtus will deliver between 900 and 1,400 foot-pounds of kinetic energy but it’s a little much for some casual range time in the backyard or garage. However, the new SIG Air MCX Virtus PCP Air Rifle is engineered to fling .22-caliber pellets with 12 foot-pounds, give or take, making it backyard friendly, assuming you’re safe and use proper backstops.

You can fill its 3,000 psi air cylinder with a high-pressure hand pump but this Nomad
portable compressor from Air Venturi makes the job much easier.

The Real Deal?

It’s no coincidence the air Virtus weighs in almost the same as the centerfire MCX (7.9 and 7.5 lbs.) because it’s intended to be a near-identical lower-power twin. Whether for recreation or training, the air Virtus looks and acts like the centerfire version. You will notice a difference in the stock area because this is where the air Virtus stores its compressed air cylinder. Yes, it’s a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) design — SIG’s first in the category. For those new to airgunning, PCP rifles store a large supply of pre-compressed air on board in a mini-SCUBA tank of sorts. A regulator meters a precise volume of air to drive each pellet. This means you get a bunch of shots of similar velocity before you have to recharge the air cylinder.

The SIG SAUER MCX Virtus PCP keeps a generous supply of 3,000 psi of tacti-cool in its tank to deliver well over 100 rounds before you have to top it off. You can fill the air Virtus with a special high-pressure hand pump, and build your core muscles in the process, or you can take the easy way out and use a compressor. This rifle arrived with its tank near dead empty. Filling manually would have cost me a few hundred very strenuous pumps so I used an Air Venturi Nomad portable compressor. I’m not as dumb as I look. After plugging in to the SIG’s Foster air hose fitting, I was ready to go after just seven minutes of watching the Nomad do my work.

Even with its onboard air cylinder, the MCX Virtus handles much like its louder sibling. As the tank is in the rear, between the receiver and butt stock, there’s no awkward weight forward of the receiver, allowing the front end to swing and handle normally. As for controls, you’ll find an ambidextrous safety looking and operating like the centerfire equivalent. The forward assist and bolt catch-release lever are locked in place as they’re irrelevant in the air model. The magazine release is functional, and although shorter than its fire and brimstone cousin, locks and drops a 30-pellet magazine.

The magazine drops just like the centerfire version but runs off an internal 30-pellet belt.

Ammo Time

The MCX Virtus magazine seats as you’d expect but has a hidden secret. Inside a trap door, you’ll find a 30-pellet belt. To load it up, just pull it completely out of the magazine — it’s a single strand, not a loop. Press in your pellets and seat them using the multi-tool stowed away in the pistol grip. It sounds involved but loading the removed belt is much faster and easier than sticking individual pellets into a small hole in a fixed magazine. Even with my fat fingers, I couldn’t miss. Feed the belt back into the magazine and it creates its own “loop” inside the internal track.

The MCX Virtus is “sort of” a semi-automatic. Each trigger press fires a shot and resets the action. However, the first stage of the trigger press advances the magazine belt. Call the mode of operation whatever you want; it just fires all 30 pellets by pressing the trigger repeatedly. I will note it takes very little pressure to move the magazine belt, so the action adds virtually nothing to the trigger sensation — it feels like a typical MSR service rifle trigger. I weighed the “pull” using a trigger scale and it averaged 5.5 lbs.

As for shooting, it’s a good thing pellets are cheap! While my wife was at work, I perforated the snot out of a series of targets while wiping out a herd or two of Air Venturi miniature steel silhouette targets. I did get scientific for a brief minute of mature gun writer work and chronographed two different SIG SAUER pellet makes, the Crux lead and ballistic alloy projectiles. The lead pellets clocked in at 591.5 feet per second, yielding 11.39 foot-pounds while the ballistic alloys clocked in at 760.3 fps for 12.88 foot-pounds. This air marvel is definitely garage and yard friendly.

The MCX Virtus ships with flip up “iron” sights but also includes a full length top rail. I’ve already mounted a Crimson Trace CTS-1000 red dot sight for future shenanigans.

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