Airguns are touted as a great way to keep your shooting skills sharp during the winter months or off-season if you are a firearms shooter.  Part of the reason for this is because manufacturers strive for as much realism as possible, making for airguns that closely mimic their firearm counterparts.  This makes for an easy transition to consistent training at low cost.  Even if you don’t own firearms you may still desire a training tool that does not even require you to burn CO2 and allows you to practice with your airguns right in your living room.

Interactive targets ready to go

Interactive targets ready to go

Laser Ammo’s i-M.T.T.S. and their Spider accessory for use with either BB/Pellet airguns or Airsofts is the answer.  This system of three electronic targets is highly interactive and provides multiple modes for various types of training drills; the targets are even capable of communicating with each other during certain drills.  With the addition of their Spider module attached to the accessory rail of your airgun or airsoft, you have a red laser beam that is activated by vibration.  It sends a pulse toward the targets each time the external or internal hammer falls.  The system is intended for indoor training as too much ambient light can overpower the optic sensor.  It is simple to set up and comes with everything needed, including batteries that power the units so it is ready to go right out of the box.

The Spider unit containing the laser module

The Spider unit containing the laser module

The Spider unit consists of the small external housing that clamps to the accessory rail, a screw-in cartridge that holds the laser module, vibration cap and three button batteries as well as 4 small set screws that control windage and elevation adjustments.  The electronic target units consist of a base containing the controls and optic sensor (powered by 3 AAA batteries).  Several durable white target cards are also provided with each base.  One target is a ¼ scale version of an IPSC target, another is a 1/5th scale silhouette style and a 5 inch and 3 inch target face are also included.  Up to 10 units will work together at the same time as long as they are all set to the same operating mode.  Training drills available to the shooter include: Stand Alone – Each target responds to any hit and no communication occurs between targets.  Steel-Plate Shooting – All targets light up, extinguish when hit, then automatically reset after the last target is hit.  Chase the Ball – A random target lights with a bright green color.  Hitting that target will cause another random target to light and so on.  Shoot/No-Shoot – Targets will light up green or red for two seconds.  If the shooter hits the target while it is green, another random target will light.  Hitting the target while red causes it to flash, meaning the shot should not have been taken.  The instructions are well done with clear photos so you’ll have no trouble getting started and can quickly and easily setup a practice session any time you have a few spare minutes.

The Umarex Px4 and S&W M&P models used

The Umarex Px4 and S&W M&P models used

I used two Umarex CO2 pistols for my practice sessions; a copy of the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 and the Beretta Px4 Storm blowback model.  It was not necessary to have the blowback operation in order to make the laser module pulse, so no need for CO2 cartridges.  The Px4 has an external hammer and the laser module is sensitive enough that just the falling of the external hammer was enough vibration to cause the pulse.  That meant I could use single-action mode for slow fire drills.  Both pistols worked great and switching the Spider module between them took mere seconds.  Aligning the laser pulse with the Px4 and M&P sights was quickly done with the supplied hex key.

The drills were fun and challenging while also allowing me to work on trigger and breath control as well as eye-hand-target coordination.  The targets can have a maximal spread of 20 feet and still communicate with each other reliably.  They should not be closer than 8 inches and be 3 feet or more above the floor.  Avoid putting them against a wall or other object.  I was able to practice early in the morning in my living room by putting the targets in the “silent” mode (no beep when scoring a hit) without disturbing the sleeping family member in the nearby bedroom.

Laser AmmoUSA is based out of Great Neck, NY and owned by former Israeli and U.S. military combat veterans.  Their products are developed in Israel and used by military, law enforcement and civilians all over the world.  If you are also a firearms shooter, they have a complete line of training technologies that will work in your powder-burners, allowing you to safely dry-fire your favorite arms.  Their products carry a one year limited warranty.

Total costs for the 3 electronic targets, Spider module, vibration cap and laser module ran $359.00.  If you are in the market for training equipment and are looking for a challenging and engaging way to do it, I recommend you reach out to Laser Ammo.  Their website:  www.laser-ammo.com.  Our friends at www.airgunsofarizona.com can be of assistance in obtaining any of the well-made Umarex products like the ones I used for this post.

Details on construction and features of the Big Bore Carnivore were discussed in last month’s blog. In this installment I’ll give some impressions and details of my shooting sessions.

The rifle initially had some cocking issues when I received it so I had the opportunity to engage with their technical support staff.  I had heard from other airgunners that Hatsan’s support was quite good and their staff knowledgeable and that was my experience as well.   After some minor tweaking recommendations did not resolve the issue, a color photo of the trigger group was emailed to me.  It showed the factory settings for each of the three trigger adjustment screws and I was able to approximate the settings, which resolved my issue.  A little further tuning from that point got me to a trigger pull just under two pounds — excellent for my purposes.Left angle_markings

The rifle deserved a better scope than the big box store 3×9-32mm unit I  used for this session.  However, results were good and I’m certain more accuracy could have been wrung from this rifle if mother nature had not cut my shooting session short with some nice dust laden gale force winds.  Keep in mind that your rotary magazine sits high when installed and will require extra clearance when mounting a scope.   Speaking of the magazine sitting high, an interesting feature is that the shooter can insert single rounds into the magazine without removing it.

Results with the 95 grain Hunters Supply hollow points averaging a velocity of 653 fps yielded an energy equivalent of slightly over 90 fpe.  The 105 grain flat points launched at an average of 610 fps to yield an energy of 86.83 fpe.  At least two full 6 round magazines could be fired before a top off of the cylinder would be in order.

Three round string at 75 yards

Three round string at 75 yards

Overall, I found the Big Bore Carnivore very pleasurable to shoot.  While it is  a hefty air rifle, it is well balanced and Hatsan includes a sling with the rifle which would make it easier on the shooter taking it afield.  Hatsan’s tagline reads: Serious. Solid. Impact. and what I see coming out of the company is innovative and lives up to that tagline.  I’ll add “Value” to it as the Carnivore in .35 has a retail value of $799.  All Hatsan airguns are warrantied for a period of one year.  Please reach out to the folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com to order one if you are in the market for a big bore air rifle.

My thanks go out to Hunter’s Supply (www.hunters-supply.com) for providing their superb Flat Point and Hollow Point bullets in .356.  I understand they have collaborated with airgun manufacturers to formulate an alloy for their bullets/pellets that has the best Brinell hardness for air propelled projectiles.  Also, I’d like to thank Thompson Targets (www.thompsontarget.com) for their American made quality targets used for this review.

Business end of the Big Bore Carnivore

Business end of the Big Bore Carnivore

Today’s article comes from a new writer to this BLOG, but a known person in the airgun community.  We are proud to have on board, Steven Scialli from the Airgun Exploration & Advancement Channel on YouTube.

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Without further delay we give you Steve’s first entry:

I can remember a time not long ago when it seemed like not much shot well without a tune up and word on the street was that airguns were for kids. A lots changed in 15 years. Before the arrival of the internet sensationalizing the long range airgun kill, most of us were perfectly content to spend our winters plunking away in our basements or across the backyard come summer. To dispatch the occasional feeder-burglar without the neighbors finding out was to declare airgun victory… and afterwords, the rifle would go right back into the hallway closet. After all, with the rimfire touting hundreds of 50 yard rabbit dinners and firmly rooted at the front of the safe, it never even occurred to most of us to try with the old windgun… that just wasn’t the culture here in the States back then. So what happened?

We’re evolving. With costs of powder burning ammunition on the rise and background checks & special permissions becoming evermore obstructive, some of us began to look for a better way and although we didn’t know it then, collectively we were seeking the same light. Luckily for us, industry entrepreneurs were counting on it and were already well along in the development of economical, powerful, good handling, good looking, quiet, and insanely accurate airguns. With our methodology & second amendment rights never in question until recently, many of us hadn’t looked up but for those that did, are today enjoying a world of performance & value without the headache.

Still looked upon by the masses as a stocking stuffer, these machines of excellence have migrated firmly into; “can kill your ass at 100 yards” territory and most Americans still have no idea. For those of you that don’t live stateside, we are of a gun culture but unlike our friends across the oceans, the word gun is always synonymous with gun powder. Powder burners are everywhere here, transcending age & gender, and apart from the lobbyists & current administration, are a part of Americana held in high regard. I own them myself and being a police officer by trade, I was sourced of it’s allure. But I sense a change in the wind… a shift in acceptance if you will, and we’re right on top of it. America has begun to furrow a brow at real guns and it’s become fashionable for White House administrations to do as they please without the support of Congress. My advise is that if you like your shooting lifestyle, you may want to get involved or at the very least, take a harder look at air power.

I get it all the time on my YouTube channel… “$1,800 for that? Why not just buy a real gun?” I make it a point never to answer.. not out of laziness or arrogance, but because the answer was in the video they just watched and they didn’t even realize. Pneumatic newcomers take note: airguns are more fun to own… it’s really that simple. Our popgun crowd all seem to be cut from the same cloth. We like our toys sophisticated, reliable, handsome, hi-performing, and above all… we like them damn civilized. Tall order, right? Nope. Enter the modern airgun.

Invest $100 to $500 and you’re taking home a more primitive degree of civility, granted, but virtues common to the price point are power, accuracy, reliability, good looks, and darn good triggers. Raise your sights to over $1,000 and you’ve entered a realm of lavish air-power pampering that’s hard to put into words until you’ve tried it. For those of you previously propelling via chemical reaction and whom have already been assimilated into the gang, you know what I’m talking about. These guns generate 20-40 foot pounds of energy with ease, and are more than accurate enough to take head shots on 10 pound critters out past 100 yards. They’re well made and while of course you can get one with issues now & then, by and large they’ll last long enough to pass down through generations. The glory isn’t in the performance though… not really. It’s in the shooting experience. These guns are generally recoil-less, are often fitted with silencers from the factory, fit ya like hand in glove, transmit super slick firing cycles, and can even be had with enough chutzpah to take down wild game like bear & elk. The fact that competition barrels & triggers are also the norm is only triumphed by the piece of lumber or polymer that gun calls home. Sure there are some pieces of support equipment that you’ll need to make it all go boom but that’s all part of the fun… fun we’ll save for another day.

Although modern airgunning is in it’s infancy in America, over the past decade it’s gained great momentum in variety and sophistication. Perhaps shooting enthusiasts are being pushed there, perhaps they’re bored with powder and just want a change, but one thing’s for certain… EVERYONE that picks one up and shoots it for the very first time says the exact same thing, “that’s an airgun?”

So go grab a friend and show em’ a better way.

YouTuber & Columnist,

Steve Scialli

AEAC

Hatsan is a Turkish airgun company manufacturing high quality rifles and pistols for the past 40 years.  They pride themselves on the fact that 100% of each airgun is produced in their factories so they can control every aspect of the manufacture of each airgun.  Hatsan does use German steel barrel blanks for their barrels but again, does control all processing of the blanks in-house.  For their wooden stocked models, of course, Turkish walnut is used. A few years ago, Hatsan opened a U.S. operation for more direct marketing and sales to a U.S. consumer base.  While the Hatsan catalog includes everything from entry-level springers to their own line of German made lead and lead-free pellets, they are becoming known for their PCP airguns, especially in mid-bore calibers.  Enter the Carnivore PCP in .357, not to be confused with another Hatsan Carnivore introduced at the SHOT Show earlier this year.  That model was an aforementioned springer, only in .30 caliber!  A story for another blog…

Carnivor left angle

The PCP version is a synthetic stocked model utilizing a 6 round rotary magazine.  It is part of Hatsan’s BT-65 series and is a side lever bolt action version. The Carnivore is also available in a .30 version and utilizes a 7 shot rotary magazine.  It is a bit on the heavy side, weighing in at slightly over 9 pounds without optics and is almost 49 inches long with 23 inches of that being the precision rifled German steel barrel.  It runs off a removable 255cc reservoir that can be charged to 3000 psi (200 bar).  The reservoir cylinder contains a built in color coded pressure gauge.  Additional reservoirs are available should you want to order one and have an extra for quickly swapping out.  The ambidextrous stock has an elevation adjustable cheekpiece, or comb, and the rubber buttpad is adjustable for length of pull as well as elevation and fit angle for added customization to the individual shooter.  An allen wrench is included for resetting the buttpad and a coin can be used to adjust the cheekpiece height.  It comes without sights and consideration must be given to the height of the rotary magazine that extends above the chamber/barrel during normal operation when selecting scope and mounting options.

Hatsan Carnivore muzzle

Hatsan Carnivore muzzle

The rifle incorporates technology that prevents double-loading of the chamber. This worked as advertised when I inadvertently attempted to load two rounds at the same time.  Unfortunately, it was at a range session where I had also inadvertently left my one piece cleaning rod at home.  So, I was done for the day.

The trigger on the Carnivore is a two-stage adjustable match model Hatsan calls the “Quattro”.  It is adjustable for first-stage travel as well as pull weight and length of trigger travel through the access holes in the metal trigger guard. The safety is activated automatically when cocking the bolt.  The safety sliding button is mounted high on the left side of the receiver and a bit of a stretch for the right-handed shooter.

Hatsan has also been a leader when it comes to fully shrouded barrels and integrated sound moderation technology to reduce muzzle report.  This .357 Carnivore sounds more like a nail gun being fired, although I would still encourage readers to take care of their hearing and wear hearing protection, even when firing a moderated big bore.  It goes without saying that eye protection is always a must.

Hatsan believes in giving the shooter extra bang-for-the-buck by including such niceties as a second rotary magazine, gold plated metal trigger and built-in sling swivels.  Another nice touch is the inclusion of a nylon sling with the Hatsan name embroidered on it in large letters.  They also include a short section of picatinny rail under the forearm for ease of mounting a bipod or other accessory.  A brass protective cap for the valve on the removable air cylinder is included as well and doubles as a way to discharge a cylinder should the need arise.  Allen wrenches to fit all of the adjustable features on the gun as well as extra O rings for the probe filler and cylinder valve round out the kit.

The .35 caliber model I have received is rated at a velocity of 730 fps and is supposed to be able to deliver 95 ft. lbs. of energy out to an effective range of 225 yards.  –More on my impressions and results in the next blog.

Please contact www.airgunsofarizona.com  to find out about the availability of this and other fine models of Hatsan products.

It was necessary to break the blog into two parts because bad weather prevented me from spending time shooting the Royale and I also wanted to expound on the excellent FX scope that accompanied the Royale.  Before I get to the meat of the matter, allow me to make a correction from Part One:  I reported that the Owner’s Manual recommended limiting the weight of pellets to 16 grains.  That information only applied to another FX rifle and the Royale handled heavy .25 caliber pellets with aplomb.  I apologize for not catching the mistake – need new reading glasses I guess…

As mentioned in Part One, the Royale is a joy to shoot. It also liked the various pellets and weights I tried and it just kept on producing single ragged hole shots all day long from a bench at 50 feet no matter what I fed through it.  My plan is to attend the Extreme Benchrest competition in Mesa, AZ in October and I certainly hope I can cajole the good folks at AofA to loan me this bad boy again for the shoot.  For hunters reading this, the .25 caliber Royale can develop over 45 foot pounds of energy and the rotary magazine has no problem with polymer tipped Polymags.  This is great news if you are a Polymag fan.  Some rotary magazines can’t handle the extra length (Polymag came out with a shorter version to accommodate for this).  You could single feed the longer .25 cal. pellets out there (no separate single-shot pellet tray accessory needed) but it is great for hunters that like the polymer tipped pellets to have the 11 rounds at the ready in the field.FX side view

The chronograph results on the pellets run through the Royale showed: JSB Kings at 25.39 grains averaged 663.2 fps.  Predator Polymags at 26 grains averaged 679.1 fps generating.  All the shots were fired using the middle power level adjustment and were generating 24 to 26 foot pounds of energy at that power setting.  The Royale even liked the new 16.4 grain lead-free pellets provided by Dick at Predator.  They clocked at an average of 796.2 fps and were giving equivalent accuracy results.  Trigger pull averaged 15.6 ounces on the two-stage match trigger as it came out of the box and I found it perfect for me without any adjustment.  Shooting outdoors on the highest power setting, the muzzle report was still so quiet that I could hear the pellet hitting the target backstop.  The advances in sound dampening technology in both firearms and airguns have been dramatic and are very welcome changes.

The Royale can be stripped, serviced and assembled by the owner in 30 minutes according to the AofA website.  The pressure gauge is only marked in the bar designation and the warranty (mentioned in Part One) is one year, although the quality that goes into these guns makes me believe you will receive a lifetime of shooting pleasure with minimal maintenance.

FX Optics 6-18x44mm scope

FX Optics 6-18x44mm scope

 

Relatively new for FX, they have stepped into the scope arena with their line called FX Optics.  The line includes a couple of different scopes and the unit that shipped with the Royale was the 6-18x44mm Illuminated Reticle in the 30mm tube.  Here are some particulars:

  • Weight: 25.4 ounces
  • OAL: 13.25 inches
  • ¼ MOA adjusting turrets
  • Offers 10 feet to infinity parallax adjustment plus a large sidewheel comes with the scope
  • The 30 mm tube handles more light than a 1 inch tube. Coupled with  the 44mm Objective bell give this scope a bright image and the quality lenses make for a crystal clear sight picture at all magnifications
  • Power ring moved through its range very smoothly; not sticky or stiff like some variable scopes
  • Red Illumination of mil-dot reticle has 7 levels of intensity and runs on one CR2032 button battery.
  • Lenses are fully multi-coated
  • A one year limited warranty is offered with the scope
  • AofA price: $379.95

DSC_0854I wound up getting a TruGlo adapter as the only 30mm rings I had available matched Weaver mounts.  The adapter reduced that to the standard 3/8 (11mm) of most airguns.  This worked great and easily cleared the magazine port.  FX offers a unique set of scope rings as well.  The FX No-Limit is easily adjustable for an additional .170 inch height as well as tilt of +/- 1.5 degrees.  This pairing of rifle and scope was an awesome package that you couldn’t go wrong with.

As always, for more information on the Royale, other FX airguns, or any of the FX Optics line, reach out to www.airgunsofarizona.com and let their excellent staff assist you.  All of their staff live and breathe airgunning and offer excellent customer support.

Reminder to the U.S. citizens reading this blog: I respect you may or may-not be pro-firearm.  However, if you are sitting on the fence, keep in mind the gun banning crowd has never seen a restrictive gun law they didn’t like.  It is only a matter of time until their focus turns to airguns.  Please register to vote and make your voice heard this election cycle as it pertains to the Second Amendment.

HW30 Elliott Edition

HW30 Elliott Edition

LX100 EE card 015-001

It all started innocently enough. Greg Glover of www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me an email announcing the availability of a new model of Weihrauch HW30 with a laminated stock. I took a look it and thought: “Wow, that’s pretty neat!”

But then I had a thought and sent Greg an email:

You know what would be an absolutely fabulous HW30 model? How about the stainless action in the laminate stock? Maybe it could be the Jock Elliott autograph model . . .

Greg replied:

Jock,

A good idea should never be ignored.

I have placed an order for 20x HW30 laminate .177 in stainless finish. Weihrauch will not do special markings on small batches, so we will get creative. We will be installing a rear peep sight on each of these and package each with a small hard sided case. If I know you, this setup is the most ideal by your standards! I need you to write up a signature card paragraph endorsing the rifle in some fashion, and then I will make it into a professional printed card for you to hand sign and return for insertion with each as 1 of 20. These will be marketed as Elliott Editions, and I will send you one to write a blog. We will then time the release with that blog. Sound like a good plan?

Following this, we will make a standard version available without the add ons.

To which I replied simply: Perfect!

And that brings us to where we are now.

The HW30 Elliott Edition just arrived at my door. Like a kid at Christmas, I couldn’t wait to unzip the long slim package to view it firsthand.

LX100 HW30 Elliott Edition 003

We’ll get to my impression of the HW30 EE in just as little bit, but first, let’s back up a couple of steps: Why the HW30?

That part is easy. The HW30 is one of my favorite air rifles of all time. It’s small, light, easy to cock and wickedly accurate. When I first began writing about airguns, I had a conversation with a famous airgun tuner. I suggested that he build me a particular spring-piston air rifle with skeletonized stock. “Why would you want to do that?” he asked.

When I told him I thought it would look neat, he patiently explained that reducing the weight of the air rifle (by cutting away all unnecessary wood in the stock) would make it harder to shoot accurately. The closer you got to one pound of rifle weight for each foot-pound of energy at the muzzle in a spring-piston air rifle, the easier it was to shoot well. That’s why the Beeman R7/Weihrauch HW30 is such a tackdriver – just about six pounds of weight and six foot-pounds of energy, he explained.

LX100 HW30 Elliott Edition 004

I would later test this theory in several different air rifles and prove its veracity. The final straw came one afternoon when my brother-in-law was dropping more targets with his HW30 that I was with my more powerful, more expensive air rifle. “My rifle is just easier to shoot well,” he said. We switched guns, and I promptly outshot him. That was when we hatched The Great Plan. When we went to the next field target match, we would each shoot HW30s. “We miss the long-range stuff anyway,” was the thought, “but with the HW30, we can be sure of knocking down the short to medium range targets.”

And it worked! We didn’t win, but we did pretty decently in our classes. Great minds must work the same, because around that time there was a small group of field target enthusiasts who were voluntarily choosing low-power air rifles, doing well, and most importantly, having fun. We were never formally organized in any way, but collectively, we referred to ourselves as Team WIMP. WIMP is an acronym, standing for Weapons of Intentionally Modest Power.

LX100 HW30 Elliott Edition 007-001

There are a couple of additional factors that contribute to the configuration of the HW30 Elliott Edition. The first is the stainless finish receiver. I chose this because one day I was shooting at a friend’s house with a well-known German air rifle when it began to mist lightly. I didn’t have any gun cloths with me, so I stuck the rifle in its hardshell case and brought it home. The next day, I pulled it out and found out that some of the surfaces on the receiver had already acquired a very light patina of rust. A few minutes work with a silicon-impregnated gun cloth cured the problem, but I was outraged: “You would think that an airgun designed for use outside, where it might occasionally rain, would be finished in such a way as to resist moisture!” So I chose the stainless finish for moisture resistance.

LX100 HW30 Elliott Edition 009

The second is the laminated stock. Because of the way laminate is constructed, I believe that will confer additional moisture resistance on the HW30EE, but the real reason I chose the laminate was because it is about .5 pounds heavier that the conventional wooden stock. Back in my Team WIMP days, when I was campaigning the HW30 (it was actually a Beeman R7, but the models are virtually identical), I often wished that the rifle were just a bit heavier. I actually contacted a custom stock maker to have him build me a laminated stock for the HW30, but he believed what I really needed was a lighter walnut stock. Bottom line: the project didn’t work out.

LX100 HW30 Elliott Edition 011-001

So now we have the Elliott Edition, a weather-resistant, slightly heavier version of the HW30, tricked out with a peep sight and a hard case. It’s light enough to carry all day and powerful and accurate enough to defend the garden at short range or the bird feeder or even to campaign in field target. I doubt that you will achieve top score, but I virtually guarantee that you will have fun.

So what are my impressions of the HW30 EE?

First, it’s absolutely gorgeous. If you look closely at the photos here, you’ll notice a couple of things: the buttstock has a modest cheek piece of either side, which is good news for left-handed shooters, and the full length fore end extends to cover the cocking linkage, which give the HW30 EE a more finished appearance. A couple of other items worthy of note: the front globe sight comes with interchangeable inserts, and the rear peep sight has clicker knobs for adjusting windage and elevation.

Even better, when I shot the sample that Airguns of Arizona send to me, I found that the half pound of extra weight seems to dampen out any twang or vibration when the shot goes off.  There is a muted pop, and that’s it. By bottoming out the Williams peep sight, I was able to zero the EE at twenty yards and regularly hit an inch-and-a-half target at that distance, even with the slightly astigmatic view out of my uncorrected right eye.

Finally, toting the “EE” around for a bit, I find the weight is just right. As I think back, it reminds me of the Daisy BB gun that I loved carrying through the woods and fields of my boyhood. In my heart, the HW30 EE is the grown-up successor to that Daisy. It’s heavier, certainly more powerful, more accurate, and a ton of fun. The HW3 EE is an air rifle that virtually begs for an adventure in the outdoors.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–           Jock Elliott

PS My brother-in-law says if you absolutely have to put a scope on an Elliott Edition, make sure it is a silver scope. In his words, “That would be bad *ss.”

Fredrik Axelsson is a driven man.  His passion has been to create some of the best airguns on the planet ever since his disappointment with an off-the-shelf air rifle he purchased years ago.  Fredrik shot that air rifle for a while and thought to himself: “I can do better than this” and so, he did.  Since creating that first air rifle under the Swedish FX brand, the line has continued to expand and that brings us to the subject of this blog, the FX Royale 500 Synthetic.  The Royale line is a collaboration with Fredrik’s close friend Ben Taylor of Theoben fame and took two years of development and testing of the breech block and valve system.  You’ll feel the result when operating the smooth-as-glass side lever.  The 500 in the name refers to the capacity, in cubic centimeters, of the non-removable air reservoir. The reservoir can be filled to 220 bar, or approximately 3200 psi, via the male foster fitting accessed on the bottom of the forearm.  A pressure gauge resides right next to the fitting.  FX provides a female foster quick detach coupling for attaching to your air charging hose. FX Royale side view #1

A black beauty in .25 caliber, the Royale is 47 inches long and, as the name implies, sports a synthetic stock in a thumbhole style configuration.  There is a molded in Monte Carlo cheek piece and it has a rubber buttpad that is adjustable vertically to get just the right fit.  It is also available in a left hand version as well as a walnut stocked version and in .177 or .22 calibers.  The 25 ½ inch free-floated match barrel utilizes the “Smooth Twist” method of rifling and the last 16 inches of the barrel are fully shrouded for sound dampening.  For those unfamiliar with it, Smooth Twist rifling is imparted to approximately the last two inches of the match-grade barrel and achieved by placing the muzzle end over a mandrel and concentrically hammering it from the outside so the inside takes on the spiral impressions of the mandrel.  This method allows a fired pellet to accelerate quickly down the smooth portion of the bore before encountering this “gentle” rifling imparting the spin just before it leaves the barrel.  If you have never shot an FX airgun, having grown up knowing barrels were traditionally rifled by cutting grooves the entire length of the barrel, this process may give rise to questions about how accurate such a barrel could be.  Rest assured, FX airguns are well known for their accuracy.

The rifle weighs in at 7 ¼ pounds without optics and does not ship with sights of any kind.   The Royale comes with a 2-stage match trigger that is adjustable for pull weight and length of pull.  A wheel on the left side of the receiver allows for low, medium and high power adjustments represented by dots.  The superb design and construction of the rifle assures the user that power levels will be consistent from shot-to-shot each time the power level is adjusted.  Even though this is a mid-bore rifle, the shrouded barrel is quite effective at reducing the sound signature and shooting outdoors would not necessarily require hearing protection.  Especially on the low power setting where the hits on the target were louder than the report from the muzzle.  Eye protection is always a must.  You only have one set of eyes; don’t take unnecessary chances.

A safety lever is situated on the right side just below the rear hinge point of the cocking lever with clear white lettering denoting “Safe” and “Fire”.  This safety does not automatically set as with other air rifles on the market.  The automatic safety is probably more of a corporate lawyer directive as opposed to a market-driven desirable feature and this rifle is ready to fire each time you cycle the action.  As mentioned earlier, it is glass smooth and cocking the rifle can be accomplished without ever breaking your cheek weld.

The Royale 500, as with the other FX rifles I’ve had the pleasure of shooting, is just a joy to shoot.  It is balanced, quiet and soft shooting with a fantastic trigger right out of the box.  The 11 round spring loaded rotary magazine takes a bit of getting used to because the first pellet is loaded backwards compared to the remaining pellets.  This process of loading the first pellet with the nose facing you (locking the magazine spring tension), then turning the magazine over to load the rest with the skirt facing you seems awkward at first.  Once the shooter has loaded a few magazines, it becomes old hat and you won’t give it a second thought. FX Royale rotary magazine

The Owner’s Instruction Manual recommends limiting pellet weight to 16 grains for best accuracy.  There is also not mechanism to prevent double loading of a pellet, so make certain you don’t work the action more than once with a loaded magazine in place.  If you do pull the bolt handle back and realize a pellet is already in the barrel, simply remove the magazine, close the action and fire the pellet.

The weather in my part of the country has been snowy and wet this spring and not conducive to putting the Royale 500 through its paces.  Plus, I want to get into particulars about the nice FX Optics that shipped with the test gun.  That, along with me being a wordy sort of fellow, dictates this blog be broken into two parts.  Look for Part Deux next month.

The FX Royale 500 retails for $1549.00 without optics and the walnut stocked version for $1750.00.  It carries a one year warranty and ships in a durable plastic foam lined rifle case emblazoned with the FX logo.  If you like what you’ve read so far and can’t wait for Part Deux, check this and other FX offerings and accessories by navigating to the Airguns of Arizona website: www.airgunsofarizona.com.

We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavor of life there. Here is his latest post.

Farm

Mid April 2016. There’s been warmer weather at Home Farm in Norfolk. It’s party time in the garden for our visitors who have been buzzing with excitement recently. The birds, who visit our feeding stations around the garden, are in a frenzy. All through the winter we have tried to understand why some feeding points are so much more popular than others, when the same mix of seed and suet goes into each. Some are emptied immediately; others take all day to be finished. “You need an Avian Feng Shui Consultant to explain it” laughs one of our more human visitors. Well, to be frank, I would think that an AFSC, if such exists, is the last person whom I would sit down with to learn the mysteries of the natural world. Whichever restaurant our birds prefer, they are always welcome here. So many regulars: yellow hammers (ten or more); green finches; blue tits; great tits; sparrows; starlings; blackbirds; collared doves; moorhens; lesser spotted woodpecker, Mr & Mrs Jay, the robin and El Magnifico (our friendly cock pheasant who lives at #1 the Ditch) – they are all here, waiting for us, half an hour after sunrise. Meanwhile, somewhere in the tall ash tree, our thrush is singing, as bright, loud and as sweet as you can possibly imagine, saying to us “Welcome. It’s another great day”.

Our winged guests are messy eaters. The smaller birds throw out a lot of grain on the ground as they sift for the tastier morsels. Alas, this attracts in rats from the adjoining the fields. This is where airgunning comes into its own. I don’t even need to leave the farmhouse to make sure I have a good and safe shot. The rat may see the back door of the house slowly swing ajar, spot a shadowy shape inside hunching over slightly… “but, hey, let’s not worry too much when there’s so much food around here, right beneath my nose”. The rat’s eagerness gives me my opportunity and –wham– the airgun has done what it was made for. The FX Verminator has lived up to its name. Time for me to tidy up the corpse, wash my hands and have a mug of hot tea on this sunny, uplifting, Spring day.

Yellowhammer taking off

Yellowhammer taking off

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!

After 80-plus years of being out of the airgun scene, Remington returned in 2014 with a strong commitment to gain a piece of the market.  As part of that effort, Remington’s renewed airgun division introduced a line of reactive targets in several animal shapes.

Remington Shoot-To-Reset Crow Target

Remington Shoot-To-Reset Crow Target

The Remington shoot-to-reset reactive targets work very well.  My sample was a crow and you can select from a choice of a jack rabbit or wild hog as well.  The targets are a sturdy 1/8” steel plate, painted black, sitting atop a 12” long angle-iron spike which holds it securely in the ground.  Overall height is 19 ¾” and a width of 6”.  Two rings attached to the back can be rotated in front of the bright yellow target paddle to adjust the kill zone from 1.5” to 1” to ½”.  Once your shot knocks down the target paddle, the unit is reset by an accurate shot on the yellow paddle hanging at the bottom.  Remington recommends a minimum safe shooting distance of 25 yards with .177 pellets travelling 1000+ fps and 35 yards if using .22 pellets at 800+ fps.  It is not rated for alloy pellets which tend to be harder and prone to ricochet, and of course, no steel BBs for the same reason (Well, duh…)  PLEASE, always wear eye protection any time you are shooting and make sure spectators are as well!  The target stood up well to the punishment of being shot by adult airguns and it was great fun.  As can be expected, a touch up of the paint is needed occasionally to protect the bare steel that becomes exposed when an errant shot chips the finish.  Made in China, they have a very reasonable MSRP of $29.95 and Airguns of Arizona actually offers these targets to their customers at an even better price of $19.95!  Check them out at www.airgunsofarizona.com.   Remington also has the same critters in a manual, pull-string reset configuration for the same MSRP and our friends at AofA sell them at the same discounted $19.95 price.  If you think you might get into field target competition or simply want an alternative to punching holes in paper, give these reactive targets a try.

We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavor of life there. Here is his latest post.

Farm

Easter 2016. It’s been chilly weather at Home Farm in Norfolk. The winds have been blowing in from the south with an unexpected vengeance, cutting straight across the county’s flat fields, skimming across the huddled backs of wood pigeon which have flocked down onto the fields. Yesterday we had a hailstorm. The oil seed rape has been growing well, but this has drawn in pigeon to feast on the burgeoning crop. They have been devastating field after field. One of our neighbours, a farmer, knocked on our door in the last week – “Airgun or shotgun, don’t really care. Please just spare some time to take out some of those pesky pigeon.” So midweek finds me trudging across wide open fields to one of three very small woods which will afford me enough cover to take some shots. I have a trusty old FX Verminator (I really should upgrade to something more 2016) and an Italian Fabarm 12 gauge, over and under. This was my first ever shotgun bought 26 years ago and still going strong.

Snuggled down in the wood, facing the wind, with a few pigeon decoys tucked in the lee of a hedge 70 yards away, the waiting begins. As the pigeon drop in, I keep a keen eye but a still hand. Finally, I have around 40 or so in sight. With the airgun, I pick out several single birds on the outer edge of the group, closest to me. The noise of the wind and the excellent Huggett moderator on the airgun combine to mask the shots. After 10 minutes, I have enough pigeon for the pot and it’s time to do my proper job and move them all on. The shotgun is readied. My movement disturbs a ‘sentry’ who, unseen by me, has flown into a nearby tree. The flock lifts and my two last-gasp shots miss, but still, I scare them off. Switching between rifle and shotgun is not so easy as it was in earlier days.

As the light starts to fade, I head for Home. By now the fire will be lit and a strong cup of tea will warm me up. But there is one last treat as the great indoors beckons. I walk quietly past Home Meadow, and there, with her back to me, is our wild barn owl, getting ready for her hunting time.

owl

Until next time,

Get out and shoot!