Independence Day

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Okay, so it’s not the Fourth of July, but it is Independence Day at El Rancho Elliott. That’s because, thanks to Brown Santa and the good graces of the folks at Airguns of Arizona, I’m one of the first airgunners in the United States to actually get his hands on the new FX Independence air rifle.

Here it is: the long-awaited FX Independent

FX Airguns, based in Sweden, already enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a maker of excellent, accurate pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles and pistols. What sets the Independence apart — what gives it almost “Holy Grail” status among airgunners – is that you can recharge it with an on-board pump while you are out shooting it in the field. As with any PCP, you have the multi-shooting capacity provided by an on-board reservoir, yet you are free from having to carry an additional pump or SCUBA tank. You have independence of any external charging device, hence the name.

The Independence is a big gun. It stretches 43.75 inches from the tip of the barrel shroud to the end of the butt plate. With a Hawke Air Max 4-12.scope mounted, it weighs 10 lbs 5 ounces. Available only in .22 caliber, it has a right-handed black synthetic stock.

At the extreme back end of the Independence, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically; just loosen a screw and slide it up or down. Ahead of that is the buttstock which has vertical grooves on the pistol grip. The stock is molded to form a trigger guard, inside of which you’ll find a black metal trigger.

The pressure gauge is large and easy to read.

Forward of the trigger guard is a male foster fitting which can be used to charge the Independence up to 200 bar. About an inch forward of that is an Allen bolt which secures the action in the stock. Moving forward another 3 or 4 inches, you’ll discover a very large – a bit over 1.5 inches in diameter – pressure gauge that makes it really easy to know what the status of the charge is in the Independence. Forward of that is the rest of the forestock, which has vertical grooves for gripping on either side.

The barrel shroud does a very nice job of producing a neighbor-friendly report.

Beyond the end of the forestock is the air reservoir/onboard pump assembly, and above that is the match barrel which is encased in a full shroud that is about an inch in diameter. The entire shroud/barrel assembly is free floated from the reservoir/pump assembly below it, so you don’t have to worry about various levels of charge flexing the barrel and messing with accuracy.

The charging handle is just a bit over 19 inches long.

On the right side of the reservoir is a roughly 19.25 inch handle which is used to charge the Independence through the onboard pump. At the rear of the barrel is the receiver, which has scope dovetails fore and aft of the breech. The breech is deep enough to load pellets one at a time (with some difficulty) but it is designed to hold a 12-shot rotary magazine. The Independence is cocked and loaded using a lever on the right side of the receiver, and on the right side, near the back end of the receiver, you’ll find a lever action safety.

Overall, I liked the fit and finish of the Independence, although I found the stock to be a little bigger and blockier than other synthetic-stocked FX rifles I have shot in the past. Still, considering that this rifle has an onboard sidelever pump, I want the stock to be plenty rigid.

To get the Independence ready for shooting, you can charge it from a SCUBA tank, or you can pump it up using the onboard pump. This will take about 65 strokes. To use the onboard pump, grab the forestock between the trigger guard and the gauge with your left hand. Grasp the end of the pump handle with your right hand. Pull the pump handle away from the receiver and toward the muzzle as far as it will go (at this point, the total distance between your hands will be about 34 inches). Now, return the pump handle back to its original position. I don’t have any good way of measuring the pumping effort, but it feels roughly the same as putting the fourth or fifth stroke into a Sheridan or Benjamin multi-stroke pneumatic rifle. What’s interesting about the Independence’s onboard pump is that every stroke seems to require the same effort, and that there is no pressure “hump” in the middle of the stroke. In short, I found the Independence easy to pump.

The breech lever is back, and the magazine is inserted into the breech.

Next, load the 12-shot magazine. To do that, first, rotate the clear plastic face plate counter-clockwise as far as possible. Now, while holding the face plate in position, flip the magazine over so you’re looking at the back side. You’ll see that a port has opened in the back of the magazine. Load a pellet backwards (tail first) into the port. This will lock the spring and keep the inner wheel from turning. Now, flip the magazine over and load the rest of the pellets by dropping them nose-first into the magazine while rotating the transparent cover so that the hole in it opens each of the pellet “bays.” Once you have filled the magazine, rotate the transparent cover back to its original position. Pull the  breech lever to the rear of the receiver to move the bolt back. Now slide the magazine into the breech.

Push the breech lever forward to move the first pellet out the magazine and into the barrel. Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample I tested, it required only 9.3 ounces to take up the first stage, and at l lb .5 ounces, the shot goes down range. Sweet!

Over the course of 9 shots, the Independence launched the 18.2 grain JSB Jumbo Heavy pellets at an average of 849 fps (high 867, low 833), generating about 29.1 (average) footpounds of energy at the muzzle. Thanks to the shroud, the report is very neighbor-friendly, roughly as loud as someone tapping their fingernail on a plastic countertop.

The accuracy is what I have come to expect from FX. Shooting JSB Jumbo Express pellets, at 35 yards from a rest, I put five shots into a group you could easily hide under a dime. I bet that shooters will soon be reporting similar groups at 50 yards.

I found that if, between shots, you give the Independence about 3 strokes with the onboard pump, that puts the pressure gauge approximately back where it was before you took the shot. So, as a rough guide, you’ll need about three pump strokes to recharge the Independence for each shot you take, but they are easy strokes.

At the end of the day, I find the Independence embodies everything I prize most in an air rifle: accuracy, quiet, fully self-contained, and powerful enough to dispatch any small game or pests you might want to take with a pneumatic rifle. It should have a lot of airgunners grinning for a long time.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

31 Comments

  1. TomT says:

    thanks for the review! ive been waiting for a while for this and it just may fit the bill. looks like everything ive wanted in a rifle. the price is a little steep but ill have to figure something out.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Tom,

      I have to admit, it does make me start looking at my “mad money” account. Thanks for the kind words.

  2. Gerald M says:

    Great, I would like it better if they made a ambi or left handed rifle.
    Nice Write up.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Gerald,

      Thanks for the kind words. Yeah, I was a little surprised it isn’t ambi.

  3. jamie says:

    Outstanding review as usual Jock! I’d love to see some 50yd groups! I haven’t even been following these guns as they’re normally far above my price range….but this one…and the monsoon…..I’m going to start saving now…but which one to buy first? lol….

    I think this will be a good go-to camping/backpacking rifle…although heavy, you can go for days or weeks without need for air….now that I like a lot!

    s/f

    Jamie

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Jamie,

      You won’t be seeing 50 yard groups from me . . . I have to send the Independence back (darn!).

      I but others will soon be posting 50 yard groups and beyond.

  4. bill price says:

    Makes me want one. I doubt i’d ever pump it up 65x in a row, but it’s nice to know you could be ‘independent’ enough to do that if heffalumps and woozels had run off with your tank. Someday I just might get a PCP gun, and this one looks nice.

    -bp

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks, Bill, you look out for those woozels!

  5. Paul says:

    Any chance of a Lefty or Ambi stock option ??

    Thanks,
    Paul.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Paul,

      I don’t know.

    2. Jock Elliott says:

      Paul,

      The answer is no, not right now. The owner of FX is left handed, but he also knows marketing, and the cost of making a lefty stock doesn’t justify the numbers of guns they’ll actually sell. Custom stock makers will likely move in and satisfy the small percentage of L/H guys and lump in the walnut lovers at the same time. FX will eventually make a wood version, but they do not have a time schedule right now. AoA’snext shipment will be synthetic again.

      1. Paul says:

        Jock –

        Thanks ! I was hoping for a Cyclone or Typhoon Ambi Option. Both of which
        I have.

        Paul.

  6. Parallax says:

    Jock, once you pump the rifle up with 65 strokes, how many full power shots do you get and then once it drops off in velocity and needs to be pumped back up, how many strokes does it take to get back fully charged? Thanks!

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Parallax,

      9 shots with low spread in velocity. Then 27 pumps back to full.

  7. Harry says:

    The things I wish to know fromthe viewpoint of a shooter/ hunter/sniper.:

    Does it have sling swivels? I don’t see them in the pics. A 10 lb 5 oz hunting rifle needs them as factory installed. Drilling synthetic stocks can be tricky.

    What is the ES for 5 shot series? 34 fps is way too high for long range sniping which requires <10 fps. Perhaps that is achieved for 3 to 5 sniping shots?

    What is the absolute shot to shot spread if the rifle is charged between shots. You mentioned that required 3 pumps, did you test velocity consistency for a shoot, re-charge, shoot, re-charge etc protocol?

    A longer range accuracy test at 50 to at least 80 yd would have been good. We expect all high end rifles to shoot small at close range. Perhaps there is a public range nearby that you could go to for future testing Jock?

    Otherwise a good run-down on where things are located and the geometry etc. The indicated moderate pumping effort is a plus.

    Thanks for the report Jock.
    Kind regards, Harry.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Harry,

      Shot 4 – 851 fps

      shot 5 – 862

      shot 6- 867

      shot 7 – 864

      shot 8 – 855

      As to the 50 yard shots, conditions didn’t come together in the time I had the gun to get it done, but I’m sure someone will step up to the plate.

      No sling swivels that I saw.

      Thanks for the kind words.

  8. bob says:

    Hello what a nice looking gun when and where can i buy one and what is the Price going to be on a great gun like this.This is what i have been waiting for.Thanks

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Bob,

      The price is $1695.

  9. David Enoch says:

    Hi Jock,
    That is interesting. It would be nice if it had the three power setting and took maybe one stroke to maintain low power level velocity, two strokes to maintain medium power and three strokes for full power. That would make it much more desirable for me.

    I am another lefty who seems to be left out on this one.

    David Enoch

  10. Vulcanator says:

    Jock,

    Although the owner may be a lefty but I would disagree that he has marketing savvy. Looking at the right side of the stock it appears to have that lip on the upper cheekpiece “ala” Air Arms. This eliminates any comfortable use by a left handed shooter. This stock could have easily been design as an ambi or, right handed but have the right side of it smooth to accommodate lefties. This oversight is simply inexcusable and I fail to see any rational reason why it’s designed in this manner!

  11. Daniel says:

    Does the rifle have the new smooth twist barrel or the traditional rifled one?

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      I don’t know. I’ve been told it has a “match” barrel.

  12. Dan Nolen says:

    Daniel,

    According to the Youtube video presentation, it DOES have the new “smooth twist” barrel; basically a smoothbore barrel with the last few inches having the rifling twist “crimped” into the barrel for greater “potential” accuracy; whatever that means.

    What a beautiful and well designed gun (as always from FX). That price will certainly prevent many from owning one, though. Dang, that would have bought a Whiscombe before John quit making them and the price went through the roof!!

    Great article and a great gun. Looking forward to supply and demand hopefully dropping that price down to a grand or so.

    -Dan

  13. Richard says:

    Too heavy, too long, needs 3 – level power adjustment. Make it 5-7 pounds, 36-40 inches, with power adjustment, and sell a million on em’.

    Richard

  14. Fx says:

    For anyone who wants ambi stock, fx will produce a Cyclone in .25 cal
    with 7 shot magazine and three power setting and smooth twist barrel.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Thanks!

  15. Dale Johnson says:

    10 lb rifle, if it sits on sand bags all day thats fine, but a rifle that heavy is useless to me for hunting. 7.5 with scope is my limit.

  16. Floyd says:

    I totaly agree with some of your other contributers,I can not believe for such a great looking rifle, they complety shut out the lefty’s

  17. dave says:

    beautiful concept… forget the cost, you pass this way but once

  18. Dave says:

    variable power setting for the price would be nice….30 ft lbs, 20ft lbs and maybe 10 ft lbs?

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Dave,

      Certainly the variable power would be easy enough to do with that variable aperture gizmo that FX uses on some of the other guns. It’s as easy as throwoing a switch.

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