Anyone who has read this blog for a while, or any of my other airgun writings, has probably figured out that I love – absolutely love – the way pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) rifles shoot, but I’m not so keen on the ancillary gear needed to charged them up.
I guess it’s a holdover from my summers in Vermont at my grandparents place. A buddy and I spent endless days roaming the woods and fields of the “Northeast Kingdom.” All we needed when we went out the door in the morning was our trusty BB guns and a tube or two BBs. It was freedom and glorious adventure.
So that’s why, even though my PCPs will shoot teensy groups at impressive range, you’ll most often find me packing for a day of airgunning with a self-contained air rifle and a tin of pellets.
But a rifle I tested the other day might change all that. The gun in question is an FX Gladiator Tactical (GT). It is an FX Gladiator fitted with the barrel, including permanently affixed sound moderator, from an FX Royale.
There are a bunch of things that I like about the Gladiator Tactical, but there are two things that really set it apart from all other air rifles that I have tested so far. The first is that the GT has two – count ‘em – air reservoirs that provide some 648 CC (500 cc rear, 148 cc front) of air storage.
That means that the number of shots you get between fills is absolutely staggering. For example, one of the guys at Airguns of Arizona (who supplied this gun for review), has a .22 cal GT set up for 28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle (on high power), and he gets – are you ready for this? – 180 shots from a fill, with a 40 fps spread between high and low.
The second thing that sets the GT apart is a little lever on the side of the receiver just forward of the breech. That lever allows the shooter to choose among high, medium and low power settings simply by sliding the lever to one of three settings. There are no springs to adjust, no internal fiddling to be done, just throw the lever to the power setting you want. Well, you don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that if you get 180 shoots on high power, if you slide the lever to medium power, you’re going to get a lot more shots, and if you drop the power to the lowest setting, you’re going to get even more shots before you have to refill.
I don’t actually know how many shots per fill you get from a .22 on low power, but 200-300 seems perfectly plausible to me. And that, dear reader, would send me out the door with the Gladiator Tactical in one hand and a tin of pellets in the other!
The aft end of the GT is the rear air reservoir that is wrapped in an matte black engineering plastic cover that provides a cheek piece and an attachment for the adjustable butt pad. Loosen an allen screw, and you can move the cheek piece/cover back and forth and angle it from side to side to suit your preference.
Moving forward, the main receiver of the GT is also wrapped matte black engineering plastic. The pistol grip is nearly vertical and has finger indentations. The plastic wraps around to form a trigger guard that surrounds an adjustable trigger. Forward of the trigger guard is an air guage. Moving forward again, you’ll find the forward air reservoir.
Above that is the barrel with moderator. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver, which is handsomely finished in gloss black and has scope dovetails along its full length except for the breech opening. At the mid point of the receiver is the breech, where a removable 8-shot magazine slides into place (it only goes in one way, so you can’t get it in backwards). On the right side of the receiver is the cocking arm. Pull it straight back, and it cocks the GT and rotates the magazine so that the next pellet is in position. Also on the right side of the receiver near the back end is the lever for activating the safety.
At the back of the receiver is a lever that must be pulled back to remove the magazine from the breech. On the left side of the receiver is the previously mentioned power adjustment lever.
Next time, we’ll take a lot at how the Gladiator Tactical performs.
Til then, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott