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.
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.
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.