A few years ago I was in Dallas on business, when a couple of friends invited me to break away for an evening pest control shoot on a small truck farm located on the outskirts of the city. We shot several raccoons, possums, and skunks that night and had a good time, but what stands out in my memory is that I was using a borrowed FX Gladiator, and it was the first FX gun that I’d ever used. I felt like I couldn’t miss, knocking over the varmints left and right, and I loved the trigger.
Jump ahead a few years and I was in Arizona for a rabbit hunt, and had the opportunity to hunt with the new Gladiator Mk2 for a few days. I had selected a .22 as this is my all favored caliber for small game in a powerful pcp hunting rifle …… although .25 is making a bid to usurp thst position. In the years between these two trips I’d used a number of FX guns, and invariably find them to be impressive performers in the field. Accurate, powerful, ergonomic, reliable, high shot count and intelligently designed with all the bells and whistles. But aside from the intrinsic accuracy, what I found useful in this hunting application was the high shot count that allowed me to put in the miles without lugging a buddy bottle in my pack or having to return to the truck.
This new iteration has an improved breech block, power adjuster, fully shrouded smooth twist barrel, improved stock and more. As mentioned, one of the great attributes of the Gladiator rifles is the large air supply that delivers a high shot count on a single fill. The gun has adjustable power settings; on high power the rifle will deliver over 100 shots from a single 3000 psi fill, which gives me a full day of prairie dog shooting on a single fill. The power selector has three settings; one dot on the wheel is low (13 fpe) power, medium is two dots (21 fpe), and three is high power (32 fpe). I used high power to shoot rabbits out to 100 yards, and while I didn’t need it on this outing, the suppression system reduces the report to levels that can be used inside a barn or industrial building when moving from small game hunting to pest control.
Another thing I like about the new Gladiator Mk2 is that it uses the Royale style side-lever cocking system. The entire cycling of the gun and indexing of the magazine is extremely smooth and reliable. While shooting rabbits I was able to quickly cycle the gun without dismounting the rifle for a follow up if needed, which I have to admit came in handy a couple of times. The new ambidextrous stock design is ergonomic, not always easy to achieve in a bottle buttstock configuration, and the length of pull is also adjustable which along with the two-stage match trigger allows the full potential of the guns accuracy to be realized.
In the field I found the Gladiator was a great handling rifle that I could shoot well from any position; I used it sitting, prone, standing, offhand or off sticks. The stock provided a good sight alignment with a solid and consistent hold. Kip and I were hiking the desert hills searching the brush in the washes and arroyos for cottontails. My best shot of the trip was a 78 yards offhand head shot on a rabbit we spotted feeding at the bottom of the wash. I had nothing to brace on and if I sat or kneeled the rabbit was hidden behind the vegetation. The gun fit me well and provided the stability required, and I knew I could nail this shot. I just about filled my limit in an afternoon hunt, and really enjoyed using this rifle.
I just wanted to quickly comment on my schedule for updating the blog: My intention has been to update on a weekly basis every Friday. However I am in the middle of a move, my family is relocating to the Minneapolis area, so for the next month or so I’d like to ask readers to bear with me. I’ll be getting the new post up over the weekend until our move is completed and my schedule normalizes, then we’ll get back on the Friday release.