If I were a professional pest controller who needed an airgun to do his job, I think I have just found the air rifle that would be Numero Uno on my list: the FX Gladiator Mk II.
Before we take a look at the Mk II, a couple of items. First, I reviewed the FX Gladiator Tactical a while back, and if you want to check out those blogs for comparison, you can find them here http://126.96.36.199/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-i.html and here http://188.8.131.52/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-ii.html.
Second, I love shooting precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles. They have, as a group, a bunch of admirable qualities. Most will shoot one inch edge-to-edge groups at 50 yards with the right pellet, and often they will do substantial better than that. They have no nasty whiplash recoil to deal with, as do springers and gas-piston guns. Many offer a very neighbor-friendly report, and they are just plain easy to shoot well. Buuut, most require the shooter to have a SCUBA tank or a high-pressure hand pump handy to refill the air reservoir when all the usuable shots have been consumed. For me, that diminishes the pleasure of shooting a PCP air rifle; the less ancillary gear I have to drag out the door when I got shooting, the better.
The new FX Gladiator Mk II gets around the ancillary gear problem with a couple of slick tricks: a very easy-to-use power adjustor and two – count ‘em! – air reservoirs. As a result, the Mk II delivers a shot count that should allow the overwhelming majority of shooters to go out the door with the Mk II and a tin of pellets and not have to worry about refilling the Gladiator until they get back home from a day’s shooting. We’ll talk about that some more in a while, but first let’s take a walk around the Gladiator Mk II.
The Gladiator Mk II stretches 44.25 inches from end to end. With the rear air reservoir/buttstock unscrewed, the receiver and barrel assembly measure about 34 inches. Without a scope or rings attached, the Mk II weighs 8.5 lbs, and it looks – to my eye, anyway – just great. With the exception of a couple of teensy spots where dots of red paint appear, the Mk II is a symphony of matte black metal and matte black engineering polymer.
At the extreme aft end of the Mk II, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad (which can be adjusted vertically) attached to a polymer cheek piece assembly that slides over the rear air reservoir. The good folks from FX have wisely designed the Gladiator so that the rear air reservoir angles down slightly from the line of the receiver. This allows for a comfortable shooting position.
Moving forward, most of the rear half of the receiver and barrel assembly is swaddled in another engineering polymer molding that provides a pistol grip, trigger guard, and forestock all in one piece. This assembly secures to the receiver with a single allen bolt. The pistol grip has grooves on either side for better gripping and so does the forestock. Inside the trigger guard is a black metal two-stage trigger that can be adjusted for first stage length of pull and second stage weight of pull. Forward of that, you’ll find an easy-to-read air gauge on the underside of the forestock.
At the end of the forestock is the forward air reservoir with a filling port at the end. Above that is a fully shrouded .22 caliber barrel. At the rear end of the barrel is the breech assembly, which is the same breech assembly used in the FX Royale air rifle. On the left hand side of the breech is a black metal wheel which is the power adjustor. Turn it to change the power setting: one red dot means low power, two dots means medium power, and three dots is high power.
In in the middle of the breech is a slot for receiving the 12-shot rotary magazine, and on the right side of the breech, you’ll find the breech lever and a lever style safety. That’s all there is to it.
Next time, we’ll take a look at how the Gladiator Mk II shoots.
Til then, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott