Posts Tagged ‘FX’

Recently, I received a response to the blog from Sean, who said:

I need an air rifle to kill some roosting pigeons and feral cats at a commercial property in Tucson. I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.

Any suggestions for an appropriate rifle would be helpful.



Thanks for the question, Sean. I’ll do my best to provide a useful response.

Your first big concern should be to determine the legality of your situation. Is it legal for you to be discharging an air rifle at this commercial property and is it also legal for you to be killing pigeons and feral cats? The last thing you want is a legal hassle because someone saw you terminating pigeons or feral cats and decided to make an issue of it. That is not the time to discover that you are on the wrong side of the law. So check it out first. If legality is a problem, you might want to see what your options are with a pest control professional.

You mention “I want to limit the distance of the shot as much as possible in case I miss my shot.” Safety is your second big concern. You really have to take a critical look at the area where you intend to shoot. What, indeed, will happen if you miss your shot? Where will your shot go? Will you hit adjoining properties, possibly critical or sensitive equipment, or will your shot go into the air and you have no idea where it will land? (Understand, Sean, that I am not getting on your case here, but simply pointing out that it is your responsibility to be sure of the background where your shot is going to land.)

Study your field of fire and look for alternative shooting positions. If you can arrange a position where you are shooting downward into the ground or into a backstop you devise, that could be very helpful.

One of the unknown variables in the question you pose is the distance at which you will be shooting. That will influence what type of air rifle you choose. You also don’t mention what type of commercial property is involved, and that may make a difference as well.

Scoped HW30.

Some years ago, I did a profile on pest control professional Alan Becker. He is called frequently to kill birds in grocery stores, and one of his concerns is over-penetration. “If he pellet goes through the bird, I have to find it. I don’t want to take the risk that it might be in a food product.” For that reason, Becker uses a Beeman R9 in .177 that launches .177 pellets at 875-900 fps, and a CZ630, also a .177, with a velocity around 600 fps (a readily available equivalent would be the Beeman R7 or HW30). With an HW30 or R7, you should be able to kill pigeons out to about 25 yards.

Here's an older Benjamin 392 set up Scout rifle style with a red dot sight.

If you are forced to shoot upward at roosting pigeons and don’t want to risk damaging the roof, you might consider a Benjamin 392 pump-up rifle. By varying the number of pumps, you can vary the power and velocity of the shot. At as little as 3 pumps, you might be able to kill the pigeon without “killing” the roof.  The 392 can be difficult to scope, but can be outfitted with a peep sight or a pistol scope mounted out on the barrel in “scout rifle” fashion.

The Benjamin Marauder Pistol, outfitted with shoulder stock and scope.

Another good candidate is the Benjamin Marauder pistol/carbine, the power of which can be adjusted, but it’s a bit of a hassle.

The FX Gladiator offers tons of shots, super easy power adjustment, and a high degree of stealth.

Another consideration is noise. Some pest control situations require the utmost in stealth. The .177 Marauder rifle is very, very quiet, and the power can be adjusted, but it isn’t quick and easy. If you want a PCP rifle that offers a lot of shots per fill, power that is adjustable at the flick of a switch, very muted report, and excellent accuracy, the FX Gladiator Tactical is an outstanding choice.

Finally, Sean, whatever you choose, be certain that you practice, practice, practice until your shot placement is precise and sure.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The Gladiator Tactical shoots as good as it looks.

To get the FX Gladiator Tactical ready for shooting, charge both reservoirs up to 200 bar. You can do this by inserting the charging adapter into the port on the front reservoir. Be sure to fill slowly and that it will take a lot longer than usual because there is a lot more volume to fill than on most PCP airguns. If you try to fill too quickly, you may get an indication from the gauge on the GT that the reservoir is full, but then the charge in the front reservoir will slowly bleed to the rear reservoir until the pressures in the two reservoirs equalize.

Put the safety in the non-fire position (full back). Pull the cocking lever full back, now pull the magazine release lever back. When the magazine release lever is fully back, the magazine will slide out the breech. Load it with the nose of the pellets facing toward the flat side of the magazine. Slide the magazine back in place and push the cocking lever forward. This slides the first pellet into the barrel. Now return the magazine release lever back to its original position, and the magazine locked firmly in place.

Now you’re ready to shoot. Take aim, flick the safety off, ease the first stage out of the trigger (13.2 oz) and squeeze gently on the second stage (1 lb 10 oz), and the shot goes down range. In stock trim, the high, medium, and lower power settings are for 32 footpounds, 24 fp, and 14 fp in the .22 cal version.

Pull the cocking lever back. You can push it forward again or you can simply let go of it and it will return to its original position on its own. Now you’re ready for the next shot.

Five shots went through those three holes. I love it when air rifles shoot like this!

Shooting JSB Exact Jumbo Express .22 pellets at high power, I put five shots into a group at 35 yards that I could cover with a dime. Then I decided to flip the power switch all the way down to low power. I put 5 pellets into a group that measures barely .5 inch edge to edge. That works out to just a bit over a quarter inch center to center.

Even better, the report was extremely muted, making a kind of “ching!” sound every time a shot goes off. The GT isn’t dead quiet, but it doesn’t sound like anything shooting either.

In the end, I liked the GT a whole lot. It gets a ton of shots per fill, has an excellent trigger, is a bona fide tack driver, and has a neighbor-friendly report. It puts all the good stuff together in one package, and I give it my hearty recommendation.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

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 power adjustment lever is just below "FX 25059."

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.

The left side of the receiver, showing the magazine, cocking lever, and safety lever.

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

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

The Ranchero has it all: an excellent trigger, match pistol accuracy, neighbor-friendly report at low power, and it's a repeater.

To get the FX Ranchero ready for shooting, charge the cylinder up to 200 bar (you can do this on or off the pistol). Put the safety in the non-fire position (full back). Pull the cocking lever full back, now pull the magazine release knob back. You’ll find that, with the exception of the cocking lever which has a small click-detent when it closes fully, everything moves smoooooothly, like it is on oiled bearings.

When the magazine release knob is fully back, the magazine will slide out of the breech. Load it with the nose of the pellets facing toward the flat side of the magazine. Slide the magazine back in place and push the cocking lever forward. This will also return the magazine release back to its original position with the first pellet slid into the barrel, and the magazine locked firmly in place.

Now you’re good to go. Take aim, flick the safety off, ease the first stage out of the trigger and squeeze gently on the second stage, and, at about 14 oz. of pressure, the shot goes down range. Pull the cocking lever back, push it forward again, and you’re ready for the next shot.

Now, an aside: when I was ready to trigger my first shot with the Ranchero, I was all ready to flinch. Why? Because I have had experience with other precharged pneumatic pistols that were raucous beasts that annoyed my ears. But I was shooting the Ranchero on low power and that, combined with the shrouded barrel, made the report remarkably docile. It wasn’t dead quiet by any means, but it was much quieter than I had expected and quieter than even some CO2 pistols I’ve shot.

I tested the Ranchero at ten meters, shooting with a rifle scope mounted and off a rest. I found I was getting the same kind of accuracy you’d expect from a target pistol: shot after shot through the same hole. And the two-stage trigger was crisp and clean, making it easy to get really good results.

In the end, I found there was a whole lot to like about the Ranchero: target accuracy, an excellent trigger, a neighbor friendly report on low power, a pressure gauge (PCPs without pressure gauges force me into counting shots, which I’m not good at), interchangeable cylinders, and the ability to mount a rifle scope, pistol scope or red dot, as your needs dictate. And, yes, it does come in a lefthand version with the action reversed, making it truly left handed..

A pistol like this could take “defending the bird feeder” to a whole new level!

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Recently I had the opportunity to play around with a pistol that I had been curious about for some time: the FX Ranchero.

Right off, I’ve got to tell that I liked the Ranchero a whole lot, and we’ll get to the reasons why in just a little while, but first let’s take a walk around the Ranchero.

It’s a big pistol, stretching 18 inches from end to end and weighing 3.3 pounds without scope or red dot. The version that I tested had a beautiful sculpted walnut grip with a stippled pistol grip, palm shelf, and walnut trigger guard. The two-stage match trigger is adjustable, and just forward of it, underneath the forend, you’ll find a gauge that tells you how much air pressure is left in the reservoir.

Moving forward again, there’s a lip at the end of the forend. Above that is the air cylinder which can be unscrewed when it runs low and replaced by another so you can keeping on shooting during a day afield. At the end of the air cylinder is the quick-fill charging port, and you can fill the cylinder on or off the Ranchero. Above the air cylinder is the shrouded Lothar-Walther with a threaded muzzle for mounting a silencer where those are legal.

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 (in only goes in one way, so you can’t get it in backwards).

The left side of the Ranchero, showing the cocking lever and the power adjustment lever.

On the left side of the receiver, just forward of the breech, is a small power adjustment lever. Push it all the way forward, and the Ranchero is on low power (around 8.5 fp for the .177 version, about 9 fp for the .22). Put the lever in the middle, and the pistol is on medium power (12 fp for .177; 13 fp for .22, and when the lever is all the way back – bingo! – high power (15 fp .177, 16.5 fp .22). Unlike many other power adjustment systems, which rely on changing the loading on the hammerspring, the Ranchero varies power by changing the size of the transfer port through which air flows to the barrel. The result is very high shot-to-shot consistency, regardless of what power setting you select.

On the left side of the receiver just aft of the breech is the cocking arm. Pull it straight back, and it cocks the pistol and rotates the next pellet in the magazine into position. Push it forward, the action closes, and a bolt probe pushes the pellet into the barrel. At the tail end of the receiver, you’ll find two brass disks. The first slides back and forth as you activate the cocking arm. The second you pull back to allow the magazine to be removed from the breech. On the right side of the breech is a forward-and-back safety lever.

Next time, we’ll talk about shooting the Ranchero.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Is this a spicy southwestern breakfast, or a really cool new pistol? Yes, I know, it’s a pistol. Picked up my pair Saturday morning, all that I could hope for and more. The brainchild of AOA, basically the action of the FX Cyclone with a shortened barrel and a diminutive air cylinder, set in a custom pistol stock designed by all the guys at AOA. When I first ordered mine from drawings, about 6 months ago, I envisioned a pistol shooting at 32 ft/lbs with about three shots. Yes, I could have lived with that, just enough shots for the wily pigeon. But, thankfully, they outdid themselves. With a new valve system and three power settings, 3–6–and maybe 8 of the eight-shot magazines are possible. The barrel is shrouded, with a ½” UNF threaded end. (The usual power wheel), and a gauge so you know what’s left in the cylinder. I mounted a Burris Compact riflescope on one, and a compact Leupold on the other (mine). As this pistol is not the slender, light 10-meter type, it has a substantial grip and stock to hold the basically full size action. For me, this doesn’t leave a straight-arm stance for a pistol scope, thus the riflescopes. I hold the pistol grip with my right hand, and a comfortable thumb rest, and cock the left hand flipper bolt with my left. Then, it is necessary for me to support the front of the gun with my left hand or use the left arm as a rest. The pistol has a modest pop with just the shroud. I mounted a compact Daystate C/F mod on one, and just a “phuuut” is heard. I mounted a full size mod on the other, and nothing is heard. As I only have a 30-yard range along side my house, I sighted them both in at that range. Within a few test shots I had them both making more or less the same hole. As I wanted to see what the pistol could do, I used a rest, and the pistol shoots better than I can. Nice…REALLY Nice! It’s like shooting my Cyclone, but in a much smaller package. I plan to carry it in the car…you never know!

Availability??? Ten units came in Friday PM; ten were gone by Saturday AM. Get on the list for the next shipment; I’ve already got mine, so go for it! Prices, pictures, and Chrono shot data should be coming from AOA. My Chrono died and I’m waiting for the replacement.

This is the ONLY pistol of its kind!

Best to all – ART SR. – HAPPY-ADDICT