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Gun test: FX Impact

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 October 2016

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Archant

Mick Garvey finds himself commissioned to test a rather special new rifle

So picture this, I’m snapping away merrily with the Canon getting the final pictures for the day’s shoot when the phone rings. It’s only the chief honcho at Airgun World - the Right Honourable, Mr Terry Doe. “Hi mate, what are you up to?” was his greeting. “Just finalising the photos for my August write-up,” I said.

His next words took the wind right out of my sails and I actually had to sit down to take it all in. I was to review one of the most talked about airguns in recent times – the FX Impact in .177.

I am almost 100 per cent bullpup-only these days as they do everything perfectly for my type of shooting, and after chatting with Freddy from FX Airguns for a good couple of hours at the last IWA show, my mind was made up that a .25 FAC Impact would be in my armoury as soon as Freddy could arrange it. Until then, testing the FX Impact is the next best thing!

He’s keen

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On the day of the gun’s arrival, I was pacing up and down, checking through the lounge window every minute. As soon as the delivery van, I was outside before the driver had time to put his handbrake on. “You’re keen, mate,” he said.

Do I sound excited? It’s with good reason – the FX Impact has set the bar to a new level. You only have to check out the looks of this military-looking airgun to see that something special has happened.

Weaver rails aplenty for bipods, lamps, thermal imagers, and a whole host of other attachments - one in particular for me will be the Magpul attachment for my single-point sling. The quality plastic carry case was larger than expected, meaning there is space for spare barrels, pellets, mags and a fitted scope.

I checked over the parts before assembly and noticed everything was in pristine condition, with no signs of the problems other owners have found. The air bottle put me in mind of my old Rapid, and easily screwed into position. Fitting the barrel is a rather satisfying affair with a really snug fit of the brass transfer port into the block and perfect alignment of the locator hole with the barrel-locking screw.

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Fitting alternative barrels is another easy procedure that takes minutes with the use of minimal tools. A noticeable modification is the scalloped area around the quick-fill port, which was a previously found flaw, albeit a minor one.

A couple of things were apparent, starting with the position of the safety catch. If you have short fingers, the catch presses against your trigger finger. You can overcome this by having your finger flat against the bottom of the trigger guard, although it has been suggested the catch should work in the opposite direction – horizontal for fire, and vertical for safe. It’s not a problem for me as my fingers are long enough to overcome this.

Secondly, there is slight movement of the telescopic shroud when fully extended, but I haven’t found this to cause a problem with clipping, and on the plus side, the difference in sound levels is pretty impressive when fully extended.

The adjustable butt pad is a welcome addition because many of my previous pups lacked this adjustability. I found the standard position suits me just fine, but I may change my mounts for some lower ones at a later stage, which will give me the opportunity to check out the adjustability.

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It’s a beauty

Having assembled the Impact, it was time to stand back and admire the beauty of the beast – and what a beauty it is!

I have shot various AR15s and M4s in the past, and the looks of the Impact are on a par with these iconic guns. And if the looks don’t float your boat, I assure you the performance will.

My next task was to chrono’ the power with various pellets I have in my stash. I decided on JSB 8.4gr Exacts, which were consistently giving 11.6, so all would be okay at the range for pre-field testing. I was expecting the 20-shot mag’ but the 16-shot is ample for my needs, although the reverse loading of the first pellet to go in the mag’ really increases the need for a second mag’.

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I found the first shot sometimes tended to be a flier, which may be due to damage caused by the reverse loading of the first pellet. Also, the 16-shot item loads from the left and the 20-shot from the right. The mags are very Theoben-like in appearance and operation, apart from the reverse loading of that first pellet.

My chosen range for the day was South Yorkshire Shooting Club in Rotherham. Trevor wasn’t around on my visit – a shame as I always enjoy having a chat with him – but Michael, his manager, was there and extremely helpful as always. It was good to see relative newcomers and seasoned shooters all plinking away and having fun, but that all stopped once the Impact revealed itself. It was like Prime Minister’s Question Time and I felt proud to be the man with the gun of the moment. Once all answers had been given and the drool cleaned off the Impact, it was time to get to grips with it.

Smooth

The first notable thing is the silky-smooth cocking action, I have never experienced such a smooth action, it actually feels like there are no pellets in the mag’ and more than once I had to check to make sure.

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The mag’ loads easily and sort of clicks downwards to locate. With my trusty Hawke Sidewinder 10x fixed-mounted on top, and the target sent straight out to 32 metres, I grew more impressed with every squeeze of the trigger.

These were my results: JSB Polymags gave the worst results, followed by Bisley Magmuns at 10.6. JSB Heavies at 10.34 grouped really well, and some borrowed Air Arms Express at 7.8 also gave a tight pattern, but as suspected, the best of the day were the JSB Exacts at 8.4. With all this gathered intelligence it was time to get out in the fields.

In the field

As I arrived at my permission, there was a small group of woodpigeons feeding on the freshly-cut grass, with a couple of ferals joining the party. I managed to get the Hilux to within 35 metres and slowly removed the Impact from the gun bag, loaded the mag’ and slipped the safety off. Most of the pigeons were sideways on, apart from one woodie that offered me a ‘through the shoulder blades’ shot.

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I was actually sweating, this was the first hunting shot I had taken with this particular FX and I just couldn’t allow a miss. There should never have been any doubt because the pellet struck home perfectly and the woodie fell.

I took my usual route so I could see through the woods to where my feeder is placed, without being spotted by any squirrels feeding, and to my delight there was one tucking into the free offerings. Once in place, a simple 30-yard headshot dropped the grey and I was off to the next spot.

This was not as quick as the last one, but after roughly 30 minutes, another grey came bouncing along the ground, stopped and headed up an adjacent beech tree, did a bit of a shimmy, and then started back down again. I know this tree to be 40 yards from my position and, once again, I was sweating as the squirrel stopped briefly and with a crack you only get from a perfect headshot, the grey came tumbling down.

This has been one of my most productive spots over the past few years, and consists of no more than an old school chair at the base of another beech tree, with a holly bush behind it for added camouflage, but I wanted to check out another feeder. I immediately spotted a squirrel I have seen many times before, with half a tail, jump down from the feeder and scratching the ground for fallen feed. I slowly raised the Impact to its resting position, knowing it would soon be back up to the feeder, and within seconds it was dispatched with another perfect headshot.

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I was ecstatic with the results, especially as I had only been here about 90 minutes.

My verdict

The bar has now been raised in the world of airguns and my only regret is that someday this will have to go back.

I am seriously thinking of asking to buy it. Did I mention shot count? No I don’t think I did. I’ve spoken to a few owners and we’re expecting around 600 - yes 600! That’s a few day’s shooting. Two gauges too, one for air tube pressure and one for reg’ pressure, interchangeable M4-style hand grips, so no matter what your hand size or shape there’s a grip for you.

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My advice: go and check one out. Hold it, feel it, love it!

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