Gun test: FX Dreamline Bullpup
PUBLISHED: 11:34 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:34 09 October 2019
Dave Barham gets to grips with one of the first rifles of its kind in the country, and ok, what fun he had!
This month's 'Big Test' was a rather tricky affair, but in true Air Gunner style we managed to pull it off without a hitch. The main problem was that FX UK importers, ASI, didn't have a sub-12 ft.lbs Dreamline Bullpup in the country. In fact, they only had the one example and that was a high-power FAC version. That was my first hurdle, because I don't yet hold a firearms certificate, although that's in progress.
A quick call to my old mukka, Mick Garvey soon had a plan hatched and I arranged for ASI to send the rifle to him so I could visit and spend the afternoon testing it on one of his permissions - problem solved!
This new, £1150 bullpup version is based on the same internal workings of the original Dreamline rifles, squeezed into a bullpup configuration.
Like the other rifles in the range, the bullpup can be converted into many configurations such as a field-target rifle or classic sporter, thanks to the Smooth Twist X barrel system (STX). This rather unique STX barrel system means you can swap barrels over from rifle to rifle, changing the calibre and even different rifling twist rates to get the perfect rifle for your style of shooting.
The first thing I noticed when I picked up this rifle up was the weight, or rather lack of it. Weighing in at just 2.4kg, or 5.3lbs in old money, this really is one of the lightest rifles I've ever held. Even with a scope and silencer added it still weighs less than most bare rifles.
The 11mm dovetail rail is plenty long enough to house any scope of your choice - we opted to slap the Yukon Photon RT on top of this rifle to kill two birds with one stone and get two reviews for the price of one - see the review on page 50 of this issue.
The test rifle didn't come with a moderator, and as Mick let the first shot go it went away with a serious 'crack', so he quickly screwed a Turnright Galloway silencer onto the ½in UNF threaded muzzle, which did the job admirably.
The safety switch is located directly beneath the cocking lever and it's a manual push/pull type. It's really easy to use and well placed.
The inner workings of the Dreamline allow you to fine tune your rifle to exactly how you want it, including valve flow, hammer tension and regulator pressure. The AMP (Adjustable Match Precision) regulator can be adjusted externally to higher and lower pressures without the need to remove pressure from the rifle, and the match-grade trigger is adjustable too, but I found it to be perfect for me at the factory set, 15oz pull weight.
One thing that really amazed me is the shot count from the magazines. The .22 model we used in this test came with a rotary magazine that holds a whopping 18 pellets, and the .177 mag' holds even more, at 22 rounds!
These magazines are really easy to load - you simply pull off the lid and drop your pellets into the holes, then clip the lid back on and push the mag' into the breech port. I love the simplicity of the design, with the upwardly sloping recess into which the contoured mag' slides - it's foolproof.
Loads of dials!
You'll notice that there are two dials and a gauge on this rifle. The gauge on the right-hand side tells you the regulator pressure, whilst the dial on the end of the air cylinder tells you the fill pressure.
Then there are two dials situated on the left-hand side. The one directly under the breech allows you to switch between the various calibres when you swap barrels, plus it lets you set the rifle to low-power mode.
The other dial at the rear, under the cheekpiece, is for various power settings, depending on the barrel and calibre you have the rifle set up for.
FAC or SUB-12?
I've already mentioned that this model is one of the FAC versions, and there are plenty to choose from; including 18 ft.lbs. in .177, 30 ft.lbs. in .22; 45 ft.lbs. in .25, and a .30 calibre that is to be announced soon.
I have been reliably informed that there will be some sub-12 ft.lbs. rifles in the UK shortly, and that could well warrant a re-visit for a follow-up test!
As far as air goes, the two smaller calibres have 220cc reservoirs, whilst the two higher calibres have 290cc bottles. That's more than enough air for a day's hunting - unless you really hit the jackpot.
I arrived at Mick's place in deepest Derbyshire around midday and after a quick lunch provided by the lovely Babs, we set off to one of Mick's favourite perms. The aim for this short session was to have a couple of hours' target practice on a makeshift range, then head to one of two hides that Mick had set up in front of feeders to try to nail a few squirrels.
It took just two mag's to get the Yukon Photon scope bang on, and shooting from a seated position, with the rifle propped securely on a padded crossbar, the 35-yard grouping was superb.
After knocking over twigs, leaves, acorns and peppering paper targets, I felt more than confident enough to take the Dreamline 'pup into the woods in search of squirrels.
This was the first time that I'd actually shot with Mick, although I've met him on numerous occasions at shows and in various bars around the globe!
I'll be honest. I was a tad nervous as he stood behind me in the hide whilst using his thermal-imaging gear to search out squirrels in the trees in front of us. I had to make my first shot count and prove my worth!
It didn't take long for the squirrels to start mooching around after we'd settled into the hide, and Mick spotted one about 35 yards up in a tree to our left, but it was clear through the scope that it was actually sitting behind a branch. We spent so much time concentrating on that squirrel that we didn't notice another one which had climbed up onto one of the peanut feeders directly in front of us.
As soon as I saw it, I quickly lowered the rifle to the crossbar, took aim and gently squeezed the trigger. The squirrel dropped like a stone, and I was over the moon that I'd made such a clean kill under pressure.
As is often the case, that shot and subsequent 'thud' as the dead squirrel hit the deck made it all go quiet for a while, so I handed the rifle over to Mick for him to have a go with. I did manage to shoot another squirrel later that afternoon, and for such a short session the Dreamline Bullpup certainly grabbed my attention.
Everything about this rifle oozes quality, from the machining of the parts to the general feel and look of it. I love how light it is and how easy it is to carry and use, which will be particularly welcome during prolonged hunts.
I can't wait to get to grips with a sub-12 ft.lbs. version of this rifle when one becomes available in the UK. It definitely warrants a follow-up test and a little - loads! - more time spent exploring its tremendous potential.
Model: Dreamline Bullpup
Distributor: ASI Ltd/a-s-i.co.uk
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
Max fill pressure: 230 bar
Stock material: Synthetic
Stock type: Ambidextrous
Trigger: Two-stage adjustable
Calibres: .177, .22, .25 and .30
Overall length: .177 and .22, 720mm; .25 and .30, 835mm
Barrel length: .177 and .22., 500mm; .25 and .30, 600mm
Magazine capacity: .177 (22), 500mm; .25 (16), .30 (13)
Energy: Sub-12 ft.lbs. models are available .177 (18ft.lbs.) .22 (30 ft.lbs.) .25 (45ft.lbs.) > 30 (TBA)
Variation (10 shots)- 5ps