Gun test: Prototype FAS 611
- Credit: Archant
Phill Price gets first look at an exciting new rifle from Italy
One of the great things about this job is that we sometimes get the chance to handle new guns before they hit the shops, and we’re frequently asked for our opinions on them. Just such a rifle is the FAS 611 you see here, and not only does the importer want our thoughts, but they’d like yours as well. You see, this rifle has many great features and some I believe that could be improved, so read on and when you finish, email us with your thoughts on ways the Italian manufacturer could make this sweet little rifle perfect for your type of shooting. If you give us your views, your name will go into a draw and you could win a FAS 611 in exchange for helping develop it!
It’s clear from the first glance that the FAS 611 is based on a 10-metre competition gun, which is good because they have many of the features I want from a truly modern rifle. The action is pre-charged pneumatic with a single-shot, sidelever cocking system. Below this is a highly adjustable, literally match-grade trigger covered by an unusual bolt-on aluminium trigger guard, which looks great, adding to the already stylish appeal of the walnut stock. This is in a pure competition configuration with its vertical pistol grip and deep, square section fore end. At the tip of the fore end is an aluminium track that can accept all kinds of accessories, whilst at the rear there’s a deep sectio designed to accommodate the classic competition standing hold. There are no chequered panels at the contact points, even though there are plenty of laser-cut swoops and swirls alongside the company logo and the rifle’s name cut into the wood.
Of more interest to me as a hunter is the height adjustable cheek piece, a feature that every high-quality rifle needs, in my opinion. Behind this there’s a height adjustable, concave, rubber butt pad. Oddly, there’s a set of rather broad open sights fitted, although I can’t imagine why. Nobody is going to buy a rifle with the accuracy potential of this one and fail to fit a scope. On that subject, I noted that the scope rails are quite short, so I anticipated the need for reach-forward mounts. This is compounded by another unusual dimension, which is the length of pull. At just under 13½” it’s over an inch shorter than the industry standard. I asked the importer Armex, if this rifle was intended for junior shooter, but they assured me that it’s a full-size, adult rifle.
To fill the reservoir, you unscrew it from the action and use the adaptor supplied to attach it directly to your dive bottle. This seems a pointlessly protracted exercise when every other gun in this category has some kind of filling valve that accepts a connector. Further, removing the reservoir exposes key components to dirt, grit and potentially damage. The pressure gauge is in the muzzle end of the reservoir, which is a place some people dislike because effectively, you point the gun at your face as you read it. I was unable to use it with my dive bottle because it’s a 300 bar unit and the connector was designed for use on 232bar ones. Luckily, I live near Bisley and managed to get it filled there.
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The sturdy, 14mm thick barrel is kind of free-floating, but supported by a synthetic cradle 8½” forward of the action block. This ensures that a knock won’t bend the barrel, yet it remains unaffected by pressure changes in the reservoir. At the muzzle, there’s a barrel weight that’s also the base for the front sight element. It’s easily removed with an Allen key and I’m sure hunters will fit a silencer and the competition chaps will fit a stripper, so I’d question the need for it to be fitted at all.
As anticipated, I found that I needed a reach-forward front scope mount and the rear one needed to go in front of the loading slot so that I could get correct eye relief. As ever, Sportsmatch had just the right solution for my mounting needs, so thank you to them.
With the scope fitted it’s pretty tricky to get a pellet into the loading tray and serious patience is needed. Rolling the pellet into the groove is made yet more difficult by the recessed screw heads on the top of the tray. At my club, the members all enjoyed handling the FAS and several were very impressed, so much so that they’re thinking of buying one. I was surprised that not one of them mentioned the short length of pull, so perhaps it’s not as much of a big deal as I thought.
The trigger came set very light, in a single-stage configuration, so I warned the other shooters to exercise extreme caution. I don’t like stupidly light triggers, so I need to dial in some more pull weight. Full instructions are supplied which is good, because this is one of the most adjustable triggers I’ve ever seen. Another sign of the rifle’s target origins is seen as the lack of safety, which will limit the 611’s appeal to hunters.
A quick check over the chronograph was all I could afford because I had just one fill of air and a reasonably consistent 780fps was the result. That’s just right, at around 11.5 ft.lbs so I moved on to accuracy testing. This again was in the ball park with the Webley Mosquito showing best the performance of 1¼” groups at 50 yards on a near windless day.
It’s abundantly clear that the FAS611 has huge potential as a lightweight field target rifle and perhaps even more appeal as a hunter field target gun. The lack of a magazine and a safety will make it less of a draw for hunters as it stands. Next month, I’ll report back when I’ve had a little more time with the rifle and have got to know it better.
Tel: 0121 643 4900
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Single-shot, sidelever
Length: 39 ½ (100.3cm)
Weight: 7.7lbs (3.5kg)
Trigger: Highly adjustable, match grade
Stock: Ambidextrous walnut competition
Fill pressure: 200bar