Impact Airguns Revolution GSX100
PUBLISHED: 15:11 17 October 2014 | UPDATED: 16:11 04 November 2014
Is a handmade English gun out of your reach? Perhaps not, as the editor tells us
I guess that any review of any Impact Airguns model has to begin with where the company came from. It’s no secret that it was formed around the rifles of the late Thoeben company that folded some time ago. They made iconic guns that were famed for their rugged reliability, something that made them ultra-popular with dedicated hunters and pest control companies. However, it’s not being too cruel to say that they lacked a little in the stylish good looks department. After the company closed, a businessman, who’d been a fan of the brand, hatched the idea to buy some of the machinery and the premises. He also employed a few of Theoben’s key engineers to start a new adventure, keeping everything that was good and eliminating anything that wasn’t worthy of his vision.
You don’t have to look to hard to see the Theoben DNA, but the Impact guns have a sleek refined look that brings them right up to date in a competitive market place. This is never more striking than in the area of how the high-pressure air is stored. A number of the new rifles have tube-type reservoirs, rather than a buddy bottle. I’ll confess that I’ve never been a fan of the latter, preferring the slim, elegant looks of a tube reservoir and the better handling stocks that come with them.
Take a look at the pictures of the Revolution GSX100 on test. It’s a seriously handsome hunting rifle with well-considered lines and none of the blocky, bulky looks of the Theoben range. It also handles completely differently. It balances sweetly in your hands and swings into the shoulder with the kind of effortless smoothness that’s hard to define, but a joy to experience. There are many lovely detail improvements such as the bolt handle that now curves downward alongside the action. This has a series of radial grooves around it, aiding grip and adding the kind of neat touch of style that makes a good gun great.
The stock is actually a new version for this action, and it fitted me like a glove. The pistol grip is, for me, the star of the show. For a start, it’s not ambidextrous. For a stock to match your hand perfectly it must be dedicated to one hand or the other and my right hand draped around this one effortlessly, delivering the pad of my trigger finger precisely to the smooth metal trigger blade. There’s a full palm swell and a deep groove to support my preferred thumb-up hold. The design offers my hand full support and leaves it totally relaxed with nothing more to do than control the trigger.
The trigger mechanism is, in most respects, the same as the Theoben one, which is no bad thing, because they were always good. However, to lift the new models one level higher, each one is now hand lapped by the gunsmith and individually set up, ensuring top performance straight from the box. The one on the test gun was spot-on, if a little light for my taste, especially if I were to use it in the winter with frozen fingers, but adding a little weight to the second stage took just a quick twist of a hex driver.
The manual safety sits directly in front of the trigger blade, making it a simple job to push it off the second before you release the shot. It’s also silent in use, something I value highly. Loud metallic clicks are totally unnatural noises in the countryside and a sure way to alert your quarry. Top marks for this because I loved it. It’s a totally practical solution that works in the field the way a hunter needs it to.
The Impact action has conventional scope rails machined in so that you can use any mounts, greatly increasing your freedom of choice. Despite the slight increase in the height of the block, the scope actually sits lower than it did on a Theoben that used dedicated bolt-on rings.
The magazine is also a Theoben carry-over, but again, because it was one of the best you could buy, I see it as a positive. In .177 it holds 17 shots, which is a huge number, yet it sits low enough in the action that I was able to fit my MTC Viper scope in Sportsmatch’s lowest mounts with no interference, but there’s one feature of these magazines that I appreciate above the large capacity, and that’s the fact that once it’s empty it blocks the bolt and leaves you in no doubt about what’s just happened. Many, if not most, airgun magazines will cycle and allow you to continue shooting when they’re empty, and the reason I know that is because I’ve done it. Shooting air at rabbits has never once brought me success, but is has made me swear loudly as a perfectly good chance of a kill was wasted. That will never happen to the owner of an Impact Airgun.
This model is offered with either a 120 or a 180cc tube reservoir, and I selected the smaller version because I felt it would handle better. It still offers 90 shots in .177 and 100 in .22 which is more than I’ll ever need on a hunting trip. Part of the reason for this frugal use of the air from the reservoir is that the gun has a regulator. This also explains the exemplary shot-to-shot consistency. I saw just 6fps variation over 50 shots which is as close to perfect as you could wish for. Regulators are highly precise pieces of engineering which is why they’re expensive. There’s no getting away from that. Some people argue that they’re not necessary and it’s true that there are guns offering high-performance without one, but Impact Airguns believe that they offer advantages and build them in to all but a few of their models.
You’ll have noticed from the pictures that the GSX100 wears a conventional quick-fill connector and a pressure gauge in the belly of the stock. Some have said that coming in line with the mainstream takes away some of the uniqueness of the rifles, but I disagree. Things which simply work well will become the standard for any industry. Being able to fill the rifle in seconds without tools or dismantling being needed has to be a good thing. Similarly, being able to see at a glance how much are you have in reserve also makes great sense. Setting off hunting with a rifle that’s low on air is very frustrating.
Made in England
The company is rightly proud that their guns are completely made in England with the exception of the barrels which are Lothar Walther units made in Germany, and widely acknowledged to be among the very best you can buy. Many of the biggest players in the market knock at Lothar Walther’s door when planning to build their best rifles, and their quality and performance speaks for itself. Impact polishes and blues the barrel blanks in house, producing one of the nicest finishes you’ll ever see. They also add the choke themselves, which is something of a black art requiring engineering skill and a vast amount of real work experience to perfect. Too little and accuracy suffers; too much and power is wasted and the difference between the two is remarkably small, all of which helps us understand why the new owner went to such lengths to keep the top engineers from the Theoben team.
Having been so impressed with the rifle, I was dead keen to get to the range and see if its performance lived up to my expectations. Filling took just seconds, backed up by a quick look at the gauge to confirm the fill pressure (200bar). Loading the magazine requires a little understanding but once you have the knack they’re no bother, and with such a huge capacity you’ll be filling less often than most any way.
With such an impressive trigger and a world class barrel I wasn’t at all surprised to see shot after shot fly through the same hole on the target card at 30 yards. The rifle was also impressively quiet, something a particularly like in a hunting gun. Shooting such neat little groups at long range never becomes boring for me and I really enjoyed sitting at the bench watching the groups form on the cards.
The firing cycle is impressively smooth, in part because of Impact’s Soft-Tech hammer system, which includes a high-tech synthetic buffer that reduces noise as it strikes the valve stem. It’s only a small thing and the noise reduction is modest, but all improvements are welcome, aren’t they?
I was lucky to receive a prototype of Impact’s new silencer. Externally, it appears just like the well-proven old one but has a significant difference which is that it overlaps the barrel by 3½” making the rifle usefully shorter. This makes it far more handy in the field, especially when shooting from hides and vehicles. I expected it to change the handling very noticeably, but the difference was quite subtle. Yes, it’s a little less muzzle heavy but still felt nicely balanced in the hands. Sold as an accessory they cost £79.95.
Of course, I was keen to hear the difference in noise reduction so I test fired the rifle on a range that has plenty of hard surfaces around because these tend to exaggerate the differences between one silencer and another, making it easier for me to tell the difference. I fired round after round, swapping the silencers again and again and to be honest my ears couldn’t tell them apart. If I were choosing, I’d take the shorter model every time especially when you note there’s no price difference.
I like this rifle a lot; it’s my kind of gun. It’s heavy enough to be stable on aim, yet light enough to be carried all day. It’s accurate and very quiet, plus it has that Aston Martin, made-in-England-for-a-gentleman kind of appeal that I love. Sure, it’s not cheap, but then, neither is an Aston Martin, but at least more of us will be able to afford one of these. I applaud Impact Airguns’ new owners for the course they’re taking with these first-class guns. For me, they’re real-world hunting guns with more than a touch of class and a gun I’d truly love to own.