FX Impact MK11 Sniper Edition Bronze FAC air rifle - test & review
- Credit: Archant
Chris Parkin reviews the FX Impact MK11 Sniper Edition Bronze FAC air rifle in this detailed rifle test
FX IMPACT MK11 SNIPER EDITION BRONZE FAC AIR RIFLE - BRIEF OVERVIEW
PROS: Clinical design and manufacturing style;Adjustable trigger;Extremely quiet; Efficient air usage with smooth power curve; Stunning performance on target
CONS: The magazine system suffered occasional mis-feeding issues; Can be double loaded; A lot of nooks and crannies to keep clean and service if hunting?
OPINION: A complex and involving air rifle that could well be a technical hobby in its own right but hunting ergonomics seem at odds with target rifle cleanliness and care.
FX IMPACT MK11 SNIPER EDITION BRONZE FAC AIR RIFLE - IN-DEPTH REVIEW
FX’s line of air rifles certainly enjoy a lot of hype, so it was going to be interesting to confirm or dispel some of the rumours with the rifle in hand and there’s certainly a lot to discover.
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The Impact Mk II is a bullpup design, and in its sniper format carries a 700mm barrel for optimum performance, efficiency, and power which in the UK we describe as ‘FAC rated’, but in many other parts of the world it would be considered normal.
This one is the special edition Bronze finish that shows a compound build of many components using various materials to perfectly suit their task, location and handling. The rifle was delivered in .22 calibre, which is my personal preference for FAC air, as it generally fits best in terms of overlap between other guns such as sub-12 ft/lbs air or .22 rimfire.
The Impact has a power control dial on the left side above the trigger, offering easy thumb control, which can be set as you like for quarry/scenario, once appropriate ballistics and zero set-up are recorded at each power level. I ran the rifle at max power mostly, which varied from 23 to 32 ft/lbs, depending on pellet weight and speed.
A common 16gr .22 calibre Air Arms Diablo pellet travelled at 925 fps with 30 ft/lbs set for example. The ‘Smooth Twist’ rifling within the long barrel, with its breech sitting just under your cheek, doesn’t engrave a pellet quite as deeply as regular rifling, with most of the lasting impressions in the lead appearing in the last choked sector.
This feels a little akin, although not the same, as a gain-twist barrel, where the projectile is more gradually rotated. The 28-round magazine is about the same size as a whole tin of pellets and projects out of the right side of the rifle’s butt, progressing forwards from the front edge in the slotted magazine cutout within the aluminium stock.
The barrel passes under the scope, and above the trigger and cocking lever region, before connecting with the larger diameter shroud. This screws into position before extending to the muzzle with a centralising O-ring.
A second screw-on moderator is supplied for additional sound reduction. If you unscrew the shroud, with or without the moderator still on, it unlocks and can be steadily drawn off the barrel to expose a pair of 10mm spanner flats at the crown. Slacken this, withdraw that tensioning plug and you reach the barrel liner, for which FX provide a number of replacements in various twist rates and bore sizes.
I wasn’t supplied with any other barrels, so I reassembled at this point and found return to zero was within 20mm at 50m on target; clearly this Swedish rifle is manufactured to high tolerances.
With a 390mm shroud and 125mm moderator, the rifle is remarkably quiet, showing 38”/965mm overall length, 700mm of which is the barrel. One notable fact is that this rifle can be double loaded, and there is nothing to stop the bolt probe pushing two pellets into the barrel if the cocking lever is double cycled. Regardless of power, it won’t expel both, so it’s a trip back to the car (or home) for a cleaning rod to push them back from the muzzle end.
The muzzle is choked and although the rifle features ‘smooth twist’ rifling, once the pellets are dislodged from the last few inches of the muzzle, they slide easily back down to the breech for removal.
The long Sniper version is only available in .22, .25 and .30 calibres; if you swap barrels, you will need the appropriate bolt probe for the magazine too. This clips in the right-hand side of the butt with the bolt handle retracted. There’s a small release catch near its base and the round is pushed through the mag into the battery by the air probe, driven by a number of interconnected linkages from the right-side cocking lever.
Lock & load
Primary loading of the mag out of the gun involves rotating its central latch, removing the clear cover, pre-winding the internal follower against spring tension, placing one pellet in to prevent it unwinding, then filling the 27 remaining slots before replacing the clear cover and rotating the locking latch back in place.
I had FX slugs supplied with the rifle and neither these, nor any regular domed pellet were impervious to occasional misfeeds. Longer, heavy, lead pills like the Daystate Monsters (at 25.4gr) with the greatest separation between driving band and skirt, were least susceptible to misfeeds.
Perhaps the magazine just needed a new spring? It’s a big mag and 28 pellets adds up but using fewer pellets seemed to lessen the misfeed issue. The large mag makes the gun very right-handed, the Achilles heel of the otherwise fantastic mechanics. Single loading is just possible but it’s a tricky fingertip job.
The carbon fibre air bottle is super light with a 250-bar recommended fill with side-mounted manometer (pressure guage) to ally with. There is a second power plenum chamber under the cheekpiece that fills from this bottle with its own manometer that remains around the 80-bar mark to expel the pellet. The additional plenum’s two-stage pressure step down enables greater efficiency and I found the gun gave 200 shots at 30 ft/lbs consistently.
I never ran it empty; 200 shots are more than I need on an outing and with only a 7l 300-bar bottle, it would soon get a bit breathless filling an empty 250-bar buddy bottle. A supplied Foster sleeve adaptor locks on the underside valve beneath a black anodised cap and the first flow of air immediately seals it up with no leakage issues.
The externally adjustable AMP regulator allows ‘valve flow’ tuning with an adjuster nestled between shroud and cylinder on the front of the action. I left it alone for my review, not wanting to get too bogged down in extra details and with the gun performing beyond my expectations form the offset, I felt no reason to tinker with it.
The manual carries instructions, but the factory regulation guys would have a much better handle on such matters than I would. The left-hand side power adjuster dial offers well-defined, strong detents to both locate and reliably repeat selection of the desired power output.
I experimented enough to diminish power to about 14 ft/lbs with changes more appropriate to light pellets for close quarters/indoor scenarios. I changed back and forth enough times, altering the hammer spring, to assure myself that individual settings were repeatable, controlling hammer spring tension for that final strike and burst of air from the power plenum. This is only featured on the FAC versions of the rifle by the way.
You can hear a subtle ssshhhhhush of air replenishing this between shots for a fraction of a second and it’s quite a characterful aspect of the rifle. Overall weight is 3.2kg, with the short overall length bringing the balance point of the gun close in towards your frame. This makes for incredibly fast, pointable handling as well as more manoeuvrability in confined spaces.
Field or target?
The only position where a bipod can be mounted is on a short Picatinny rail in front of the trigger guard; with no forend as such, you’re left to rest on the buddy bottle. A longer underslung rail can be added under the action. It’s therefore better suited to dynamic shooting and hunting than target disciplines.
The plethora of small hard-anodised aluminium components bolted in place show a multitude of gaps and spaces where debris can get caught, so it’s a tricky rifle to keep clean. The slim cheekpiece is comfortable with good eye/scope alignment and the rifle is shootable from the left shoulder if needed, just watch out for the mag fouling against your chest.
The grip is AR-15-derived Hogue rubber with 70mm reach to the trigger blade. This is a delightful unit with match-quality adjustment allowing the blade itself to be raised and lowered or rotated around the post. It showed a short, tactile first stage, then the second stage broke cleanly at an average of 600g. Given the bullpup layout with inherent additional mechanical complication requiring extra linkages, you certainly aren’t getting sold short here and all that money is paying for first-rate bearings and overall engineering.
The right-side safety catch operates silently and another likeable fact was the spacious cutout under the cheekpiece for a supporting hand, with grooves on the inside of the adjustable hard rubber recoil pad. This features ventilation slots, although basically solid in feel, yet grippy with 20mm of vertical travel. The heel is finished at 45° to avoid snagging as the gun is mounted.
Home on the range
I found it a comfortable platform, using an ultra-heavy benchrest bag that almost locks the recoil-free rifle in position for a consistent appraisal at the range. A Picatinny rail runs atop the action for scope mounting with additional accessory zones to either side. I used the gun with an Element Optics Nexus scope that certainly showed no weakness in some dreary daylight conditions. With 20x max magnification and FFP reticle, it perfectly suited the rifle’s ballistic capabilities. I’d love to have used these elevation adjustable mounts for some more long-range shooting, but the Slugs were at a premium.
I began with 16gr Air Arms Diablo pellets to zero the gun at 25m and was pretty stunned with the performance on paper; and it wasn’t just one group that impressed me, it was all of them. Cocking the action was blissfully smooth on the vertical hanging side lever with minimal force required to insert the pellet into the bore.
I have shot some great guns over the years, yet the FX was simply astounding. I sometimes had to reassure myself I had actually fired a pellet as it often seemed like the cloverleaf wasn’t getting any bigger, ending up ringing steel eventually to get some audible feedback once the pellets were passing cleanly through pre-existing holes in the hardboard target backer.
One 10-shot group with the 16gr Diablos must rank as the most impressive I have ever achieved and that’s not me bragging! I was astounded it was even possible to fit 10 pellets into the ragged hole measuring less than 10mm edge to edge. Other pellets performed similarly well, but at 50m, and then 75m, performance was more strikingly splayed apart.
As for hunting, the flatter trajectory of the 16gr pellet will always sway me away from heavies and in this arena, the hard-hitting domed Diablos certainly showed great performance on squirrels, happily clearing them from around the 40-45m mark with aplomb.
The Slugs drop an extra 100mm below the 16s at this range, which makes for more work when accommodating for multi-distance hunting. On the other hand, for specific set-ups, and used in ambush locations with dialled corrections, the Slugs retained 80% of their initial muzzle energy at 50m (23.7 to 16.96ft/lbs) compared to just 60% retained by the Diablos (30.4 to 18.4ft/lbs).
With a limited quantity of Slugs in hand, I tended to stick to the known terminal ballistic performance of the Diablos for pest control, yet on target, the FX Slugs were impressive – and, when windier, notably less prone to drift. They showed greater extreme spread and standard deviation but I suspect a more refined and consistent shape with a higher ballistic coefficient overcame this. At 75m, they still grouped and with extreme spreads around 35 fps.
The mostly metallic build of the gun was cold in the snowy air, yet the two main contact points of carbon fibre bottle and rubber Hogue grip insulated me comfortably. Similarly, the curved left side of the comb kept your cheek off the aluminium Power Plenum.
This has been an incredibly interesting rifle to review, with only a brief scratch of the surface possible in the available pages – no doubt longer term tuning and barrel changes would add even more potential to the FX.
I’m not sure if this rifle is to some extent a hobby in itself, rather than a hunting tool outright. It certainly has the ballistics and accuracy to harvest all air rifle quarry with great effect but away from the shooting bench, it had me questioning the viability of keeping the complex mechanisms clean in the field.
All that deluxe anodising won’t look as smart with the dust in a cereal barn accumulating on the lightly greased (by FX) surfaces. I feel the mechanics are those more akin to a small-scale target and precision rifle, if such a niche exists for air rifles. The power curve was predictable with best performance of 17 fps variation across 200 rounds with the heaviest Daystate Heavies.
I would love a projectile shape as consistent as the Slugs with the speed of the Diablos and the stability and reliability of the Monsters in the smooth twist bore and mag. That is where the FX has its greatest benefit.
It is a fascinating vehicle – and I’d love to learn more about both internal and external ballistics without the need for a huge test range and noise. I was initially sceptical of the price, but if the benefits of the FX appeal, it is certainly worth a look.
TECH SPECS - FX IMPACT MK11 SNIPER EDITION BRONZE FAC AIR RIFLE
Calibre: 22 (.25 and .30 cal also available)
Magazine Capacity: 28 rounds
Weight: 3.2kg/7.0 lbs
Length: of pull 355mm/14”
Fill pressure: 250 Bar (approx. 225 shots)
Power: Multistage with ~23-32 ft-lbs depending on pellet
Cocking: Side lever
Trigger: Full adjustable match trigger
Price: FX Rifle, £1819.99
Element Optics Nexus 5-20x50 FFP Apr-1d Mrad, £1334.99
FX Hybrid Slugs, £13.99 per hundred
Contact: Sportsman Gun Centre