FX has revamped the highly successful Impact with a MkII model – but could it improve on this pioneering bullpup? Mat Manning takes it to the range to find out
FX Airguns has a reputation for making some of the finest bullpups in the world, so it’s no surprise that this company’s leading the charge as super-compact airguns continue to enjoy a huge resurgence in popularity.
Plenty of guns in the FX line-up will be familiar names to most shooters, and the Impact is one that has established a very firm following. Improving on this proven performer was always going to be a big ask, but the Swedish gunmaker stepped up to the plate earlier this year and unveiled the Impact in MkII guise.
At first glance, the new Impact looks like a quality piece of kit – given FX’s reputation, and the fact that this airgun retails for over £1,600, you would expect that to be the case.
In all honesty, the MkII actually looks a lot like the original model; it’s very tactical in appearance, and seems to be designed more for function than fashion. Nonetheless, the clean, sleek lines of the black version (there is also a silver model available) still make for a very nice-looking gun.
MAKER: FX Airguns, Sweden
UK DISTRIBUTOR: ASI (www.a-s-i.co.uk)
MODEL: Impact MkII
TYPE: Regulated multi-shot bullpup PCP
CALIBRE: .177 and .22 (tested), .25, .30
OVERALL LENGTH: 750mm (shroud retracted), 830mm (shroud extended)
LENGTH OF PULL: 358mm
BARREL LENGTH: 600mm
WEIGHT: 3.1kg (without scope)
TRIGGER: Two-stage, adjustable
SAFETY: Manual, resettable
POWER: 11.3 ft-lb (high-power options available)
It might be comparatively minimalistic, but the stock still functions as a very effective handle. The lightweight carbon fibre bottle serves as the forend, and the soft, stippled rubber pistol grip, produced by Hogue, literally sticks to your hand.
This excellent grip’s contoured drop-down design is very comfortable, and results in exceptionally good trigger attack. The cheek support is pretty good by bullpup standards, and has a rounded edge, which makes for a comfortable point of contact.
I like height-adjustable butt pads, as they make a big difference when it comes to achieving correct alignment between eye and scope.
This one features a very intelligent adjustment mechanism, which is typical of the clever design incorporated into airguns made by FX; simply slacken off the locking knob, and it slides up and down so you can position it exactly as you need, and then tighten it securely in place with another twist.
Compact handling that is well-suited to shooting around farm buildings or in the confines of a hide comes as standard, as the Impact MkII measures just 75cm with the silencer retracted, or 83cm with it extended – I’ll go into more depth on how the suppressor actually performs a little bit later.
Without a scope and mounts fitted, this little airgun weighs a very manageable 3.1kg, and thanks to the clever design and proportions of the stock, it’s very well balanced and feels great in the shoulder.
Although it appears to be very simple, the stock’s impressive functionality extends beyond good gun-fit; the inside of the butt pad is adorned with finger grooves to assist with carrying the gun, and the front section is equipped with three accessory rails.
Those rails are positioned either side of the mid-section of the barrel (for the attachment of accessories including lights and lasers) and on the underside of the stock just in front of the trigger, making for quick and easy attachment of a bipod.
There is a longer Picatinny rail for scope attachment. Although most British airgun shooters are probably more accustomed to dovetail rails, the Picatinny system is fast, secure and versatile to use – just make sure you buy the right mounts.
FX has made it long enough to accommodate a wide variety of telescopic sights, and I really like the fact that it’s not too high, as I am not a fan of slab-sided bullpups with very high rails that create an excessive gap between the scope and the barrel.
Finish and features
Engineering and finish are extremely tidy; the construction of this airgun looks almost seamless, which is typical of FX. This is a precision airgun, but thanks to that build quality, it still feels tough, and it certainly seems to be a gun that will stand up to heavy use in the field.
This airgun’s extendable barrel shroud is an interesting feature, and one which really surprised me. Shoot with the shroud retracted, and the gun feels very compact, although you have the option to extend it for enhanced sound suppression.
I didn’t expect the increase of around 8cm to make a big difference, but there is obviously some very clever science going on in that little chamber: the muzzle report isn’t very loud with the shroud in, but it is extremely quiet with it out. FX states that you must shoot with the shroud either fully retracted or fully extended, so don’t be tempted to use it at partial extension.
One of the big changes with the Impact MkII is the inclusion of a Side Shot magazine as standard. Many FX owners have bought these high-capacity mags as an extra, but a new arrangement between the two companies means it is no longer necessary to buy it as a third-party item.
The magazine supplied with the .22 calibre test gun holds no less than 28 pellets, and the .177 version has a 38-shot capacity – very handy if you’re planning a night-time ratting session and don’t want to be fumbling around trying to reload empty magazines in the dark.
Loading the new magazine is simple. Turn the central dial so you can remove the clear faceplate, and then lift it off. Next, turn the magazine’s inner cassette anti-clockwise until it comes to a stop, then drop a pellet nose-first into the slot to the left of the stop-point.
You need to plug the front hole with your finger to stop the pellet from falling through. That first pellet holds the spring tension, which in turn stops it from falling out once it’s in place. Now comes the laborious part of loading a high-capacity magazine: popping the rest of the pellets nose-first into the remaining 27 chambers.
When the magazine is full, snap the faceplate back on, turn the dial to lock it in place, and it’s ready to slot back into the gun, where it’s held in place by a discreet switch on the right-hand side of the butt section – you need to press this switch down after pulling the sidelever all the way back in order to remove the mag once you’ve shot your way through it.
And that sidelever mechanism, which takes care of cocking, indexing and pellet probing with a simple back and forth throw of the lever, is excellent.
It’s very smooth and very fast, which is extremely useful for hunting, and great fun on the plinking range. It hasn’t missed a beat during my testing, and thanks to what turns out to be a very pellet-friendly magazine, rapid reloading doesn’t mean a compromise in accuracy.
Having a great cocking and loading system doesn’t count for much if the trigger is not up to scratch, and it has to be said that they are not always great on bullpups.
The trigger on this gun is remarkable, though, and I really don’t think that I would be able to tell that it’s a bullpup unit in a blind test. The blade design is very much to my liking; it has a wide, flat face with a gentle curve, and can be adjusted for height and angle.
The two-stage mechanism is also adjustable, although I left it alone as it was excellent straight from the box. The first stage was fairly short, but the stop was very clear, and the second stage broke incredibly crisply with absolutely no creep.
The Impact MkII’s safety catch is of a switch-type design, and sensibly positioned just above the trigger – close enough to be quick and easy to use, but far enough away not to have your fingers precariously close to the blade when using it.
It does make a slight click when you flick it on and off, but I don’t think it’s loud enough to cause hunters problems by alerting wary quarry to their presence.
Charging is by means of a supplied Foster connector that attaches to the quick-fill inlet in the underside of the gun. Maximum fill pressure is 250bar, though I didn’t have that much air in my bottle.
Shot capacity is still enormous, and following a 220bar fill, the test gun was still going strong after 220 shots. Keeping an eye on air levels is easier than ever, thanks to the MkII’s new gauges – the one on the side shows overall air supply left in the main bottle, and the one underneath the butt shows regulator pressure.
The regulator now features a reservoir that is 25% bigger, and it delivers great shot-to-shot consistency. Variation during my testing was just two or three feet per second over a 10-shot string with pellets taken straight from the tin – and the regulated firing cycle means it remains consistent right through the charge.
The .22 calibre test gun was producing about 11.3 ft-lb on the top power setting, but this gun is available in much bigger calibres, and it can churn out power levels in excess of 75 ft-lb.
Even this version features a power adjustment dial with lots of different settings; a handy feature that will be even more useful on high-power versions if you want to wind it down for different scenarios, such as hunting inside farm buildings.
High-powered versions also offer more scope for tweaking power by means of external regulator and valve adjustment. And the potential for modification doesn’t end there, because the Impact MkII also enables you to quickly and easily change barrels and the internal sleeve, or liner, to switch between different calibres and twist rates.
Precision and performance
The Impact comes equipped with FX’s match-grade Smooth Twist X barrel as standard. Although the Smooth Twist concept – which is a smooth barrel with the twist (or grooves) externally imparted to the end section from the outside of the tube – quickly proved itself to work brilliantly at high power, there was a time when critics questioned whether it was suited to shooting at sub-12 ft-lb.
Well, my testing proved that this barrel most certainly does work at lower power levels. In fact, the MkII is a group-printing machine, and it’s not particularly pellet-fussy.
I achieved excellent accuracy results with both Daystate Rangemaster Sovereign and RWS Super Field pellets. In windless conditions, it was knocking out groups that measured comfortably less than 10mm from centre to centre at 30m, and 15mm from centre to centre at 40m.
That sort of performance should make it a seriously effective piece of hardware in the hunting field.
I’m not usually the biggest fan of bullpup airguns, but it is extremely difficult not to be very impressed with this one. It certainly isn’t cheap, but it is a fantastic piece of kit and it is well worth its asking price so long as you can justify the outlay.
This functional airgun feels solidly built, but it is also incredibly refined to shoot, and its compact proportions, along with its whisper-quiet operation, make it a strong contender for anyone who is in the market for a high-end hunting bullpup.
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