Phoenix Fast-Fire 10
Mark Camoccio gets up to speed with the Phoenix Fast Fire 10
Having been privy to some of the early design stages of this rifle, I was intrigued as to just how the final product would shape up. It was always about delivering something fairly radical, in a compact and versatile format, appealing to both hunters and pure fun-gunners alike.
Take one look at the photos here, and it becomes clear that the Phoenix concept has evolved, with the Fast-Fire 10 cleverly opening the door to a wider audience. Where the original Phoenix rifle paid tribute to Winchester style saddle rifles, this new model shuns beauty for pure functionality; and whilst its utilitarian profile may not be to everyone’s liking, there’s no doubting the ingenuity of it all.
A PCP take-down design, allied with probably the fastest repeating action on the market, makes for a mouth-watering prospect indeed - so it’s time to investigate further.
Compact and bijou
First impressions are quite striking with this gun; not least the stubby dimensions- and with the ‘fully assembled’ overall length standing at just 33inches, we’re talking compact and bijou. Those dimensions are a great starting point for a take down action too, and with the rifle broken down to its constituent parts, everything fits neatly into a padded, hard plastic case, measuring just 18 inches across. I even had it stowed away with a compact scope still in place, although larger optics may need to be removed for storage.
In these days of rabid ‘antis’ shadowing our every move, sometimes attracting minimal attention can be the best policy. This outfit makes for an anonymous profile, with no obvious gun bag on show. Easier storage due to that case size just comes as a welcome bonus.
The three ‘constituent parts’ of the rifle consist of the main action block/barrel assembly, silencer and the compressed air bottle. Assembly is fairly simple, as follows;
Push the silencer into position over the barrel, and, using the Allen key supplied, nip up the screw. Then, making sure the magazine is NOT in place, cock the action by pushing the pistol-grip forwards until the action clicks, returning the grip to its rearwards position. The air cylinder can now be screwed gently into place.
The silencer, incidentally, is the Phantom type, produced in house by Phoenix, and whilst it’s carbon fibre construction is both smart and functional, the addition of a threaded mini wheel, instead of a socket screw (similar to the Air Arms TDR idea), would dispense with the Allen key, and make assembly even more streamlined and field friendly.
Once the action is assembled, the ten shot magazine can be filled and pushed into place (into the left side of the action block), after pulling the mag release catch forwards on the action.
Filling the mag prior to fitting is a fairly straightforward affair as the central drum rotates in either direction, which is useful (unlike some irritating and rather more fragile designs on the market). Phoenix recommend using Logun Penetrator pellets with this .22 version, and whilst they performed well, I did need to seat them into the magazine to aid smooth operation. In practise, this is easily achieved by using the follow-up pellet to push the previously chambered one further through the ‘o’ ring. As always, explaining the procedure takes far longer than executing it; and an unruffled, settled routine soon becomes second nature. A shot count figure shows through the magazine side, so keeping a tab on the number of shots taken couldn’t be simpler.
The test rifle came fitted with a medium sized 190cc air bottle, with a fill pressure of 200bar; but a smaller 150cc bottle will be available for the same price. Bear in mind that the bottle on this rifle actually doubles up as the cheek-piece, and the spec ordered suddenly becomes more relevant. A further, more expensive option comes with the choice of a 400cc bottle. This can be supplied complete with a raised cheek-piece moulding and butt pad assembly, courtesy of FX Airguns, adding style, increased comfort, and of course a greater shot count.
The indestructible quality of the weighty action/breech block housing (lifted from the original Phoenix rifle) sees concentrated weight rather centralised in this rifle. Given the added weight of the rear-mounted air bottle, it’s no surprise that the Fast-Fire 10 is uniquely balanced, and anything but muzzle heavy.
Whilst composite grips come fixed to the forend tip and pistol-grip, their crisp moulding means they do nothing to detract from this guns overall quality. In fact their textured, tactile finish is a real asset. One minor criticism here though, concerns the drop-down pistol grip moulding, with its rather squared off shape. A slightly more curvaceous, ergonomic design could still be ambidextrous, whilst not feeling quite so angular. The forend moulding, whilst again spectacularly angular, is surprisingly comfortable in the aim; it even includes an integral accessory rail, so the fitting of lamps and lasers could well be on the cards.
With Phoenix Airguns cleverly canvassing the airgun community, via internet forums etc., prior to the launch of this model, they have taken the fairly radical step of offering this rifle in ‘bare action’ format; whereby the customer just buys the action and fashions or sources his own grips to suit - thereby slashing the price of the initial purchase.
Further attention to detail concerns charging this rifle; as the manufacturers have cleverly seen fit to allow the Fast-Fire 10 to be topped up, either by removing the air bottle and connecting the vessel directly to the air supply or by utilizing the probe adaptor supplied. If the latter option is preferable, then the adaptor is simply connected to the airline, and then inserted into the inlet valve, just to the rear of the action block - all with the buddy bottle in situ. The very fact that the option exists is surely a measure of this rifle’s versatility; and with an on-board pressure gauge keeping the user informed, peace of mind is assured.
As a word of caution, any magazine fed rifle brings with it a heightened requirement for safety procedures. With a loaded magazine on-board, it’s far easier to accidentally chamber a pellet than with a single shot model, so the need for a rock solid safety routine is paramount. I wouldn’t normally acknowledge mechanical safety devices, preferring to religiously clear the rifle and know it is empty. Whilst there is obviously no substitute for this, rifles such as this Fast-Fire10 need a multi layered safety routine - and that includes applying the safety catch when possible. A cross-bolt type is fitted here, and with the fitting of the air-bottle requiring a cocked rifle for example, you’ll be glad of its presence, believe me.
OK; I can’t wait any longer. Let’s see what this ingenious machine can actually do.
On the range
Seating the pellets pays dividends in my book, and the magazine subsequently behaved faultlessly on test. With the mag in place, cycling the action is as quick as pushing the pistol-grip forwards and back again, and immense fun, it has to be said.
One point of note is that a second pellet can’t accidentally be chambered from the mag if one has already been seated in the breech. This is because the cocking grip locks into place at the end of its stroke, and will only release once the gun is fired - all clever stuff.
As a technicality, and that’s what it is, Phoenix claim that ten shots can be released in 5 seconds. I managed ten shots in 8 seconds, yet they were hardly well aimed shots. Where this system really scores though is knowing a fast back-up shot is less than a second away if needed. Rapid fire fun sessions are also irresistible, where a series of larger targets are attempted - maybe against the clock - giving rise to all manner of possibilities. One other slight gripe concerns that pistol grip again. A revised moulding could include a flared hand cover at the top of the pistol-grip. I didn’t actually catch the skin of the hand at any point, but I just get the impression that a slight nip could happen if the grip was held too near the top as it locks up into the action. A wider top would definitely prevent this.
Whilst on the subject of technicalities, Phoenix like to be conservative in their performance claims, and with 80 shots stated in .22 calibre, my results were to blow their stats out of the water. No less than 130 shots were recorded, with a total spread of 32fps, which for this type of rifle, I considered to be rather good.
Accuracy (taking slightly longer over the shots this time), saw regular half inch groups recorded at 30yds, so what we have here is a serious tool when necessary.
Did I say serious? Well not exactly. With that fast-fire action, the only problem is it’s difficult to stop smiling.
|Manufacturer||Phoenix Airguns Ltd|
|Country of Origin||UK|
|Calibre||.22 on test (.177 avail)|
|Stock||Composite fore-end/ pistol-grip/ butt pad assembly|
|Power Source||190cc compressed air bottle on test.|
|Shot count||80shots claimed in .22 (on test 130 within 32fps)
60shots in .177 claimed by manufacturer
(optional 400cc bottle gives at least 200 shots in .22)
|Velocity on test||High 560fps
Variation 32fps (over 130shots)
|Trigger||2-stage factory set|
|Price options||Fast Fire 10 fitted with: 190cc bottle £550
Fast Fire 10 fitted with: 400cc bottle £650
Fast Fire 10 fitted with: 150cc bottle £550
(prices include 10 shot mag, carry case and spare seals, etc.)
|Accessories||150cc or 190cc bottle only £55
150cc or 190cc bottle with cover and butt pad £95
400cc bottle with stock cheek piece and butt £195
Spare 10-shot magazine £35
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates