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Hills v FX Pumps

Hills v FX Pumps

With a spring-powered rifle, the power source is obviously self contained, as the gun generates its own energy via the piston action. With a pre-charged pneumatics PCP, this freedom is lost, replaced by dependence on an external air supply.

I reluctantly jumped on the PCP bandwagon, once it became clear that this was the way to go for top flight competition, so investment in diving cylinders and all the paraphernalia soon followed. After literally giving myself a hernia, lifting a huge 15litre tank, however, I began to reconsider whether I really wanted the extra hassle of air bottle filling, storage, and eventual safety testing. With many shooters lacking a nearby diving shop or industrial gas bottle filling station, it can also be a problem sourcing compressed air. But dedicated air-rifle pumps can address these problems, and restore the independence of the shooter at a stroke… or rather quite a few strokes. So let’s take a look at the two main brands on the market, and see how they shape up.

Hills v FX

As with many products in the shooting market, much cross branding goes on, with companies marketing various ‘stirrup’ pumps as their own, when in fact they are exactly the same as some other differently badged products. The two manufacturers actually responsible for most manual air pumps on the market are Hills of Sheffield in the UK, and FX Airguns, of Sweden. I’ve actually got three different models on test here, as FX Airguns have recently launched a new upgraded option, which involves a gearing system that is supposed to make the strokes easier -more of which later.

I’m familiar with the Hills pump since I regularly use one of these models myself, and the quality is, I have to say, superb. Hills have quite a track record in pump production, making models for a variety of uses in other industries; but their entry into the airgun market with a dedicated pump, some years ago, has earned them respect for the build quality alone. ‘Heavy duty’ is a perfect description of their efforts, and all the components are reassuringly chunky.

All these pumps are supplied as ‘flat-packs’ in effect, but since there are only 3 main constituent parts, it’s hardly the Krypton factor to assemble it all. A few years back, Hills took the decision to supply their pump with a ‘take-down’ design, which sees the rubber coated pump handle simply screw onto the main pump body via a huge thread; whilst the base is just pushed into place and a large knurled locking ring spun tight. The air hose is then screwed into place and tightened if necessary with spanners. This design is intended to make the pump portable and easily assembled in the field. In practise, most pumping is preferably carried out indoors to minimize moisture content in the air, but several shooters, in my experience, still use their pumps outdoors in the elements. The FX versions are also simple to assemble, with two Allen bolts to hold the base in place, and the air hose - this time a micro bore variety, again screwed into position.


Moisture is an issue with stirrup pumps, and whereas compressed air from a diver’s bottle is predominantly dry, a pump takes in air from the surrounding atmosphere- which obviously has some moisture content. How the pump deals with this problem is therefore of interest.

FX include a particle filter and moisture trap in their models, but as for the long-term effectiveness of such features, only time will tell. Hills offer an optional ‘Dry-pac’ pod which screws onto the main pump body. This is then filled with a medium (like mustard seeds in appearance), which apparently removes up to 90% of moisture as the air passes through. The medium is ideally replaced every few months, and whilst I lack the scientific equipment to measure the moisture levels, (and therefore Hill’s percentage claim) there’s no doubt that this system offers a welcome and reassuring additional line of defence.

Some moisture will inevitably get through with both these designs, and at the end of the day, inspecting the rifles cylinder for signs of corrosion, whilst a service is undertaken, for example, has to be good practise. Another good tip is to bleed the air trapped in the hose quickly, rather than let it trickle out. This helps to expel moisture from the system.

story continues below...


The initial performance test required the three pumps to charge an Air Arms s400 Classic from a residual pressure of 100bar, up to 170bar with the following results:

* Hills pump- 76pumps needed in total; reasonable effort
* FX 4-stage pump- 80pumps needed in total; 49 pumps to get to 150bar, then 31 easier pumps up to 170bar
* FX standard pump-  92pumps needed in total.

The second part of the test required all three pumps to charge a regulated s400 with a larger custom cylinder on-board, from 100bar up to 200bar, with the following results:
* Hills pump- 84pumps to 150bar, and 134pumps in total to reach 200bar
* FX 4-Stage pump- 75pumps to 150bar, and 158pumps in total to reach 200bar
* FX standard pump- 84pumps to 150bar, and 162pumps in total to reach 200bar.

Conclusion: Technique is everything, and I found the slightly more sturdy Hills perfectly manageable and fairly efficient; especially when just topping up in this situation. The standard FX pump, whilst the strokes are slightly easier than the Hills, takes its toll in the latter stages, as a greater number of strokes are required to reach the same pressure level.

The new 4-Stage pump from FX uses an intriguing idea of ‘gearing’ via a stage switch. This takes the form of a bleed button between the handles. The switch is left open to start, then once 150 bar has been reached, the switch is closed and subsequent pumping is then easier at the higher end of the cycle. In practise, whilst the latter pumps are easier than the Hills, the fact that a greater number of strokes are required means, in my experience, roughly the same effort is expended.

Why the body of the FX 4-stage pump is printed with 270bar on the handle, I’m not entirely sure, since the gauge only goes up to 250bar.

This curious fact apart, unless budget constraints dictate otherwise, I would say it comes down to a choice between the Hills and the 4-Stage FX with both being well up to the task. I can only personally vouch for the long-term reliability of the Hills, and with that Dry-pac system installed, it’s undoubtedly an impressive piece of kit. Failure to replace the medium, however, renders the ‘Dry-pac’ rather pointless. When was mine last changed?… erm, a good point…

Prices are approximately as follows:

* Hills Pump inc hose and gauge- £150
- Dry-pac   add - £45

* FX 4-Stage inc hose &gauge   - £159
* FX Standard Pump (inc H& G) - £129

  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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  • Hills v FX Pumps - image {image:count}

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    12 May 2019 at 09:18 PM
  • I have bought BSA r10 mk 2 I've tried to pump air into it with a hill pump the pressure goes up on the pump but not on the Gage on my rifle can someone help me out thanks

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    Brian Herron
    26 Aug 2014 at 07:09 PM
  • If you want to have no water related issues at all, attach a tube to the suction side of the pump. Open the freezer door and place the tube in the freezer as far into the compartment as you can. Close the door of the freezer as far as you can and start to pump. You will be sucking ultry dry cool air from the freezer and your pump and your gun will love you. For those who have flexible wives, drill a hole through the top of the freezer (close to the door where there are no heat exchanger tubes) and glue steel pipe into the hole. When the glue is dry, attach your tube from the suction side of your gun and you will never see a single drop of water ever again coming out of your pump

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    Patrick Gaukroger
    02 Jun 2014 at 08:16 PM
  • I own tow Hills pumps, one with dry-pac and one without, plus I have three FX pumps (don't ask why!)
    Without a shadow of a doubt the Hills is much harder to complete each pump stroke as you get to the higher pressures. When filling say my BSA Hornet to its 232 Bar fill pressure, you cannot just push down on the pump handle........ to do so would just lift my feet off the floor, instead you have to "learn" a technique that involves a sudden surge of dropping your weight by bending your knees quickly to get the pump to the bottom of the stroke (I weigh about 11 stone).
    Yeas the FX (either model) may take more strokes to fill the aircylinder, but at least you won't do yourself an injury doing so.

    So I do use the Hills, but when it comes to filling one of my PCP's that requires a greater fill pressure, then it is the FX that I reach for.

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    05 Sep 2013 at 12:50 PM
  • excellent review very informative and helpful for one who is over 60 and just starting out in the PCP world.

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    16 May 2013 at 07:45 PM
  • This is a strange one as I would have thought the pump would either work or not.

    As you're dealing with high pressure air, I'd advise taking it back to where you bought the pump. It might also be possible to try another pump at the shop and compare yours with it.

    Good luck and let ud know how you get on.

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    Troll Hunter
    24 Nov 2012 at 12:39 PM
  • I was impress when i read this review most of their comment are doesn't have any problem with their hand pump.I own Turkey made Hatsan hand pump.its is 3 years old since i bought it in a guns store here in the Philippines.On the first year that i using it to my pcp.I don't have a problem.In 100 stroke to fill my reservior is no problem for me.But when i stock it and not using it for 9 month there its seem to be a problem.With 25 strokes(50 psi) is easy but after that i can't even full it up it was very hard it was stop on the middle and the pump fulling it down by itself.I did check my reservior there is an air leek so i repair it myself when its done.I did try to use my hand pump again but still the same after 25 stroke its still the same.I can't fill my reservior after 50 psi.what should i do? should i check my hand pump to repair it or should i buy a new one.But i could not find any hill pump or fx here in the philippines.

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    24 Nov 2012 at 12:25 PM
  • Iown an fx 4 stage for 2 years. usualy i fill my weirauch when the pressure 130 barr and fill it to 200 bar. I weight 60 kilo. height 165 cm and 70 year old. until now i donot find any difficulty or problem with my fx pump.

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    teguh rahardjo
    25 Sep 2012 at 05:30 AM
  • With any air pump, fit is good - and much more relevant than weight!

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    pat farey
    03 Apr 2012 at 11:12 PM
  • Since body weight appears to be a factor in pumping, will I have problems reaching 3,200psi with either pump, I am 5"10", 165lbs, and in good health?

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    03 Apr 2012 at 05:26 PM
  • Gunmart.net is a magazine not a shop. We do not stock or supply any products, we just independently review them.

    The first thing I would do is see if the gun will fill easily from a diver's bottle. If you haven't got one, take the gun to specialist airgun shop and get them to test it. If it fills OK, then the problem is in the pump. If it doesn't, get the shop to service it for you.

    You haven't indicated which pump you are using, but If it is at fault, get the manufacturer to service it.

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    Pat Farey
    27 Jun 2011 at 11:29 AM
  • Can you please help as I have a webley Raider Mk 2 two shot The problem is the pump It has been pumped some 2000 times over 5 years and now it just pumps up to 150 lbs and you cannot lift the pump arm up as there is sucks ion in it and when you do get it up you cannot push it down and pump up the gun.
    valve in gun is clean as taken out when the pump is open ie no gun on it air comes out at the part going in to the gun with the up stroke and down stroke !!!!!! should it do this on both strokes took pump apart and the nitrogen bolls out and cleaned them air did come out the brass inside pump in to the nitrogen balls.
    all parts cleaned ramp the only ram that was not taken out was the centre brass ram new bleed valve
    can you please let me no the problem and all the parts to the pump with part numbers and price to fix the pump. I need a new long moderator so can you give me the types you sell.

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    Neil Hutchison
    25 Jun 2011 at 11:19 PM
  • Swayed by this review, I bought a Hills, cheaper from their own web site, and fast service. Assembled in 10 mins and S510 up from 80 bar to 190 in under 5mins. Fairly easy I'm 13st amd 5' 10", would have been even easier if was a couple of inches taller. I needed to pull up my arms to get full height on the pump, but the hard downward pressure stroke was made easy by tucking my hands in under my stomach and let my weight push down on the handle. I dont think my air bottle will be getting refilled in the near future. Hills have a dedicated air gun pump site which is
    They are a very large British company, if it can be pumped it they probably make a pump for it .

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    23 May 2011 at 04:26 PM
  • I've never heard of a hand pump for car tyres (do you mean a cycle tyre pump?), but I can say that a foot pump or electric tyre pump for a car are unsuitable. The reason for this is that pre-charged pneumatic air rifles operate at a much higher pressure than car tyres - see example below.

    30PSI (an average tyre pressure) is only about 2.07BAR

    190BAR (an average pre-charged pneumatic rifle operating pressure) is about 2755PSI

    The stirrup pumps featured in this article are specialist units capable of achieving the high pressures required for PCP rifles

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    Pat Farey
    31 Mar 2011 at 12:51 PM
  • can i use a car hand pump for my air gun!

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    30 Mar 2011 at 03:19 PM
  • I’ve had an FX four stage for a month know for use with my Weihrauch HW100ks so cannot comment upon reliability issues yet. It is very easy to assemble and pumping is not at all difficult even when pumping using hardest level, in fact no real noticeable difference when set to the easiest level. The ease of pumping is all to do with the technique. Lock arms straight and use body weight to push plunger down on its last quarter of a stroke. The cylinder on the HW100 is made from stainless steel so other than the valves I cannot see what damage if any a small amount of water in the cylinder would do. Still only time will tell.

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    03 Feb 2011 at 11:22 PM
  • just bought a FX 4 for an airarms s410 Xtra fac, taking it from 150 bar to 200 bar took me 46 strokes. Prior to this, my scuba tank filled the tank to 200 bar only the two first refills. After that, bars on the tank only to 180/190. With the pump I always get 200.

    Also, let me say I am 50 old and thought it will be harder, but it is not, Pumping is the better way to reach desired pressure.

    However, moisture is something to consider if internal parts could damage. Until now did not hear any complain o damage report related to pumps.
    Time will tell.

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    19 Oct 2010 at 02:58 AM
  • Good review.

    Just bought the FX 4 stage pump.

    Two thoughts. Firstly, moisture only really only meaningfully comes out of the atmosphere under pressure, yet the Hills dry pack "treats" unpressurised air, i.e. before the air gets into the pump. Secondly, FX does actually have a patent for the FX, while the Hills doesn't appear to ( so far as I can tell ), this last thought may be besides the point if you're just after a pump, unless of course they have to cease manufacture and you find yourself looking for spare parts down the road?

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    stephen rodger
    11 Jun 2010 at 11:41 AM
  • Most shops that supply airguns should also be able to get one of these pumps for you, but in case of difficulty try these UK contacts.

    Hills Pumps
    Contact: Hills Pumps tel. 0114 2484882

    FX pumps
    Contact: Deben Group (FX) tel. 01394 387762

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    pat farey
    17 Apr 2010 at 12:14 PM
  • were do you buy these pumps and have they got a number to contact the shop

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    14 Apr 2010 at 12:29 AM
  • very pleased with your review I think you have swung me to the hils pump as you mentioned the fact it comes across as being a more sturdy pump

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    05 Apr 2010 at 12:45 PM