FX Cutlas Synthetic
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
The availability of FX Airguns in the UK was admittedly a little slow, being originally restricted to supplying other manufacturers with generic actions, and re-badging some of their own products to suit.
Cross branding in the airgun market is still as popular as ever, of course, and guaranteed to confuse many a punter in trying to determine the origins of a particular rifle, but with FX having now well and truly broken cover, this popular Swedish brand has gone from strength to strength under their own label. Formerly distributed by Deben Group, the brand has recently moved to ASI Ltd who are now the official UK agent for FX.
A comprehensive range of precharged pneumatic air rifles is available from the FX stable. With airgun designer and acclaimed boffin, Frederick Axelsson, behind FX (hence the name) the company’s reputation for innovation and originality is well deserved, and the test rifle here is a perfect example.
It’s a Syn…
Mechanically similar to the Cyclone, another rifle in the FX stable, the Cutlas offers a fast-fire multi-shot PCP format, sporting thumbhole control, and a regulated action.
A walnut stocked version is available, but my sample came fitted with the eye catching synthetic spec, which, I think we can safely say, is unashamedly macho in its styling. The visuals are overtly militaristic, which will divide opinion for a start.
I’m on the record as being something of a traditionalist, but even I can admit that the concept has been extremely well executed here.
Sitting at the heart of the Cutlas is that superbly slick, drop-down cocking lever, and in use the potential is there to reload this rifle in record time. So let’s cast an eye over this radical design, and see how it shapes up.
Back to the synthetics for a moment, and the compound stock is both robust and lightweight, with a pleasant feel to the surface. Unlike some models in the range, this stock is fitted with a decent rubber butt pad, which obviously aids comfort and grip at the shoulder, whilst elsewhere, the moulded design allows for detail which would otherwise be compromised if formed from wood.
The unusual shape (effectively removing the bottom section of the stock at the heel) keeps weight to a minimum, whilst a full thumbhole/pistol grip arrangement gives positive control where it matters. An additional hole in the stock, just forward of that thumbhole allows for storage of spare magazines, which could prove handy in the field. At the tip of the extended fore-end, the moulding provides an accessory rail which is a nice feature, allowing any prospective hunter to clamp on their favourite lamp/laser arrangement, without the need for special fittings.
Shoehorned into this stock is a conventional PCP action, sporting a Ben Taylor regulator. This means that shot count is metered, and number of shots is, as you would expect these days, impressive - more of which later. It should be noted at this stage that in common with many regulated rifles, the on-board pressure gauge only shows the regulated pressure, rather than the residual cylinder pressure. In practise, this is a minor detail, since the gauge on the charging gear should always hold sway in any case.
The balance of the Cutlas - with a Hawke Nite-Eye 3-12x50 scope onboard - was fine, with the centre of gravity falling around two inches forward of the trigger guard. However, with the muzzle neatly threaded (1/2inch UNF) and capped off, it’s a simple matter to screw on your favourite silencer, which will add front weight and tame the significant muzzle crack.
The Magazine System
Many magazine designs exist on the market today, but some of the best systems, (certainly the most robust), dispense with any casings, offering a simple circular steel, revolver style, series of chambers - and so it is here. Simply eject the magazine, fill the chambers in turn, and relocate the mag in the slot in the action.
When removing the mag from the action - pull back the retaining pin at the rear, and then pull back the side lever. The magazine can now be removed if it hasn’t already flown out of its slot! Once filled with pellets, to relocate the mag, I found a definite regime worked best - push the mag home, then push the side lever forwards whilst applying slight downwards pressure to the mag. Then push the magazine retaining pin forwards. This operation differs slightly from the instructions in the FX booklet, but the trigger on the test rifle seemed to lockup if I changed the order. Rather bizarre, and maybe just this specimen, but my findings nonetheless.
If I adhered to the above, the system worked well and the sheer speed of that super-slick drop-down side lever, makes this (and the Cyclone on which it is based) surely one of the fastest re-loaders on the market; 5 shots in a little over 6 seconds is perfectly possible, making this great fun for plinking and extremely practical for a follow-up shot in a hunting scenario.
A handy feature of the Cutlas comes with the provision of a power adjuster- allowing the shooter to select from three power settings. Just push the side adjusting knob, forward, into the middle, or backwards, for approximately 7, 9, and 12ftlbs respectively.
My test rifle was in the larger .22 calibre, (always more efficient than .177 with regards to number of shots generated), and the manufacturers quote 200 shots at full power. My tests confirmed 207 shots within a 25fps spread, using pellets straight from the tin – this is good going in my book. If the low power mode is adopted for example, shot count jumps to 260 in .22 which is handy to know.
Accuracy was good with compatible pellets, and at 30yds, the FX pellets supplied printed reasonable 5/8inch groups, but Accupels from Crosman just seemed to suit the barrel that bit better, closing the groups down to 3/8inch.
All in all, this Cutlas offers a radical approach, and a specification that stands out from the crowd. Love it or hate it, its original design and versatility should earn FX many fans, and rightly so.
PRICE: £789 (synthetic stocked model on test)