FX Independence Multi-shot PCP
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- Last updated: 27/01/2017
I’d heard a lot about the FX Independence, the main selling point being its self-contained mechanical filling facility. In other words the large side lever set to the right of the rifle action can be used to pump air into what outwardly appears to be a very generously size air reservoir that dominates the front of the rifle.
The synthetic stock looks conventional at the rear, featuring a high thickset roll-over cheekpiece, generous thumbhole, deep ‘thumb’ channel/rest on the left that runs out from the thumbhole into the integral flat bottomed trigger guard. As the trigger blade is offset way over to the right, on the right side there’s no channel - as you’d presume for the trigger finger - but rather the stock is more shallow, curving from the top of the thumbhole to the guard. It then tapers slightly forward so your trigger finger is coaxed towards the trigger blade giving a surprisingly comfortable hold when combined with the ribbed pistol grip.
At the rear is a sliding full rubber butt pad and you now appreciate why the rifle has such stark lines, but it works well for precise trigger control and head alignment with whatever size optics you have on-board. An oversize air gauge is set mid-way underneath the rifle and from here there’s a full run of ribbed forend panelling on each side.
The stock works and you soon naturally find it offers three specific leading hand holds. The more you shoot it the more you will naturally discover all holds, especially if you hunt, as you’ll often take awkward angle shots.
Don’t Knock It…
Suitably scoped up it balances and handles far better than its looks. With the oversize air reservoir thrusting forward of the forend, the fully free-floating 14mm diameter blacked steel ‘smoothtwist’ barrel seemingly out of proportion as it looks way too high above the air reservoir and side-lever pump mechanism. You soon realise why it’s configured this way as soon as you open the side-lever that operates the integral pump. As you draw it open. It pivots at an upward facing angle from its attached pivot point at the front end rising until fully open. Therefore the barrel has to be put safely out of the way, so any risk of it continually getting knocked on operation of the lever is eliminated.
I fitted a Nikko Stirling 4 X 16 X 50AO IR Gameking in high mounts to clear the magazine and spun on a lightweight carbon fibre can onto the barrel’s ½” UNF screw cut muzzle, replacing the stylish vented muzzle brake. Overall length with muzzle brake is 38 ¾” and it only tips the scales at 3.4Kg un-scoped!
The air inlet valve takes a push on bayonet style FX connector so you can fill from a diver’s bottle as normal. I got conflicting information so played safe and filled to 190-bar and managed 25 full power shots in .22 calibre with the test rifle and I’m told the .177 version gives 18 per fill.
Before leaving this area of the rifle, you can’t test the FX Independence without mentioning it uses a much talked about ‘Smoothtwist’ barrel – the methods and term for forming the rifling in the barrel. If you’re unfamiliar with the term and the barrels that are manufactured this way then basically the barrel is smoothbore and only rifled for the last 2.5-inches at the muzzle. Even this rifling is shallow and very unconventional in shape, yet it is claimed to be all that is needed for an accurate air rifle barrel. Personally I find it hard to get my head around so on with test.
The Independence uses a small, neat side-lever for cocking which is slightly angled out approximately an inch from the end finishing with a drop down bar fitted with a ‘hard rubberised sleeved’ making it very easy to hold. During the cocking operation, the pellet probe also withdraws from the ‘sprung’ 12-shot magazine, which indexes precisely around to bring another pellet in line with the breech, to be seated into the 19 5/8” barrel on returning the cocking lever forward to its original position.
The rifle uses the same 12-shot removable rotary magazine as the FX Whisper T-12. In .177 calibre the magazines are 17-shot. Once removed from the right of the action, the FX magazine looks similar to a Theoben mag – but with subtle changes so as not to infringe patents. To load, the Perspex plate is turned anti-clockwise, the first pellet is dropped skirt first into the rear of the magazine. Then turn it around and load conventionally keeping the Perspex plate held under tension and allowed to re-wind until another chamber is empty and then load the rest as normal. Slip the full magazine back into the right of the action where the cut away channel in the back allows it to slide in until it stops at the barrel’s brass breech collar.
Let Us Spray
Readying myself to shoot for the first time I was a bit nervy due to this new magazine, new filling system, new barrel manufacture – in fact the whole thing. So time to launch, but not before you slip forward the manual safety lever positioned within reach of your trigger hand’s thumb (before it goes into the thumbhole.) With everything ready to go and my thumb where it should be, I began to experience the lovely firing cycle, smooth cocking action and – pellets spraying everywhere…
After much pellet testing I was beginning to lose the plot, but then I realised it’s mainly a smoothbore. I soon called someone I know who loves his Independence – no pun intended. Answer ‘use over-size pellets as you need to ‘lead-up the barrel and then any quality pellet that’s slightly over diameter will group.’
Although dubious I followed the instructions and after 30 or so shots I began achieving groups out to and beyond 40-yds that any top flight PCP would be proud of.
The grip position, combined with the ‘offset’ trigger mechanism, gives one of the finest holds for ultimate trigger control, while the 2-stage adjustable trigger unit is amongst the finest I’ve tried on an FX rifle, releasing shots clean and crisp. A wisp of report and the ‘dead’ firing cycle are chilling as this beast of a rifle shows you what it’s really capable of. With a zero for the .22 calibre test rifle set at 30yds (my new range for PCP’s in this calibre) I was soon zeroed, (the minor inaccuracy hiccup a memory) but then I noticed the oversize dial showing an alarming drop in air pressure and I was only just on my third full magazine!
I then remembered the specs and why this rifle is so ‘air greedy.’ Usually a PCP uses 1-bar per shot this uses 4! Hence that low shot count, anyway time I used the side-lever pump… well it’s there for this reason. In fact happening like this illustrates how unobtrusive it is as you shoot. I’d forgotten about it until it was needed. Again, it seems the features are all in the right place as putting the safety on I slipped my fingers under the large oblong ABS end cap of the metal lever and flicked it out to extend it, to make my first pump. Only then did I notice as I operated the lever the reason the air reservoir looks so thick and long is because it isn’t all air reservoir. From just rear of where the forend ends, the side of the outer casing is hollow and only cut away for clearance so the side-lever can operate the articulated linkage that is inside the ‘dummy’ housing’ and connected to the internal pump. So in effect the rifle has a relatively small air reservoir for the size of the rifle. The heft needed to pump air in is very minimal, but the claim of ‘1 pump = 1 shot’ I didn’t find tallied up. Instead I’d say 2-3 pumps per shot to be on the safe side.
Not So Pretty
The FX Independence still has the looks ‘only a mother could love.’ Its blocky appearance would suggest that it is unbalanced and cumbersome. Spend time carrying one, shouldering and after getting used to its nuances, shooting one. I’ll bet most readers like me would seriously like to own one. Smooth eh?