Factory Visit Impact Airguns
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
The chance to visit an airgun factory is an exciting proposition for any enthusiast, so when my shooting buddy, Peter Knight, happened to drop into the conversation that he’d ordered one of the new Impact Airgun models, I could feel the perfect excuse shaping up nicely. A few phone calls later and Peter and I had our master plan all set in motion. Waiting was a minor irritation, but he is the type to appreciate that you really shouldn’t rush a good thing.
Come the call from the factory, to say all was ready, we hastily agreed a time, and set off, like a couple of excited school boys, to take a closer look at this home grown airgun manufacturing operation.
Chris Whistler is the MD of Impact Airguns, based near Sutton in Cambridgeshire and with some 18 years experience in the firearms industry, he is well placed to lead the company to a bright future. Apparently he always wanted to get involved with making airguns, so when Theoben got into difficulties, it seemed like the logical next step.
‘A new name in airguns, with a 30 year history’, is a clever marketing tag line and sums up the company lineage perfectly. Yet Chris has hardly sat back and just let the company carry on ‘as was’. Impact has a full range of its own branded products, all made in the UK, and with even the stocks made here, by Custom Stock of Sheffield, the company clearly has much to shout about.
The first thing that hits you is the rather spacious premises and a very swish profile from the outside it is too! Impact now makes a range of models, with a series of pneumatics, along with some variations based on Theoben’s now famous gas-ram design. The GSX200 for example, is a great looking, buddy bottle fed PCP, with walnut stock and extended silencer, whilst a range of Tactical variants are also available.
Peter’s chosen rifle, being an ultra keen HFT shooter, is the Revolution GSX600, which is basically the company’s flagship model aimed at serious competition. The full length walnut thumbhole woodwork is a great piece of design and the target configuration also includes an adjustable cheek piece and butt pad. Seeing just how it is made and put together was an enthralling experience I have to say, and the level of care and attention to detail is something Chris is keen to emphasise.
The only component that Impact buy in from outside is the barrel, and the fact they use Lothar Walthar should come as no surprise, since these are pretty well the industry standard. Impact carry out a full finishing process to the barrels, and hand crown each one into the bargain, so top notch accuracy should come as standard. An Air Tech 250 moderator completes the GSX600, and here the unit can be supplied as standard, or as a slide over ‘reflex’ option. Super robust, finely machined components are perhaps the hallmark of Impact, and with their own top grade chemical blueing plant on site, the finish can all be controlled in house.
Darren Godfrey is one of their skilled engineers and with his wealth of experience from working at Theoben, his knowledge of the brands historical products is second to none. New processes, finishes and manufacturing techniques are all being assessed, with a view to ongoing improvements. This go-ahead approach should cement the reputation of Impact among its growing fan base.
Product evolution has seen many improvements at Impact, and their design of regulator is a case in point. Subtle changes and tweaks, along the way, all in a bid for extra consistency and of course ultimate accuracy, have pushed performance to the limit; along with finely set triggers with release weights adjustable literally down to a few ounces. All this refinement hasn’t gone unnoticed, so it’s little wonder that the company’s products are now in the hands of several top HFT shooters, with a string of results at national level, the result.
A full tour of the factory floor, complete with areas and processes of which I was sworn to secrecy, had Peter and I captivated. Yet little did we know, the best was yet to come; for access to the company’s ‘museum’ was for us, the icing on the cake. Prototype designs aplenty and intriguing test bed models; it was all here - effectively a timeline and potted history of predominantly Theoben’s output. Chris’s enthusiasm for his subject was plain to see, and with him at the helm, we were left in no doubt that Impact have well and truly picked up the baton.
As for the GSX600, The smug look on Peter’s face, on accepting his new baby in the workshop, just about said it all, and summed up our experience overall. For seeing this impressive operation first hand really was a heartening experience.
It just remains for me to thank Chris Whistler, and Darren Godfrey, for making us so welcome throughout our tour, and wish them and Impact the very best for the future.
Contact: ‘Impact Airguns, 01353 775353 www.impactairguns.co.uk