Mat Manning hits the range with the diminutive FX Impact MkII Compact, and concludes that good things certainly can come in small packages
There is no denying that we are witnessing a serious trend for smaller and smaller bullpup airguns – a phenomenon that I regard as being good and bad in equal measure.
Many manufacturers are leaping on the bandwagon by quite literally cutting corners to produce mini-guns that satisfy the current hunger for stubby airguns, but don’t really cut it in the field or on the range.
Get it right, though, and a diminutive airgun can be an extremely useful piece of kit, especially if you’re a hunter who’s planning to shoot from a cramped hide or from the confines of a 4×4.
And FX Airguns has a reputation for getting bullpup design dead right. Offerings from this acclaimed Swedish gunmaker usually strike the perfect balance between compact proportions, simple but practical design, great functionality and pleasing aesthetics.
FX’s undeniable talent for turning out a decent bullpup has resulted in their Impact MkII gaining an almost cult following. In the eyes of most shooters, the Impact already manages to cram a lot into a very small package, but its makers have decided to take the concept a step further with the launch of the FX Impact MkII Compact, and it looks like they’re onto another winner.
Airguns made by FX are not cheap. The test gun I received from Sportsman Gun Centre is the Compact in its bronze guise and it has a recommended retail price of £1,723. As with most things in life, you tend to get what you pay for, and the engineering and finish of this neat little airgun are absolutely flawless.
Key Specs: FX Impact MkII Compact
MAKER: FX Airguns, Sweden (www.fxairguns.com)
SUPPLIED BY: Sportsman Gun Centre (www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk)
MODEL: Impact MKII Compact (Bronze)
TYPE: Sidelever-action bullpup
CALIBRE: .177 (tested), .22, .25, .30 and .35
OVERALL LENGTH: 640mm
LENGTH OF PULL: 355mm
BARREL LENGTH: 500mm
WEIGHT: 2.7kg (without scope)
TRIGGER: Two-stage adjustable
POWER: 11.5 ft-lb
FX Impact MkII Compact: Taking stock
As you would expect from a bullpup that bears the ‘Compact’ moniker, this gun’s standout feature is its diminutive size. It measures up at a stubby 640mm from end to end and weighs just over 2.7kg.
Thanks to its well thought out bullpup configuration, the Compact still has a 355mm length of pull, so it doesn’t feel cramped in the shoulder. I’m over six feet tall and have long arms, but this little airgun still fits me remarkably well.
Just like the standard MkII, the stock looks very minimalistic and yet still manages to function as a very comfortable handle. Starting towards the back, it has a really nice curved cheekpiece; one of the most comfortable that I have encountered on a bullpup.
Another nice touch is the adjustable butt pad, which is really easy to tweak; just slacken off the locking knob on the side and it slides up and down enabling you to achieve correct alignment between eye and scope.
The pistol grip may look very basic, but as is the case with most FX components, it is deceptively well designed. The textured rubber grip is pleasingly sculpted, offers a really secure purchase and makes for great trigger attack.
The minimalistic stock design means that the air bottle serves as the forend, but I have to say that on a tactical gun like this it works, and doesn’t really feel like a compromise.
One thing you have to be conscious of, though, is the fact that without an additional silencer fitted the muzzle is precariously close to your fingers, so you must remember to keep them away from the front of the bottle.
FX Impact MkII Compact: Features and function
Although I don’t usually go in for blinged-up airguns, I have to admit that the bronze version of the Compact looks absolutely stunning. Its greatest strength is that it is a very subtle embellishment; the bronze finish hasn’t been overused and it works really well with the black parts, which have the same flash-free matt finish.
The scope-mounting rail is one of those black components, and is of the Picatinny type, which makes for fast and secure scope attachment. It is also pleasingly low to the barrel – too many bullpups have high scope rails that elevate your line of sight way too high above the bore, and I am delighted to say that this is not one of them.
The Compact has three other rails for accessory attachment – one on the underside just behind the bottle and one on each side of the barrel shroud.
The chunky little shroud looks really nice, but because it doesn’t extend very far in front of the muzzle, it doesn’t offer a great deal of sound suppression.
It is threaded to accept an extension or an external silencer, or you could fit a longer shroud-cum-silencer from the outset. Anything longer than the supplied shroud would compromise this gun’s remarkably compact proportions, but it would help to keep your fingers away from the emerging pellet.
Surprisingly for such a short gun, and thanks to its bullpup configuration, the barrel is still 500mm long. This gun is equipped with the Smooth Twist X Barrel – it is very easy to swap and change, and I have produced a video on The Airgun Show showing you exactly how to do that on the standard Impact MkII.
The changeability means you can quickly swap between calibres, which now cover everything from .177 to a whopping .35, plus barrels that are made specifically for firing slugs if you intend to use them.
FX is constantly pushing its barrel development forward, and this element of adaptability enables you to keep bang up to date with advancements.
Another really innovative feature is the high-capacity SideShot magazine. It holds a huge payload of 38 shots in .177 and still an impressive 18 in .35. It’s very easy to load – just turn the central dial so you can remove the clear faceplace, and then lift it off.
Turn the magazine all the way around and then drop the first pellet in nose-first to hold the spring tension. The remaining pellets can then be dropped straight in. When it’s full, snap the faceplate back on, turn the dial to lock it in place and it’s ready to click back into the gun.
Anyone who has used a standard Impact MkII will know that it runs a really slick sidelever mechanism that has a biathlon-type drop-down handle. The mechanism operates cocking, indexing and pellet probing, and it does it very well.
It is silky smooth and very fast, which guarantees rapid follow-up shots when hunting and the fun of rapid-fire plinking on the range. I have put thousands of shots through my own Impact and hundreds through the Compact, and can vouch for it being a very reliable setup.
If mechanical bullpups have any shortfalls, they tend to relate to the trigger. The configuration of bullpup airguns means that the trigger blade is further than usual from the mechanism it operates, and the necessary linkage has a tendency to make them feel somewhat unresponsive.
That is not the case with this airgun and, just like with the standard MkII, I don’t think I’d be able to tell it was a bullpup in a blind test. The mechanism and blade are fully adjustable, but I stuck with the factory settings for my testing and found it just fine. From the box, it felt very positive with a fairly heavy first stage, a clear stop and an extremely crisp let-off.
There is a switch-type safety catch handily positioned just above the trigger. It is easy to access and extremely simple to flick on and off – the sort of safety that quickly becomes very instinctive to use. You hear a slight click when operating it, but I don’t think it’s enough to compromise stealth.
FX Impact MkII Compact: Power and performance
Charging is by means of a quick-fill inlet in the underside of the gun which uses a Foster connector. Maximum fill pressure is 250 bar and, although this is only a small gun, shot capacity is still pretty hefty and you can expect well over 250 at sub-12 ft-lb.
Keeping an eye on air levels is easy, as the Compact has two clear gauges – remaining air supply is shown on the one in front of the trigger, and the one under the butt section displays regulator pressure.
The regulator on this little airgun delivers enviable shot-to-shot consistency – variation on the test gun is around five feet per second over a 10-shot string.
Those results were achieved with Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets taken straight from the tin, and the .177 calibre Compact was churning out 11.5 ft-lb on its top power setting – of course, much higher power models are also available to FAC holders.
All models feature a power adjustment dial with 12 different settings – in my opinion, it’s going to be most useful on the higher-powered versions.
On the range, the Impact MkII Compact was an absolute dream to shoot. From the support of a bench, and in extremely calm conditions, I was able to repeatedly land pellet on pellet at 30m and print tight cloverleaf groups at 40m.
Away from the stability of the bench, the Compact’s design and fit enable you to get the best from your shooting ability, and I found that it was
very comfortable to shoot from standing, kneeling and sitting positions.
This versatility is a vital consideration for anyone planning to target live quarry; virtually any reasonable airgun can print tight groups when rested on a bench, but it takes clever design and good balance to extract optimum accuracy when you’re relying on the human body for support out in the field.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’m not really a fan of bullpup airguns, but thanks to its excellent performance, the standard FX Impact MkII has found its way into my gun cabinet.
I like the Compact even more. It’s not just small for a gimmick; it’s an incredibly well-made airgun that happens to be tiny. Build quality is excellent, it is very accurate and a joy to shoot.
If you want a top-quality airgun for targeting live quarry and need something that handles really well in confined spaces, the FX Impact MkII Compact is going to be very hard to beat.
Sure, it’s not cheap, but if you can afford to splurge on one you’ll find that it’s worth every penny.
The Airgun Shooter Verdict:
Look & feel: 9
Build quality: 10
Sighting up: 9
Overall score: 89
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