FAC air rifles – the pros and cons with Roger Lait

Are you thinking of going FAC? Roger Lait explains what it’s like to live with a rifle with a muzzle energy of 50 foot pounds

So how much is too much power for an airgun? Do you need 50 foot pounds and upwards? Why not just 12 foot pounds and be done with it? And what about both perhaps?

Well I’m lucky. I have the Daystate Red Wolf HP (High Power) in .22, and boy does that pack a punch. But running that much power does have its downsides – do you ever get through some air. More hot air than listening to me talking about my HFT skills!

I can get a healthy 60 shots running 50 foot pounds using JSB 33.95 grain pellets, and that’s good. I could of course turn it down to one of its lower settings, but who would ever do that? It’s like having a Ferrari and driving it with the handbrake on! It’s never going to happen.

So next, it’s the pellets. I am using both the JSB 25 grain redesigned Jumbo Monster and the 33.95 grain Jumbo Beast I mentioned earlier. Now these things are as long as a unicorn’s horn and are almost impossible to find – and when you do, you must buy as many as you can.

So my FAC rifle means lots of air, and spending more money to get  less pellets – but it also means great accuracy at silly distances, and lots and lots of fun.

But do I actually need that much power? Why can’t my 12 foot pound gun do the same? Of course, and very obviously, it’s only 12 foot pounds, so it can’t shoot at 100 yards as accurately as the FAC Red Wolf. It doesn’t have the knockdown power of the FAC gun either, but it is quiet. There are more upsides too.

The TM shooting at 11.4 ft-lb is at home on an HFT course, but can also hunt out to Roger’s self-imposed maximum of 40 yards

The 12 foot pound gun does a whole bunch of shots – hundreds and hundreds in fact – on one fill. Some of these new guns can do a whole tin of pellets on a single fill. I doubt very much that any high-power FAC gun will get anywhere close to that.

Another good reason for owning a 12 ft-lb rifle is pellet choice. You can go to any decent airgun shop and find loads and loads of different .177 pellets on the shelf.

My local airgun shop, Lakes Barn Country Store, always has shelves filled with .177 hunting and target pellets – the choice is endless. The same can’t be said for FAC heavyweight .22 pellets, that’s for sure.

You can get 18 grain JSB in most places, but looking for more specialist pellets is a nightmare. There’s more chance of finding a quick fix for Brexit if you ask me.

Another good reason to have a 12 foot pound rifle is where you can use it. If you have permission to shoot on the land, then off you go (assuming it’s safe).

With FAC, you have to get the land cleared by the police, unless you have an open ticket of course, but the point is, it’s more difficult. Each gun has its pros and cons.


I have had a few FAC airguns, and to be honest I have loved them all. The new one is sublime – it’s like a different world of good. So when shooting this leviathan, is it anything like a normal 12 foot pound gun?

Well no, it’s nothing like it whatsoever. My Rapid Air Weapons TM1000 feels as dead as disco when you take a shot, and she’s nowhere near as dead as some other HFT/FT guns I have shot.

The Red Wolf lets you know it’s got something under the bonnet. She has a push – or maybe pulse is the right word. Suffice to say, you know you’ve shot her. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like you are getting beaten up or anything like that (you can save that for an unmoderated .308).

So if it moves when you shoot it, how can it be so accurate? Well, with the Daystate electronics, it all happens so fast. The pellet is a good 50 yards away before you realise – that’s how you get good groups with it with ease. Even me! This is not to say that shooting an FAC airgun is the same as 12 ft-lb. It’s not.

Talking of amazing groups, how’s this for a five-shot group taken at 100 yards with the HP?

You do need a different style of shooting. When I first got the Red Wolf, I shot it just like my TM1000. This did not go so well. The TM has so little movement you can stay on target and watch the pellet fly.

The Red Wolf is different and needs a totally different hold to attain tiny groups. I hold it the same, but let it move. I tried with a firm hold, but that just made the groups bigger.

I then called upon my buddy Kyle Hampton. Kyle, for you guys and gals that don’t know, shoots a springer – or rather, I should say, he  shoots a springer really, really well. I shan’t bore you with what he has won, as no doubt when you see him he will gladly tell you!

Suffice to say that he told me how he shoots his springer to such good effect. I nicked his method, and wouldn’t you know it, it worked! Kyle’s advice was to use a firm, yet soft hold.

An oxymoron, I know, but it’s soft enough to let the gun move, but firm enough to keep it in the right place. The only massive problem is that once I have shot the FAC gun for a while, my shooting of the TM goes to pot, and vice versa! 

It’s two distinct and different methods to get really small groups from both. I just wish I could switch from one to the other quickly. As I have said many times it’s a case of LOT (Lack Of Talent) on my part.

Twelve foot pounds

So the TM, as said, is as dead as dead to shoot. You hold it on a target, you gently touch the trigger and she is gone. My TM is honestly that good to shoot. It gives a tiny, tiny little pat on the shoulder.

The accuracy is second to none, but before you all shout “You don’t do it justice”, I know! I do try hard though.

This is the kind of power you need to run the 25 grain JSB redesigns at if you want to get amazing groups – they don’t hang about!

I have taken it hunting and know that if there is no wind I can easily hit a target at 50 yards. My max with 12 foot pounds is, and has always been, 40 yards.

Now before you all say “I thought you could shoot” I can extend the range a little – with my Red Wolf running 50 foot pounds and throwing a 25 grain pellet at 937 feet per second. I simply don’t need to take that risky shot with my 12 foot-pounder. The TM does tick a bunch of boxes though – it’s an HFT/FT gun, but it can also hunt!

Both have their merits

So both guns have their strong points and both have their drawbacks. So what do you do? Do you stay with legal limit or do you apply for your FAC? Is FAC air a gateway drug for rimfire and then onto centrefire? (Hint – yes, it totally is!)

What do you need the gun for, and at what distance do you intend to shoot? I think there is a strong place for both FAC air and 12 foot pound rifles. There certainly is in my gun cabinet.

As for me

As you may know, I absolutely love my HFT. I practise lots and lots, and put lots of effort in to improve. 

I really enjoy HFT – it’s just so much fun. I do get out hunting and so do need some more knockdown power – but not all the time. Both guns are fantastic for hunting, and both guns have their place for sure.

I also have recently got into this benchrest stuff. Not the close in 25-yard one, I mean the 100-yard and further, so I do need a far more powerful gun.

So, I’ve got two amazing guns for two very different disciplines. Maybe it’s just an excuse to buy more guns. I mean, can you ever have enough? 

The answer to that question is a resounding ‘No’! 

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