Fredrik Axelsson, The Owner of FX Airguns Talks To HAM. First, The Early Days
In this exclusive interview, Fredrik Axelsson – the founder and owner of FX Airguns– talks to Hard Air Magazine from his factory in Sweden. We think you will find our conversation very interesting!
Today, Fredrik talks about how he first became interested in airguns and how that led to the formation of FX Airguns.
Hard Air Magazine: What was your first airgun and how old were you when you started shooting?
Fredrik Axelsson: My first airgun was a Diana. I think it was a Model 25 or 27 in 4.5 mm caliber. I had it when I was just 6 or 7 years old. In those days this was very common. Every young boy in Sweden had an air rifle growing up.
Hard Air Magazine: What gave you an interest in working with airguns?
Fredrik Axelsson: When I was 19 or 20, I re-discovered my old airgun. It made me feel inspired and I and started shooting it again.
One day, I went to forest where we commonly shot airguns and found some bigger pellets in a tree. I pulled one out and, WOW – it looked like a monster compared to the 4.5mm pellets I had been shooting. It was a 5.5 mm!
Of course, there was no Internet at that time, but I found some catalogs and started looking at 5.5mm caliber airguns. I found BSA and other manufacturers but ended-up buying an Air Arms spring rifle as this was one of the best available at the time.
But I was so disappointed! It was nothing I was hoping for. So I started to think how I could improve it…
So I came up with the idea that I could make a gas ram system. I didn’t call it a gas ram – I just wanted to get rid of the spring. So I did that and it was working.
Then I was hooked like there was no tomorrow! I was crazy about airguns after that!!!
Hard Air Magazine: So how did you get interested in PCP airguns?
Fredrik Axelsson: I did a lot of thinking about airguns. It seemed to me that I could design a better airgun. I’d always had a dream about a gun without any recoil that was super accurate.
At that time I didn’t have any other airguns to look at. I didn’t know what a PCP rifle was!
But I got the inspiration for using compressed air when I saw a picture of a paintball rifle. So I was thinking I should use compressed air, or CO2, or something…
I made some CO2-operated guns, not with knock-out valves but a different kind of valve. And they worked too. So everything I did was just working!
That gave me even more inspiration to do more work. Instantly, airguns was my biggest hobby!!!
That was in my twenties.
Hard Air Magazine: Can you tell us about how FX Airguns got started?
Fredrik Axelsson: There was a company in Sweden, Rnhem – importing Beretta, Webley & Scott airguns. They also imported and an air rifle called the Sportsmatch GC2.
The GC2 was a very famous air rifle at that time. I didn’t know any details about it, but it was produced by a brilliant Englishman man called John Ford through his company Sportsmatch.
I was buying some Webley guns from Rnhem and I put a gas ram into them. I was not a dealer – just a private person buying directly from the importer – but people seemed to like my guns. They were selling!
I also bought some BSA airguns from Stegr, the importer at the time, and put gas rams into them too. Of course, I showed them my CO2 stuff – a little bit proudly – so they invited me to a big trade show. In fact, they invited everyone in the business and there I met John Ford.
John’s GC2 was an amazing air rifle that cost over $2,000 even at that time – 1991. I started talking to him. He invited me to England, so I went over and met Terry Doe, Nick Jenkinson and all those famous airgun people.
John had a background in Formula One racing and he was highly regarded. He started telling everyone that I was the cleverest person he had ever met! Because of this I was famous even before I had ever done anything…
I had made some prototypes and he said these were the most incredible things he had seen in his whole life.
“Everything’s fantastic, Fredrik.” he said. “But there’s one problem. They’re so complicated! These guns will cost £3,000 (about $4,500) and there’s no-one who’s going to be able to afford them. You have to do it simpler!”
So, the door to the airgun world was open to me from the beginning because of John Ford.
I took his advice and then started to make a rifle with an integrated 3-stage pump. But that’s super complicated, too! Then I contacted Webley & Scott and they couldn’t believe it. You made 6 strokes super-easy and it could make 6 shots at 12 Ft/Lbs (the UK legal power limit for air rifles).
But in the end, it was just too complicated. So, I took the pump off and put a tube there instead. And that was my first PCP rifle. It was called the Axsor.
But in between I made about 20 kinds of rifles. Also, I had made a hand pump too at that time.
Hard Air Magazine: So were there any other HPA hand pumps out there at that time? How were people filling PCP air rifles?
Fredrik Axelsson: They used diving bottles – SCUBA tanks. I needed to get air into my own air rifles. So, I made a thin air pump. Then I made a thicker pump and pumped air from that into the thinner pump. Then I pumped air out of the thin pump into the gun.
After a while, I had the idea of putting the thin pump inside the thick pump. I struggled like crazy with the idea, then I had the idea of using a sealing O ring as a back valve.
That was the key. Now I could transport the air from the big pump to the smaller pump!
I didn’t see any other PCP airguns at all – except for the GC2 and I hadn’t seen inside that. I did everything from scratch by hand and used my own ideas.
I’m not interested in other people’s ideas. I want to create my own…
In the second part of this exclusive HAM interview, Fredrik talks about his favorite FX models, how he designs airguns like the FX Impact and gives us some background into his company. You won’t want to miss it!
Thanks to Evelyn Elvegaard for the great photographs.