FX Wildcat Air Rifle Test Review .22 Caliber.
21 Nov 2016
Supplied by Airguns of Arizona
Huge shot count.
No adjustable buttpad.
Safety too easy to move.
VALUE FOR MONEY
OK, let’s start with the numbers. The FX Wildcat air rifle, scope and rings combo featured in this HAM test will cost you a cool $2,158.90. Specifically, the Wildcat itself is $1,699.00, the FX 4-18x44SFIRscope $379.95 and the FX No Limit mounts $79.95.
This is therefore one of the the most expensive air rifles in the market – and certainly one of the more expensive that HAM has tested.
As we’ve said before, there are many different interpretations of the words “Value for Money”. If value for money is interpreted as “the most Bang for the Buck”, the FX Wildcat bundle tested by HAM will not be high on the list.
But if value for money is seen as being the price paid for a thing of beauty and perfection that will give the owner joy in use and pride of ownership for ever, the Wildcat is clearly outstanding value for money. And, by the way, that thing of beauty also provides a lot of power and outstanding accuracy…
Most buyers of the FX Wildcat air rifle will be delighted by their purchase and so this HAM rating is given in that light. And if you want to save 300 Bucks, the Wildcat with black, synthetic stock is that much cheaper.
|HAM Test Rating||93%|
|Value For Money||Beautiful, accurate, expensive bullpup.|
|Best Pellet Tested||JSB Jumbo Express|
|Street Price at Time of Test||$2,159 including Scope|
|RateAGun Score|| |
Easy to Shoot
BUY FROM AIRGUNS OF ARIZONA
FX Wildcat Air Rifle .22 caliber
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
The FX Wildcat air rifle tested by HAM produced a maximum muzzle velocity of 1,091 FPS with H&N Field Target Trophy Green alloy pellets. The maximum muzzle velocity with lead pellets was 1,002 FPS – attained, unsurprisingly, with the 11.9 Grain RWS Hobby pellets.
As is expected for a PCP air rifle, the muzzle energy (knock down power) increased with heavier pellets. The Impact produced 29 Ft/Lbs or above with all the standard HAM test pellets weighing more than 14.3 Grains. This is strong performance for a .22 caliber airgun and makes the FX Wildcat air rifle suitable for hunting a wide variety of small game and pests.
Accuracy was excellent with all the heavier pellets in the standard HAM test suite. It was also excellent – surprisingly – with the Gamo Raptor Platinum alloy pellets.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 9.7 Grain||1090 FPS||25.60 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 10.03 Grain||1091 FPS||26.52 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|RWS Hobby 11.9 Grain||1002 FPS||26.54 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Crosman Premier HP 14.3 Grain||960 FPS||29.27 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|JSB Jumbo Exact 14.35 Grain||960 FPS||29.37 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 14.66 Grain||947 FPS||29.20 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 21.14 Grain||830 FPS||32.35 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
As you can see, the best accuracy in HAM testing was achieved with the 14.35 Grain JSB Jumbo Exact pellets. But it was a close run thing and the Crosman Premiers came in a very close second.
Yes, the JSB pellets gave the highest (= worst) Standard Deviation in the HAM tests, yet the accuracy was best. Duhhh! We’ll let you know when we’ve worked this one out. It’s not what we normally expect. But that’s the way it turned out…
BUY FROM AIRGUNS OF ARIZONA
JSB Jumbo Express Pellets, .22 Cal
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The trigger of the FX Wildcat air rifle tested by HAM was close to perfection! With an average pull weight of 1 Lb 0 Oz, the trigger is incredibly light. And that’s the pull weight for the (heavier) second stage!
The first stage is even lighter and the trigger pulls back with almost no pressure at all. Yet in spite of the very light trigger pull weight, the second stage is very easily detected. It’s no problem at all to hold the trigger just at breaking point. Sear release is crisp and predictable. What more could anyone want?
As usual, the HAM team tested the Wildcat’s trigger as received “out of the box”. We saw no need to make any adjustments.
Cocking the Wildcat is undertaken using the side lever. This is very smooth and easy to operate. The cocking lever is very well located above the trigger and movement back is fingertip light. There’s no complaints at all from the HAM team on this one…
The only negative comment we have on the FX Wildcat air rifle in this section is that the safety is – in our opinion – too easy to move.
Yes, it’s a manual safety, which the HAM team always prefers. And the safety moves forward easily into the “Fire” position. But rather too easily. We feel that the safety could be set to fire through snagging with clothing or undergrowth. So take care with this, for the sake of safety.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The manufacturer claims that the FX Wildcat air rifle is capable of achieving a muzzle energy of 30 Ft/Lbs in .22 caliber. The gun tested by HAM exceeded this claim by more than 2 Ft/Lbs, and certainly would do more so if tested with even heavier weight pellets than 21.14 Grain H&N Baracuda Match ammo.
There’s also a claim for the trigger pull weight. FX claims that this should be less than 1 Lb 2 Oz. The FX Wildcat air rifle tested by HAM delivered an average trigger pull weight of exactly 1 Lb. That’s a second claim exceeded by the Wildcat.
This is another strong suit for the FX Wildcat air rifle.
Trigger pull weight varied by only plus or minus 1 Ounce from the average in HAM testing. That’s an undetectable variation for any human.
Standard Deviation (the indication of variation in muzzle velocity) was also very well controlled, dropping to well under 5 FPS with five out of the standard HAM pellet test suite.
Accuracy was also consistently excellent with the majority of the pellets tested. Only the H&N Field Target Trophy Green alloys and the RWS Hobby lead pellets gave poor results. So, overall, the Wildcat is pretty pellet-tolerant.
And the HUGE consistent shot count resulting from the Wildcat’s regulated action is another significant advantage in practical accuracy for this air rifle as consistent fps prevents vertical stringing on the target.
Noise level is reasonable for an airgun of this power. The FX Wildcat air rifle is far quieter than an un-silenced airgun, of course. However, it’s perceptibly louder than HAM’s benchmark for noise level – the Benjamin Marauder.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The FX Wildcat air rifle tested by HAM was fitted with a FX-branded 4-18x44SFIR scope in FX No Limit mounts.
This scope arrears to have good optical quality and balances well on the Wildcat. There’s 30mm diameter tube. A standard, simple, Mil Dot reticle which can be red illuminated if required. Be aware that the illumination control is very heavy to turn, however, and certainly cannot be moved with the gun in the shooting position.
The scope’s elevation and windage turrets are large, with clear, easy-to-read markings. The click adjustments are good – neither too easy nor too hard to adjust as required. But the turrets are neither covered, nor lockable, so you’ll need to be careful in the field to avoid unexpected adjustments.
The sidewheel parallax adjustment is very heavy to rotate without the (supplied) big wheel being attached. With the big wheel in place, focusing down to 10 yards became easy and precise. However, be careful not to push the big wheel fully onto the parallax turret, as then it will contact the scope rings. It’s obvious when you see it…
The FX No Limits scope mounts feature adjustable height capability. HAM extended these mounts upward to their maximum setting. This gave a useful increase in height that made a surprisingly big improvement in scope use. (You’ll need a 4 mm Allen – hex – wrench to do this).
The individual rings can also be canted along the optical axis in order to adjust scope elevation while still allowing the scope reticle to be positioned close to the center of its travel.
The FX Wildcat air rifle is short, light and perfectly balanced. This makes it supremely easy to bring on target. It also makes for a very steady, natural shooting position that’s a great contributor to practical accuracy. The trigger is perfectly positioned in relation to the pistol grip and the cocking lever also falls naturally to hand.
With so much thought and design effort having been devoted to handling, it’s somewhat surprising to the HAM team that the rubber buttpad is fixed. You would have to think that an adjustable buttpad would be a logical, obvious fitting for the FX Wildcat air rifle and would make it that much easier for owners to customize the gun to their needs.
Yes, the FX No Limits scope mounts offered an improvement in ergonomics for the long-necked among us (that’s Stephen Archer), but he still felt that vertical adjustment of the buttpad would allow him to shoot the Wildcat more easily, without twisting his neck down.
It has to be said that the HAM team did not find the cheek piece particularly pleasant to use. It does provide a good cheek weld, however we found it rather cold to the touch and would prefer a warmer sensation against the face when shooting.
Of course, the outstanding shot count is very beneficial to practical accuracy. This is because the near-constant muzzle velocity produced by the regulator means that the elevation changes due to falling muzzle velocity are eliminated for practical purposes over many shots with the FX Wildcat air rifle.
The Wildcat gains an incredibly low RateAGun Score of just 2.2. As low scores are vbetter, this indicates that this compact bullpup air rifle is outstandingly easy to shoot.
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Bullpups are somewhat of a divisive style: most people either love them or hate them.
So the HAM review team will say this. We’re not great bullpup fans, but the FX Wildcat air rifle is without doubt a beautiful-looking piece of engineering.
Compared to many other bullpup-style airguns, the FX Wildcat air rifle is remarkably svelte and stylish. For us, the stock design manages to avoid looking like a plain piece of 2 x 4 – as do some bullpups. There’s the right number of curved sections to the stock and the overall balance of the design looks just right. There’s a clear and obvious efficiency about the design – as you would expect from the Scandinavian manufacturer.
But everyone will make their own decisions on appearance!
What’s clear is that the finish of the Wildcat tested by HAM was close to perfect.
The gray laminate stock is beautifully finished with a semi-gloss surface that feels great in the hand. The FX Airguns logo at the front is perfectly cut into the wood.
Metalwork is black, with just the stainless cocking rod for contrast. Most metal parts are anodized black. Only the barrel exhibits a deep, smooth bluing that looks completely black, too. It’s clear that machining is just about perfect and that the finish is impeccable.
BUYING AND OWNING
OK, so there is one big downside to the FX Wildcat air rifle in the HAM team’s opinion. This is the gauge position. No matter what the gun, we really never feel safe having to check the pressure by looking a a gauge at the end of the pressure tube – that means you look right down the barrel when doing so. We’re always unhappy about this and the Wildcat is no exception.
Fill pressure is 220 Bar, that’s 3,190 PSI. So a HPA tank system is really required for filling the Wildcat. This pressure level would test the capabilities of many HPA pumps – and the owners pumping them!
Filling with High Pressure Air uses the typical European probe system. The filling port is visible in the photograph above. The rotating cover shields this to prevent the ingress of unwanted junk when the gun’s in use.
The Wildcat is supplied with the standard FX Owner’s Manual. This is a very nicely-produced color book, however it covers all the models in the range and so a little deduction can be required to identify the parts appropriate to this gun. It’s in English only.
One big benefit of the Wildcat – in comparison to other FX models – is that it uses a simple, open magazine to house the pellets. There’s no trouble in loading pellets and no need to load the first pellet upside down, as is the case with some other FX Models like the Royale. HAM PCP specialist tester Pete Shooter, rated this as a huge improvement compared to his own FX airgun that uses the other magazine system.
As you’d expect, the FX Wildcat air rifle is not found for sale in every Big Box sporting goods store. But is is available from well-known specialist airgun retailers such as Airguns of Arizona and Airgun Depot, as you can see from the links in this review.
Warranty coverage for many other high-end air rifles is typically of the 3-year or “limited lifetime” variety. So it’s somewhat of a surprise to discover that the FX Wildcat air rifle is covered by only a 12-month warranty. However, the obvious quality of workmanship and finish indicates that servicing is not likely to be required for a very long time…
BUY FROM AIRGUNS OF ARIZONA
FX Wildcat Air Rifle .22 caliber
BUY FROM AIRGUN DEPOT
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.