Dave Barham finally gets his hands on the new FX Impact M3 rifle; find out what he thinks of it in this detailed test and review!

Before I delve into the depths of what the three gauges and all the twiddly bits are on this rifle, I must begin by pointing out that this particular gun, although available in sub-12 ft.lbs., is actually designed for FAC holders. Yes, you can ‘tune’ it sub-12, but the ability to do that really comes into its own when you start upping the power levels and shooting slugs.

That said, as a sub-12 rifle, it’s an absolute joy to shoot and insanely accurate, with one massive plus point over everything else out there on the market – the .177 version has a 34-shot magazine! 

credit: Archant

The M3 is the latest incarnation of the popular Impact model, and FX has built this one to its highest specification yet. Featuring dual regulators, the first one reduces air pressure in preparation for the second regulator before each shot is taken.

FAC models also feature the FX Power Plenum 720 – the new energy source of the Impact M3. This larger diameter plenum and its 72cc volume of compressed air provides the precise amount of air and power needed to propel the projectile. It works in conjunction with the M3’s porting and valving systems to deliver the best power and efficiency available.

The rifle on test came with a 480cc bottle attached, and filling is via a Foster QD fitting hidden under a black cap on the underside of the stock near the neck of the bottle. The fill pressure gauge is situated on the right-hand-side of the rifle, whilst the first regulator gauge is on the left and the second regulator gauge is situated underneath the mag’ at the rear of the rifle.

credit: Archant

One of the biggest upgrades to the Impact M3 is the rifle’s user interface - the Quick Tune System. This is essentially a tool-free system that provides everything you need to fine tune the rifle’s accuracy without taking it to bits, allowing unlimited possibilities. 

You can adjust the air pressure the rifle is using via the dual regulators, how long the valve stays open with the front valve adjuster, and also adjust the strength of the hammer with the completely redesigned micro and macro power adjustments. The Rear Macro Power Wheel is a 16-step power wheel that adjusts the strength of the hammer in increments of 5-15fps, depending on calibre and reg’ pressure. This works in conjunction with the Micro Fine Adjustment. This tunes the hammer strength in incredibly small increments of just 1-2fps with each click of the barrel roller. 

Me, I just left all that alone and shot the rifle exactly as it came from the factory, but I’m sure with a little bit more time on my hands I would attempt to have a go at tuning it myself, just to see what is actually possible. From what I can gather, there’s a lot of trial and error involved to begin with, especially when tuning for slugs at higher power outputs. For all the tech heads out there, this rifle is a twiddler’s dream!

credit: Archant

There is a massive array of options for this new M3. It’s available in .177, .22, .25, .30 and .35mm calibres with a wide range of barrel lengths spread across the range, including 500mm Compact, 600mm Standard, 700mm Sniper and an 800mm .35 option. All the barrels are FX’s match-grade, free floating, Smooth Twist X models; .177 is available up to 35 ft.lbs. .22 up to 79 ft.lbs. .25 up to 89 ft.lbs. .30 up to 124 ft.lbs. and the .35 model goes up to a whopping 156 ft.lbs.

When it comes to air cylinders, these too come in three options, including 300cc Compact, 480cc Standard and 580cc Sniper – all of which are carbon-fibre wrapped bottles and rated for 250 bar max fill pressure.

As you can imagine, shot count data is also a minefield depending on the calibre and power output, but FX does list a max shot output per calibre on their website for the FAC models. These are as follows; .177 up to 375 shots, .22 up to 330 shots, .25 up to 160 shots, .30 up to 105 shots and .35 up to 45 shots.

The weight of each rifle varies from 2.8kg (6.1lbs) up to 3.35kg (7.35lbs).

credit: Archant

I absolutely love this FX trigger. Not only is it adjustable for reach and height, but the gently-curved blade can also be rotated to set the perfect angle for your finger. 

I also love the FX mag’ system. 34 shots in the .177 model on test, no less! As you move up through the calibres you obviously get fewer shots per mag’, but even with the .35 calibre you get 18 shots! There are 28 for the .22, 25 in .25 and 23 in .30, too.

I must admit, rattling through a 34-shot mag’ at the range was absolute heaven. It almost felt never-ending. I can only imagine what this rifle would be like out on a rat shoot or feral pigeon clean up. Just carry one spare mag’ in your pocket and that’s your night’s shooting taken care of.

It’s an easy mag’ to load, too. Simply twist the raised black plastic lump round to release the clear plastic lid, then rotate the inner mag’ body and begin dropping your pellets in. Once the mag’ is full, replace the clear plastic lid and secure it in place by rotating the raised plastic lump to its original place – job done.

The mag’ inserts from right to left by first pulling back the short throw cocking lever, which has a comfortably large drop-down handle, then push the mag’ in and it locks with a satisfying ‘click’. Push the lever forward and you’re ready to shoot. 

The safety lever is a manual one, and this is situated immediately behind the cocking lever above the rear of the trigger guard and is very simple to use. The short-stroke sidelever coupled with the 34-shot mag’ makes shooting this rifle pretty much effortless, and it’s a real joy to use. The lever is mounted on the right-hand side, but it can easily be switched to the left.

credit: Archant

I must say a massive ‘thank you’ to the guys at Range & Country Shooting Supplies for lending me this rifle for a couple of weeks. Without them, I doubt I would have managed to lay my hands on this rifle in order to test it – and that leads me nicely on to the first phase of this rifle’s testing. I ended up popping to the shop to collect the rifle, then headed straight down to the range, which is also owned and run by the shop. It’s one of the best ranges in the country, so what better place to give this M3 a proper going over! 

As luck would have it, my wife had a rare day off, and she’s never shot an air rifle before, so it was the perfect opportunity to give her a lesson in how to shoot, whilst giving the M3 a proper test myself – what a way to get to grips with your first air rifle experience!

We spent four hours on the range and worked our way through a tin and a half of pellets – a good deal of which was on the part of my wife, Toni – she absolutely loved the experience and didn’t want to leave. I ended up leaving her to it after a couple of hours, and she just sat there rattling off shots and reloading the mag’ herself, quite contentedly.

Before I let her ‘steal’ the FX off me, I managed a good hour or so myself, getting acquainted with the M3. With the new MTC Copperhead F2 scope mounted on top of the Picatinny rail (there are four situated around the rifle for adding a bipod and lamps or lasers or IR torches etc), I set about zeroing the rifle. That took me about ten minutes because after I had got myself a rough zero I pumped 34 shots each of three different pellets down the barrel. In the end I opted to go with the trusty QYS Streamlined Heavies that I have been using.

One thing that I did notice whilst on the range is that this rifle is unbelievably quiet, due in part to the shrouded barrel and additional moderator. It really was noticeably quieter than the other rifles on the range.

After another 20 minutes of punching paper, I set my sights on the massive array of drop down and spinner targets downrange, effortlessly knocking them down and spinning nearly everything in sight. I then spent ten or more minutes pumping strings through the chrono’, and found just a 3fps variation in two sets of 20 strings with the QYS!

After an hour or so, I started to teach Toni how to shoot, drilling in the basic safety requirements and showing her how it all works. In no time at all, she’d grasped the concepts of breathing and trigger control, and she even knew that she had to pull the lever back and remove the mag’ when one of the other lads on the range asked us to ‘go safe’ so he could walk downrange and put up some more paper targets.

At the end of our session, it was clear that we both loved shooting this rifle. It does exactly what you’d expect it to, but for those who like tinkering, you can tune this rifle without the need to take it apart – or break the law!
This is one of those rifles that I wish I’d had more time with, and if I had the money I could seriously see myself owning one. Maybe one day…. 

credit: Archant

Model: FX Impact M3
Manufacturer: FX Airguns
Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot
Max Fill Pressure: 250 bar
Cylinder Capacity: 480cc
Stock Material: Aluminium
Stock Type: Ambidextrous
Cocking: Lever action
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Calibres: .177, .22, .25, .30 and .35
Safety: Manual
Overall Length: 860mm (34in) inc. moderator
Barrel Length: 600mm (24in)
Magazine Capacity: 34 (.177)
Weight: 6.85lbs (3.1kg)
Shot Capacity: Around 700 (.177)
Variation (10 shots): 3fps
Average Energy: 11.3 ft.lbs.
Website: www.rangeandcountry.co.uk and www.fxairguns.com 
PRICE: From £1,839