The Crown from FX Airguns of Sweden isn’t a rifle, so much as a configurable shooting system, where, in addition to the height and horizontal alignment adjustments available from the stock’s cheek piece, and more of the same in the vertical plane from the butt pad, there’s a perfectly tuneable, match-style trigger. These features are important, especially when you take gun fit as seriously as you should, but I’m obliged to concede that, for once, they take a back seat compared to what else the FX Crown has up its sleeve.
That sleeve not only shrouds the rifle’s fully-floating – fixed at the breech only - barrel it also covers an entire interchangeable bore and pellet probe system that can accommodate .177, .22, .25 and .30 calibres within the same action. Swapping barrels is a matter of loosening the twin fixing screws, as shown in the instructions, then sliding out the entire barrel assembly, sleeve and all, before replacing it with a different calibre barrel. The pellet probe is then swapped over and the rifle is a magazine change away from being ready to dial into its new calibre.
Welcome to the Smooth-twist X barrel, which is the very latest progression of the Smoothtwist concept and while its unique ‘rifling’ is applied from outside the bore in a similar manner to the original method, the ‘X’ process is different and the rifling is present throughout the entire length of the bore.
That’s about all I can tell you about the generation X version of Smooth-Twist, other than FX Airguns’ owner and genius-inresidence, Fredrik Axelsson, has also developed various twist rates for it and these are matched to a selection of the bestperforming pellets available. The result of all this barrel technology is an ability not only to change calibres to suit the situation and preference, the Crown owner can also mix and match the rifle’s bore to suit a particular pellet. Oh, but there’s so much more on offer, here.
Once you’ve decided on the calibre you prefer, a further hat-trick of hi-tech options offer more control over this rifle’s performance than I’ve ever encountered on any sporter. Please turn your attention to the twin dials on the left-hand side of the Crown’s breech block. The forward dial provides calibre-specific settings for optimum airflow, plus a universal ‘LOW’ setting for training purposes. With those essentials established, the rear dial controls the tension of the internal hammer spring, and thereby governs how hard the Crown’s striker impacts the regulator’s air-release mechanism, and in turn, how much air is delivered for each shot. This governs the muzzle energy and by now it should be pretty obvious that this rifle’s main market will be UK airgunners with firearms certificates, and the overseas market, although there’s definitely a place for the Crown in the wide world of 11-plus performance. Before we explore the potential application of this technology in a sub-12 ft.lbs. format, there’s another major adjustment to be considered.
REGULATING THE REGULATOR
The FX Crown is a fully-regulated rifle, in that each shot is powered by a precisely metered ‘pulse’ of air, drawn from the main supply. Thus, if you’re going to change the energy
output of this rifle, you’ll need to change the setting on its regulator. This is a simple process but the instructions provided must be followed to the letter. I cannot stress too strongly – this is NOT a rifle for those who prefer to tinker first and read the manual when they get in trouble. If you tweak the Crown’s reg’ the wrong way, you could seriously damage it, and I promise you the technicians at FX will know exactly what you’ve done and your warranty will be in dire peril. Do not, not even once, attempt to do anything with this rifle before you study its manual. You have been warned.
Once you’ve absorbed the correct procedure, adjusting the Crown’s regulator pressure takes less than two minutes, and even I can do it with no bother at all. This particular reg’ can be set to operate at pressures from 55 bar to 150, according to your needs and at which energy setting your chosen pellets prefer.
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
Now all you have to do is decide if you want the adjustable-volume barrel shroud moderator extended, or not. Yes, really. The test rifle was a .177 calibre, sub-12 model and I honestly couldn’t detect that much difference in muzzle noise wherever I set the shroud, but I’m sure that difference would be more marked in the Crown’s high-power modes. Besides, once I’d explored all of the features you’ve just read about, I was yearning for the simple life and just wanted to load up the rifle’s 21-shot magazine and get some shooting done.
THOSE MAIN FEATURES
As is usual these days, the Crown’s laminated, ambidextrous, thumbhole stock is supplied by Italian specialists, Minelli to the specifications provided by FX Airguns. In addition to the adjustable options already mentioned, this stock offers a ‘thumb up’ position for the trigger hand, and that’s something I believe greatly assists trigger control. This trigger is simply superb, with micro-tweaks available for weight of pull and length of first stage. The grub screws that transmit these adjustments are a bit awkward to access and you might wish to remove the stock before doing so, but however you do it, please take the time to get this trigger absolutely as you want it, and that very much includes the position of the trigger shoe. At this level of performance, and let’s face it, cost, shot-release should be almost a subliminal process, rather than a deliberate muscular action, and if you think that sounds poncy, then you’re not yet cruising at the right mental altitude. This FX Crown demands your full attention, from initial set-up of stock and action, through optimum pellet selection, to your duty to get yourself into the best shooting form of your life to make the most of what’s on offer here.
A detachable, 480cc, carbon-fibre buddy bottle houses the Crown’s air supply and each 250 bar (3,600 p.s.i.) charge will power over 400 shots at the .177 test rifle’s 11.6 ft.lbs., or over 450 shots at similar power in .22. With the Crown’s action cranked to the max, suitably ticketed airgunners can confidently expect muzzle energies of 30 ft.lbs. in .22, rising to 45 in .25, and a robust 82 in .30 calibre. I’ll get the full output spec’, plus the answers to any questions arising from this initial test, directly from Fredrik Axelsson when I catch up with him at this year’s IWA show in Nuremberg, and these will be reported in my follow-up test.
Meanwhile, I’ll just mention the easy-action sidelever cocking and that high-capacity, removable rotary magazine, along with a nod toward the Crown’s snap-fit charging connector and the twin gauges that display the working pressure of the regulator and the static pressure inside the buddy bottle. Right, let’s get the Crown to the shoulder, where we’ll discover what I believe is its finest feature by far.
The Crown from FX Airguns. Not so much a rifle, as a whole range of high-performance opportunities.
A full 21, .177 pellets, loaded and ready to go, but would a lower capacity magazine be useful?
Handling and balance is, in my view, the Crown’s finest feature.