|Prairie Dogs & The FX Royale .25:
Return to Kansas! Part II: In the Field
A year later I return to the Hacher Cattle ranch in Syracuse KS for a praire dog shoot with my son. Our focus was to put the FX Royale through it's paces in the field!
| One the following day I used the Royale and shot about the same number, with my longest shot 150 yards. I had a lot less wind on this day, and really focused on some long range shots. Using my range finder in conjunction with the mil-dots on the scope, which had been carefully mapped and a cheat sheet for quick field reference, I was dialed in for the long distance work. It was very impressive how consistently I could connect when reaching way out there. This gun has the power to knock these rodents on their tails at that distance if you can hit your target.
|James using the range finder to set up his shot. It was his first time with the .25 caliber air rifle and it took him a few shots to work out the trajectory, but once he did he was a prairie dogs worst nightmare. At one set he was shooting straight ahead, turning to his right and shooting again, then to his left, then back straight ahead. They were popping up and down around us like one of those arcade games!|
| One take away from this hunt is that guns with integrated high capacity air bottles are great for shooting in target rich environments, a tank last all day and we never had to hike back to the car for a refill! Another was that even though there is a bit more of a trajectory issue to work out with the .25 caliber, optimizing long range shooting by using a range finder in conjunction with the scopes mil dots, practicing on the range and writing up a cheat sheet for field reference is a great help in achieving good results.
As far as the gun; in the field it was very ergonomics to shoot offhand, sitting, prone, rested off the knee, over a pack or off sticks. The thumbhole stock allowed a good grip that comfortably rested the thumb while giving good access to the gloved trigger finger. The trigger is crisp and clean with an excellent tactile response; it was set up light but presented no difficulty when shooting with gloves on. The gun could be cycled easily without taking my eyes off the target which helped when taking follow up shots while figuring out the wind. The magazine cycled perfectly; with no malfunctions
|Getting There From Denver|
|Last time I was out at the ranch it took me 18 hours to drive from my home in Indiana. This time I approached from Denver, and the drive was closer to 4 hours. It's a nice drive on state highways that lets you see the Colorado flat lands and small town USA along the way. We also got to see plenty of mule deer and loads of pronghorn . Drive in and stay at the Syracuse Inn when you get there.|
The JSB line of pellets are a tried and true favorite of mine; they are well made, uninform, and are digested well by the majority of my guns. The .25 caliber Kings are 25.4 grain round nose Diabolo style pellets that are stable and provide great terminal performance.
|I had been sent the FX Royale to do some shooting with, and had spent a couples weeks on the range printing groups. The gun had impressed me with its accuracy, consistency, power, high shot count and ergonomic design. But what I really wanted to do was get the Royale out in the field for some hunting! I wanted a target rich environment where I could get the experience that only comes with a lot of shooting. And to my way of thinking, the place where you get this in spades is chasing prairie dogs somewhere on the high plains!
My son (James) was off on summer break before his final year of undergrad studies at UC Denver, and we decided it would be fun to hook up for a short prairie dog shoot before the new semester started. I flew out to Denver with a couple of rifles, but the FX Royale was the gun we intended to focus on. I carried a yoke from one of my old SCUBA type setups and had reserved a filled tank from a local dive shop. We picked up the tank and drove about four hours to the Hatcher Cattle Ranch in Kansas, one of my favorite places to shoot prairie dogs!
The first day found us in light to moderate gusting winds and warm sunny weather. There were lots of dogs, not as many as previous years, but still decent populations. My son used the Royale on the first day and anchored about 40 PDs out to a hundred yards. It took him awhile to figure out the trajectory of the .25 caliber (he generally shoots a .22 Falcon), but once he gat dialed in he was deadly.
The way we hunted was to get out of the car and hike out to an area where we saw dogs or at least lots of mounds, and sit down quietly for a wait. Usually after a few minutes they’d start popping up and barking. It was helpful to scan the area with binoculars looking for the source of the alarm call, often you’d see the head raise up just far enough above the mound for the dog to look over top …. And provide a challenging target. The winds were gusting, and most shots were kept inside of 75 yards, but on a couple of shots between blows, James reached out over a hundred to drop a rodent or two, and the gun loaded with the JSB Kings did a number on them.
| noted (have about 2500 rounds through it to date). The shroud is quite effective on this gun, it is one of the quieter PCPs and I am convinced this is a benefit when prairie dog shooting, they seem to come back out more quickly and stand around longer than when they here the bark of an unsuppressed gun.
Was there anything I didn’t like about the gun? Nothing major, this was a loaner gun and I would have preferred having a sling installed. It would have made carrying on our long hikes a bit easier. The solution is simple, the forestock shelf on this synthetic stock appears more than solid enough to mount a swivel stud, and that’s exactly what I would do, The other thing I wasn’t crazy about was the convoluted approach required to load the magazine, but this is a very minor point. I think that if this was my only gun or one that I used regularly, it wouldn’t be an issue at all.
But after getting to use this gun on a prairie dog shoot I have to say it is a fine hunting rifle. It has everything going for it; accuracy, power, high shot count, quiet, a great trigger, a great feel on the shoulder, and excellent craftsmanship. I am going to use this gun on a few squirrel hunts then go out after some larger quarry with it this season before shipping it back to Airgun of Arizona (thanks for the loan guys!). I get a lot of guns coming and going, and this is one of those I hate to let go! If you are looking for an outstanding hunting gun that will be a standout performer in the field, you should take a look at this one.
|Lining up a shot at 120 yards off Gorilla sticks, another dog drops to the Royale. When the winds were working with us, this gun could consistantly reach out over 100 yards to anchor these prolific rodents. It was nice knowing that once the air reservoir was filled, we were good for a day of shooting!|