FX Dreamlite precharged air rifle: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- Unique features
- The manual is a problem
- Transfer port adjustment
- Fill probe
- Transfer port adjustment
- Keep the baby
- The rifle
- Free-floated barrel
- Smooth Twist barrel
- tock replacement
Today we begin looking at the FX-Dreamlite precharged air rifle. It’s been several years since I tested an FX rifle, and I’m curious to see what has changed. The last rifle I tested was very accurate.
The Dreamlite I am testing is a .177 at my request. The rifle also comes in .22 and .25 calibers, and the barrels can be swapped. So can the butts.
The Dreamlite is part of the FX Dreamline series that includes their lower-priced PCPs. I say they are priced lower, but we are still looking at $1,180 for the Dreamlite, so they aren’t cheap!
The Dreamlite comes with a bundle of desirable features that I’d like to mention first. It’s a repeater with a sidelever bolt action that’s very light and smooth to cock. The .177 I’m testing has a spring-loaded circular magazine that holds 21 rounds. I think that’s a record for this kind of magazine. In .22 caliber the mag holds 18 and in .25 it holds 16. I would think that should suffice for a day of hunting! Of course this mag does stick up high above the top of the receiver, so 2-piece scope rings are a must. And no, there are no open sights.
Oh, my gosh! The Dreamlite has a regulator they call the Adjustable Match Precision (AMP) externally adjustable regulator! You can also adjust the air transfer port. And, the striker/hammer spring tension is also adjustable. Best of all, everything adjusts externally! It sounds daunting, as in — what do I do first — but I’ll try to make sense of it for you as we go.
The manual is a problem
FX has put the instructions for all their PCPs into one manual — so it reads like the manual for a new smart TV — meaning nobody can understand it except some of the engineers and programmers who work for the manufacturer! The manual talks about arrows and reservoirs that attach to the butt — none of which the Dreamlite has! It reads like it was written by the marketing department rather than by someone from engineering. Here — take a look!
My official name for this picture is “huh?” I can figure out that I’m supposed to put the caliber of the rifle on the wheel next to the arrow on the receiver, but WHAT DOES IT DO??? Come on FX! The “manual” shows nothing like this!
Transfer port adjustment
The specs on the Pyramyd Air site tell me there is a 3-stage transfer port adjustment. There is nothing in the manual telling me what to do and I don’t see a knob on the rifle that says transfer port, but I finally figured out that the knob pictured above is the air transfer port adjustment. It’s something you need to know — so I just told you. I guess you turn the wheel and watch the chronograph. Remember this adjustment has to be balanced with the striker spring adjuster and the regulator pressure.
If the previous picture was “huh?”, this one has to be “huh? too”. I can’t tell what the wheel with the numbers and letters does! I guess when I missed that secret FX meeting I missed a lot. The large thumbscrew at the top right of the picture is the way to remove the buttstock.
I did some research on the internet and discovered that “huh? too” is actually the striker/hammer spring adjustment wheel — BUT — where is the reference mark for indexing it? What do I do, just turn it until I like the numbers coming off the chronograph?
And — which trigger is on the test rifle — the Standard, the Bobcat/Indy or the Wildcat? There are three shown in the manual. The Dreamlite is complex enough without a Chinese menu of instructions that may or may not apply! I’m going to have to extract what I can from it and write my own manual for the rifle.
After studying the “manual,” I think the Dreamlite has the Wildcat trigger. That’s based on comparing what’s on the rifle to the pictures in the manual.
I will say this — the Dreamlite trigger on the rifle I am testing is two-stage and absolutely delightful. Stage two is relatively crisp and light. I’ll have no problem doing my best with this trigger.
The Dreamlite has a reservoir under the barrel that holds 250cc. According to the engraving on the action, the rifle fills to a maximum of 230 bar, which is 3,336 psi. The externally adjustable regulator allows the shooter to adjust this down to a lower pressure that should give many consistent shots. And there is a gauge on the right side of the receiver that shows the pressure the reg is set for.
There is also a gauge on the end of the reservoir that tells you how much pressure is in the gun. Referring to both gauges gives a sense of how much air remains before the rifle drops off the regulator and your velocities start declining.
The fill probe is proprietary and does not have a male Foster adaptor on the other end, so you have to either have a dedicated air hose for this rifle or you have to change fill probes every time you want to use the rifle. I installed the probe on my tank and will leave it dedicated for the remainder of the test. In this respect, FX is five years behind the rest of the market. Even the Chinese have figured out that you put a male Foster fitting on the other end of the fill probe so everyone can attach their universal air hoses!
There is NO MENTION of the regulator or how to adjust it in the manual!! That is a serious flaw that I intend to correct as we go. This lack of basic information is a shame! Some websites say to adjust the reg with a 2mm Allen wrench — BUT WHERE IS THE SCREW TO ADJUST??? They might also mention that!
Keep the baby
Okay, the bathwater (FX manual) is bad. Don’t throw the baby (the Dreamlite rifle) out with it. I still think it’s a fine air rifle. Once I decode all the gobbledegook and we know how to adjust things, everything should be fine. And when I say “we,” I’m talking about all those who have bought this rifle and have gone on websites around the world, asking the same questions I am asking today.
Enough of the background — what do we have here? The FX Dreamlite is a repeating bolt-action rifle that’s reasonably lightweight. It weighs 5 lbs. 10 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest PCP rifles. Only the Gen 2 Fortitude, all of the AirForce Escape series (AirForce Escape, EscapeUL and Escape SS) and a few others are lighter.
The rifle is 42.5 inches long (I measured it) and the buttstock does come off, taking it down to just 32 inches. The rifle comes with a silencer installed and I agree with the Pyramyd Air rating of a sound level of 2. I had to dry-fire the rifle many times as I adjusted the regulator, which I had to do to know I had found the correct screw. I will describe how to adjust the reg in a future report — probably Part 2.
The Dreamlite gets up to 20 foot-pounds in .177 and more in the larger calibers, so it is a serious hunting rifle. We will explore more on that when we test velocity.
The shrouded barrel is free-floated. The shroud moves when touched, leading some to wonder if the rifle will hold its zero. I will check that as we go, but for now let’s assume it will because this rifle already has a reputation for being a tack-driver.
There is a DonnyFL silencer (that is what the manual calls it) on the end of the shroud, which is what keeps the rifle so quiet. I have read some people’s comments that the barrel is a “soda straw” tube, but that’s not true. The actual barrel on the test rifle measures 14.14mm outside diameter — anything but a soda straw. Oddly FX seems to call the true barrel a “liner” and the outside shroud the barrel. I guess that’s the way it looks to people and I won’t fight the trend.
Smooth Twist barrel
The Dreamlite rifle comes with a Smooth Twist X barrel. Most of the length of the barrel is smoothbore and the rifling is just near the end. I have read that it gets tremendous accuracy but is pellet-specific. I have no problem with that, as accuracy is all that really matters.
These barrels are designed to interchange, which makes the Dreamlite more than just a rifle — it’s a whole shooting system. In other words, you can change calibers. And that, I guess, is the reason for the confusing wording on the air transfer port selector knob — because the gun can be several calibers.
The fact that you can take the buttstock off is meaningless unless you know that other butts can take its place. Because you certainly would not want to shoot this as a pistol!
There is more to tell but this report is already getting too long. I really like the rifle I’m testing, but I think the documentation is beyond poor. Therefore, I plan to document the rifle as I go and people can refer to this series when they have a question about the rifle’s operation. I know I will.
I apologize for bashing the FX manual, but the last job I had in the Army was developing the user’s manuals for the XM1 tank. A piece of equipment can be state of the art, but until the user understands how to use it, it can have no positive impact.
I’m actually considering purchasing this rifle at the end of testing, so you know I am impressed. Can’t wait to see it in action!