The FOXPRO Firestorm Digital Game Caller
This review will focus on the electronics and features of the Foxpro Firestorm and the stability of the unit. The first thing that was impressive to us was that this unit is made in the U.S.A. With so many of the electronic devices on the market today being made in foreign countries, we were pleased to review one that is made in America.
The Firestorm is equipped with dual cone speakers, which in themselves are not unusual. What is special is that the front speaker is a high efficiency horn with its maximum sensitivity at the higher frequencies of small animal distress sounds. As such, when you are using the sounds of rabbits, birds and canines, it is appropriate to use this speaker only and have the rear speaker turned off.
The rear speaker is designed to produce its maximum sensitivity for lower frequency sounds such as bear growls, mountain lion screams and other large mammals, including bull elk. As with most low frequency speakers, the volume will not be as loud, so we recommend that both speakers be turned on when using these calls. However, note that battery life is reduced when both speakers are turned on. With one speaker turned on, you can expect 6 – 15 hours of operating time, depending on the loudness of the sound. With both speakers on, operating time is approximately 3 – 10 hours. We found from trial and error that you rarely need to have the device turned up to full volume. The loud speakers and sound quality are that good. Besides, most animals hear a lot better than humans. In fact, if you make it too loud, it might spook a nearby animal.
If you determine that additional speakers are necessary, there are front and rear external speaker jacks. We would venture to guess that, for most hunters, these will not be necessary. However, if you encounter a situation where more volume is needed, say in the high Rockies for elk, we recommend an external speaker with an impedance rating of 8-ohms. The volume from the Firestorm may thereby be increased significantly. Pretty cool for a unit as small and compact as the Firestorm.
With respect to battery life, the Firestorm is available with rechargeable NiMH battery pack and a charger. You have the option of charging the batteries outside of the unit, or while they are installed in the unit via the charge jack. For those folks who plan to stay out all day, we would recommend buying a second pack of 8-NiMH batteries as a backup. Do not use alkaline batteries, as the current drain is too much for them. No matter what, DO NOT use the so-called Heavy Duty Zinc-Carbon batteries, as they leak; you may damage your unit.
If you are going out for a prolonged period, without access to electricity for recharging your batteries, Foxpro sells an external power adaptor for use with a standard 12-volt battery. DO NOT attempt to connect an external power source to the Firestorm without this unit, or you will fry the electronics. Doing so would be akin to hooking up a car battery to your laptop. If you wouldn’t do it with your laptop, don’t do it to the Firestorm. However, with a properly installed external power source you will obtain days of runtime on the unit, rather than hours. When using an external power source, be sure to follow the instructions and advisories in the Owner’s Manual to avoid damaging your unit.
You can select your sound and loudness directly on the Firestorm and set it next to you on a hunt, or use the TX9 Remote (included with the unit). The remote, which uses a standard 9-volt battery, allows you to select your sound, adjust the volume, mute the volume and/or recall previous sounds at the touch of a button. All the things you would expect from a remote device. However, the extra added features of the TX9 are what make it unique to Foxpro.
When the TX9 is turned on, the sound list comes up on the screen. Fifty sounds of excellent quality come standard with the unit, with the capability of storing an additional 150 (for a total of 200 sounds). We can’t imagine anyone who would need more.
One of the best features of the Firestorm is the Foxpro Programming Utility. The Firestorm has a built in USB 2.0 (USB B-type) port. This is the type port that many printers use. As such, any printer cable with a USB B-type connector on one end and a USB A-type connector on the other end will allow you to connect the Firestorm to your home computer. Your computer will recognize the Firestorm as an external device and display all of the recorded sounds and the Foxpro Utility. Simply drag the utility to your desktop and run. Once installed, you can load new sounds, directly from your computer.
The folks at Foxpro are to be commended on this utility, as well as the circuitry of their unit, as it will accept not only their .FXP proprietary sound files, but also MP3, .WAV, .OGG and .FLAC sound files. This means that a user can upload their own specialty sounds from their home computer into the Foxpro and be able to call them up at will. For those folks who don’t want to be bothered with recording their own sounds, Foxpro offers additional sound packages at reasonable prices. The following is a list of the standard sounds included in the Firestorm:
The TX9 allows you to have two preset sounds/volumes of your favorite sounds (P1/P2). Each preset provides the user with one-button access to your two favorite or most frequently used sounds. By using the Recall button, you can switch between the two modes. That is really useful on a turkey hunt. Of course, you have the Mute button, which allows you to turn the sound off and back on, as needed.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the Firestorm is the FOXBANG utility. When this is enabled via the TX9, your unit will automatically switch to your first preset sound (P1) when you discharge your gun. The sensitivity of the Firestorm can be adjusted so that FOXBANG will function with every caliber, from a .17 HMR up to magnum elk loads.
If you get the idea that we were impressed by this unit, you are correct. It is well made, easy to operate and carries a 5 year warranty. Given the features, construction and warranty, the Firestorm is well worth the MSRP of $419.95. What comes next for us? We plan on taking the Firestorm on our weekend coyote hunts in the coming months, as well as our spring turkey hunt. If we are fortunate enough to draw an elk tag, it will accompany us into the Gila Wilderness.
Copyright 2012 by Jim and Mary Clary and/or chuckhawks.com. All rights reserved.