FAS 6004 Part 1
Chiappa’s Single Shot Pneumatic Target Pistol
By Dennis Adler
The combining of FAS design with Chiappa’s high-tech manufacturing has produced an entry-level 10 Meter single shot pneumatic competition pistol at a price that is competitive with models like the Weihrauch HW75 and Beeman P1. The FAS 6004 has an MSRP of $470.
Chiappa is best known for manufacturing some of the finest Old West rifles and shotguns in the world, including stunningly authentic reproductions of famous 19th century Winchester lever action models like the 1892 rifle and 1887 shotgun. What few people recognize Chiappa for is building some excellent air pistols as well, including the FAS 6004. This is a mid-priced, single shot pneumatic target pistol that falls into the entry-level 10 meter competition pistol classification.
A little Chiappa back story
Over the last 20 years I have had a working relationship with Chiappa as a gun writer and on occasion as a design consultant for some of their western shotguns and 1892 lever action models. Chiappa also builds early 19th century percussion lock, single shot pistols like the Napoleon Le Page, one of their most famous black powder models. That’s the gun that introduced me to Armi Sport Chiappa back in 1997 when I visited the factory in Brescia, Italy, to see how the Le Page and other Chiappa models were manufactured. This was for a book I was writing on black powder pistols for Blue Book Publications, and that visit was the beginning of a long relationship with Rino Chiappa and his wife Susanna.
The cut down Winchester Model 1892s used for the TV series “Wanted Dead or Alive” were original 1892 Winchesters modified by famed artist, knife and gunmaker Kenny Von Dutch Howard, at a cost of $1,100 for the first gun used in 1958, when Josh Randall (Steve McQueen) first appeared on the TV series “Trackdown” (1957-1959) starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman. The episode was titled, “The Bounty Hunter,” (aired on March 7, 1958), and introduced McQueen’s character. It was so well received by TV audiences that CBS decided to spin off another series with McQueen the following September. The rest is television history. Von Dutch built three different versions of the “Mare’s Laig” the third with an octagonal barrel. This is the model I worked on with Chiappa researching the design. Introduced in 2016, it is the most accurately reproduced copy of McQueen’s guns. This is the version he used in promotional photos, but it was never seen in the show.
Since the late 1980s they have been running the family business, founded in 1958 by Rino’s father Oscar, (who also made air pistols). While not one of the largest armsmakers in Italy, Chiappa is renowned for its quality, particularly in the manufacturing of historic 19th century black powder rifles and pistols, and centerfire Sharps, Spencer, and Winchester-based longarms. Like everything Rino does (including designing his own unique revolvers, named the Rhino), the FAS 6004 is precision-built.
The elegant styling of the FAS pistol shows in the tapered and grooved slide. The anti-glare matte black finish is smooth and speaks to the quality of the Chiappa model’s construction.
The FAS 6004 back story
Aside from airguns made by his father in the 1950s, Rino Chiappa began building pellet-firing air pistols and air rifles about a decade ago and the company currently offers the precharged pneumatic FAS AR611 Sporter air rifle in 4.5mm and 5.5mm (.177 and .22 caliber) and a 10-meter competition version; their Beretta 92-style pellet model with rotary pellet magazine and twin 12 gr. CO2 power magazine, and three variations of the FAS 6004, with ambidextrous walnut pistol grip (shown), and right hand or left hand Match walnut competition grips.
The standard model has an ambidextrous walnut competition grip that is well contoured for the average hand with an integral palm rest, finger grip stippling, thumb rest and beavertail support.
FAS, the abbreviation for Fabbrica Armi Sportive is a well-established Italian manufacturer of both competition pistols (.22 rimfire) and airguns dating back to the 1970s. Established in Milan, by Massimo Mencarelli, the company gained fame with precharged pneumatic competition air pistols like the FAS 609 (introduced in 1997), as well as Olympic championship winning .22 rimfire models. The single stroke pneumatic FAS 6004, built by Chiappa, evolved from the FAS 400 and 604 Standard and 604 Match pistols, which were almost entirely hand made at FAS.
The FAS 6004 uses a quick release for opening the action, pressing the lever inward allows the slide to be pulled open and rotated upward. The rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation and windage.
Chiappa was brought in about four years ago to put the FAS Domino AS 604 design into mass production (as the 6004), while retaining the quality characteristics of the original FAS models. The Chiappa FAS 6004 offers the most features in its price and entry-level competition class of any comparable air pistol. (Chiappa also manufactures the FAS 6007 semi-auto .22 Long Rifle competition model designed for ISSF Standard and Automatic Pistol competitions).
From the right side the perfectly ambidextrous contours of the walnut pistol grip can be seen. The design of the slide is stylishly tapered to give the pistol the same look as the FAS Domino AS 604. The 6004 is also built with left-hand or right-hand adjustable competition grips.
The 6004’s construction is almost entirely carbon steel, thus it has significant weight in the hand at 33.5 ounces, with a 7.5 inch barrel that is precision button rifled in the Chiappa manufacturing tradition. The stainless steel pneumatic air piston used in the 6004 is charged by an over-lever action (the slide) which uses a very easy locking and release mechanism on the left side. One of the most impressive features of the FAS design is the amount of effort required to close the slide and charge the piston; less than any other single stroke pneumatic in its class. It is also the only pistol of this design to have the opening of the air valve located perfectly in line with the barrel, and this means that “barrel time” (the travel time of the pellet in the barrel), is reduced to a minimum, while the yield of air pressure is maximized. The result is 400 fps (factory rated) with a shorter time to load and fire (less effort = less time).
The effort to charge the piston is lighter than any other single stroke pneumatic in the Chiappa’s class, which makes loading faster. The FAS 6004 is factory rated at 400 fps. For the European market that is about 7 Joules of muzzle energy (you sometimes see this on a gummed label attached to the frame or slide on imported air pistols). The threshold which distinguishes “low-powered” airguns from “high-powered” airguns is 7.5 Joules, above which in most European countries licenses and permits are required for “high-powered” air pistol ownership.
The FAS 6004’s factory set two-stage trigger (which is fully adjustable for trigger position, pivot point, pull weight and break between first and second stages) is feather light, felt recoil is non existent and the noise level very low. The Chiappa FAS 6004 gives shooters custom adjustments, no distractions and absolute handling ease. And here is one more little point to make this air pistol all the more desirable; the FAS 6004 is the platform for Sig Sauer’s new Super Target model, which will also be built by Chiappa.
The barrel breech is well exposed by the contours of the FAS 6004 slide making it easier to insert the 4.5mm pellet (shown inserted into the barrel).
In Part 2 we will look at the fine details of the FAS 6004’s construction, ambidextrous grip design, ease of loading, and take a closer look at the adjustable trigger design.