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Education / Training 10-meter rifle – Part 3 The Olympic rifles

10-meter rifle – Part 3 The Olympic rifles

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 2/The budget rifles, continued

Collector alert!
Collectors, there is an estate sale going on right now on the internet. Many of the guns have already been sold, but there are still a few choice items left. Also, there’s a treasure trove of old airgun literature, including a rare first edition Beeman catalog. The site says estate auction, but what you do is make an offer to them. If they find it acceptable, they contact you, and you buy the gun or whatever.

Take this link to the estate sale.

There is more than what’s listed. All the rifles are listed, but there are a couple of air pistols and a lot more literature than what you see on the site. Be sure to use the scroll bar and to click on the other links on the left side of the page. The former owner passed away a few years ago and his brother is helping the widow sell the items. I’ve already had a transaction with them and everything went well. Be sure to ask about condition because the photos do not show detail.

The family is having more difficulties right now, so it may take a while for someone to get back to you. Just be patient.

The best of the best
Today, we’ll look at what many people believe to be the highest pinnacle in airgunning – the Olympic target rifle. When I got back into airgunning in 1976, these rifles were selling for $500-700. Today, they push $3,000.

There’s hope
Fortunately, for those who don’t have trust funds, there’s a dynamic in 10-meter rifles and pistols that exists nowhere else in airgunning – planned obsolescence! Every few years, some new technology comes along and carries the majority of world-class shooters along to the next level. Many of them are sponsored and don’t buy their guns to begin with; but once the movement starts, there’s no stopping it. What it leaves behind is a host of deeply discounted, slightly out-of-date rifles, any of which could still win gold. I’ll talk about used rifles in a different post, because today I want to concentrate on the state of the art.

Ergonomics – the top feature today
Without a doubt, the man-machine interface is what sets today’s 10-meter guns apart. Since the 1960s, these guns have been improving in this area, but in the late 1990s they underwent a total transformation. Nearly everything that can be adjusted on the guns is now movable so it can adapt to whatever body configuration and shooting style might be desired. The only area yet to be optimized is those shooters with disabilities, and that’s because each disability is unique. But, for able-bodied shooters, the new rifles offer near-perfect fit.


More adjustments than a Hollywood divorce! The new Feinwekbau 700 target rifle has it all. It’s a PCP with removable air cylinders and has FWB’s anti-recoil stabilization to cancel the tiny reaction when the pellet moves. However, as difficult as it is to believe when looking at this masterpiece, in 10 years it’ll be obsolete on the world stage.

A look at three of the numerous adjustments on the FWB 700 reveals the extent the designers went to to adapt this rifle to a shooter.
About 10 years ago, two top airgun makers pioneered a way of canceling the slight movement that’s transmitted when the gun fires. Newton’s third law of motion cannot be ignored, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Shooters call this recoil. The amount of recoil depends on the mass of the object being acted upon, and in a 10-meter target rifle, that’s a .177 caliber pellet weighing about 8.5 grains. That mass is accelerated to a given velocity by a certain amount of force. The rifle reacts to the movement of the pellet by moving in the opposite direction with the same force. The force that pushes an 8-grain pellet to 580 f.p.s. doesn’t do much when it encounters a rifle that weighs 75,600 grains. In fact, as far as most people are concerned, there’s no movement at all. To a person who can detect a movement as small as 0.01″ while looking through precision sights, the reactive motion is present and significant. So, something was done.

In one system, a small weight inside the gun’s action is pushed backwards with the same force that pushes the pellet forward. It travels for a short distance expending the minimal energy and the shooter never feels anything. I’ve shot rifles and pistols equipped with this technology, and the only clue you have that the gun fires is the sound it makes. There’s not so much as a pulse of feeling when the gun fires! It makes an IZH 46M feel like a .22 rimfire in comparison.

I would have guessed that sights had progressed as far as they could go back in the 1970s, but they’ve kept pace with the new guns. Sights don’t change as rapidly as rifles; they’re on an advancement schedule of every 10-15 years, as opposed to every 5-10 years. And, unlike the guns, they aren’t always abandoned when something new comes along. I have sight components, like a Gehman variable diopter and a set of graduated transparent front apertures, that I move from gun to gun. The Gehman design is over 40 years old, and the front apertures are at least 15 years old. Today, several front sights have the same feature by pressing an o-ring between two pieces of plexiglass. The o-ring fattens and thins based on the pressure.


For the past 40+ years, Gehmann has made this adjustable rear aperture for target rifles. It’s hard to make something like this more modern.

Graduated transparent front apertures allow for individual tastes and lighting changes.
Fill pressure
Walther rifles fill to 300 bar (4350 psi). All others that I’m aware of fill to 200 bar, which is more common worldwide. Walther gets more shots from this higher fill pressure, but the lack of fill equipment, especially in the U.S., limits shooters. The guns will function with a lower-pressure fill, but total shots are fewer.

Specifications of a top 10-meter rifle
A top 10-meter rifle today is extremely ergonomic, with an aluminum subframe to which everything is attached. It has stabilization in some form. It is a PCP.

Acceptable specifications for competition
You can compete without the stabilization and even without the ergonomics. You should use either compressed air or have a single-stroke pneumatic action. The sights must be world-class but do not have to be the latest models.

I sense you readers want to know more about these rifles. Please tell me in your remarks what it is you’d like to know. In the next installment, I’ll talk about things like triggers, power and how it has declined over the years, the progression of powerplants through time (1965 to now) and accuracy.

44 thoughts on “10-meter rifle – Part 3 The Olympic rifles”

  1. I like the idea of single stroke pneumatic target rifles. I guess that I’m a pumper at heart. I’d have an easier time convincing my wife that all I need is a rifle and not any extra accessories to get it going, like a pump or compressor.
    What are the ones that I should be looking for?

    Al in CT

  2. Al,

    They’re all good except the Gamo 126, which was also sold under the Daisy name. That one is weak and needs occasional rebuilding.

    The Walther LGR is the oldest, but the name Walther attracts buyers, so it may not be the cheapest. I’d look for an FWB 600/601/602 (the 603 is the current model. The Anschutz 2001 is another good one.


  3. I called airforce about the my handpump they said it was the gauge and just to ship it back to them they would fix it. I am going to call back later and arrange shipping it back.

  4. B.B.

    Are single strokes still competitive with PCPs at the world level? I thought the PCPs were universal. I’d like to hear anything you care to say about these rifles but mostly the trigger and accuracy, especially if these rifles really are more accurate than the best firearms. And perhaps some info on the income of the people who buy these rifles…. This isn’t the kind of sport you see in a Headstart program.


  5. Matt, I don’t think that the income itself is a reflection on what is needed to buy the guns themselves. That is to say that I’ve known people who were at the lower end of the income scale but who were at the top end of the shooting scale and they had the rifles and equipment to go along with it. If someone is a good enough shooter to be competitive they will seek out ways to afford the equipment, even if it isn’t on their main income. A $3000 rifle may seem like a lot of money to most people, but you will get a lifetime of use from that rifle, and that should be factored in.

  6. Matt61,

    Remember where I put the single-strokes? Not in the top category but in the acceptable category. You will still find singe-strokes competing even in the Olympics for a few more years. But the top shooters all shoot a PCP, because of the reduced effort they require. Consequently, you probably won’t see a single-stroke with all the ergonomics of a PCP, because the makers know the score.

    As for 10-meter rifles being more accurate than firearms, that simply isn’t true. They aren’t even the most accurate air rifles. Plenty of the top PCPs can defeat them at distances beyond 10 meters. They are just the best at what they do – which is making little holes at 33 feet.


  7. On the subject of the plastic front sight inserts, as shown on the blog in the circular set, they don’t look that difficult to make (I have a lathe and I’m cheap, having just spent $400 for a Diana 75 T-01).

    Any idea how thick the plastic is and what the angle of the bevelled (countersunk) hole is? I’m assuming 90 deg. as that would create a nice dark circle by reflecting the inside of the front sight tube, as a periscope/prism.


  8. B.B.,
    It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve certainly been appreciating all the good info.

    The ergonomic adjustments on these target rifles seem to tie in nicely with yesterday’s article on POI shift related to parallax. And parallax shift is something I still fight.
    There are a number of add-on gizmos for sale to make a gun fit the shooter better. Are there any that you might suggest as the first ones to try for bench rest shooting with a Diana 52? Maybe something to get the cheek weld under control, and hopefully without drilling holes into the stock?

    Or maybe some guidlines on how to tell if a stock fits you? I feel like the pull is too long for me shooting off hand, but is OK for bench. And my eye doesen’t fall naturally in line with the eyepiece. I don’t think you’ve done any blogs about this, and I’m at a loss.


  9. I wanted a set of the clear front inserts for my older hw 55 . I made a few myself but its a real pain.
    I found a gentleman named Neil Price in the UK who makes the inserts that fit any of the hw front sights. He sends you 10 in the sizes you specify. Neil Price is his name. Not sure of a web sight but I will list his e mail. His prices are also very reasonable. Neilwprice@aol.com

    Once you try these, its pretty tough to go back to the old metal style.

  10. B.B.,

    I would like to know more about the peep (diopter) sights , and how it looks through them.

    I have tried a diopter that sticks to your glasses via a suction cup, and it does wonders on your eyes ability to keep front/rear sights in focus.

  11. BB,

    I’d appreciate a walk-through of ergonomic and weight adjustments on the P700 rifle, perhaps from the standpoint of two different shooters with divergent physiques and, perhaps as a result, shooting styles.

    I don’t know how much variation there is in technique at the highest levels, but it would be interesting to find out that, too.

    I, too, am curious about how the sight pictures appear, if its not already planned.

  12. Nick,

    They should be easy to make. The outside diameter is 0.677″. The plastic is 0.083″ thick. The holes are in millimeters and range from 2.4 to 4.0 mm. The angle of the holes is steeper than any standard drill bit. Maybe an 80 degree angle, or so. That angle determines the thickness of the dark circle around the aperture, so cut it to suit yourself.

    And this is the best of all – I got both the Gehmann adjustable diopter and these front inserts with my last Diana 75 T01 target rifle!


  13. P_estbgone,

    I’m the worst guy to talk about rifle fit, because I test different rifles all the time. I have to adapt to them, so I don’t really have a rifle that fits me well.

    Also, the fit of a rifle on a bench is different than offhand. For offhand the best way to tell is to look at a distant target then throw the rifle up to your shoulder. If the sights are pretty close, the fit is probably right.

    I don’t really know how to best define a benchrest fit. I have so many different techniques that depend on what I’m shooting that I’m the wrong guy to comment.


  14. Cyber Skin and BG_Farmer,

    On the sight picture request, I will do it.

    On the weight distribution for two divergent shooters – yah, right! Weight setup is so far down in the noise that I wouldn’t know how to write about it. It’s like me telling you the proper way to shake hands. I’m still fooling around with the weight on my 10-meter pistol, so maybe this area is a blind spot for me.

    Now, as for shooting technique, since it’s at least 50 percent of the game, that’s worth discussing. Mindset is another 50 percent, and its the most important one – just like technique.


  15. I bought a used FWB600 last year. What a revelation! Such a piece of engineering! And the single stroke lever is low effort too. I’ll never tire of it. This topic is appreciated! – Gazza

  16. Hi BB!

    Jus a quick question…
    Got a Condor and still with questions about lubricated pellets!

    I read about PCPs don’t detonating unless petrol lubricants get inside the air tank (with catastrophic results), right? What about pellets lubricated with petrol-based oil? Is there a chance it may detonate inside the barrel or just if this oil gets inside the air tank?


  17. BB,
    Since I brought up the Diana 75, any idea where I can get a manual for one?

    You’re lucky you got the adjustable iris! It is just a wonderful rifle, isn’t it?


  18. Nick,

    Yes it is a great rifle. I had owned the model 10 pistol that got me started in 10-meter competition, so the rifle seemed to be a logical extension.

    Contact Umarex USA for a manual. They are also RWS Use and they sold this rifle in the U.S. for many years.


  19. Ok, I headed into the shop after lunch and it took me about 20 minutes to make an insert. Works great! I used 1/8″ thick lexan (all I had that was thin) and a 90 degree countersink, made about a 3.9mm aperture hole (my rifle came with a 3.5mm metal insert and it just seems to small). Snapped off a quick 5 shots to test and the grouping was way better than before. I put up details in my latest blog post.

  20. Hey B.B.

    I understand this varies rifle-to-rifle, but what is the most commone pellet used in the upper levels of 10 meter shooting? JSB’s? And as usual, great job on the blog.

    Thanks, Kyle.

  21. Kyle,

    Actually, the pellet choices vary a lot. JSBs are not among the leaders. Vogel is a goodie, and so is RWS and H&N.

    I used to shoot Chinese wadcutters that I bought in bulk from Compasseco. I had 40 tins when I was competing. Now I probably only have a few left.

    Like pellet lubes, target pellets are a serious decision.


  22. BB & all,

    I have a IZH 46M, and you’re telling me it has recoil? Compared to other CO2 and springers I can’t feel it.

    How about diopter sights for the 46? I think my eyesight would be better served with a diopter set up. Suggestions?

    BB, keep up the great work! Hunting, 10M, plinking – it’s all great to read at the end (or beginning) of a long day!

    Al Pellet

  23. Al,

    That was why I chose the IZH 46. Most people can’t feel; the recoil, but it is there. When you start concentrating on the front sight you’ll see the gun move when it fires.

    The diopter idea has been suggested many times, but nobody has made on that works.


  24. Hi BB,
    This is off topic, but it’s driving me crazy. I have a Diana 350 mag that about 3 months old. I have about 3,000-3,500 shots through it. When I shoot it in 65 to 80 degree weather in the SHADE I get pretty consistant chrony results of about 740fps(18.5 FPE) with 15.3gr Gamo Hunters. My first shots with the gun out of the box with the same pellet were approx 850fps(24.6 FPE). I have seen a gradual reduction in power over the months, but here is what confuses me- When I shoot on a warm 80 degree day in the SUN I get very inconsistant chrony numbers. Here’s a 30 shot string: 979,949,748,908,751,928,893,752,745,966,939,960,745,947,756,752,959,1021,980,1061,1036,941,911,820,832,1031,1019,926,831,818.
    There is no smoke on discharge or in the barrel after any shots. All shots are with the Gamo hunters, and the fastest one is 38FPE! If I’m in the shade, same day and time, the velocity drops back to the 740’s. Thanks for your help,
    Scott in Cali

  25. Scott,

    Boy, do I know your problem. I had the same thing happen indoors when I was testing for the R1 book. I was getting crazy numbers that I couldn’t publish.

    Scott, get those diffusers out of the Chrony box and attach them. They are there to block the sun. Skyscreens freak out when subjected to direct sunlight.


  26. ross, I do believe you are right about the expenses of top-flight equipment. If shooting is that central to your life, the finances take on a different significance, and if I had that kind of talent to develop, I would certainly make the investment. $3000 for a rifle still just astounds me, though….


  27. I find $3000 for rifle, which will last a lifetime…okay, two if you pass it down to a child, quite reasonable.
    Add up the ‘options’ on your last car. Probably at least 3 grande and the average person does it 4 or 5 time in a lifetime.
    I get a lot more enjoyment out of my air rifle than I did out of that moon-roof on my old Malibu LOL

  28. Why would JSBs be a very precise pellet but not be a top choice, and why would anybody shoot Chinese wadcutters???

    In the non recoil piece you mentioned the one technique but not the other, what is it?

  29. JSB,

    Please give yourself a handle so I can refer to you.

    JSBs are not known as TARGET pellets. As FIELD pellets they are the best in the world. In the same way, Corvettes do well as sports cars but not in monster truck rallies.

    And the Chinese pellets I mentioned are not the ones you can buy today. They were a special run of hand-selected pellets, like JSBs. And I am not a world-class competitor. I am a good regional competitor who falls short at the national level. And I shoot a CO2 target pistol that no self-respecting target shooter would choose.

    As for that “other technique,” help me out. Tell me where to look.


  30. Hey B.B.

    This is pertains to your link to the auction.

    Nice guns for sale, I think it was you who picked up wischo any particular reason? If you dont mind.

    Also any idea what a BSF S60 might be worth?

    Love your blog I have only been reading it for about 2 months and I have learned a ton Thanks


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