Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 3
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, guest blogger Pete Zimmerman gives us his third and final report on the C-20 pistol…performance!
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by Pete Zimmerman
A C-20 costs well over $1,000 when I got mine, and its descendant, the P44, is close to twice the price today. For that money, you ought to get a gun that out-shoots your own skills but also one that makes it easy to shoot the best you can. Using a top match pistol, the shooter can’t complain that misses are the gun’s fault. The first few targets shot with such a gun provide a crash course in no-excuse humility.
The pistol promises that the pellet will go through the X-ring in the middle of the 10-ring if you deliver the perfect shot. Time after time. Of course, some guns prefer one brand, product line, weight or pellet head diameter better than others. And, some pellets are inconsistent in weight and balance coming out of the tin, so getting to Nirvana, where misses are only the fault of the shooter, may take a little effort.
To point out one thing, the 9 and 10 rings on an NRA or ISSF air pistol target are really quite forgiving. Any decent match pistol using any match pellet should result in a group smaller than the 10 ring from a bench or in the hands of a good marksman. Scott Pilkington, the moderator of the Target Talk forum says that it isn’t worth your time to test. I found out that it is.
For this article, I set up a portable Workmate tool kit and vise combination on top of my shooting table. I opened the vise jaws a bit and anchored the gun by putting the gas tank in the vise grooves. I protected the tank with a bit of old foam rubber. The pistol can still rotates around the long axis of the CO2 tank but can’t move up and down. Small rotations of the gun change the cant angle and the impact point, so I put a small spirit level across the action to check position. I made no attempt to aim the rig to line up the sights on the bull. The point was to shoot groups that hit a piece of target paper…somewhere. I moved the target, not the rig, when I changed the type of pellet.
For test rounds, I had a grab bag of miscellaneous pellets sitting around from three manufacturers: RWS, H&N, and Crosman.
Start with the top performer, and another one not so good:
A 5-round group using RWS R-10 pellets, and another with H&N Match 4.49mm pellets sold under the Pilkington house brand.
The heavy RWS R-10 Rifle pellets (0.53 grams) delivered not only a one-hole 5-shot group, but a near zero-jitter group extraordinarily close to the target sample delivered with the pistol. The hole was small enough that a pellet won’t fall through the hole. It’s almost exactly as good as the proof target that came with the gun. The 4.49mm-diameter H&N Match pellets were significantly worse, resulting in a fairly open one-hole group that looks like a two-hole-with-flier because I bumped the Workmate after the first shot and took 5 more shots at the new aim point. Forget the “flier”; the group is still far too large for this pistol.
Meisterkugeln rifle pellets tested against 4.50mm H&N Match Pellets. Victory to the RWS brand.
The R-10’s less expensive stable mate, the Meisterkugeln Rifle pellet, also delivered a single-hole group, almost as perfect as the R-10s. On the other hand, the Haendler and Nattermann Match pistol pellet with a 4.50mm diameter head resulted in a ragged single-hole group, indicating that the C-20 might just not like H&N ammunition in its barrel. Not shown is a test of R-10 pistol pellets, which were almost as good as the heavier R-10s. In the C-20, heavier is better.
I gave the H&N 4.49s a second try, and then got the day’s surprise when I shot some cheapie Crossman Copperheads.
I decided to give the 4.49mm H&Ns another try. After all, they shoot extremely well from my IZH-46M. No joy. A very ragged single-hole group, with a diameter fully 3x that of a pellet diameter. Then, I noticed in the bottom of my pellet drawer a plastic box with a hundred or so Crosman Copperhead pellets, picked up a year or two ago over a weekend when I was otherwise out of ammunition.
The five shots landed in a single-hole group no larger than 1.5x the diameter of a pellet. I’m impressed and surprised.
I don’t contend that another batch of those cheapie pellets would shoot the same as the few that I tested for this post. But what the heck, it’s a better 5-shot group than either size of H&N pellets delivered.
This round of testing is enough to convince me that with current production pellets, the C-20 likes the RWS brand a lot more than the competition, and that it prefers a heavy pellet to a lighter one. I’ll probably save some money by using Meisterkugeln for practice and R-10s for when I finally enter some matches.
One thing’s clear: my C-20 will out shoot me and might still be suitable for international-level competition as long as the temperature remains constant on the range. All those world-beating CO2 pistols? They didn’t turn into trash when the first PCP guns hit the market. Quite probably only the top few hundred shooters in the world will ever need a better weapon, even in competition.
I have concluded that my worst problem is that the C-20s grip doesn’t fit my hand well and allows the gun to shift right as it’s fired. A lot of putty didn’t cure it. I’ll be in Germany soon and will have Thomas Rink of Rink Formgriffe make me an absolutely custom grip from a casting of my hand. If I have the bread, I might let that be the butter on a new Steyr LP-10 Compact, which weighs almost 250gm less than the C-20. A savings of almost half a pound! That will be an advantage for my medically damaged right arm and shoulder muscles.