FWB 150: Part 2
by B.B. Pelletier
The FWB 150 is a classic target rifle from the past. It’s also the father of the FWB 300.
Today, I’ll get to play with an old classic. This is our second look at the FWB 150, so of course we’re looking at velocity. As I told you in Part 1, this rifle was rebuilt by Randy Bimrose, so we can expect it to perform like a new rifle.
The other day I was interviewing Robert Beeman for the May podcast, and I asked him which modern airgun was his favorite. He said he couldn’t pick just one, which makes him a true airgunner in my book, but the four guns he said he would not want to do without are the Beeman R1, the Beeman P1 pistol, the Beeman R7 that he liked to shoot just because it was so light and easy, and the FWB 300. When he talked about the 300, you could hear the smile in his voice. He went on and on about the recoilless sensation and the trigger that’s so light that you “think it off.” It was reassuring to hear a man who has owned most of the airguns in the world talk about the ones he didn’t want to part with — one of them being the offspring of today’s rifle.
Since the last report, I’ve attended the airgun show in Malvern, Arkansas, where this year Scott Pilkington brought dozens of target rifles that had been purchased from clubs. Among them were many FWB 300s and one or two 150s. The availability of an affordable version of this rifle or one much like it has never been better than right now.
The 150 isn’t really recoilless in the same sense that the RWS Diana model 54 Air King I reported on yesterday is not recoilless. The shooter doesn’t feel the recoil because the barreled action is separate from the stock and moves on rails under recoil that the shooter cannot feel. The FWB 150, being just a fraction as powerful as the Diana 54 moves very little. Because of this, we say these rifles are recoilless, but I want to differentiate this kind of recoilless operation from a true recoilless action, like a Diana 75, which uses the Giss contra-recoil dual piston system, or the Whiscombe’s dual opposing piston system — both really do not recoil at all.
The next observation is that this particular rifle has no buzz to it. Despite the 150’s reputation for being a bit buzzier than the 300S, which has dual counter-wound mainsprings, the rifle I’m testing today is very calm when it fires. Randy Bimrose did put a new mainspring in the gun, so maybe that’s what did it. Whatever the cause might be, I find this 150 quite smooth and calm to fire.
I tried to measure the trigger-pull for you, but my RCBS analog trigger-pull gauge doesn’t go that low. By interpolation, I can say that it’s around 6 oz., but that’s as close as I can get. It’s certainly very light. Now, on to today’s testing.
H&N Match Pistol
The first pellet tried was the H&N Match Pistol. This is a light pellet, weighing about 7.6 grains, so it’s no surprise that it averaged 615 f.p.s. That’s faster than a modern 10-meter rifle would shoot, but these old vintage springers always were the magnums of the competition-type rifles. The spread ranged from 613 to 620 f.p.s., so only seven f.p.s. for the whole string. That’s tight for a springer. These pellets fit the bore very well and felt like a pellet I should shoot for accuracy.
H&N Match Rifle
The next pellet I tried was the H&N Match Rifle pellet. They weigh about 8.2 grains and should be somewhat slower. In this rifle, they averaged 606 f.p.s. Sure, that’s slower, but not as much as I anticipated. They ranged from 598 to 610 f.p.s., so a total spread of just 12 f.p.s.
RWS R-10 Match Pistol
Next, I tried the RWS R-10 Match Pistol pellet, which weighs only 7 grains. They averaged 627 f.p.s. and went from a low of 621 to a high of 633 f.p.s. That’s another 12 foot-second spread.
The final pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby, which can usually be counted on to be the fastest lead pellet in any gun. They didn’t disappoint here, either, averaging 661 f.p.s., or 34 f.p.s. faster than the R-10 Match Pistol pellet of the same weight. These pellets ranged in speed from a low of 654 f.p.s. to a high of 668, so the total spread was 14 f.p.s.
I said at the beginning that the 150 should shoot like a new gun, having just been rebuilt. Well, the velocities I recorded certainly support that. While I know there are airgunners who look at velocity first when evaluating all airguns, the 150 isn’t one you want to do that with. It’s a target gun, pure and simple. It’s designed to stack them all in a tight little hole and nothing else. So anything beyond about 575 f.p.s. is wasted. However, the gun doesn’t suffer for it. It’s just as smooth and slick as can be and you don’t notice any drawbacks from the power.
The consistent velocity and smooth shooting behavior are both evidence that the rebuild was successful. That’s why I didn’t attempt it myself, even though the owner’s manual does give step-by-step instructions on how to dismantle the action.
We’ll take a look at accuracy next. Some time in the future, I’ll do a similar report on my FWB 300S and link back to this series for comparison. When all is said and done, I’ll link all the vintage 10-meter spring rifle tests so you can evaluate them together.