by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FWB model 2 pistol
FWB model 2 target air pistol.

This report covers:

  • Affordable target pistol
  • The importance of a grip
  • A huge price gap
  • FWB Model 2
  • How I got this gun
  • Back to the gun
  • Sights
  • Trigger
  • Dry-fire device
  • Grips
  • Accuracy
  • More to come

Affordable target pistol

Today we begin a report on an air pistol — the FWB Model 2. It’s a 10-meter pistol that was made back in the 1980s. I’ll tell you all about it, but first I want to tell you that this series is not really just about this one pistol. It’s really a response to reader, Mitch, who asked me about any 10-meter target pistol I knew of for under a thousand dollars. Like many shooters, Mitch wants to try his hand at 10-meter shooting. He plans to purchase a Gamo Compact now, but in case he finds that he likes 10-meter he wanted to know if there was a better target pistol that he could afford.

He asked me about the Air Arms Alfa Proj, which looks like a 10-meter target pistol to the uninitiated. The Alfa Proj is an accurate pistol and it does have some of the characteristics of a 10-meter target pistol, but it lacks the adjustable grip, and that takes it out of contention for serious target work. It’s great for informal target practice, but you would be giving away too many points if you attempted to use it in a formal match. Allow me to explain.

The importance of a grip

A formal target match is 60 shots for a man. The grip is one of the most important parts of the gun because it locks the pistol in the hand the same way for every shot. You don’t hold the pistol — the pistol holds you! Until you compete, it’s difficult to understand why this is important, but a target shooter does not hold his gun with his muscles. If he tried to do that he would start shaking after 20 shots and his score would reflect it. The target shooter learns how to position his body so his skeleton supports the majority of the weight of the gun and also doesn’t allow it to be aimed very far from the center of the target. Your feet are positioned to orient your shooting arm and also to lock your upper body in position. When you stand correctly it is nearly impossible to shoot more than two inches to the right or left of the center of the bull. But up and down is a different story.

Up and down (whether the pellet hits high or low) is controlled by your upper body. And that is another skeleton triangulation thing. The shooting arm is extended like a girder and the pistol sits in the hand with the palm shelf holding it artificially high, so you have to lower the gun to get the correct sight picture. This is where the adjustable grip comes into play. If you didn’t have that grip, the gun would flop around in your hand and point anywhere it wanted — throwing off all the body positioning! See how important that grip is? The Compact has an adjustable grip. The Alfa Proj doesn’t.

To learn more about this process, read this report where I describe how to get into the correct shooting position. Also read this report, where the importance of the grip is explained. And finally, read this report where I show how it all comes together.

A huge price gap

There is a huge price gap between the Gamo Compact that is a very affordable target pistol you can experiment with and a serious competition pistol like the FWB P44. There isn’t much in-between. I have advised shooters to look at used target pistols when they want to move into the serious ranks and don’t want to spend the money.

Don’t get me wrong — a Feinwerkbau P44 is one of the finest target pistols there are and if I were still competing that’s what I would own. But in my case, I’m never going to compete again, so I don’t need the absolute best there is. And the gun will look at in this series is every bit as accurate as the P44 — it just lacks some of the more desirable features.

FWB Model 2

Before the model 2, FWB’s target pistols were all powered by spring pistons. The model 65 was first, followed by the slightly more serious model 80 that has a few more advanced features. The model 90 has an electronic trigger that makes it the high-water mark of FWB spring piston target pistols.

The model 2 we are looking at is a CO2 gun. It has a removable bulk tank underneath the barrel that holds enough gas for a full match and a lot more shooting besides. One drawback of these tanks is they don’t have a way of telling you when they are running out of gas like a compressed air tank does. With CO2 you are good until the moment the last liquid evaporates to gas. Then the internal pressure plummets. I once shot a score of 6 in a match because of this when my hold indicated a 10. Those 4 points moved me several places down in the match standings. I would have broken 540 that day if that hadn’t happened. And, on the way home from the match the transmission in my Chrysler minivan failed, forcing me to call a tow truck out to the freeway. I believe that was the last formal match I ever shot.

A second drawback to CO2 in a target pistol is temperature fluctuations that cause pressure changes. Since most matches are shot inside heated spaces, that isn’t as much of a drawback as not knowing what pressure is in the gun, but it is worth noting.

How I got this gun

I will continue the description in a moment, but since Mitch asked about it, I want to tell you how I came to be the owner.

A little more than two months ago someone on the blog asked where to find a good affordable  10-meter target pistol. Maybe it was Mitch — I don’t remember. I said then what I’m saying now — there are no world-class 10-meter target pistols on the new gun market. But if you are willing to buy used, you can often find one or more for sale. I actually located this pistol on the American Airguns classified ads website the same day and told the reader about it. It was advertised for $475, shipped, and came with the case, two CO2 tanks, the fill adapter, most of the tools, two separate weights, a degasser and manual. The seller, Carel, said the gun was in good working condition. Well, buying used over the internet brought up a lot of discussion on the blog, and the fellow who asked the question decided not to buy. But I thought the price was very reasonable and since I no longer had a world-class pistol, I thought I would buy it myself.

Carel lives in the Netherlands, so I had to find a way to send money to him. He takes Paypal, but my Paypal account is messed up and Paypal won’t allow me to change it. I had to find another way. I ended up sending a wire transfer that took me an extra 30 minutes at the bank to process. Also I had to pay money for the transfer, but in the end I got an FWB target pistol for just under $500.

The gun arrived three weeks later and was everything Carel had said. It was packaged extremely well and nothing was damaged. I unwrapped it and began shooting. If you have been following my reports about 10-meter air pistols you know that when I say shooting I mean dry-firing. I put a black target paster on the wall in the hall outside my office and practiced daily for awhile. Then I stopped and put the gun away until now. I planned on this report, because I get the same question about where to find target pistols all the time.

Back to the gun

I had never seen an FWB model 2 before, but I have shot an FWB model C20, which is one generation newer. It was as accurate as any other FWB pistol and I liked the grips. It was the CO2 that put me off, but this time I let the cost of the gun override the other issues.

The model 2 is heavy by today’s standards. It weighs 1105 grams or 2 lbs. 7 oz. These days shooters seem to want air pistols that weigh around 1000 grams or less. I like a heavier pistol and find this one to be about right for my tastes. It does come with three weights that can be added to the end of the gas reservoir — 40-gram, 20-gram and 6-gram. My gun only had the 40-gram and 6-gram weights when I got it, but that’s okay. I’m not using them at present.

Sights

The sights are adjustable for windage, elevation and also for the width of the rear notch. There are 5 different rear notches, and each have a different range of width adjustability. The pistol comes with one that adjusts 3.0 to 3.8 mm. There are also 8 different front sight blade widths. A 3.8 mm blade comes standard with the gun. The point is — the sights can be set up to please a wide range of target shooters. Usually the sharper your eyes are the narrower the rear sight notch can be.

FWB model 2 pistol rear sight
The rear sight adjusts in both directions, plus the notch opens and closes within a range.

Trigger

If there is one constant, it is that an FWB target trigger is wonderful! The trigger on this pistol adjusts for the length and weight of the pull, the length of stage one, overtravel and the position of the trigger blade. What the pistol lacks is the ability to load most of the trigger pull weight into stage one, which most shooters do these days. If you can live without that, this trigger is as fine as they come.

I found the trigger breaking consistently at 438 grams, which is shy of the 500-gram match minimum. Every trigger is tested before a match starts. The match director will cock your gun then pick up a 500-gram weight with the trigger, so you have to have it adjusted correctly. The overtravel was also adjusted incorrectly and the trigger blade still had room to move after the sear released. Those two things tell me that the last person to shoot this pistol was not a 10-meter competitor. They would have adjusted it to break at 510 grams, just to be safe.

I adjusted the trigger to break at 516 grams and I adjusted the overtravel so there is no felt movement after the trigger breaks. Both adjustments were easy to make and both demonstrated a lot of control over the trigger. There are now about 440 grams in stage one, which means I should be able to use the trigger and not lose any points.

Dry-fire device

Like all target pistols worth their salt, the model 2 is equipped for dry fire. Most of the shooting should be done that way, if you are planning on competing. A minimum of 150 good dry shots per day and maybe one or two 60-shot matches with pellets each week. That’s 1,050 shots dry-fire each week and 120 shots live, or 8.75 to 1.

Dry firing trains your trigger finger to respond to the commands of your brain when the sight picture appears right. As long as you concentrate on the front sight post and let everything else blur a bit, it will only take a few weeks of training before this starts happening — perhaps as little as one month.

To operate in the dry-fire mode, press a button on the left side of the frame beneath the loading trough to the right. Then cock the gun for each shot in the normal way — by raising the lever on the left side of the action. Lower it as if loading a pellet, and the trigger is ready to go. There should be no felt difference between dry fire and shooting live — and the owner’s manual claims there isn’t. When you want to shoot pellets, press the button to the left and the gun is back to firing.

FWB model 2 dry fire
When the button is out on the right, the gun is in the dry-fire mode.

FWB model 2 pistol cocked
Raise the lever to withdraw the bolt and cock the action.

Grips

Today’s FWB pistols have grips that are designed by Cesare Morini. But the model 2 doesn’t seem to have them. The grip is nice and hand-filling like Morini’s, but it’s smooth wood at the palm, where Morini would make it rough.

FWB model 2 pistol grip
The grip is nice, but I don’t think it was designed by Morini.

The shelf at the bottom adjusts up and down to accommodate a range of hand sizes. And these grips come in sizes. There is at least a small, a medium and a large. My gun has the number 1 on the bottom of the grips, which I assume relates to the size.

Accuracy

The owner’s manual has a test target pasted inside. It’s 5 shots at 10 meters, hand-held and rested. My target measures 0.04-inches between centers, which is the advertised accuracy of the model.

FWB model 2 pistol test group
That is a small 5-shot group. It measures 0.04-inches at 10 meters. Pellet is unknown.

More to come

There is a lot more to come. This pistol is bulk-filled, so I will describe that process for you. I will test the velocity and also show how the velocity can be adjusted. And finally we will look at the accuracy. Of course the test target shows that already, but I’m taking about what a mortal might be able to do. This should be an interesting report for many of you, based on the number of times I have addressed this subject.