by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- I love FWB target pistols
- Right from the start
- The cost
- The grip
- Dry fire
- Rear sight
- Front sight
- Anti-recoil mechanism
- Fill pressure and shot count
- Other stuff
- Evaluation so far
Today is very special. I just received the FWB P44 10-meter target pistol for testing. Veteran readers know I already tested the Morini 162MI 10-meter target pistol in February and March of this year, and this is going to be not just a test of 2 top 10-meter target pistols — I’m also going to compare them for you. That’s something I don’t often do, but this opportunity is too great to pass up. That’s why I put those links at the top.
I love FWB target pistols
Let me state for the record that I love all FWB target pistols. I could never afford one when I competed, but they were the guns I aspired to. I always felt the combination of their superior triggers and grips would have added something to my score, maybe even boosting me into the top ranking. Of course we all think things like that, but every time I got to shoot an FWB pistol it shot as well as my Chameleon target pistol right off the bat. With familiarity I know my scores would have increased. So, I am biased toward FWB 10-meter pistols.
Right from the start
The moment I took the pistol case from the box I knew it was superior to the Morini. Instead of just a hard case with fitted foam, the FWB comes in a locking case! I doubt there is a huge cost difference between the two cases, as both are blow-molded plastic, but the FWB case is nicer.
On the minus side, the Morini comes with two removable air tanks, and the FWB only has one. Both the Morini tanks have pressure gauges on the end, and of course the FWB tank also has one.
Both guns come with test targets that show 5 shots at 10 meters from that gun. They are pasted into the owner’s manual and serial-numbered to the airgun. The group that came with this pistol measures 0.018-inches between centers, while the Morini test group measures 0.058-inches between centers. That difference is huge, but when you see the groups it doesn’t look like much. Suffice to say either pistol will shoot where it is aimed.
The last thing I will comment on before we look at the overall pistol is the grip. The FWB grip fits me like a glove! It fits so much better than the Morini grip, despite both grips being designed by Morini. At least I believe the FWB grips are designed by Morini. His trademark is not stamped on them anywhere, but they are the classic Morini shape.
The Morini 162 costs right at $1700 and the FWB P44 is listed for $1,766. Both are close in features and performance, and if you plan to spend this much money I would advise you get the one you want. I have never had a P44 in my hands until now, and I have never had any airgun that shot 5 pellets into less than 2 hundredths of an inch at 10 meters. So I think this one’s going to stay with me awhile. If you want it, watch for my estate sale.
Okay, let’s look at the design of the P44. It’s a 10-meter pistol, which means the trigger is highly adjustable for all things — pull weight, length of the first stage, overtravel and of course the position. You can also load a lot of the mandatory 500-gram weight into the first stage (which FWB calls the trigger slack). The second stage will then break with very little additional pressure. I will adjust the trigger to suit myself in part 2, where I will discuss what I do and show you.
The grip is also very adjustable, and I have found FWB grips on their precharged pistols to be the best I have ever encountered. The grips on my vintage FWB Model 2 10-meter CO2 pistol are crude by comparison, but Morini hadn’t perfected his design when that gun was made. The palm shelf moves up and down to accommodate hands of different sizes, though there are small, medium and large versions of this same grip available. So the adjustment is within the range for each grip size.
I like this palm shelf, because it digs into my wrist joint, forcing the pistol to be held with the muzzle elevated. I have to lock my wrist to get on target, which is exactly what I want!
Besides the palm shelf, the entire grip angle can be adjusted to force the wrist to lock when aiming. This is a huge advantage that really adds points to my score. The grip can also be swiveled side to side just a little. This also helps lock the wrist. The manual even explains what the adjustments do to the front sight, which is exactly what a competitor needs to know! I can’t wait!
A switch beneath the loading trough is pushed to the left to dry-fire the gun (The trigger works, but no air can come out) and to the right to shoot pellets. Most competitive shooters fire many times more shots dry than they shoot pellets. I have always given the ratio as 5:1. So a dry-fire capability is mandatory on a target gun, and this one works well.
The rear sight adjusts in both directions with instructions engraved on the sight. This sight uses German adjustments, with the word bei before the L and R. Think of that word meaning “too”, so if you are hitting the target too far to the right, adjust it in the bei R direction. This is backwards of a U.S. sight adjustment process, but it accomplishes the same thing. Target shooters are used to it, because most target airguns have German sights.
If you can’t adjust the rear sight high enough to force the wrist to lock when sighting, there is an additional adjustment screw for that. These Germans have thought of everything!
The rear notch is adjustable for width, as well. It will go as wide as 4.8mm, which is huge!
You can also move the rear sight 10 to 20 mm to the rear. This is an adjustment I’ve never seen, but I will play with it.
The front sight can be positioned at any one of three distances from the rear sight. This has the effect of making the front sight blade wider or narrower.
While looking at the front sight I noticed three holes on top of the barrel that obviously work to cancel muzzle flip They are in addition to the muzzle brake. This pistol is fantastic!
Ten-meter pistols are weighed in grams — not pounds. This one weighs 979 grams, which is 2.16 lbs. That’s light for me. I’m used to shooting pistols that weigh 1100 grams, though I haven’t shot in competition in many years. At any rate, the pistol comes with two 37-gram (1-1/4 oz.) weights that attach to the front of the receiver and lie parallel to the barrel. So the pistol can be increased to 1,053 grams. I’ll probably do that.
We say guns like this are recoilless, but in truth there is a wee bit of a rocket-like push when they fire. Most shooters will not notice it, but a 10-meter pistol shooter will pick up on it immediately, because the front sight will move when the gun fires. FWB has therefore installed an anti-recoil mechanism to counteract this tiny push. And, since this is a Feinwerkbau, that mechanism is adjustable! You have to love that level of attention to detail. It’s been years since I shot a P34 pistol that had this same anti-recoil mechanism, but as I recall, I could only tell the gun had fired by the sound of the shot.
Fill pressure and shot count
The P44 reservoir fills to 200 bar. Thank you, Feinwerkbau! No special exotic air source is required. You can fill from a hand pump that has a 200-bar adaptor or from a common scuba tank. If you have a carbon fiber tank you will get a lot more fills. And the manual says you can expect 160 shots per fill. I would advise anyone who competes to buy an extra tank and keep it filled, because you never know when you’re going to need it. But 160 shots will get you through two matches, including all the sighters you want.
Besides the weights, the gun comes with a 200-bar fill adaptor, a device for depressurizing the reservoir (useful to those who fly to matches), the owner’s manual, and a complete set of tools for making all the adjustments. It’s as compete a set as you could ask for, save the extra reservoir that is so necessary.
Evaluation so far
So far I love the P44 and I have yet to fill it with air and shoot it. Imagine what I will say when I do!