by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FWB 124
This FWB 124 Deluxe is not the exact gun I’m writing about, but it is the same model.

Part 1

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • A question
  • Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
  • Tuned
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Trigger pull
  • Cocking effort
  • Other indicators
  • What does this mean?

A question

I’ll start today’s report with a question. If you buy a used airgun — something vintage like the FWB 124 I’m writing about today — who is to say it wasn’t tuned by somebody before you got it? In other words, should you tear into a vintage airgun before you test it to know where it is, in terms of performance?

I think I know what your answers will be when I ask the question that way. But have any of you ever jumped into a project like this with both feet, before you knew what was going on? Maybe you haven’t. I wish I could say the same. I have been impulsive in the past, and it’s not a trait I am proud of. But, rather than confess my personal sins to you, let me tell you what I have seen during my airgun writing career.

I have seen people buy a vintage airgun and have it shipped directly to an airgunsmith before they ever fired one shot out of it! In fact, one such gun was actually an FWB 124. The guy bought it at an airgun show and handed it to an airgunsmith who had a table there without firing one shot through that gun. I understand the convenience of not having to ship the gun one way, but what was he overlooking? Did the gun already have a drop-dead gorgeous tune that was being disregarded (and soon to be changed)?

I know of another case where a buyer bought a new breakbarrel and had the retailer drop-ship it to a tuner who he also told to remove six inches of barrel and re-crown the muzzle. That one had a funny follow-on. When the owner finally got the shortened airgun he complained that it took over 70 pounds of force to cock it. He then listed it on a sale website! So — maybe a dozen shots at most were fired through a completely remodeled (and wrecked) brand-new airgun!

I don’t want to do that with this rifle. Today’s test is therefore structured to tell me what, if anything, needs to be done to this airgun. If I discover it’s running sweetly, I’ll leave it alone. Let’s get started

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets

First up are Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets — the so-called Premier “Lites.” In a 124 I tuned these averaged 744 f.p.s.. I have no data on what this pellet will do in a new 124 because when I owned mine new 124 the Premiers were still 15+ years in the future.

In the test rifle Premier lites averaged 727 f.p.s. That’s a little slower than the tuned gun. Where it is compared to a new rifle I can’t say, but I think it’s pretty close.

The spread ranged from a low of 716 to a high of 737 f.p.s. That’s 21 f.p.s. difference. At the average velocity this pellet generates 9.27 foot-pounds. I would have expected 10.5 foot pounds or higher, so it’s a little off.

Tuned

Without question I know this rifle has been tuned. The first shot in this test told mne that, because a factory 124 buzzes a lot. This one is quiet. Looking through the cocking slot with a flashlight I can see grease on the mainspring and what looks like moly on the rear of the piston. Also, the trigger is breaking much lighter than a stock 124 trigger. I’ll say more about that in a bit.

RWS Hobby

In its day the 124 would have been tested with something light like the RWS Hobby pellet. Hobbys averaged 757 f.p.s. in the test gun. In a new 124 I would expect them to average close to 800 f.p.s.

The spread was from 735 to 773 f.p.s. — a total of 38 f.p.s. At the avewrage velocity the Hobby generates 8.91 foot-pounds. I would have expected slightly over 11.

JSB Exact RS

The final pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS. This pellet did not exist in the time the 124 was new, which is a shame because it seems so well-suited to it. These averaged 798 f.p.s. with a tight spread from 791 to 804 f.p.s. That’s just 13 f.p.s.

At the average velocity the RS pellet generates 10.37 foot-pounds. I imagine a stock 124 would get over 11 foot pounds.

Trigger pull

The 124 trigger is not a complex mechanism. It is not that adjustable and cannot be tuned too low without safety issues. My Queen Bee trigger released at one pounds, which is the best I’ve ever seen in about 25 124s. This trigger breaks at 1 lb 8 oz and is set to a single-stage pull. I find it useable but not as precise as some others like Rekords.

The safety operated perfectly during the test and this is often an issue with 124 triggers that have been “tuned.” Whoever did the work on this rifle knew what they were doing.

Cocking effort

A staock 124 cocked with 23-26 pounds of effort. Once broken in that might drop to just 20 pounds. The test rifle cocks with 18 pounds of effort, which means it has been correctly lubricated, plus the mainspring might be getting a little tired.

Other indicators

I am nearly certain the piston seal has been replaced. No original would have lasted so long. They will rot just sitting on a shelf!

The breech seal, which is a o-ring, appears new. I wouldn’t replace it.

The barrel pivot pin is slightly loose. Once the rifle is cocked the barrel will not remain in place at any angle.

What does this mean?

This rifle is in fine shape, but it is a little tired. It could stand a tune, though one is not required. And that answers the question I posed at the beginning. I don’t know what I will do yet, but my plan it to proceed to the accuracy test next.