Punting with the FWB 124

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

FWB 124
Feinwerkbau 124.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The ship hit the sand!
  • Plan B
  • Plan C
  • Open sights
  • Getting ahead of myself
  • The test
  • RWS Superpoints
  • JSB Exact RS
  • RWS R10
  • What’s up with the lone “flyer”?
  • H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head
  • Discussion
  • The FWB 124
  • So what?
  • The big deal
  • Summary

Well, well. Sometimes the bear eats you! Today is one such day. I returned from my Sig trip last Thursday and wrote this report on Friday and Saturday. Everything that could go wrong did, giving me a lot to tell you about. And I have some exciting news to share today, as well.

The ship hit the sand!

I was going to test the Crosman 105 Target pistol for you today, but I couldn’t get it to hit the paper. Whoever guessed that it would shoot way low was spot-on. It shoots so low that I can’t get it up on paper, even using aim-off tricks (aiming at one thing to hit another). I have to work on the pistol before I can test it again.

Plan B

Plan B was to shoot the Crosman 102 at 25 yards. I did shoot five .22 caliber RWS Hobbys into a group, and I thought things were working well, but then Mr. Murphy showed up. The second pellet, a .22-caliber Meisterkugeln, jammed up the loading shuttle and stopped the test. I have to partially disassemble the rifle to clear that jam, and that’s going to take some time. So, on to plan C.

Plan C

If I had thought about it, Plan C was the way I should have gone from the beginning. I will tell you why in a bit. And, for our readers who aren’t familiar with American football, the word “punt” in today’s title means turning a potentially bad situation into a better one.

Plan C was to shoot the FWB 124 at 25 yards and see how it does. Veteran readers know that I have written more about the 124 than any other single subject in the 13-plus years this blog has been running, so this is nothing new. The 124 I’m writing about today is the one I bought from Pyramyd Air at the 2017 Findlay airgun show. They gave me a great price on a used rifle (the 124 hasn’t been made for a long time so they are all used) and I tested it for you last year. I am bringing it out today just to see where it is, because I have something coming up that I feel is closely related. That, and the fact that the first two airguns I tested both failed, pushed me into it.

Open sights

For some reason I thought I would test the 124 with the open sights it came with. I don’t normally do that at 25 yards, but I guess the 102 got me thinking that way. Also, there was no scope on the rifle and I was already several hours behind in my workday. Open sights were the way to go.

Getting ahead of myself

Tomorrow I will tell you that last week at Sig I got to shoot alongside Terry Doe. Terry is a former champion field target competitor, and I am a former down-in-the-weeds FT shooter on a good day. But, shooting on the same range with Terry while others were watching made me focus! When I try, I can sometimes rise to mediocre, and even as high as adequate, with luck.

Some of Terry’s pixie dust was apparently still on me for today’s test. I actually outshot myself from a year ago! Who says a cheap whine(r) doesn’t age well?

The test

I shot off a rest at 25 yards, using open sights. The rifle has been lube-tuned (see last year’s test) and the trigger adjusted to be light but not that definite on stage two. I shot 10 shots with each pellet. I also tried a couple pellets I have never tested in this rifle, just to mix things up a little.

I am using the artillery hold because the FWB 124 is known for being sensitive to hold. To shoot it well use a loose hold that allows the gun to move the way it wants to. My off hand was almost at the end of the cocking slot, by the forearm tip.

RWS Superpoints

First up were RWS Superpoints. Shot one hit the 10-ring, so I never looked through the spotting scope (Meopta 10X42 binoculars) again. After 10 shots I walked down to replace the target and was pleased to see a 0.984-inch group, with 9 of them in 0.628-inches. I was off to a good start and the sights seemed to be zeroed for this pellet.

Superpoint group
Ten RWS Superpoints went into 0.984-inches, with 9 in a very circular 0.628-inches at 25 yards.

JSB Exact RS

Next to be tested were 10 JSB Exact RS pellets. While I hadn’t shot Superpoints in this 124 before, I knew these JSBs were very accurate from the previous time I tested the rifle. Last year I put 10 of them into 0.889-inches at 25 yards with open sights. This time 10 went into 0.82-inches at the same distance. That’s pretty consistent for two tests done a year apart! This was the most accurate pellet of this test. And, once again, 9 pellets hung together in 0.703-inches.

JSB RS group
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets made this 0.82-inch group at 25 yards with 9 in 0.703-inches.

RWS R10

The next pellet I tested was the RWS R10 pistol target wadcutter. These loaded very tight in the 124’s breech and 10 made a group that measures 1.181-inches between centers. Nine of them are in 0.859-inches.

R10 Pistol group
At 25 yards ten RWS R10 Pistol pellets made a 1.181-inch group, with 9 in 0.859-inches.

What’s up with the lone “flyer”?

First off, in each of the three targets above that lone pellet is not a real flier. I am certain it’s either an aiming error or a holding error. I’m guessing the hold, because the 124 is well-known for being twitchy. Yes, I was wearing glasses to see the front sight clearly.

H&N Baracuda Match with 4.50mm head

For the final pellet I tried something very different — an H&N Baracuda Match with a 4.50mm head. Unfortunately these were not right for this rifle. Ten went into 2.302-inches at 25 yards. This time there was a central grouping of 6 shots, surrounded by 4 that were scattered. You could look at the central 6 and make up a lot of reasons why the other 4 are apart, but after the first three targets I think it’s clear that I’m shooting better than that and this just isn’t the right pellet for the rifle. Maybe a larger head size would work, but we won’t go there.

Baracuda Match group
Ten H&N Baracuda Match domes went into 2.302-inches at 25 yards. It’s not the pellet for this rifle.

Discussion

The 124 did pretty good in this test. But 124s almost always do. That’s one of the reasons they are a classic. Let’s take a look at some of the other reasons.

The FWB 124

The FWB 124 was the air rifle that started the velocity race, back in the early 1970s, when it was still designated the model 121. It was one of three air rifles that broke the 800 f.p.s. “barrier” back in the day. The other two were the Diana 45 and the BSF S55/60/70. But the FWB gained the greater public approval. Why?

It was easy to cock. Until then powerful air rifles required muscle to cock, but the 124 changed all that.

It was very accurate. The 124 was an is inherently more accurate than other competitors of the time.

So what?

Okay BB, we get it. The FWB 124 was a classic air rifle that most of us missed. We should have known better, but some of us weren’t even alive when it was available new. Others were not yet airgunners and some just were not prepared to spend the money to get one. Why are you telling us this?

I am telling you this because in 2018 the FWB 124 has been reborn. There is a breakbarrel air rifle about to hit the market that is powerful, accurate and comparatively easy to cock. And, this new air rifle also fixes all of the 124’s faults — not to mention the faults of every other breakbarrel that’s ever been made. Namely it’s smooth-shooting, has a great trigger and is not that sensitive to how it’s held.

The big deal

This new airgun is made right here in the US of A! I don’t mean “made” as in assembled from parts made other countries; I mean made as in created from raw and semi-finished materials — part by part.

Even the barrel? Yes — even the barrel. And the trigger? Yes, the trigger, too.

Summary

I told you at the start of today’s report that the FWB 124 was Plan C, when Plans A and B went south. But it should have been Plan A for today, because tomorrow I will start telling you about the day I spent last week at Sig Sauer in Exeter, New Hampshire. And, the rifle that is about to hit the market — the rifle that I am now saying is the new FWB 124 — was the star of that visit!

You readers know me pretty well by now. Most of the time I go along like Old Man River on an even keel. I do until something extraordinary comes along. When it does, I shed my secret identity and become the Energizer Bunny.

Well, get ready, because this time the bunny is running on nuclear power! What old BB is about to unveil is one of the most significant airguns to come along in his lifetime.

We begin tomorrow. Start saving.

91 thoughts on “Punting with the FWB 124

  1. Very impressive with open sights and a springer.

    I am guessing you are talking about the new Sig break barrel.

    If so, I shot it at the Texas show, it’s very nice.

    I just hope it shoots well with pellets other than the Sig ballistic alloy.

    The MCX & MPX are loads of fun, and pretty accurate using reaction targets (targets that fall or ring, so it’s a hit or miss, not group size.)

    But with those rifles, a tin of $30+ pellets don’t last long.

    And with the break barrel being relatively easy to cock, an afternoon of shooting ballistic match alloy can get expensive..


  2. Did anyone else mentally check the date while reading this blog? “Is it April fool’s day?” was asked in my mind.

    Looking forwards to tomorrow.



  3. B.B.,

    When break out the pompoms out you also certainly bring the whole marching band with it! If airgun makers were publicly traded that would surely bring about a depression in their markets! I wonder though how competitively priced this offering will be? Will it be enough to trounce the low end market too? Or will the price keep it out of the uninformed beginners market?

    Siraniko



      • RidgeRunner,

        Looked it up and compared it to other rifles in its price range and it has some stiff competition. The Weihrauch HW50S, the Walther Terrus and the Diana RWS 34 just to name three. The Diana RWS 340 N-Tec is a also a gas ram in that range. The higher price is going to be justified by the build quality. I hope the accuracy will silence the whimpering of the bank account.

        Siraniko


    • Siraniko,

      For what this is, the price is quite reasonable. But to appreciate it you have to know what quality is and to want it. That’s why I tested the 124 today. Some folks still don’t understand what a 124 is.

      Those who have bought and shot the TX200 will understand.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        Quality definitely costs. I doubt if there is any way that Sig Sauer can cut any corners in manufacturing to produce a lower priced model. The budget air rifle market is safe for now. This should be thought of as an investment to be passed on to the coming generations. Hopefully this will be in the market for sometime and have parts readily available, if and when needed.

        Siraniko


  4. B.B.,

    Well,… when life gives you lemons,…..

    Ha-ha! For ol’ even keeled B.B. to get this excited,… we must be in for a real treat.

    (Please),.. do not skimp on the innovative details. You know,… the how?, what? and why? of the matter. With pics,… of course! 😉

    Good Day to you and to all,…. Chris


  5. BB,

    The ASP20 must really be something. Steve Archer of Hard Air Magazine has already been raving about it. It has not hit the market yet and has already bumped the Gamo Swarm Maxxim from my list. Now I am going to have to sell a couple of airguns to make room for it.




  6. B.B.

    I am so glad that soon you will finally be doing a report on the SIG ASP20. I have been eagerly awaiting this.
    Why bother with any other airgun? I am particularly interested in the key lock system. How do they machine that?
    And the trigger with several predetermined pull weight adjustments.
    Seems like any other airgun is just a waste of time and money.

    -Y


  7. Dang! Just when I was thinking that I was narrowing down to my “final four” airguns. A *real* new and better appears.

    Oh well, I’ll have to sell some guns but this new one may be “the one”. Here’s hoping.

    Blessings,
    Dan


  8. BB
    I got 3 guns heavy on my radar right now. I do hope your wrong about this new Sig break barrel. I sure don’t want to keep doing all this over time at work. But it looks like I’m going to have to if I want to add the ASP20 to the list.

    I did do some sneak peaks and it looks like they did some nice engineering of components. But I sure hope that it’s accurate shooting at the velocities they are claiming in the two calibers.

    I know. Tommorow.


  9. B.B.,

    You have always been able to write a great teaser at the end of a report, and yes, I am waiting impatiently.

    I’ve got to feel really badly for you for your terrible string of mishaps. My goodness — a Meisterkugeln jammed in the Crosman 102? You suffered a jam with a precision-made wadcutter? Ugh. I have to hand it to you. If it had been me, my plan C might have been to go back to bed for the day and start fresh the next morning. Good for you.

    So, tomorrow’s blog, eh? Hmmm. :^)

    Michael


  10. I have been waiting for this ASP20 since i first read about it. Good relatively simple rethinking of barrel lock up and production methods and it sounded logical out of the gate. Of coarse the trigger has to be good and while 2.5lb might seem a little heavy not if it is done right plus i like the look of the blade geometry and the slight hook at the end. I swore off any more break barrels until i got a look at this one and it looks like they are going to make it the game changer.

    I have been waiting for this since i picked up my first break barrel rifle!


  11. “…this new air rifle also fixes all of the 124’s faults — not to mention the faults of every other breakbarrel that’s ever been made. Namely it’s smooth-shooting, has a great trigger and is not that sensitive to how it’s held…”

    Promises, promises. What about droop?


  12. BB

    Impressive shooting at 25 yards with open sights. Much harder to do than with a rear peep sight, for my eyes at least.

    The new Sig breakbarrel looks and sounds like a milestone. Lockup design separates it from others. Trigger competes with a Rekord I’m guessing. Cocking effort may be a new innovation? Will accuracy be in the Lothar Walther class?

    Thanks to you and Sig we shall soon know.

    Decksniper


  13. Ok BB, you got me started again shooting the FWB 124. Love that gun, but lately the springers I’ve been shooting have been my new to me FWB 300s or my TX200. What a rude awakening when I settled down to shoot the 124 and the trigger took forever to trip the sear. The metal 124 trigger I have has been adjusted as well as I can get it. I’ve had the FWB 124 for over 40 years (8xxx serial number) and never really liked the trigger. Boy, the triggers on the 300s and TX have really spoiled me along with the trigger on the Marauder.

    As popular as the FWB 124/127 guns are, why hasn’t some gifted airgun guru come up with a replacement trigger for the 124? Bet that trigger would sell very well. The Record triggers are great on other springers, someone should figure out how to put one on the FWB 124. Wouldn’t that be something?




        • GF1
          What are you basing that on? I’ve mentioned my 124 and 127 here before about the triggers that were set up by the original ARH. They are still the best triggers in my gun cabinet. I recently added a tuned T05, a T06, and a Rekord (and a Walther Terrus and a Quattro) just to have the comparison and while a couple are just as pleasant to shoot, none of the others can give me that “set trigger” feel I get with the FWBs.
          Larry from Algona



          • B.B.
            I had to learn how to do that when I changed the spring and trigger in my 127. It’s not easy to achieve – took me half an hour of fiddling to get it to what I was expecting.
            LMo


          • BB
            So then since you said that. The Queen bee didn’t come off the factory production line like the factory guns did.

            Someone set it that way.

            That’s what I’m saying. Most people set a trigger to their liking.

            Just some do it better than others I guess. The thing is. That the trigger is capable of being set that way. Some triggers are not.

            So we’re I’m going is the ASP 20 trigger has that capability. Right? Since you brought up the 124 to compare with it.



              • BB
                I looked at some reports Sight did about the gun. They got some pretty good graphics of the different aspects of the gun.

                There is some good design work done. Trigger and cocking and so on.

                I just want it to be accurate.


    • Jonah
      The FWB 300 trigger the Tx trigger and the Marauder trigger.

      I have to agree with you very strongly on those 3 triggers.

      They are definitely hard triggers to beat.


    • Jonah,

      The original FWB 121/124/127 triggers can be adjusted to be very nice triggers. Certainly better than your average “hunting trigger”.

      The original FWB 121/124/127 triggers consists of 3 main pieces and two small coil springs.

      You have an upper sear/piston latch combo, a lower sear and the trigger blade itself. The larger of the two springs is captured on a tab on the safety slider and this spring goes thru a slot in the upper sear into a recessed “hole” in the lower sear. This spring creates both the sear latching pressure and the trigger pull tension. The other smaller spring fits in a hole in front of the trigger and applies a slight push to the bottom of the upper sear/piston latch.

      The trigger adjusting screw that passes thru the trigger blade itself does two things. Screwing it in (up) increases the height of the first stage ‘bump’, which in turn reduces the amount of sear engagement. At the same time, this bump is now pushing harder against the bottom of the lower sear, which increases the tension on both the sear and the trigger. What you wind up with is a trigger that is firmer and the sear releases quicker.. a bit less creep because of less sear engagment. The second stage is merely a molded in bump on the trigger which is permanently fixed. If you screw the trigger adj screw in too far, you totally negate the 2nd stage bump because the first stage will use all the sear travel and release before the second stage bump is ever encountered.

      Conversely.. by backing off on the adjusting screw, you can make the trigger softer because you’re reducing the upward tension on the lower sear and lowering the pull tension at the same time. You may actually achieve a kind of two stage feel because both the first and second stage contact points are brought into play, but- it’ll be a creepy, long travel.

      There is often a temptation by some FWB owners to modify/regrind the sear pieces to reduce the amount of creep, but I don’t care for that idea. It’s very tough to find any spare parts if you screw it up, and you’ll ruin an otherwise fine airgun.

      An option that many airgunners overlook is the aftermarket trigger blade occasionally offered by ARH (Air Rifle Headquarters). When JM does make these triggers they sell out quickly since they are engineering marvels that are easy to install and make adjusting the trigger much easier and the results are terrific.


      • I realize trying to compare the FWB 124 trigger to the FWB 300s, TX200 and Marauder is like comparing apples to oranges. Even though my 124 trigger breaks at 1 lb 9.1oz, I just wish I could get the mushy feel out of it. The other three airguns and set triggers on two firearms has me spoiled. If I rotated through shooting some of my other 30 or 40 airguns and then returned to the 124, I’d think think I’d gone to heaven with how the 124 feels.



  14. Hey airgunning dudes and ladies! It’s been a little while and life had certainly kept my finger off the trigger for way too long! I told you I’d always be back, (Its in my DNA !!!) and I’m very glad to be! Hope everybody has been well and shootin’ even better!




      • Thanks a lot Gunny, a lot of big changes the last year almost two, two much hard work at a better job and a move (to a great town, back to my hometown, but a moves a move) had me out of every loop, never mind getting to shoot, but getting settled in now, and getting back to trying to get some lead slingin in! Very excited to see what’s changed with airguns, a lot in a year that’s for sure! Budget pcps proliferating, consumer level high pressure compressors becoming more available, springers getting some serious love in the innovation department (multishot magazines, 30 cals, refinements) and the high end pcp just keeps breaking ceilings with lightweights, carbon fiber, regulators standard, big bore galore! and the list goes on! BB always said it was the best time.to be an airgunner, and he was not lying, the products have exploded and with the computer Tube being the first choice of entertainment and info the airgunners aren’t in the basement anymore! They are all over the world and right at your fingertips! I am excited!!, did I mention that?



          • I just got back in so right now I have a single springer, the fastest thing I could pick up and have the itch satisfied, it’s the crosman f4 np in the classic style synthetic stock, that and a tin of piranhas was less then a hundred Bill’s in the mean time of the next tax season! Lol, but I tore the f4 down, did a full tune, polish, trigger, barrel to my preferred 14″, and a wicked paint job the third and fourth day. It’s actually impressive I would say, I’m hitting sparrows out of the back bushes from 30 yard easy and sometimes at what I think is about 50, need to measure it still, but just having fun and popping sparrows that have destroyed the yard for now, I’ll try and attach a photo of the f4. Next time I buy a new gun im thinking about going with a real nice side or underlever, tx200 or hw/rws, but the big tax season dive in is gonna have to be one, maybe two, of the many many amazing carbine or bullpup medium caliber pcp guns, likely in 22 for one and a screamin’ 30/45cal the other, and one is highly likely to be from the country of my blood, Sweden, if that helps narrow it down a bit, lol.


          • This is the paint job, its sandstorm duplicolor bed armor and dark brown metallics, satin nutmeg and black bed liner fade up, I blush if red under the fade.



  15. How enticing. An energizer bunny on a nuclear power plant sounds on a level with Jurassic Park in a comparison from long ago. That one was no joke, so we’ll see about the new phenomenon. Nice shooting too. But as the saying goes, no matter who you are, there is always someone better, and there is someone who can put Terry Doe to the test.

    I’m getting further into Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s autobiography and literally vacuuming up priceless information with every page. It’s like one article said about how the deep sea floor is littered with mineral nodules of great value ready to be scooped out for the great profit of whoever can get them. The first thing to know is that Lyudmila loved guns! She writes (paraphrased) that she considers guns the absolute summit of human mechanical invention. Why? Because (referring to the battle rifles of the early 20th century), they were continually refined with experimentation. The very best, she says, received the attention of engineering genius that complemented their mechanism with an “elegant exterior” and the best which she names as the Mosin rifle and some other guns “became icons of their age.” By profession, she was also a research historian and a librarian! She also says that while working at a factory job and through school, she had time for socializing including dancing. So, a girl you might have danced with could have been a great shooter and deadly assassin without you realizing it. Her sniper training before WWII was quite rigorous with long hours devoted to a wide range of topics. Twenty hours went to hand-to-hand combat, so she was not someone to mess with.

    Now to the technical information. She claims that the Mosin sniper rifles had barrels made from a special steel in which the grooves were cut with precision, and she says that the rest of the components were also made by a special process different from the regular rifles. The wisdom of countless gun magazine articles and the internet is that the Mosin sniper rifles were regular factory rifles that happened to shoot better in testing and given some slight external modifications. So, who do you believe? All the gun literature or someone who was a highly skilled machinist as well as one of the top-scoring snipers of all time who was a contemporary in the manufacture of the weapons. Anyway, for their training she describes a shooting game called the “bottle base” which should give Terry Doe a run for his money. In the morning, the training cadre would see an elaborate picnic lunch laid out on a distant hilltop with, among other things, bottles of sparkling water. They spent the morning working their way towards the lunch, practicing camouflage techniques, then they ate upon arrival. Afterwards, they played the shooting game. In a nearby forest, they would prop the empty bottles on branches so that they were on their side with the empty mouth closest to the shooter and the base opposite. The distance was 20 to 30 meters, and the game was to send a bullet from the Mosin through the neck of the bottle, blowing out the bottom while leaving the neck intact. It wasn’t clear what position they were shooting from. I’m going to assume it was some kind of rested position although it was not benchrested. When Lyudmila’s name was called, she looked through her 4X scope and said that the target looked like a period at the end of a sentence. She couldn’t see the opening so she relied on what she called “the instinct born of long training.” Sounds to me like the Jaws of the Subconscious. But she also relied on their shooting technique which was elaborate and a little different from ours. She said a common mistake for beginners is to take too long to sight. The whole thing has to take place in 8 seconds. During that time, she focused on inhaling, then steadily exhaling WHILE exerting a smooth pressure on the trigger. This is different from holding the breath. On the other hand, it is the same technique used in Korean traditional archery where the breath is exhaled while releasing the arrow, and the Koreans win more Olympic archery contests than anyone. Anyway, Lyudmila blew the bottoms out of three bottles in succession and got a special award.

    Naturally, I did the math. I’m supposing that bottle mouth sizes have remained fairly constant, and the width of one of my bottles measured .75 inches. The width of a .30 caliber bullet leaves only about .4 inches of clearance in the neck of the bottle. Divided into two is .2 inches of clearance on each side!? That is the room for variation which is equivalent to group size. It sounds a little more reasonable when you consider that a quarter inch group at 25 yards is equivalent to MOA. Still, these are cold bore shots, not a best group, and not done from a bench rest. Yikes. I don’t know if any airgun is capable of this. Your best bet would be a .22 LR to increase your clearance in the bottle. A precision high power rifle would be taxed to do this, and doing this with a Mosin sniper rifle which was not as accurate as today’s models is extraordinary.

    As impressive as even this was the circumstances it was achieved in. The greatest female sniper of all time started out as a 16 year old single mother who worked in a factory! That would seem to be a grim prospect. But she actually liked it and worked her way up the system and into college. Having a positive attitude helps. She even makes being a factory worker in the Soviet Union sound like a lot of fun. Possibly there was a certain amount of propaganda at work. The memoir was written at the height of the Soviet Union and Lyudmila was a true believer. That might even explain her unique explanation of how sniper rifles were made. Anyway, she is just starting to get going in the book, and I can’t imagine what lies ahead.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      Thanks for sharing that. Shows what 10,000 hours and some talent will produce. I bet the snippers were told they had “special” guns. More Soviet propaganda, helps moral. Did she talk about the “special bullets” they were given too?
      She was special indeed!

      -Y


      • Not special bullets yet. So far, she says they were expected to know the ballistics of various kinds of heavy and light bullets from tables they had to memorize.

        Matt61




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