FWB 600
The FWB 600 10-meter target rifle.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • History
  • FWB 600
  • Pump lever
  • Description
  • Things the 600 doesn’t have
  • Power in an SSP
  • Summary

We are starting to look at the iconic FWB 600-series 10-meter target rifles, and today we are looking at the 600 — the first of the series. I got this rifle at this year’s Arkansas airgun show.

History

In 1974 Walther brought the LGR single stroke pneumatic target rifle to the world. It would last until 1989 and would supplant the recoilless spring-piston rifles of the time, most notably the FWB 300S. As a single-stroke it needed none of the mechanism that the 300S used to allow the action to move in the stock. The LGR sits dead still when fired. It’s also slimmer than the 300S and perhaps a few ounces lighter. So for a decade the LGR dominated the 10-meter target rifle scene.

I first saw the LGR in 1976, while visiting the picturesque German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I went into a German gun store and there saw and held a Walther LGR. I was amazed by its size its weight and the beautiful construction. The store owner told me how it operated  and that, too, was amazing. It was the first 10-meter target rifle I had ever seen.

FWB 600

Ten years after the LGR hit the market Feinwerkbau brought out their model 600 single-stroke pneumatic. That would be 1984. I have no doubt the German elves at FWB were working furiously behind the scenes, trying to catch up to Walther, but they took a decade to do so. That tells me they put some real thought into their new model.

Pump lever

To the uninitiated the 600 probably looks quite similar to the LGR, but there are some important differences. First and foremost, I believe, is the pump lever. On the LGR the lever pivots at the rear of the action, which means when the lever is pumped and closed your hands are forward and away from your body. Both arms have to press against one another, making the pump stroke quite stressful. Maybe once or twice is no problem, but in a 60-shot men’s match plus sighters, it is tiring.

The 600, in contrast is pivoted at the front of the lever. When you pump the lever and close it the butt of the rifle is against your right side, making the stroke much easier. The FWB loading cover flips up when the lever reaches its most open point. The LGR loading port is manual and requires a separate unlocking action.

LGR and 600 pumps open
The Walther LGR pump lever (top) pivots at the rear. The 600 lever pivots at the front.

Then there is the loading port itself, which on the 600 is huge and wide open. The LGR port is smaller and it’s harder to access the breech.

FWB 600 loading port
The FWB loading port springs wide open when the pump lever is moved all the way open.

LGR loading port
The LGR loading port is small, making it more difficult to seat the pellet in the breech.

But it is the location of the loading ports that’s the biggest difference between the two rifles. The FWB 600 loading port is back by the rear sight where you expect it to be. The LGR loading port is located in the middle of the rifle.

600 and LGR with ports open
The 600 loading port (bottom) is back where you expect it. The LGR loading port is in the middle of the rifle.

This wasn’t supposed to be a comparison between these two rifles, but since the LGR was the first SSP 10-meter target rifle and the FWB 600 was the one that rose to challenge it, a comparison was in order.

Description

The 600 that I’m testing weighs 10 lbs. 12 oz. The length is 43 inches overall and the pull is 13 inches. The pull can be adjusted with spacers that I don’t have, and also by fractions of an inch at the trigger blade The curved rubber buttplate does adjust up and down.

The cheekpiece adjusts up and down within limits. Two screws on the bottom of the cheekpiece assembly do the adjusting. No other adjustments are possible, like castoff and camber, or slope, front to rear.

FWB 600 cheekpiece up
Those two screws are turned out to adjust the cheekpiece up…

FWB 600 cheekpiece down
… and in to bring it down.

The stock is laminated rather than a solid blank of wood. Laminates are much stronger and FWB had a lot of bad experiences with the 150 and 300 stocks breaking at the wrist (next to the pistol grip) — especially the 300. Laminates are also heavier, but the overall weight of the test rifle is right where a competition rifle should be. The wood is rounded on all edges to give a soft, comfortable feel.

There is a long accessory rail on the bottom of the forearm. This is for a sling swivel and a hand stop.

Find a Hawke Scope

Things the 600 doesn’t have

The FWB 600 lever has no ratchet stops to hold the pump lever as it is being closed. I read several reports online about people getting black eyes and knocking things off tables when the pump lever got away from them. Personally I can’t understand how this could happen as I find the rifle to be very ergonomic, but I have heard of soldiers letting the spoons fly off grenades before they were ready to throw them, too. So the FWB 601 that came out in 1988 does have a ratchet to catch and hold the pump lever.

The other missing feature is one that wasn’t yet recognized as essential, but makes all the difference in the world — a dry-fire feature. Sure, you can pump the rifle and shoot ir without a pellet, but it’s noisy and troublesome.

Power in an SSP

No single-stroke pneumatic is powerful — a fact that must be accepted. The guns work on just a single pump of air. If a second pump is attempted, the first one is lost.

The Blue Book of Airguns puts the velocity at 585 f.p.s. and Scott Pilkington, who sold me this rifle, told me he just resealed it, so it should be close to that mark. We shall see.

Summary

I guess I like 10-meter air rifles because I’m starting to have quite a collection of them. Whenever I think about getting rid of one, the quality of its design and build overwhelms me and I just can’t do it.