FWB 300S vintage target air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Shivashankar Raghu is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card! Congratulations!

Shivashankar says this is his 4-year-old son with his dad’s Diana Model 23 on the boy’s first day at their club!

Part 1
Part 2

The FWB 300S is considered the gold standard of vintage target air rifles.

We’ll look at accuracy today, but this isn’t our last look at the 300S. You convinced me to take this rifle to the range and test it at 50 yards. I’ll do that, but I have to have a perfectly calm day for it. Kevin also convinced me to test weight-sorted pellets against pellets straight from the tin, so that’s how I’ll do the test. I want to use domed pellets at that distance, so today I’ll be looking for a good one that the rifle likes.

More 300S trivia
Mac sent a batch of photos to show some details that few people have ever seen. I’ll show a couple today and more in the next report.

Remember the Running Target rifle we talked about last time? Well Mac sent photos to show how the loading port differs from the one found on the standard 300S match rifle. The port is the same size, but FWB has rotated it to the right to make access for loading a little easier. I guess they expected a lot of right-handed RT shooters, or more likely they also built one in a left-hand version. Mac’s is the right-hand rifle.

The standard 300S loading port is centered on top of the spring tube, to be equally accessible from either side.

On the right-hand Running Target rifle, the loading port is rotated to the right for better access from that side.

All of today’s shooting was done from a rest at 10 meters. I attached the Gehmann color filter wheel to the rear aperture and used the yellow filter to sharpen the bulls. It seemed to work okay. Unless I were to use it for a lot longer, I really could not say that it adds anything. I don’t shoot a 10-meter rifle often enough to notice things like that.

Pellet head size is important when shooting a target rifle, and I shot pellets with heads of 4.50mm and 4.52mm, but none with a 4.51mm. Interestingly, the 4.50mm heads ranged from bad to good; so even when you have a single head size, you aren’t done looking for the right pellet.

Pellets that didn’t make the grade
I tried nine pellets in this test. Seven were wadcutters and two were domes. RWS Hobby pellets and Gamo Match were the two that didn’t cut it. Both shot so poorly that I didn’t waste any time with them. Oddly, in the test of the FWB 150 I did last year, RWS Hobbys were tied with H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets as the best ones. Go figure!

I shot two 5-shot groups each with the other 7 pellets. And with 6 of the 7 pellets, the second group was smaller than the first. That lends support to the notion that an airgun barrel needs to be seasoned before it will perform its best.

Honorable mention
The following pellets did okay, and I would have continued to use them if I had nothing better. Each of them seemed to want to do better than they were doing, but I tried an extended test with one of them and it didn’t pan out.

The RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet came the closest to making the final cut. Maybe if I shot it more it might improve. But the best group of five I got measured 0.153 inches between centers.

I tried the Vogel match pellet that Scott Pilkington makes here in the U.S. It’s a great match pellet, but for some reason the 300S didn’t care for it that much. This is the pellet I shot four groups with, but the best of them measured 0.192 inches between centers. No dice!

JSB S100 Match pellets were another tease. The best group measured 0.113 inches between centers, but in the end it just wasn’t enough to make the cut. This was the only pellet I tried that had a head size of 4.52mm. All the others were 4.50mm. This pellet did very well in an Edge match rifle from AirForce, so I thought it might have a chance here, but no dice.

The one domed pellet that I thought might work but didn’t was the Air Arms Falcon pellet. The best group out of two was 0.167 inches between centers. It was a nice, round group; and because this isn’t a wadcutter, the group looks about half the size it really is. With domes, you have to make extra allowances for the skirt that tears through the target paper.

The winners
Three pellets showed great promise in the 300S, and one of them was superb. The JSB Exact RS was the best domed pellet, putting 5 shots into a beautiful round group that measured just 0.111 inches between centers. Because these groups are all so small, I’ve enlarged the photos for you to see them better. My dime is in the photo for reference. This is the pellet I will take out to 50 yards.

JSB Exact RS pellets made a nice small, round group. They will be shot at 50 yards in this gun.

I tried both H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets and H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets in the 300S, and both turned in a wonderful performance. These are the pellets the gun likes best. The Finale Match Pistol pellets turned in a group that measured 0.117 inches between centers. It looked very good when I saw it, but one that’s even better was yet to come.

That’s a nice tight group of five H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. It measures 0.117 inches between centers.

The best pellet of the day was the last one I shot — the H&N Finale Match Rifle pellet. Five of them went onto a group measuring 0.097 inches.

H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets made this group that measures 0.097 inches between centers. Now, that is a group!

So we found out what we knew all along: the FWB 300S is an accurate target rifle. Just for fun, I checked back to the test of the FWB 150 and saw that the best two groups with that rifle measured 0.119 inches between centers, so I did a little better with this one. On any given day, I suppose either rifle would emerge the victor. But I like the firing behavior of the 300S a little better.

The next time you see this rifle, it will have fired those JSB Exact RS pellets at 50 yards. What a day that will be!

Feinwerkbau 150: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Here’s this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 gift card.

This was taken by A.J. Stewart right after a blizzard in New York. Edith says this reminds her of the movie “Where Eagles Dare.”

Part 1
Part 2

The FWB 150 is a classic target rifle from the past. It’s also the father of the FWB 300.

Today, we’ll see if the FWB 150 target rifle can shoot. A couple good things have happened in the meantime to help me with today’s test. First, you may remember the last time I shot the Ballard rifle I discovered how to best hold it (on the bench) for really fine results. I applied all I learned there to the 150, and it did seem to help.

Next, you remember I reported that my eyes had suddenly gone bad a few months back? That was due to some blood sugar issues and the fact that my body was so dehydrated that my eyes had lost enough fluid to alter their prescription. They’re back to being very close to where they used to be now that I’m controlling my blood sugar, so sighting with non-optical sights is getting easier.

While my eyes were bad, I discovered that if I used a 500-watt quartz photo lamp on the target instead of a 75-watt lamp, I could see the target better. Now that my eyes are recovering almost all their former power, it’s even more helpful to use such bright illumination. I remember from the NRA National Junior Air Rifle matches that each of the 140 shooters on line had a 500-watt quartz lamp illuminating each target. So, the answer was there all along, I just wasn’t paying attention.

Finally, my 150 rear sight came with a Gehmann color filter; and when I switched from clear to dark yellow, all the mirage left the target. Mirage is when the target appears to distort and even move while you’re sighting. The yellow filter in this case cancels that and the bull stays put and also perfectly round.

My rear aperture sight has an extra attachment. A Gehmann color filter (the two knurled rings with the silver ring in between) allow you to select one of several filters through which to view the front sight. I found that far from being a gimmick. It really worked.

I began the test with RWS Hobby pellets, knowing that I probably needed to sight-in. The rifle was laid directly on a sandbag at 10 meters, because the 150’s sledge anti-recoil system acts like the perfect artillery hold, just like the RWS Diana model 54 Air King did the other day.

In fact, there were a lot of comparisons between the 150 and the Diana 54. Both are sidelevers, but where the 54 action has to be levered into position by the sidelever before the shot, the 150 doesn’t do that. The target rifle is so easy to cock that you can leave it in position on the bag and simply pull the sidelever.

Also, the shot cycle of the 150 is far smoother than that of the 54. In fact, this one is smooth for a 150. The tuneup really changed the nature of this gun for the positive.

All of the following shot groups are five shots. I continued to adjust the zero throughout the testing, so if the point of impact seems to move from target to target, it’s because it really does.

One last observation before I begin the report. The other day while testing the Diana 54, I complained because I shot out the point of aim early on, making it difficult to aim precisely. A scope sight needs something in the center of the target for the crosshairs to align with. With an aperture sight, you can hit the exact center of the bull repeatedly and never notice it, because you’re using the outside of the black bullseye to sight. That’s why I felt comfortable adjusting the sights to hit the center of my targets.

RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets
For some reason, RWS R-10 Match Heavy pellets produced the largest groups of the four pellets I tested. I shot several groups and then tested all the other pellets in turn. Finally, I returned and shot a couple more groups with R10s, but they just didn’t want to group as tight as the others. The best group I shot measured 0.191 inches.

Try as I might, this was the best group I shot with RWS R-10 Heavy target pellets.

Next came the H&N Match Pistol pellets. They shot tighter groups than the R10, but still not as good as I was expecting from this rifle. The best group measured 0.153 inches between centers.

H&N Match Pistol pellets were better in the 150.

Then, I switched to H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets and saw an immediate improvement. There were several good groups, but the best one measured 0.119 inches between centers.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets shot one of the smallest groups of the test.

The last pellet I tried was also the first one I’d started with — the RWS Hobby. For some unknown reason, Hobbys shot the generally tightest groups of all four pellets in this particular rifle. Even though H&N Pistol Match tied them on one target, Hobbys were best overall.

RWS Hobby pellets also shot the smallest groups of the test. This one measures 0.119 inches.

End of the test
Well, that was a good look at the FWB 150, and it sets us up for the next report on the FWB 300S, a later, more refined version of the same gun. I found the 150 to be a good blend of old-world craftsmanship and the latest technology of its day. Ten-meter rifles continued to evolve and get easier to shoot after the 150 was left behind, but they didn’t get much more accurate.