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The Chiappa FAS 6004 Air Pistol

 

A friend of mine who shoots PPC bought an FAS 6004 last year, thinking it would be good for home practice. A few months later he must have decided otherwise as he offered it to me at an attractive price. I’d been interested in the pistol since first reading about it, and so after an hour of testing it in my basement range I decided I had to buy it.

The gun is based on the earlier FAS 604, which was originally made by Domino in (I believe) the 1980s. The 604 was a serious competitor in the world of ISSF competition back then, when single-stroke pneumatics like the FWB 100 and the IZH 46 were starting to  displace spring guns like the FWB 65/80/90 and the Diana Model 6 from the firing line. It was not a cheap gun, being made of precision made parts, and costing close to $1,000. Today’s FAS 6004 is a less expensive clone of the 604 made by Chiappa of Italy that uses more cast parts to reduce the cost of manufacture. Externally, it’s almost identical. From a dozen feet away it’s impossible to tell the difference.

 

The FAS 6004 is available in two models, differing only in the stule of grip. Mine is the less expensive ($420 retail) model that uses an ambidextrous wood grip. For $550 you can get the pistol with an adjustable wood grip in two sizes and in left or right handed versions. Everything I’d read about the ambidextrous grip said that it’s the best ambidextrous grip ever put on an air pistol and I’d have to agree. It’s made of solid wood, with a very fine stippling pattern that provides a superb grip. It fits my XL sized hand as well as smaller hands. Before I bought it I thought I might upgrade to the adjustable grip, but now I think I’ll stick with it.

 

I really like the feel and the balance of this pistol. It has a solid feel and is just muzzle heavy enough to stabilize it. The sights are easily adjustable, thanks to the large coin-slotted knobs. I’d prefer an adjustable width front of rear sight, as I like to see more space either side of the front sight, but shooters with better vision or shorter arms may not see this as an issue.

Functionally the pistol works a lot like the Gamo Compact or the Beeman P17. You release the barrel and cocking lever by depressing a latch on the left side of the pistol, just in front of the rear sight:

 

And lift the barrel/cocking lever assembly up and forward:

 

The pellet is then inserted directly into the rear of the barrel:

…and the cocking lever/barrel is swung back into place, compressing a charge of air. This takes a fair amount of force (more than is required for cocking an IZH-46m) , and while it’s certainly not difficult for an adult male (or a fit adult female) it’s probably too much for a junior shooter.

Shooting behavior is very predictable. The trigger is adjustable for weight, length of first stage, and trigger position. It’s not as crisp or smooth as my FWB 80 or IZH-46m, but it’s a lot better than the Daisy 717/747/777 or the Gamo Compact. Trigger weight can’t be adjusted as low as the FWB and IZH (I learned this when the adjustment screw popped loose and flew across the room) but it can be set as low as 12 ounces, according to Chiappa.

At first, a lot of my shots went pretty wide, with some of them landing outside the black. I realized that this gun was not as forgiving as my other match air pistols. The sight radius is shorter, and the velocity is around 100 fps lower. That means that the pellet takes a longer time to exist the barrel, and that means that follow through is much more important. Once I started concentrating on my follow through, groups tightened up:

 

 

It looked like I was pulling to the left, which suggested that I pay more attention to trigger control, but it also looked like the gun was shooting low. I added 4 clicks of elevation and tried a few more:

 

 

Not a great group, and one wild shot (which I called), but the two shots that felt the best went right into the 10 ring. I can certainly live with that.

I haven’t shot competition since 1998, preferring to just compete against myself in my basement 10 meter range. (If I intended to compete, I’d sell all three of my air pistols and buy one good PCP pistol.) But if you’re looking for a starter pistol for competition, this wouldn’t be a bad choice. If the IZH-46m was still available, that would be my first choice, but they haven’t been imported for a while. The Gamo costs around $150 less, but the trigger on the Gamo isn’t nearly as good.

The FAS is a fine entry level match pistol, and one that will teach good shooting habits. If you can regularly shoot good scores with this gun, you could move up to an entry-level PCP like the Hammerli AP20 and start winning competitions. If, like me, you just want to shoot informal matches against your friends and yourself, the FAS 6004 is a pistol that you can enjoy shooting for a long time.

My new old Feinwerkbau 300S, part II

My recently acquired FWB 300s was a fine shooter as it arrived, but the stock was a mess of scratches and deep dents, and there was rust and bare metal everywhere. I spent several days steaming dents, removing rust, and applying cold blue and aluminum black, and here’s the result.

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While I did some removal of metal scratches, I didn’t draw file out one large dent in the barrel sleeve. Maybe later.

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My new old Feinwerkbau 300S, part I

 

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Way back in 2007 I wrote about the Feinwerkbau 300, a gun I had fired a few times but never owned. Then just a few weeks ago I found a very affordable one in a a target shooting forum I regularly check into . I sent payment, and four days later it showed up on my porch.

It’s actually a 300S, a later version with a few improvements. There were several models made, mostly differing in the stock and the sights. There was the standard 300S, a Running Boar version, set up for scope use, a Universal model, and a junior model, and maybe more. Feinwerkbau made untold thousands of them between the 300 in (I think) 1968 and its replacement with the single-stroke pneumatic FWB 600, though I believe they kept making the 300S for some years after the introduction of the 600. .

This particular rifle has  seen a lot of use, judging by the scores of dents in the wood and the scratches in the metal, but it’s been well maintained where it matters. It was resealed not too long ago and shoots smoothy and accurately- more accurately than I can, certainly. I started out shooting it at my Gehmann air pistol target trap, which inflated my ego, as I was getting a lot of 10s, but then the Gehman air rifle trap and targets I’d ordered arrived to put me in my place.

ISSF air pistol targets are 17cm square with an 11.5mm 10 ring. The air rifle targets are 10cm square, the actual target ring is 4.5cm, and the 10 “ring” that’s more of a dot is a huge 1.5mm in diameter:

 

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These were fired at a distance of 10 meters- official ISSF distance. On an air pistol target, those would be 9s and 10s. On this target, it’s a 9, three 7s, and a 5. In international competition, the 10 ring is further divided into decimal fractions, so depending on how well centered your shot is, it might scope anywhere from 10.1 to 10.9. I definitely have a lot of work to do over the winter.

The pellet trap I’m using, in case you haven’t seen a Gehmann trap, is a very clever affair. It’s a small box made of stamped steel, and inside is a movable steel plate held in position by a spring. The spring is just strong enough to absorb the energy of a 7.0-8.0gr pellet traveling  at 400-600fps. The result is that all the pellets get trapped in the box and there’s no splatter or pellets bouncing out:

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Mine cost me $20 + shipping from an eBay supplier. I’ve got two of the pistol traps, too. Less walking across the basement to replace shot out targets.

Over the winter I plan on removing the heavy varnish that’s been applied to this stock, raising as many of the dents as I can, using steam, and refinishing it with a Tru-Oil finish, which I think will compliment the walnut stock much better. I’ll post photos in this blog when I do.

Update: I’ve been practicing. My first two shots today, from an honest 10 meters:

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Bipods for Air Guns

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It occurred to me that adding a bipod to my night vision equipped Crosman Marauder would definitely improve its abilities as a night time vermin hunter and be a lot handier than hauling out my bench rest.

The US Military uses Harris Bipods, I’m told, and a 6-9″ Harris can be had for $64 for the basic version and $95 for the swiveling version, which allows the gun to rotate a few degrees around the bore axis in order to compensate for uneven ground. I don’t plan on carrying my Marauder into combat so I settled on the cheaper $37 (for the swiveling version) clone from Caldwell, which is almost as good and costs a third as much.

Installation is dead easy- there are two prongs that engage a strap swivel, and a screw that is tightened to secure the bipod That’s it.

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It looks kind of crude, but the Harris uses an identical means of attachment.

So how does it work? So far, in my limited testing, very well. Easy to deploy, and it makes a very stable platform to shoot from. I may just add one to one of my bull barrel .22s.

One note: Bipods work great on PCP and CO2 air rifles, but not so well on spring guns, which do not shoot accurately off a rigid support.