Scoping the Feinwerkbau LP80

Back in February on 2016 I wrote about my then-new (to me) FWB LP80, the most accurate spring air pistol ever made. Mine arrived with a Beeman-installed scope rail that I removed, leaving holes:

that I filled with setscrews. As I’m now shooting my more recently (April 2017) aquired FWB LP100, the LP80 has been sitting 9in the pistol case untouched. I decided to mount an optic and perhaps use it for NRA Bullseye practice. The problem was finding a set of rings that would engage the recoil lug recess at the rear of the mount. Most rings I tried didn’t work, as the recess is so far to the rear of the rail that there isn’t enough rail behind it to support a ring. But way back in the rear of my scope mount box was a long discontinued B-Square mount I bought back in the 1980s. If you look at the photo at the top of this article, you’ll see that it hangs way over the rear of the scope rail- but it’s still solidly mounted.

The recoil  forces acting on the moving part of this recoilless pistol are actually pretty violent- the receiver only moves a short distance, but it’s very light, and the movement needed to counterbalance the forces exerted by the spring and piston is sharp and rapid. When I tried to mount a scope using rings without a recoil lug, three shots was all it took to dislodge the rings from the rail. I mounted a Millet SP1 for my test, as it’s a pretty rugged sight given that it sell for around $50.

I shot it this way for a few days. While it worked well, and was accurate once zeroed in, it made the pistol a bit top heavy, which I didn’t like. A lightweight mini-sight might be a better choice. I removed the sight and mount, replaced the set screws, and put the LP80 back in the case

Feinwerkbau 100 Match Air Pistol

Yes, another 10 meter match air pistol. I’d never fired (or even seen in person) a Feinwekbau 100, 102, or 103, but I’d heard that they’re great guns, the best of the single-stroke pneumatic era. One came up for sale at a fair price, and I’d just sold some expensive toys, so…. this one made it into my collection.

As you can see, functionally it’s not terribly different from the IZH-46m. There’s a large cocking arm underneath that rotates down and around 180 degrees to open. When you reach the fully extended position, the loading gate flips open:

Place a pellet in the loading tray, close the gate, and that o-ringed aluminum bolt pushes the pellet into the  barrel and seals it.

Bring the cocking arm back around and you compress a charge of air. It takes significantly more force to do so than cocking the IZH-46m, something that was dealt with in later versions of this pistol. The model 102 (there was no 101) used two cocking levers that divided the work between them. Easier, but a bit clumsy. The 103 used a longer cocking arm with better geometry to less cocking effort. It was also removable, which made the gun lighter.

The trigger on this gun, like the triggers on just about every other Feinwerkbau, is about as good as you would want. It’s adjustable for length of pull, position, first stage and second stage length and weight, and trigger shoe angle. I was able to get it just where I wanted with just a few adjustments to the position of the trigger, and left everything else alone.

Firing performance is excellent, as you might expect. It’s recoilless, of course, and absolutely free of any vibration or movement on firing. The sights are more of less identical to this eon my LP-80, being adjustable for not only windage and elevation but also for the width of the rear sight notch, something I really appreciate. For some reason the sights were cranked way to one one side and very low when I received it, but after a quick check of the manual to see which way the controls worked I had it on target pretty quickly.

As it points better than my IZH-46 and has a better trigger as well, I decided the Izzy would go and this gun would take its place. If you’re looking for one for yourself, 100s, 102s and 103s in excellent working condition generally  run from $600 to $700. They don’t seem to show up for sale as often as other guns, perhaps because once someone buys one, they tend to hang on to it. Like the Feinwerkbau recoilless spring  guns, you could shoot one of these in competition today without giving up very much to shooters with $1500-2000 PCP guns, although your cocking arm might get a bit tired over a long match.

[Single-Stroke Pneumatic (SSP) air pistols and rifles were an intermediate stage between the complex recoilless spring-powered guns that dominated ISSF competition in the 1970s and today’s modern pre-charged pneumatic guns. With no spring to wear out, and no spring hysteresis, SSPs are more efficient than spring guns and have much less vibration. The very first match SSP was the Walther LP1, which came out in the mid-70s. While it was a very accurate gun, it was harder to cock than the Feinwerkbau and didn’t really challenge it on the firing line. It wasn’t until the LP100 came out in 1988 that the big move to SSPs started. SSPs in turn were replaced by CO2 powered guns, which were less fatiguing to shoot (as there was no cocking effort), but problems with fluctuating gas pressure at different temperatures and altitudes led to CO2 guns being replaced by PCP guns. When it comes to actual firing performance, there’s not a lot of difference between an SSP and a PCP gun.]

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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Robert Law and Air Rifle Headquarters (Part 2)

I first wrote about Robert Law and ARH back in 2007, but finding these old ARH products while cleaning out the basement brought back more memories of the man who really brought airguns to the American market.

Most air gunners today aren’t aware of Robert Law, the man who really introduced modern high quality European airguns to the American market. We had Daisy, of course, and Crosman, Sheridan, Benjamin, and a number of other domestic makers, but their guns were looked on largely as toys by most gun hobbyist. But in Europe, respected makers of high-quality firearms like Hermann Weirauch, Walther, Feinwerkbau, Diana, and others were making precision spring-air powered guns that cost as much as firearms- some of them as accurate as the finest target forearms.

Bob Law not only imported and sold these guns, he produced catalogs that were also manuals of how to tune and improve these guns for better performance and sold a variety of high-tech lubricants that could be used in these tunes. Building on the work of Ladd Fanta, he taught air gunners how to replace combustible petroleum based solvents with modern synthetics:

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He also marketed a variety of H&N and other pellets under the ARH brand:

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Air Rifle Headquarters was never a huge business, and when Robert Beeman entered the market he took advantage of the knowledge that Law had accumulated as well as the market Law had developed, and was able to grow his business to the point where he became the sole Importer of many of the guns Law was selling. Law decided to leave the business and devote us time to the ministry.

Beeman did do a lot to popularize quality airguns in this country, and even introduced some novel ideas, like putting European guns in quality American-styled walnut stocks instead of the utilitarian looking beech stocks that most came in. But we should remember that without Robert Law and the original Air Rifle Headquarters, there probably never would have been a Beeman.