Feinwerkbau FWB 300

Back in the 1980s there were two revolutionary target rifles that immediately raised the stakes for competitors at the top level. One was the Walther LGR, and the other, the Feinwerkbau 300, and the reason both were so revolutionary was that they were the first high-end recoilless target rifles on the market. Before then, target guns were mainly refined, low-powered version of the same guns used by field shooters and hunters with target stocks

FWB300

In a way, the LGR was the more futuristic gun, as it used a single-stroke pneumatic powerplant, something that other gun makers didn’t pick up on for another decade. But the Feinwerkbau was the far more successful gun, and it used a unique- yet time-tested- system to achieve recoilless operation.

Starting in the late 19th century, the makers of artillery discovered that they could mount bigger guns by the use of a sliding, recoil absorbing carriage, and that’s exactly what Feinwerkbau did in the 1980s. The receiver and barrel of the 300 wasn’t fixed, but slid back and forth on rails. It didn’t slide far- but it didn’t have to counter that much recoil energy.

After cocking the spring mechanism of the 300, you tilt the rifle forward, and you can feel the action slide forward a fraction of an inch as it locks into battery. On firing, the action and barrel move slightly backwards. It’s less noticeable than you might imagine, but it’s enough to make shooting completely recoilless.

The 300 revolutionized target shooting, and before long every competitor needed a 300 to be competitive. Other companies started making recoilless rifles. RWS designed a dual opposed piston system used in a number of their competition pistols and rifles. Others came out with CO2 systems, then single stroke pneumatics, and finally the compressed air systems that now dominate competition at the highest levels.

Since the 80s only two other rifles have used the recoiling receiver system. One was the RWS/Diana model 54 rifle, which was a modified version of the popular high powered RWS 52. It was not a terribly successful gun (especially compared to the 52) and was plagued with mechanical problems. It didn’t last long in the marketplace. More successful has been the Chinese-made Tech Force BS4, and not surprisingly- it’s an exact clone of the FWB 300.

UPDATE:

The 54 is indeed still in production- see comment below- and here’s an interesting site on the 54 from an owner who’s done a number of tuneups to his:

http://www.eddiecolwell.tzo.com/RWS-54.htm

The Daisy 717, 747 and 777

The Daisy 717 first appeared back in the 1970s, and serious target shooters looked down it it from the beginning. I mean, it’s a Daisy, for goodness sake- they make BB guns! and it looked pretty crude, too, with a cast white metal frame, brass barrel, and cheap plastic grips. And then something strange happened- 717s started showing up at matches, and winning them. These were guns pretty much right out of the box, too, with stock poweplant and grips, and occasionally modified sights. A $50 gun from Arkansas was beating some very fancy $250+ European guns, particularly when given a trigger job developed by shooting legend Don Nygord, who published it in the April 1980 American Marksman. 717

Daisy took notice of this, and started making two improved versions- the 747, which is identical, save for a Lothar Walther steel barrel in place of the stock barrel, and the 777 (now discontinued), which added better metal sights, an adjustible trigger, and wood grips. Being a poor grad student in the 1980s, I bought a 717, and with it learned the basics of good pistol shooting. I made my own custom hand-fitting grips out of epoxy, but otherwise left it alone.

What made this gun so good right out of the box? For one thing, it had a single-stroke pneumatic poweplant, a fairly new concept in those days. The result was exceptional shot to shot consistency- far better than most spring guns, and a lot better than many of the new CO2 powered match guns. A few drops of Daisy oil on the compression chamber O-ring and an occasional swab of the barrel were all that were needed to keep it shooting in the X-ring. The excellent balance and long sight radius helped, too.
The 717 and 747 are still an excellent choice for the new- and maybe intermediate- target and silhouette shooter. With retail prices as low as $138 for the 747 and $110 for the 717, it’s hard to find a better value in a target pistol today.

UPDATE:

Here’s a good site with info on stripping and tuning the Daisy target pistols:

http://www.pilkguns.com/tenp/spd747.htm