Back in the 1980s, when I first discovered high quality airguns, the Feinwerkbau 65 was the pistol that ruled ISSF air pistol competition. Introduced in 1965, the FWB 65 used a simple and elegant system to eliminate recoil: The receiver was free to slide rearward on firing, dissipating recoil energy instead of allowing it to disturb the aim of the gun. This is the same system that was used very successfully in Feinwerkbau’s Model 300 rifle, the most successful target rifle of the spring gun era. While there were other recoiless systems, like the Diana guns that used a pair of opposed pistons, none were as simple or as effective as the Feinwerkbau system.
Feinwerkbau made around 220,000 model 65s, and then came out with the 80, which added a number of improvements, including removable barrel weights and an adjustable trigger. 48,000 model 80s were produced, and then the 80 was succeeded by the 90, which added an electronic trigger. Only about 22,000 Model 90s were produced. The 90 was followed by the single stroke pneumatic 100, 102, and 103, and those were succeeded by the modern CO2 and PCP guns. But despite the 50 years of development since the introduction of the 65, they can still be highly competitive in the right hands.
I had a chance to shoot a model 65 back in 1998, when I was competing in Airgun Field Target at the National Matches at Camp Perry. It was the best air pistol I had ever fired, and I started pricing a new 65, but they were far out of my financial reach. When I got back into shooting air guns a few years ago I started looking for a used 65 or 80 but I rarely came across one, and when I did, the asking price was very high. Then just last week I saw this model 80 for sale at a target shooting web page for $500, or $400 without the scope. I’d recently sold my Crosman 1701p along with the custom grips and Williams sight, so I had the money just burning a hole in my PayPal account. I messaged the seller, and three days later I had it in hand.
First job was to remove the scope mount. The sights are mounted very close to the barrel axis, which means that even this 1/4″ high mount interferes with sighting. Unfortunately this leaves several holes to be filled. I’ll have to visit the hardware store tomorrow for some metric screws with very low heads, or just Loctite a couple of allen screws in place. (Turns out these holes are threaded 6-32, which means the rail was added by Beeman, the importer, and not by Feinwerkbau. )
I also had to polish out the nicks and rust in the barrel that didn’t show up in the seller’s photos. I used 000 steel wood to remove the rust and the pits, and Brownell’s Dichropan blue, which did a fair but not great job of evening out the finish on the barrel. I’m going to try some Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue which has long been my go-to blue for refinishing and repairing guns.
Next step was to sight it in. The sight is adjustable for vertical and horizontal displacement, and also has an adjustment for the width of the notch in the rear sight:
It’s a well designed mechanism and easy to adjust. It only took a few clicks to get it right on target- this was shot offhand at 10 meters:
The trigger was a bit too far away for me to get a straight pull back with my index finger, so I moved it rearward a bit- an easy adjustment that involves loosening a screw, sliding the trigger along a rail, and retightening the screw.
This made it easier to get a clean trigger release without pushing the muzzle to the left.
Overall I’m pretty happy with the gun. Compared to what’s available in new and used guns at this price level, it’s very competitive. Certainly the sights and trigger are far better than the $250 Gamo Compact or the $385-545 FAS 6004. A used FWB 100 will cost you $600 and up these days. The Russian-made IZH-46m is certainly competitive with the FWB, but costs around $600 new and $450-500 used, and it’s a heavier, bulkier, gun. Everything else costs a lot more. The Alfa Proj runs $795 new and $595 used. Most PCP guns are in the $1300 and up range. I’ll probably keep this one around for a while.