The FWB 300S - As Good as They Say It Is

By Jock Elliott and Bill Meyer
Originally Published in 1999

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Boy, there's nothing like well-written marketing materials filled with attractive photographs to get the good juices flowing. For example, flip through Beeman's excellent catalog, let the eye linger over the beautiful rifles and pistols, drink in the descriptive prose, and a kind of insanity starts to take hold. One hand begins to reach for the phone; the other gropes for the credit card and a small voice whispers insistently: "Order one of everything."

If the spell passes without putting your MasterCard into Intensive Care, the question remains: "Are these products really as good as they say they are?" After all, it's the business of marketers to present their offerings in the best possible light.

There were three points about the FWB 300S in the Beeman catalog that caught our interest: (1) "Superb airgun for everyone, not just match shooters," (2) "Pinpoint accuracy," and (3) "Recoilless airgun." Taken together, it sounded like an attractive combination. Besides, it looked flat gorgeous on the page.

The FWB (Feinwerkbau) 300S is a recoilless, sidelever, spring-piston competition airgun. Stretching 43 inches from end to end, at 10.8 pounds, it is the heaviest airgun offered by Beeman. If you are accustomed to sporting air rifles that weigh several pounds less, all that mass can seem surprisingly heavy.

But there is a reason for all that weight. All of us weave around a bit when we're shooting, particularly from a standing position. The extra weight helps to dampen the movement, slow it down, so that you can squeeze off a shot when the exactly correct sight picture drifts by. The weight works to the shooter's advantage. My test partner, Bill Meyer, won several prestigious competitions with a match rifle/scope combination that weighed 18 pounds. While many of us would groan under such a weight, he used it at one match to put five shots in one hole at 50 meters from a prone position.

The suggested retail price of the FWB 300S is $1,235. That seems like a lot of money until you open the box. After a few moments of appreciating the fit and finish and attention to detail that is evident in every aspect of the 300S, suddenly over a thousand dollars for an airgun starts to look, well, reasonable.

The competition-style stock is beech with a satin walnut finish. The places on the stock where your hands would touch -- the forestock and the pistol grip -- are "stippled" (roughened) to provide a non-slip gripping surface and painted black. The rubber butt plate is adjustable. Just loosen one screw and it slides up or down to meet your need. A black plastic spacer is included with the rifle in case you want to lengthen the stock. The walnut cheek piece can be raised by turning a screw on the bottom of the stock. The adjustability of the 300S makes it possible for people of many shapes and sizes to get comfortable for high- accuracy shooting with this rifle.

Forward of the vertical pistol grip is the trigger guard which is made of black plastic and which features three holes in the bottom plate. Using a special tool supplied with the 300S, the shooter can reach through the trigger guard to adjust the trigger's release weight, pull off point, initial travel, finger length, and lateral position. Beyond the trigger and trigger guard, a ten-inch aluminum rail that accepts Anschutz accessories, such as a palm rest, is inset into the underside of the forestock.

The 17.2-inch barrel is firmly attached to a finely machined all metal receiver with a silver metal breech and a cocking lever on the right side. At the end of the barrel are two muzzle weights. The outer one also serves as a mount for an all metal globe sight with interchangeable inserts. At the back end of the receiver, there is a standard 3/8-inch rail for mounting the FWB micrometer- adjustable aperture sight with sunshade.

A scope may be mounted on the 300S instead of the rear target sight. There is, however, no convenient way of removing the front sight so it appears in the scope's field of view unless high scope mounting brackets are used. Nevertheless, we shot our best groups using an inexpensive ($10.00) Tasco scope on this rifle.

Cocking and loading the FWB 300S is almost effortless, once you know the secret. The side-cocking lever is about 10.5 inches long. About two inches back from the forward end, another small lever with a raised bump on its nose is inset into the cocking lever. To use the cocking lever, you must press down on this bump, and the cocking lever swings free.

That's the secret, but we had to discover it on our own -- nowhere in either manual that comes with the 300S -- the three-language Feinwerkbau manual or the Beeman's Pellets & Pistons manual -- is there anything that reveals this critical fact. We spent several minutes using several of the more interesting short words while trying to figure it out.

The Feinwerbau manual is surprisingly terse in its descriptions of various functions, and the Beeman manual is generic -- it applies to all their guns. And that leads us to a small but important gripe: when you spend a grand or more on an airgun, for Pete's sake, you ought to get a dedicated manual that describes in detail how to use and maintain your purchase. The incremental cost of such a manual would be a tiny fraction of the cost of the gun and would add immeasurably to customer satisfaction and enjoyment.

Once the cocking lever is released, however, getting the rest of the job done is easy, really easy. With just two fingers, you can pull the lever backward to the full length of its travel. The catalog says the cocking effort is just 12 pounds, and it is constant from the beginning of the stroke to the end. Just pull steadily, and the gun makes a ratcheting sound a bit like a clock being wound. There is, in fact, a ratchet mechanism that allows you to stop the cocking stroke at any point without any danger of the lever suddenly flying back to its original position.

As the cocking lever is pulled fully back, the generous breech slides open, revealing the aft end of the barrel. Stuff a pellet into position, return the cocking lever to its original position (there's no resistance on the return stroke) and press it against the receiver until it locks into position. This is, bar none, the easiest cocking gun we've tried.

Shooting the FWB 300S is a joy. The two-stage trigger is simply one of the best we have ever used. It is very crisp and predictable. From the factory, it is set at 3.5 ounces, and while it can be adjusted nine ways to Sunday, we saw no reason to; it shoots just fine right out of the box. A note of warning though: there is no safety to prevent accidental discharge once this rifle is loaded and cocked, and the trigger is very light. As a result, we recommend that until you become accustomed to the trigger, keep your finger out of the trigger guard unless you are ready to shoot.

The rear sight is micro-adjustable: one click of either the elevation or windage knobs changes the point of impact by 0.5mm at 10 meters. The manual says, "Your rifle has been carefully sighted at the factory." We regarded this statement with extreme skepticism, but when our first five shots blew the nine ring out of the target, we were willing concede that the manual was right.

Since the 300S is a spring-powered gun, FWB removes recoil from it through a novel arrangement: when a shot is triggered, the movement of the piston trips a sear which releases the entire receiver to slide back about 1/4 inch while the stock remains motionless. If your face is pressed against the rear sight's sunshade, you'll notice a tiny bit of movement when a shot goes off. It's not enough to disturb the sight picture, but if you're accustomed to a pneumatic match rifle, you'll notice a slight difference. From any practical standpoint, however, this truly is a recoilless gun.

In the opening of his excellent novel Point of Impact, Stephen Hunter quotes Colonel Townsend Whelen as saying, "Only accurate rifles are interesting." If that is so (and we agree), then the FWB 300S is one of the most interesting airguns around. Loading it with Beeman's H&N match pellets, ten shots from a benchrest at 10 meters produced a single hole barely larger than a .177 pellet. So we tried ten shots from the bench with Champion's Choice competition pellets. The result was the same: a single hole barely larger than a .177 pellet. Meisterkugelen and Daisy MaxSpeed Premium pellets produced bigger 10-shot groups.

With weighed 8.1 grain Beeman match pellets, ten shots through the chronograph showed speeds as high as 590 feet per second and as low 574 fps. That's a little more variation in speed than we normally see in match rifles, but with all the pellets going in the same hole, who cares? With 7.5 grain Daisy pellets, speeds ranged from 637 fps (very close to the factory rating of 640) to 610 fps.

The bottom line: the FWB 300S is a kick-tail, no-holds-barred, no-quarter- asked-and-none-given accurate rifle. It's a gun that you could take to any match and hope to win, if you are good enough. It's so accurate that we began to think of nutball stunts that could be accomplished with this gun: shooting a playing card in half edgewise, perhaps, or maybe lighting a match.

The 300S is, in fact, everything they say it is: a superb airgun delivering pinpoint accuracy in a recoilless package. As if in confirmation of that, my co- tester voted with his wallet and bought one.



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Beeman FWB 300s Match Air Rifle Specs

Model FWB300s
Manufacturer Feinwerkbau, Germany
Importer Beeman Precision Airguns
Type Spring Piston
Caliber .177
Velocity 640 fps
Energy 6 ft. lb.
Rated Accuarcy 0.04" c-t-c
Overall Length 43.3"
Weight 10.8 lbs.
Cocking Effort 12 lbs.
Trigger 2 stage match adjustable
Sights Match Aperature
Stock Walnut Stained Beech
Safety None
Last Retail Price $1235

 

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