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Beeman-Feinwerkau model 300S running boar air rifle.

* I'm no different from any other G&A reader when it comes to reading Peter Hathaway Capstick. That man is a wordsmith of the highest order .... I think he could make an article about re-plumbing a house both interesting and exciting. So a few months ago when he did a story on "Mini-sniping," and how he discovered precision air rifle shooting, I kinda let myself get roped into trying it.

Peter's description of the fantastic accuracy potential that the top quality air rifles possess did intrigue me. I've always found superbly accurate arms hold my attention for a long time. Since I've never had the opportunity to spend a prolonged period of time with one of the match-quality air rifles, I decided it was time I gave it a try.

A call to Beeman, Inc., 47 Paul Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903, put me in touch with Jim Iavarone, Beeman's public relations director, and within a few moments he said he'd send along a Beeman/Feinwerkbau Model 300S Running Boar air rifle so I could get the itch from my system (if I only knew then what I know now I'd never have made the call, and it would have been a lot cheaper)!

Upon receipt of the air gun, I found that Mr. Iavarone had been kind enough to fit the rifle with Beeman's rings and one of Beeman's 66R 2-7X variable scopes. He'd also included pellets of varying brands so I could find which one shot best from that particular rifle. As with most firearms, each air rifle will show a proclivity toward one brand of ammo. Until you find the particular brand, you won't be extracting the accuracy of which the arm is capable. More on the accuracy is hard to believe.

After spending some time in my backyard shooting at expended 9mm Parabellum cases, as my friend Peter had in his article, I began to locate more difficult targets. Not that toppling the cases wasn't difficult enough, it's just that when my hold was good, and I doped the wind properly, it wasn't all that much of problem. My targets consisted of flies that would settle on flowers, bumblebees doing the same, and various nicks, marks and small depressions in the 5-1/2-tall block wall fence that surrounds my backyard. A word of caution here: Make no mistake, air rifles can be dangerous, and you must take the same precautions with one that you would take with a normal firearm. Never did I elevate the Feinwerkbau above the fenceline. The dogs were placed in the house during shooting, and all normal safety rules were followed.

During the actual testing period the primary targets were the normal 10-meter air rifle targets, with their unbelievably small .040-inch 10 ring. From a bench, however, and with the scope turned up to the full 7X, hitting some part of the 10 ring was easy. Twenty-round groups measured less than 1/2-inch, center to center; and it was possible to shoot them anytime I wanted, so long as there was no breeze to contend with. If there was any wind whatsoever, accuracy became much more difficult because that little 5-grain pellet was affected by the slightest wisp.

There's little doubt in my mind that the Running Boar Feinwerkbau was more accurate than the 1/5-inch groups I was getting from the bench. I simply can't hold tighter than that for 20 shots. However, I did manage one 10-shot group that slipped in at .111-inch, center to center. The .177 caliber pellets my test rifle preferred were the Beeman H&N Match Grade missiles. Others that worked almost as well included the Beeman Silver Jets and Silver Bears.

The basic Feinwerkbau 300S is a spring piston gun that is used primarily for match competition. One stroke of the side-mounted cocking lever prepares the gun for firing. The trigger is adjustable both for weight of pull and the actual location within the triggerguard. The pull on the test rifle was set at the factory at 17 ounces, and to my way of thinking that's light enough for all but the serious match shooter, which I'm definitely not.

The walnut stock is a great aid to accurate shooting in that the comb height is fully adjustable via a sping-loaded adjustable cheekpiece. The walnut buttplate is also adjustable to ensure each and every mounting of the rifle to be in the same place on the shoulder. The stock is of the thumb-hole design, and both the pistolgrip and fore-end are stippled to aid the shooter in getting a good grip on the rifle.

To assist the shooter in overcoming the recoil (?) of the spring-powered piston going forward, the whole barreled action is released from its solid position in the stock during the firing cycle. At the instant of firing the movement of the piston releases a sear, allowing the whole barreled action to move rearward on a set of hardened metallic rails about 5/8 inch. This short movement provides the equal and opposite action needed to absorb the recoil of the piston movement. Tilt the rifle downward after the shot, and the action slides back into battery. All this is done because the pellet is in the barrel so long (when compared to a firearm) that the shooter needs to keep the sights in line for a longer period of time. When firing the 300S, it does seem that the sights never leave the target.

Another reason for the fantastic accuracy of all the finest quality air rifles (and specifically the 300S Running Boar rifle I was using) is velocity repeatability from shot to shot. I chronographed 30 pellets over the Oehler Model 33, and the extreme spread from the lowest to the highest was a miniscule 4 feet per second (fps). The particular pellets I was using averaged 597 fps for those 30 shots. This is somewhat under the 640 fps claimed in the Feinwerkbau specifications, but with the kind of accuracy mentioned above, who is going to complain? The discrepancy is probably caused by the pellets being a tighter fit thatn what might be optimum--some match shooters use a precision tool to trim the skirts of their pellets, but I doubt I could tell the difference.

I also found the "adult air gun," as Beeman likes to call these match guns, to be a perfect aid for training children in the proper method of using a scoped hunting rifle. My 12-year-old son is getting ready to go on his first prairie dog shoot this summer, and he'd spent little time with a scoped-sighted rifle. But not any more. Every night for about three weeks we'd shoot in the backyard for about 15 minutes after I got home from work. It didn't take long before 1/2-inch groups were the norm, and I'll also admit he snuck a few in at close to 1/4-inch. Come prairie dog time young Jeff will be ready--thanks to the Feinwerkbau.

Now here comes the only rough part. As you might imagine, an air rifle of this quality isn't fact it's downright expensive. This Feinwerkbau 300S Running Boar lists for $735, and that doesn't include sights, which with the 66R scope and Beeman rings adds another $193.48. You have to ask yourself the question: Is an air gun worth that much? Let's tally it up. I've taught my son how to accurately shoot a scoped rifle without a single comparatively expensive cartridge going off; the most accurate arm in my gun safe is now an air rifle; I have a gun I can take into the backyard and shoot anytime I have the desire; once the original cash outlay is over, feeding the gun is minimal, as even match grade pellets cost less than $8 per 500; and on those long winter evenings you can purchase an inexpensive pellet trap and shoot in the comfort of your living room.

When all is said and done, what you have is an expensive toy that costs very little once you have it in your possession. If a person can justify it, I think you'll find the Feinwerkbau air rifle pays for itself in a variety of ways--it's enjoyable, it's a fine teaching aid, and it can make its owner a better shot. I've now got the one sitting in my gun safe next to my own original Daisy Red Ryder....There is a difference!
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Author:Hetzler, Dave
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Jul 1, 1985
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