A veteran shooter would say: at last! Because up to now, anyone who has tested training airguns that are available at shooting ranges, has been left with the impression that they were aweful. They worked, of course, but were harbingers of poor results and did not enable anyone to improve. Shooters, in fact, not being able to have any confidence in their own sporting equipment didn’t know, if their poor performance was due to their own mediocrity, or whether the cause was a defect in the gun.
If we look at the current situation in Italy, we can say, that training airguns available at national shooting galleries range from the Beretta Weatherby, which is suitable for everything but target shooting, to the Beretta 70 with its long barrel, right up to the tremendous and legendary Drulov, which older shooters will remember as a training gun for Free Pistol (50 m) shooting.
We even got younger shooters to try it out, hoping they’d break it once and for all: nothing doing, amongst this airgun’s main defects was also its utter indestructability.
We guess in other countries it will not be so much different, when renting an airgun.
The situation in Italy has gradually improved over the past two years, thanks to a collaboration between Chiappa Firearms and La Domino, a company that has been active in the design of competitive airguns and accessories for over forty years.
The founder of Domino was a skilled Automatic Pistol marksman. Like Pardini and Palamà he transferred his own high level competitions experience into his airguns. In addition to the Amarcord - familiar to older shooters - some will also remember the IGI-Domino, distributed by Ravizza.
The first result of the Chiappa-La Domino collaboration was the creation of the Chiappa FAS AP 6004 compressed airgun, an updated version of the FAS 604, which was a very accurate airgun, despite the low muzzle velocity of the pellet.
Moreover, it was a manual pre-compression handgun and it was necessary to balance the output speed against ease of use – above all it wasn’t tiring to use – but compression had to be repeated for every shot right up to the end of the competition.
Nowadays, we’re in the era of the FAS AR611 compressed air rifle with its pre-charged air tank - an airgun designed for 10-meter ISSF shooting but which is also useful for the basic training of shooters who are coming into this specialty. It is also ideal for young Field Target shooting enthusiasts who might find it at national shooting ranges thanks to its good value for money ratio. And: the product is available in almost all international markets.
The Match trigger is adjustable for trigger resistance and distribution between the first and second stroke, the length of each stroke and the trigger return. These are the same adjustments we find on high-end rifles designed for international competition.
The barrel is 63 centimeters long and features ten right-handed grooves rifling, and it is completely free floated without any support point. The front attachment has the milled dovetailing necessary for mounting a front sight with circular crosshairs, as is customary for use in competitions.
The barrel can be rotated by loosening the two screws located on the breech in front of the dual milled elements, which allows the attachment of an adjustable aperture sight or even a telescopic sight. In this way it can be adjusted to suit the physical make up and position of the shooter, who can tilt the rifle and has, in its sights, the references needed to consistently reproduce the same position.
The line of sight is 58 cm long. The action is operated via a small lever, which rotates on a horizontal plane and serves to arm the trigger mechanism and expose the breech to load the pellet; on bringing the lever back into position, the pellet is forced into the chamber.
The propulsion relies on compressed air in a tank that is fitted with a pressure gauge. This cannot be completely disassembled, but there must necessarily be a device to lower the pressure in the tank to a constant value.
An adapter to connect the cylinder to the compressed air tank for recharging is supplied.
The stock is ambidextrous, in natural oiled walnut; the cheek piece is adjustable and even the butt plate can be moved up or down.
The air rifle is fitted with a fully adjustable leaf rear sight. However, the airgun is definitely not a Leibnizian Monad, complete in itself; it can be accessorised at will, with suitable sights and a different stock. It can easily be converted into a competition airgun. It isn’t the FAS 611 with which you can take part in world championships, but some competitions can be taken on successfully.
Ultimately, the essential characteristics of a competition airgun are accuracy and the ability to adjust the trigger - and in this gun, we can find uncompromised quality.
It’s worth noting that the FAS AR611 is the only sports rifle with a floating 600 mm barrel, which is free to rotate around its own axis to allow the maximum level of alignment between the line of fire and the target.
A 9mm / 11mm track can be found underneath the fore-stock, which allows the use of accessories like counterweights, or - and why not - a strap to begin to get used to shooting in positions like kneeling or laying down on the ground.
For now, the FAS 611 is available in a "restricted version" chambered in 4.5/.177 caliber with a muzzle energy below the decisive 7.5 joule level, corresponding to a pellet speed of 167 meters per second. The time of flight of the pellet is approximately six hundredths of a second. It can be bought without a gun license.
Different versions with superior power (therefore needing a firearms license) are planned for the future, in both 4.5 and 5.5 millimeter calibers, that will undoubtedly go on to occupy a rank amongst commonly used airguns.