Feinwerkbau P8X [EN]

Feinwerkbau P8X is a high-end competition air pistol. Production started in 2016 and continues today in Oberndorf, Germany at the Feinwerkbau Westinger & Altenburger. It is a first class pistol, in the same class as Steyer LP10 Evo, Morini CM200, Walther LP500 and Pardini K12. It made an appearance at the Tokyo 2020 olympics, in the air pistol women’s final. It is not as popular as the Steyr or Morini but it gains traction among the younger competitors, so it might show up more often in the future at world cups and championships.

P8X is the last in a long line of air pistols made by Feinwerkbau. A lists that starts in 1965 with the model 65 and then 80 and 90 that were springers, continues with the models 100, 102 and 103 that were SSPs, the models C10, C20 and C25 on CO2 and at the end with the models P30, P34, P40, P44 and P8X that are PCPs.

This is also the evolution of air pistol technology: first were the springers, that use the power of a spring to push a piston, then came the SSPs, meaning Single Stroke Pneumatic, that compress air with a manual lever, then came the CO2s that store carbon dioxide in a small cylinder and finally, the current tech that is the PCPs, Pre Charged Pneumatic, the store compressed air in a cylinder.

The cylinder used by the p8x contains 97 cc of compressed air at 200 bars. This volume is enough for 160-170 shots, after which the pressure is at around 100 bars. On the included manometer, it can be observed that the maximum pressure is 200 bars and the minimum pressure is 80 bars. I tested this and from 200 bars I shot 165 shots and at the end the pressure was a little above 100. The manufacturer states in the manual that, when the needle is at 100 bars, there are 30 shots left in the cylinder. 

The pistol is equipped with a Belleville washer air regulator, so the air released is constant until the minimum pressure of 80 bars. This makes the pellet projectile speed to be constant between 200 and 80 bars – very important for accuracy. Below 80 bars, when the needle drops below the green area , the speed drops and so does the accuracy.

I tested the pellet speed on a chronograph with an almost full tank and an almost empty tank. The speed was constant around 151-152 m/s for a 8.1gr pellet. For a lighter 7gr pellet, the speed was around 163-164 m/s.

The compressed air cylinder can be filled with a special pump, a SCUBA tank or a compressor. None of the options are easy or cheap. The pump costs around 175-300 euros and requires significant manual effort. The SCUBA tank is also around 200 euros but then you need to find a diving shop to refill it, and that also costs something. And a compressor that goes all the way to 200 bars costs around 700-1000 euros – quite expensive. I chose the manual pump variant.

Like i said, the P8X is a competition pistol and as such it must comply with the ISSF rules for the 10m air pistol event:

  • Single shot only – a new pellet must be loaded manually after each shot
  • 4.5 mm or .177 inch caliber
  • Uses lead pellets of the wadcutter type – it has a flat nose
  • The total weight of the pistol is below the maximum of 1.5kg – it actually weights 995 grams with 2 barrel weights
  • Trigger weight is above the minimum of 500 grams – but only slightly
  • Length is below the maximum of 420mm – at 415mm
  • Height is below the maximum of 200mm – at 145mm
  • Barrel length is 218mm

Operation is quite simple: the side lever opens the action and retracts the bolt. At the end of travel, the lever meets resistance. Pushing through that resistance makes a click – that is the cocking of the striker. Next the pellet is placed in the trough / channel. And then the side lever is pushed forward until it clicks in the closed position. By doing this, the bolt pushes the pellet into the chamber.

One thing I encountered is that, sometimes, the pellet catches on the chamber outer edge and cannot be pushed in. Repositioning the pellet solves this. Don;t know if it’s a pistol problem or a pellet problem.

There is, ofcourse, a dry fire mechanism like in any competition pistol, as is an indispensable training tool. The system is operated by a cross bar above the trigger. Pushed all the way to the left, when the white dot is visible, the dryfire system is engaged. The trigger can be pulled with the same characteristics but no air will be expelled. If the bar is all the way to the right, with the red dot visible, the pistol is ready for live fire. The crossbar can move only when the action is cocked.

The pistol has a very good balance, right in front of the trigger. But for those who prefer a little more weight at the muzzle, there is a very nice weight system. The P8X comes with 2 sets of 2 15grams sliding weights. They are inserted into the rail at the back, then pushed to the desired location and then fixed into place with the screw on top.

The trigger is a strong point for this model, although it is a mechanical trigger. It is extremely smooth, crisp and precise. Some say it rivals the electronic trigger of other manufacturers. 

Like any competition trigger, it has 2 stages: the first stage has around 400 grams, then there is a very clear wall that is the second stage. To overcome this wall, another 110-120 grams are required. The gun goes click but the trigger blade does not move any further. This makes a good trigger.

All the trigger parameters are adjustable:

  • The trigger blade can be moved in all 3 dimensions – up-down, left-right or rotated – as it is mounted on a ball joint
  • The trigger blade assembly can be moved up or down and forwards or backwards to suit the shooter’s finger length.
  • First stage weight is adjusted from the F1 screw
  • Second stage weight is adjusted from the F2 screw
  • First stage length is adjusted from the S1 screw
  • Trigger stop or overtravel after release can also be adjusted with a screw
  • Sear engagement can also be adjusted

The trigger comes perfectly configured from the factory. It is advisable to leave it like that.

The sighting system is also of the highest quality and fully adjustable. The default front sight is 4.2mm in width, which for a normal person arm length corresponds to the perceived width of the air pistol target black bull at 10 meters. There are front sights with other widths available for purchase. The post can be moved on a rail and the whole rail can be canted to the left or right with the two lateral screws. 

The rear sight can be moved backward as a whole on a rail and also canted left-right with two lateral screws. The rear sight can be adjusted for windage from right thumb screw where, if the shots are to the Right of the intended spot, rotate the screw towards R. The elevation thumb screw is on the left where if the shots are too high, rotate the screw towards H. Both thumb screws are click adjustable, where a click changes the impact point by 2mm on a target at 10 meters.

Further adjustments to the rear sight can be done via a screw on the right side that modifies the rear sight cut width from 2.2mm to 7.5mm and a screw in the center modifies the rear sight cut depth from 1.8mm to 3.2mm.

The grip is also very adjustable on the P8X model. It comes from the factory as a single piece  anatomical grip made from walnut wood. It can be ordered in all sizes: XS, S, M, L and XL for both left and right hands. The size can be further adjusted with the palm support that can be moved up or down for approximately 1cm. 

The position of the grip can be also adjusted. The grip inclination forward to backwards and left to right can be modified, as well as grip rotation to the barrel axis for 3 degrees. All these adjustments can be done with the grip still attached on the pistol, by inserting an allen key in the grip holes where the adjustment screws are.

The P8X has 3 recoil reduction systems:

  1. Absorber: it is a small piston behind the trigger. When pulling the trigger the valve at the intermediate chamber is opened by the firing piece and the propelling charge released. The propelling charge will drive the pellet out of the barrel, simultaneously the piston of the absorber is driven to the rear via a push rod inside the bolt. Due to the counter acting masses (pellet, piston) the pellet impulse felt by the shooter is significantly reduced.
  2. Compensator: is a cone in front of the barrel muzzle. This diverts the air flow from behind the pellet so that it does not destabilize it.
  3. Stabilizer or barrel ports: small holes on the top of the barrel where a bit of air escapes. This upward air flow pushes the barrel down to counteract the upward movement due to recoil.

An air pistol recoil is mild but with these systems it is removed completely.

One thing to note here, the absorber needs to be checked regularly. The manual states a procedure to check the operation by feeling a resistance when opening the side lever after a shot. I… cannot feel that resistance. If anyone has additional info on this, please leave a comment.

Also, the absorber piston can be knocked off its normal position by strong vibrations that can happen during transport. Because of that, the manufacturer provides a travel lock – a small red plastic shim that needs to be inserted into the side hole.

In the box we find a huge plastic pistol case. It is meant to carry more than just the pistol. Inside we get the test fire card, the user manual plus some advertising brochures, 2 air cylinder thread protection caps, the tool box , an extra air cylinder and the gun wrapped in a plastic bag. Inside the toolbox we find a screwdriver, the air filling adaptor inside a plastic mesh for protecting the threads, the 2 sets of barrel weights, 2 allen keys, the discharge tool and a company logo sticker. 

Maintenance of this pistol is quite light. The manual mentions the regular greasing of the air cylinder threads with the special Feinwerkbau grease. Once a year, the trigger parts should also be greased and the barrel cleaned with a normal cleaning kit.

Feinwerkbau P8X is a modern air pistol, launched relatively recently, that starts to make its presence felt in international competitions. It is extremely adjustable and has a very good mechanical trigger. For those who don’t want the hassle of an electronic trigger, the P8X is the best choice.

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