In a market where many of the best air pistols routinely cost more than $1200.00, the search for a good, all-around match gun in the $900.00 range is a tough one. Ladies and gentleman, we have a new entrant. The 609 from Italian firearms maker FAS represents a new possibility in a very small field of good quality, moderate cost choices for the 10 meter enthusiast.
FAS has been known primarily for their smallbore standard and rapid-fire guns throughout the years, but they wanted to offer a new match air pistol to the shooting world. After a few years of testing and refinement, the 609 is available as a pre-charged (SCUBA) offering. The gun came shipped in the ubiquitous black plastic box, foam lined and contained not only the pistol, but a second cylinder, tool pouch, and filling adapter as well. These are basic items, along with extra rear sight blades in varying widths, and a dozen or so felt cleaning pellets. In my opinion, all pistols should have at least this assortment of items included as standard fare - along with a real operating manual. As was the case with the Pardini K2, the single sheet of information supplied with the gun left much to be desired in terms of simple functioning of the action and dry fire mechanism, let alone any mention of cleaning and routine lubrication points and frequency. But enough on that, let's get to the specs.
The 609 is a large pistol overall, as with most match guns, and it tipped the scales at just over 965 grams - a little more than 2 pounds. This is a comfortable weight to work with, and I did see noted that additional weights of 50 grams each are available if you desire a heavier feel. It is 16.5" in overall length, and has a barrel that is 10" long from breech to muzzle. An 8.75" long air cylinder (the two supplied were a pleasant looking dark blue color) is attached to the frame in the common manner, directly below the barrel, and far enough apart to allow no contact between the two. The frame is machined from non-anodized aluminum, and is finished as a brushed silver. The barrel and sights are blued a rich, dark shade. These colors, combined with a laminated grip in various shades of green, created a "cool" looking gun, both literally and figuratively speaking. A note of displeasure on the grip: Although it looked attractive, and was well formed, the detail was very rough, and it was made of a very light weight wood. The palm shelf was cracked during shipping on the first set of grips that I received, and on the second set I was very careful not to torque the set screw too much when adjusting the shelf. Simply put, I think that FAS could do better on the grip.
The action is a typical falling block type. Rotating the lever on the left side of the frame opens the loading port to the breech, cocks the trigger mechanism, and stages air in from the reservoir. With the cocking lever pulled all the way back, you have two options; load a pellet into the trough and rotate the lever back to its forward position - where it latches with a soft click, or pull out on the small, blued switch on the right of the frame - activating the dry fire mechanism, and return the lever forward to fine tune your technique. The bolt is tapered, and retreats to allow easy insertion of pellets. The dry fire lever was a bit of a puzzle to figure out, but once I did it was simple to use. One note: the pistol DOES stage air even in dry-fire mode, so you should fire a pellet after practicing to empty the cache. This is not peculiar in the match air pistol world, but you should be aware of it from the onset.
The trigger is adjustable for 1st stage weight, 1st stage length, 2nd stage weight, 2nd stage length, length of pull, and angle. It is not the finest trigger I have ever felt, but it is very adjustable, moderately crisp, and consistent shot after shot. I would affix a small strip of grip-tape to the blade to get a more positive feel, but that is a personal preference. It was set up very close to my liking, and after only a minute change in the second stage length, I found it very acceptable. The grip positions the hand in a slightly forward rotation, which serves to help steady the wrist, and allows good indexing of the trigger.
The sights. Well, I can't say that I was wild about them, but again, they are perfectly functional. The rear sight is mounted on a tang that affixes to one of two positions on the frame. I left it alone, as the 13.5" radius was within my acceptable specs. The sight requires a tool to adjust, and once the click is heard and felt, the screw was able to rotate slightly back and forth. This did not seem to affect the point of impact, but just like the grips, did not speak of really fine quality manufacture. Each click moves the P.O.I. 2.5 mm, which is an average level of precision. Additional rear blades in varying widths are available, with two widths on each blade. Two small screws hold the blade firmly in place. The front sight as supplied was a Nygord "TurboComp" model. This was one of the few "trick" features of the gun, and I feel that it complimented the design quite nicely. The front blade widths also come in a variety, and are sharp and provide a nice sight picture. The addition of a compensator allows the pistol to fire without any muzzle "flip", which in turn should allow the shooter to concentrate on following through the shot, and better overall consistency.
After opening a tin of RWS R10 Lights, I headed for the proving grounds of my basement range. The 609 performed well, with consistent groups, a comfortable feel, and flawless function. Very well mannered, and overall a pleasure to use. I did feel that a few things would really put this model into the next level of world class match pistols.
In spite of those few comments, I find the 609 is a solid performer, and capable of putting together single hole groups if you are up to the task. And at the current offered price of $895.00 with the TurboComp, it represents a very good value. I feel comfortable in recommending this pistol to anyone looking to move up from the Daisys, Gamos, and Baikals into a good quality, pre-charged model.