Falco 9mm rimfire rifle.
The 9mm Falco rimfire rifle is a light little gun with a stubby action body and monoblock breech into which is fitted a remarkably slim barrel.
The breech dimensions and construction are sized so that it can accommodate a .410 barrel on the same action. Based on the normal break-open principle this, like those poachers? .410s of the inter-war period, is a folding gun.
While early examples of this type have a tiny fore-end to give a reasonable amount of clearance to the trigger-guard with the barrel folded, the Falco is more sophisticated. In fact, the fore-end is a clever and well-though-out piece of work.
With the scallop in the underside of the fore-end, angled cutaways adjacent to the action knuckle and an additional half-round cut-out, it has an intriguing appearance. All becomes clear when the gun is broken open.
Unlike a conventional gun with a fore-end iron, the Falco does not only open sufficiently to load a cartridge, but continues to hinge open until the trigger-guard makes contact with the fore-end wood.
Then the purpose of the other wood shaping becomes obvious.
The cutaways on either side give clearance to the bottom of the action bar, allowing some fore-end wood to enter between the action sides. The small half-moon cut-out provides a bit of extra clearance at the front of the trigger-plate.
I cannot help wondering if it was designed like this or someone at the bench simply kept removing wood until it fitted ? I favour the latter scenario.
A snug fit
A 9mm rimfire, which is intended for the humblest of uses, is never going to be an upmarket gun. However, the fit of metal parts and wood to metal is surprisingly good.
There is a gap between the fore-end and front of the action, but the head of the stock against the rear of the action is quite a snug fit. This is not necessary to absorb recoil with such a tiny cartridge, but in the normal wear and tear of gun handling it is an area sometimes subject to hard knocks.
It is also worth remembering that those guns regarded very much as a basic tool tend to get a harder life than a pampered, expensive model.
Laid on the rear floor of the 4×4 and trampled by dogs is more likely to be the lot of this sort of gun, rather than being coddled in the gunroom.
Small and lightweight
I think it is a mistake to assume an economy gun will not handle properly. At only 4lb all up weight, this 9mm flies to the shoulder and is ideal for a quick snap-shot or flicking one way or another in a sudden change of direction.
The length of pull to the middle of the butt-plate of more than 14.1/2in proved satisfactory when holding the fore-end with the leading hand just short of the sling-swivel.
However, a sling-swivel is completely unnecessary on a gun that will almost fit in a large pocket. A drop across the comb of 1.1/4in, falling to 2.1/4in at the heel, meant that it did throw the shot a bit high.
Still, this would at least give you a good view over the barrel of the tail end of a rat as it scurried away as well as ensuring good shot placement.
The simple curved semi-bag grip allied to the relative thickness through the hand made for a good hold, even with large hands.
An area where economies have been made, though not to the detriment of the gun, is the use of beech rather than walnut for the woodwork.
For this kind of application, beech, which is both strong and stable, is better in some ways than a cheap piece of sappy walnut. One peculiarity of beech is that, while it cuts cleanly to allow good shaping and laser chequering, it is difficult to achieve a nice colour apart from its natural yellowish appearance.
The makers have overcome this problem by using a matt-brown varnish, a solution that is sometimes used on more expensive guns.
Because this gun is a single-barrel non-ejector with non-automatic safety, the lockwork is quite basic. It is also a bit novel.
The gun, which is essentially a trigger-plate action, is opened by pushing on the extension lever at the back of the trigger-guard. This hinges at the front, simultaneously pulling back the locking bolt and pushing the hammer rearwards into the cocked position.
The hammer compresses against a helical spring and is linked with the cocking arm to provide engagement to the trigger-sear.
An extension at the rear of the trigger-sear engages with the safety button. With this type of simple arrangement the sear engagement is quite deep, which results in a long trigger-pull.
To accommodate the hammer, the trigger is offset to the right side of the trigger-plate.
The slightly odd, though functional, appearance is not unattractive. Externally the steelwork has clean lines with the deep-black finish and only the investment-cast trigger and guard show a plain case-hardened colouring.
At first the barrel appears unusually long, mainly due to its modest bore size, and, at 27.1/2in, it is longer than technically necessary, but it gives a good visual and practical balance.
Thinking in feet
So, what use can there be for such a tiny-gauge gun? To understand this, it is important to find out how the gun performs. Therefore, this 9mm was subjected to more comprehensive testing than some of its larger brethren.
With a mini-gun like this it is necessary to start thinking in feet rather than yards. This is not unreasonable for something that might be used around buildings and on farm trackways and lanes, which are only 12ft or so wide.
A starting point was 6ft from the muzzle. At this distance most of the shot was contained in a 3/4in hole. At 12ft the pattern was nice with a 3in circle and at 18ft there was still a good pattern.
At 24ft (eight yards) there was still the potential for bowling a rodent over, but by 30ft the small amount of shot was very thinly spread.
Some idea of penetration was obtained on large windfall apples. At 6ft the apple was blown to pieces, at 8ft and 12ft there was sufficient punch to rip large chunks off them.
Even at 24ft the shot still whipped straight through.
A terrier?s bark
The performance of this miniscule 9mm Flobert cartridge, or what the British refer to as No. 3 long shot, came as something of a surprise.
The blurb on the box claims that they are doublecharged, which – wait for it – equates to nearly 90 No. 7 shot pellets.
In spite of this being the big 9mm, in combination with the Falco, there is no recoil and even the expected bang of discharge only just registered, like the bark of a very small and slightly startled terrier.
At close distances the sound of the shot striking the pattern plate was more obvious than the noise at the muzzle.
There is no doubt such a small-gauge gun does have its uses and hunting small rodents in a close environment has to be its best employment.
However, this gun needs to be handled with caution – it performs well and is not a toy in any sense of the word.
All normal safety procedures have to be observed, especially with regard to ricochets.
Shot patterns 4/5
Importer: York Guns
Tel: 01904 487180