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- Last updated: 17/10/2023
I am well aware that I have overlooked the Weihrauch HW57 for way too long, yet just as it grabs my attention, Weihrauch decided to press the upgrade button. The changes are subtle, admittedly, but this decidedly handy sporter just got even better.
For some reason, I’ve always overlooked Weihrauch’s HW57, instead choosing to favour other models, over what I considered to be a rather vague and watered-down specification. Yet with a brand-new example sitting in front of me, fresh from the test range, I have to say that my eyes have been well and truly opened.
In fact, when you think about it, Weihrauch has quietly gone about rationalizing and streamlining its product line-up over the last few years or so, which has seen a few models dropped altogether. The HW85 is no more, and the lacklustre HW50 has also bitten the dust. But take a look down the list now, and each model is distinctive, with a specific role to play. Fixed barrel accuracy was famously spearheaded by the all-conquering ‘77, and the ‘97 derivatives built upon the success of this groundbreaking sporter. However, any of these full-powered models will make their presence felt in the field, weighing in at around the 9 lbs mark.
So, what if the idea of a fixed barrel appeals, yet you favour a lighter rifle altogether? Well,
scan over the stats for the HW57, and its brief is clear, as it shows a fixed barrel configuration, ultra-safe loading (with no fingers in an open breech), and full power, yet all in a lightweight format. Glance through Weihrauch’s latest catalogue, and they refer to this model as the “biggest little rifle you can buy”, and that’s quite a good strapline, given what’s on offer. Indeed, consider that you’re getting full power and a fixed barrel configuration, yet the total weight is some 2 lbs off the HW77/ HW97 line-up, and the point is made. There’s also a rising breech block, open sights as standard, a quality 2-stage trigger, an auto safety, scope rails, and that sleek, beech sporter stock. This latest spec even comes screw-cut at the muzzle.
Weihrauch fans of the late 80s will of course pick up on the fact that the company’s modern chequering is shallow when compared to the spectacular, deep diamonds of old, yet for traditional operations such as Weihrauch to compete in the modern marketplace, against cheaply made Far Eastern fare, they need to consolidate and adopt modern methods of production. Many of those old classics were hand-cut, which adds a huge cost to the operation, so it’s hardly surprising the process had to change. To that end, the laser-cut chequering is both attractive and pin-perfect, as you would expect. I particularly like the company name picked out on the forend, and the small ‘m’ on the grip, which presumably signifies stock production by Minelli in Italy. A slight misfit on the butt pad on my test gun is a Weihrauch detail you wouldn’t expect, and that cheekpiece is a bit bland, but overall, it works well.
Whenever I subconsciously cocked the HW57, I always assumed that the rising breech block would be nylon/plastic, as per a few cheaper rivals on the market. But no, the ‘57 sports an all-metal construction, certainly externally, and this, coupled with Weihrauch’s trademark chemically blued and polished metalwork, results in a compact sporter with a high-quality feel.
Weihrauch supplies this model, as mentioned, fitted with open sights as standard, and I would recommend that these be utilized for a period, as this basic grounding is always time well spent, especially for the novice shot. Learning about the finer elements of marksmanship, and how even the tiniest change in position, sight picture, and stance, can alter the impact point, is an early lesson for any budding enthusiast. This model is pitched as a more general model too, so the inclusion of open sights is a clever move.
Arrive at the point where performance wants to be pushed to the limit, then the natural next step has to be to fit a scope. First, remove that beautifully over-engineered rear sight, by simply slackening the bolt and sliding it rearwards off the rails. The foresight, incidentally, has to stay put, since it is all part of the under-lever clip casting. This is no problem though, other than perceived aesthetics. Fitting glassware is a fairly simple task, given the long dovetail rails and the usual Weihrauch arrestor stud hole configuration, and I soon had glassware locked in place, using twin ring mounts which I had to hand. If this was my rifle long-term, I would almost certainly fit a one-piece mount, or add a small arrestor block to kill any movement under recoil.
Get the HW57 in the shoulder, and you are instantly reminded of its pedigree, and I like that small flat at the rear of the stock for the thumb-up hand grip. To cock the action, gently pull back the knurled, spring-loaded catch at the tip of the under-lever, and the lever will drop down. Now, pull the lever all the way down and back until the trigger and piston are heard to engage. At the same time, that small breech block rises up, exposing an aperture for the pellet. Normally, best practice at this stage would dictate that the lever be held tightly whilst a pellet is chambered, but with no open breech and fingers to worry about, the procedure is to close up the lever first, and then worry about feeding a pellet into the breech. The block will not close until the lever is latched up in any case. Something to bear in mind is that the breech block needs pushing down each time, and this needs to be done consistently and firmly. This latest spec now includes two white dots as a guide, on either side of the aperture, and that’s a clever move from Weihrauch.
Take care at this stage to keep the gun pointing slightly down, as the breech is chamfered, making most pellets a fairly slack fit. Hold the gun tilting back, and the pellet will often fall out, which is slightly irritating. Stick to leaning it forward, and all works well, however.
When cocking this model, the fingers are a bit near the muzzle for comfort, which is something to bear in mind for safety. Imagine if you forget whether the gun is cocked and loaded (which does happen), then this becomes relevant. Fit a silencer mind you, courtesy of the new ½” UNF screw-cut muzzle, and everything instantly becomes a lot safer.
On the plus side, cocking effort at this stage is impressively low, given the dimensions to play with. Plus, add in the usual subtleties that come with Weihrauch’s renowned Rekord 2-stage trigger, and performance is off to a flying start.
The firing cycle is pretty noisy, or certainly was with my test rifle, with plenty of spring twang, yet the felt recoil was fairly mild. As with any Weihrauch, the potential after a strip down and proper lubrication regime is significant, and I’m sure the feel of this diminutive sporter could be transformed with some judicious tinkering. That’s partly what we invest in with this brand after all.
And so, to the vital statistics. Chrono checks returned a super consistent 11.1 ft/lbs with AA Diabolo Field pellets, and 11.3 ft/lbs with Webley Mosquito, which is spot on for factory set hardware. As for accuracy, groups under 0.5” at 30 yards were a great start. If you persevere with pellet trials and apply technique, then performance will only improve with this model.
The HW57 is one of the most manageable full-power sporting rifles and the lightest under-lever that Weihrauch produces. As mentioned, invest in a tune-up of the action, and this compact and highly satisfying rifle will just blossom.
So, for a high-quality, general-purpose sporter that’s capable of top-class accuracy, that can be carried for an extended period without undue fatigue, the HW57 is hard to ignore. It is definitely worthy of its place in the famous Weihrauch line-up.