Mark Camoccio takes a first look at the sporty looking RWS LR25 – the latest pre-charged pneumatic air rifle from RUAG
If first impressions count in life, then this LR25 is certainly off to a flying start. Bold and beautiful best describes what is a highly distinctive offering from the RUAG Ammotec stable, and those flowing lines suggest that it’s pitched towards the dedicated hunting fraternity.
RUAG Ammotec are a huge concern, and their product endorsement normally represents some serious investment. This LR25 project clearly has its basis in quality too, since there is no disguising what is fundamentally a Falcon action lying at its heart. As any airgun enthusiast worth his salt will know, Falcon are a top end UK manufacturer; thus engineering integrity should be taken as read.
Layout and lines
That action by the way, is of the pre-charged kind, and follows the time honoured ‘barrel over cylinder’ configuration. An 8-shot rotary magazine is included with the rifle, and this takes the form of Falcon’s later metal-cased design.
What we have here then is a top quality sporting rifle… for the connoisseur. The eye-catching timber is produced to a unique design blueprint by Minelli in Italy, and the finish and overall styling is excellent. My test rifle came fitted with the beech stock (walnut is available) which, whilst intended as the ‘standard’ version, is clearly anything but. Tasteful laser-cut chequering and rosewood caps to both the fore-end and pistol grip, hardly constitutes ‘roughing it’, and with plenty of attractive graining showing through the thick brown varnish, the whole rifle concedes little in the cosmetics department. Those graceful lines are practical too, as the extended fore-end, complete with schnabel tip, caters for all manner of shooters builds and adopted positions.
Onto the metalwork, and the LR25 follows the trendy route, with the barrel tucked away within a full length shroud. This arrangement provides an initial expansion chamber within the shroud, but the muzzle is threaded, and capped off, to receive a silencer with a male adaptor. Muzzle report as it stands, is wholly acceptable, but if serious hunting is on the cards, the addition of an external silencer would make sense.
The barrel shroud is treated to a near maintenance free matt black finish, whilst the air cylinder itself gets a traditional chemical blue - applied to the usual classy finish expected from Falcon derived components.
Fill and load
Charging the system is via the probe method, and whilst this lacks the fool proof safety aspect of Falcon’s sister company Air Arms, and their ‘T’ bar adaptor fitting, the sheer speed and civilized procedure afforded by the probe, does take some beating. Streamlining the whole PCP ownership deal is an attractive proposition after all, and on that score, this simple push/pull probe tops the list. The Falcon made action includes their standard revolving inlet valve cover, which, whilst of a slick design, might turn a little too easily. Bear in mind it is there to prevent grit and foreign bodies from entering the valving system, and peace of mind needs to be assured.
RWS recommend a fill pressure of 200bar for general use and around 185bar for target shooting. As an unregulated rifle with a relatively simple knock-open valve, this advice is sound, since the higher the pressure in the cylinder, the harder it is for the valve to open initially - resulting in possibly lower power on the first few shots. A lower initial fill pressure will help to flatten the power curve, and provide a more consistent band of shots from the outset.
With the rifle charged, the next step was to load the eight shot magazine, which is carried out as follows; first open the breech by lifting the bolt handle and pulling rearwards. Whilst holding the bolt handle back, slide the magazine out of the right side of the breech. The pellets can now be loaded into the magazine. Hold the mag with the slot at the rear and the indexing gear towards you. Rotate the central drum clockwise until it comes to a stop with an empty chamber showing. Feed a pellet into the empty chamber; then turn the drum anti-clockwise, until the next empty chamber appears. When all eight chambers are full, the drum is rotated anti-clockwise, until it comes to a stop. The wheel should stop between chambers, effectively blocking any pellets from falling out.
On test, whilst the mag felt well made, I noticed that pellets were a little slack when held under the internal rubber ‘o’ ring, so a deliberate action where operating the bolt is concerned, would pay dividends in ensuring everything runs smoothly. Basically, this isn’t the best magazine design on the market, being just a little more demanding of the shooter than some, yet given the care and attention it deserves, it should play ball.
The bolt on this LR25 is of particular interest, since RWS have commissioned custom parts for this model. The result is a chunky, bold design, akin to a cartridge rifle, which may well have been the original design brief. Allowing for the satin finished bolt assembly to be quickly and easily repositioned to deal with the left handed fraternity, is a masterstroke; especially given the ambidextrous nature of the woodwork.
Changing the bolt from right hand to left hand (or vice versa) is, as stated, simplicity itself; requiring no tools of any kind. The procedure is as follows: unscrew the large knurled screw in the back of the loading bolt. Pull the bolt handle off and turn to the desired position. Then push it onto the two pins and refit the knurled screw gently- nipping up against its rubber washer for a snug fit.
One other feature stands out that gives this rifle a really unique feel… and that’s the trigger. An ultra broad, chunky blade is produced in the same satin-finish aluminium as the bolt, and the end result is that the LR25 is left with an indisputable air of superiority.
Get the ammo right
So over the range, what could we expect from this new kid on the block. Consistency wise, this rifle posted highly respectable figures, and with 72 shots all recording velocities within 21fps, using Falcon Accuracy Plus pellets, top class performance should be assured.
Whether or not consistency translates into accuracy is always a matter for experimentation with airguns, and the two are not always aligned, for reasons such as barrel/pellet compatibility and the like. In the case of this LR25, my groups shot at 30yds with Falcon Accuracy Plus pellets, were just a fraction larger than I would have expected. Air Arms Diabolo Field (JSB again), restored confidence, and 5/16th inch clusters soon became the norm. Indeed, get the pellet right, and this rifle should deliver performance befitting of its pedigree.
Handling is where this rifle really scores though, and that stock configuration, incorporating a high cheek piece, graceful fore-end and delicious detailing, is a marvellous piece of design. From both the kneeling and standing position, the slightly front weighted bias pays handsome dividends, and I found I could maintain fairly tight groups if I did my part.
At a time when many a manufacturer is cynically releasing supposed new models which are merely existing models from a different or effectively generic manufacturer, re-branded in all but name, this RWS LR25 manages to be refreshingly different. Yes of course we know the origins at its heart, but enough bespoke work exists to create a genuinely original feel to this rifle.
I was genuinely impressed when opened the packaging containing this LR25 hunting rifle, and my enthusiasm didn’t wane throughout the course of the test period. Having now shot it extensively, I’d say ‘superior and sophisticated’ just about sums it up.
|Country of Origin||UK|
|Calibre||.22 on test|
|Stock||Beech sporter on test/ walnut available|
|Shot Count||72 shots within 21fps from 185bar recommended (200 bar max)|
|Average velocity||630fps (using Falcon Accuracy Plus pellets)|
|Energy||11.83 ft/lbs average|
|RRP||£670 inc. 8 shot magazine|
|Options||Walnut stocked model £760|
|Options||LR20 Carbine models (same prices as above)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates