Weihrauch HW100 FSB KT Airgun
Mark Camoccio tests the HW100 FSBKT - the latest bull barrelled carbine from Weihrauch
Fashions and trends influence most walks of life, and our airgun universe is no different. Back in the ‘80’s the clamour for carbine barrels really played a part in the evolution of the modern air rifle, with barrel shortening becoming a central part of any customisation work.
A shorter barrel normally equates to a shorter lock time; albeit a trimming of milliseconds from the shot cycle. Add to this the advantage of manoeuvrability within a confined space, and it’s hardly surprising that a ready market was waiting in the wings. Manufacturers and designers learnt plenty with regards to the optimum barrel length for an air rifle, and whilst I never really subscribed to this way of thinking, preferring a full length barrel regardless, for extra leverage (in the case of my HW77) and improved balance overall, there’s no doubt that research into the viability of ever shorter barrels provided valuable data for subsequent models. Today’s market is all the more varied as a result.
A lot of bull?
In recent years the trend has been for ‘bull’ barrels, and where PCP’s are concerned, more often than not, this has involved a shroud or barrel sleeve encasing the barrel tube itself.
With a steady flow of manufacturers bringing out their own ‘B’ specified models, it was only a matter of time before German giants, Weihrauch, registered an interest… and here it is - the new FSB version of their highly successful HW100 pre-charged pneumatic. FSB stands for ‘Fully Shrouded Barrel’ in case you were wondering.
The HW100 itself, for those unfamiliar with the brand, is a pre-charged pneumatic (PCP), designed primarily with the hunter in mind. A 14 shot magazine system sits at its heart, along with quite the most subtle of side-lever cocking actions.
My test model is the FSB KT, with the latter initials denoting the ‘Karbine Thumbhole’ variant, although by the time you read this review, a full length rifle FSB version should also be in full production.
Weihrauch’s renowned build quality is second to none, which explains why Hull Cartridge, (the official UK distributor) were at pains to point out that my test model was apparently less than A1. Having been hawked from one trade show to another, in a bid to promote the new design, some minor scuff marks have been acquired along the way. Minor they are too, amounting to small scratches to the barrel and valve area.
Suffice to say, these inflicted imperfections apart, the richness of the chemical blueing, and the quality of finish in general, is a credit to Weihrauch.
Before I shot this FSB model, I was sceptical about the effectiveness of the ‘bull barrel’, with regards to sound suppression; yet having now shot it extensively in the field, I have been pleasantly surprised by the muted report that is generated.
The set-up sees a fairly short 12.75inch barrel, set within the breech block, with the forward section encased within a 14inch shroud. Short barrels normally mean significant muzzle crack, so the fact that that’s not the case, is testament to the shroud arrangement. The front space within the shroud (forward of the barrel), acts as an internal expansion chamber, whilst there is also provision for a secondary silencer to be screwed into the muzzle. In addition, the shroud is ‘ported’, with four equidistant holes drilled to the rear; which means that excess spent air is vented back inside the shroud and dissipated on each shot.
To be honest, my experience of several bull barrelled models from other manufacturers, with a similar set-up, has left me fairly unimpressed, since the remaining muzzle report has still been significant. Weihrauch seem to have faired a little better, and with the FSB in the field, the blast as previously confirmed, was tamed significantly.
Filling and loading
A detachable main air cylinder, complete with an on-board manometer (pressure gauge), brings peace of mind on two fronts; allowing for the pressurized section of the rifle to be easily removed and independently safety tested periodically, as well as power reserves to be monitored when the rifle is in use. We really have come on a long way since the early days of PCP use, when keeping a count of the number of pellets shot, was a pre-requisite to any field trip. Now, one glance at residual pressures, will tell any shooter who has done his homework, when it’s time for a re-charge. All good stuff.
Pressurizing the cylinder is easy, given that Weihrauch opt for the point and squirt routine of a ‘bayonet’ probe. The inlet valve sits just behind the on-board pressure gauge, and is neatly protected from foreign bodies, by the use of a nylon plug. Just pull out the plug, push in the air supply probe (maintaining a secure link at the early stages), and pressurize the system to the tune of 200bar. This carbine action then returns around 60 highly consistent shots.
A proviso with any unregulated PCP action is to experiment with different pressures. By charging to a slightly lower pressure, it just may be that the power band can be extended or made even more consistent. Having said that, on test, from the 200bar fill, 57 shots recorded over the chronograph, all within 15fps - extremely good by any standards.
Cycling the action on the FSB is a pleasure in itself. More and more pneumatics these days are incorporating a side lever instead of a bolt to cock the action, but few can live with the HW100 for the sheer precision and effortless operation afforded. Add to that the wonderfully robust rotary magazine mechanism, and it’s hard to believe that this design has remained unchanged since Weihrauch’s first dalliance with pneumatic airguns.
To access the magazine, first pull back the side lever until a satisfying metallic ring is heard. Then pull back the magazine retention button. The mag can now be removed from its recess. Push a pellet into each chamber and reverse the process. You’re now ready to go with no fewer than 14 shots onboard.
Weihrauch accuracy - as always
Balance is a matter of taste as always, and with this particularly compact FSB the centre of gravity is a whisker forward of the trigger guard. Perfect from the kneeling position, yet my standing stance requires more weight up front. For me, an add-on silencer would pay dividends here.
On aim, that thumbhole stock just feels right, with the stippled grip adding distinction as well as really aiding overall handling.
From a rest, using Weihrauchs own dome-headed pellets, accuracy was excellent with tight clusters measuring 0.3 of an inch over 35yds, helped in no small part by the nicely weighted semi match trigger unit. From previous experience of the HW100, this FSB model clearly had nothing to prove, yet seeing the evidence was reassuring nonetheless.
Bull or not?
If sound suppression is the main priority, then don’t expect this version to equal the full-on silencer option. So why opt for the FSB over the original HW100 models in any case? Well it really comes down to personal taste, and dare I say it, we’re back to those fashions and trends. A killjoy would point out at this stage, that this bull-barrelled version offers no advance over the original models, yet that observation is surely to miss the point. Who can argue against the FSB’s sleek, flowing lines….and on that basis alone, why the devil not?
In succumbing to current demands in the market, Weihrauch have simply expanded their range with a further option on a highly successful theme. The HW100 series sits pretty as one of the very best hunting air rifle actions out there, and if bull barrelled designs appeal, then this is easily one of the most thoroughly executed that I have used to date. A worthy addition to Weihrauch’s already classy line-up.
|Model||Weihrauch HW100 FSB KT|
|Calibre||.177 on test (.22 available)|
|Stock||Walnut thumbhole /sporter|
|Power source||Quick fill, removable cylinder (PCP)|
|Velocity||(from 200 bar fill, using Weihrauch F&T pellets)
High - 770 fps
Low - 755 fps
Average - 765 fps
Spread - 15 fps (over 57 shots)
|Price||RRP £750-£800 including silencer, 2x 14 shot magazines and filling adaptors.|
|Extras||Spare main cylinder £165. Single-shot pellet carrier £35approx|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates