Pete Wadeson tests the Weihrauch HW97KT and reckons this latest thumbhole stock variant has been a long overdue...
Prior to the landmark release of their first PCP (the HW100) Weihrauch were best known in the UK for their springer sporters; rugged, reliable and time tested top performing air rifles.
In relation to the HW97K carbine there’s never been a doubt in my mind that this is one of the finest fixed barrel under-lever rifles money can buy. If it had a downside it would be that Weihrauch stayed true to their usual design routine and the action sat in a practical yet not very visually exciting sporter stock. In hindsight I feel this layout didn’t allow the HW97 to perform to the highest degree it’s capable of, and that nicely brings me to the thumbhole version that I have here on test.
Immediately a comparison of the HW97KT’s stock could be made with that of the HW100, but on closer inspection and handling the only design trait they share are the actual shape of the thumbhole employed and the configuration of the pistol grip.
The HW97KT has a rather unusual but very comfortable butt section, in the fact that the top starts as a hogs-back design but then morphs into a relatively high, thickset, ambidextrous cheek piece ending at the shoulder with a fully adjustable butt pad.
A generous amount of stippling is applied to the grip and the relatively slim and lengthy forend that tapers forwards to end in an angled back tip, which actually looks pretty good. The grip design and thumbhole are definitely taken from the HW100. A sensible decision it has proved to be, as this offers the shooting hand a comfortable and sure hold from which to give an optimum level of trigger control.
Smooth action, shorter barrel
As I pressed in the front under-lever release button I realised the action remains smooth and effortless to cock. The lock up is also safe and secure with a reassuring click letting you know the trigger sear has set, while the automatic, cross-bolt, trigger safety ‘snicks’ out to the left to show it has also engaged. Weihrauch have incorporated an anti-bear trap mechanism, so even if the safety catch is taken off and trigger released the rifle will not fire until the under-lever is returned to its original position. The only drawback is that the mech can’t be de-cocked. With the action cocked the sliding breech will have automatically ‘slid back’ to reveal a wide and roomy loading bay, making the task of thumbing a pellet into the exposed breech a much easier task - even in the small .177 calibre.
Once the under-lever is returned to its original position it clicks home and securely locks back in place while the sliding breech moves forward to seal the action. If there has been any alteration I’d say the articulated arm that links the under-lever to the piston head has been changed to give the rifle a surprisingly short cocking stroke. I’d reckon it’s not over 100º of travel, so discreet cocking is made all the easier.
The under-lever mechanism still utilises a rubber 0-ring buffer at the front, which helps make for a relatively quiet operation and also to give a more positive lock up as well ensuring the lever can’t move or rattle around in the under-lever catch housing.
When Weihrauch modified the HW97K a good while back, they shortened the barrel to 11.75” and proportionately brought the moderator back so it now fits flush with the end of the button on the under-lever retaining lug. Due to this simple modification the rifle feels much shorter, as the new design reduces the overall length by approximately 3.25”, it now measuring 40.1” from butt to muzzle.
Accuracy as expected
Like other Weihrauchs, the top of the compression chamber is amply grooved with three stud arrestor holes for dedicated scope use. I soon had a Nikko Stirling Gameking 4 – 16 X 50AO illuminated scope in high mounts and set zero at 30yds.
No surprises that Weihrauch have stuck to using their trademark Rekord 2-stage adjustable trigger unit with auto safety for precise pellet release. The gold anodised trigger blade and adjustment screw add a touch of class to an already top class trigger mechanism. What else can be said of this design except that it’s still the one by which others are judged.
On firing, the weight of the rifle and overall balance help reduce any recoil to a mere nudge, whilst the integral silencer really does hush up the muzzle report to a dull thud. Accuracy is likewise impressive, in the smaller calibre on test I soon settled into producing fingernail sized groups at my 30-yd set zero with quality ammo.
Summing up is easy. The Weihrauch HW97KT is a step forward in design and it’s not been done for looks alone, as it really helps the shooter. Hunters will love this rifle as much as production springer class HFT boys. Me, I’m trying hard to think of a reason why not to add one to my armoury. Unfortunately I’m sadly failing…
• Making a good thing better
• Top under lever design
• Love the new stock
|Type||Under-lever, spring & piston|
|Calibre||.177 on test .22 available|
|Stock||Beech thumbhole sporter with adjustable butt pad|
|Grooved for scope mounting||Y|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates