Weihrauch HW40 PCA
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- Last updated: 07/12/2023
I don’t deny that I can be a bore on the subject of single-stroke pneumatic airguns, but there’s a good reason for that, as the characteristics of the system are so appealing. Admittedly, many of us have become rather lazy with the modern PCP, and filling one of these from a diver’s bottle leaves the shooter with a significant number of fairly effortless shots thereafter.
By comparison, the single-stroke pneumatic requires initial effort from the user to compress air into the system in the first place, but the end result is a surprisingly consistent, recoilless, and super-slick shot cycle.
It’s the self-contained power source that is a big part of the draw, and on test here is Weihrauch’s HW40 PCA – a neat little number that is very competitively priced. Now before we go into detail, let’s quickly put this model into context.
Weihrauch has an impressive selection of pistols in its stable and my dad has had the HW45 spring-powered model for many years, still going strong and super-reliable. The HW75 is another single stroke, but this is an all-metal affair with classy wooden grips, so commands a correspondingly high RRP. The HW40 on test here scores highly with its more utilitarian polymer chassis, which helps keep the costs down overall, yet it concedes little in terms of performance.
Bear in mind that many modern centrefire pistols (perhaps the majority) sport an exterior chassis constructed from a ballistic polymer and the HW40 PCA can be seen in a different light. Not so much plastic and cheap looking, but trendy. Indeed, the precision of the moulding is such that there’s an air of quality, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given this is a Weihrauch.
PCA in the name? Thank you for asking, as it stands for Precision Compressed Air. Along with the pneumatic power plant, there’s a quality 2-stage trigger, some fibre optic open sights, and an auto safety.
At 1.7 lbs, this pistol feels about right in the hand, and the contoured polymer grips are functional yet comfortable. Now, to cock the action, pull back the dummy silver hammer at the rear to release the top section of the action. Keep a firm hold on the grip with the right hand (if right-handed) and pull up the top section. Next, fully extend it and open it out in an arc. You’ll hear a small hiss at this point as air is sucked into the compression chamber, and it’s this air that will then be compressed on the return stroke. Pull the top section back over but be mindful not to catch part of the hand as the two halves snap together to close.
Now, a key point with this type of airgun is to be precise with the cocking stroke, making sure that you complete a full arc of travel with the top section each time. In my experience, single strokes are some of the most consistent performers, but we need to work for it. More of that in a moment.
I mentioned the fibre optic open sights, and these provide a bright sight picture, as you would expect. The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation, but the spring-loaded adjusters do require the use of a screwdriver. Whilst you have the tool handy, the 2-stage trigger is technically adjustable for the let-off point, although as my test model came pre-set with a mild first-stage pressure and then a totally predictable second-stage let-off, I felt it prudent to leave it well alone.
Fancy fitting a more advanced sighting system? Then there are dovetail rails up top. Just be aware that any sight may be in the way as the action is cocked.
Earlier, I referred to the inherent characteristics of the single-stroke system, and it’s worth stating that the firing cycle is also among the quickest out there in terms of lock time. So, basically, if we put in the effort with these machines, we will certainly reap the rewards. On test, the HW40 shone with a variety of pellets, including the Weihrauch FT Exacts supplied with the test gun. Over the chronograph, a 10-shot string showed a total spread of just 4 fps, which is quite phenomenal, whilst Webley Mosquitos posted a similarly impressive total spread of 6 fps. You see what I mean!
The firing cycle itself is best described as a satisfying crisp snap, and this is the result of the efficient air release, borne out by the excellent chrono figures. Air pistol shooting has to be one of the hardest disciplines of all, yet shooting freestyle unsupported initially, I still managed 1” groups with relative ease over a distance of 10 yards. I’m sure with more practice that could be bettered, but hey. Accuracy with open sights, from a rest over 10 yards, resulted in groups of 3/8” c-t-c using both the Weihrauch pellets and Mosquitos.
Pretty impressive, so a scope of some sort had to happen! My trusty old SMK 2x20 silver model proved the perfect partner, and moving back to 20 yards, again from a rest, I managed sub ½” clusters. Top-notch, and all the proof needed to show that the HW40 has great potential.
This model is an intriguing prospect for sure. So, what don’t we like? Well, the auto safety catch is a source of irritation, requiring the small silver catch on the right side to be nudged forward before every shot. The cocking effort is also significant, but as is so often the case, this is more about technique than anything else. Get past those minor details, and this is just a great pistol – satisfyingly well-built, properly accurate, amazingly consistent, and still pretty good value for money.