- 15 Comments
- Last updated: 27/01/2017
Everybody knows the brilliant pedigree of Weihrauch’s spring powered rifles – they are legendary. Although I’ve owned dozens of springers over the years, I’ve only got three left now… and they are all Weihrauchs. I can honestly say that I regret parting with every HW airgun that I’ve sold or traded over the years… I’d gladly buy them all back tomorrow – including the pistols. So you might say that I’m a bit of a fan of these great German airguns, and it’s no wonder, as generally speaking they are robustly engineered, accurate right out of the box, and utterly reliable.
So when Weihrauch brought out their first precharged pneumatic rifle (PCP) – the HW100T – a few years back, you might have thought that I’d jump at the chance of owning one. However, the HW100T was a late arrival – most other big hitters in the spring air rifle market, such as Air Arms, BSA, Theoben, Webley, etc. , had introduced PCPs long before Weihrauch, and there were also lots of models already available by PCP specialists like Daystate, Falcon, Logun, Ripley, etc.
Even taking all this into account, I would probably have been tempted by an HW100T, if there hadn’t been so much about it that didn’t suit me. For a start I prefer single shot rifles, whereas the HW100 had a particularly large capacity (14 shot) magazine. I always choose a carbine wherever possible and the first HW100 models were full length rifles. I prefer .177 calibre but the HW100 models were originally supplied only in .22. There was also a muzzle shroud rather than a sound moderator – something I never understood - and no quick fill air charging arrangement, so the whole bottle had to be removed for filling.
On top of all this, there was something sort of ‘different’ about the HW100, and it wasn’t just the fact that it had a sidelever cocking and loading operation rather than a straightforward bolt action like most other PCPs. Then there were the reviews by journalistic colleagues of mine in various magazines, which didn’t exactly enthuse about the HW100 – the term ‘damn with faint praise’ springs to mind. In addition, while nobody exactly called it ugly, it was definitely unusual looking, and most of this was put down to the rather stark and utilitarian shaped thumbhole stock. Personally I never had a problem with it, but I could see where the criticism was coming from.
Normally I would apply my own rules about airgun choice, and only take over peoples’ opinions as guidelines, reserving final judgement after I’d tried a gun out for myself. However, for many of the reasons above, and as I already had all the rifles I needed, and also as an HW100 hadn’t come my way for review, I never really put myself out to investigate the model any further.
It didn’t take long for Weihrauch to add a .177 version – great, I became more interested. A little later they added a proper sound moderator (although it was ‘fixed’, it was also available as a retro fitting) and introduced a cleverly designed ‘swing-out’ single shot magazine convertor – this was getting better all the time as far as I was concerned. The fact that they also brought out an HW100 S (sporter) version, with a smart looking Bavarian stock didn’t make a difference either way to me, but it certainly made some of the rifle’s original critics change their minds somewhat and pour on the praises.
Finally we arrive at the latest model, the HW100K (or carbine). This has a shorter barrel (obviously), a quick fill valve system, and a removable sound moderator. This ticked all the boxes for me, so I asked Hull Cartridge if I could borrow one for evaluation.
Within five minutes of unpacking it, before firing a single shot, I realised that providing it gave a good performance on the range, I might be wanting one of these.
Looks Aren’t Everything
I suspect that if I had tried the original HW100T, I’d probably have bought it. I just cannot see why some reviewers were whinging about the stock - personally I love it! It fits me perfectly and seems OK for most other people that tried it while I had it on loan. Actually I’m glad I didn’t try it earlier, otherwise I may have found myself buying one then upgrading throughout all the various transformations until I got what I really wanted – sound familiar?
The thumbhole stock is made of an unprepossessing but straight grained (therefore strong) slab of walnut. The design is ambidextrous with a slightly forward sloping cheekpiece, a raked grip with wrap-around stippling to the front and an almost triangular shaped thumbhole. The forend is flat bottomed (a feature I always like) with a groove on either side to aid fore hand grip. The right side of the forend has a shaped inletting around the magazine and that’s about it; no frills, no fuss, just a well designed functioning handle for the action to sit in. Dimensions are such that it really should fit the average shooter – whoever that is – and it certainly fit the bill for me. The one thing that is missing as far as I’m concerned is a sliding butt-plate, rather than the plain rubber one that is fitted, functional though it is. If I was going to buy an HW100 this would be the second thing I would fit - after a set of sling swivels.
All the metalwork is well finished and the metal to wood fitting is first rate. As mentioned before, the early models had to have the air cylinder removed for filling, but this carbine can be filled either by this original method or via a bayonet connection just behind the air pressure gauge at the end of the air reservoir. The latter is obviously far more convenient for most applications. A small plug is usually supplied to protect the air cylinder from ingress of dust and grit, unfortunately it can’t be shown in the accompanying photos as it wasn’t included with the test gun. A brass cylinder end cap to protect threads and prevent leakage when the air cylinder is off the rifle, a brass filling connector (for direct cylinder to cylinder filling) and two magazines are also included in the package.
As previously mentioned, I’m not really one for magazine fed air rifles – they can sit high in the action, forcing you to use a higher scope mounts, they can jam, you can double load or not load a pellet at all, etc., etc. I know that some of these can be overcome, but I prefer a single shot rifle – there’s just less to go wrong. For this reason I would opt for the optional swing-out single shot adaptor, but having said that I must admit that of all the magazine systems that I’ve tried, this Weihrauch is one the best, as it addresses most of my concerns with multi-shots. For a start, the 14 shot wheel shaped magazine is robust, being of all metal construction apart from the pellet retaining ‘O’ ring. The mag sits low in the receiver, seating the top “12 o’clock” pellet in battery (most systems seat the lowest “6 o’clock” pellet), which means that you don’t have to use high scope mounts. The mag comes out easily - just pull back the cocking arm, pull back the sliding magazine lock and lift it out. You can’t mistake which way around it has to be filled; one side is smooth, the other is castellated to engage with the ratchet magazine turning system. Once dropped back into the action you simply re-engage the sliding lock (push it forward) and close the cocking arm to seat the first pellet ready for firing. Best of all, once the cocking lever is returned, the ratchet system disengages, so a second pellet can’t be loaded by mistake – simple and, in a small way, quite brilliant.
A manual safety catch on the right side of the action - above and slightly behind the trigger unit - can be engaged to ‘safe’ by pulling back to show a white dot, or pushed forward to expose a red dot indicating ‘fire’ mode.
It can only be set to ‘safe’ when the action is cocked – which is why it appears to be in ‘fire’ mode in most of our illustrations.
The trigger itself is a superb two-stage unit, certainly one of the best that I’ve used on a PCP hunting rifle. It was set at just under 2lbs, which was fine for me (some hunters may think it is too low), and it can be adjusted down even further, to just a few ounces in fact. Don’t be put off by this, as the break is crisp and clean – I promise you that you’ll love it (or you will get to love it) especially if you are into HFT where a match quality trigger is a positive advantage. The only minor irritation is that the stock has to be removed to make adjustments. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
The barrel and air cylinder have been considerably shortened from the original HW100, so that this ‘K’ version qualifies as a carbine. This reduces the barrel length to approximately 12”, but with the moderator the overall barrel length is increased to 19.5”. Shortening the air cylinder obviously reduces the air capacity, but there is still enough to comfortably give a healthy 60 to 65 shots in .22 from a 200 bar charge (the maximum fill on the pressure gauge’s green band). On test we actually pushed this to over 70 shots before the pressure gauge on the air cylinder crept below 90 bar (the yellow band ‘refill’ indication). A red band on the gauge shows when the cylinder is being ‘overfilled’.
Slick, Quick and Quiet
As I didn’t have a single shot adaptor, I had to rely on the magazine system, and I have to say that it almost converted me to a multi-shot, apart from the fact that I seem incapable of counting to 14… Yes, I know that there are many methods of checking how many shots you have taken, but my first indication that the magazine is empty is usually the horrible ‘blaaat’ of firing the gun without a pellet in the chamber. Nevertheless, this magazine system was quick and slick – the cocking lever system is a revelation – and as near foolproof as you will find.
As for accuracy, I attached an AGS 3-9 scope with Mil-Dot reticule, and after zeroing at 30 yards and a few practice shots to align the dots with various ranges, it became virtually impossible to miss any standard 40mm FT target from 10yds out to 45yds. This was carried out using a bench rest on the indoor range at Pete’s Airgun Farm, but after transferring to the outdoor range the accuracy results were even better, taking re-setting steel targets, even with 25mm reducers, right out to 60 yards (although this is obviously not recommended for live quarry). Remember this is a .22 hunting rifle we are talking about here, not a .177 target job.
The Weihrauch ‘High Efficiency’ sound moderator really does it’s stuff on this .22 version, making it virtually silent, and it would probably be just as efficient on the greater air blast from a .177 version.
What came as a real surprise (considering the original criticisms against this rifle) was just how good the stock design was. It felt comfortable as soon as it was in the shoulder. Length, balance, hand placement and cheek position were all first class. Perhaps the barrel shortening and losing a little weight on this carbine version has changed the dynamics of the HW100 – it certainly suits me.
I had the use of this HW100K for quite some time, so it got a thorough going over by myself and others, and it has to be said that this is one of the best PCP hunting rifles I’ve ever tried… and I want one. It will have to be in .177 calibre with the optional single shot adaptor and I would fit an adjustable butt pad and QD swivels from scratch, but this is a seriously impressive rifle straight out of the box.
Quick fill adaptor, QF adaptor dust cap, sound moderator, cylinder cap, cylinder filling adaptor, owner’s manual
PRICE: £570 approx.