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- Last updated: 17/03/2017
There’s no disputing the fact that Weihrauch have a very fine roster of spring powered air rifles, of both break-barrel and underlever operation. In relation to the latter action type, the models that seasoned airgunners will instantly recognise, due to their iconic status are the HW77 (including ‘K’ carbine plus laminate stocked options) and of course the many variants of the HW97K that are now available. However, early in 2000 the company launched another full-power under-lever action sporter. Designated the HW57, it seemed to appear without fuss or fanfare, and although at the time it had its fair share of favourable coverage in the specialist airgun publications, it never really seemed to make the ‘impact’ most other new models of Weihrauch springer have. In hindsight, this could be due to it utilising an auto-rise breech loading mechanism, a design that was and still is not a popular feature on this type of air rifle. Also, it first came dressed in a very bland stock. However, the latter feature has now had a serious upgrade, and as for the former, full details will be addressed when I scrutinise the action.
Like certain other models of springer produced by Weihrauch that have relatively recently had stock upgrades, the original ‘handle’ has been replaced for one that both in design and aesthetics elevates the sporter into a totally new league.
Manufactured by Minelli, the fully ambidextrous beech woodwork now sports a semihogback comb, atop a very well-defined cheekpiece, which meets a well-contoured brown rubber buttpad with black line spacer. The slim neck has a very slight thumb rest, while the pistol grip curves downward at quite a shallow angle but the addition of a palm swell ensures an assured hold. The slim, shallow forend has a well-rounded underside, plus to aid grip, there are one-piece stylish part stippled and chequered panels ideally positioned midway on either side, these also have the company’s logo integrated into the ‘cut’ so to speak. Two similarly configured panels are set either side of the pistol grip and the woodwork is treated to a dark brown stain and matt lacquer finish that is effective in the field and gives the rifle a very attractive overall look.
Like certain other Weihrauch springers, the 57 is wisely fitted with a set of very useful and good-quality open sights. The foresight blade stands quite high on the integral synthetic foresight cum underlever retaining assembly that is attached to the end of the barrel. While the metal rearsight has large thumbwheel adjustment for elevation and neat medium sized side thumbwheel for adjusting windage. The unit is also removeable, as it clamps to the scope rail, rather than being fixed onto the cylinder. This allows it to be moved along the scope rail to give a different length of sightline to suit the individual. However, to fit a scope, it needs to be removed; this is a simple job of slackening a side position, flat head retaining screw and then sliding it all the way back and off the rifle’s well-cut dovetails.
The under-lever is quite slim and held securely in place by a spring-loaded lug that locates neatly into its retaining housing underneath the barrel. To unlatch, you pull back on a multi-ridged outer sleeve at the end of the lever, which in turn retracts the lug back and free of its housing; the lever can then be drawn down and back as usual and shows a very smooth and non-strenuous cocking stroke. When fully cocked, the automatic cross bolt safety button also engages, which can be seen protruding from the left rear of the cylinder. Also, at the end of the cocking stroke, the auto-rise breech loading mechanism (which is the pellet carrier) lifts clear from the air cylinder ready to accept a pellet. It was upon loading that I noticed another modification from the original, as it can’t be pushed back down to its original closed position if the rifle is left in the fully cocked ‘open’ position. The lever needs to be moved forward an inch or so, to allow it to be manually pushed down, back to its closed status, after which you continue returning the lever back to its own closed position.
I was reliably informed by Weihrauch that this little ‘quirk’ of the loading procedure is an inbuilt design that ensures that the carrier and pellet seat back into the action precisely as they should, so there’s no possibility of damage to the carrier and the pellet lines up perfectly with the bore of the rifle’s quality fixed tube. However, you still need to ensure a pellet is fully inserted into the exposed chamber when the carrier shows above the action, so that there’s no risk of damage to the pellet’s skirt upon pushing it back after loading.
Weihrauch realise they have what many consider to be the ‘king’ of triggers for a spring powered air rifle, so no surprises that the HW57 is fitted with their legendary Rekord trigger mechanism. As expected, this 2-stage adjustable unit behaved perfectly with let off being both crisp, clean and without a hint of creep, while the auto safety works very positively.
Shooting open-sighted, I was able to produce ½-inch groups using the .177 calibre test rifle at 12-yards or so making it a useful tool for close range ratting and feral clearance. After a good few enjoyable plinking sessions, I removed the rearsight and fitted a Hawke Airmax EV 4-12 x 40AO in medium mounts and began some serious paper punching.
After setting a 25-yard zero, the small calibre proved itself highly accurate, producing groupings you could cover with a penny piece at this range and I’d be confident in taking on quarry out to 30- to 35-yards in either calibre. I was also pleased to note muzzle report and recoil are very acceptable for a rifle such as this and after using the rifle open sighted and scoped up, I then fully appreciated the new stock design. Reason being, the comb is low enough for using the irons and the cheekpiece more than adequate when you need to raise and position your head for correct eye-scope alignment when using an optic.
Producing an air rifle that can cover the transitional area from plinking to highly capable general hunter is anything but easy but the Weihrauch HW57 is a fine example of how it can and should be done. Also, nothing seems to have been compromised, as the build quality is on a par with some air rifles costing far more. Add to the mix it’s quite a compact, lightweight, easy to handle gun with a high level of accuracy, combine to make this a tempting choice; even more so now clad in a stock that ideally suits the action. The result- the HW57 is certainly another nice option of Weihrauch springer for shooters of a smaller stature and a very nice buy for younger guns coming into the sport.
Thanks to T & J. J McAvoy Ltd. for supplying the rifle on test.