The HW45 STL – A looker and a shooter

Monday, April 13, 2009

Let’s suppose, just for fun, that in a moment of high spiritedness you decided you’d like to really turn some heads the next time you visit the range or go out slinging lead with your airgunning pals.

The HW45 STL is just flat gorgeous.

Let me humbly suggest that an HW45 STL might just be the item you need to do the trick. The STL is the two-tone version of the HW45/Beeman P1 pistol, and – to my eye, anyway – with its black upper, stainless-look lower, and black grips, is one gorgeous piece of goods. In addition, the STL has those micro-adjustable fiber optic sights that I found so useful on the .20 cal P1 pistol.

The STL is available only in .177 caliber and is functionally identical to the Beeman P1 and P11 in .177. That means you can probably expect an STL to launch Crosman Premier 7.9 gr. pellets at around 520 fps. With Beeman Laser 6.5 gr. pellets, you might see velocities around 550 fps and with Dynamic SN1 7.95 gr. non-lead pellets, about 490 fps.

I was chatting with classic airgun collector Mike Driskill, and he pointed out some things about the HW45/P1 and its variants that I hadn’t really thought about before.

“If you look at the HW45,” he says, “the piston works backwards. A pistol like the RWS P5 is like a scaled down breakbarrel rifle. You crank the barrel down to cock the gun, and you’re driving the piston and spring back, toward the palm of your shooting hand. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rocket forward, just like a break barrel rifle.”

Driskill added, “But cocking the HW45 or P1 is totally different. You pull back the ‘hammer’ to release the rear of the upper, and then you pull the rear part of the upper up and forward to cock the pistol. While you’re doing that, you’re actually dragging the spring and piston toward the muzzle of the pistol until they latch.”

“Now, here comes the really interesting part,” Driskill says. “When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston leap toward your hand . . . and you remember what Newton said about equal and opposite reactions . . . that means this will tend to push the nose of the HW45 forward. Since the action sits above your gripping hand, this in turn rotates the muzzle downward. When the piston comes to a stop, the nose of the gun pops up, which is all you really notice when firing since it all happens so quickly. But the pellet already left the muzzle when it was being shoved down.”

He adds, “If you view the HW45 from the side, you’ll notice that the rear sight is higher than the front sight. That’s to compensate for the pistol’s tendency to shove the nose down. And if you happen to have one of the Beeman P1s with the two cocking slots for dual power levels, you’ll notice that it shoots higher . . . a lot higher . . . if you use the lower power cocking position. That’s because, at lower power, the nose of the pistol isn’t being pushed down so much. So be careful, very careful, if you decide to experiment with lower power.”

While we were on the phone, Driskill told me an anecdote that underscores the need to respect the power of the HW45. A friend of Mike’s one day discovered he had a possum in his attic that was in urgent need of removal. He figured he would use his HW45 to stun the possum, thereby making the eviction process easier. He took careful aim at the shoulder, triggered the shot, and killed the possum instantly.

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not recommending the HW45 STL for routine possum hunting, but it’s worth remembering it can pack quite a wallop.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott


  1. HW45 Hunting says:

    According to page 7 of the Weihrauch catalogue, the higher power level on the HW45 is intended for “hunting”. – May I ask please:

    i) How reasonable that seems to you? – Some airgunners here in the UK claim that 6ft lb pistols are underpowered and too innaccurate for hunting so should not be used thus.


    ii) If the critics are wrong, what sort / size of game could be shot and at what ranges?

    The Weihrauch catalogue is available here, (see page 7 please):

    – Thanks in advance.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      HW45 Hunting,

      This is a tricky subject. I have, in fact, killed a squirrel at 7 yards with an HW45 in .177. You can read the story here and here

      I think that 6 foot-pound air rifles can be used for hunting rabbits and squirrels out to about 50 feet (perhaps a bit more) with careful shot placement. Note well: careful shot placement. An HW45 is challenging to shoot with high accuracy because of the spring-piston powerplant and because it is a pistol. I would suggest checkout out field use of an airgun here and then taking a hard look at what game you intend to shoot, what distance at which you can maintain the necessary accuracy, and do you have enough power at that distance. That puts the responsibility on you, to make sure you have sufficient skill, accuracy and power to insure a humane kill.

      I hope this helps.

  2. HW45 Hunting says:


    Thank you for your reply: It was extremely helpful. Your experience proves that under appropriate circumstances a 6 ft/lb pistol can be used for hunting.

    I found it particularly interesting that you appeared to kill the squirrel cleanly with a shot to the body rather than its head. The article by Dr. Beeman which you linked suggested “head shots are necessary” on this quarry. Again, your personal experience has shown this not to be the case invariably.

    I wonder if I may trouble you with a couple more questions regarding the HW45?

    As you are aware, it is possible to swap barrels in this gun thus converting calibres. My questions are rather specific and relate to how such “converted” weapons behave regarding:
    a) accuracy, and, b) muzzle energy, compared to those starting life in a given calibre:

    i) Will an HW45 which has been converted from .22 to .177 behave identically to a factory original .177?

    ii) Will an HW45 which has been converted from .177 to .22 behave identically to a factory original .22?

    – Having scoured the internet, and a few air-gun magazines, I cannot find anything like a definitive answer to these questions. – As an air weapons expert, I am wondering whether you have come across any solid evidence concerning these matters.

    Thanks again,

    HW45 Hunting.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I think I may have gotten lucky and shot the squirrel through the heart.

      As to your barrel conversion questions, I am afraid I really don’t know the answer.

  3. HW45 Hunting says:


    That sounds probable.

    – Thanks for your assistance.

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