The Weihrauch HW97 is one of the world’s classic underlever spring-piston air rifles. It has been around for a number of years and has a devoted following who think very highly of this German made tackdriver.
For a while now, I’d been hearing rumors that there was a factory thumbhole version of the HW97, and recently the good folks at Airguns of Arizona sent me a sample in .177 caliber to check out. I can tell you straight up that I really don’t want to send it back.
Before we get into the particulars of the HW97K (the K stands for Karbine) thumbhole, I should explain that several years ago, I owned a Venom-tuned HW97K with the standard stock. It had “stout” cocking effort, a very quick firing cycle, and was very accurate if you did everything just right. But I had never shot an untuned HW97, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the fresh-out-of-the box HW97KT (the T, of course, stands for thumbhole).
According to the factory specs, the HW97KT is a tenth of an inch longer than the HW97K, and the HW97KT weighs 9.37 lbs, compared to 8.8 lbs for the HW97K, but there are lots of other differences as well.
Starting at the aft end of the HW97KT, you’ll find a soft rubber recoil pad. In the center of the pad, there is a screw. Loosen the screw, pull the pad back a bit, and you can move the butt pad up and down to fit your anatomy. There is a metal plate attached to the recoil pad and another metal plate on the buttstock. Each has metal teeth that engage with each other when the screw is tightened so that the adjustable butt pad will not slip out of its intended position.
The stained beech stock is truly ambidextrous. There is a slight cheek swell on either side of the buttstock and a modest cheek piece. Below that is the thumb hole. Forward of the thumb hole is the pistol grip which has stippling on either side. At the top of the pistol grip are grooves on either side of the stock to accommodate the shooter’s thumb and forefinger.
Moving forward again, you’ll find the metal trigger guard, inside of which is the Rekord trigger and trigger adjuster, both of which are gold colored. Forward of the trigger is the forestock which is laser checkered on either side. The end of the forestock is swept backward slightly, complementing the sleek looks of the the thumbhole stock.
The cocking lever protrudes from the forestock, the free end of which is captured by a latch that is attached to the muzzlebrake/silencer at the end of the barrel. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver and the silver colored breech plate. Moving aft again, there are scope dovetails on top of the receiver with sockets for anti-recoil pins toward the back of the receiver. At the extreme back end of the receiver is the small push-button safety.
Overall, I’m very impressed with the fit and finish of the HW97KT. The stock looks very streamlined and purposeful, and the finish on the metal is what you would expect from an adult precision air rifle in this price range.
To ready the HW97KT for shooting, press the small black button just under the muzzlebrake. This releases the cocking lever. Pull the lever down and back until it latches. This cocks the action and also slides open the breech plate, exposing the breech. Thumb a pellet into the breech and return the cocking lever to its original position. Take aim at the target, click off the safety, and ease the first stage out of the trigger. Squeeze just a bit more and – tunk! – the shot goes down range.
I really, really liked shooting the HW97KT. The report was remarkably subdued – not dead quiet, but certainly low enough to keep the peace with the neighbors. I could hear just a touch of vibration when the shot goes off, but I couldn’t feel any of it through the stock, so basically the vibration becomes a non-issue for me. I particularly like the fit of the stock for me, and I found it very easy to shoot this gun well. At 13 yards, I was easily able to shoot ragged one-hole groups where all the pellet holes overlapped each other. It strikes me that this is an air rifle that, with the addition of your choice of scope, could easily be campaigned in field target competition.
The powerplant in the HW97KT is identical to the powerplant in the HW97K, and typically should deliver around 850 fps with Crosman Premier 7.9 gr. Pellets. The HW97 is also an incredibly accurate air rifle. A few years ago, Brad Troyer sent me a target he had shot at 50 yards from a sitting position with his HW97. The five pellet holes I saw there could be covered with a dime.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott