Hey, this is nice – the HW97 Thumbhole

Monday, January 18, 2010

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


  1. Ed Nahm says:

    I just recived my HW97 form Air Gun of Arizona, I had a conversation with a friend of mine and he suggested I get my new rifle custom tuned.
    Do you think a tuneup on my new HW97 will it make a major differance in how the rifle handles/shoots? Can I please have your thoughts on the matter.


    Ed Nahm

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Since I don’t know how experienced you are with spring-piston air rifles, I’d say wait until you put at least four tins of pellets through your HW97.

      Give it a chance to break in and for you to get accustomed to it. The HW97 is a truly excellent air rifle, accurate as the dickens with the right pellet, and a lot of fun to shoot. Typically a tune-up will eliminate spring twang and make the gun shoot with a quick snap of the action, and a tune-up may or may not make the gun shoot faster.

      I have shot springers that were annoyingly noisy and twangy that were completely transformed by a tune-up. I have also shot springers that sounded like a box of loose parts when they went off, but were incredibly accurate without a tune up.

      My philosophy is that, unless the springer is doing something that I find incredibly annoying, I don’t get it tuned until it needs some attention for another reason (like, for example, the velocity is dropping or it exhibits some other symptom of malfunctioning).

      Don’t get me wrong — I think tuners are great, but I don’t think a tune-up is immediately needed on a brand new HW97.

  2. Chadilac says:

    I bought a HW97kt about two months ago and I love it but I heard some of these guns come with chopped mainsprings. I did take the stock off to see if I could tell if it was chopped or not but I couldnt tell. Is this true and if it is how can I tell without completly taking apart the gun? PS. I love this gun so much I could go for hours just staring at it and polishing it

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Sorry, I haven’t heard of this problem. So long as the performance is good, enjoy the gun!

  3. Ian says:

    Hi there, could you tell what scope is the HW97kt.
    Many thanks Ian

    1. Ian says:

      Hi there, could you tell me what scope is on the HW97kt.
      Many thanks Ian

      1. Jock Elliott says:


        I believe that is a Leapers mini Tactical.

  4. rob mchenry says:

    I might be the owner of your old venom tuned HW97 as I bought it used from AOA 14-16 years ago.
    This gun had some funny rust spots on receiver and light stock damage nearby.
    Could it be the same?
    Nothing has been done to her not even a breech seal. Shoots like a firearm, cocking effort is an effort. On a recent outing she placed cpl in a less than dime sized group at 35 yds.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I’m not sure if it is the same one, but it was indeed Venom tuned and “stout” to cock!

  5. Jim Brack says:

    I’m interested in purchasing this air rifle, however I can not find anyone in my area that stocks it. Therefore, I will purchase via the internet. My concern is the fit of the thumbhole stock (which I really want). I’m a big guy, with large hands. Is the stock cut on the large size? Or maybe the safe thing to do is stay away from a thumbhole.

    Your thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      I no longer have the gun at my location for test. The best thing would be to talk to the good folks at Airguns of Arizona. Their phone number is on the website: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com

  6. Brad Troyer says:

    Hey, I got my name in print! I still have my first HW97K that I bought in 1994 and after well over 150,000 pellets through it, it still shoots every bit a good as it ever did. My second HW97 is a couple year newer and it is even more accurate than my first. That was the rifle I shot the group with that I sent you.

    How did you like the thumbhole stock vs the standard stock. It looks to me that it would be a better reach to the trigger with the grip placement vs the standard stock. I could see that as a real advantage for guys with smaller hands like me. Cheers.

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      Great to hear from you! I liked the thumbhole pretty well. I cannot recall now for certain whether it is possible to place my thumb on top of the stock so that I am pulling my trigger finger straight back toward my thumb. My guess is that you would like the thumbhole.

  7. steven k says:

    I have got the hw97k and lookin to buy either the thumbhole stock or synthetic could u tell me where i could buy them

    1. Jock Elliott says:


      http://www.airgunsofarizona.com, of course.

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