Archive for June 2010

Weihrauch HW25L Rifle

The HW25L is light, handy, and lots of fun.

The other day I was running some errands when I saw one of those miniscule “Smart” cars. They are about half the length of a normal car, and every time I seen one, I can’t resist the urge to look underneath to see if there are feet pushing it – Fred Flintstone style – down the roadway.

When I got behind the Smart car, I found the owner had taken his or her visual statement to the max: the vanity plate said “2KYOOT.” Get it – too cute.

Well, I’ve gotta say my initial reaction to the Weihrauch HW25L was the same: 2KYOOT. I looked at the tiny air rifle inside the Weihrauch box and thought: “You’re kidding, right?” After all, I had been conditioned by years of cracking open HW boxes. Out of them come manly, stalwart air rifles, and here was this diminutive version of one. It was as if someone had gone to the Weihrauch factory and said I like everything about your air rifles, but I want one smaller and lighter, and the Weihrauch folks said, Okay, we’ll do it.

The result is a very nice small air rifle. The HW25 stretches just 37 inches from end to end, weighs only 4.4 lbs, and the length of pull is 13 inches.

The HW25 has a completely unadorned hardwood stock. At the aft end, you’ll find no butt pad, just a butt plate formed by the end of the wooden stock. There is the slight swell of a cheek piece for righthanded shooters, but lefties ought to be able to shoot this rifle equally well. The comb of the stock is very low, so even guys with wide cheek bones (like me) can get themselves in position behind the sights.

The pistol grip has no checkering, and ahead of that is the wide black trigger guard, inside of which you’ll find a rolled black sheet metal trigger. Moving forward, there is a screw under the forestock that helps to hold the action in place. At the end of the forestock is a short slot that allows room for the cocking linkage.

Moving forward again, you’ll find the breech and the 15.5 inch .177 caliber barrel. At the end of the barrel is the front sight, which houses a red fiber optic rod. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech block, on top of which sits the micro-adjustable rear sight, which is fitted with green fiber optics.

On top of the receiver, toward the back end, there is a dovetail for fitting a scope, but there are no holes for anti-recoil pins. At the very aft end of the receiver is a push-pull resettable safety.

To get the HW25L ready for shooting, grab the barrel near the muzzle and pull it down and back until it latches (I estimate this requires about 20 lbs of effort, and you hear a tiny bit of spring noise when cocking), insert a .177 pellet into the breech, and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim (put the red dot between the two green dots and put the sight picture on the target), push the safety forward to click it off, and squeeze the trigger. It takes about 1 lb of effort to pull the first stage out of the trigger, and at about 5.5 lbs, the shot goes down range.

Despite its small size, the HW25 doesn’t skimp on velocity. It will launch very light pellets at nearly 600 fps and 7.9 grain Crosman premiers at 487 fps average. I did not test the HW25 for ultimate accuracy, because I feared that, lacking anti-recoil holes in the receiver, a scope would slide backward off the dovetail and ruin the finish on this loaner rifle. I did try shooting at some silhouette targets (pigs, rams, turkeys, etc.) scaled for 10 yards, and found that I could hit what I was aiming at most of the time. I suspect the accuracy will prove to be comparable to the HW30S.

In the end, my “you’re kidding, right?” attitude toward the HW25L changed to one of solid admiration. It seems to be the nearly perfect rifle for an afternoon of plinking in the back yard. It’s light, easy to cock, and won’t wear you down in a day of shooting. Yet it has the power and the accuracy to defend the birdfeeder and eliminate pests in the garden at modest ranges. Best of all, it has Weihrauch quality built right into it.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

For a while now, I’ve using a couple of Hawke scopes that I like really well.

The first is the Eclipse30SF 6-24x50SF (Hawke Part Number HK3273). I’ve had it mounted on my .177 Benjamin Marauder rifle for months now, and I really like the way the combination of rifle and scope work together.

This particular Eclipse30SF scope is a 6-24, which means that the magnification can be adjusted by rotating a collar near the ocular (or eyebell) from 6 to 24X. The objective of this scope is 50mm, which means it transmits a lot of light that allows you to see better in low-light conditions.

At the back end of the scope is a flip-up lens cover that is attached to the eyebell by a soft rubber collar. Under the rubber collar, you’ll find a ring for focusing the sharpness of the reticle. On top of the eyeball is a rotary switch for turning on red or green illumination and adjusting the brightness of the dot in the center of the mil-dot reticle. Just ahead of that is the zoom ring which adjusts the magnification of the scope.

The main tube of this scope is 30mm and is finished in matte black. Moving forward again, you’ll find the elevation and windage turrets, which are covered by screw-off caps. With the caps removed, you can adjust the windage or elevation knobs as needed, ¼ minute of angle at 100 yards.. If you need to reset the turrets, you can do so by undoing the center screw.

On the lefthand side of the central body of the scope is a side focus knob that allows the scope to be focused down to 10 yards. The knob is a bit larger than those found on many sidefocus scopes, but not so large as to be intrusive. At the far end of the scope tube is another flip-up cover which is held to the 50mm objective by a soft rubber collar.

In all, I found this nitrogen-purged, shockproof, fogproof and waterproof scope to be completely trouble-free. It offers clear views, the multiple aiming points of a mil-dot reticle, and the convenience of side focus. I think a lot of airgunners will be pleased with this scope.

The other Hawke scope that I have become enamored of is the Hawke Sidewinder 30 10×42 Tactical (Hawke Part Number HK4034). This scope is built like you might need to take it off the rifle someday and use it as a bludgeon (definitely not recommended!). This scope is a fixed 10 power scope with a 42mm objective. At either end are screw-in lens covers. Included with the scope is a screw-in sunshade. The main tube is 30mm and finished in a matte black. The eyebell is equipped with fast focus rings for making sure the half mil-dot, illuminated, etched-glass reticle is in razor-sharp focus.

I really liked the elevation and windage knobs on this scope. To adjust them, you pull the knob out from the body of the scope, rotate it to where you want it (1/4 inch per click at 100 yards), and push the knob back in to lock it in position. It’s slick, convenient, and efficient. The knobs can also be loosened to reset them.

The 10 x 42 Tactical with the large sidefocus knob in place.

On the left side of the scope is a sidefocus knob, the outer portion of which controls red/green illumination for the reticle. Included with the Sidewinder 30 Tactical scope is a large knob with a range scale that slips over the sidefocus knob for focusing and rangefinding. Also included is a pointer that can be installed on the body tube that can help in reading the scale on the big wheel.

I installed this scope on an RWS 54 recoilless spring piston rifle. This model is known for being rough on scopes, and I have had no problems whatsoever, and I have notice that my groups have tightened up a bit with this rifle. Whether this means the previous scope was being “shaken up” by the recoil or whether I’m becoming a better shot, I don’t know.

I liked the etched glass half mil-dot reticle, shown here with the red illumination turned on.

I do know that one of the things I really like about this scope is the etched-glass reticle. It doesn’t go all the way from right to left or top to bottom in the field of view. As a result, the reticle seems to float, and there is room on either side of it for viewing more details in the surroundings. While I am not a tactical shooter, I would imagine that this would be a tactical advantage in some situations. In any event, I can highly recommend both of these Hawke scopes.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

This blog is dedicated with respect and admiration to those beady-eyed, fanatical airgun customizers out there; I like what you do.

I suspect that many of the people who read this blog may be old enough to remember the old air-cooled, rear-engine Volkswagen Beetle. Back in the day when I purchased a new Pontiac Firebird 326HO for $3700, you could purchase a fully equipped Beetle for $1800. They were cheap, pretty reliable, and it wasn’t long until a very healthy market in custom parts for Beetles sprang up. People began modifying them to suit their tastes, and pretty soon you could find Baja Bugs, Meyers Manx dune buggies, and even Beetles that looked like truncated Rolls Royces tooling around the streets.

The 1377c as it comes from the Crosman factory.

The Crosman 1377c is a lot like the Beetle, and I think it is probably the most widely customized airgun in the world. It’s easy to understand why: you start with a multi-stroke pneumatic .177 caliber air pistol that costs about $60 and is perfectly adequate for bouncing cans around the back yard. With the exception of the rear sight (the adjustment of which drives me nuts, but others seem to deal with it), everything about it is straight down the middle of the road – not great, but not awful either – and, like the VW Beetle, it’s a great platform to build on.

The 1377 with a Crosman aftermarket breech and a red dot.

The first basic step that most customizers take is to add a steel breech and maybe a red dot to improving the aiming system.

The "Kip Karbine" was assembled from readily available factory parts.

From the steel breech, it’s not much of a step to add the pumping arm from the 1389 backpacker, a Crosman .22 caliber barrel, and a Crosman plastic rifle stock. Now you have turned the 1377 into a .22 caliber carbine. This one was built for me by Kip at Airguns of Arizona, and I have added a Leapers Bug Buster scope and a muzzle break from a Daisy 753 target rifle to protect the crown of the barrel. But this is barely sticking a toe in the water, because these are all modifications done with readily available factory parts.

What follows below is what happens when you take a walk on the wild side and really start to customize the 1377.

Michael Chavka's 1377 carbine.

For example, Michael Chavka created this beautiful 1377 carbine. He says: “I don’t do much to them other than to add some comfortable wood.  These examples have Blue Fork Designs barrel bands, Crosman breeches, and a few of my own accessories to dress them up a bit.  The barrels usually need a new crown and some leade work, but other than the trigger, I don’t modify the internals.”

Chris Dowling's 1377 rifle.

Chris Dowling put together this 1377 rifle that has been converted to .22 caliber. It has a 24″ barrel, lighter valve spring, angled and enlarged valve and barrel ports, reduced valve stem, and poly port.  It’s getting 530 fps with Premiers, but he hopes to increase this with a flat top piston. The stock is by RB Grips; I asked for unfinished walnut and put around seven coats of tung oil on it.  It sports a Crosman steel breech, TKO trigger and muzzle brake, Grant Stace polished aluminum endcap, Blue Fork Design barrel band, Mountain Air bolt, and RJ Machine bolt handle.

Erik W's .22 stick gun.

Eric W’s “stick gun” is also a .22 caliber. It has a Daq breech, Mountain Air flat top valve and piston. Mountain Air bolt and probe, Blue fork Barrel band, TKO shroud, Crosman 24″ barrel, Muzzle mac stainless steel screw kit, Muzzle mac wire stock, RB laminate grips, Air gun Smith trigger, Mountain Air trigger guide and spring, Barska scope, and BKL mounts.

Who would guess this started life as an inexpensive pistol?

Walther built this beauty that actually started as a 1322, which is the .22 cal version of the 1377. Purchased parts include RJ Machine long riser breech with stainless bolt handle in .22, Larry Rowlins Barrel shroud 1 inch diameter 13.75 inch long, and flat top delrin piston from Derek Vineyard. Custom or modified parts include: Laminated maple thumbhole stock and pump arm with adjustable cheek piece, stainless cheek piece hardware, stainless escutcheons and 3mm socket head bolts all custom checkered and lathe trimmed to length, dtainless Trigger and sear pivot pins, custom pump pivot plug, lighter trigger spring with custom plunger, checkered stainless rear breech cap, RJ’s bolt handle reshaped and checkered, weaver mount, and brazed on brass trigger shoe. In addition, this airgun has been extensively tuned to improve performance.

Zoned's ultra-carbine.

“Zoned” created this beautiful ultra-carbine with custom wood, a wire stock, and a flat top aluminum piston and valve from A.C. Custom parts. In his blog,  he reports that it shoots around 50% faster than the unmodified factory 1377.

TWhooper's 1322 pistol.

“TWhooper” created this highly functional custom pistol with 11″ .22 barrel, Airgunsmith brass flat top piston and valve, old Cutters alloy breech, Simmons variable pistol scope, and unknown alloy barrel band.  It is fitted with old style two power cocker knob, and a two-stage sear from Big Ed, green grips and 1389 fore end.

Sculpture that shoots.

 He didn’t explain how it did it, but Brad turned a 1377 into a side-pumping bullpup designed that, to me, looks like sculpture that shoots!

James Perotti's self-contained PCP pistol.

Finally, James Perotti modified a 1322 turned it into a self-contained PCP pistol that, after an initial charge of 20 strokes, is capable of delivering three shots of 7.4 to 8.9 foot-pounds of energy before it requires an additional 15 strokes to recharge it again. It incorporates a  hammer debounce device,  aftermarket breech, custom piston rod, custom trigger, hammer spring adjuster, guide, and custom spring, and full custom (2x volume) valve as well as a number of other modifications.

This brief look barely scratches the surface of the remarkable custom work being done by airgun enthusiasts. If you want to learn more about how and why they do what they do, please visit the new Crosman Airgun Forum .

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Okay, so it’s not the Fourth of July, but it is Independence Day at El Rancho Elliott. That’s because, thanks to Brown Santa and the good graces of the folks at Airguns of Arizona, I’m one of the first airgunners in the United States to actually get his hands on the new FX Independence air rifle.

Here it is: the long-awaited FX Independent

FX Airguns, based in Sweden, already enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a maker of excellent, accurate pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) air rifles and pistols. What sets the Independence apart — what gives it almost “Holy Grail” status among airgunners – is that you can recharge it with an on-board pump while you are out shooting it in the field. As with any PCP, you have the multi-shooting capacity provided by an on-board reservoir, yet you are free from having to carry an additional pump or SCUBA tank. You have independence of any external charging device, hence the name.

The Independence is a big gun. It stretches 43.75 inches from the tip of the barrel shroud to the end of the butt plate. With a Hawke Air Max 4-12.scope mounted, it weighs 10 lbs 5 ounces. Available only in .22 caliber, it has a right-handed black synthetic stock.

At the extreme back end of the Independence, you’ll find a soft rubber butt pad that can be adjusted vertically; just loosen a screw and slide it up or down. Ahead of that is the buttstock which has vertical grooves on the pistol grip. The stock is molded to form a trigger guard, inside of which you’ll find a black metal trigger.

The pressure gauge is large and easy to read.

Forward of the trigger guard is a male foster fitting which can be used to charge the Independence up to 200 bar. About an inch forward of that is an Allen bolt which secures the action in the stock. Moving forward another 3 or 4 inches, you’ll discover a very large – a bit over 1.5 inches in diameter – pressure gauge that makes it really easy to know what the status of the charge is in the Independence. Forward of that is the rest of the forestock, which has vertical grooves for gripping on either side.

The barrel shroud does a very nice job of producing a neighbor-friendly report.

Beyond the end of the forestock is the air reservoir/onboard pump assembly, and above that is the match barrel which is encased in a full shroud that is about an inch in diameter. The entire shroud/barrel assembly is free floated from the reservoir/pump assembly below it, so you don’t have to worry about various levels of charge flexing the barrel and messing with accuracy.

The charging handle is just a bit over 19 inches long.

On the right side of the reservoir is a roughly 19.25 inch handle which is used to charge the Independence through the onboard pump. At the rear of the barrel is the receiver, which has scope dovetails fore and aft of the breech. The breech is deep enough to load pellets one at a time (with some difficulty) but it is designed to hold a 12-shot rotary magazine. The Independence is cocked and loaded using a lever on the right side of the receiver, and on the right side, near the back end of the receiver, you’ll find a lever action safety.

Overall, I liked the fit and finish of the Independence, although I found the stock to be a little bigger and blockier than other synthetic-stocked FX rifles I have shot in the past. Still, considering that this rifle has an onboard sidelever pump, I want the stock to be plenty rigid.

To get the Independence ready for shooting, you can charge it from a SCUBA tank, or you can pump it up using the onboard pump. This will take about 65 strokes. To use the onboard pump, grab the forestock between the trigger guard and the gauge with your left hand. Grasp the end of the pump handle with your right hand. Pull the pump handle away from the receiver and toward the muzzle as far as it will go (at this point, the total distance between your hands will be about 34 inches). Now, return the pump handle back to its original position. I don’t have any good way of measuring the pumping effort, but it feels roughly the same as putting the fourth or fifth stroke into a Sheridan or Benjamin multi-stroke pneumatic rifle. What’s interesting about the Independence’s onboard pump is that every stroke seems to require the same effort, and that there is no pressure “hump” in the middle of the stroke. In short, I found the Independence easy to pump.

The breech lever is back, and the magazine is inserted into the breech.

Next, load the 12-shot magazine. To do that, first, rotate the clear plastic face plate counter-clockwise as far as possible. Now, while holding the face plate in position, flip the magazine over so you’re looking at the back side. You’ll see that a port has opened in the back of the magazine. Load a pellet backwards (tail first) into the port. This will lock the spring and keep the inner wheel from turning. Now, flip the magazine over and load the rest of the pellets by dropping them nose-first into the magazine while rotating the transparent cover so that the hole in it opens each of the pellet “bays.” Once you have filled the magazine, rotate the transparent cover back to its original position. Pull the  breech lever to the rear of the receiver to move the bolt back. Now slide the magazine into the breech.

Push the breech lever forward to move the first pellet out the magazine and into the barrel. Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample I tested, it required only 9.3 ounces to take up the first stage, and at l lb .5 ounces, the shot goes down range. Sweet!

Over the course of 9 shots, the Independence launched the 18.2 grain JSB Jumbo Heavy pellets at an average of 849 fps (high 867, low 833), generating about 29.1 (average) footpounds of energy at the muzzle. Thanks to the shroud, the report is very neighbor-friendly, roughly as loud as someone tapping their fingernail on a plastic countertop.

The accuracy is what I have come to expect from FX. Shooting JSB Jumbo Express pellets, at 35 yards from a rest, I put five shots into a group you could easily hide under a dime. I bet that shooters will soon be reporting similar groups at 50 yards.

I found that if, between shots, you give the Independence about 3 strokes with the onboard pump, that puts the pressure gauge approximately back where it was before you took the shot. So, as a rough guide, you’ll need about three pump strokes to recharge the Independence for each shot you take, but they are easy strokes.

At the end of the day, I find the Independence embodies everything I prize most in an air rifle: accuracy, quiet, fully self-contained, and powerful enough to dispatch any small game or pests you might want to take with a pneumatic rifle. It should have a lot of airgunners grinning for a long time.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott