As an airgun writer and the guy who puts together the “Airgun Roundup” for the SHOT Show Daily newspaper, I get to talk with quite a few people in the airgun industry. In fact, I probably get to talk to most of the major players at least once a year.
My job, of course, is to gather information from those major players, which I do. But when I get the chance to chat with them, very often I take the opportunity to pitch them on one of my favorite subjects – the need for more highly accurate medium-power springers.
Usually they just listen politely, but today I have more facts to bolster my argument. During a phone call the other day, through a chance remark, I found what the bestselling springers at Airguns of Arizona are. The Weihrauch HW30S/Beeman R7 is the top selling springer, and for second place, it is a neck-and-neck race between the Weihrauch HW50s and the Weihrauch HW97.
I am not at all surprised that the HW30S is the most popular. It is a light (5.5 lbs), small (38.78 inches) air rifle that is easy to cock and fun to shoot all day long. The HW30S makes only a modest amount of power (around 6 foot-pounds at the muzzle), but it tends to be a real tackdriver. One of the gurus in the airgun industry says this is because the ration of gun power (in foot-pounds) to gun weight is very nearly 1:1. It is suitable for assassinating pests at modest ranges, and I have even shot field target with one and finished in the ribbons with it.
The HW50S seems to me a slightly bigger (6.8 lbs, 40.5 inches) and more powerful version of the HW30S. Cocking is a bit stiff, but still very manageable, and the HW50S generates 11-12 foot-pounds of energy. It’s the kind of gun that you can shoot all day and still come back for more. It’s accurate as the dickens, and the additional power is welcome for hunting or pest control, no wonder so many shooters like this air rifle.
The addition of the HW97 to the list of Airguns of Arizona’s bestselling springers initially came as a bit of a surprise, because I didn’t know that the underlever HW97 was that popular, but as I thought about it, it make sense. The HW97 is a heavier air rifle (starting at 8.8 lbs, depending on the version), but it is only 40.25 inches long, and it generates only a modest amount of power. The sample that I tested in September, 2008, launched 7.9 grain .177 Crosman Premiers at 847 fps, for about 12.6 foot-pounds of energy.
What all of these air rifles have in common is that they are great fun to shoot, deliver excellent accuracy, benefit from Weihrauch’s outstanding Rekord trigger, and exhibit a very reasonable power-to-weight ratio. If an airgunner had all three of these in his gun closet, I suspect he (or she) would be exceedingly pleased for a very long time.
If I were choosing for myself, here would be my selections: an HW30S in .177 with peep sight for general plinking, an HW50S stainless in .22 for hunting, and an HW97KT (thumbhole) in .177 for field target competition. Santa, are you listening?
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott