I had been curious about the R11/HW98 for more than a decade . . .
Have you ever been curious about a product for a very long time and finally got to see it and use it?
That’s exactly what happened to me with the HW98. The first time I became aware of this air rifle was when I saw it in the 1999 Beeman Precision Airgun Guide. Beeman sold the HW98 as the R11 back then. The catalog said: “The Beeman R11 air rifle represents a quantum leap forward in design. Built for the competitor, small game hunter, or backyard shooter, the R11 has features that everyone will appreciate.” Interesting, I thought.
But at the same time, I thought that marketing hype can be just so much hyperbole for the sake of selling products. I also noticed that the R11/HW98 didn’t appear to be very popular. I rarely saw it talked about on the online forums, and it was very rare indeed to see one at a field target match. So when the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com told me that they were sending an HW98 to test, I was sort of “underwhelmed.” I think in the back of my mind, I had the lurking notion that “if this rifle is so good, how come I don’t see more people shooting it?”
Well, it turns out I was wrong. I still can’t explain why I haven’t seen more people shooting the HW98, but I can tell you for a certainty that it is a very interesting air rifle that impressed the heck out of me. More about that later. First, let’s take a guided tour of the HW98.
The HW98 is a single-shot, breakbarrel, spring piston air rifle that measures 43.5 inches from end to end and weighs 8.6 lbs. before you mount a scope. It’s available in .177 caliber and .22 caliber. I tested the .177 version.
The cheek piece and butt pad offer a wealth of adjustments to suit your shooting style.
At the extreme aft end of the HW98, you’ll find a rubber butt pad that is adjustable. But this isn’t just any old adjustable butt pad; undo a screw and you can not only adjust the butt pad up and down, but you can also twist – or cant – the butt pad from side to side. So you can pretty much tweak the HW98 so that it fits your shoulder and shooting style at the right height and angle.
Move forward just a little bit, and you’ll find a cheek piece that, after loosening a couple of screws can be raised in height up to two inches. So if you’re running a scope with a big bell and need higher scope mounts, you can raise the cheek piece so you get the same comfortable spot weld behind the scope every time. Normally, you only get this kind of adjustability of fit – including both butt pad and cheek piece – in match rifles.
In addition, the stock of the HW98 is completely ambidextrous
Moving forward again, the pistol grip curves to nearly vertical and is stippled for easy gripping. The stippling is finished in black. Forward of that is a black trigger guard which surrounds a silver metal Rekord trigger which is adjustable. Forward of that is the forestock which has a strip of black stippling underneath and has inletted slots on either side. Honestly, I don’t know if these slots have any purpose, but they certainly give the HW98 a distinctive look.
For those who remember or have seen the old Beeman R11, there is a slight difference with the modern HW98. The R11’s forestock stopped just beyond the stippling, leaving a fair chunk of the breech block exposed. By constrast, the HW98’s forestock extends further, fully covering the breech block.
The HW98 features a full-length barrel sleeve.
Beyond that, you’ll find the barrel, which is covered with a full-length barrel sleeve. There is no front sight and no provision for mounting one, so this is an air rifle that requires a scope. Finally, moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the receiver which has dovetails for mounting a scope and three holes where an anti-recoil pin can be fitted. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is the typical Weihrauch push-button non-resettable safety.
That’s it. I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t note that the fit and finish of this air rifle is noteworthy. The bluing on the barrel sleeve is excellent, and the stock is handsome. If you’re into looks and pride of ownership, this air rifle has it in spades.
Next time, we’ll see how the HW98 shoots.
Til then, aim true and shoot straight.
- Jock Elliott