The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is the latest offering from SIG Air. Externally, it’s a close copy of the MCX Virtus battle rifle. It’s also significant for SIG Air as it’s the company’s first PCP-powered airgun.
The Virtus PCP is – with the exception of the regulated HPA tank that substitutes for the buttstock – a very realistic representation of the MCX Virtus firearm. Weight, length and looks are all very close to the powder-burner version.
Size and weight are very similar to the Patrol version of the Virtus, the company seeming having spared no detail, even the gas block adjuster being visible under the hand guard.
Likewise, the flash hider is well represented…
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle is supplied with a very nice, functional set of iron sights. The rear sight has windage adjustment capability, together with a choice of two peep apertures. The front sight is a post that’s adjustable for elevation.
Of course, most users will prefer to mount a scope on the long Picatinny rail. The SIG Air 1-4×20 scope is a good match, for example.
If you wish to fit a larger or more powerful scope, you may find it necessary to use either very high rings. Alternatively a Picatinny rail riser can come-in useful, as we can see below.
The SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle arrives very well packaged, a very important consideration given the “love” shown to many packages by delivery companies. However, AoA’s packaging is always exemplary in my experience, so they’ll pack your new airgun better than anyone else in the business.
A little assembly is required to get your new Virtus shooting. But it’s nothing that can’t easily be managed.
Then, all you need to do is fill the HPA tank with 3,000 PSI of air, fill the mag with 30 pellets and start shooting!
Now it’s best to remember that the SIG MCX Virtus is a battle rifle. So don’t expect to find Daystate accuracy and trigger feel – it’s not going to happen, especially at $299.99.
This is a fun plinking rifle, ideal for toppling cans and backyard fun at 10 yards or so…
Actually, the SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle does provide a large number of fairly-consistent shots – well over 150 in my testing. It combines this with the ability to fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.
Just be aware that the trigger pull first stage advances the pellet into battery, the second stage actually releases the sear. This means that trigger pull weight is heavy. 10 Lbs is average. Add this to the 12 Ft/Lbs power level and you’re probably not likely to win Extreme Benchrest with a SIG MCX Virtus PCP air rifle.
But, of course, that’s not what it is for!
The Virtus is a fun gun for great backyard plinking enjoyment. Treated in that sense, it will give many people a great deal of enjoyment.
For some time, there’s been a move towards the use of slugs for long-range airgun shooting. Now that’s gathering momentum, with more manufacturers entering the arena and more shooters discovering their benefits.
But what do we mean by slugs?
Simply put, they are solid, un-waisted airgun projectiles. Unlike the traditional diabolo pellets which we know and love, slugs are shaped something like firearm bullets. They’re basically cylindrical, with a pointed nose, parallel sides and a flat (-ish) base.
In fact, there has been some confusion about what to call them. Sometimes they’ve been called bullets, but slugs – not to be confused with shotgun slugs, of course – has now become the standard name.
So slugs it is. But what is leading to their popularity and why now?
Basically the cause is the rapid development of technology and capability in PCP air rifles and their support systems. We’re experiencing significant increases in air rifle power as designers perfect valve and regulator systems. High Pressure Air brings the potential for power and that potential is being used more efficiently than ever before in new air rifle designs.
As the power potential of PCP air rifles has increased, so has the caliber. Larger calibers are essential to transmit the power inherent in large volumes of High Pressure Air, so no longer is .22 – or even .25 caliber seen as a “large” bore diameter for air rifles. Now we have .30 cal, .375, .45 caliber and above.
Of course it’s true that big bore – say about .30 caliber like the Benjamin Bulldog above – airguns have a long and honorable history. But in the past they were generally hand-built, custom pieces built in vanishingly small numbers for specialist, enthusiast users. Now that’s changed.
These big bore calibers are available as standard product from multiple manufacturers in mass-production build quantities. Customer demand has expanded to match supply. Although few PCPs – let alone big bore PCPs – have yet penetrated the “big box” chain sporting goods stores, they are increasingly strong in specialist online stores – like AoA, of course – where most knowledgeable airgunners make their purchases.
This means that .177 PCP air rifle sales are in relative decline. Let’s think about that for a moment…
Apart from specific target shooting disciplines, the fact is that less and less people are buying .177 caliber PCPs! Even .22 cal. is threatened as more and more airgun shooters consider .25 caliber and above to be the “new normal” for PCPs.
Large caliber PCPs use vast amounts of High Pressure Air. So – guess what? – this demand has been met by a growing number of HPA compressors at ever-lower prices. Think Omega Trail Charger, for example. Lower-priced, more available compressor technology encourages more shooters to move to PCPs.
What we have here is a technology-driven “virtuous cycle” of improvement in airgun performance, price and power. With this technology shift has come the desire to use the capability of increasingly-capable PCP air rifles to shoot at ever-increasing distances.
So we see more and more interest in competitions such as Extreme Benchrest, with airgun target shooting out to 100 Yards.
Such long range shooting blows the capabilities of .177 caliber completely out of the water. Ditto for springers, of course.
All of which focuses attention on the projectile…
As high power, long-range, HPA-powered airgun performance becomes ever better, there’s a natural demand for improved ammunition to maximize the capabilities of the hardware. Basically, the need is for heavier projectiles that can absorb the increasing power available in larger caliber PCPs at velocities that – preferably – remain subsonic (less than say 1,100 FPS).
With this comes demand for a Ballistic Coefficient that’s superior to anything that can be achieved with the traditional wasp-waisted diabolo pellet for long-range accuracy.
That is leading to experimentation with non-traditional airgun pellet designs and a move towards cylindrical, non-waisted airgun ammunition. Yes, we’re back to slugs!
So should I shoot pellets or slugs? That’s a question being asked by many owners of high power PCP air rifles right now. Airguns of Arizona gives you a choice because they carry both pellets and slugs – with a steadily-increasing range of the latter.
As with many things in life, the answer is not always clear, however…
One thing that’s apparent is that slugs can be appreciably more accurate at long ranges than diabolo pellets. This is confirmed by the rules for Extreme Benchrest, for example. Slugs are not permitted to be used.
The accuracy benefit of slugs is found particularly in their resistance to changing wind conditions. At least compared to a traditional diabolo airgun pellet.
But this improved long-range accuracy potential is not a given for any air rifle. Firstly, you need a powerful air rifle: say 40 Ft/Lbs muzzle energy for a minimum. This – in itself – rules-out .177 caliber as a viable slug caliber and further drives the move to .22 caliber and above.
Then you need a barrel that works well with slugs.
Being designed for the ballistic characteristics of traditional waisted pellets, it’s hardly surprising to discover that many airgun barrels do not give good performance with the completely different ballistic characteristics of slugs. This means that airgun manufacturers are working on the development of barrel profiles optimized for slug use.
So far, we’ve talked about slugs in the context of accurate – primarily target – shooting. But realistically, it needs to be recognized that competitive airgun target shooting in any form – benchrest, Field Target, 10 Meter etc – involves a relatively small number of airgun shooters, compared to the number who hunt.
For hunters, the overwhelming requirement is to deliver the maximum amount of kinetic energy downrange for an ethical, single-shot knockdown. Pinpoint accuracy, while important, is (just) the secondary requirement, particularly if you’re aiming to take down a bear or buffalo – as is now becoming possible with the most powerful big bore air rifles, like the Western Big Bore Bushbuck, for example.
In this case, there’s no competition! The Ballistic Coefficient of slugs is far superior to anything that can be achieved with diabolo pellets. That means more energy further downrange, combined with less susceptibility to wind. Providing practical accuracy is acceptable, slugs are the obvious answer.
So, while long range competitive shooting is the headline-grabbing area of slug development and shooting right now, in the long run, it’s the capabilities of slugs for hunting that will drive their broader adoption across the country.
Crosman has been a fixture of the Rochester, New York, area for nearly 180 years – although at first not as an airgun company. Back in 1838, when Rochester was still on the wild frontier of New York State, and 23 years before the start of the American Civil War, a certain Fred Crosman founded a seed company in the city. Amazingly, the Crosman Seed Company is still alive and well, operating successfully in the area.
However, in 1923, Bertram Fenner, then the Operations Manager of the Crosman Brothers Seed Company, reached an agreement with one William McLean to produce pellets and an air rifle based on McLean’s designs. In 1924 the Crosman Rifle Company was formed and, with several changes of name and ownership since, has become the company we know today as Crosman Corporation.
Over the course of time, Crosman has grown from a 6-person company in 1940, to the large corporation we see today. In 1992, Crosman acquired Benjamin Sheridan – another major US airgun manufacturer and cemented its position as by far the largest American manufacturer of airguns. Of course, the Benjamin name is now used as the brand for Crosman’s adult hunting and high performance models.
From the early days, Crosman specialised in multi-pump and CO2-powered airguns. This line of development has been pretty well unbroken to the current day, with the addition of PCP models and breakbarrel air rifles.
The Company Today
In 1971, Crosman moved to a large new, purpose-built location in the rural village of East Bloomfield. This has been the company’s headquarters and manufacturing centre ever since.
And if you think Crosman’s 250,000 Square Foot headquarters is big – it really is!
You also then need to add a huge, separate Finished Goods warehouse a few miles away that itself is certainly as large as any other in the airgun industry. Well over 200 people work at Crosman. Like many companies with seasonal swings in manufacturing, the number varies with manufacturing demand.
Both Crosman, as a corporation, and its employees are very proud of the fact that the majority of its products are actually manufactured in the USA. You can read that as “not manufactured in China”.
Like any large manufacturing operation, Crosman sources products from multiple different suppliers in different countries. For example, it makes no sense for it to manufacture the screws and O rings used in its guns (no-one else does, either). But it designs most products in-house and manufactures many parts, too, including barrels, breeches and pressure tubes.
Here’s another part of the assembly floor…
Yes, there are Chinese-manufactured Crosman (and Benjamin) airguns, these are mainly the spring/piston and gas ram breakbarrel models. But even here, the company has been steadily bringing assembly back to the USA over recent years, on a model-by model basis.
Below, huge numbers of 760 barrels line up awaiting assembly.
Crosman’s longest-running model – the 760 multi-pump air rifle – has always been manufactured in-house. Since 1966, 17 Million 760s have been sold in the USA and – incredibly – every one is test-fired before shipping to ensure quality control. There’s not many airgunners in the US who have not owned a 760 in their youth and had their enthusiasm for airguns fired by it
The Benjamin Marauder – long the most popular PCP air rifle in the US – is also manufactured in the East Bloomfield factory. And again, every one is tested for accuracy and muzzle velocity before it’s shipped out on the test fixture below.
All-in-all, Crosman produces about 1.1 Million airguns every year and claims to be the US market leader in numbers of airguns sold. With numbers like that, I’m ready to believe it…
There’s Much More Than Airguns
Although airguns are the sexy products in our world, there’s lots more going on at Crosman’s factory than that.
The company is a major manufacturer of airgun pellets. And when we say “major”, we actually mean “MAJOR!” as the Bloomfield factory pumps out around 3 Million pellets every day – seven days a week. That’s over a BILLION pellets a year and explains why Crosman pellets are found at just about every shop across the USA where you can buy airguns and in many other countries around the world.
Don’t forget that the Crosman factory also bangs-out a massive number of BBs a day, too. In fact, you can make that ten times more BBs than pellets. I lost count of the number of zeroes involved at that point…
Crosman introduced the now-ubiquitous 12 Gram CO2 capsule in 1954. They’ve been making them ever since and currently produce around 140,000 CO2 “Powerlets” every day. That’s a lot of gas!
Quality And Efficiency
Crosman is also focussing hard on quality. The company’s Manufacturing Engineer Nic Hargarther took me through many of the improvements Crosman is making to barrels and pellet quality, in particular. That’s part of their barrel inspection system seen above.
The culture of continuous improvement is very striking on the production floor, with great emphasis on parts quality and efficient manufacturing practices.
Although Crosman uses many automated manufacturing systems – how else could they make so many pellets, BBs and Powerlets? – it’s interesting to see that the airguns themselves are all still assembled by hand. The factory is full of multiple small production cells, each one focussed on a specific product (or range of products), with dedicated operators who take pride in their work yet still made time to good-naturedly tease me for “speaking funny”!
Back To The Future
Looking back over nearly 100 years of airgun history, it’s clear that, although Crosman has successfully stuck to its knitting over the years, the company has not been afraid to innovate and enter new markets. Walking around the company’s airgun museum at the factory makes that clear.
Below, there’s a substantial museum at the plant containing examples of just about every model the manufacturer has produced.
Crosman was involved in paintball when that was hot and has been a large player in the airsoft market for years. It also produced an early, electronically-controlled big bore airgun – the Benjamin Rogue – that was arguably ahead its time.
More recently, the Benjamin Airbow is an innovative PCP “airgun” that shoots arrows with the power of a crossbow – make that a cool 168 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle Energy – and opens-up a whole new field of hunting large game with air power.
Last, but not least, I’d like to thank everyone at Crosman for their help in compiling this story. They were all very generous with their time and information. And they gave me access to every part of the company I wanted to look at – and more…
IWA Outdoor Classics is the major international outdoor industry trade show. It’s held annually in Nuremberg, Germany. As always, Daystate was a major exhibitor, together with its associated brands.
So, let’s take a look at the exciting new products from Daystate, Brocock and MTC Optics that were to be seen on the booth.
Above we see Robert Buchanan from Airguns of Arizona with the new Daystate Red Wolf Safari that was being launched at IWA 2019. This version of the Red Wolf is distinguished externally by a new brown wood stock with unusually strong surface texture – you have to handle this yourself to understand what I mean!
But the real interest of the lies inside. For this is the first Daystate model to feature the new technologies that the company is developing as building-blocks for future designs. There’s a new Daystate ART barrel and Version 2 of the internal GCU – Gun Control Unit – circuit board.
The GCU 2.0 system is an electronic control board, battery and other components. It provides infinitely variable control over the opening and closing of the air rifle’s firing valve. This makes multiple power level adjustments available, for example.
Of course, Daystate has been making electronically-controlled air rifles since 2003. The GCU 2.0 system shown at IWA 2019 is the latest iteration of their expertise in digital air rifle control.
Alongside this new control system is the Daystate ART barrel. ART is an abbreviation for Accuracy Research Team. It’s a new barrel system with outstanding claimed accuracy that’s been developed through a collaboration between Lothar Walther, together with shooters from Italy, the UK and Airguns of Arizona in the USA.
The ART barrel features a polygonal bore and slow-twist rifling. Daystate says that this reduces friction and optimizes pellet spin for improved downrange in-flight stability.
The designer of Daystate air rifles is the Italian Adriano Nodari. Here he is showing us the beautiful, limited edition Daystate Genus at the 2019 IWA show. Great work Adriano!!!
More new products from the Daystate group to be seen at IWA 2019 include the Brocock Concept Lite, with collapsible stock below…
… and the Brocock Bantam Sniper HP in a new laminated stock colorway. Robert Buchanan is delighted with both of them, as you can see!
MTC Optics is, of course, another part of the Daystate group. Sales Director Terence Logan showed me two new – and interesting scopes – that were being launched at IWA 2019.
First was the MTC SWAT Prismatic. This is a fixed 12X riflescope with an extraordinarily wide field of view. In fact, Terence told me that it has the same field of view as a typical 4 x power scope.
With a large 50mm diameter objective (front) lens, the MTC SWAT Prismatic also promises to offer outstanding light-gathering capabilities. With that huge diameter tube, it also requires a very special mount, as you can see from the photograph above.
The second new scope MTC Optics was showing at IWA 2019 was the 6-24×50 King Cobra F1. This has a first focal plane reticle and side focus parallax adjustment. It’s part of a clear trend towards first focal plane (FFP) scopes that is currently being seen in the airgun optics industry.
The Daystate/Brocock/MTC booth was also completely redesigned for IWA 2019. It had a stylish, minimalist look that focused attention on the new airguns.
The booth itself was located in the bright, airy and modern Hall 3A at IWA OutdoorClassics, along with a number of other top-tier players in the outdoor industry, as you can see from the overview below.
Of course, you can expect to find these new products become available from Airguns of Arizona in the near future!
For this report from the 2019 SHOT Show, we’ll take-in new products from Daystate and Brocock. There’s a lot of them and there’s more too…
A star attraction was the the new Brocock Patagonia PCP air rifle. This is a full production version of the Brocock Bantam Sniper HP model that was used to win the 2018 Extreme Benchrest by Claudio Flores. And that’s Claudio in our photograph with “his” air rifle. He certainly looks pleased with it!
Brocock had chosen the 2019 SHOT Show as the platform to launch this interesting new model
Why Patagonia? Well, Claudio’s company is called Patagonia Airguns. And this new airgun carries Claudio’s signature on the shroud, as we can see below
The Brocock Patagonia is available in both .22 and .25 calibers. There’s adjustable power levels up to 46 Ft/Lbs in .22 and 55 Ft/Lbs in .25 cal. With a Huma regulator, 460 cc carbon fiber HPA bottle and new 0dB silencer, this is the premier model in the semi-bullpup Brocock Bantam line
Meanwhile, Lauren Parsons shows us both Brocock Commander and Patagonia models
Another new model seen on the Daystate/Brocock booth at the 2019 SHOT Show was a new version of the Daystate Pulsar. This electronically-controlled bullpup PCP has been equipped with the laminated hardwood colorway first seen on the Daystate Saxon limited edition model form a couple of years ago.
Greg Glover shows us this to us. Again, the new Daystate 0dB silencer is fitted to further mute this shrouded air rifle’s report.
Another interesting new product to be seen at the Daystate/Brocock booth at the 2019 SHOT Show was this new Omega Trailcharger HPA compressor. It’s imported into the US by Airguns of Arizona.
This compressor is can be powered by mains electricity (using the supplied transformer) or from a vehicle 12 Volt DC battery. Unlike most similar portable HPA compressors, however, it’s designed to be able to fill HPA tanks and not just PCP airguns directly. The Street Price will be $799, which is attractive for an HPA compressor of this capability
The water cooled Omega TrailCharger also takes an innovative approach to managing the connecting cables, as is visible in the rear view, above.
As we can see from the photograph above, the TrailCharger is considerably smaller and lighter than the well-known Omega TurboCharger which sits next to it on the right.
Phew! That’s lots of new stuff. Look for it to become available from Airguns of Arizona in the near future…
It’s PCP airgun corrosion – this is what moisture does to your air rifle…
It’s widely known – or at least fairly widely – that PCP airgun corrosion is caused by moisture in the air that’s used to fill an air rifle. But what does this PCP airgun corrosion look like and how bad really is the damage?
These photographs show how bad the corrosion actually can be. Look and be warned!
Above. There’s plenty of corrosion on this Marauder fill adapter. You can also see oxidization build-up on the sintered filter.
Note that our photographs happen to show corrosion in Benjamin and Crosman airguns. That’s because these are examples seen at a Crosman Repair Center. But every PCP airgun – not just Crosman/Benjamin models – suffers from this problem.
You can find PCP airgun corrosion in any make of airgun!
Every time you fill your PCP airgun without a dessicant system of some sort, you are causing this problem. You’re actually pumping water vapor – moisture – into the gun every time you fill it with High Pressure Air.
The result is long-term damage to your gun and an expensive repair bill just waiting for you in the future!
Above. Here’s corrosion on a Discovery gauge port. It’s even inside the gauge adapter (arrow)…
Over the long-term – say 3 years or more – PCP airgun corrosion will be the number one cause of failure for PCP air rifles.
First, you find that your favorite PCP is starting to loose pressure between uses. Then the pressure loss becomes more rapid. Then, finally, the gun will no longer hold pressure.
If you have been filling with “wet” air – that is air that has not been passed through some sort of moisture-removal system – it’s guaranteed that this problem will be caused by PCP airgun corrosion.
Over the course of time, that water vapor inside your air rifle will cause corrosion.
The problem will be worse if you live in a naturally-humid area. It will be worse still if you live by the ocean – think salt water corrosion now. So if you live in – say – Florida and you’re filling your PCP with a hand pump and no dessicant system, your PCP air rifle WILL suffer from this PCP airgun corrosion!
There’s some evidence that PCPs with higher fill pressures – say 3,000 PSI and above – tend to suffer from this PCP airgun corrosion more than those with lower pressures – say 2,000 PSI. That makes sense, as the onset and progress of PCP airgun corrosion will most likely be worse the higher the pressure.
But what actually happens?
Yes, rusting of the HPA pressure tube is one obvious result. If a pressure tube shows any signs of internal rusting, it should be replaced immediately!
Below we have a view looking down a Marauder pressure tube.
You see, the O rings inside the gun seem to attract moisture like a magnet. The result is that rust occurs between the O ring and steel tube – usually in a circular pattern, exactly matching the location of the O ring.
I may be a coward, but the prospect of holding a rusty steel tube containing 3,000 PSI of air right next to my face every time I shoot doesn’t sound too clever. DON’T DO IT!
More surprisingly, perhaps, the majority of PCP airgun corrosion happens on Aluminum parts inside the gun, rather than the steel tube itself.
The high pressure moisture-bearing air causes the Aluminum to oxidize into a white substance. This white oxide then builds-up underneath the O ring seals inside the gun. But it doesn’t build up evenly!
Because the Aluminum oxide builds-up in peaks and troughs, eventually the rubber O rings inside the gun can no longer fill the gaps and leaking starts. It’s downhill all the way from there…
Prevention is better than cure.
The way to prevent – or at least massively reduce – PCP airgun corrosion is to ALWAYS fill your gun with “dry air”.
If you use a hand pump, make sure it is filled with a dessicant system such as this Hill pump has.
Alternatively, if you fill HPA tanks from a compressor, use a dessicant system – such as this Omega inline filter – between the compressor and the tank.
Or if you have your air tanks filled by a paintball store or dive shop, make absolutely sure that they are giving you dry air.
PCP airgun corrosion WILL happen to your air rifle unless you always fill it with dry air. Make sure that you only use dry air in your PCP.
In this exclusive interview, Herr Hans Weihrauch – the owner of Weihrauch Sport – talks to Stephen Archer. We met most recently at the 2018 Extreme Benchrest competition in Arizona. Here’s how the conversation went…
Stephen Archer: When did you first start shooting and who taught you to shoot?
Hans Weihrauch: That was quite a long time ago! At about the age of 10-12 years, I started shooting with an air rifle. My father was a member of a shooting club and took me to a German “Schützenhaus”, shooting on a 10 Meter target range. Shooting instructors taught other young guys and myself how to hold the air rifle and to aim at the paper targets.
Stephen Archer: What was your first airgun and do you still own it?
Hans Weihrauch: I started this kind of shooting with a HW 55 match type air rifle. This rifle is still standing in my gun cabinet. I still own it and I am proud of it!
Stephen Archer: What is your favorite type of shooting now?
Hans Weihrauch: I shoot 50 Meter English Match in cal. .22 Long Rifle as well as some Field Target competitions.
I find Field Target shooting very interesting and challenging. Shooting at various distances, in different directions on one lane, in different shooting positions and in a limited time frame is very demanding for every shooter.
Stephen Archer: Please tell us a little history about the Weihrauch company?
Hans Weihrauch: Our family tradition in working in the gun trade started in the late 1890s. In 1899 our great-grandfather founded his first company to produce hunting rifles. Over the following decades the company grew and a lot of different models followed as well as other products like pedals and cranks for bicycles and hydraulic door closers.
In 1939 the first airgun, an air pistol, was introduced, but due to World War II it never got into production. There is at least one prototype still existing. I’ve seen it myself, but unfortunately it’s not owned by us any more.
In the early fifties of the last century the first air rifles HW 50 and HW 35 were launched. A lot of different models have followed over the years!
Stephen Archer: Can you tell us a little about the company today. For example, how many people work at Weihrauch-Sport? How big is your factory? Is everything made in Germany?
Hans Weihrauch: Nowadays our line of air guns offers a wide variety of different models. More than 100 employees produce air pistols and air rifles in a huge number of versions in our premises at Mellrichstadt in Baveria.
All our products are “Made in Germany”. Our major focus is quality and craftsmanship. All manufacturing is undertaken using state-of-the-art machinery. We aim to offer our customers the best possible products!
Below. The Weihrauch factory.
Stephen Archer: Always, the machining and finish of both wood and metal parts is beautiful on Weihrauch airguns! How do you achieve such an outstanding level of craftsmanship?
Hans Weihrauch: Germans have the reputation of being perfectionists. So we happily try to meet our customers expectations! This reflects to all the metal and wooden parts.
The stocks and grips are supplied by outside vendors according to our exact specifications. The metal parts are produced by ourselves in-house. Our workers are proud to produce such products that are well-known all over the world.
Stephen Archer: Does Weihrauch-Sport manufacture the barrels for it’s air rifles?
Hans Weihrauch: Most of our barrels are produced in-house. This gives us constant quality control monitoring on each barrel during the whole production process, right up to final test shooting. In this way we can always guarantee our quality standards on each production step of the barrels.
Stephen Archer: Most Weihrauch air rifles use the spring/piston system. Only the HW90 uses a gas ram. Can you explain why gas rams are not used in more Weihrauch air rifles?
Hans Weihrauch: As always, different systems have advantages but also disadvantages. Our spring piston systems work very well. Nevertheless we are always working and improving our air guns to reach the best possible quality to fit our customer needs. We have a lot of customers who love our spring piston air guns and also our gas ram HW 90 model.
Stephen Archer: Weihrauch manufactures both underlever-cocking and break-barrel spring/piston air rifles. Can you give your opinion on the benefits of each design?
Hans Weihrauch: Yes, we are producing both versions, break barrel and underlever cocking.
For decades the break barrel rifles have been the main product. They are easy to handle and everyone knows how to manage, load and shot, them. This system is ideal for beginners and for “just for fun” – shooting.
We then launched the HW 77. This new design conquered the Field Target Shooting scene and was copied several times. The scope mount and the barrel/receiver components are one unit and built a stable and fixed system. This design is valued more by the serious and experienced shooter.
Stephen Archer: Here at Extreme Benchrest we see almost everyone shooting PCP air rifles. Do you see PCPs as the big future trend for your company, too?
Hans Weihrauch: The EBR event is a special and unique event for shooting taking place in the USA.
The shooting demands are on longer distances and for special disciplines like for example the Extreme Benchrest up to 100 Yards, Extreme Field Target or the Speed Silhouette. There definitely the PCP rifles have their big advantage and will be also the future trend. It is a growing scene and market.
For the “normal” shooter these PCP products are quite expensive, especially with all the necessary charging equipment. He will probably step into the shooting scene on a lower level according to his budget and his aim. And sometimes compressed air isn’t available at all places. Perhaps later he will also join other disciplines.
Therefore we are offering our wide range of air guns in various versions and for different purposes. So nearly everybody can find a suitable product for their needs from Weihrauch.
Stephen Archer: Can we expect to see any new air rifle designs from Weihrauch in 2019?
Hans Weihrauch: We are constantly working to improve the quality of our products. So permanent developments and amendments are implemented into the production process of the different models.
Furthermore we are also thinking on new projects. Just recently our newest PCP air rifle – the HW 110 ST – was launched in a special carbine version.
Also in 2019 you can expect something new from Weihrauch. But… wait and see!
Stephen Archer: Hans, thanks for this great interview! I’m sure this will be of great interest to the huge number of Weihrauch enthusiasts around the world. I look forward to seeing you again next year in Nuremberg for the IWA Show and in Las Vegas for the SHOT Show.
AoA: We asked a good airgunning friend of ours, who lives in the UK, out in the wilds of East Anglia, to give us a regular flavour of life there. Here is his latest post.
Old friends re-appear after a long absence.
Summer 2017. It’s been a week of sweltering 90F temperatures by UK standards, particularly as our houses don’t have air conditioning.
Meals are taken outside, under the shade of our decades-old Allington Pippin apple tree. This is especially enjoyable when friends drop round for a bite to eat.
So, it was in this dappled shade, that we were delighted to meet up again with Ben Taylor, airgun guru and, of course, half of the original Theoben airgun company. Theoben rifles are still much sought after today. I used to work alongside Ben but, since he’s retired, he’s spent a lot of time on his BMW 1300 motorbike. He was just back from attending the Moto GP in Spain.
And that was the starting point for an amazing story. While in Spain, Ben met a British airgunner who lives there. They had been chatting previously about airguns, and 2 had piqued Ben’s interest quite considerably. One of them was Ben’s very own engraved Sirocco .20 calibre that he had used around 1985/86. Its condition was ‘almost as new’; its serial number is #1000. The other rifle was one of his famous and rare Metisse air rifles: No.8, in .177 calibre.
Ben then told us the fantastic tale of the Sirocco. Many years ago, when the company was at its base in Cambridgeshire in Britain, Ben was just closing up for the day when an Aston Martin swept into the car park and a man leapt out. He said he wanted an air rifle. “I’m afraid they’re all built to order and we have none spare.” Undaunted, the visitor said, “what about that one then?” pointing to Ben’s own rifle on the rack. Ben said, “It’s mine, and anyway you can’t afford it”. But Aston Martin drivers are a determined bunch! “I’ll give you a thousand pounds for it,” ($1800 in those days and about 5 times the going rate for a rifle then). The reply was typical of the Ben we know and love! “Would you like it in a box or a bag?” That was the last Ben saw of the rifle for over 30 years.
So, it’s astonishing that the Sirocco has re-surfaced after all these years, purely by chance. And of course, Ben couldn’t resist buying it. The Metisse looks like it has never been shot, and Ben bought that too.
But it’s also typical of Ben, that when he got home to the UK with the rifles, and when he had done admiring them, that, as he said to us, “I’m not really sure why I bought them, as I really, truly, have retired from air rifles.”
So, we’re not surprised that they’re now up both for sale at over £2,000 for Sirocco and over £3,000 for the Metisse. As for retirement from airguns? Somehow, we’re not surprised he’s planning on coming to Extreme Benchrest this year!
Late June 2017. We’ve had a week of glorious sunshine in the South … temperatures in the 80s and a real feeling that we’ve shaken off the cold and blue skies, and summer is heading for Home Farm.
Rain or shine, our bird feeders are mobbed from dawn to dusk. They all take their turn, and, apart from the blackbirds, there’s not too much squabbling. It’s all very British. Then in drops a gang of long tailed tits. Everyone else scatters as they attack the food, hanging every which way on the fat-balls and peanut holders. Then, they are off before you have time to wipe your nose and pull your ear.
Last weekend it was sunny and warm enough to bring out butterflies, bees and a magnificent 4ft long female grass snake which made her way across the front of the house towards an old compost heap where she must have some eggs. It was also warm enough to have a barbecue with some friends. We set up targets in the garden for a bit of airgun fun (airfun?). In pride of place on the ‘range’ was my old Webley Hurricane pistol, handed down by neighbour Stan, a retired Polish WW2 fighter pilot who lived 3 fields’ distance away. Stan was a hoot, There were always laughs, stir, commotion and tales from his old Spitfire days! Stan would concoct his own lemon vodka at home. It was the best. So was he. Anyway, we crowded round the air pistols to choose our ammunition. I’m a big fan of airgun darts at gatherings like these as they’re great fun for all ages. I always buy a minimum of 5 packs of 10 multi coloured darts so I end up with 10 red, 10 blue, and the same numbers of green, black and yellow. It makes it easier for people to have a decent number of their own single competition colour. There’s talk, as usual, of ‘darts affect barrel rifling’ – this is a myth in my opinion. Ask anyone who claims this just how they know it and you’ll hear something vague such as “Oh, well, everyone knows that…”. Well, I’ve never found the slightest damage to barrels which, after all, are made to withstand all manner of wear and tear. It’s the mohair flights which have most contact with the barrel. So, I say load up – and take aim. Our visitors found them a lot more accurate than they thought…and a lot more fun!
When you do a career 180 and begin to spend your work week reviewing airguns, there’s a certain phenomena and awareness that quickly turns to clarity… when seeking the one, you’ve got to try all brands and offshoots of a manufacturer’s pellet and you’ve got to cull with 10 shot groups. Yesterday for example, I spent the day getting familiar with the new Benjamin Maximus Euro, the 12fpe variant that our brethren in the U.K. have access to (and us as well). As always before shooting video, I’ll spend 2-3 days familiarizing myself with the gun’s tendencies & preferences in order to streamline my time come video day. What did I learn this week? … the branding phenomena is reality and my above discovery is true.
Take the below for example:
These are 5 shot groups at 25 yards experimenting with 6 different brands of pellet. I came away from the session thinking the Maximus Euro was a shooter across 4 of the 6 pellet types and in my mind, I’m starting down the path of, “This rifle isn’t pellet fussy at all… but I need to run some more brands through it to confirm.”
But is it?…
I spat all of the above through the Euro and confirmed that I could scratch them off the list. 1-2” groups at 25 certainly wouldn’t work for YouTube land… I’d be leaving this rifle’s reputation permanently scared and forever lost in the airgun graveyard. Having used up the day working through several rounds of culling and cleaning, I finally came away with 9, most of which I felt shot well enough to be consistently dangerous.
Check it out:
Now if you take a moment and study the above, you’re probably feeling fairly confident in a few of these groups, right? Don’t feel bad if you do, I did… that was until this morning when I funneled the assortment one final time and discovered the below takeaways:
Lesson 1: This rifle (and maybe yours) can keep to dime-sized groups 5 maybe 6 times across a good variety of pellets, but when you change the rules of the game, the picture begins to tell a different story. If you truly want to know what pellets your gun will be most consistent with, begin experimenting repeatedly with 10 shot groups and with lots of barrel cleaning in between batches. It’s clear to me now that Maximus Euro .177 is a dagger with the 8.4 gr Air Arms Diabolo Fields… 9/10 landed within .35” of one another. It also performed pretty well with the Diana Magnum and JSB 10.34… all three of which will accompany me on video day tomorrow.
This brings me to lesson 2: Have a another look at the above. The 8.4 gr Diana Exact is supposedly the same pellet as the 8.4 gr Air Arms Diabolo Field. JSB manufactures both and the forums will tell you they’re the same thing just re-branded… but I beg to differ. To me, it’s clear that this rifle performs better with one than the other. If that’s not enough to convince ya, have a look at the Diana Magnum and H&N Baracuda. This is the same scenario… H&N manufactures both brands and to the eye, they look the same… however, they clearly don’t perform the same out of this rifle. In yours, the reverse may be true.
What this means to us airheads is that before you give up on your rifle and call it a lemon, try all the brands and offshoots of a pellet manufacturer. JSB and H&N make most of them, and while seemingly disguised as the same thing, they are not. You’ve got to try them all. Then, once you think you’ve got things narrowed down, make your final decisions with 10 shot groups.
You’ll have a better time shooting & your prey will appreciate it.