Posts Tagged ‘Weihrauch’

The business of getting into a new hobby is a curious one. I should know; I’ve started enough of them to have some experience.

At the beginning of a new field of endeavor, it looks appealing, and you’re curious: what’s airgunning all about? What’s fun about it? What are the interesting activities that you might get involved in? And you begin to think about perhaps purchasing your first airgun.

It is precisely at this point that the trouble arises. If you have had any experience at all with starting new hobbies, you know that there are two potential traps you could fall into. The first is buying a really cheap piece of gear because “you’re just trying to get a feel for the hobby without spending too much.” The trap here is that often inexpensive gear often has some deficiency that seriously interferes with enjoyment. With airguns, specifically, that might mean a nasty trigger or a harsh firing cycle.

The other trap is going full-out and buying a really expensive piece of gear that is not the right fit for what you ultimately want to do. In airguns, this might manifest itself in buying a rifle designed for 10 meter Olympic competition or field target competition when ultimately what you want to do is plink in the back yard. On the online forums, occasionally someone will pop up requesting advice on buying an airgun. Often a forum participant will respond, “What do you want to do with it?” It’s not unusual to have the reply come back: “I’m not sure.” It’s a problem: how do you know what you want to get when you don’t know what you want to do with it?

So, having said all that, this blog is an attempt to help those outright newbies who might not know what they want to do with an airgun and don’t want to make a dumb (donkey) mistake in buying their first one.

The Daisy Avanti Triumph 747

If you like the idea of pistols and think you might like to plink in the back yard or maybe even get involved in some competition down the line, but you don’t have a need to kill pests in the garden or defend the bird feeder, I have one solid recommendation for you: the Daisy Avanti Triump 747 . This is a single-stroke pneumatic air pistol that is wickedly accurate out to about 20 yards, doesn’t generate a lot of power (It is completely unsuitable for pest control), and easy to shoot and maintain. All you need is one of these, some pellets, a pellet trap and targets, and some eye protection, and you’re set for years of fun indoors and out.

The Benjamin 392

The Benjamin 392

The Webley Rebel

The Webley Rebel

But suppose you’d like to dip your toe in the waters of airgunning and need to remove pests from the garden or defend the bird feeder, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money? In that case, I would recommend a multi-stroke pneumatic air rifle. These rifles are easy to shoot well and require multiple strokes of the pumping lever before each shot. The power can be adjusted by the number of strokes. If you want to shoot with iron sights, I would recommend the Benjamin 392  with optional Williams peep sight. If you would rather have an air rifle with a scope, I would suggest the Webley Rebel  with an optional scope.

The HW30S

The HW30S

But let’s suppose that you really have no clue what you want to do with an airgun but you want something that is fun to shoot and of decent quality to get started with. In that case, I would recommend the Weihrauch HW30S in .177.  It’s easy to cock, easy to shoot well (for a spring-piston powerplant) and generates enough power for pest control at short range (say, within 50 feet as a rough guideline). You can fit an HW30 with a peep sight or a scope, and with the right pellet, the HW30 is accurate enough that people (me included) have shot them in field target competition with some success. (You won’t be able to compete head to head with the high powered guns, but you’ll still have fun.)

So that’s my friendly advice for outright newbies. Remember, all of these airguns will need a selection of pellets, a pellet trap, targets, and some eye protection. And remember the Number One rule of gun safety: never, ever, point your airgun at anything that you don’t want to see a hole in.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Last time I suggested that if you really want to put a grin on someone’s face this holiday season, you might want to make them the gift of an air rifle, combined with the gift of your time shooting with them.

The excellent Daisy Avanti 747 pistol.

But for some folks, an air pistol might be a better choice. If you want an air pistol that is suitable for casual plinking and backyard shooting yet could be used for silhouette competition or club-level ten-meter competition, the Daisy Avanti 747 is an excellent choice. It is a single-stroke pneumatic that is completely self-contained, is easy to cock and shoot, make a mild “pop” when it goes off, has virtually no recoil, and is wickedly accurate with the right pellet. The 747 is so mild-mannered that it probably could be shot in an apartment with a silent pellet trap and a little covering music. About the only thing that the 747 is not good for is pest control. It is simply too low powered to be used for humane pest control.

The CO2-powered Crosman 2300S has excellent sights.

If you want an air pistol that doesn’t even require a cocking stroke, consider the CO2-powered Crosman 2300S. It has a Lothar-Walther choked match barrel and meets IHMSA rules for “production class” silhouette competition. It uses 12-gram CO2 cartridges but delivers around 60 shots per cartridge. This pistol features a Williams rear notch sight with target knobs for easy adjustment and is extremely accurate with the right pellet. I would not recommend the 2300S for pest control, except for very small pests at close range.

An LP8 pistol equipped with an optional red dot sight.

If you want an air pistol that recoils, there are two really good choices that immediately come to mind. The RWS LP8 is a break-barrel springer pistol that can be readily fitted with a red dot, and is powerful enough for defending the bird feeder at close range.

An HW45 in the Black Star configuration.

Any of the HW45 series of pistols are also excellent. They are slightly more difficult to fit with a red dot, but they are extremely well made and deliver enough power for pest control at close range. I have personally terminated a squirrel using a .177 HW45, and I have heard stories of folks killing much possum-sized game with an HW45 at close range.

One of the interesting things about the HW45 is that the piston works backwards. A pistol like the RWS LP8 is like a scaled down breakbarrel rifle. You crank the barrel down to cock the gun, and you’re driving the piston and spring back, toward the palm of your shooting hand. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston rocket forward, just like a break barrel rifle.

But cocking the HW45 is totally different. You pull back the ‘hammer’ to release the rear of the upper, and then you pull the rear part of the upper up and forward to cock the pistol. While you’re doing that, you’re actually dragging the spring and piston toward the muzzle of the pistol until they latch. When you trigger the shot, the spring and piston leap toward your hand. The shot cycle feels different than the LP8, but both the LP8 and HW45 are a lot of fun to shoot, and I have spoken to several airgunners who really enjoy the challenge of learning to shoot these spring-piston air pistols well.

With any of these air pistols, you’ll likely need a pellet trap, a selection of pellets, some eye protection, and perhaps a red dot sight. Ask the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com, and they’ll fix you up with what you need.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

It’s that time of year again when one of the cable stations will run a 24-hour-marathon of A Christmas Story, that great movie based on the writings of Jean Shepherd, in which all that Ralph Parker, a nine-year-old boy, wants for Christmas is a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun.

That film really resonates with me, on a couple of different levels. One is the way I received my first BB gun was just like in the movie. For months I had been lobbying my parents to receive a BB gun for Christmas. Finally, the day had arrived. I was sitting in the living room with my Dad and Mom. The opening of presents was over, and I was disappointed. I hadn’t gotten my BB gun. But, just like in the movie, my Dad said, “Wait a minute, there’s another present over there.” And he pulled a long, slim box from behind the couch. In it was my first Daisy.

Second, there is a line at the very end of the movie that strikes a chord with me: Next to me in the blackness lay my oiled steel beauty, the greatest Christmas gift I had ever received or would ever receive . . .”

In many ways, I think many of the experiences I have had with airguns have been an attempt to recreate the joy that I felt on receiving that first BB gun. In part, it was a rite of passage. My folks were saying to me, in essence: “You’re grown up enough that we trust you with the responsibility of a gun. Used improperly, it can hurt creatures and break things. Used rightly, it will produce joy and satisfaction. Welcome to the beginning of adulthood.”

In addition, receiving that BB gun was the beginning of many happy hours for me and my Dad shooting together.

So I would like to make a most proposal: if you would like to put a huge grin on someone’s face this Christmas, why not give them an air rifle combined with the gift of your time shooting with them?

HW30 Deluxe tricked out with optional peep sight.

If you roam around www.airgunsofarizona.com, you’ll see a lot of excellent air rifles, any one of which would make a suitable present. But if I had to choose just one that would be appropriate for a beginning shooter or a seasoned airgunner, it would be an HW30. The HW30 is light, easy to cock, fully self-contained, a delight to shoot, nicely accurate and capable of taking small game out to about 30 yards or so with proper shot placement. It’s an air rifle that is kind to newbie shooters, yet an old hand will happily shoot one all day.

The HW30 is good enough that both my brother-in-law and I have shot field target with the HW30 and done reasonably well. When a ham radio buddy, frustrated by the difficulty of shooting a higher power air rifle he had purchased, asked for a recommendation for controlling squirrels in his yard, I pointed him straight at the HW30. In a later conversation, he raved about what a great choice it was.

If you want more information, you can read my review of the HW30 De Luxe here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/09/hw30s-de-luxe.html

Of course, with the HW30, you’ll want a pellet trap, a selection of pellets, some eye protection, and perhaps a scope or peep sight to go with it. Ask the good folks at www.airgunsofarizona.com, and they’ll fix you up with what you need.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

I liked the HW98 a whole lot.

Read HW98 – Part I

I tested the HW98 with a Nikon 3-9 EFR (that’s stands for Extended Focal Range) scope, and I’ll be doing a separate blog on that.

To ready the HW98 for shooting, grab the end of the barrel and pull it down and back until it latches. This requires around 32 or 33 pounds of effort and automatically actuates the safety on the HW98. I don’t know if this is true of all HW98s, but on the sample that I tested, I noticed that the cocking stroke was incredibly smooth and quiet. There wasn’t any spring noise or creaking, just a smooth sliding sound until the mechanism latched.

Slide a pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, push the safety OFF, and squeeze the trigger. At XX.X, the first stage comes out of the trigger. At XX.X, the shot goes down range. The Rekord trigger is predictable and crisp. The shot goes off with a tiny bit of twang, but this is a twang that is more heard than felt and is not – to me, at least – in any way annoying.  In fact, while I was testing the HW98, my wife stuck her head out the door and said, “You must really like this gun.”

“Why’s that?” I said.

Came the reply: “Because you’re really taking your time with it.” And it was true – I was really enjoying my time with the HW98.

I thing the fit and finish of the HW98 are excellent and so are the firing characteristics.

The HW98 launches JSB 7.97 grain .177 pellets at an average of 849 fps. That works out to 12.59 footpounds of energy at the muzzle. I got excellent accuracy with the JSB pellets, shooting a ragged one-hole five-shoot group at 13 yards. At 32 yards, I shot a one-inch edge-to-edge five shoot group off a casual rest. With Crosman Premier 7.9 grain pellets, I shot an even tighter group at 13 yards. At 32 yards, again I put five pellets into a one-inch group, but this time, three of the pellets went through the same hole . . . clearly more testing is in order!

Did I like the HW98? You bet. Is it “ . . . built for the competitor, small game hunter, or backyard shooter . . . with features that everyone will appreciate?”

Here’s a clue: I voted with my wallet and bought the test sample.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–    Jock Elliott

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

A very simple pistol that is very pleasant to shoot.

Okay, I’ll admit it; I was prejudiced. Before I explain why, let’s back up for just a moment. At the heart of the word “prejudiced” is the notion of “pre-judging,” and that carries with it the underlying concept of forming an opinion without sufficient facts to back it up.

We certainly see prejudice at work sometimes in interpersonal relationships, but we also observe it in airgunning. Some years ago, I got into a conflict with a fellow on one of the forums because had formed the opinion that a particular air rifle that I had reviewed highly had to be a certified piece of dung because he had once owned an air rifle made by the same manufacturer, and he thought not very highly of it. Now, in point of fact, he had never seen, handled, or shot the particular model that I had praised, so he had no basis on which to form that opinion. He was prejudiced. It would be as if I condemned all modern Chevrolets because I once had a nasty experience with a Chevette. That’s prejudice.

Nevertheless, I was just recently guilty of pre-judging an airgun . . . in this case, the Weihrauch HW70A. I remember that the first time that I saw a picture of the HW70A. It was in the 1999 Beeman Precision Airgun Guide. On Page 27 the HW70A appeared, along with its brother the HW70S. My very first impression of the wooden-stocked HW70A was that it looked crude, like someone’s first attempt at building an airgun: “Hey, look, I made it myself!”

So I continued on my merry way, thinking those kind of thoughts about the HW70A, never having handled one or shot one, until a sample of the HW70A actually arrived at El Rancho Elliott just the other day. When I pulled the it from its box, it didn’t look so crude after all. In fact, it looked pretty nice.

It is a breakbarrel spring-piston air pistol. The receiver, breech block, barrel, front sight, and trigger are all metal, finished in a black satin finish that is really very nice, and the rest of the pistol – the “stock,” pistol grip and trigger guard – are all molded out of black polymer. The pistol grip is ambidextrous and has molded-in checkering on either side. Above the pistol grip on the left side is the safety. It activates automatically when the HW70A is cocked, and you slide it toward the muzzle to click it OFF.

The polymer “stock” which embraces the lower half of the receiver has molded-in wood grain on either side. I find that a little silly, but it doesn’t detract from the appearance of the pistol. Ahead of the pistol grip is the trigger guard, which is molded from the same polymer. Inside the trigger guard is a black metal trigger which apparently can be adjusted for weight. The manual, however, says “The trigger pull setting as it comes from the factory is usually best for the airgun in question and should not be lightened.” So I didn’t mess with it.

At the far end of the “stock,” you’ll find the breech block. Attached to that is the barrel, at the end of which is the blade type front sight which is surrounded by a nice smooth metal hood. More about that in just a moment. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is the rear notch sight which is click adjustable for elevation and windage.

To ready the HW70A for shooting, grab the pistol grip in one hand and the front sight hood in the other, and pull the barrel down and back toward the pistol grip until it clicks. This takes around 30 lb. of effort and cocks the action and opens the breech for loading. What’s make this particularly nice is the smoothly finished hooded front sight. As you break the barrel, the sight doesn’t dig into your palm or cause any discomfort; instead it functions as a “cocking assist handle” and makes the process easier. Slide a .177 pellet into the breech and return the barrel to its original position.

Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. At just over 3 lbs., the first stage comes out of the trigger; at 4 lbs. 15 oz. (on the sample I tested), the shot goes down range. There is a bit of recoil, but not much, and the muzzle report is very subdued. While the HW70A doesn’t buck like a bronco when it goes off, neither does launch pellets with blinding speed. JSB Express 7.87 gr. pellets averages 399 fps, which works out to 2.8 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The recoil, however, makes a difference. That means you’ll have to work to master this air pistol. From a Creedmoor position, I found I could put four pellets in a group you could cover with a dime at 10 meters, but then the fifth shot would get away from me. The Beeman catalog claims accuracy of 0.32 inch CTC. I believe it, but I wasn’t able to achieve it.

In all, I found the HW70A was incredible fun to shoot . . . easy to cock, mild recoil, pleasantly quiet, and well built. I think it would be the perfect pistol for a pleasant afternoon with a friend, plinking at targets and spinning yarns.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

The layout of the HW50S is simplicity itself.

I think perhaps I have finally figured it out . . . what my favorite Weihrauch air rifle is – the HW50S in .177. Over the years, I have owned (and still own) a variety of Weihrauch air rifles, from the big, hairy HW80 to the tackdriving but heavy HW97 to the diminutive HW30S.

Each has its advantages and its charms, but as the years roll on (hey, maybe I’m getting old and creaky), I find that I turn increasingly to lighter air rifles for a day afield. The lovely HW30S measures just 38.78 inches end to end and weighs just 5.1 lbs, but there are times when I am shooting it that I wish it had just a wee bit more velocity and power.

Enter the HW50S. It’s just 40.5 inches long weighs only 6.8 lbs. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to test a couple of samples in .22 caliber (the standard and the Stainless versions), but I’ve never shot the HW50S in .177 until recently.

The is a slight swell of a cheek piece on the left side of the buttstock for righthanded shooters, but lefties should have no problem with the HW50S.

This is not an air rifle that is out to impress anyone with its glitz; there is no checkering or other adornment anywhere. At the extreme aft end, there is a brown rubber butt pad with a black spacer and a slight swell for a cheek piece on the left-hand side of the stock, but the buttstock is so nearly symmetrical that lefties should have no problem shooting this rifle. The forestock extends over the two-piece cocking linkage and breech block. The two-piece cocking linkage increases cocking effort (more about this later) but allows the action to be anchored by a single big screw in a steel seat underneath the forestock.

The Rekord trigger is crisp and adjustable.

The trigger guard is black metal. It fastens to the stock with two screws. Inside the trigger guard is a typical Rekord trigger setup: a silver metal trigger and a silver adjustment screw.

The front sight has interchangeable inserts.

The barrel is 15.5 inches long, and on top of it at the muzzle end you’ll find a globe sight with interchangeable inserts. The receiver has three holes for anti-recoil pins and a push-button safety at the rear. That’s it; the HW50S is a statement in simplicity.

With the two .22 versions of the HW50S that I tested in the past, I found the cocking effort to be pretty “stout,” between 30-35 lbs., but the .177 version I’m testing this time seemed easier. Maybe it is just unit-to-unit variation; I don’t know. In any event, you should realize, going in, that the HW50S is not going to be as easy to cock as an HW30S.

To ready the HW50S for shooting, grab the end of the barrel and crank it down and back until it latches, stuff a pellet in the breech, and return the barrel to its original position. Click off the safety, take aim, and squeeze the trigger. The Rekord trigger is crisp and clean and can be easily adjusted. With the factory adjustments, the first stage comes out between 1-2 lbs, and the second stage at 3-4 lbs.

The shot cycle is very subdued, kind of a muted “tunk,” and there is a just a hint of vibration that is heard more than felt. In all this is a very pleasant air rifle to shoot, and its subdued report ought to keep the neighbors happy. It is, in fact, to my ears one of the quietest springer air rifles that I have ever shot.

The HW50S launches 8.44 grain JSB Exact pellets at around 740 fps. I found it put five pellets into a group at 13 yards that you could cover with a pencil eraser. Overall, I have found the HW50S accurate enough to shoot in Hunter Class field target, and I actually took 2nd in a match with a .22 HW50S a few years ago.

I liked the .177 HW50S a whole lot, and I think it would put a huge grin on any airgunner’s face. Santa, are you listening?

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott

Lately it seems I’ve testing a lot of airguns with synthetic stocks, and, by and large, I like them. The HW97K Synthetic is no exception.

An aside: there have, however, been synthetic-stocked airguns that I didn’t like. One in particular had a hollow stock that rang like the wood block from the percussion section of the orchestra – WOCK! I fired three shots, waited for my head to clear, called the fellow who sent it to me for review and said, “I think I’ll pass on this one.”

The HW97K Synthetic is a handsome and solidly built air rifle.

The HW97K Synthetic (hereinafter known as the HKS) stretches 40.35 inches from end to end and weighs 9.1 lbs, compared to 8.8 lbs for the HW97K. My first impression pulling out of the box is that this is a big, heavy, solid air rifle.

The butt pad of the HW97K Synthetic is not adjustable, but I found it comfortable.

Starting at the aft end of the HKS, you’ll find a black hard rubber butt pad. Forward of that is the ambidextrous synthetic thumbhole stock. The entire stock is finished in matte black, and there are textured panels for improved grip at the pistol grip and on the forestock. Surprisingly, the trigger guard on the HKS is not molded of the same engineering polymer as the rest of the stock, but is instead the usual black metal trigger guard found on HW97s. Inside the trigger guard, the metal Rekord trigger and trigger adjustment screw sport a gold-colored finish.

The HKS sports a gold colored trigger and trigger adjustment screw.

Underneath the forestock is a long solid to that provides clearance for the underlever  linkage when cocking the action. The far end of the cocking lever clips into a fitting that is part of the muzzle brake at the end of the barrel. Moving back along the barrel, you’ll encounter the receiver, which is black, except for the silver metal breech block. The aft end of the receiver has dovetails for mounting a scope, and there are three holes for accepting anti-recoil pins at the tail end of the receiver. At the extreme back edge of the receiver, you’ll find the typical Weihrauch pushbutton, non-resettable safety.

You have to push the button at the very end of the retaining clip under the muzzle brake to release the underlever for cocking.

To ready the HKS for shooting, push the release button at the end of the underlever latch just below the muzzle brake and pull the underlever downward. This releases it from the retaining clip. Next, pull the underlever down and back until it latches. The cocking stroke on the sample I tested was unbelievably smooth and quiet for an unturned air rifle. This also slides the breech block back, exposing the breech end of the barrel. Insert a pellet into the aft end of the barrel and return the underlever to its original position.

Take aim at your target, flick off the safety, and squeeze the trigger. On the sample I tested, the first stage came out at 1 lb. 4.6 oz., and the second stage tripped at 3 lb. 13.5 oz.  The Rekord trigger is one of the very best on a spring-piston sporting air rifle and can be readily adjusted for pull weight simply by turning a screw.

A typical HW97 will launch Crosman Premier 7.9 grain .177 pellets at around 850 fps. When the shot goes off, there is just a hint of vibration that is heard but not felt, and the report is very muted, very neighbor friendly.

 

The HKS produced this very satisfactory group shooting off a casual rest.

 

I was very pleased with the accuracy of the HKS. From a rest, I put five shots into a group at 30 yards that measured just 5/8 inch edge to edge. That works out to just under half an inch center to center.

In the end, I found a lot to smile about regarding the HW97K Synthetic: I like its accuracy, its quiet ways, its looks, and its very solid feel. I wouldn’t hesitate to campaign one in field target competition.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

Another variation on a classic: the HW45 Black Star

For a number of years, comedian Jeff Foxworthy has made a name for himself doing a bit called “You might be a redneck if . . .” The phrase “you might be a redneck if” is followed by some outrageous statement. One of my favorites is; “You might be a redneck if you ever mowed your lawn and found a car.” (Given the way it has been raining in upstate New York, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a wholly mammoth, a chartreuse Microbus, and some leftover targets from Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show the next time I mow.)

So here’s my version of the “you might be a [fill in the blank] thing: You might be an airgunner if you see yet another variation on the classic HW45 and immediately start inventing reasons why you “need” that pistol.

What set off this train of thought was a recent arrival from Brown Santa (the UPS guy) that contained the HW45 Black Star pistol. Like every other HW45, this is a single-shot, spring-piston air pistol. Available in both .177 and .22, the Black Star stretches 11 inches overall and weighs 2.6 lbs.

At the back end of the Black Star is a silver metal “hammer” that is actually the release for the upper half of the receiver. Below that, except for the safety and trigger, the entire air pistol is finished in a handsome matte black. Surrounding the pistol grip on either side is a laminated grey grip that manages somehow to be both ambidextrous and ergonomic. There is a thumb/finger shelf on either side at the top and a quasi-palm shelf on either side at the bottom. The main part of the grip is stippled on either side to provide better traction for the middle, ring, and little fingers.

Forward of the pistol grip on either side of the receiver is a silver metal non-automatic safety. Flick it forward to allow the pistol to fire. The trigger guard, made of the same metal as the rest of the receiver, surrounds a silver metal 2-stage adjustable trigger.  On the left hand side of the receiver, the words “HW 45 Black Star” appear in white lettering.

Moving forward to the muzzle end of the receiver, the front sight is small, red, and fiber optic. Behind the front sight is a dovetail on which a red dot sight or scope can be mounted. At the extreme aft end of the receiver, the rear sight is equipped with yellow fiber optics and can be adjusted for elevation and windage.

Pull back the silver hammer and the rear of the upper half of the receiver is released to begin the cocking stroke.

To load the Black Star, pull the silver hammer at the rear of the receiver backwards until the upper half of the receiver is released. Grab the back end of the upper half of the receiver and pull it up and forward until it latches. This compresses the spring in the spring-piston powerplant and requires about 18 lbs of effort. Insert a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the upper half of the receiver to its original position, snapping it locked into place.

Take aim at your target, flip the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. According to my digital trigger gauge, at 1 lb. 15.7 oz., the first stage came out the of the trigger, and at 3 lbs. 6.1 oz., the shot went off. Since the Black Star is functionally the same as an HW45, typical velocities with Crosman Premier 7.9 gr. pellets are likely to be around 520 fps. The .22 version of the Black Star will probably sent .22 Premiers down range at around 415 fps.

Like every other HW45, the Black Star is both challenging and fun to shoot. It’s challenging because it’s a spring-piston pistol and you have to deal with the recoil to shoot it well. It’s fun because it jumps in your hand and delivers the pellet to the target with some authority.

I "need" one of these, so I guess that makes me an airgunner.

And just why do I “need” one of these pistols? Because it’s so darned good looking, that’s why.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

You don’t have to read this blog for very long to figure out that Your Humble Correspondent is a beady-eyed, slavering, unrepentant, not-in-the-twelve-step-program, airgun junkie. Put an airgun in my hand and chances are that I’ll find something to like about it. I just plain love airguns. I love that they cost just pennies a round to shoot, that by and large they don’t generally make much noise, that I can shoot them in my back yard, and that they are just plain fun.

In many ways, I think we are living in the Golden Age of airguns right now. So many manufacturers are making such great stuff that we airgunners have really a wide selection of excellent air rifles and air pistols to chose from.

What follows are some of my current favorites.

The RWS 34 Meisterschutze Pro Compact. This air rifle surprised me by turning out to be one of the most accurate break barrel air rifles I have shot in a long, long time. With one of these, a shooter could hunt, plink, shoot air rifle silhouette or field target without breaking the family budget. You can read more about it here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/12/the-tackdriving-rws-34-meisterschutze-pro-compact.html

The RWS Model 56 TH. This is a big, heavy, wickedly-accurate sidelever springer air rifle with an excellent trigger and a recoilless action. If you can put up with the weight, it is a certified tackdriver. You can read more about it here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/03/big-kahuna-rws-model-56-th-part-ii.html

The HW35E is an absolute classic break barrel springer, available new today. What sets it apart from all other break barrels currently available – apart from its euro styling – is the breech latch that makes sure the barrel and breech have returned to the same position after loading for greater accuracy. The HW35E shoots great and looks terrific. For more info, look here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/08/hw35e.html

When it comes to precharged pneumatic rifles, two spring readily to mind. The first is the Gladiator Tactical. It has enormous storage capacity, gets a huge number of shots between fills, has power levels that can be adjusted at the flick of a lever, is a fast repeater, has a very neighbor-friendly report, and is satisfyingly accurate. You can check out more here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-i.html and here http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/10/the-outstanding-gladiator-tactical-%e2%80%93-part-ii.html

For a PCP rifle that you could use to hunt just about anything you might reasonably want to hunt with an airgun, I’d pick the .25 caliber Marauder. It delivers over 40 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle and, with its Green Mountain barrel, will deliver dime-sized groups at well beyond 50 yards. You can get more info here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/08/25-caliber-marauder.html

When it comes to pistols, I am very fond of the RWS LP8. You can learn more about it here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/06/rws-lp8-classic-in-making.html But any of the HW45 pistols are enormous fun to shoot and extremely well made. You can check out one example here: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2009/04/hw45-stl-looker-and-shooter.html

If you want a rifle that embodies everything I prize most in an air rifle: accuracy, quiet, fully self-contained, repeater, and powerful enough to dispatch any small game or pests you might want to take with a pneumatic rifle, the FX Independence has it all. Here’s a link to my review: http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/06/independence-day.html

Finally, if you absolutely forced me to choose just one airgun as my overall favorite, the one that would be the absolute last one I would be willing to give up, I think it would be an HW30. It’s light, easy to cock, fully self-contained, a delight to shoot, nicely accurate and capable of taking small game out to about 30 yards or so with proper shot placement. Here’s a link to my review of the HW30 De Luxe http://www.airgunsofarizona.com/blog/2010/09/hw30s-de-luxe.html

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott