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.
Hans Weihrauch: Steve, I look forward to it!