NEAR MISS

The editor shoots Weihrauch’s less well-known, yet su­perb un­der­lever

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Phill Prices tries a Weihrauch HW57, a ri­fle that had slipped through his net, un­til now

Over a life­time of shoot­ing, and with my work in the mag­a­zine, I would have said that I knew the Weihrauch range pretty well, but I have to con­fess that the un­usual HW57 model had passed me by. Per­haps it’s be­cause at a quick glance it could be mis­taken for the in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar HW77, a ri­fle that was the main­stay of my shoot­ing life for decades. How­ever, the 57 is a much smaller and lighter ri­fle than the weighty 77, which I find ap­peal­ing. It also uses a com­pletely dif­fer­ent load­ing sys­tem which has some plus points and some dis­ad­van­tages com­pared to the 77. Im­por­tantly, it has Weihrauch’s leg­endary build qual­ity, dura­bil­ity and the fabled Rekord trig­ger unit that so many of us love and re­spect.

SAFE LOAD­ING

To load, you pull the un­der- lever down fully to com­press the main spring and cock the trig­ger. At the same time, a small metal unit pops up from the front of the cylin­der au­to­mat­i­cally. You can then re­turn the cock­ing lever to its usual po­si­tion, en­sur­ing that it locks into place. Next, press a pel­let into the pop- up loader and then push that back into the ac­tion. This is a very safe load­ing pro­ce­dure be­cause when any bar­rel or un­der­lever is in the cocked po­si­tion it could po­ten­tially slam closed and in­jure you. This is why they must be held firmly dur­ing the whole load­ing process. With the HW57, the un­der­lever is cocked and closed be­fore you need to load the pel­let, which is clearly safer.

I’d imag­ined that the un­der- lever would re­turn the pop- up, but you need to do it man­u­ally, and I think it’s im­por­tant that you close it fully. If you don’t, the pel­let won’t be per­fectly in line with the bar­rel, and it might be dam­aged as it makes the jump from one to the other. My test gun’s pop- up needed a good firm push to seat fully, and I imag­ine this is caused by the drag of the seals, which I’d ex­pect to ease when the ri­fle has had a few tins of pel­lets through it. By com­par­i­son, the HW77 has a slid­ing breech that al­lows you to load the pel­let di­rectly into the bar­rel, but does mean that your fin­gers are in­side the mech­a­nism and po­ten­tially in danger.

SELF-CON­TAINED

The HW57 comes with open sights, which are un­usual in that the rear sight is at­tached to the scope rail at the back of the ac­tion. I find hav­ing the rear sight so close to my eye a bit tricky to use, but that didn’t mat­ter, be­cause I fit­ted a te­le­scopic sight to make the most of the ac­cu­racy, as I ex­pect most peo­ple

will. The front sight is moulded into the assem­bly at the muz­zle, and that locks the un­der- lever in place, so is not re­mov­able.

So much has been writ­ten about Weihrauch’s Rekord trig­ger that it’s hard to say more, but it re­mains as ad­justable and re­fined as it ever was when it took the air­gun world by storm all those years ago. I’ve al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated the fact that it comes as a car­tridge that sim­ply locks into the ac­tion, and is sim­ple to re­move when time comes to ser­vice the ri­fle. It’s fully self- con­tained, so all your set­tings re­main undis­turbed, and as you slip it back in, the travel and feel are just as you left them. The HW57 also uses Weihrauch’s au­to­matic safety, which pops out of the left side of the ac­tion right at the rear, wait­ing to be dis­en­gaged by your thumb when you’re ready to fire.

POW­ER­FUL ENOUGH

Be­ing an un­der- lever, there’s nat­u­rally a lot of weight out front com­pared to a break- bar­rel and Weihrauch took this fur­ther when they re­cently in­creased the di­am­e­ter of the bar­rel to 15mm. I was op­ti­mistic that this might be­stow some of the soft- shoot­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics that made its big brother, the HW77, such a suc­cess. Shoot­ing from the bench, I got con­sis­tent ½” groups at 30 yards with the Air Arms Di­ablo Field .22 pel­let. I was able to do this with lit­tle ef­fort, and my springer shoot­ing skills wear a good coat­ing of rust. Some spring noise was ev­i­dent, but the fir­ing cy­cle was quite soft for such a light ri­fle.

One old shoot­ing pal had told me that the HW57 wasn’t as pop­u­lar as it should be be­cause it couldn’t make enough power, but my chrono­graph said dif­fer­ently. Again, with the Air Arms pel­let, I got an av­er­age of 577fps, which equates to 11.7 ft.lbs – plenty pow­er­ful enough for hunt­ing or per­haps hunter field tar­get com­pe­ti­tions in .177.

I’m re­ally glad that I had the chance to try this less well- known Weihrauch. It’s not overly heavy or bulky, so makes a good case as the choice for women, lightly built men and fast- grow­ing teenagers who want an ac­cu­rate and solidly built ri­fle. It is in­deed easy to shoot ac­cu­rately, and that su­perb Rekord trig­ger de­liv­ers con­trolled shot re­lease in the most pre­cise way, once ad­justed to your taste. Per­haps it’s time this un­her­alded ri­fle took its place in the spot­light be­side its bet­ter known sta­ble­mates be­cause it has a great deal to be proud of.

BE­LOW: It’s a hand­some ri­fle and eas­ily mis­taken for its HW77 sta­ble­mate

ABOVE: The mod­est weight makes off-hand shots less tir­ing

TOP RIGHT: Weihrauch chose an un­usual com­bi­na­tion of che­quer­ing and stip­pling

ABOVE RIGHT: There are few bet­ter trig­gers than this one

TOP LEFT: The pop-up pel­let loader is safe and easy to use

ABOVE LEFT: The fore sight assem­bly also holds the un­der­lever closed

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