UK Champ

A Weihrauch HW44 pis­tol goes to ‘trial by ex­perts’, in­clud­ing the UK pis­tol champ

Airgun World - - Contents -

Shoot­ing is a won­der­fully di­verse hobby and the mul­ti­tude of dis­ci­plines means that there is al­ways some­thing new to en­joy. I came to air-pis­tol shoot­ing through the some­what un­likely route of shoot­ing black­pow­der re­volvers and want­ing a means of prac­tis­ing with less noise and fuss. I am lucky enough to shoot at a club where ex­cel­lent sup­port and coach­ing is freely given, cater­ing for ev­ery­one from the rank be­gin­ner like me, to the cur­rent UK air pis­tol cham­pion and ev­ery­one in be­tween. The in­clu­siv­ity of our sport one the best things about it and it has al­lowed the broad scope of this re­view.

I needed ad­vice on air pis­tols and knew very lit­tle about them, so I could do no bet­ter than to ring the editor for an over­view of what’s avail­able and for some more ad­vice in terms of spe­cific mod­els to look at. Terry then told me he’d re­cently tested the Weihrauch HW44 pis­tol and he felt he hadn’t done it jus­tice. When he heard I had ac­cess to the UK 10-me­tre cham­pion, we hatched a plan to give that pis­tol a thor­ough shake­down in the hands of a cham­pion and shoot­ers of vary­ing abil­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence lev­els.


This pis­tol is based on the es­tab­lished for­mat of Weihrauch’s HW110 ri­fle, so I knew it was go­ing to be ac­cu­rate. The de­gree to which the dif­fer­ent testers could ex­tract this ac­cu­racy would be a strong in­di­ca­tion of how ef­fec­tively HW had man­aged to bot­tle the per­for­mance po­ten­tial of the HW110 ac­tion to the frame of a pis­tol. The re­view pis­tol came with; an op­tional HW mod­er­a­tor, two 10-shot mag­a­zines, a long eye-re­lief tele­scopic pis­tol sight, Allen keys, a filler probe adap­tor, and in­struc­tions – all well pro­tected in bub­ble wrap.

The mod­er­a­tor mer­its a spe­cial men­tion due to its novel and ef­fec­tive at­tach­ment method. In­stead of a screw thread on the muz­zle, the mod­er­a­tor has a shaped male flange to fit a cor­re­spond­ing socket around the muz­zle of the pis­tol and un­der the fore­sight, which is se­cured by grub screws top and bot­tom. The flange is shaped ac­cu­rately for a tight fit and is moulded to in­te­grate beau­ti­fully with the over­all de­sign of the ri­fle, as well as the front sight. It re­duced the re­port of this full-pow­ered pis­tol very ef­fec­tively on our small, in­door, 10m range, although pref­er­ences var­ied be­tween the testers when shoot­ing with it mounted.

It’s safe to note that its ac­cu­racy po­ten­tial is be­yond ques­tion. I don’t pro­pose to go into the tech­ni­cal de­tails of the ac­tion of the HW44 be­cause, broadly speak­ing, they are iden­ti­cal to those of the HW110 ri­fle that has al­ready been ex­ten­sively re­viewed in this magazine.


I have no real ex­pe­ri­ence of the HW110 ri­fle and I ap­proached the pis­tol with­out any pre­con­cep­tions, so my ini­tial im­pres­sion of the load­ing and shoot­ing er­gonomics of the HW44 are from the per­spec­tive of a com­plete novice. The first or­der of busi­ness was to charge the pis­tol and test for shot count. To do this, I needed

“I wasn’t quite sure if he was just an­gling for a shot, or the whole damn pis­tol”

to fit the sup­plied fill­ing probe adap­tor to the fit­ting on my air tank, and then fill it up care­fully to the max­i­mum work­ing pres­sure of 200 bar. This was so sim­ple that even a novice like me found this the work of a few mo­ments, and with a freshly charged pis­tol I wan­dered off to the 10m pis­tol range to try it out.


I had to wait, though, be­cause the matte-black bits of metal com­ing out of the box and be­ing as­sem­bled in the gun­room im­me­di­ately at­tracted the at­ten­tion of our club treasurer, who came over for a look. He ob­served that the abil­ity to change the charg­ing han­dle around to suit left-han­ders would be very use­ful to him, as a left-han­der him­self. I wasn’t quite sure if he was just an­gling for a shot, or the whole damn pis­tol, in fact, af­ter this open­ing gam­bit, so I tact­fully said noth­ing, loaded a magazine and let him have the first shot. Of course, this led to ev­ery­one else want­ing to have a go and nat­u­rally I let them. We found no real power curve to men­tion, and the man­u­fac­turer’s shot count of around 100 in .177 was spot on.

The mag­a­zines them­selves are minia­ture works of en­gi­neer­ing art, de­signed to work in con­junc­tion with the mul­ti­ple lo­cat­ing shafts, rods and ball bear­ings found in the magazine well in the ac­tion, to en­sure that the magazine is prop­erly and con­cen­tri­cally lo­cated to de­liver ev­ery pel­let into the breech smoothly and with­out dam­age.

I dropped the magazine out by si­mul­ta­ne­ously pulling the side lever fully back, and the magazine re­lease lever fully up with one hand, whilst push­ing the magazine out of the ac­tion from right to left as viewed from the back of the pis­tol. I then loaded it with RWS Hobby wad­cut­ter pel­lets and by shoot­ing two-handed, I man­aged some re­spectable groups at 10 me­tres.


This pis­tol is so easy to shoot that it flat­ters the shooter, at least in my case. The trig­ger is sublime by any stan­dard, which is high praise in­deed given that I am known to be fussier than is healthy about trig­gers on my own guns. It is a two-stage unit that com­bines a won­der­fully smooth and con­sis­tent first-stage pull with a dis­tinct and equally con­sis­tent sec­ond-stage stop that breaks in­cred­i­bly crisply and with a light-re­lease weight, in an over­all pack­age that ri­vals the very best trig­gers avail­able on any match pis­tol. All the testers com­mented pos­i­tively on the trig­ger.

Waldek Mick­iewicz, the cur­rent Bri­tish 10m pis­tol cham­pion, said that it was com­pa­ra­ble to the elec­tronic trig­ger in his cham­pi­onship­win­ning, Steyr match pis­tol in terms of qual­ity of pull. Plus, it doesn’t need to meet a min­i­mum trig­ger weight for com­pe­ti­tion, so was ca­pa­ble of be­ing set to a safe and re­peat­able pull weight, much lighter than the 20 grams over the 500 gram com­pe­ti­tion reg­u­la­tion min­i­mum of his match pis­tol. This is truly ex­cel­lent per­for­mance from the Weihrauch.


A few words about the safety catch are in or­der, although we tend not to use them on tar­get pis­tols at my club – it’s much bet­ter to rely on proper gun han­dling and safety drills, in my opin­ion. The am­bidex­trous safety was pos­i­tive, and aside from check­ing func­tion, we left it alone.

The sights on the pis­tol are very good, with a fixed front sight and fully ad­justable rear,

fa­mil­iar to own­ers of HW45 or 75 pis­tols. It takes a bit of ex­per­i­ment­ing to find the right tar­get di­a­gram for a six o’clock hold, but once found, the sights work very well, aided by the long sight ra­dius.


In the next in­stal­ment, we put the pis­tol in the hands of var­i­ous shoot­ers and weighed their com­ments in pro­por­tion to their group­ing.

The first im­pres­sion upon pick­ing up the HW44 is that the bulk does not trans­late into weight in the hand. The use of poly­mers helps in this re­gard, and I don’t think they de­tract from the feel­ing of solidity and com­fort that this pis­tol ex­udes.

The bal­ance is very slightly for­ward, which suited most testers, and I found it eas­ier to keep steady on tar­get – the match pis­tol shoot­ers echoed this.

Given the ex­cel­lent trig­ger, this bal­ance, and nat­u­ral ‘pointabil­ity’, made shoot­ing good groups for one’s abil­ity level easy, and es­pe­cially valu­able be­cause as it’s in­trin­si­cally ac­cu­rate, bad shots can­not be blamed on the pis­tol!


Please study the tar­get shot by Waldeck Mick­iewicz, two-handed, stand­ing at 10m. The first three shots grouped a bit high and so he ad­justed the rear sight and put the rest of the magazine through the slightly larger hole un­der­neath. Hav­ing es­tab­lished that the thing could shoot, it was passed around for gen­eral ap­praisal. The pis­tol was very well re­ceived by all with much praise heaped on the ex­cel­lent trig­ger, smooth ac­tion and qual­ity sights.

Com­ments from the mem­bers were very favourable and, more im­por­tantly, shoot­ing the thing con­verted a few scep­tics from the side­lines.

Ex­pe­ri­enced, club-level shooter, An­drew Scrimshaw, com­mented:

‘I have been ea­gerly await­ing the ar­rival of the HW44 af­ter see­ing it pic­tured at var­i­ous trade shows. It’s a well-made and sturdy pis­tol, as you would ex­pect from Weihrauch. My thoughts have been about where it would sit us­age wise in the cat­e­gories of air pis­tols.

A few peo­ple have ad­mired it at my club. With the in­clu­sion of the mod­er­a­tor it is very quiet and would make an ex­cel­lent pis­tol for shoot­ing at home with­out dis­turb­ing any neigh­bours ,

“this is a good thing. Any poor shots with it are down to user er­ror”

whilst ob­serv­ing the usual safety rules and le­gal re­quire­ments. It could also be used with the open sights in many of our club com­pe­ti­tions, namely the 60-shot pre­ci­sion (10 me­tres); sport pis­tol (25 me­tres); 30 shots pre­ci­sion; 30 shots du­elling , that’s with turn­ing tar­get; 3 sec­onds fac­ing; 7 sec­onds to reload. We also have a 50-yard com­pe­ti­tion – yep – shot sin­gle-handed, stand­ing at 50 yards PL7­tar­gets. The ac­cu­racy is ex­cel­lent as one would ex­pect from a PCP.

All in all, it is an ac­cu­rate and well made pis­tol that oc­cu­pies the space be­tween the many ba­sic plink­ers, but with­out go­ing to the ex­pense of one of the high-end match pis­tols.’


Waldek’s com­ments were per­haps the most telling of all be­cause he is able to ex­tract ev­ery last scrap of ac­cu­racy from any given pis­tol:

‘The ac­cu­racy of this pis­tol is match-pis­tol grade, eas­ily the same stan­dard as a top match pis­tol. The trig­ger is its best fea­ture; it is up to match-pis­tol stan­dards of smooth­ness, and ca­pa­ble of be­ing set as low as a cou­ple of hun­dred grams with per­fect safety and re­peata­bil­ity – this is ex­cel­lent per­for­mance.

The HW44 is suited to many dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions, as An­drew has men­tioned, as well as be­ing a great plink­ing pis­tol – we have even tried field air with it!’


My own thoughts are that this pis­tol is more gun than I am ca­pa­ble of us­ing, and this is a good thing. Any poor shots with it are down to user er­ror and so it makes a fan­tas­tic train­ing tool. Com­plete con­fi­dence in one’s equip­ment, along with prac­tice and dis­ci­pline, makes a dif­fer­ence at the tar­get.

Since this pis­tol has been in cir­cu­la­tion amongst the mem­bers, it has been tried with mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines and found to suit, or even ex­cel in them. A mem­ber has de­cided to buy his own HW44 and I be­lieve there is talk of cus­tomis­ing the grip to some­thing ap­prox­i­mat­ing the sort of anatom­i­cal one found on his match pis­tol. It will be in­ter­est­ing to com­pare the one-handed scores, with the play­ing field lev­elled.


Some have ques­tioned where this pis­tol fits into the grand scheme of things, and this is per­haps nat­u­ral, given that there is noth­ing like it on the mar­ket, and the nat­u­ral con­ser­vatism of shoot­ers where new things are con­cerned. The price tag might seem high at around £600, but it is a frac­tion of the thou­sands that a multi-shot, sim­i­larly match-grade ac­cu­rate pis­tol would cost from the main play­ers.

Any pis­tol dis­ci­pline that ben­e­fits from su­perb ac­cu­racy and er­gonomics, plus a bit more energy be­hind the pel­let, will suit the HW44, and I can give no higher praise than to say that it won over ev­ery­one who shot it.I

The amaz­ing Weihrauch HW44, as sup­plied by the editor.

My own ef­forts sat­is­fied my, ad­mit­tedly mod­est, re­quire­ments.

Ready to be recharged.

The UK champ’s first 10 shots. The lower five pel­lets went low, so he ad­justed the sights and pro­duced the up­per group with the next five shots.

Yes, you could say Waldek’s been rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful.

I look on in awe as Waldek com­pletes his first 10 shots. It’s easy to see why he’s the UK cham­pion ... and I’m not.

My first ef­fort on the right, and on the left a stage in my per­sonal evo­lu­tion to be­com­ing ... slightly above av­er­age.

Cham­pion and club shooter shoot­ing side-by-side, just as it should be.

I pre­fer el­e­gance and style over clin­i­cal ac­cu­racy. *Cough!*.

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