REIGNING IN THE PERSONAL TOUCH Andy Beckett’s maiden venture into bullpup territory yields a pleasing outcome
the owner of a couple of Umarex/Walther ‘long’ rifles, my interest was immediately aroused when news of the Walther Reign first broke, but I successfully resisted temptation for at least two months before plonking down my cash and walking away with a brand new .177 example, from Braces of Bristol. This was in November of last year, since which time I’ve probably put more than a thousand pellets through the rifle and come to enjoy it more and more.
One feature that attracted me to the Reign was the facility to switch the orientation for left-handed shooting, because despite being right-handed, my left eye is dominant, so I have always shot rifles left-handed. As it turned out, given the light weight of the rifle, and the pistol grip and bullpup configuration, I’ve found that even shooting left-handed, it works better for me to keep the cocking lever on the right, but load the magazine from the left side. The rifle can be held to the shoulder with the left hand on the pistol grip, carrying the weight of the rifle, whilst cocking with the right hand – particularly when shooting with a bipod or beanbag, when the aim can be readily kept on target with the left hand whilst working the action.
Initially, I found some trouble shooting consistent groupings; in part because it takes a little while to become accustomed to the lightness of the Reign and the bullpup configuration, which was new to me, but also because I coupled it with a cheap non-AO scope which didn’t do it justice. I got myself a decent Hawke AO and the groups came together.
POI SHIFT DUE TO MODERATOR
Currently, I do most of my shooting in my garden over either a 20m or 40m range, and my pellet of choice is the Air Arms Diabolo Field 4.52mm, 8.4gr. This works out well with the 11.5 ft.lbs. output of the Reign because once zeroed at 20m, it’s pretty much on target at 40m, too. I’ve checked the output of my Reign with and without a moderator and it is pretty consistent between 11.4 and 11.6 ft.lb.
“two different markings to suit both the lefthanded and right-handed shooter”
For the sake of the neighbours, I almost always shoot with a moderator. The one I’ve been using to date is a Hogan Decimater, which I also use with my 850 Air Magnum. The Hogan performs well even though it makes the rifle significantly longer by 180mm, and adds 158gm to the weight. I picked up some comments about POI shifts from another Reign owner, so decided to do a bit of testing myself and was surprised to find that at 20m there was a POI shift of 40mm upward when I removed the moderator, and this doubled to 80mm on the 40m distance.
I had another couple of moderators to hand, so I repeated the test, and found the same order of magnitude shift with a slightly longer (200mm) moderator of similar weight (make uncertain, could be a Range Right), and about a 50mm shift with a 120mm-long carbon-fibre pistol moderator weighing a mere 50gm. I’ve done the same tests with my RM8, with 10.5 ft.lbs. output, and observed negligible POI shift with the moderator removed. I’ve dismissed static barrel droop as a possible explanation because I had a barrel-mounted laser fitted throughout, which remained on zero with the scope regardless of what was hung off the end of the barrel. As I’d measured the muzzle velocity both with and without the moderator and found it to be consistent, this has also been discounted.
My current theory is that what I’ve been seeing is a dynamic phenomenon (barrel whip?), which is effectively damped by the weight of a moderator, and although the displacement seems large, I’ve calculated that it only amounts to an angular displacement of 0.1 degree. The Reign and RM8 barrels are both 500mm long, but the latter is of heavier construction and therefore stiffer. It is worth noting that the rifle achieves satisfactory groupings with and without the moderator, and there is no impact upon accuracy, assuming that the rifle configuration is not changed mid-shoot.
The Reign as supplied comes in a cardboard box, so one of the first things I did was to look around for a suitable storage case. The ideal solution for me was an HSF shotgun hard case in ABS plastic; economic, robust, lightweight, pad-lockable, and compact – in keeping with the bullpup format, but with room for a few essentials. It could have been made for the job. Soon after buying the rifle I also picked up a spare magazine, and the question then was where to keep it when off shooting. The Reign mag’ is a neatly engineered, spring-driven rotary magazine which functions perfectly, but the idea of popping it in my pocket along with all the usual contamination of fluff and other detritus didn’t appeal.
I had taken to keeping it in an empty pellet tin until a much better idea presented itself in the form of a purpose-built, 3D-printed mag’ holder produced by Jackal Pest Control. The mag’ holder is cleverly designed to fit in the space between the scope rail and the main body of the rifle, directly above the cocking handle. It is fitted by removing the two Allen cap screws that secure the scope rail, lifting the rail, placing the mag’ holder between the two rail supports, and then reinstating the rail. The rail then secures the mag’ holder in place. The mag’ holder can be fitted to suit either left- or right-handed shooters. The slot is sized to be a close fit on the magazine, and this combined with the cut-out for the detent ball bearing keeps the mag’ securely in place until required. A neat touch is the Reign logo on the opposing blind face.
Jackal Pest Control has engineered another couple of 3D printed accessories for the Reign in the form of a cheek rest riser, and an oversized cocking lever handle.
On the home front, I’ve come up with a couple of minor refinements of my own. The first is simply to mark the ‘mag’ empty’ position on the rotating mag’, using Tippex fluid, so that it can easily be seen when the last shot has been fired. Note that as the mag’s are reversible, I’ve opted for two different markings to suit both the left-handed and right-handed shooter.
The second innovation I’ve made is a fill plug tether – I’m conscious of advancing years and my ability to lose or misplace almost anything. The Reign fill plug has a convenient groove around the head which enables a suitable ‘O’ ring to be slipped over and remain secure. The ‘O’ ring is first attached to a spare wrist strap, such as are supplied with cheap LED torches, making use of the small split ring at one end. The wrist strap is then wrapped around the forward sight rail support and back through itself, and the plug is retained even if you forget to reinstate it after a refill. This idea can still be used in conjunction with the spare magazine holder, as can be seen from the photographs.
TAKE A CHANCE!
I’ve seen the Reign described elsewhere as a ‘Marmite’ rifle, you either love it or loathe it, and after six months of ownership, I would definitely fall into the former category. As
Andy Beckett’s glad he joined ‘the bullpup revolution’.
Take off the sight rail to place the magazine holder.
The cheek raiser just slips straight on top.
I won’t be losing this now.