POWER WITH CON­TROL

Kevin Cud­more on the Weihrauch HW45 - a true modern clas­sic

Airgun World - - Umarex Boys Club -

Ihave re­cently be­come the owner of a Weihrauch HW45, over-lever, spring-pow­ered air pis­tol, touted at the time of its re­lease to be one of the most pow­er­ful air pis­tols avail­able, in the UK any­way, at around 5.5 ft.lbs. or so in full power. Let me give a brief his­tory, and a lit­tle in­sight into this iconic air pis­tol.

Weihrauch launched the HW45 in 1985. It was known in the USA as the ‘Bee­man P1’ and con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, al­though made in Ger­many by a Ger­man com­pany, it was Bee­man in the US who pro­vided the full spec­i­fi­ca­tions and de­sign fea­tures of this pis­tol. They felt that it should fol­low the very pop­u­lar lines of the Colt 1911 semi -au­to­matic pis­tol, which would be pop­u­lar for the Amer­i­can mar­ket, so the Bee­man com­pany quickly made a plas­ter-of-paris, life-sized, 3D model that Weihrauch tech­ni­cians used for the fi­nal de­sign.

The huge com­mer­cial suc­cess of the HW 45/ P1 de­sign was aided by many of its fea­tures; high power, good ac­cu­racy, solid me­tal con­struc­tion, its flex­i­bil­ity, the abil­ity to fire at two power lev­els, in­te­gral 13mm scope rail, the avail­abil­ity of a Bee­man-de­signed shoul­der stock and three cal­i­bre choices – .177, .20 and .22. There are also five dif­fer­ent choices of fin­ish; Stan­dard, which I have, Stain­less, Black Star, Sil­ver Star and the Tro­phy. The Black Star ver­sion has tar­get-style grips with a half-grip frame to ac­com­mo­date them; the Sil­ver Star, also has sim­i­lar lam­i­nated tar­get grips, but with a sil­ver, or pale grey, frame, and the Tro­phy ver­sion has a short 20mm rail in ad­di­tion to its usual 13mm rail.

At the time of writ­ing, I have owned my stan­dard HW45 for four days and I chose this ver­sion not just for its lower price point, but also be­cause I can change its che­quered wal­nut grips for any 1911-style grips that I want at a later date.

A warn­ing any po­ten­tial buy­ers; when the gun is new, you might no­tice that it makes an ex­tremely loud noise, like a real gun go­ing off,

and plenty of smoke com­ing out of the end, but do not be alarmed. This is nor­mal, ap­par­ently.

NEIGH­BOUR FRIENDLY

This pis­tol does diesel a fair bit ini­tially, and I rec­om­mend fir­ing the first few shots in low power to let it set­tle. I didn’t, and the lo­cal wildlife for miles around ei­ther ran or took wing and dis­ap­peared in an in­stant, but af­ter the first shot I fired half a dozen or so shots in low power and af­ter that, it was sig­nif­i­cantly more dig­ni­fied and neigh­bour friendly.

The HW45, is a bit of a Mar­mite pis­tol in the looks de­part­ment. Some have said it’s a cross be­tween a Colt 1911 and a girder, and I’m in­clined to agree, but it feels lighter at a shade over 2lbs 8oz, than its large size would have you think, and it is sur­pris­ingly well bal­anced.

That said, it is not an easy gun to tame. On ini­tial use, my ac­cu­racy was all over the place, and I had to try sev­eral dif­fer­ent holds to get the gun to per­form well for me. My ad­vice is to ig­nore the ad­vice of others, and just try to find what works for you.

My grip is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent to what sev­eral peo­ple ad­vised, but it seems to work for me as the tar­get pic­ture il­lus­trates. This brings me to another piece of ad­vice. Pick a hold/ dis­ci­pline, and stick to it. Shoot­ing two-handed, is what achieved the left-hand group on the tar­get, and that is a five-round group at six yards af­ter a mere four days of us­ing this pis­tol. Mov­ing to a one-hand grip for the right side,though, as our UBC six-yard com­pe­ti­tion rules state, leaves you with pel­let im­pacts sig­nif­i­cantly higher than point of aim, as shown.

This also goes for the low power set­ting, which is achieved by the pis­ton hav­ing two sear points. Cock to 90 de­grees for around 2ft. lbs., and crank the lever over all the way for around 5.5 ft.lbs.

Con­versely, on low power, pel­lets hit higher than they do on full power. The full-power tra­jec­tory is very flat. My POA at 20 me­tres for can-bash­ing was barely dif­fer­ent from six yards for tar­get shoot­ing.

Ac­cu­racy is helped by the long sight plane and one of the few re­vi­sions in over 30 years, fi­bre-op­tic in­serts on both the fixed front, and fully ad­justable rear sight.

QUAL­ITY

The trig­ger is also fully ad­justable, two-stage and the man­ual de­scribes it as ‘match grade’. There is also an am­bidex­trous safety. The stan­dard ver­sion is pretty much fully am­bidex­trous, in­clud­ing the cut-outs in the top lever, which aid load­ing pel­lets di­rectly into the pre­ci­sion-ri­fled bar­rel. In fact, ev­ery­thing about the pis­tol smacks of qual­ity. From the high-qual­ity al­loy, handfin­ished ex­te­rior, to the steel in­te­rior com­po­nents. I’m told that Weihrauch airguns are all hand­con­structed, fin­ished and tested, and I’m in­clined to be­lieve it.

As I said ear­lier, I have only had the pis­tol a few days, but I am al­ready get­ting used to it, by and large, and able to pro­duce some re­spectable groups at tar­get dis­tances, but, if you don’t do your bit, it can pun­ish you, with pel­lets left right and cen­tre. Don’t worry, that’s en­tirely your fault and not that of the pis­tol.

In the right hands, the HW45 is ca­pa­ble of pel­let-on-pel­let at close tar­get-shoot­ing ranges. It just needs the shooter to learn its foibles and come to terms with it. It’s al­most a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship; you do your part and the pis­tol will re­ward you. At one tar­get, shoot­ing 10-round groups, I man­aged to place six pel­lets in one ragged hole, which isn’t too shabby for a re­coil­ing springer, if I do say so my­self. The first three of those went through the same hole – it’s an odd feel­ing when that hap­pens. You think ‘where the heck did that pel­let go? Did I miss the en­tire tar­get?’ Nope,

some­how ev­ery­thing just con­nects and they go right through the same hole, barely even tick­ling the sides of the first one. The re­main­ing four shots go to pot af­ter that, of course, and you try to work out what it was you did to get the first shots right. As they say, power is noth­ing with­out con­trol, and that cer­tainly seems to ap­ply here.

That’s just the way it goes with the HW45; I think it is go­ing to be like hav­ing another child. You have to cod­dle it, treat it nicely, love it and ride out the in­evitable tantrums, but over­all, it will be a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

WHAT OTHER UBC MEM­BERS THINK OF THEIR HW45S Paddy Egan:

I got my HW45 about 20 years ago, and it is the favourite spring-pis­tol of my col­lec­tion. As others have said, you have to learn about it and be con­sis­tent in your hold, or it will pun­ish your scores. We used mine for one of our shoot-offs at our last meet and it went down well with the two shoot­ers who had never shot with one be­fore. This is one pis­tol that ev­ery­one should own, or even just have a go with it.

Ja­son Cur­tis: The HW45 is a real hand-can­non in the world of pis­tol shoot­ing, and I love it. She is one of only a few pis­tols that I still own from when I started pis­tol shoot­ing; many have come and gone, but this one’s a keeper. Mine has a two-tone sil­ver body with a black top, and she looks good wrapped in Hogue rub­ber. She isn’t small and in no way the pret­ti­est, but you have to treat her like a lady – no tight squeez­ing, or she will kick back. A firm yet gen­tle touch and she will un­leash her full power to make that lead fly straight and true.

Eric Prichard:

When I first started shoot­ing the HW45, she just felt right, com­fort­able to use, and more im­por­tantly, ac­cu­rate. To­day, af­ter not shoot­ing at all for three weeks, I was able im­me­di­ately to put in a group at six yards that would fit un­der a ten-pence piece, and scored 46 on a com­mer­cial, 14cm tar­get, free­stand­ing, two-handed.

In con­clu­sion, the HW45 is a gun that I would rec­om­mend to any­one. It is an ac­cu­rate pis­tol, with enough re­coil to make shoot­ing a chal­lenge, but just lively enough to en­cour­age the shooter to con­tinue to try to mas­ter the gun at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.

Randy, from USA:

I own a se­lec­tion of Bee­man P1s and P11s. These are the equiv­a­lent to the HW45 and Sil­ver Star. Cur­rently I have them all scoped up for longer-range shoot­ing.

Newer mod­els have fi­bre-op­tic sight in­serts.

Eric’s first five shots on tar­get.

Left shows two-handed; right was one-handed.

The heart of the group was dead cen­tre.

Eric’s cus­tom-made grips look and feel great.

To get full power, cock to here.

For half power, stop here.

Kevin’s HW45 wears che­quered wooden grips.

Kevin’s smok­ing HW45.

Randy’s scoped HW pis­tols.

Our club founder with his HW45.

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