Umarex Boys Club
The UBC’s Kevin Cudmore gives us his take on the Walther Century Varmint
UBC member, Kevin Cudmore gets to grips with the Walther Century Varmint
Recently, I had the unexpected pleasure of getting to grips with the Walther Century Varmint, a rifle based on a tried and tested format from Walther, the LGV break-barrel that boasts a very effective, integral vibration reduction system, among other things. This rifle incorporates a slightly less refined, but nonetheless effective version of that technology, giving a very smooth cocking action and a short, sharp, but subdued firing cycle.
First impressions show a cosmetically appealing and stylish-looking, sleek black rifle, whilst closer inspection reveals just how well-engineered the action is, and the flawless bluing of the barrel. The solid breech block is beautifully milled, with no sharp edges or corners, and bears the calibre and serial number of the rifle – and something else that I will cover in due course.
Let’s start with what the .22 calibre action sits in. The ergonomic and practical, no-frills synthetic stock sports a fully ambidextrous and quite slim, low-level comb, which as a cheekpiece is nicely placed – for me, at least – and the stock is of the ‘thumbhole’ variety. The pistol grip has a generous palm swell for a solid and comfortable grip that fills the hand nicely and the slim fore end is nicely curved with stippled side panels, which are not only stylish, but also effective at aiding grip, and the stock overall has an inherent ‘non-slip’ feel. The pull length is just 13¾”, and although a tad short, still feels comfortable for my orangutan arms. There is also a vented rubber butt pad that nestles nicely into the shoulder.
There are no sights ‘out of the box’, so a scope is a must, and the receiver is milled with a standard 11mm dovetail for that, although you can buy the Varmint as a package with a scope included at some retailers. The naked rifle weighs in at around 9.5lbs and measures 44” long, but it is very well balanced, so once scoped up and in the shoulder, it feels lighter than the scales tell you.
Like its LGV brethren, the barrel is held secure at the breech, due to an underslung barrel release lever. Only when this fail-safe mechanism is manually disengaged, by pushing it up toward the barrel, can the breech be opened to cock and load the rifle. This makes for very easy cocking, and although it isn’t a feature many shooters will be familiar with, you do quickly get the knack of using it. You slide your hand forward to grip the stylishly machined muzzle break, and pull the barrel down to cock in the usual manner. This mechanism also locks the breech firmly closed, so there is no movement at all during the firing cycle. Not only does the muzzle brake make a handy cocking aid, but it also protects a ½-inch UNF thread for fitting a suppressor up front. This lever function really does make a lot of difference when cocking the rifle because there is no ‘slap’ necessary to start the break, and the rest of the cocking stroke is as smooth as butter and very quiet, with no scraping or graunching – a very civilised experience.
SAFETY AND GRIP
So, once I had it scoped up, I set about my usual 20-metre zero. My back-garden range length, and this is where I did find a negative. The thumb safety is a little awkward because it is in the ‘shotgun’ position on the rear of the receiver, perfect for the more traditional, wooden-stocked Century, but you have to shift your grip to disengage it from the thumbhole stock. The two-stage, adjustable XM trigger unit was very smooth with a nice crisp let-off, but it is only adjustable for the first-stage length, although you can swap this trigger unit out for Walther’s fully tuneable unit if that better suits your needs.
“civilised shooting experience, and different to any of my other break-barrel rifles”
None of the pellets that I tried wanted to group in any consistent manner. Sometimes, I would get inch-diameter groups, sometimes more, which I think you will agree isn’t what we want at only 20 metres. I was fairly sure that it wasn’t all on me, so I checked my scope, a Hawke Vantage 3-9 x 40, and that was all secure and straight. Over several days, I tried and retried different pellets and holds without success, but when giving the rifle a rub-down after a particularly shocking shoot, I saw the light – daylight, that is, between the fore end of the stock and the cylinder, on the right-hand side, so I fetched the required Allen keys and tightened all of the stock screws. Yes, that’s right! Every one of them was loose, and the right side screw was almost all the way out. The lesson here is simple; never forget the basics!
Once the screws were all tightened up, I went back to zeroing and after a little while, I managed to get much better results and I am sure that with more use, or with a better shooter, these groups could be improved upon still more. I was also pleased to note that the Century Varmint showed little recoil, due to the clever internal wizardry employed by Walther. This rifle is quick and smooth and has a surprisingly ‘muted’ level of muzzle report, which is just as well for my backgarden testing. Overall, it proved to be a most civilised shooting experience, and different to any of my other break-barrel rifles.
The Walther Century Varmint proves that Walther is able to manufacture a very solid and effective air rifle and can rival many other brands of established springers that cost more. I feel that the Walther Century Varmint is a very well built and the metalwork is superbly finished. It is accurate and has a very solid feel, so it should certainly stand the test of time, and be more than rugged enough for the hunter out in all weathers, giving great performance coupled with a good price point – bit of a win, win on all counts. I
Fits nicely into the shoulder.
Walther Century Varmint – all scoped up and ready to go.
Barrel release lever is easy to use.
Walther Varmint 50 rounds at 20m, post-tightening!
Thumbhole stock with a generous grip.