Pole Po­si­tion

John Milewski delves into the his­tory and per­for­mance of the Pol­ish Lucznik air ri­fle

Airgun World - - Contents -

John Milewski ex­plores the Pol­ish Lucznik ri­fle – a sturdy springer from days gone by

Most col­lec­tors will be fa­mil­iar with the Pre­dom Wz1970 air pis­tol, which was a copy of the Walther LP53 in looks, if not in per­for­mance. Less well known are the Lucznik se­ries of break-bar­rel air ri­fles des­ig­nated the Model 87, 187, 88, 188 and the smaller 141. Lucznik is the Pol­ish word for ‘archer’, hence the pres­ence of the com­pany’s logo of a bow­man loos­ing an ar­row, stamped on the trig­ger block of th­ese air ri­fles.

Lucznik air ri­fles were de­vel­oped by Ernest Durasiewicza at Poland’s Radom fac­tory and were pro­duced be­tween 1956 and 1980. Ini­tially stamped Lucznik, Model 87 ri­fles were later marked Pre­dom Lucznik after a change in name. The Model 187 took over from the 87 and re­mained in pro­duc­tion un­til 1980. The Radom fac­tory had been es­tab­lished in 1925 and was re­named Zak­lady Me­chan­iczne Lucznik Radom (Radom Archer Me­chan­i­cal Works) after it be­came state owned fol­low­ing WW2. The orig­i­nal fac­tory be­came in­sol­vent in 2000, but out of the ashes rose the Radom Archer Weapons Fac­tory, which con­tin­ues mak­ing firearms to­day. Prior to despatch, each ri­fle was tested by a fac­tory em­ployee fir­ing five shots at 10 me­tres from a seated po­si­tion. The ri­fle passed if all shots landed within a cir­cle 30 mm in di­am­e­ter.

Em­ploy­ees were en­cour­aged to rec­om­mend im­prove­ments to the air ri­fles and fur­ther sugges­tions were acted upon when sub­mit­ted by over­seas im­porters. Plenty of vari­a­tions will be ev­i­dent be­cause ap­par­ently, al­most 100 changes were made to the ri­fle through­out its pro­duc­tion run. For ex­am­ple, early ri­fles had no scope rails, but dur­ing the 1960s scope rails 10 or 12 mm wide were added. In March 1962, a spe­cial ex­port or­der in­cluded smooth­bore ver­sions of the model 187, and in 1970, the Ger­man im­porter re­quested the ‘archer’ trade­mark be re­placed with the word MARS on their ri­fles.

FAIR­GROUND RANGES

Bar­rels were ri­fled with a right-hand twist and 12 grooves, A bar­rel re­lease catch on the right side of the breech had to be pulled rear­wards to re­lease the bar­rel for cock­ing and load­ing. The over­all con­struc­tion of th­ese ri­fles was of a sturdy na­ture. Lucznik air ri­fles were used on fair­ground gallery ranges and amuse­ment parks due to their solid con­struc­tion, as well as schools and para­mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions. The lat­ter were prob­a­bly LOK (Coun­try De­fence League), which taught civil­ians skills that would come in handy in the event of war or na­tional dis­as­ter. I am in­debted to Pol­ish col­lec­tor, Michal Sowin­ski, who re­calls par­tic­i­pat­ing in a High School sub­ject called ‘Przys­poso­bi­e­nie Obronne’ which roughly trans­lates to ‘De­fence Ed­u­ca­tion’. The sub­ject in­volved shoot­ing prac­tice with air ri­fles and the Lucznik would have been an ideal tool due to its ro­bust na­ture. I used to at­tend a Pol­ish school on Satur­days when I was a young­ster, and do not re­call such an in­ter­est­ing sub­ject, but then I was too busy chas­ing Pol­ish girls at the time!

RAMPED EL­E­VA­TION

Early Model 87 ri­fles had no scope rails and re­lied en­tirely upon the ramped el­e­va­tion ad­justable rear­sight, to­gether with a drif­tad­justable hooded fore­sight for sight­ing. The lat­ter fit­ted into nar­row dove­tails, which al­lowed lim­ited lat­eral ad­just­ment. A hood pro­tected the sight and if the sight is ever lost, Lee En­field No 1 or 4 fore­sights will fit with a lit­tle file work. The En­field sights can be found in vary­ing heights and I used this to my ad­van­tage on the ri­fle on test when I se­lected

“Lucznik ri­fles were used on fair­ground gallery ranges and amuse­ment parks”

a tall sight to rec­tify the ri­fle shoot­ing too high on its low­est rear­sight set­ting.

The Mod­els 87 and 187 were fit­ted with a con­ven­tional beech stock of sport­ing pro­file. It had a grasp­ing re­cess in the fore end and had no che­quer­ing. The Mod­els 88 and 188 were ap­par­ently de­vel­oped for ex­port and came with a squarer pro­filed beech stock with a se­ries of lat­eral grooves along the fore end. They also had a pro­nounced cheek piece on the butt. The 87 had a step along the bar­rel just in front of the breech block, whereas on the 187, 88 and 188 this was plain as the bar­rel was heav­ier. Sling swivels, lit­tle more than bent pieces of wire were fit­ted di­rectly on to the bar­rel and butt. In­ter­nally, the pis­ton on the 87 had a larger con­tact area just be­hind the washer than the 187.

STURDY CON­STRUC­TION

The trig­ger pull was a lit­tle creepy, but pos­i­tive on the model tested, and in any case, ad­justable through a screw pro­trud­ing from the front of the guard in pre-war BSA style. The ri­fle’s ro­bust­ness ini­tially at­tracted me to it at an arms fair be­cause it looked like it would take lots of pun­ish­ment be­fore wear­ing out. At 1200 mm (43¾in) long and weigh­ing 3.1kg (6lb 14oz) the full-sized .177 ri­fle de­vel­oped a healthy 620 fps with Lanes Bull­dog pel­lets. I found it a lit­tle muz­zle light and had to pay ex­tra at­ten­tion dur­ing the fir­ing cy­cle to en­sure that the shot was re­leased ac­cu­rately.

Th­ese ri­fles do turn up at arms fairs and gun shops from time to time, but are not com­mon by any means. Due to their sturdy con­struc­tion, the Lucznik se­ries are well worth pick­ing up if the op­por­tu­nity arises.

The 87 and 187 ri­fles had a more stream­lined pro­file than the 88 and 188.

The Archer logo iden­ti­fies Lucznik and Pre­dom Lucznik air ri­fles.

Pull back on the catch to re­lease the bar­rel. The ro­bust ramped rear­sight is ad­justable for el­e­va­tion only. The frontal trig­ger ad­just­ment was a pre-WW1 fea­ture, but it works!

No scope grooves were ma­chined into this pre-1967 Model 87, mak­ing it an ‘open sight only’ ri­fle.

There was no long cock­ing slot un­der the fore End, mak­ing for a stronger and bet­ter-look­ing de­sign.

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