Gun test: Weihrauch HW40 PCA Pistol

Mark Camoccio shooting the Weihrauch HW40 PCA

The recoilless Weihrauch HW40 PCA is a joy to shoot - Credit: Archant

Mark Camoccio explains why he loves the Weihrauch HW40 PCA pistol in this test and review  

The Weihrauch HW40 PCA on the ground next to tins of pellets

Transform the action by adding a pistol scope - Credit: Archant

I’ve developed a real fascination for airguns over the years, and a big part of that appeal stems from the variety of designs utilised to generate power. I use pre-charged pneumatics for ease of use, but for me, there’s nothing more satisfying than a truly self-contained power source, with the single-stroke pneumatic at the pinnacle.

I’ve bored on the subject before, but in this arena we’ve had several false dawns, as designers have put forward prototypes, only for them to fail to come to fruition in production. I’m talking full-power rifles, and this remains the holy grail as the laws of physics continues to hold all the aces.

The rear sight on a Weihrauch HW40 PCA

This shows the rear sight and hammer catch to open the action - Credit: Archant

Overview
Look to the air pistol, where maximum power is limited to 6 ft.lbs., and it is a different ball game, of course. On test here is the Weihrauch HW40 PCA, and this super-slick, single-stroke pneumatic is a classic example of not only Weihrauch’s flair for design, but also the benefits of this type of airgun. Only produced in .177, when you pick up the HW40 it feels well made, and at 1.7lbs, there is a satisfying weight in the hand, too. 

If the profile looks familiar, it has been copied somewhat, but believe me, this is the real McCoy. Admittedly, this model is priced to the lower end of the market, but don’t for a second let that put you off. Yes, there’s a lot of ballistic polymer on show, but it is the modern way, with a raft of  firearms now made from the stuff. Weight can be trimmed, yet strength is still at a premium and as for build quality here, Weihrauch’s usual pedigree is much in evidence, with everything feeling precise and well formed. 

For the record, the grip  is ambidextrous, yet handling comfort and overall feel ticks plenty of boxes, so to speak. Factor in a competent two-stage trigger, fibre-optic sights, and an automatic safety catch, and the HW40 PCA is nothing if not well appointed..  

PCA stands for ‘Precision Compressed  Air’, and that refers to the power source, where the cocking stroke compresses the air before each shot. As mentioned, it’s all about self-contained, near-recoilless performance, and to cock the action, first pull back the dummy silver hammer at the back. This releases the top section, which now needs to be lifted up and drawn back. Open it fully in an arc and a hiss can be heard as air is sucked into the chamber. It’s important to open the action fully each time because this determines the volume of air to compress. Now close the action, thus compressing the air inside, taking care not to catch your fingers as the action snaps shut.

The trigger on a Weihrauch HW40 PCA

The safety catch and trigger contrast nicely - Credit: Archant

Trigger and sights
Fibre-optic sights are fitted to this model, and that means a clear red-element fore sight, and green at the rear. The rear sight needs a screwdriver, but is fully adjustable. One point to mention here is to try to keep the hand clear of the rear sight whilst compressing and closing the action because it does sit where the hand wants to be. 

As for the trigger, it’s all good, with a comfortable, well-shaped blade and a responsive two-stage adjustable mechanism. It was perfectly set as delivered, to be honest, so I didn’t delve any deeper.

A target shot with the Weihrauch HW40 PCA

It's seriously accurate, too - Credit: Archant

Testing 
In my many years experience of testing airguns, some of the most consistent in terms of velocity have been single-stroke pneumatics. A super-quick lock time helps here, too, and using Weihrauch FT Exact pellets, a 10-shot string with the HW40 showed a total spread of just 4fps, which is quite superb. Webley Mosquitos weren’t far behind, either, with similar consistency of just 6fps total spread. On firing, there’s a distinctive crisp snap as the compressed air rapidly expands, and the recoilless mechanism feels particularly slick. 

Most Read

Shooting air pistols has to be one of the hardest shooting disciplines of all, and I’m no great pistol shot, but for the record, initially shooting free-style unsupported, I posted one-inch groups with relative ease. I know that I could do better with practice, but it’s an indication of the HW40’s shootable format. Pushing accuracy, with open sights, from a rest at 10yds, groups of 3/8inch centre-to-centre, using both the Weihrauch pellets and

Mosquitos, were the norm. Great results, but with the HW40 sporting dovetails, I was itching to mount a scope. Twenty yards seemed about right here, and again from a rest, the HW40 produced clusters of around 3/8inch. Excellent stuff, and all the proof I needed that this pistol is seriously capable, and blinking 
good value.

Fibre-optic front sight on a Weihrauch HW40 PCA

Fibre-optic sights, front and back - Credit: Archant

Conclusion
So we’ve got to this stage, and it must be obvious what I already think about this model. Yes, the automatic safety catch is irritating, cocking effort is significant, and you might catch your fingers – but just consider the rewards! Slick performance in a self-contained, recoilless format, all the usual Weihrauch appeal, and all for a realistic asking price! 

Technical Specification
Manufacturer:        Wehrauch, Germany
Model:            HW40 PCA     
Type:            Single-stroke pneumatic pistol 
Calibre:        .177 only
Weight:        1.7lbs
Length:        9.5” 
Barrel:            6.75”
Grips:            Ambidextrous black synthetic 
Power Source:        Self-generated – no bottle required
Trigger:        2-stage adjustable
Velocity:        On test using Weihrauch FT Exact/Webley Mosquito pellets:
                        high    375fps                high     376fps
                        low      371fps                low    370fps
                        ave      374fps                ave    374fps
                        spread    4fps                  spread   6fps
Energy:        2.6 ft.lbs. ave on test            2.4 ft.lbs.
RRP:            £169 guide price     
Contact:        Hull Cartridge Company