Follow-up gun test: Walther Reign
PUBLISHED: 15:35 17 July 2019
Let there be light...just learn to make the most of it - says the editor, as he continues his trial of the Walther Reign
Read editor Terry Doe's first review of the Walther Reign HERE.
When all's said and done, and when the fine-detail stuff is taken care of, the best way to test any airgun is to shoot the absolute wossname out of it at every opportunity. Practical, forensic evaluation of an airgun is a fine thing, and it's exactly what all manufacturers want when they engage me to punish their prototypes and report my findings. Every facet of performance, ergonomics, perception, resilience and reliability must be presented, pored over and weighed in the balance of the collective opinions of those who make the real decisions … then take them to the accountants, who rule just about every aspect of our world.
It's a fascinating process and I always enjoy being a part of it, even if the quantum physics of large-scale production leaves me slack-jawed and squinting like the challenged person I undoubtedly am. I've sat in on meetings with genuine geniuses, where I try so hard to contribute an understanding nod at the right times, but truth be told, once the conversation shifts from holes in target cards and handling feedback, to the proper engineering stuff, I'm neither use nor ornament.
Time and experience are my best friends at such times, and they've taught me to stick to what I know, which is getting the most from an air rifle, and predicting what airgunners like me will like, ignore and dislike about it. That's what I've been doing with the Walther Reign, and I'd like to pass on what I've learned so far.
Light of experience
First, the extremely light weight of the Reign, just 5.5lbs before you fit a scope, is a significant advantage, provided you learn to use it properly. You'd be forgiven for thinking that a lack of ballast could only ever be an advantage, and as far as carrying a rifle around all day, you'd be right. However, when it comes to deliberate aiming at maximum range targets, ultra-light rifles need a slightly different type of technique. Light guns are more likely to 'twitch' when we do, because they lack the heft to resist our handling imperfections.
Once you know this, your brain slips into the same mode as when you're using a springer, and because you know you need to employ a smooth, tension-free technique, you do just that. I've always likened the effect of the strict teachers at school; we didn't mess about as much in their classes, but we definitely learned more.
When you know...you know
I deliberately put myself in situations where the lightness of the Reign would test me and please me, in roughly equal measure, and within an hour of clambering about through bushes, up banks, over log piles and around some buildings on my mate's allotment, only the advantages flagged themselves up. At the beginning of this evaluation, I harboured notions of adding weight to cavities inside the Reign's stock to increase its on-aim stability, but I now know there's no need; this rifle shoots extremely well at its production weight.
Ergonomics in action
Like most mechanical devices that require a degree of operation from their user, the Reign clicks and clunks about its business more smoothly as familiarity sets in. The magazine slots into its recess first time, the sidelever shuttles seamlessly, and trigger function becomes entirely predictable and finger-friendly. Balance and shoulder-engagement respond in similar fashion, although these sneak into overall technique pretty much unannounced, until the Walther Reign becomes assimilated into your way of shooting and it's as though you've been using it for years.
If the Reign is your first bullpup, and I believe for many it will be, then the whole 'light rifle' deal will simply form part of the process of extracting the most from a different rifle format. The 'first-timers' I observed shooting the Reign produced results that shocked them, in a positive way, especially those traditional types who recoiled from the Walther's radical styling.
I'd advise all new Reign owners to think carefully about scope choice. As I've said, the ultra-light weight of the Reign is an exploitable advantage, so it makes sense not to throw too much of this away by bolting on a huge scope, which will also tend to make the rifle top-heavy. Go for a compact scope, say a 3-12 x 40, or something similar, and spend as long as it takes to get its position on the scope mounting rail absolutely spot on. Don't accommodate the scope by moving your head, move the scope to fit your natural head position - there's a world of difference between the two, believe me.
Also, don't be afraid to open up the Reign and tweak its trigger. I can do it in under eight minutes, now, and I'm just about the most useless airgunsmith on the planet. If you really don't fancy removing and replacing those 17 fixing bolts, which is understandable, get your nearest expert to do it for you. Above all, make sure that two-stage trigger is set to suit you and your way of shooting. Personally, I'd have the trigger set for me as soon as I bought the rifle, then re-set to fine-tune it after a month or so, when everything has run itself in.
The Walther Reign is a departure, even within the bullpup theme, due mainly to its lack of weight and that radical styling. It works to an extremely high standard, that is for certain, and I believe it really could convert the non-bullpuppers to its way of doing things.
I'm off to Walther headquarters in a week or two, once I've concluded my testing of the two prototypes I'm currently hammering the life out of, and I'll debrief the Reign's technicians face-to-face. It will be an interesting exchange, that's for sure, and I know I'll learn much more about this intriguing addition to the Walther stable.
Look out for an exclusive test of the first production Reign, as soon as the rifle is released in the summer, and be prepared to get your order in early - because this featherweight is going to weigh in with some heavy sales.
Country of origin: Germany
Type: Pre-charged, regulated, multi-shot, bullpup sporter with ambidextrous design
Calibre: .22, .177, .25
Loading: Via removable, rotary multi-shot magazine
Trigger: 2-stage, adjustable, with manual, resettable safety
Stock type: Ambidextrous polymer - sidelever can be switched to either side
Weight: 2.5kg (5.5lbs)
Length: 687mm (27 ins)
Barrel: 430mm (17ins)
Fill pressure: Max 230 bar
Shots per charge: 180 in .22, 140 in .177 at sub-12 ft.lbs. configuration
Average shot-to-shot consistency: 16 f.p.s over first 50 shots for .22 prototype on test
Average energy: 11.4 ft.lbs.
Distributor: John Rotherary Wholesale
Contact: All good gun shops
RRP: All good gun shops
Read editor Terry Doe's first review of the Walther Reign HERE.