Gun test: Weihrauch HW110K
- Credit: Archant
Making a good thing better – or different, at least
I’ve been privileged enough to visit the Weihrauch factory, so I feel that I’m able to speak of the huge dedication the company has to producing some of the finest airguns I’ve ever known, and a walk around the town of Mellrichstadt showed me some of the virtues of German society I’ve long admired. Sons, their dads and their granddads all work at the company and pass on their skills and knowledge, something all too often lost in our society.
It was against this background some years ago that the HW110 pre-charged pneumatic rifle came as such a shock. I always thought of Weihrauch as a ‘steel and walnut’ kind of gun maker, so an injection-moulded, polymer action block was like a visit from an alien in their world. Many people predicted the company’s imminent demise, having diverged from their natural path, but knowing the company as I do, I saw no such problem.
I was sure that they’d researched and developed the materials, such that they’d deliver on their promise and the huge sales enjoyed by this rifle have shown that to be the case. The industrial polymers used have been employed in the frames of combat handguns and the wings of fighter jets, so the stresses an airgun could place upon them are close to insignificant.
Aside from the novel action, the HW110 was a conventional barrel-over-reservoir, pre-charged pneumatic and a well-designed one, at that. Its modest dimensions and weight made for a handy hunter and the one I have in my collection is the equal of any in the class. As we’d expect from Weihrauch, the trigger is nothing short of superb and the barrels they make in-house are world-leading, too. It’s no surprise then, that the accuracy on offer is simply superb.
The action does offer a few additional challenges to convention, such as having a Weaver standard scope rail moulded in, and the ambidextrous safety in an odd place in front of the magazine. I’ll confess, neither of these features appeals to me. However, the Weaver rail is bomb-proof and appeals to many, most especially those who like the military connection. The ability to swap a day scope for night vision without the need to re-zero is the most often quoted use for this type of rail.
The action was designed with a sidelever cocking system from day one, and with an eye for versatility because it can be mounted on the right or left by the factory, or an appointed service agent. On the right of the action we find a small lever that releases the oh-so-simple metal magazine. On the early models, the safety and magazine release were left as bare metal, but all the new ones come blacked, which I think looks much better.
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Sure and solid
I lo ve the fact that these magazines are so simple. There are no springs, and no face plates to trap debris. They’re just a simple casting with an ‘O’ ring around the circumference to hold each pellet in its chamber. When the ‘O’ ring wears, changing it will take almost three seconds. There really is nothing to go wrong. Of course, we should respect them and do everything possible to keep them clean and free from dirt, but they’re very tough and durable.
I also adore the fact that they sit low in the action and don’t interrupt the scope rail. This runs continuously some 4½” along the action, making it possible to locate your scope exactly where you want it without compromise. Please note from the photographs just how precisely I was able to mount my chosen scope against the action. Only millimetres separate the objective bell and the barrel clamp, keeping the scope low, which enhances the rifle’s handling and allows me to make sure and solid contact with the cheek piece. This should not be underestimated by anybody in the benefits it offers to performance and handling, and I applaud Weihrauch for the design.
The ‘soft touch’ stock is beech coated in a weather-resistant, rubber-like synthetic. It does indeed feel soft, and adds grip with an almost tacky sensation as you handle it, but as much as it offers protection, the coating isn’t bullet-proof and still need to be handed with more respect than a plastic stock. Unusually, the pull length is shorter then average at just under 14”, whereas the Germans most often make guns over-sized. At 5’ 9” I appreciate the shorter pull during the winter time, because when I have a base layer, a thick fleece and a thick coat on it sets the length back to standard.
So, if you’ve made a truly superb hunting rifle as described above, how to you make it better? For some people the answer is to make it smaller. Much of the art of being a successful airgun hunter is to get close and waiting inside a hide can swing the odds in your favour. However, they can be pretty cramped, so a rifle that’s 4” shorter could be your friend. This is what Weihrauch chose to do to the HW110 to give us the K model you see here. Carbine is spelt Karbine in Germany which explains the K suffix. Almost everything about the rifle is the same as the full-length version, apart from the barrel and reservoir lengths. The stock is trimmed a little too, but handles in much the same positive way.
Despite being ambidextrous, the pistol grip filled my hand well and delivered my index finger nicely onto the metal trigger blade. I guess we’ve all come to expect Weihrauch to give us top-class triggers, so it comes as no surprise that the one fitted to the HW110K was excellent. The first-stage was clean and light, coming to a defined stop on the second-stage. This broke like the proverbial icicle and was an absolute delight to use.
The firing cycle is quick and clean and because the barrel wears one of the finest silencers ever made, there’s only the quietest cough as the pellet leaves. I noted that Weihrauch has laser-etched ‘for air guns only’ on their silencers, which tells me that people have attached them to firearms and suffered the consequences. Inside this top-class silencer you’ll find hair rollers and some sound-absorbing material. Yes, I did write ‘hair rollers’. In fact, Weihrauch is a very good customer to one of Germany’s big hair-roller distributors. All these parts are synthetic and will be badly damaged should you shoot burning propellant powder through them from your .22 rimfire or .17HMR. You have been warned!
The rifle is also pleasingly free of vibration and spring resonance, adding to the pleasure of use. A quick chronograph check using Weihrauch’s FT-Exact .177 pellet, showed an average velocity of 780 fps for a muzzle energy of 11.4 ft.lbs, just as I’d expect. What was impressive was that over 30 shots I only saw 9fps shot-to-shot velocity variation, which is truly superb. Weihrauch says that the HW110 action does not have a regulator – but is self-regulating. No, I don’t understand that either, but it’s quite clear that whatever mechanism they use, it works very well.
After settling the rifle into the bags on a benchrest, I filled the 10-shot magazine and prepared to shoot some groups. For once, the wind was kind and I set about placing some carefully aimed shots on a card. Some people worry that short barrels might be inaccurate, so I refer them to the target card in the photograph. That was 10 shots at 30 yards with pellets straight from the tin. If you need a more accurate hunting gun than that, you’re playing a different game to me! The group is barely bigger than the pellet and there’s no question that this is absolutely in the top class when it comes to accuracy. Truly superb! Better still, it wasn’t hard to achieve because the HW110K is an easy gun to shoot. This is hard to define, but some guns are just naturally easy to work with and this is one of them. There can be few more important reasons to own a rifle than the fact that it WILL help you to hit your target more often.
Short guns simply cannot hold as much air as longer guns and because of that the number of shots per fill must be lower. However, Weihrauch have worked their magic on the efficiency of this Karbine and we will get 55 shots in .177, and 75 in .22, which is way more than we’ll ever need in a hunting session. 200bar of clean, high-pressure air is delivered to the stainless steel reservoir through a ‘plug and port’-style filler at the front of the reservoir, just behind the pressure gauge. Quite properly, a plug to seal the port and keep debris at bay is included with the rifle and you really must use it.
I’m a hunter so I appreciate efforts to make me more successful and Weihrauch has three here that deserve respect. The first is that the action will not double-load. No matter how many times you cock the sidelever, it will only load one pellet until you pull the trigger and shoot. The second is that you can tell at a touch if the rifle is cocked, and to do this you try to apply the safety. If it engages, you’re cocked and ready to go. If it won’t move, the rifle isn’t cocked. This is a simple, but vitally important piece of information for the hunter under pressure to make shots count. The third is that if the sidelever is open for any reason, the action will not fire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fired open actions when the bolt has caught on a bramble or something similar and I’ve got a face full of high-pressure air. These are real-world improvements that will make you a more successful hunter and that has to be worth the rifle’s price alone!
You’ll understand that I love the HW110 as an accurate and technically advanced rifle, but the question is – would I exchange my full-length model for the Karbine? The answer is no. It delivers almost all the performance of the full-length gun and is without doubt more handy, but I seldom shoot from hides and prefer the balance and stability the longer gun offers. It’s great that Weihrauch has taken the time to offer two models of the same excellent gun because you can now choose the one that suits your needs best. I can’t decide for you, but I can tell you that you’ll be a happy and satisfied HW110 owner whichever option you choose.
Importer: Hull Cartridge
Tel: 01482 342456
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Magazine-fed, sidelever
Length: 34 ½” (88cm)
Trigger: Precision two-stage, fully adjustable
Fill pressure: 200 bar
Shots per fill: 55 in .177, and 75 in .22
Spare mag: £29.99
Read Terry Doe’s review of the Weihrauch HW110K here.