Gun test: Weihrauch HW77K Special Edition
PUBLISHED: 12:30 13 February 2019
Dave Barham relives his youth with a modern stock twist
I was just a nipper when the original HW77 hit the shelves around 1983 (I think), a mere 11-years-old and very new to the sport of shooting. It was my best friend, Chris Harvey, who first took the plunge and bought one, and after spending all of our pocket money on a couple of tins of Eley Wasps we spent the afternoon in his mum and dad’s back garden, putting 1,000 shots through her. It was soon after this that I bought my first air rifle, a Webley Eclipse, and the rest, as they say, is history – I’ve been addicted to airguns ever since.
Hello old friend
When the opportunity arose for me to have a play with the new HW77K Special Edition my heart began to flutter, and as I opened the box I uttered the words, “Hello old friend,” as I held the rifle aloft.
Sure, she had a fancy new stock and a slightly shorter barrel than the one Chris had over 35 years ago, but the weight and that unmistakeable breech system gave me instant flashbacks. It was then that I remembered some horror stories from back in the day, when a shooter had supposedly lost the tip of his finger whilst loading the rifle. Evidently, the original model had no anti-bear trap so the underlever could accidentally shoot up and the breech snap shut whilst loading a pellet. I don’t know if there was any truth to this story, but for my own peace of mind I decided to dry-fire this new model, recreating the ‘bear trap’ story, but with my fingers well and truly out of harm’s way.
I’m pleased to report that there were no problems, and the HW77K does indeed have an anti-bear trap spring fitted.
This new funky green laminate sporter stock certainly grabs your attention. It’s a wonderful piece of artwork, and although I understand it might not be to everybody’s taste, I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t like it.
Laminated stocks are far stronger than conventional wooden ones, but this does come at a price in the form of additional weight. However, I reckon the pros definitely outweigh the very minor con. This stock blank is formed from several layers of pre-stained wood, which are bonded tightly together, and then as the stock is cut out these colours are revealed as different layers are exposed. The finished stock is then sanded down and sealed with a water-repelling varnish – and the result is stunning! It’s also worth noting at this point that laminate stocks are extremely stable and resistant to warping through extreme temperature changes. Basically, a laminate stock has all the benefits of an artificial stock, but is still made out of wood – it’s a win/win in my book.
A classic shooter
The HW77K is based on the carbine action, which means a relatively short barrel at 14.5 inches. The under-lever configuration gives the HW77 a distinct over and under look, but it’s the classic sliding breech that helps to make this particular rifle instantly recognisable.
The build quality is as you would expect from a manufacturer such as Weihrauch – the machining and finish are extremely good. It’s a winning formula that has stood the test of time.
Weihrauch’s ambidextrous stock provides a pronounced cheekpiece and comfortable grip, whether you’re a righty or a lefty, so it really is a rifle for everyone. Well, I say ‘everyone’, I think the weight of this rifle slightly restricts its use, it’s maybe not the best for really young kids.
Straight out of the box, the HW77 sports Weihrauch’s traditional open sights. They’re made from metal, not plastic, and are very highly regarded because of the way they can be adjusted. The first thing I had to do was remove them, because time constraints dictated that I had to fit a scope.
I must admit that I was a tad upset whilst I was turning the Allen key, and I vowed to replace the sights, post haste, and have some plinking fun in my back garden. Who doesn’t like a few shots with open sights?
Weihrauch’s Rekord trigger unit has stood the test of time. Some might say it was an industry benchmark for sporting triggers when it was first produced, and I would have to agree. Talk to any ‘old school’ FT shooters and they’ll all tell you how excited they were when the Rekord first appeared on the scene.
The numerous parts and construction of the Rekord unit are what set it apart from the competition at the time, and it stood firmly in the number one spot for many, many years. A quick twist of the screwdriver soon had the trigger on my test gun set just how I like it, and I was ready to shoot.
Cock it and pull it!
To cock the action the lower barrel/lever end has as a button, which is pressed at the muzzle to release the lever. It’s then a simple case of pulling the lever all the way down until you hear the satisfying ‘click’. Doing this opens the sliding breech, where a pellet is manually loaded and pushed flush. The lever is then pushed back up until you hear another ‘click’ and you’re good to go.
The action of cocking the rifle in turn engages the safety button at the rear of the action. In order to fire your shot, you must first push the safety button to ‘off’ again, giving another satisfying ‘click’.
That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s a simple, loveable rifle with more pedigree than a week at Crufts.
Great fun got serious
When I first began shooting as a kid it was all about smacking the hell out of tin cans, clothes pegs (sorry Mum), toy soldiers and pretty much anything I could destroy in my makeshift rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ gallery in the back garden. I remember it like it was yesterday, and those hours/days/weeks of practice paved the way for me to begin hunting successfully. Getting to know your rifle, your strengths and weaknesses are all very important factors, and there’s no better way than pushing thousands of pellets down the barrel.
Out in the field with this new HW77K, I was instantly reminded of how seemingly powerful a .22 springer is. That kick, the loud ‘bang’ as the pellet leaves the barrel – it really brings you back down to earth after having shot a whisper-quiet PCP for the past couple of years – I loved it!
That feeling of power rushed through me, and I was reminded that this rifle is a serious piece of kit – not the ‘toy’ I remembered from my childhood. I suddenly felt all grown up.
I spent a good three hours smacking pellets into targets and managed to get the scope zeroed very quickly indeed. The HW77 is every bit as accurate as I remember it being, which is another good reason why it has stood the test of time. I do recall that in the early days, quite a few field target shooters used the HW77 – testament to the accuracy if we ever needed it.
After my target practice I wandered some fields for half an hour before rain stopped play, hoping to find an unwary pigeon or squirrel for my tea, but alas I didn’t manage to get a shot off – that has just made me more determined to get out and claim my first kill with the rifle, something else I have to look forward to.
I can’t wait to get back out with her on a proper hunting expedition.
Importer: Hull Cartridge Company
Model: HW77K Special Edition
Tel: 01482 342 571
Type: Spring-powered under-lever
Calibre: .177 and .22
Overall length: 40 inches
Barrel length: 14.5 inches
Stock: Green laminate sporter
Trigger: 2-stage adjustable Rekord unit
Average velocity: 560fps (10 shots using FT Exact Jumbo)
Average energy: 11.1 ft.lbs