Long-range shooting with the Weihrauch HW44
- Credit: Archant
The editor stretches the delightful HW44 to the limit
A few months back, I had the great pleasure to test the excellent Weihrauch HW44 pre-charged pneumatic pistol. It’s based on the innovative HW110 PCP rifle that has been such a huge success for the company. They saw the opportunity to adapt the high-tech synthetic action for pistol use and, in my eyes at least, that was a great decision.
Everything that makes the HW110 so good is packaged into a short form in the HW44, including the superb trigger, as you’d expect from Weihrauch, a top-class barrel made in-house and the efficient multi-shot, side-lever action. This is topped with a Weaver rail which seems all the fashion these days. They also engineered a dedicated silencer which despite is neat dimensions, does an excellent job of eliminating the annoying PCP crack on firing and adds some weight at the muzzle for stability on aim.
More power needed
My early accuracy testing looked very promising, but I felt that I was limited by the 2x20 scope. With such low magnification, precise long-range aiming was very difficult and I was convinced that if I could find a technically superior scope, I could improve the results. I really wanted to see just how accurate a pistol can be at long range. Thus followed a long and difficult search. Many super-serious pistoleers fit rifle scopes and contort themselves into strange positions so that they can see the targets, despite the short eye relief, but that’s not pistol shooting for me; I wanted a proper, long eye relief pistol scope, so the gun would be held at arm’s length.
Professional Airgun Optics came to my rescue with their 2-8 x 32 which comes with mounts, but these are the airgun standard 11mm, so I swapped them with some top-class Weaver Sportsmatch ones, and the build was complete. Next, I selected some pellets that I thought would be compatible and that had a proven track record for accuracy at distance. Weihrauch’s own Exact Diablo .177s were first on my list.
In an effort to reduce human error as much as possible, I planned to shoot from a sturdy bench, supported by ‘V’ shaped bags. I experimented with a number of types until I felt most stable, and began to watch the weather forecast for a rare, calm day. Because of our 6 ft.lbs. pistol power limit, the pellets would naturally be flying far slower than from a rifle, and I considered that the wind would have a strong effect on their flight.
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After all the snow had melted, I found myself on an oddly balmy day at the range, all ready to go. The wind was light, so I quickly knuckled down to shooting slow, deliberate groups. Looking through a higher magnification scope on top of a pistol is a harsh lesson in just how wobbly we are at arm’s length, even when supported. Also, the view is easily lost by even the smallest movements, so patience is needed to get the proper sight picture.
It’s all very tricky, but I’ve done this before and had some techniques to employ. The ‘V’ shaped bag held the fore end nicely and just high enough that the bottom of the grip didn’t contact the bench. Even though the recoil is very slight, I find it best to isolate the gun from any hard surface to maximise consistency. I managed to use the fleshy part at the side of my right palm for this job. I still used a two-handed grip to maximise the support and stability, plus I’m most used to shooting that way.
Next I supported the full length of my right arm along the bench and used a chair with a back so that my torso was well supported as well. I needed to be as comfortable and relaxed as I could, which I hoped would reduce my wobbles and shakes as far as humanly possible.
As the groups started to form on my 30-yard card, I experimented with different holds and after a while I could see which was working the best. After taking a short break, I put out a fresh card and shot the very best groups I’ve ever made with a pistol. I was sure the HW44 was capable, but it needed the extra magnification to release the potential. Sure, some groups were not so good, but when I did my bit, it delivered honest ¼” groups at 30 yards, and in my book that’s bloody impressive. I’m quite confident that had it been held in some mechanical device, it would have put five shots all through the same hole at that distance, but with me pressing the trigger I feel that I’d reached the limit.
This truly is a lovely pistol in many respects and I’m glad that I have at last been able to prove just how accurate it is. If long-range pistols are your bag, then you owe it to yourself to have a good look at the remarkable HW44.
Importer: Hull Cartridge
Tel: 01482 342756
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Action: Side-lever, magazine-fed
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Length: 13 1/4” (337mm)
Weight: 2.9lbs (1.3kg)
Fill pressure: 200bar
Shots per fill: 105 .177