Weihrauch Factory: PCP pistol perfection?
PUBLISHED: 14:28 22 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:09 22 August 2017
The editor counts his blessings and sees something truly new
There are many good things about being the editor of Air Gunner, but the icing on the cake for me is visiting the manufacturers to see just how things are made. Just recently, I was delighted to be invited by Hull Cartridge, the UK importer for Weihrauch airguns, to visit the factory in Mellrichstadt, in the middle of Germany, a truly lovely part of the world. I visited once before, but since that time there have been some big changes, including completely new buildings that have allowed the company to improve production and the working conditions of their staff, something that matters a great deal to the directors.
Of all the airgun manufacturers I’ve visited, the Weihrauch factory is far and away the most impressive. It’s a large complex of buildings, all of which are modern, clean and tidy, and efficiency and quality are displayed at every stage.
As you’d expect, many of the parts are produced on CNC machines that tirelessly deliver precisely dimensioned components one after another, all day long. To back this up, the skilled machine operators run their own quality control right there and then, so that any error can be found and corrected within minutes.
Weihrauch, like many German manufacturers, proudly runs an apprenticeship programme, with three or four young people being taken on every year. At first, they learn basic hand-tool techniques and skills, and then over the years, work their way up to become highly skilled engineers who run the most complex machines. Much to everybody’s amusement, Weihrauch is trialling a robot to load and unload the CNC machines. It looked slow, but over the course of a day was actually more productive than a man because it has no tea breaks, no lunch breaks and never needs to go to the toilet!
Many of the Weihrauch staff haven’t worked anywhere else and their children are now employed at the factory, too. It’s clear to see that the company cares deeply about its people and that is reflected in the dedication of the workers.
Almost every component is made in house, with the exception of the stocks, and things like ‘O’ rings and springs, which are bought from specialist manufacturers. Of great interest to me was the barrel-making process, which is so very impressive. The barrel blanks are drilled and then internally polished before the ‘button’ is pulled through to form the rifling. As you watch it being done it looks quite simple, but to repeat the incredible precision day in and day out requires massive expertise and extremely skilled engineers. It’s not for nothing that their barrels are considered some of the finest in the world.
As we were shown from one building to the next, I kept my inquisitive eyes open for clues about any new models and when we arrived at what looked like a drawing office, Hans Weihrauch, our host, suddenly closed the door and gave us his famous ‘oh no you don’t’ smile. “You don’t need to see in there,” he said. Bugger! ‘That must be where all the good stuff is’, I thought to myself. However, as we then approached one of the two ballistic test tunnels, my eyes were suddenly drawn to something very special. I’d seen the new HW44 pre-charged pneumatic pistol at the IWA show earlier in the year, and now here was a shootable example, filled with air and sitting beside a tin of pellets. Well – it would have been rude not to...
Weihrauch Factory: PCP pistol perfection?
The barrel blanks are bored and then polished before the rifleing is applied
This press for truing barrels is still worked by hand because that gives the best results
Each engineer does quality control on their output
It take years before apprentices get the chance to control a CNC machine like this
The range technician put a fresh target down at the end of the tunnel and welcomed me to the firing position. As I lifted the pistol, it was immediately apparent that it shared much of its engineering and design with the remarkable HW110 rifle that I know so well, and cocking it and loading the rotary magazine were just the same, as was disengaging the safety. I took aim through the 2x20 scope, squeezed the trigger and was rewarded by a clean, crisp break and a good hard push from the recoil of the pistol. The following magazineful of shots were just the same. ‘This is really something special’, I thought.
It turned out that this was an export model making 12 ft.lbs,. which explains the recoil. With the dedicated pistol silencer fitted it was oh so quiet, even at that high power, so I knew that at our limit, 6 ft.lbs., it would make just a whisper of muzzle noise. Just after I arrived home a slim box with Weihrauch markings arrived at the office. My own test gun was here, and next month I’ll bring you my early thoughts on this stunning new model from these German giants.