Weihrauch HW97K Air Rifle .177 Cal Test Review
July 27 2015
Airguns of Arizona.
Maybe a little twangy to some ears.
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Weihrauch HW97K air rifle is available from Airguns of Arizona in a number of configurations, including solid wood, laminated wood and synthetic stocks. There’s also a choice of pistol grip and thumbhole stock designs. The model tested by HAM featured a synthetic thumbhole stock and blued metal parts.
This version of the HW97K is priced at $603. As tested with scope and mount in the bundle supplied by Airguns of Arizona, the price is $713.12. Yes, you could spend more on the scope and mounts, but this bundle makes a very viable tool for participation in Field Target competition at the highest level. If required, you could upgrade the scope later.
For this money, you receive a beautiful, impeccably finished air rifle that can deliver outstanding accuracy in the right hands. Note that this is the lowest priced version of the HW97K. Airguns of Arizona has other, more expensive, models available with a variety of stock and metal finishes.
The Weihrauch HW97K air rifle is not a complex gun. There’s relatively few parts, but quality does not have to mean complexity! If you value this simple, quality approach to air rifle design and are looking for accuracy and consistency, rather than just maximum muzzle velocity, the HW97K will deliver lasting value for money to the discerning buyer.
SPEED AND ACCURACY
Ultimate power is not the aim of the Weihrauch HW97K air rifle. This is a design that stresses accuracy and shootability over raw muzzle energy.
So, while peak muzzle velocity in .177 caliber is 1075 fps with Gamo Raptor Platinum alloy pellets, we see muzzle velocities generally in the 800+ fps range with typical lead pellets in the 7 to 8 1/2 grain range. This gives a fairly consistent 12 – 13 Ft/Lbs muzzle energy. These are ideal numbers for the HW97’s main purposes – Field Target shooting and small game hunting.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Gamo Raptor Platinum 4.7 Grain||1075.23 FPS||12.06 Ft/Lbs||Excellent|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||995.40 FPS||12.22 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||882.03 FPS||12.08 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||833.55 FPS||13.69 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||822.77 FPS||12.68 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||815.06 FPS||12.75 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||731.47 FPS||12.65 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
Yes, these are not “sexy” high muzzle velocities. But experienced airgunners know that numbers like this represent an ideal balance of power that enables accuracy and reasonable size in a spring/piston air rifle.
Accuracy of the HW97 air rifle tested by HAM was outstanding – as expected!
Even the lightest alloy pellets proved accurate in the HW97K. And this is by no means always the case…
As you can see from the test targets below, best accuracy was delivered in the test gun by Crosman Premier Hollow Point pellets. This really is a “one hole” group and extremely impressive for 10 shots.
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
The Weihrauch HW97K air rifle is fitted with the famous Rekord two stage trigger. As HAM tester Paul Manktelow commented in his testing notes: “This is a fine trigger with nice first and second stages. You don’t even have to think about the trigger when shooting.”
The gold-colored, trigger blade has a ridged surface to minimize any possible slipping of the trigger finger in use. There’s also the characteristic large gold adjustment screw clearly visible behind the trigger blade – a strong visual reminder of the Rekord trigger.
In fact, the HAM testers did not alter the factory trigger adjustment. It was set perfectly – in our opinion.
The Weihrauch HW97 tested by HAM had an average trigger pull weight of 2 Lb 9 Oz, together with a clearly defined second stage that felt very consistent in use. This is an excellent trigger for Field Target competition – a major use for the HW97.
Cocking effort measured 39 Lbs. This is fairly stout for a spring/piston air rifle of this power level, but the lever’s action has a smooth, precision feeling and feels less heavy than the measurement indicated.
The cocking arm is held in place by a sprung clip fitted to the underside of the barrel weight. A plunger button in the end releases the arm, making it easy to grasp for operation.
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
As with many high end air rifles, there are few “hard” numeric claims made by the manufacturer.
The maximum muzzle velocity claim is 950 fps. This was surpassed easily by the HW97 air rifle tested by HAM with alloy pellets.
Most claims for the Weihrauch HW97K air rifle relate to fitness for use, accuracy and quality. And while these claims are not easy to quantify, it’s clear that the HW97 exudes quality, gives great accuracy and is close to an ideal spring/piston air rifle in the eyes of many knowledgeable airgun shooters.
Consistency is another strong suit for the HW97K.
Accuracy was excellent across the whole range of HAM standard pellets.
Standard Deviation – the measure of shot-to-shot consistency in muzzle velocity – was held at 8 fps or less for most pellets, which is very good. The only outliers were the H&N Field target Trophy Green alloy pellets (not an unusual situation) and the heavy H&N Baracuda Match pellets (now, this is unusual).
The HW97’s Rekord trigger was also very consistent. The pull weights recorded by HAM varied by only plus or minus 5 ounces from the 2 Lb 9 Oz average. That’s very consistent and an almost imperceptible variation for most of us to feel.
The noise level of the Weihrauch HW97K air rifle tested by HAM is about average for an unsilenced spring/piston airgun of this power level.
HAM testers found a little twang from the spring when fitted, but this was not objectionable and did not materially alter the noise level of the HW97.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
The Weihrauch HW97K air rifle was supplied with a Hawke Sport HD 3-9 x 40AO scope, mounted with SportsMatch rings.
The Sport HD is one of the lower models in the Hawke range, yet image quality was very good and bright under test. This is a very good general purpose airgun scope that balances well and compliments the size and weight of the HW97. With the SportsMatch rings, it sits pleasingly close to the bore.
The mil dot reticle is clear – if a shade heavy compared to some etched glass reticles on more expensive scopes designed specifically for Field Target use. The Adjustable Objective (AO) allows for precise focusing and the front, round the lens, adjustment ring is convenient for general purpose use.
The HW97 has no built-in iron sights, but this is not an issue – in HAM’s opinion – as a scope would be essential in any case to realize the accuracy this air rifle can achieve.
The Weihrauch HW97K air rifle is not light – at 10 Lbs 2 Oz including mounted scope – but this weight is very well distributed so that the gun feels well balanced in the hand.
The HW97 shoulders naturally. The high stock comb and low mounted scope make a good cheek weld easy to attain – a prime contributor to practical shooting accuracy.
Many shooters are attracted by the fixed barrel design of the HW97, feeling that it must be inherently more accurate than a break barrel air rifle. HAM doesn’t have any definitive evidence one way or the other on this point, but it’s clear that accuracy of this gun is outstanding.
Certainly the overall smoothness of the firing cycle and trigger release makes for good shootability. There’s the near-obligatory automatic safety fitted at the rear of the compression tube. It’s conveniently placed for operation, but HAM still prefers a manual safety for experienced shooters.
There’s a large pellet-loading port that’s revealed on cocking the gun. This makes loading simple, although it would make the HAM team happier to have a redundant anti-beartrap mechanism included to eliminate any last possibility of the breech slamming shut when loading.
HAM tester Paul Manktelow did find that the bracket for the cocking lever did tend to rub on his little finger when pulling down to cock the gun.
The thumbhole stock fitted to the Weihrauch HW97 air rifle tested by HAM was well-shaped and gave natural support for the trigger hand and finger. Thumbhole stocks are a matter of personal preference, so if you prefer
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The Weihrauch HW97K reviewed by HAM is beautifully finished.
Metal parts are finely machined and polished to a mirror finish. The bluing is deep and even.
The synthetic stock is subtly curved and sculpted. There’s a very slight overall texture to the surface and this is enhanced around the pistol grip and forearm, although not to the point of aggressiveness.
The bright gold-effect trigger and adjustment screw make a stylish and sophisticated contrast to the otherwise overall “all black” of the gun.
BUYING AND OWNING
The Weihrauch HW97K air rifle is available in the USA solely from Airguns of Arizona and specialist dealers for its Precision Airgun Distribution arm. This means that it’s easy enough to find and order on the Internet, although you’re not going to find the HW97 in every big box sporting goods store around the country.
And, by the way, HAM feels that Airguns of Arizona’s packing is about the best in the airgun industry. They ship airguns double-boxed in heavy grade corrugated card with a foam insert that pretty well guarantees that your purchase arrives in perfect condition – whatever the shipping company may do to the package en route.
The gun reviewed by HAM was accompanied by its Airguns of Arizona inspection test certificate. This provides a test target (shot at 23 yards with JSB Express pellets) and a chronograph print of muzzle velocity. Also included as part of this certificate is a useful summary of airgun maintenance that gives much good advice to the new purchaser.
There’s a very generic, multi-lingual (English, French, German) instruction manual supplied by the factory. This covers the basic information needed, but the layout makes it somewhat difficult to read and you’ll need to pay attention!
Airguns of Arizona provides a limited lifetime warranty on the HW97. This means owners can be sure of long-term support for this air rifle, in the unlikely event of repairs being required.
For carrying in the field when hunting, particularly in the rain, HAM would like to see some sling swivels and a more aggressive finish to the “gripping” parts of the stock. Field target shooters with the HW97 will manage just fine without them, however.
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.