Desperadoes Review The Walther Lever Action Air Rifle – Part Two
Last time we gave you an overview of the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle. This is Walther’s version of the Winchester Model 94 Saddle Ring Carbine. We examined the cosmetic fit and finish of the gun, along with some of the key performance characteristics.
You can go back and read my observations on this quality German gun, but now it’s time for the Desperadoes to saddle up their ponies, and test the utility of Walther’s Lever Action Air Rifle under Cowboy Action conditions.
It seemed to me, Sundance Harry, that it would be the perfect companion for the Umarex Colt Peacemaker Pellet revolver in western shooting scenarios.
We ended Part One with a little tease: suggesting that The Desperadoes, comprised of Wyoming Whiskers, Marshall Kenny Hittum, Sundance Harry and Iron Burner would confront the Wild Bunch in a Gunfight at the Laramy Corral.
Cowboy Action Shooting with the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle
But in order to realize our fantasy, we needed to construct a Cowboy Action target that would capture the imagination of wannabe cowboys. We decided to assess the performance of the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle under Cowboy Action Rules on a target of our own design.
All we needed was a full size target stand to capture the imagination of those who wannabe Cowboys. That turned out to be much easier than I had imagined and you can duplicate my full sized target getup with minimal materials and tools.
The uprights and feet are made from 2×2 pine, the two cross members (secured with wing nuts) made from 2×4 pine, the 16 inch “cowboy ovals” are 3/8” plywood, and I used 3/8” dowels as hangers for the Cowboy Ovals.
I downloaded a bow legged cowboy silhouette from the internet, and stapled three plastic margarine lids to the top edge of the cross members as supports for the tin cans. It was time for Butch Cassidy and his ilk to answer for their lawless behavior in Wyoming!
True center fire Cowboy Action games usually include four guns. The Cowboy Action competitor engages his/her targets with two Colt Peacemaker style revolvers, one Winchester Model 94 style Lever Action Carbine, and a vintage exposed hammer pump or side by side shotgun.
But to be honest, the shotguns are an afterthought and are easily eliminated from the routine. And for our pellet gun games, one revolver works nearly as well as two. You get fewer shots, but the cowboy re-enactment is nearly as much fun with one revolver and one single action carbine.
So I contacted Marshall Kenny Hittum, Wyoming Whiskers and Iron Burner to join me, Sundance Harry, in a few rounds of Cowboy Action with the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle and Umarex’s Colt Peacemaker Pellet revolver.
Cowboy Action shooters like to use lever rifles and revolvers chambered for the same cartridge. In center fire, many choose 45 Long Colt as the cartridge of choice. So having two pellet guns “chambered” for the same 0.177 cal. pellet made ammunition procurement simple.
The natural choice was RWS 7.0 grain Meisterkugeln pistol fodder, as both guns gave top performance with these high quality German pellets.
Just a brief word about Cowboy Action technique with a lever action carbine. If you’ve ever done any wing shooting with a pump shotgun, the challenges are similar.
After executing the first shot, the shooter needs to maintain head position on the comb of the stock while another round of ammunition is cycled into the chamber. Many shooters instinctively raise their head or, lower the gun between shots. But for maximum efficiency the eyes remain fixed on the target, and maintain alignment with the sights while the next round of ammunition is cycled with the lever.
The Walther Lever Action Air Rifle is the perfect gun to practice this technique.
When a Long Gun and a Hand Gun are used in Cowboy Action, the long gun must be staged in such a way as to be easily and SAFELY accessed by the competitor immediately after the last empty handgun is holstered.
We have old utility cable spools on our Cowboy range to serve both as a loading table and a long-gun staging table, but any stable wood table structure will work fine. Lay a soft cloth or pelt on the table to protect your guns, and always have a designated Cowboy/Range officer on hand to supervise the loading and the staging of the guns. SAFETY FIRST – ALWAYS #1.
Set up your target stand with a positive backstop and all observers well behind the firing line. Position the shooter 5-7 yards distant form the targets wearing eye protection. The loading/staging table should be just to the right of the shooter.
(Note: We staged our rifle loaded, but with the hammer decocked. The Cowboy must work the lever before shooting the first shot.)
Marshall Kenny Hittum demonstrates the appropriate transition from handgun to rifle…
The range officer and timer stands directly behind the cowboy, and gives a command to begin. The timing starts at this point. The Cowboy engages the targets with the revolver according to your predetermined sequence and after the fifth shot*, holsters the empty revolver and engages the targets with the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle.
For our rifle sequence, we ask the Cowboy to sweep the Oval Cowboy targets left to right, and then back left, ending with attempts to pick off the soup cans with the remaining three rounds. The cowboy is timed from the initial command to begin shooting with the Colt, until the eighth shot is fired from the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle.
A really competitive score by an experienced Cowboy Action shooter would be 12 seconds or less. Your average cow poke will do well to klunk the Cowboy Ovals and plink off the soup cans in 18-24 seconds. Wannabe Cowboys will rack up scores of over 30 seconds plus penalty seconds for their missed shots.
The Cowboy Ovals are easy to hit employing “instinctive (Poke ‘n’ Hope)” shooting technique, but more precise sight alignment is necessary to pick off the soup cans. I had my Chuckwagon Cowgirl time me, and on average it took about 19 seconds to execute 13 shots. Don’t forget to add five penalty seconds for missed shots.
Reliability and Performance
Marshall Kenny Hittum and Iron Burner were truly impressed with the performance of the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle on tin cans. The cans looked more like they had been smacked with a slug from a center fire cartridge than by a 0.177 cal, 7.0 grain pellet from the Walther. A direct hit never failed to spin the can off of the target stand, adding a degree of realistic animation to our Cowboy simulation.
The occurrence of jams and misfires can be a serious problem with multiple shot rifles.
I fully expected the occasional dry fire where the gun emits CO2 but a pellet isn’t discharged from the barrel. But the only time our Cowboys experienced a dry fire was when they lost count and attempted to shoot more than 8 shots from the 8 shot magazine. The lever flawlessly rotates the magazine into perfect alignment for each and every shot. Amazing !
After only a few rapid fire sequences with the Walther, I realize my center fire Winchester Model 94 never operated with so little effort. In fact, I painfully remember how my knuckles ached by the time I had executed ten successive shots with the Winchester. I ended up wrapping the lever in fine glove leather to keep from scraping my knuckles raw. I didn’t find that necessary with the Walther.
We used the same CO2 cartridge throughout the test. The Cowboy Action sequences were filmed 7 weeks after the initial accuracy and velocity testing, in 49 degree Michigan fall temperatures. Well over 200 shots were fired during the entire test, and shots at the end still had sufficient energy to blow huge holes “clean through” our soup cans and bury themselves completely in the plywood.
This is one Solidly Engineered gun. Great Job, Walther!
Thanks for joining us at Ranch Laramy, and allowing us to share our experiences with the Walther Lever Action Air Rifle. On behalf of Wyoming Whiskers, Marshall Kenny Hittum, Sundance Harry and Iron Burner, we hope you’ve enjoyed our flight of fantasy into America’s Wild West where we tried to capture the spirit and romanticism of Cowboy Action Shooting.
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Walther Lever Action Air Rifle
*See Part Two of my Colt Peacemaker review to understand why Cowboy Action shooters only load five rounds in their six shot revolvers, and to review important Rules critical to SAFE participation in the sport.