Weihrauch HW90 Air Rifle Review .177 Caliber
Testers: Eric Brewer, Stephen Archer
Caliber: 0.177 cal.
Test Date: Oct 24, 2022
Serial Numbers: 2369699
Source of Supply: Airguns of Arizona
Fast and smooth firing cycle.
We Don't Like
Heavy cocking action.
Did we mention the heavy cocking action?
- Value for Money 90%
- Speed and Accuracy 90%
- Trigger and Cocking Effort 70%
- Comparison to Makers Claims:100%
- Consistency 90%
- Noise Level 70%
- Sights 100%
- Shootability 70%
- Appearance and Finish 100%
- Buying and Owning 90%
HARD AIR MAGAZINE TEST CONCLUSIONS
The Weihrauch HW90 is a beautiful, powerful and consistent air rifle. It offers an excellent, light trigger, plenty of power and superb quality of construction.
Traditionalists will love the comprehensive iron sights and the beautiful woodwork. While the limited lifetime warranty from Airguns of Arizona gives the comfort of long-term security.
Then there’s the unique tuning capability for the gas ram that HAM plans to examine in a future review.
The HW90 is a HAM Gold Award-winning air rifle. But potential owners need to know that this is a big, heavy air rifle that’s best suited for a big, strong owner. That cocking effort is a real work-out (but it may be reduced when we lower the gas ram pressure when tuning the gun).
VALUE FOR MONEY
The Weihrauch HW90 air rifle is a remarkable product that’s unique in a number of ways. It’s the German manufacturer’s only airgun with a gas ram powerplant and has been in production for longer than just about any other gas ram-powered air rifle in the market today.
Furthermore, unlike any other gas ram airgun, the HW90 has the built-in capability to change the pressure inside the gas ram – and therefore the power. True, it requires the use of a separate, additional cost, pump and gauge, but it can be done.
This is a traditional-looking, wood and metal breakbarrel air rifle that delivers plenty of power and lots of quality.
At a price of $669.99, it’s clearly in the upper range of pricing for guns of this type, but if you have the physical strength and physique to manage it, the HW90 can be a great choice for the connoisseur.
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SPEED AND ACCURACY
The Weihrauch HW90 air rifle tested by HAM delivered a maximum Muzzle Velocity of 1,320 FPS with 5.0 Grain Predator GTO lead-free pellets. As with most gas ram-powered airguns, the lightest pellets also produced the highest Muzzle Energy of 21.35 Ft/Lbs.
As expected, FPS steadily declined with increasing pellet weight. However, the heaviest – 10.65 Grain – H&N Baracuda Match pellets still generated a strong 17.86 Ft/Lbs of Muzzle energy. They also produced the best accuracy.
This chart gives the full details of performance with the standard HAM suite of test pellets.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|Predator GTO 5.0 Grain||1,322 FPS||21.35 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||1,296 FPS||20.74 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||1,118 FPS||19.42 Ft/Lbs||Poor.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||1,063FPS||19.82 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|JSB Exact Diabalo 8.44 Grain||1,034 FPS||20.06 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||1,014 FPS||19.73 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|H&N Baracuda Match 10.65 Grain||868.98 FPS||17.86 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested|
At 25 Yards, HAM Tester Eric Brewer achieved sub-1-ich groups for 10 shots, as can be seen from the target below. Eric felt that the gun had more accuracy to give, however he produced multiple test targets with almost-identical group sizes.
Weihrauch emphasizes that the HW90 requires a break-in period of several hundred shots before peak performance is attained. That’s definitely in line with Eric’s feelings that accuracy could well improve with time!
Given the high power capabilities of the HW90, we tried an experiment when conducting this test. Shooting slugs!!!
At 10 Yards, the group size was very good, as we can see from this test target. But we also see the significantly-reduced Muzzle Energy of just 13.52 Ft/Lbs and the 695 FPS velocity.
Undoubtedly this is due to the large bearing area of the slug body in the barrel causing large frictional losses. It mirrors the results HAM found when testing slugs with a .22 caliber PCP.
However, out at 25 Yards, the 10-Yard group size for the same Daystate Howler slugs gave CTC measurements of 1-Inch horizontally and 1.25-Inches vertically. Oh well, it was a good try…
The recommendation is clearly to stick to pellets rather than slugs, in spite of the HW90’s considerable size and power!
TRIGGER AND COCKING EFFORT
Unlike other Weihrauch springers, the HW90 does not use the company’s famed “Rekord” trigger. Instead there’s an “Elite” trigger, with the automatic safety in front of the trigger guard.
However Eric Brewer found the trigger to be very smooth and easy to use. There was a clear two-stage feel and the release was very consistent and predictable. This is good!
Then the average Trigger Pull Weight (TPW) was just 1 Lb 11.5 Oz. Yes, really!!!
That’s probably the lowest pull weight that HAM has ever recorded for a breakbarrel air rifle!
However, that light, easy trigger was offset by the extremely high effort required to cock the gun.
Having a gas ram action, the cocking effort did not increase through the stroke of rotating the barrel. It was high right from the start and continued there!
HAM measured a cocking effort of no less than 45 Lbs. That’s approximately 10 Lbs heavier than for the HW 80 we tested back in 2018.
But – there’s a big but! The subject of this HAM test review was tested at maximum pressure in the gas ram. While that gives the most power, it also causes the cocking effort to be highest, too.
As the Weihrauch HW90 air rifle has that unique adjustable gas ram feature, the cocking effort would be reduced – possibly significantly – if the gun was tuned to perform best with mid-weight lead pellets – say the 8.64 Grain H&N Field Target Trophies.
That’s something we hope to investigate in a future story…
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
The manufacturer’s website indicates that the maximum Muzzle velocity of the Weihrauch HW90 air rifle is up to 330 meters/second. That translates to 1083 FPS.
It’s clear that the gun tested by HAM exceeded the manufacturer’s claims with all pellets of 7.0 Grains and lighter.
Weihrauch also claims a fast lock time for the HW90, together with reduced recoil, due to the gas ram. HAM Tester Eric Brewer certainly agreed with these claims. He found the gun to discharge rapidly once the sear released and that the recoil was well-absorbed by the gun.
The Weihrauch HW90 air rifle tested by HAM demonstrated superb consistency of Trigger Pull Weight. Not only was the pull weight light, but the test results varied imperceptibly from shot-to-shot.
The minimum TPW recorded in this test was 1 Lb 9.8 Oz. The maximum 1 Lb 12 Oz. That level of consistency is on-par with the best PCPs HAM has ever tested!
The average Standard Deviation – shot to shot variation across a string – was 6.37 FPS across the standard range of HAM test pellets. It fell to just 2.82 FPS for the H&H Field Target Trophy pellets.
As a traditional, un-silenced air rifle, the Weihrauch HW90 air rifle gives an average level of report, appropriate to its power level.
Note that the ultra-light, alloy pellets were distinctly LOUD, however! This is because they traveled at greater than the Speed of Sound (around 1,100 FPS) and so produced a sonic boom.
No silencer or shroud would make any difference to this noise level, it’s simply a function of the velocity achieved by the ultra-light pellets from this magnum air rifle in .177 caliber.
Most lead pellets did stayed under the Speed of Sound and so were much quieter. And, of course, this issue would not apply to larger calibers where the maximum Muzzle Velocity would be less than 1,100 FPS.
SIGHTS AND SCOPE
There are plenty of airgunners who like to shoot using iron sights. For these people, the Weihrauch HW90 air rifle is a joy because it’s fitted with a serious set of traditional open sights. There’s not a fiber optic element to be seen!
The front sight comprises a hooded housing with interchangeable elements. In fact, the manufacturer includes no less than six different interchangeable elements. These are easily interchanged and give the owner a wide variety of options for open-sight shooting.
The rear sight is click-adjustable for elevation and windage, of course.
In addition, the Weihrauch HW90 air rifle can also be fitted with a scope.
The rear of the compression tube is machined with standard airgun rails and there’s no less than three deep scope stop holes. These allow for flexibility in scope mount positioning based on scope size and the user’s eye relief requirements.
For this HAM test review, we mounted a Hawke 4-12 x 40 AO scope on the HW90 using a solid, one-piece Leapers UTG mount. This scopes fairly light but has good optical quality and an Adjustable Objective (AO) for focusing down to 10 Yards.
At 12.9-Inches overall length, this is far from the longest scope that it’s possible to mount on the HW90. There was still 1.5 inches gap between the front of the scope and the rear of the barrel, giving plenty of flexibility for scope placement or installing a longer scope.
To obtain a nice low eyeline, we combined a Medium height mount with this one-Inch tube scope. Everything worked-out perfectly, with minimum clearances all round, yet no contact from the scope’s turret box or focusing ring.
The Weihrauch HW90 air rifle is a solidly-built air gun and the weight reflects that. The all-up weight of the test gun and scope was 11 Lbs 5 Oz. This, combined with the heavy weight and long overall length of 45.25 Inches, means that the HW90 is best-suited to a strongly-built shooter. This is not a kid’s gun!
The HW90 air rifle has a simple, classic design. The stock is simple yet comfortable. Although there’s no modern touches such as an adjustable comb to the stock, it was comfortable for the HAM testers to shoot.
Note that the HW90 has a stock design that favors right-handed shooters with it’s cheek rest. However it can be shot by left-handers also, as “lefty” HAM tester Eric Brewer confirmed!
The stock is fitted with a comfortable rubber recoil pad and this further aids in taming the relatively mild recoil of the Weihrauch HW90 air rifle.
The comprehensive owner’s manual gives a range of good advice for successful shooting. We followed it, and so should any shooter!
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
The HW90 is an air rifle that exudes quality. Metal finish is exemplary, bluing is deep and even. The Italian Minelli stock is gracefully-shaped and has panels of sharply-executed checkering in the Beech wood, both around the wrist and forend.
We also like the deep – almost black – effect of the blueing and the perfect, polished finish of the metal parts. This is typical for all the Weihrauch-manufactured airguns HAM has ever tested.
BUYING AND OWNING
The Weihrauch HW90 air rifle is available in the USA 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 HW90 in every big box sporting goods store around the country.
Then there’s that unique power adjustment system to consider!
Adjusting the pressure inside the gas ram requires the purchase of a dedicated Weihrauch pressure gauge. There’s also a special high pressure hand pump that’s necessary if you want to increase the pressure inside the gas ram during the tuning process.
What sort of pressure is in the gas ram? According the the factory, it’s typically around 23 to 24 bar (approximately 330 to 350 PSI).
HAM will be investigating this gas ram tuning capability in a forthcoming article.
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 aso you’ll need to pay attention!
Airguns of Arizona provides an outstanding limited lifetime warranty on the HW90. 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 swivel studs fitted to the stock – particularly given the weight of the gun.
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