The Weihrauch HW 66 Production rifle in .22LR.
First impressions out of the box were that this rifle looks better close up than the advertising photos. It has a carbine look and feel to it, despite the 22 inch barrel. The heavier tapered barrel, clean of sights, married to a walnut stock in the American style, appealed to my eye. The rifle was pointy and had good balance. The bluing is excellent and combined with a walnut stock showing nice grain and figure, the rifle has that rich classical look to it.
The action felt tight but smooth. After a firing a couple of hundred rounds through it I could feel the action starting to develop a silky, smooth feel to it without any loss of tightness. This is a rifle that would just get slicker and slicker with use.
The chamber is cut to precise dimensions to suit European manufactured cartridges I reckon, as some of the American made ammo was slightly tight to chamber. I don’t have a problem with that and it probable contributes to the rifle’s inherent accuracy.
Free of mounts and scope the rifle weighed 3.15 kilograms and had a total length of 1045mm. The test rifle was provided by the Australian agents, Alcock and Pierce.
The barrel is made from button drawn steel and is 22 inches (560mm) in length. It has a medium weight straight taper from 22mm at the chamber to 16mm at the muzzle. There are no open sights fitted. Like the receiver, it has a deep, glossy blued finish.
Receiver and Bolt
The receiver is milled from a single piece of steel. As you would expect from an item of German engineering, particularly gun smithing, the finish is precise and smooth. The bolt has a knurled knob which offers excellent grip. The bolt handle sits out well enough for quick access too. Bolt lift is a snappy 58°. The bolt face and extractor are typical rimfire design, no nonsense and functional. Extraction and ejection of spent cases was positive. There is a distinctive red cocking indicator that protrudes from the back of the bolt, easy to see and also distinctive to the touch for night shooting.
The action is mounted into the stock with fore and aft sleeved pillars which position the barrel and receiver nicely in line with the stock channel. It would be relatively easy to bed the action but that would not appear to offer any benefits in this particular set up. Dovetail slots and tapped holes for Weaver style bases provide a choice of scope mounting approaches.
The magazine holds five rounds and is solidly made. It locks into position with a directness that matches the rest of the rifle. A push up latch holds the magazine firmly in place.
Trigger and Safety
The test rifle featured an adjustable match trigger. The Weihrauch HW 66 Production rifle comes with another option, that of a fixed 1.4 kilogram weight of pull trigger. The instruction manual stated in large print that the adjustable trigger had been set at an optimum weight in the factory and recommended not making any further adjustments to it. Normally I would ignore that and set the trigger to minimum before going to the range. However, given that it was a match trigger, I figured I would err on the side of caution. A wise move as it turned out.
The adjustable trigger was two stage and transitioned from the initial pull to the release with only the hint of any extra weight and without any creep at all. At the first range session I was consistently surprised at the trigger release, more on that below. Once home I got out my trigger scales to find that the trigger was releasing at a crisp 6 to 7 ounces. Now, that is a match trigger! Well, I certainly did not want to lighten the trigger, that was for sure. There are two adjusting screws for the trigger. I played around with both of those and increased the weight of pull to about one pound (16 ounces). It was still creep free and crisp.
The safety is a two position type, located just behind the bolt. It features positive selection with a noiseless, lateral function.
The stock is walnut, showing some nice timber grain patterns. The finish is a low sheen matt, reminiscent of the oil finish that was very popular many years ago. Inletting of the barrel channel provides a couple of millimetres float for the barrel, no chance of any pressure points there. As described above, the action is pillar mounted. The stock internals have been further inletted below the barrel channel, which would reduce weight and provide a bit more rigidity.
The style of the stock is that of the so called American look. It looks much more like a hunting rifle than a target rifle with that configuration of stock. There is some right hand palm swell on the pistol grip as well, to add to the feel and comfortable fit of the rifle. The stock was fitted with a black rubber recoil pad.
Off the Bench
Straight up I have to say this rifle shoots much better than I do. The light two stage match trigger of the Weihrauch 66 highlighted an ingrained habit of mine that was not conducive to extracting the rifle’s full accuracy potential. It seems that just on the point of releasing a shot I pause briefly, with slight pressure on the trigger, for any minute final sighting corrections and then complete the release. The silky smooth two stage trigger of the Weihrauch, at 7 ounces of trigger pull, caught me time and time again, even when I knew what was happening. I blew a number of otherwise excellent groups with fliers due to that.
My range testing was done over 50 metres during blustery weather with strong and variable winds; not ideal for shooting 22LR groups. Also, I was bench testing a Weatherby Magnum at the same time and filling in the periods while the Weatherby cooled down with the 22. The Weatherby’s trigger was set at 21/4 pounds pull. Going from one rifle to the other was, in hindsight, not wise.
My bad habits aside, the rifle turned in some excellent tight groups. It seemed to do best with CCI and Federal ammunition from the variety of fodder I gave it. Again, and surprisingly, as I have seen in other 22LR rifles, the Weihrauch turned in some cracker groups with the high velocity CCI Velocitor hollow point hunting rounds. The accuracy from the CCI MiniMags was adequate for hunting too, but not quite as sharp as the Velocitors.
The match trigger version of the Weihrauch HW 66 Production rifle, in the hands of an accomplished benchrest shooter used to extra light triggers, would be capable of outstanding accuracy I am sure.
In the Field
I did not take the 66 Production out hunting as I felt that the match trigger pull weight was too light for that application.
The Weihrauch HW 66 Production is a classically stylish rifle featuring a nice walnut stock and deeply blued metal work. It balances and handles well. The functionality of the rifle is smooth and precise. It shoots tight groups with a variety of ammunition.
The rifle comes in two versions; the match trigger model and another with a field trigger that has a set weight of pull at 1.4 kilograms. I would recommend that for any intended field use it would be wise to choose the 1.4 kilogram trigger model. I reckon that would be fine for range and target work as well. For pure range work, in the hands of an experienced target shooter seeking every competitive advantage, the match trigger model would be the obvious choice.
Australian Retail pricing in 2016 was around the $1100 to $1200 mark but, as always, it pays to shop around for any better deal.