Weihrauch HW100 PCP Air Rifle

German gunsmithing has been widely regarded as outstanding since the early days of firearms.  A good modern example of this is the Weihrauch HW100T Laminated Thumbhole PCP air rifle.   Its unembellished, practical, sleek, dark looks are both ominous and captivating, portraying a sense of the quality and power of this compressed-air pellet rifle.  The SSAA Australian Shooter/Hunter was given the opportunity to review this product.  The Australian agents Alcock and Pierce provided the rifle, a pressure pump and a generous supply of pellets for testing.  The basic HW100 action is available in a variety of versions and three calibres, .177, .20 and .22 inch.

Weihrauch HW100 PCP Air Rifle Specifications

Technical Specification

HW100 – FSB, S and T

HW100 – FSB, SK and KT

Total Length, cm

112.5

98.0

Weight (bare rifle), kg

3.6

2.9

Barrel length, cm

56.0

41.0

Energy Rating J (ft-lbs)

.177” (4.5mm)

.20” (5.0 mm)

.22” (5.5 mm)

 

30 (22.1 ft-lbs)

33 (24.3 ft-lbs)

41 (30.2 ft-lbs)

 

25 (18.4 ft-lbs)

 

35 (25.8 ft-lbs)

Nominal shots per 200 bar recharge of rifle reservoir

.177” (4.5mm)

.20” (5.0 mm)

.22” (5.5 mm)

 

 

35

32

36

 

 

28

 

28

My above comments tell of my first impression when sliding this beauty out of its packing carton.  I fitted it with a Bushnell Engage 6-18×50 scope.  With adjustable parallax down to 10 metres and a fine crosshair reticle, this was an ideal scope for testing the rifle’s accuracy, and for some hunting.  When it quickly became apparent how accurate a rifle the HW100 was, I used it to conduct an extensive test of a great variety of different .22 calibre pellets.  The details of that test are the subject of a separate story.  The outcome though was finding a range of pellets that the rifle preferred.  Top of the list, but only by a tiny margin, were the 14.4 grain JSB Exact Jumbo Express pellets.

Over the chronograph, these pellets delivered a consistent muzzle velocity of 963 fps. I zeroed the rifle for 45 metres.  That gave a trajectory peaking 25mm above my line of sight at 30 metres, dropping 25mm below the line of sight at 55 metres.  For pest shooting and hunting bunnies around farm houses and sheds that is more than adequate range.

The Action

The HW100 is a side-lever repeater.  Stroking the lever cycles a disc-shaped magazine that holds 14 pellets.  The lever action is, as you would expect, silky smooth.  The loading mechanism does not allow double-charging of pellets to the chamber; a particularly useful feature.  Engraved on the action, in precise and clear-cut lettering, is the information that this rifle is rated at 41 Joules of power.  That converts to 30.2 foot-pounds in Imperial units.  I averaged my data from many hundreds of shots fired over the chronograph.  My overall average was 30.3 foot-pounds.  Would you expect anything less from German gunsmithing?

The trigger is a fully-adjustable two-stage match trigger.  Out of the box, it was light and crisp.  There was the barest hint of creep, just before firing, which I found useful in a hunting rifle.  On releasing the trigger, the firing pin (for want of a better term) strikes the gas release mechanism valve actuator and a pre-regulated quantity of compressed air is released behind the pellet.

Weihrauch HW100 PCP Air Rifle

Weihrauch HW100 PCP Air Rifle

The Barrel

The HW100 is available in a number of versions featuring different styling and power levels.  The highest powered model is the actual HW100 itself, which has the longest barrel of 56 cm.  Whether the extra length of barrel or perhaps a greater charge of air, the rifle reaches a 30.2 foot-pounds muzzle energy rating.  The looks of the HW100 are complimented by a ventilated muzzle break which is, of course, purely cosmetic on this rifle.  It is a pity we cannot have moderators here because the HW100 has a sharp crack that would benefit from suppression.  Shooting groups within the confines of the shed, I quickly sort my earmuffs after the first shot!

Weihrauch HW100 PCP Air Rifle

The Stock

The HW100T model has a laminated thumb-hole stock with an adjustable cheek-piece and recoil pad.  The cheek-piece can be adjusted both vertically and laterally.  The butt pad can be adjusted up and down.  This is particularly useful in getting the best possible fit for target shooting.  For hunting, where every shot can be from a different position, I left the stock unadjusted and found that perfectly comfortable in the field.

Charging the Rifle

The Weihrauch HW100 is a PCP air rifle.  That means it is powered by compressed air, highly-compressed air.  The implications of that deserve some explanation for folks who might not appreciate just what that means.  The pressure gauge on the HW100 cylinder indicates that the rifle is designed to operate in the 100-200 bar pressure range.  Once the pressure in the reservoir drops out of the green (100-200 bar) zone into the yellow zone below 100 bar, there is insufficient pressure for the rifle to operate to its rated capacity.  Accuracy and velocity drop off rapidly.

Now, one bar is close enough to one atmospheric pressure (actually 0.9869 atmosphere pressure).  You do not need a degree in physics to appreciate that 200 atmosphere’s pressure is a heck of a lot of pressure.  A 200 bar pressure is equal to 2,900 psi.  To charge the pressure reservoir on this rifle needs specialist equipment.  Your average handyman’s shed compressor won’t come anywhere near the pressure required for this rifle.  Another thing to be aware of is the need to eliminate the water that condenses from air as it is highly compressed.  In fact, Weihrauch recommends that only divers’ compressed air be used because of its clean and dry condition.

Initially, I used the manual pump that the distributors provided.  It was of the advanced, multi-stage design required to reach 200 bar pressure.  It certainly worked well but needed a lot of pumping to charge the rifle reservoir.  I was doing a lot of shooting, as I conducted my big pellet test, and quickly realised I needed to get a scuba tank and filling connection.

I bought a second-hand alloy scuba bottle of 12-litre capacity.  That cost $240 with a re-fill to 200 bar and a 12-month survey.  Be aware that these scuba tanks need to be refilled by dive shops that have the expensive, high-pressure compressors.  A legislated requirement is that any scuba bottles they fill have a current pressure test rating, for obvious safety reasons.  I then needed to spend another $240 on a suitable filling attachment that allowed me to charge the rifle from the scuba tank.  I could have bought a steel 300 bar scuba tank, which would give more refills of the rifle.  However, 300 bar steel bottles are more expensive than 200 bar alloy tanks and would also need an expensive pressure regulator to deliver the 200 bar air to the rifle.

The $480 for the scuba tank and connection should be considered an integral cost of a PCP air rifle.

Off the Bench

The HW100 was a joy to shoot off the bench.  It produced excellent 25 metre, 5-shot, group sizes with a wide range of pellet types, refer table of results.  One thing I discovered is that most of the new poly or metal pointed pellets are too long to fit in the HW100 magazine disc.  I guess the design of the HW100 was done prior to these pointed pellets appearing on the market.

Accuracy Test Results

Pellet results for Weihrauch HW100 PCP

Weight grains

25m group mm

Energy ft-lbs

MV fps

JSB Exact Jumbo Express

14.4

6

29.7

963

H&N Baracuda Accurate Heavy

21.1

7

31.8

824

Diana Exact Jumbo Diablo

15.9

9

30.1

923

H&N Baracuda Green

12.4

10

28.4

1018

H&N Sniper Lite

14.0

10

28.5

957

JSB Exact Jumbo

15.9

10

30.2

925

H&N Sniper Magnum

18.0

10

30.8

878

H&N Piledriver

30.0

11

31.7

690

H&N Sport Field Trophy Target

14.7

11

29.6

953

H&N Baracuda Hunter

18.2

13

30.5

868

H&N Baracuda Power

21.1

13

29.2

789

BSA Target

18.5

13

31.0

868

BSA Blue Star

18.2

13

30.4

867

Skenco UltraShock HP

16.7

16

30.3

904

 

Weihrauch HW100 PCP Air Rifle

In the Field

I took the HW100T out on several bunny hunting forays on a neighbouring farm.  It rolled errant rabbits with consummate ease.  One-shot emphatic kills were the order of the day.  In the still of late afternoon and early evening, any rabbit within my self-imposed maximum range of 55 metres was in dire trouble.  I tried a variety of pellets and all performed well.  However, for all-round use on rabbits and mynah birds, I felt that the 18.2 grain, hollow-pointed, H&N Baracuda Hunter pellets were the most emphatic choice.  While not quite as bench-accurate as other pellets, that was unnoticeable in the field and the hollow-point gave superior terminal ballistic performance.

Summary

The Weihrauch HW100 is a Rolls Royce of air rifles with eye-catching design and smooth functionality.  It delivers high muzzle energy and is accurate with a wide range of pellets.  It will suit both target shooters and small game hunters.  The RRP is $1,892.  To make the most of this wonderful piece of German gunsmithing, prospective buyers should also budget for another $500, which will fully kit them out with a scuba tank and charging connection.

This review was first published in the April 2019, 68th edition of the SSAA Hunter magazine.