Thursday, 24 November 2011


I'm currently testing the brand new HW101 sidelever-operated PCP from German gunmaking maestros, Weihrauch. UK importers, Hull Cartridge Co., have sent me the first unit to arrive in the UK - and though I've got plenty more testing to do before I feel qualified enough to print a thorough report in Airgun Shooter magazine, my early impressions are most favourable.

The HW101 is the production version of the HW100X 'prototype' which I was first shown at this year's British Shooting Show; it was intended as a single-shot derivative of the 14-shot-magazine'd HW100. Thankfully, Weihrauch took on board my (and others') suggestion that 101 would be a more appropriate name - because although it's clearly a stablemate of the HW100, the HW101 is different enough to warrant a standalone moniker.

It's coming into the UK in only the one guise - 'KT' format, meaning Karbine (short barrel) and a thumbhole stock... which, in the case of the HW101, is in beech. I guess Weihrauch are trying to keep the pricepoint down, given the current flat-state of the more expensive precharged pneumatic market.

The HW101 is very compact rifle, with a barrel just 310mm long! It'll rival the BSA Ultra and I've already been in conversation with BSA's new MD, Martin Lowe, to set up a head-to-head in early 2012. It should be a good battle, because I already know the Ultra's no mean performer - and, as I alluded to earlier, the HW101 has got all the hallmarks that made the HW100 (Weihrauch's inaugural PCP model) such a success in the UK.

I suppose you have to ask the question 'why?' - because multi-shots are much more fun, right? Well, there's actually quite a following for single-shot pneumatics. Competition shooters prefer them, and many hunters prefer to 'feel in' each shot. I do, only running the magazines on my Daystate Air Wolf and Theoben Elan if I'm out lamping (where it does away with fumbling for pellets in the dark), or ratting (where a quick second shot is often needed).

And I've got to say that single-shot versions of PCPs designed as multi-shot guns are often just that little more accurate, by virtue of the fact that the pellet doesn't have to 'jump' between the magazine and the breech proper. 

In the HW101's case, my groups at 40 yards certainly appear to be holding tighter than those I shot with the HW100 FSB test model just over a year ago. This may just be because the barrel likes the ammo I'm using - Daystate RangeMaster Li - but, whatever, it's certainly confidence-inspiring. For such a little gun, it's capable of a really big performance.

Ahead of the comprehensive report I'll be filing in an imminent issue of Airgun Shooter magazine, here's a brief snap shot of Weihrauch's new sidelever from AirgunTV, with the emphasis on that all-new breech set-up:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


You may remember that, last Christmas, I was able to give away Airgun Shooter mugs to readers of the magazine - and I'm feeling no less generous this year!

Airgun Shooter Xmas Edition - NOW ON SALE!
The Christmas Special edition of the UK's only award-winning airgun magazine is now on sale in newsagents (subscribe here, or get a virtual copy sent to your computer by searching 'Airgun Shooter' in either iTunes or here) - and there's lots of goodies up for grabs.

Two free-to-enter competitions to win over £1,100 worth of prizes - a pair of Stoeger rifle/scope combos with special silencers on, and a Daystate Huntsman PCP.

You can claim a free Airgun Shooter mug when you spend over £30 in the magazine's Media Store - where there's a great selection of airgun books and DVDs to tempt you in time for Christmas.

And many of the items in the Airgun Shooter Gift Guide Bonanza have been donated by the suppliers - and the mag can give them away in the run up to Christmas!

So, Airgun Shooter's 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways starts on 1st December, and to be in with a chance of winning one of these donated gifts, simply visit the Airgun Shooter Facebook Page (here) and 'Like' it. 

All of those who have done will go into a random draw that takes place daily between the 1st and 12th of December - and more than a dozen lucky people will get a freebie Christmas gift courtesy of Airgun Shooter magazine and those advertisers who have filled the stocking.

Remember - you must like the Airgun Shooter Facebook Page to be eligible for the free draw. 

(And while you're about it, don't forget to follow the magazine on Twitter, too: @AirgunShooter)

Good luck...  


The new charity airgun hunting DVD - Rise of the Verminators
Si Pittaway - YouTube tag 'Zinaroon' - has told me that he's been able to release his charity airgun hunting DVD, Rise of the Verminators, ahead of schedule.

Available now, it's a riveting, 128-minute long hunting film that's been put together by Si and many of his hunting buddies who regularly post their airgun stuff onto YouTube - but the best news is that all the money goes to charity.

Si is a warrant officer currently serving in the British Forces, so it's no surprise that he's putting all the proceeds from his movie project into services-related charities - primarily Treats4BritishTroops and, also, the more well-known charity Help for Heroes.

I've put Si's Rise of the Verminators trailor up on AirgunTV some time ago, so if you haven't already seen it, go check it out; it gives you a good indication of its diversity of content.

If you'd like to buy this DVD and support a worthwhile cause, then send a minimum donation of £10.99 to his charity PayPal account - To pay by conventional means, contact Si directly via email here.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ultimate AirSoft Experience

Now, I've enjoyed plinking with 'soft' airguns since the early 1990s, but it's really only in recent years that I've become aware of the sport of airsoft - a version of paintballing where plastic BB-firing soft airguns are used instead of CO2-powered paintball chuckers. I say 'aware of' loosely, because I'd not really taken part in a fully-fledged airsoft event. Until last weekend, that is...

I went along to a local 'skirmish' run by Ultimate AirSoft - though it was more a recce trip for me, as I didn't want to take part, just have a look-see what it's all about. Personally, I struggle at pointing any guns in the direction of people - although airsoft guns are, effectively, very low-powered toys which shoot 6mm BBs weighing just 0.2grams, so they're quite harmless.

Run under the well-organised umbrella of UKARA - the United Kingdom Airsoft Retailers' Association - airsofting is a booming business in the UK, as it is in the rest of the world. The event I rolled up at was a regular one (at least twice a month) and was attended by over 120 re-enactors who are keen on the tactical side of the sport, not to mention its historic side. Some of the costume and weaponry was incredibly realistic, right down to the last detail.

I'm still not sure it's something I'd be so keen on taking part in, but I left the event in no doubt that the shooters who participate in games of this type are very serious about what they do - and if it's helping keep the gun industry going in these austere times, then it's certainly no bad thing.

Airsofting is a very well organised sport, and business - and if you've never done it before, or want to know more, the AirgunTV team took along a camera and dared to get right into the heart of the day-long sorties. You can watch it on AirgunTV's YouTube channel here:


Monday, 7 November 2011

Cammo... and the FULL MONTY!

The Jahti-Jakt Membrane Suit in Hardwood - blending in with autumn nicely
I've written about the latest camouflage clothing I've been testing this year in the December 2011 'Xmas Special' issue of Airgun Shooter magazine (virtual copies available here) - so I'm not going to go into too much detail in this Blog post. This is more an update on what I've written in the mag and, of course, there's the promised pic of me in ma undies...

The suit is by Jahti-Jakt, pronounced yark-tee-yart, and is distributed in the UK by Arctic Outdoor. It's a combination of Finnish and Swedish words for 'hunter' and the camouflage has been designed by the accomplished Finnish artist, Kimmo Takarautio, to match the patterns seen in European habitats. J-J call their pattern Hardwood (not to be confused with Realtree's Hardwoods - plural - which is a different pattern altogether).

I'm wearing the suit - jacket and trousers - on just about every hunting trip, and many other field outings to boot. Recent rains have made the ground particularly sodden and, therefore, muddy, but the Membrane Suit (as Arctic  Outdoor call it) has remained extremely water tight. I've sat and knelt in the water-laden long grass, and crawled over terrain that's so soft your elbow dig into the mud underneath, but I've emerged dry and clean... even if the outside of my suit hasn't.

From a practical perspective, both the jacket and trousers have got everything a fieldsman needs - see the printed review I referred to earlier for a more detailed lookaround - but now that a few weeks have passed since press day, I'd like to add how well the clothing is coping as colder spells arrive in the UK. We haven't yet had the 'Siberian winter' that's been forecast - and have had a lot more sunny days than we'd normally expect at this time of year - but I've been kept nice and warm on my outings so far, without getting either too cold or too hot. Mind you, I have been making full use of the underarm vents that easily unzip for extra ventilation.

What I'm particularly enjoying is that I can hunt so freely in the J-J Membrane Suit - its lightweight Air-Tex2 material is terrific at insulating you from the outside while letting the inside 'breathe' that you really don't need to 'bulk up' when you go out and about. Typically, I'm wearing a T-shirt and/or the J-J fleece (which comes as part of a special package deal when you buy the suit right now) - and when the thermometer really dips, or I'm out later in the day, I don the MicroDry underwear (that's also included in that deal).

I'll come clean and say that the underwear - which I can't for the life of me fathom out why is camouflaged, because you'd never go hunting in the nuddy! - is being worn on many occasions: going to the football, when I'm out walking with the kids/camera/wife and, more recently, on bonfire night. It's brilliant. It keeps me warm, dry and by transferring the humidity caused by perspiration to the outer side, smell-free - and its long cuffs and polo-style neck keep they heat in where you're most susceptible to the cold. It's worth every penny of the no-money-whatsoever it costs when you buy the Membrane Suit!
The full monty! Caught with his pants down and Hardwood (oo-er missus!)

And because this inner 'skin' is so lightweight and thin, I've been afforded a degree of mobility that doesn't hinder me at all when I'm out in the field. So clambering over stiles, gates and through narrow gaps in hedges really isn't a problem - and you can't often say that when you go out in your normal thermals and 10 layers of clothing.

As to the camouflage itself, I'm getting great results - even better now we're in to the autumn colours. Static hunting - a common tactic among airgunners - with the in-collar hood up (and a face net and gloves) works brilliantly, especially as the outfit keeps out the cold while you're waiting around for the action to begin.

If I'm totally honest, I'm not convinced that the ScenTech feature - which is supposed to mask the human scent - actually works (nor how it might work), but the cammo has proven itself on many an occasion. While I know many quarry species don't see colours in the same way as we humans do, there's something about J-J's Hardwood that's working - I guess when you look at it mono-chromatically, you can see that it breaks up the human outline extremely effectively. (Doesn't my FWB's barrel stick out like the proverbial sore thumb, though?) 
Looking at it mono-chromatically - perhaps through quarry eyes

I've also snagged the jacket and trousers on brambles and barbed wire a fair bit, but my outfit is still hanging up in my wardrobe devoid of any rips and tears. And, actually, there isn't even a pulled thread to be found - not that I should be surprised mind you. I got the Jahti-Jakt because I know the brand's become a firm favourite among many outdoor professionals - and there's one thing you can be assured of: professionals whose livelihoods depend on them being able to carry out their duties in the worst the weather can throw at them always choose stuff that works.