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: