A pleasure to shoot! Andy McLachlan tries the Walther LGU Master and finds that it’s a firm favourite on the Field Target circuit with good reason
Regular readers will be aware that I recently decided to use a spring-powered rifle for my competition shooting campaign this year. Having had a brand-new rifle fully and professionally tuned does not mean that I am averse to trying other available guns that might suit me more.
Often, a gun just seems to fit better and provide a firing cycle that just seems to be more enjoyable for no apparent reason. I am sure we have all tried guns that we just prefer to use, for whatever reason. These guns tend to be the ones that we reach for first in the cabinet, even though we might possess more expensive guns that tend to be overlooked and are not shot as frequently as they should be.
One of the guns that fitted this ‘nice to shoot’ category for me was a German-made Walther LGU springer that I owned four years ago. It was a truly great gun, but was part-exchanged for a PCP as my never-ending search for the unachievable ‘perfect gun’ continued. I often wonder if I will ever find the perfect gun: I very much doubt it, as I really don’t think one perfect item exists. Like fishing rods, we tend to purchase guns for a particular purpose. This gives many of us the excuse to buy things that we like, but don’t actually need. Still, the search for something that will genuinely allow us to enjoy our free time cannot be a bad thing – if finances allow, of course.
Having spent a considerable time recently shooting nothing but underlever spring-powered rifles, my fading memory reminded me of my old Walther LGU and its undoubted abilities. To draw a comparison with my existing underlever rifles, I really needed to get hold of another LGU. A swift call to the kind folks at Armex (www.armex.co.uk) had a new LGU on its way to me for review.
It would have to be said that even the packaging the gun arrived in is way above the standard of most other manufacturers. The smart grey box gives the owner the impression that their new gun has been treated with care and thought by the manufacturers, as they wish to increase the owner’s perceived value of their purchase. It certainly worked on me, anyway!
The Walther LGU is not the type of gun that would bode well for a youngster: it is most definitely designed to be used by fully grown adults due to its physical size. Weighing in at nearly nine-and-a-half pounds unscoped and at 42 inches long, this is a gun designed to be wielded by shooters able to cope with its physical presence. It must also be remembered, though, that many shooters using spring-powered rifles in competition actually use methods of increasing the overall weight of their guns. This means that they tend to be more stable on aim – providing that you have the strength to maintain this for the duration of a competition, of course!
Taking a closer look at the £399.99 gun, the new owner will not fail to be impressed by the very high standard of bluing to barrel, action and moderator. This is actually just a void and contains no actual sound-dampening materials, but no doubt contributes to the dull thud of the rifle’s discharge signature. Loud it is not!
The stock is a Minelli- manufactured beech item that has clearly been designed by somebody who was aware that the gun would only be used with a scope. This means that the genuinely ambidextrous cheekpiece provides an excellent position for lining up with a scope and is well on the way to the reduction of our enemy, parallax error. Having been spoilt by various walnut stocks on my other underlever rifles, the beech wood of my example was somewhat lacking in graining. That has absolutely no effect on how the stock will aid the shooter to hit the target more frequently, though!
On each side of the stock are grooves that do allow the gun to be picked up safely and securely, providing a good grip. This is aided by the well-chequered pistol grip, which gives the shooter the more target-focused straight-down profile, rather than the raked-back profile noticeable on other German-made guns, for example. This all helps to properly position the rifle for those wishing to use the gun for target shooting, and allows the trigger finger to be better positioned, resulting hopefully in a more comfortable and less strained release of the shot. The Master Pro version of the LGU Master features an adjustable butt pad.
The LGU sports a two-stage trigger unit. Out of the box, it would have to be said that the first stage travel was on the long side. As the trigger on the review gun approached the second stage let-off point, a very minimal amount of creep was noticeable. Actually, that is not really an accurate description. Rather than actual creep, there was a tiny amount of resistance just prior to release. If anything, this just lets the user know that it was about to let go; it was no problem to live with, and did not detract from the trigger’s good performance at all.
In addition to a user handbook that explains the location of the adjuster screws, Walther provides a couple of Allen keys to allow you to fine-tune the trigger to your own preference. Interestingly, here in the good old UK, we are treated to the ‘match’ trigger blade. This differs to the unit fitted to guns bound for Uncle Sam: those blades are made from plastic and contain only one adjustment, rather than the two we find on our own alloy blade, which allows adjustment of both first- and second-stage travel. Well done to Armex for insisting that we got the ‘proper’ trigger blade on official UK imports!
The gun is a fine-looking beast that is only slightly marred by the two strange O-rings on the end of the underlever, which presumably provide some form of shock absorption from any overzealous return of the lever.
So, how does it shoot? Well, because all the internal moving components move on synthetic bearings, the answer would be very smoothly indeed – particularly from a brand-new gun that was not fully bedded in. Walther has designed the action to incorporate the piston diameter dimensions of 25mm: these are the same size as that of the original and, some would argue, best version of the world-famous Weihrauch HW 77, which basically won everything that there was to win in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
As previously mentioned, the ‘rotary’ piston and the compression cylinder both move on synthetic bearings, which reduces any mechanical cocking noises to zero, apart from the clicks of the anti-beartrap safety mechanism. As a result, the cocking action is very smooth and reminiscent of a professionally tuned gun. This overall smoothness is also present when the internal components are moving during the actual firing cycle. The muzzle note is a very muted ‘thud’ in the .177 version I had, and I reckon that the .22 version would be quieter still.
Having spent 15 minutes adjusting the trigger unit to my own preference, all I had to do then was to see if the new LGU was as accurate as the one I owned years ago. I had tested the gun at 775 feet per second using my own chrono with the 8.4 grain JSB Exact pellet, and the new gun certainly gave a superb account of itself downrange. I mounted my Bushnell HFT competition scope and, following a swift zero, the gun printed a group of five shots that would honestly fit under a five-pence piece at 37 yards with all pellet holes touching. It was even possible to track individual pellets during flight as the action was so smooth.
It was noticeable that the Exact pellets were a nice fit in the Lothar Walther 12-inch barrel, but recent bad experiences finding the barrel’s preferred diet in another new gun meant that my search for the ultimate LGU diet will continue – although I doubt that the superb level of accuracy I found straight away can be improved upon very much.
Due to the LGU’s not inconsiderable weight, high-quality barrel and two-stage trigger – presented in a well-shaped stock that positions the shooter properly – accurate results are not hard to achieve. It does not surprise me at all that the Walther LGU has piloted many top-ranked Field Target shooters to tournament glory following its release four years ago.
In my opinion, this gun represents excellent value for money and is very reasonably priced for such a quality gun. I was once again so impressed by the LGU that I bought the review gun myself. A genuine performance bargain!
Thanks to Jade Brown at Armex Ltd (www.armex.co.uk) for organising the test gun