Mike Morton gets his hands on Weihrauch’s new compact carbine, the HW 110 STK, to find out whether small really is beautiful
Maker: Weihrauch, Germany
Test gun supplier: Hull Cartridge
Model: HW110 STK
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Calibre: .177 (on test), .22
Overall length: 87.5cm including moderator
Barrel length: 24cm
Weight: 2.6kg (regular HW110 ST is 3.1kg)
Stock: Synthetic sporter with soft-touch finish
Sights: Scopeonly, Picatinny rail
Length of pull: 35.5cm
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Safety: Manual, resettable
Muzzle Energy 11.2 ft-lb
Weihrauch’s HW 110 ST pretty much became an instant hit upon release, and the German firm has now followed the initial model with a new carbine version, the HW 110 STK. The most obvious changes are the length of the barrel, the air cylinder and the forend, but a few other tweaks have been made too.
The STK, which is expected to be available in gun shops as you read this, will initially be offered in a choice of .177 – as seen here – and .22. There’s the possibility of a .20 calibre version coming at a later date, which is what happened with the regular ST model.
Downsizing can mean sacrificing one or more features – usually shot count – in order to create a smaller package like this. So why would you want a gun like this in the first place? Well, when you’re out stalking all day, sometimes the rifle that felt light at the beginning of the session is now starting to weigh a bit more heavily in your arms or on your shoulders. Or maybe you’re trying to squeeze yourself into a confined space like a hide, and that full-length rifle is proving awkward to handle, with the barrel slapping around and getting in the way. In cases like these, a regular-sized rifle can be just too long and too heavy, and picking up something smaller and lighter could well be the way to go.
Just like the regular HW 110 ST (Soft Touch), the ambidextrous stock of the STK (Soft Touch Karbine) is wood with a soft overcoat, making it feel grippy while protecting the woodwork underneath by shrugging off the worst of the weather. The stock has a pronounced cheekpiece, and while it’s not adjustable, it is high enough to work well with sensibly sized hunting scope and mount combinations. Moving forward, there’s a shallow thumb shelf above the pistol grip, encouraging the use of the thumb-up hold rather than the conventional wraparound grip. There’s just a hint of palmswell, which felt comfortable to me despite the fact that I have tiny hands.
If you’re already used to the regular ST, the stock on the K will be very familiar, as both are identical until you reach the forend, with the K’s being cut shorter. This is a smart move, because while the rifle has been made shorter and lighter overall, it’s still very much an adult gun, not a junior, with the same shape and size of butt and length of pull as before. Having said that, teenagers and slightly built adults will certainly appreciate the reduction in weight to 2.6kg on the STK compared with 3.1kg for the ST – a saving of half a kilo.
Another shared component that’s near-identical to the ST is the action, which is made of ballistic polymer. This choice of material can send some shooters into an uproar, but it’s been around for a very long time: members of the US Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams were issued polymer-framed handguns back in the Second World War. Companies like Heckler & Koch and Glock went on to refine the use of polymer, and the materials used today are tough, versatile and reliable, so I have no complaints about the polymer components on the HW 110 series.
As with the ST, scoping up the K is taken care of via a polymer Picatinny rail. I’m a huge fan of this system because it’s solid and secure, and scope removal and refitting is very precise because the mounts are being slotted back in exactly the same place as before. A small rifle like this really benefits from a smaller scope, so I fitted an MTC Viper Connect. Whatever scope you choose to use, make sure the objective bell doesn’t get fouled by the chunky polymer barrel band. If it does, you’ll need to fit either higher mounts or a scope with a smaller objective lens. A small section of Picatinny rail, this time made of metal, is attached to the forend – primarily for fitting a bipod, but it could just as easily be used to mount
a torch or laser.
As with the ST, the trigger guard and blade of the STK are also made of ballistic polymer, while the magazine release lever and safety catch are metal, but this time finished in black instead of natural metal. The trigger blade has a very shallow curve and a slightly rounded surface. Anyone shouting out for a metal blade should really give this a try first as I found it a delight to use, feeling comfortable under the pad of my finger and giving great feedback. The trigger itself was similarly well-behaved.
Trigger-pull on the test rifle was set to a very light 10.3oz out of the box, making it fantastic for the range, but too light for hunting – although that’s no problem because it’s easy enough to adjust. First-stage travel was clean, coming to a definite stop, and second-stage let-off was predictable and crisp.
Two 10-round magazines are supplied, and it’s important to insert the pellets from the correct side – this being the one with the circular cut-out. Inserting the loaded magazine into the action of a 110 can feel both a little stiff and a little tricky at first, but the action gets slicker with use, and muscle memory soon takes over with practice. You need to cock the rifle, leave the sidelever open, then simultaneously hold the magazine release lever up while slotting the mag in from the right, after which the lever should click back into its rested position. If it doesn’t, just rotate the magazine clockwise until it’s re-engaged.
If you look carefully at the side of the magazine you’ll see a silver index marker, and this is great for keeping count of the shots you’ve fired. Before you start shooting, turn the mag clockwise (it can only be turned one chamber anti-clockwise) until you see the marker appear on the left-hand side of the action in a position that you can easily recognise. I like to line up the marker with the bottom of the horizontal groove that’s been machined into the action. The magazine will rotate clockwise as you fire and recock, and when the marker reappears in its starting position you know you’ve taken your last shot.
The indexing system prevents double-loading, and works extremely well. Operating the sidelever will not advance the magazine until you’ve actually taken a shot. The only way you can end up double-loading is by user error, if you open the lever and manually rotate the magazine when one pellet is already chambered.
Weihrauch includes its standard moderator with the STK. It’s a very efficient unit, but does add to the overall length. I’d love to see the company develop a shorter moderator for use on carbines such as the STK, with the understanding of a trade-off inevitably being a decrease in its noise-reduction capabilities.
Shouldering the STK is a real joy, with the point of balance immediately under the trigger guard with the scope I had fitted. This neutral point of balance, combined with its diminutive dimensions, makes the STK a fast-handling little rifle.
Shooting the STK is also a joy. Some rifles fight you at first before settling down to become good performers, but this one felt right and functioned well from the outset. The first pellet I tried was the new H&N Baracuda FT. Mine weighed 9.8 grains and the average muzzle velocity was 717.5 feet per second, working out to a comfortable 11.21 foot pounds. A 10-shot string put over the chrono showed a variation of 4.8 feet per second – a truly excellent result. It performed well in the accuracy stakes too, with sub-five pence piece groups being easy to achieve when the rifle was shot rested.
The full-sized HW 110 ST delivers a factory-stated count of 110 shots in .177, so I was keen to see by how many shots the little STK would be reduced. With the recommended 200 bar fill, I began shooting at a single target – my favourite for this type of work being a 1-inch Target Spot – and began drilling a single-hole group. At my set zero distance of 30 yards, the STK was still producing a one-hole group after seven magazines’ worth of pellets – 70 shots – which is testament to a wonderfully flat power curve.
Another five shots still landed in the same group before the 76th started to wander, which is a pretty decent result for a gun with such a relatively small air cylinder. I’ve heard people ask why a high shot-count is necessary on a hunting rifle where you’re unlikely to shoot more than a few rabbits in any one session. But having more shots gives you the versatility to use the rifle on the range – or even an impromptu plinking session in the countryside at the end of your hunt.
Three areas always give me cause for concern on shorter rifles such as the STK, so I was happy to tick off each in turn here. First of all, despite the fact that the forend has been reduced in length, there’s still plenty of space for you to place your leading hand, although you may need to fold a couple of fingers over the Picatinny rail depending on your build and the type of hold you adopt.
Secondly, it’s easy to shoot the STK off a bipod, and having the ability to do so out of the box is a welcome addition. Finally, that shortened forend is still long enough to enable the rifle to be shot off sticks, which is something I did a lot when testing the review rifle.
This little rifle handles beautifully, with the test gun turning in some spectacular results both on target and over the chrono. If you don’t need the additional shot count of the full-size HW 110, the STK deserves to have a place on your shortlist.
Look & Feel: 8
Build Quality: 9
“The HW 110 STK is an accurate rifle that’s smaller and lighter than its bigger brother. If you can live with it, the admittedly lower shot count is a fair price to pay for its superb handling characteristics”