Mike Morton scopes out the Weihrauch HW 95K, which ditches the open sights of the original 95 version, and adds a moderator instead
Maker: Weihrauch, Germany
UK Distributor: Hull Cartridge
Model: HW 95K
Type: Spring-piston break-barrel
Calibre: .177 and .22, with .20 and .25 available as a special order
Overall Length: 114cm with moderator, 100cm without
Barrel Length: 31cm
Stock: Ambidextrous sporter
Length of Pull: 36cm
Trigger: Two-stage, adjustable
Trigger Weight: 2lb 66oz
Safety: Automatic, resettable
It’s no secret that piston-powered rifles are more demanding than their PCP counterparts, and the hunt is always on to find a sublime springer that lets you eke out the maximum performance it has to offer. A springer that’s as mild-mannered as possible during the firing cycle will minimise recoil and maximise your chance of making a precise shot – and that’s just as necessary for experienced shooters as it is for newcomers to the sport.
This all sounds simple enough, but rifles are a bit like people: some you’ll never get on with, some will be no more than friendly acquaintances, while some others you’ll take to straight away and will become friends for life.
The latter is how it was for me with the Weihrauch HW 95K. While I’ve been shooting Weihrauch break-barrels since my childhood, I’d not shot a 95K until last year. I was impressed by its build quality and the ease with which I could just pick it up and shoot it. But that was another shooter’s gun that I’d borrowed. Were they all as good as this? It was time for a closer look. Enter the review rifle.
Not all HW 95s are created equal. The HW 95 has been around since 1995 – hence the name – with shooters being offered the choice of open sights and at least two different stock combinations; but the model that’s available in the UK is the 95K (Karbine) variant, which loses the irons, making it a scope-only affair. This a great trade-off, however, because the barrel is not only threaded, but comes ready fitted with a regular Weihrauch moderator as part of the £340 package.
The stock is fairly typical of the rifle as a whole, being slim and elegant, yet purposeful and professional. This is a hunting rifle that can be used as a high-end plinker; as such, the stock is not adjustable, but what features are present should fit most people, most of the time. The contoured butt pad is made of a super-grippy rubber, which means it’s going nowhere once it’s in your shoulder. The stock is ambidextrous, with a raised cheekpiece that stands proud on both sides.
My only real quibble with the rifle was the height of the cheekpiece. I fitted a relatively small scope, but it did have a 50mm objective lens, and I consequently found my head position to be a little too low to achieve a perfect eyeline. If the review rifle was my own, I’d want to get hold of a smaller scope and try that. However, a fellow shooter who used this rifle found the stock fitted him perfectly, even though he’s shorter than me, meaning his head position and eyeline should have been lower than mine. This just goes to show how no particular stock, mount and scope combination is going to be the same for every shooter, as our height, physical proportions and the way we hold a rifle all vary so much.
One element I really liked about the stock was the rake of the grip and the fact that although no dedicated thumb shelf is present, it’s easy to adopt a thumb-up hold, as the area immediately behind the action is flat. If you’ve never shot thumb-up, it’s well worth giving it a go. With my choice of scope on board, the overall centre of balance was perfect, just in front of the trigger guard.
Another feature I liked is the quality of the metalwork, with the fit, finish and bluing all of an incredibly high standard. One very unscientific test that’s often applied to springers is to shake the rifle vigorously and check for any rattles. The HW 95K is reassuringly solid, with no hint of any slack joints or sloppy fitting components. The dovetail rail is a generous 15.5cm long, and three locator holes are provided to position a stop-pin in your mounts. It used to be the case that a one-piece set of mounts would be the natural choice for a springer, but there’s really no need on a rifle as mild-mannered as this: two-piece mounts are fine. But more on the rifle’s firing characteristics later.
Although the 95K has a carbine-length barrel, cocking is easy. The lock-up is solid, so it’s best to give the back of the moderator a sharp tap to crack open the barrel, after which I found the actual cocking effort to be minimal. The moderator itself offers extra leverage, so I tried cocking the gun without the moderator fitted and found it just as easy to cock – and this is a full-power rifle, delivering nearly 11.4 foot-pounds with my chosen pellets. Cocking the rifle also sets the safety, which just needs to be pushed from left to right to disengage when it’s time to take a shot.
I usually zero my springers at 25 yards, but was confident the HW 95K would perform well, so zeroed at 30. I wasn’t to be disappointed. Springers can sometimes need several hundred shots to bed in and for their firing cycle to become smooth, but the 95 was smooth from the off. Another simple test that can be used to test a springer’s worth is to place a pellet skirt-down on the elevation cap of the scope, take a shot and see whether the pellet stays in place or falls off due to the recoil. I’m happy to say the pellet stayed put every time I carried out this test.
The two-stage Rekord trigger had fairly long first-stage travel before coming to a definite stop, after which the second stage was crisp and free of any creep. I did find its out-of-the-box weight to be a tad heavy at 2lb 6oz, so lightened it to just under 2lb, testing it for safety afterwards by slapping the butt while pointing the rifle in a safe direction. This was only a modest adjustment and remains perfectly safe for hunting, but it made a big difference to my trigger control.
Firing the rifle with the forend resting lightly in the palm of my leading hand, which in turn was resting on a shooting bag, the 95K would happily group under a 10-pence piece – and if I were a better shot with springers, I’m sure this could be tightened even further. Reducing the range to 25 yards saw the groups shrink to one-hole groups less than the size of a five-pence piece – a result with which I’m extremely happy.
But while shooting paper targets when evaluating a new rifle is necessary to see how well both the rifle and shooter are performing together, shooting reactive targets is far more enjoyable. To this end, I proceeded to shoot some coloured chalk discs with a 24mm diameter back at the 30-yard mark – with a 100% success rate in zero wind. I haven’t yet taken the 95K hunting, but have no doubt that it would despatch rabbits – my favourite airgun quarry – with ease.
As for the moderator, it’s true that springers don’t benefit as much as PCPs when it comes to hushing down the sound, but the moddy fitted to the 95K is far more than just an elaborate cocking aid. Shooting the rifle outdoors, especially in an open field rather than the confines of woodland, the moderator seems to make little difference to the noise – which is fairly minimal in any case. But it’s when you shoot the rifle indoors that you appreciate just what a good job that moderator is doing, with the rifle being markedly louder with it removed.
The barrel has 2cm of threading, which is longer than usual, and this means the moderator is not only more solidly attached for cocking, but is less likely to work loose with repeated firing. I did check the moderator every now and then to see if it had started to come loose, as that’s a problem I have had with other springer/moddy combinations in the past; but the HW mod stayed firmly in place throughout.
I left chrono testing until I was on my second tin of pellets – JSB Exact Express in this case – to give the internal components time to settle down. Using weighed pellets of 8.4 grains, the 95 produced a variation of just 7.6 feet per second over 10 shots, with an average muzzle velocity of 781 feet per second to give a muzzle energy of 11.37 foot-pounds. It would be interesting to see if this spread reduced any further after more shooting. I’d love to carry out this test again after a couple of thousand more shots. I’ve known people who’ve fettled their 95s, either using a drop-in kit themselves, or sending them off to be tuned, but I have to wonder whether there’s much to be gained when the rifle is such a smooth operator to begin with.
Love at first shot
Some rifles just feel right from the start, and the Weihrauch HW 95K is one of them. If it’s not love at first sight, it’ll definitely be a case of love at first shot. There is no hint of any harshness in the firing cycle, and this rifle is one of the easiest springers to shoot that I’ve ever had the pleasure to handle. It may be a cliché, but every airgun shooter should have a springer in his or her collection – so put the HW 95K on your shortlist.
Look & Feel: 9
Build Quality: 10
“The Weihrauch HW 95K is impeccably well behaved, with relatively little effort from the shooter required to deliver high levels of performance, so if you think you’re a PCP-only shooter, this rifle could well be the one to tempt you towards piston-power”