Head to Head: PCP or Springer?


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Mark Camoccio goes head-to-head with a pair of £400 air rifles that offer two completely different power systems…

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

As Gamo’s first foray into the world of precharged pneumatics, the Coyote is something of a landmark rifle in the Spanish company’s history. Its designers have achieved an individual feel from what is a fairly conventional PCP layout, with a whole host of features including distinctive woodwork and a 10-shot rotary magazine.

The German-made Weihrauch brand has a deserved reputation for making seriously good airguns that stand the test of time, and the circa 1993 HW97 model is a classic example. Pick it up… and you’re left in no doubt that this traditional, adult sporter is engineered to last. Against the Coyote, though, the HW97K feels a little weighty.

Gamo Coyote: 9/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 9/10

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The HW97K sports a more pronounced cheekpiece

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The Coyote’s butt features aesthetic sweeping lines

TAKING STOCK

The Gamo’s eye-catching stock design is anything but bland, with plenty of detail and laser-cut chequering adorning forend and pistol grip. The beech has a pleasant grain pattern visible through the lacquer and everything looks smart and well finished. Aesthetically, that particularly beefy forend combines nicely with the sweeping lines of the butt, creating the overall impression of a purposeful sporting rifle.

Weihrauch’s HW97K has evolved over the years and now sports a fully chequered sporter stock with a higher, more pronounced cheekpiece. It’s a practical handle, but the subtle grain pattern on my test sample’s beech stock was rather masked by a thick lacquer finish.

Gamo Coyote: 9/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 8/10

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Unusually for a PCP, the Coyote offers an uninterrupted scope rail that bridges the magazine

SCOPING UP

Neither sports open sights, but then it would be a crime not to fit a scope given the potential accuracy these rifles have to offer!

The Coyote‘s raised breech block is standard PCP issue, but scores over many rivals in that it offers an uninterrupted scope rail; one that bridges the magazine. This brings greater rigidity than a set-up in which the breech is cut away to allow for a magazine, and also allows more flexibility where scope positioning is concerned.

The HW97K sports a very long dovetail of standard (11mm) width, and three holes are machined into the receiver for a studded mount – important to eliminate scope ‘creep’ on a recoiling springer.

Gamo Coyote 9/10

Weihrauch HW97K 9/10

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The Gamo‘s 10-shot rotary magazine features a shot indicator

ACTION POINTS

As a PCP, the Coyote needs to be pre-filled with compressed air from a diver’s bottle or by way of a manual stirrup pump – apparatus which will add in excess of £100 if you’re new to the PCP world. It fills to 232BAR; quite high for a PCP, though an easy task thanks to a push-in probe system that locates at the front of the main air cylinder – and one fill returns around 110 shots.

The Coyote’s multi-shot action uses a well engineered, BSA-style 10-shot rotary magazine sporting a shot indicator. It’s inserted from the left side of the breech and indexes flawlessly by an easy-to-operate bolt.

Of course, as a springer, the HW97K’s powerplant is self-contained – all that’s required is a pull-back of the under-barrel lever to cock the action and reveal the breech courtesy of a sliding breech. The cocking stroke is relatively easy considering the underlever’s short length, and the sears engage with a ‘clunk’ that sounds reassuringly Weihrauch!

What’s more, you can feed a pellet directly into the rifling with your fingers, your digits being protected while in the loading bay courtesy of the HW97K’s anti-beartrap mechanism.

Gamo Coyote: 8/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 7/10

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Weihrauch‘s famed Rekord trigger unit, complete with a gold-anodised blade on the HW97K

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The SAT2 Smooth Action Trigger with a resettable safety tab on the Coyote

 

TRIGGER AND SAFETY

Gamo has gone to great lengths to give the Coyote its own character and profile, and the rather jazzy, SAT2 Smooth Action Trigger adds to this. Though the blade’s plastic, it has a perfectly acceptable – and fully adjustable – release. My only gripe concerns the manual, resettable safety tab inside the guard, which is positioned too near the blade itself – rather ‘iffy’ logic if you ask me!

The HW97K boasts Weihrauch’s famed Rekord trigger unit – a fully adjustable, two-stage mechanism with a snazzy gold-anodised blade on this model. It remains one of the very best trigger units fitted to a spring-powered rifle. As well as an anti-beartrap system that engages upon cocking and remains in operation until the underlever’s been returned, the HW97K comes with Weihrauch’s signature automatic safety button. Easily disengaged by your thumb, it can only be reset by re-operating the underlever.

Gamo Coyote: 8/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 8/10

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The blued, highly polished metalwork on the HW97K is deep and rich

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You can screw an optional silencer on the Coyote after removing its ported ‘compensator‘

 

OVERALL BUILD

Although their latest spring- and gas-ram models are technologically quite advanced, Gamo has traditionally been seen as a major player in the budget sector. This Coyote shows real intent to move up, however; the quality of its blueing and overall engineering raises the game, not forgetting the decent woodwork that I’ve already mentioned.

As for the Coyote’s action block and barrel stamping, it looks suspiciously similar to BSA’s Scorpion chassis, and with the Birmingham-based company part of the Gamo portfolio, speculation is inevitable as to its origins. That plastic trigger and its guard are the only real signs of ‘budget’, though – and even they are moulded rather well, it has to be said.

Weihrauch’s standard of finish has never faltered down the years, though I miss the super-deep chequering of old; laser machines may be more accurate, but they ain’t as sharp! The HW97K’s chemically blued metalwork is deep and rich, and applied to a highly polished surface for added quality. Oh… and there’s not a scrap of plastic to be seen on the gun.

While the Coyote isn’t overly noisy, a silencer can be screwed on at the muzzle after removal of the attractive ported ‘compensator’. The Weihrauch, on the other hand, comes straight out of the box with a silencer fitted.

Gamo Coyote: 8/10

Weihrauch HW97K 9/10

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It is possible to index the next shot on the Coyote without cocking the action, so watch out!

HANDLING

The Coyote‘s nicely configured and fulsome forend not only looks the part, but feels absolutely right; its rounded tip is particularly satisfying and the cheekpiece spot-on for scope use. There’s quite a rake to the stock’s pistol grip, though – so some may find the trigger reach a bit of a stretch.

Weihrauch design the HW97K with quite a thick pistol grip, but since weight alone marks this gun out as an ‘adults only’ model, the dimensions are a good compromise. If you like a front-heavy rifle, the HW97K will sit well on aim for you. If you don’t, then try before you buy – it might not suit; many hunters will find it too tiring for an all-day gun. However, its balance is well regarded in target shooting circles.

Gamo Coyote 8/10

Weihrauch HW97K 8/10

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Detailed laser-cut chequering adorns the stock of both the Gamo…

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…and the latest sporter variant of the HW97Ks

 

CONSISTENCY

Ten-shot strings give a very good idea of how a spring-powered airgun is performing, while the very nature of a PCP demands closer analysis across a full charge of air to assess what kind of power curve (if any) it possesses.

From its 232BAR fill, my .177 calibre Coyote produced a string of 60 shots with AADFs that varied by a very creditable 18fps. Over 110 shots, the high/low spread was 36fps. As most PCP shooters will shoot within the ‘flattest’ part of the power curve (and top up accordingly), the Gamo’s performance is par for the course.

My .22 calibre test HW97K proved, quite simply, to be the most consistent rifle I have ever tested! A 10-shot string with AADFs crossed the chrono’s sensors with a total deviation of… wait for it… just 2fps! Extraordinary.

Gamo Coyote 8/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 10/10

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The Weihrauch‘s anti-beartrap mechanism protects your fingers while loading

ACCURACY

As with several multi-shot PCP designs on the market, it’s possible to index the Coyote’s magazine to the next shot without actually cocking the action, so a regimented approach to the cocking procedure must be adopted to avoid loading a ‘double’. As for downrange accuracy, groups were effortless to achieve – and (c-to-c) they measured sub-10mm at 30 yards with AADFs.

Obviously, the recoiling Weihrauch couldn’t quite match this, but thanks to its modest recoil, I was able to frequently put in sub-15mm groups at that distance. That’s impressive by any gun’s standards – springer or PCP.

Gamo Coyote: 9/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 8/10

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Three holes are machined into the receiver of the HW97K‘s long dovetail to take a studded mount

VALUE FOR MONEY

With both these rifles pitched at near identical SRPs, the comparison serves to illustrate what is available for this money. Gamo’s Coyote is blisteringly good value when you consider that the majority of comparable multi-shot PCPs are considerably more expensive.

There are shooters who swear by traditional spring power, though – and in the HW97K, you’re undoubtedly getting one of the best available. This old favourite may be heavy, and several cheaper models will match its performance. But they’ll have trouble matching the build quality; Weihrauch’s airguns represent a very sound investment in well engineered hardware – and an ever-growing fan base will tell you they’re worth every penny.

Gamo Coyote: 10/10

Weihrauch HW97K: 8/10

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The Gamo Coyote is good value, but remember to factor in the charging gear

FINAL VERDICT

Gamo Coyote: 86/100

Weihrauch HW97K: 84/100

Pitching the Gamo Coyote against Weihrauch’s HW97K was an unusual brief. While it wasn’t easy to maintain parity within the set categories, it was an intriguing pairing, given the pricing similarity. The Gamo Coyote looks exceedingly good value for money – though you may need to factor in the fact of life that is costly charging gear if you’re not already a PCP user.

The Weihrauch’s weight might eliminate it as a prospect for slightly built shooters – and the Gamo’s reliance on charging gear may put off those who prefer the simpler life.

So while it’s the new PCP that sneaks in on points, really it’s more a case of ‘you pays your money, and you takes your choice’: recoilless action… or hassle-free independence? Whichever route you choose, though, it’ll certainly be £400 well spent! Mark Camoccio

 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Model Coyote

Manufacturer Gamo, Spain

UK Distributor BSA Guns www.bsaguns.co.uk

Action Multi-shot precharged

Calibre .177 (tested) and .22

Cocking Bolt action

Overall length 953mm

Barrel length 470mm

Weight (unscoped) 3.5kg

Trigger Two-stage, adjustable SAT2

Safety Automatic, non–resettable. Anti-beartrap cocking

Sights N/A

Stock Ambidextrous beech sporter

Length of pull 368mm

Typical power 11.1ft/lb with AADF

SRP £399.99 incl. fill adaptor and spare seals

 

Model HW97K

Manufacturer Weihrauch, Germany

UK Distributor Hull Cartridge www.hullcartridge.co.uk

Action Spring and piston pneumatic

Calibre .177 and .22 (tested)

Cocking Underlever

Overall length 1,029mm

Barrel length 300mm

Weight (unscoped) 4.18kg

Trigger Two-stage, adjustable Rekord

Safety Automatic, non –resettable. Anti- beartrap cocking

Sights N/A N/A

Stock Right-hand beech sporter

Length of pull 356mm

Typical power 11.3ft/lb with AADF

SRP £402

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