Richard Saunders takes a look at four top break-barrel and underlever spring rifles, and gives them the piston seal of approval
Although pneumatics have been around for much longer than many people realise, airgun shooting as we know it today is built on a hundred year-plus heritage of spring-powered rifles.
Despite modern PCPs and their ability to flatter the most average of shots, our love affair with springers endures and just about all the major manufacturers have one or two in their range.
For many, the attraction is that they don’t need to be filled with air from a diver’s tank or pump. For others, price is an attraction; even top-of-the-range springers cost less than middle-of-the-road or even starter level PCPs.
Plus for those of a certain age, nostalgia can certainly play a part. Modern springers are still based on technology developed well over a hundred years ago. The spring is compressed, and when released by the trigger it drives the piston forwards, compressing the air in front of the piston and propelling the pellet down the barrel.
However, the introduction of the PCP has made manufacturers raise their game when it comes to the springers in their line-up. They know there’s a willing market out there, but recognise that the twangy old things we used in the last century won’t cut it in the modern era when shooters who are used to PCPs expect single-hole groups.
While there are plenty of wallet-friendly entry-level springers available, today’s top-end models are engineered to much higher tolerances and made to more exacting quality standards.
In the right hands, they are every bit as accurate as PCPs. To prove the point, we’re taking a look at four of the very best on the market. Side-levers have all but disappeared, and today our choice is limited to break-barrel and underlever action rifles.
When it comes to springer heritage, few companies can compete with Weihrauch, which includes more spring-powered rifles in its catalogue than just about any other company.
So we’ve been shooting the HW 95K Luxus break-barrel and the HW 97KT underlever. Both have been loaned to us by Hull Cartridge, the marque’s UK distributor.
The other rifles we’ll be putting under the microscope come from another German giant. Walther was formed in 1886, but can trace its roots back another hundred years or so.
John Rothery Wholesale lent us a Walther LGV Master Pro break-barrel and a Walther LGU Varmint underlever to put through their paces. So, if the challenge of a springer appeals to you, or if you simply want to recapture your youth, read on…