World Domination: Walther Dominator reviewed

002_Walther Dominator FT MatchSlotting a shot through a 15mm hole time after time takes a lot of skill and equipment that’s up to the job in the first place – which is why you now see ultra-refined, target-grade hardware in FT and, more recently, HFT. Walther is one of the big names associated with precision shooting, and it was inevitable that their 10-metre match models would spill over into the outdoor target shooting arena.

The Dominator is one such gun – a clinical piece of engineering designed to maximise shooter ability. In the right hands it’s a very formidable tool – a dedicated target-style rifle that borrows features from Walther’s Olympic-spec LG300, though the Dominator’s been specifically designed for
Field Target competition.

Its precharged action sits within a fully-adjustable laminated target stock, and with an abundance of sophisticated features, it’s little wonder that this model has become so successful on the circuit. A full-length barrel sleeve, match trigger and subtle side-cocking lever all come together as vital ingredients – and a high quality Walther barrel completes a package that’s seriously accurate.

Additionally, the Dominator comes in a hard case – a neat touch as competition gear needs cossetting between match venues! And there’s more – you also get a set of tools, barrel pull-through, test certificate and instructions.

Formed from carbon fibre, the Walther’s barrel sleeve has a cutting edge look about it, nicely finished with an aluminium muzzle weight and a matching barrel/cylinder bracket. You charge its cylinder – off gun – anywhere between 200 and 300BAR, the higher charge giving more overall shots.

For practicality and less stress on the action, I chose 250BAR, though I’m not a fan of unscrewing the entire cylinder for charging purposes. In my book, I always think this can disturb the zero setting – and I know many Dominator shooters opt for a retro-fit quick-fill adaptor at the front of the cylinder so they can then top up the gun with the cylinder still in situ.

003_Walther Dominator FT M copy

The expensive Walther Dominator is supplied with all the kit

Something to consider with the configuration of the Dominator is the slightly annoying shape of the sidelever. Care has to be taken to ensure that this doesn’t foul any scope/mount combination because it moves up and back through its cocking arc. The lever itself is a little thin, so it’s hardly surprising that this has become a popular area for customisation on the competition circuit.

As a target-orientated model, this Walther offers an abundance of adjustments – so it makes sense just to get settled on the range, before even firing a shot. You need to mould yourself into the stock, slowly adjusting and setting first the cheekpiece, then the well-shaped butt pad. All adjustments are made via hex keys and there’s plenty of room for manoeuvrability. You can also use spacers on the butt pad to increase the length of pull. Then, once everything feels ‘natural’ when the rifle and scope are shouldered, you’re ready to begin zeroing this precision-shooting machine… though once you ‘get into’ it properly, you may want to make some finer tweaks here and there.

On the range, it soon becomes apparent just what a slick operator the Walther Dominator actually is. Its cocking lever feels as though it’s power assisted, such is its excellent design; after just a short length of travel, the spring-loaded lever moves back under its own steam. You can then roll a pellet into the loading channel and close the lever, which then seats the pellet into the rifling in a very effortless manner.

Courtesy of its bespoke stock, the Walther’s handling is excellent, with its full target grip giving plenty of support to the palm and thumb of your trigger hand. And as you’d expect, the rifle also boasts a full-blown match trigger – in the Dominator’s case, an ultra trendy (but perfectly functional) ‘button’ trigger blade. Sitting on a threaded pillar, the button’s position can easily be adjusted for height, and said pillar can also be moved back and forth along its supporting rod. The unit’s pull-weight can be set right down to just a few grams, giving your trigger hand ultimate control.

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The full-blown button ‘match’ trigger blade

Over the chrono, I recorded 160 shots from a 250BAR fill with Daystate RangeMaster Li pellets – and, impressively, the total spread was just 20fps. Away from the test bench, in the shoulder the Walther’s firing cycle has an incredibly ‘dead’ feel to it, which I found really helped in maximising my own performance. With a variety of top-brand pellets, I printed groups of 12mm or less at 50 yards, with Air Arms Field being the ‘best’ diet for my particular test gun. Most of my groups could be covered by a 5p piece – and with hardly much effort on my part.

Of course, when you’re considering such top-end kit, personal taste always plays a part – and some HFT shooters may just find the Dominator a little too target orientated. At nearly 4.5kg unscoped, it’s also no lightweight – although that compares favourably with most of its rivals in terms of heft.

007_Walther Dominator FT M copy

The spring-assisted loading lever is effortless

This is unashamedly a rifle manufactured with top-level competition in mind, and in the Dominator, Walther can rightfully be proud of its latest offering. It lays down a big challenge for the other FT rifle makers – especially given that Walther have already taken the hotly-contested Field Target Constructors’ Championship in 2011, with their team all using Dominators in some guise or another.

Mark Camoccio

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Posted in Air Rifles, Tests

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