The Weihrauch HW35 is a classic airgun that has stood the test of time. The Editor tries out the latest, stainless-steel version
The Weihrauch HW35E air rifle, at 69, is a senior citizen. It has stood the test of time and won the hearts of many an airgunner. There have been a few tweaks to the internals to ensure it keeps pace with modernity but the basic design remains the same. Weihrauch’s ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ approach has to be applauded.
I tested the latest model, which is the HW35E STL. ‘STL’ stands for stainless steel, which is what the barrel and action are made from. Some like the bright steel contrasting with the dark walnut stock, others don’t. On the airgun range at Emmett & Stone Country Sports in Buckinghamshire, my fellow plinkers’ opinions were divided. Sam, the gun shop employee, liked the steel action and barrel but hated the contrasting black sights and sling swivels. I thought the HW35E STL was a looker. The finish lifted it out of the ordinary and helped to make the rifle look more contemporary.
What I wasn’t keen on was the sling swivels. I always worry that a sling puts unnecessary strain on the barrel hinge. A way round that is to carry the rifle barrel down, so that the swivel on the stock takes the strain. You could, of course, simply remove them.
Should you wish to opt for the precision of a telescopic sight there are scope rails and three arrestor holes, which make getting the right eye relief on the scope easier. The arrestor system also avoids scope creep, which springers suffer from due to their adverse recoil. That said, the HW35 is well-engineered and all vibration from the spring when released was muted.
Weihrauch HW35E air rifle – a design classic
The basic design of the gun has changed little over the years. A hinged cocking link means less wood needs to be cut from the fore-end to allow for the cocking action. This gives the fore-end more structural integrity. The huge hinge bolt displays the over-engineering of this springer and a latch near the breech eases the opening of the gun, so to open the breech you don’t have to give it a ‘thwack’. This means the lock-up will remain solid and the rifle will maintain its accuracy.
The breech washer is synthetic, as is the piston-head washer. On the originals it would have been made of leather, so Weihrauch has updated the HW35 where it’s needed and been able to increase the power output from 10ft/lb to around 11.2ft/lb. Another tweak has been the auto safety, set at the rear of the action. On the originals, the ‘click’ it made would scare off any quarry, but that has been muted. The only downside is that the safety is not resettable. However, the HW35 can be de-cocked, so that is one way to make the gun safe if need be.
It’s a Rekord
With regards to the engineering, mention must be made of the Rekord trigger mechanism. A two-stage set-up, capable of fine adjustment and with a predictable let-off point, this cassette mechanism contributes greatly to the accuracy of this airgun.
The HW35 has been criticised for the rake of the pistol grip. On the model I tested my finger came easily to the trigger – and I don’t have long digits. I found the fore-end a bit short, but then I have longer than average arms. Nevertheless, it is nicely shaped with the trademark finger grooves and it sat comfortably in the palm of my hands.
The butt is finished with a rubber pad and a cap on the pistol grip with white spacer make this gun look worth the £450 retail price. This might seem a bit steep for a springer, but this is no ordinary spring-piston rifle. It is superbly engineered, has a walnut stock and is made from stainless steel. You would get years of use from this gun, so it would be a worthwhile investment.
I tested it on some tin chickens (targets) on the range and was impressed by its refinement. It pushed out around 11.t ft/lb of energy (taking it to the top end of the legal limit), but the recoil was well managed. This was in part due to the heft of the gun, but it was a credit to its solid engineering.
It took me a while to get used to a springer, especially with open sights. This sort of set-up is unforgiving of sloppy technique. That said, this is the way to do it if you want to brush up your rifle-shooting technique.
I shot the HW35 seated and with my elbows rested on a bench and found I was accurate out to 30 metres. After that my eyes were struggling to see the ‘kill zone’ on the targets. A scope would stretch the range of this airgun. Even with open sights I was easily face-plating targets out to 40 metres.
Weihrauch HW35E air rifle – a great airgun for the field
Although the HW35 is quite weighty at 3.8kg it would make a great airgun for the field. Stalking rabbits with a gun like this is a great test of a shooter’s ability, not only in terms of fieldcraft but marksmanship. Get both those right and it is some of the best sport you can get.
However, you might be best with the blued version of this sporting legend to blend in with the environment more.
The HW35E STL is the latest iteration of this classic airgun and you can’t beat it in terms of performance, engineering or looks. The price maybe on the steep side for a springer, but the quality will remain long after the price is forgotten.
Scores on the doors
- Build quality 25/25/
- Handling 23/25
- Styling 22/25
- Value for money 23/25
- Price: £450
- Weight: 3.8kg
- Barrel: 41cm
- Trigger: two-stage adjustable
- Power: 11.2 ft/lb
- Available in .22 and .177 (tested) calibres
- Powered by a spring piston
- Auto non-resettable safety
- Walnut stock
- Imported by Hull Cartridge
Airguns can be pellet fussy and generally I would suggest using the manufacturer’s pellets if you have not had the chance to experiment with other makes. The Weihrauch F&T Special worked a treat.
You can’t beat it in terms of performance, engineering or looks.