Walther Reign M2
Phill Price isn’t usually a lover of bullpups, but it seems the Walther Reign M2 might force him to change his mind
Walther Reign M2
I think it’s only fair to start this review of the Walther Reign M2 by saying that bullpups are not my cup of tea. I understood why people thought they would be a good idea and why many of the military forces of the world use them. A soldier deploying from an armoured personnel carrier would appreciate a compact and light rifle, letting them move quickly and unhindered, and an airgunner moving through confined spaces would feel the same benefits.
However, many of the airgun bullpups I’ve handled have been neither light nor compact. In fact many have been very heavy indeed. Worse still, they don’t mount and come on aim naturally, which works against anyone trying to make a quick shot at twitchy quarry.
So I was very pleased a few years back when Walther showed me the MK1 variant of this innovative rifle in a raw prototype version, being 3D-printed in pure white.
Different to the others, it was small and very light, with great ergonomics that made it handle very sweetly. This was what a bullpup should be in my eyes and I had to declare myself a bullpup fan after all.
There was so much innovation compiled in this tiny bundle that I couldn’t wait to try one. However, I’ve been away from the airgun industry for a while, so by the time I was back writing for you, the Walther Reign M2 has become the current model, and that’s what you see in the pictures.
Walther Reign M2 – key specifications
Manufacturer: Walther GmbH
Importer: John Rothery Wholesale (bisley-uk.com)
Model: Reign M2
Type: Pre-charged pneumatic
Fill pressure: 232 bar
Weight: 2.5 kg
Calibre: .177 and .22 (tested)
Action: Sidelever, magazine-fed
Shot count: 140 in .177, 180 in .22
Stock: Ambidextrous polymer bullpup
Umarex K3 Moderator: £49.95
Walther Scope 3-9 x 40 Illuminated: £144.95
TO54C Bisley Sportsmatch Two Piece Weaver Medium Mounts: £29.95
Napier Bullpup Rifle Case: £124.95
Walther Reign M2’s workable design
As I took the Walther Reign M2 from the box, I was again impressed with the lightweight and tactile nature that has been so carefully designed in. Of course, none of that means anything until the scope, mounts and silencer have been added.
The Reign comes fitted with a pepper pot-style muzzle brake that I see as more of a thread protector that will be used until you fit a silencer, as I’m sure every buyer will. On that subject, I was supplied with a neat and very appropriate Umarex K3 Neo silencer that was ideal.
As the Walther Reign M2 is a proper bullpup design, the action is right at the back, under your ear, which means that it has a full-length barrel. This ensures good air efficiency in a very short package and no unnecessary noise as can befall short-barrel guns. Another feature that I adore about this rifle is that it’s not unnecessarily tall, sitting quite low in your hands. Top-heavy guns have horrible handling, making them unnatural and awkward to shoot well.
Again, this is a great credit to Walther’s design team and a direct benefit to all who shoot this gun.
Although you can’t see it, the air reservoir is a buddy bottle type of vessel, but as it’s enclosed in the clamshell-style stock, you never need to handle icy cold metal on a frosty winter’s day. The stock actually splits right along the centre line, enclosing all the metal parts apart from the barrel, so there are no worries about mud, blood and sweat on your hands that could cause corrosion, because they can be easily wiped off with a damp cloth with no worries.
Testing the Walther Reign M2’s trigger
To adjust the trigger, you need to remove one side by simply undoing 14 screws. Ok, I admit that that’s a bit of a hassle, but once the trigger is set to your needs, you can just leave it alone. As it was delivered, the trigger’s action was long and vague, which came as no surprise for a gun with a linkage that was connecting the blade to the mechanism.
I felt the need to adjust, so after initial testing I split the two halves just for a look inside. Just above the trigger blade is a crossbolt-style safety that pushes in from the right to fire and is a little noisy if you just shove it, but I found that if I put a finger from my left hand on the other side as I pushed it, I could disengage it almost silently.
Another clever design feature is that the magazine can be inserted from either side, and the sidelever cocking arm can be swapped too, making this a genuinely ambidextrous gun. The only feature I’m unsure about is the accessory rail under the forend. When I was shown the raw prototype, I asked Walther to make this a bolt-on piece, rather than moulding it in so that those like me who would rather it wasn’t there could simply unbolt it.
Interestingly to me, I find that the most natural place for my leading hand is to grip the angled end of the stock, which means I don’t feel the rail much anyway. I like the fact that this stock is slickly styled and finished.
Its organic shapes have luxurious curves and sweeps that are harmonious and beautiful to see.
As delivered, the sidelever was on the right, with its biathlon-style vertical post in front and above the trigger blade, for comfortable reloading. The lever springs out when first pulled until the hammer spring is engaged. Only a light effort is required to cock the hammer. It’s an unusual and innovative linkage mechanism that works well. Perhaps an inevitable consequence of the clamshell stock is there’s a bit of a hollow noise as you pull the lever, but many users of military firearms will find this familiar, even welcome.
The magazine felt quite sturdy, and I found it very easy to load, but inserting it was quite snug, and needed a firm grip to withdraw it from the action. This soon eased, but being such a symmetrical design, I found that I needed to pay attention when loading it, perhaps making it tricky to insert in the dark. I inserted the mag from the right so that it didn’t contact my cheek when on aim.
Fit for comfort
Up on top there’s a long Picatinny rail that bolts on to accept your scope. As is the nature of bullpup designs, this rail places the scope high above the centre of the bore, which in turn affects the pellet’s relative trajectory. In short this means that very close shots will need quite a lot of holdover to hit correctly, which means that you need to practise on paper targets to get a measure of this figure.
In an effort to minimise this challenge, I used the very lowest mounts that would still allow clearance, and as you can see from the photos, it cleared by just a fraction of a millimetre, so is as close to perfect as you can get. The cheekpiece supported my head very well, helping me look right down the middle of the scope, which is superb and very rare indeed!
Further aiding great fit, the butt pad is very deep from heel to toe, which means that I didn’t need to raise my shoulder to see through the scope as you do with many other stock designs. This made for a relaxed fit, which in turn will reduce fatigue and aid accurate shots. This really is a well thought-out design.
Air filling is via your typical dual O-ring, brass plug system that worked with no bother as I topped the gun up to the recommended 232 bar. I particularly liked the plastic plug that fills the port when not in use and will keep dirt away from the rifle’s delicate internals. Beside this port there’s the usual pressure gauge but it’s one with a neat little innovation. The face is plain white up to the maximum fill pressure area where it turns red. Red for danger! It’s a good clear message not to overfill the reservoir if you want best performance.
A quick visit to my chronograph produced another pleasant experience from this little rifle. Literally, straight from the box it varied no more than 8ft/sec over a 30-shot string. Surely when it’s run in and settled down that impressive figure will only improve. Excellent! Average velocity with the useful H&N Terminator .22 (16.36gr) pellets calculated to 11.4 ft-lb of muzzle energy, which is just right in my book, and easily enough power to dispatch vermin at any sensible distance.
I’ve had great success with this pellet in .177, so I was keen to see how it would fare if I tested it in .22. John Rothery Wholesale also supplied H&N Baracuda 18 (18.13gr), which is a pellet I don’t know, and the Baracuda Hunter Extreme (18.13gr), so I would have a selection of top-quality pellets to try.
The Baracuda 18 looks much like a very popular pellet made somewhere else in Europe (wink, wink) which is often rebadged by other brands, but on close examination, this is definitely an H&N-made product, and I look forward to testing it more deeply later on. It took me a little while to get the Reign zeroed, but once it settled down it was producing tiny groups at 25 yards that could all be easily covered by a 5p coin, many of which were true cloverleaf shapes. Accuracy was certainly top notch.
Just out of interest, I took some shots at eight yards, not an unusual rat-shooting distance, and I learned that it needed a full inch of holdover, just as I had expected. At five yards, it needed an inch and a half, so be prepared to put the practice in for barnyard ratting nights!
Taking a deep breath and a set of Torx bits, I removed the right side of the stock. This wasn’t something I would usually do off the cuff, but it was actually quite easy. Messing about with triggers should never be taken lightly. All but two of the bolts are in fact self-tapping screws that go into the other half of the shell. The manual shows how to adjust the trigger and it only took me moments to make a huge improvement. What resulted was a smooth, light first stage and a well-defined and short second stage, making accurate shooting so much easier.
I don’t often adjust the triggers of test guns, but this time I was really glad I did because it made such a huge difference with the Walther Reign M2.
As I’m sure you have understood by now, this little rifle has made a big impression on me. If I was ratting around cattle sheds or other confined spaces such as shooting out of the window of a 4×4, this rifle would be right near the top of my shopping list.
Taking time to set it up as I did with the test gun will help you maximise its potential, and I’d like to thank John Rothery Wholesale for allowing me to spec it this way. So much to my surprise it seems that I am a bullpup fan after all.