Mike Powell loves his Anschütz .17 HMR, but if he had to swap his rimfire then the Weihrauch HW60J would get the thumbs up
On a recent BASC evening at the Sportsman Gun Centre in Exeter, I had the opportunity to have a good look at the Weihrauch series of rimfire rifles, for which Sportsman is now the main distributor. The first thing that struck me was the quality of the oiled walnut stocks – one or two would not have looked out of place on a top English shotgun. There is a choice of barrel lengths; I opted for the 14in model.
The stock shape itself is typically Germanic, coming in the now familiar ‘hog’s back’ design. Initially I thought this would not lend itself too well to lining one’s eye up with the scope. However, in practice this did not present a problem.
The bolt is quite large, and is furnished with a red cocking indicator that protrudes from the centre of the bolt housing. The bolt handle is slightly swept back and has rough chequered panels on both sides (a nice touch), giving excellent grip. Safety is provided with a forward-safe, rearward-fire lever on the right hand side. It has a fairly long travel and I found it slightly too long to reach when holding the rifle in the ‘ready to fire’ position. Again, in use this did not prove too much of a problem. The all-metal magazine holds four rounds, and drops free when the catch is depressed.
Finally, the trigger, for which Weihrauch has a proud reputation. The name Rekord has been known to generations of air rifle owners, and the two-stage unit on this rifle lives up to the legacy. It is smooth with a definite break before the second stage, which releases crisply at about 1.5lb. The trigger is easily adjustable via a screw reached through a hole in the front of the trigger guard. The trigger itself is nicely curved and is grooved throughout its length, giving a good, non-slip surface.
Compared with my own Anschütz rimfire, the action of the bolt felt a little harsh. I surmised that this was probably down to the rifle’s newness. This later turned out to be correct – after I had put a couple of hundred rounds through the Weihrauch, all the harshness disappeared.
I have a Quicksilver titanium moderator for test purposes, and it performed brilliantly on the Weihrauch. These really are extremely effective units, and as yet I have not found a better moderator. Of course, you pay for quality and the Quicksilver is not cheap – but it is effective.
I couldn’t wait to get the rifle out into the field, but first I had to zero it. I am fortunate to have a ‘range’ for zeroing purposes. This runs alongside a recently erected barn. As the site was dug out of the hillside, it is completely sheltered from the elements – ideal for setting up. Boresighting the rifle got me on the paper after three shots, and half a dozen or so more had it spot on.
The next test was to try it at longer range. I set this HMR up at 130 yards, as this gave a usable trajectory from start to finish. I feel this sort of distance is far enough for this little round, whatever you are using it for. This rifle really liked the Remington ammo (17-grain), but I tried several different types, which I would recommend doing when testing it yourself. As usual with the HMR, you will get the odd flier. I am not sure why this is, but it seems to happen with all .17 HMR ammunition.
Taking the rifle out after dark for a couple of hours in pursuit of the local rabbits, I was aware how much easier the 14in barrelled unit handled within the confines of a vehicle. For more years than I care to remember, I have used rifles with barrels of 20in or more. There have been no major problems, but they can be a bit awkward at times; the short barrel made the procedure so much easier.
We were soon in action, and the Weihrauch didn’t disappoint. The flat shooting ability of the .17 HMR has been well documented, and for this type of shooting it is ideal. Judging distance at night is an imprecise science at best and at worst it is pure guesswork, but with the HMR you can shoot out to almost 100 yards with no allowance needed – very different from the .22LR. I head-shoot rabbits if they are required for human consumption, but on this occasion I had filled that quota and so I went for chest shots – a bigger, more static target, leading to fewer misses. The rifle performed impeccably and I really did enjoy using it. The lamp I used was Deben’s Tracer Tri-Star, which I tested last issue. The little rifle and the extremely small lamp paired up well together; the rabbits, however, were not that impressed.
So what were my final thoughts on this rifle compared with my own Anschütz rimfire? Firstly, it should be noted that although no longer available, the 1717 cost twice as much as the Weihrauch. Is it twice as good? No. For a fraction under £600, the HW60J is an absolute bargain.
There was little to choose between the accuracy of the Anschütz and the Weihrauch, even at longer ranges. The two rifles’ finishes are both high quality, although as I stated earlier the woodwork on the HW60 is some of the best I have seen for a long time. The Anschütz action is silky smooth – certainly more so than the Weihrauch – but the test rifle has only had a couple of hundred rounds through it, whereas the Anschütz has had sustained use since I first bought it. Therefore, it would be unfair to judge too harshly here.
One thing I did like about the Weihrauch was the short barrel. After using it for a day or so then returning to the Anschütz, the latter felt front-heavy, especially with the mod on. If I ever got rid of the Anschütz I would not hesitate to buy the HW60. The thought of it in .22 Hornet is rather appealing too.
Finally, the ammunition I used was as follows: Remington 17-grain V-Max boat tail, Winchester 20-grain Gamepoint, Hornady 17-grain V-Max and Hornady 20-grain V-Max. In truth, neither rifle had problems with any of these brands – perhaps needing just a click up or down to bring them spot on. The muzzle velocity dropped about 50fps with the short barrel, but this was largely irrelevant.
Both the Weihrauch and the Anschütz are very nice rifles, and I enjoyed testing them in a calibre that is certainly becoming more and more popular.