HW97 & HW77
by B.B. Pelletier
There has been some interest in the Beeman HW97 Mk III from the CF-X guy and from POYANCO, plus it's such a nice spring gun that it really deserves a mention. I'm also going to touch on the HW77, which I personally like even better!
The HW97 is a BIG airgun!
If you thought the Gamo CF-X was big, this Weihrauch should change your mind. Although it's just a half-inch longer, it's more than a full pound heavier, and the cocking effort is 35 lbs. - five pounds heavier! However, the HW97 is about standard size and weight for a classic spring rifle. It's the CF-X that's the lightweight. Some of the extra weight is due to the Weihrauch's wood stock, but the powerplant is also larger in diameter, and that, in turn, means the stock has to be broader. The 97 will feel very large to shooters accustomed to the CF-X.
No open sights on the 97
You must scope this rifle because there is no provision for open sights. Weihrauch figured everyone was taking the sights off the HW77 anyway (and they were right), so why even bother putting them on? At the level this rifle sells, shooters are almost entirely scope users. That's not to say there aren't a few who would like open sight options, but they don't come on the HW97.
Be VERY careful with that sliding breech!
Both the HW77 and 97 have very early versions of the sliding breech. Where Air Arms, Diana-RWS and even the Chinese put elaborate anti-beartrap mechanisms on their sliding-breech rifles, Weihrauch has used just the standard crossbolt safety. It blocks only the trigger and has nothing to do with the sliding breech. If that safety fails to engage when the rifle is cocked, and I've seen that happen, a touch on the trigger will send the sliding breech forward with the force of a guillotine! Anyone who adjusts their trigger to a very light release weight on this model is just asking for a digit amputation, UNLESS they practice the safety procedure of never letting go of the cocking handle until the rifle is loaded. That does two things. First, it keeps their other hand occupied so it can't stray to the trigger, and second, if the gun does fire, there is a hand holding the sliding breech in place.
The Rekord trigger
Speaking of triggers, the Rekord trigger on the 77 and 97 is the one all other airgun triggers are compared to. It is the all-time classic spring rifle trigger. Only on PCPs will you find a crisper, lighter trigger, and they only hold back about 10 lbs. of force - this one restrains over 100 lbs.! The Rekord is adjustable from outside the gun and can be set to release with a very crisp pull. It's a good reason to buy a Weihrauch.
The HW77 is a legend for accuracy. Until the TX200 came along, only the FWB124 could equal it (in the world of spring guns, that is). I did not find my 97 to be nearly as accurate as my 77, which undoubtedly accounts for my prejudice, but in fairness, that was at a time before I knew how much Crosman Premiers leaded the bore. I shot them exclusively back then, and it may have been my 97 just needed a good cleaning. There is no reason why an HW97 MkIII would be any less accurate than an HW77.
Either the HW97 or HW77 are wonderful spring-air rifles that most shooters would be delighted to own. The stock on the 97 looks a little more scope-friendly, while the HW77 Mk II sold under the Beeman name is more compact, though not much lighter. Compared to a Gamo spring from 1995, these two rifles are light-years better, but compared to the CF-X, they are only somewhat better. Both are classics, and both have the world-famous Rekord trigger that every airgunner should have the chance to try at least once in his lifetime.