HW 50S - part 2
by B.B. Pelletier
Yesterday, we looked at the history of the HW50S - where it comes from and what other guns were based on it. Today, we'll look at performance. This rifle has been around long enough that performance has evolved upwards. Back in 1974, the .177 model 50S rifle was listed as a 705-f.p.s. gun, while today it's advertised at 825 f.p.s. All Weihrauch guns advanced during this timeframe, so this increase is normal. It's also a real increase - not just bolder advertising hype. As synthetic materials, lubricants and pellets improve, the velocities of airguns will increase. Also, manufacturers can alter the stroke of the piston to boost power. You'll never be able to tell by just looking at the gun.
What IS an "S" model?
The letter "S" after the model number signifies that the stock is traditional European. If there were an E there, it would stand for Export, and the stock would be a more classic American pattern. A European stock has a lower cheekpiece, no Monte Carlo shape and a downward slope to the butt just after the cheekpiece. Other than the stock, the metal parts are identical, though there does exist a lower-powered version of this model for German use only. Since the 50S doesn't break the 12 foot-pound limit, it can be exported as is to both the UK and US markets. I mentioned yesterday that the forearm is also shorter than the R-series stocks, but today's R7 and standard R9 also have shorter forearms, so that isn't always the case.
The HW50S can also be purchased with an adjustable diopter rear sight and a globe front sight that accepts inserts. The price for the rifle with these sights is only $40 more than for the open sights, which makes it quite a bargain if you're looking for an informal target rifle.
Years ago, Weihrauch made a real target air rifle - the model 55. It was also a breakbarrel and a spring gun, but it shot so well that it actually won gold in a world competition against more modern recoilless rifles, such as the FWB 300. The 55 had a small powerplant because you don't need or even want power in a target rifle. It also had a special version of the Rekord trigger that adjusted down to mere ounces of pressure. Pyramyd Air sold the heck out of the 55 in its final years, but unfortunately that model is no longer made. The 50S with diopter sights is as close as you can get to one in the Weihrauch lineup today.
One additional point on the sights. Weihrauch used to make an all-steel diopter sight for all their target guns. It was designed just after World War II and the design never changed, so it had a very retro look to it. Back in 1974, this sight alone sold for $34.25, which sounds like a great price until you learn that the FWB diopter sight was also selling for $39.95. Today, you'll pay over $350 for an FWB diopter sight, so imagine what the Weihrauch diopter would cost if they still made it. The diopter that's on the gun today appears to be a Daisy diopter, which is a good, inexpensive sight.
The 50S just kisses 12 foot-pounds, so it can be used for things other than target shooting. For example, it can be used for hunting as long as the game is not too large. I would say crows and cottontail rabbits under 40 yards are about at the top limit of its power. If you do intend to hunt with it, you'll probably want to buy the model with micrometer open sights, because you're just going to remove them to install a scope.
A gun to hand down
I mentioned in last Friday's blog (How long will a spring airgun last?) that most spring guns that are cared for will last hundreds of years. Well, the Weihrauch line is built to convey a sense of quality to everyone who handles one. Yes, it may cost an extra $100 now, but when the time comes to pass it along, you'll be proud you made the decision for quality.
Which brings me to my final point. The world economic situation is changing rapidly. I sold a Sheridan Supergrade five years ago and told myself I could always buy another one. Well, in those five years, the price has become five times greater! Increases are going to happen to any air rifle tied to the Euro, too. While the price of the rifle may look high today, in 12 months it will probably seem like a bargain. The current batch of rifles Pyramyd just received is now starting to sell and there are no guarantees that the next batch will be at the same price.