Haenel 311 target rifle

by B.B. Pelletier


This strange-looking contraption is a bolt-action single-shot pellet rifle called the Haenel 311. They were sold as surplus when East Germany fell.

After doing the report on the Haenel 310 rifle last week, I decided to dust off my 311 and shoot it to you, as well. You may recall that I told you about the yard sale going on in the former East Germany after the wall fell. Well, besides the 310s, there were a number of 311s and 312s – both pellet rifles – that were sold, as well. I happened to snag a 311, which is a very curious air rifle, plus I have what I believe to be a very rare sporter sight for it. At any rate, I’d like to tell you about this rifle today.

What is a 311?
While the model 310 is a short-range target rifle, the fact that it shoots round 4.4mm lead balls takes it out of serious competition. There are no world-class events for ball shooters, other than Daisy’s International BB Gun Championship, and that’s for children, only. The model 311 is an actual pellet rifle, though unlike one that most shooters have ever seen. It was built for 10-meter competition, but I doubt very much if it ever did well at the national level. In its day, it would have gone head-to-head with Walther 53 breakbarrels and Weihrauch model 55s. The Haenel is in the Daisy 853 class when it comes to accuracy, while the HW55 actually won gold at the world level.


Looking down from the top, you can see the similarity between the bolt on the 311 and 310. The 311 bolt also rocks back to cock the mainspring and is too hard for most younger shooters to operate.

The rifle is a bolt-action single shot that loads through a tap. Since the shooter cannot place the pellet into the rifling, that spoils one of the competitive advantages of the other rifles. No taploader has ever been as accurate as a direct-loading single-shot.


The loading tap is closed, and the hole through it lines up with the air transfer port and the breech.


The loading tap is open. A pellet is dropped nose-first into this hole. When the tap closes, the pellet is in perfect alignment with the breech.

The tap is entirely manual in this rifle. Many taploaders have taps that open automatically when the gun is cocked, but this one doesn’t. It’s simpler because there is no additional mechanism required to open the tap, but the complexity of the trigger totally destroys any bid for simplicity.

Trigger
The trigger is a two-stage adjustable (first stage travel) that lets off at less than one pound. It’s definitely a target trigger, though not in the same class as the IZH 46M pistol trigger. I do feel travel through stage two, but no creep to speak of.

When the rifle is cocked, the safety goes on automatically. Before shooting, you have to press in the safety at the rear of the receiver. I once had the gun apart to look at the trigger and it took me many hours to get it back together. This is easily the most complex trigger mechanism I’ve ever encountered on an airgun.

Sights
The front sight is a raised globe with replaceable inserts and the rear diopter is a fully adjustable match sight with rubber eyecup. I believe the front accepts inserts from a Lyman 12, so they are easy to get. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, but there is no reference scale, so it takes some time to understand what the adjustments do. Very 1950s! However, it also has selectable, graduated apertures to adapt to any range lighting conditions – a feature that even the big boys don’t have today. You have to buy an add-on accessory for that, but this little East German vintage target rifle came standard with it.

I mentioned that I also have a sporter sight for mine. I don’t mount it because it gets in the way of the aperture sight, but I bought it for the rarity. The better zimmerst├╝tzens also came with sporting sights that mount midway up the receiver, the same as this one, and I have never discovered what shooters did with those sights, either. This one clamps on to a block behind the loading tap.

Power
All oiled-up, the 311 might hit 500 f.p.s. with a 7.6-grain wadcutter. It’s certainly not a magnum air rifle by any stretch.

When they come up for sale, 311s usually list for $200 these days. If you like quirky airguns, this one is definitely for you!

24 thoughts on “Haenel 311 target rifle

  1. BB,

    Have you ever encountered a CZ slavia 625 in .177? how well does it perform? in the philippines its the only breakbarrel rifle available in the market and i’ve been thinking of getting one. thanks!

    abel



  2. my slavia 631 was amazing. it did have some twang, but the trigger was excellent and the action was very smooth once broken in. it was precisely that rifle that made be discriminate any gun’s trigger that was inferior. if its a springer, the picture i get in my mind is my slavia.

    for $200, with that kind of accuracy and trigger, is the demand high? and for only $200? i’d trade my diana in for this any day!


  3. B.B.,
    Partial success getting the Infinity to shoot straight! The problem appears to have been clipping inside the shroud. The shroud has a form of crude silencer built in. This is made up of 6 cone inserts and three spring spacers for the cones in the center. The cones are threaded into the shroud except for the one closest to the barrel which appears to be press fit. Several of the cones were poorly machined and had protrusions that interfered with an exiting pellet. Naturally the one closest the barrel was the worst and that’s the one I couldn’t unscrew to file down. I was able to get it and the others cleaned up and after re-assembly got some decent groups. I also had some lousy groups so I’m not sure I’m out of the woods yet but at least I’ve seen one 1/2″ group at 40 yards! Unfortunately, I need to order some more pellets to verify. I got a couple good groups with the last of my Eun Jins but the CP’s and other pellets I have in stock were pretty wild.


  4. Hello BB’

    Off topic, but what do you think about the different target – sight pictures. 6 o’clock vs center hold. I know you could do a whole post on this,( hunting, target, open sights, dots, aperatures) but I’m mainly interested in open sights on targets. For example IZH-46 at 10m paper targets. I used to use a 6 o’clock hold but have been experimenting with a center hold, can’t decide which is better.




  5. B.B.

    I read this article and the Haenel 310 with some enjoyment. I like to know if the the BB gun powerplant of the Haenel 310 can be dry fire or firing with a BB in the gun.

    Thanks,
    Joe66


  6. I am sorry, I type too fast. I mean “the BB gun powerplant of the Haenel 310 can be dry fire or firing withOUT a BB in the gun.”

    Thanks,
    Joe66


  7. joe66,

    I don’t recommend dry-firing a BB gun because the inertia of the moving air tube eventually breaks the tube at its base. This is the number one cause of failure in a BB gun.

    B.B.


  8. B.B.
    Can you tell me what scope you would mount on the RWS Mod 48. I am cost conscious in the 75-150$ price range, want objective focus, desire to shoot field and target. For now I will shoot mostly target at home. I am going to buy the B-Square adjustable 1 piece mount that you recomended in your Mod54 test. btw I wear bifocals if that matters.

    Thanks, Mark Hron


  9. Mark,

    I would get a Leapers if you plan on shooting incoors. I’s get a 3-9 that adjusts down to 5 yards or so.

    Of course you know the problem with mounting scopes on Diana rifles, so get a one-piece mount and make sure your scope has long tube sections so you can position the scope back.

    If you can wait, Pyramyd Air will have a new Leapers 4X40mm long eye relief scope with 5 inches of relief, in a couple of weeks. Then Diana rifles won’t be a problem.

    B.B.




  10. BB, I purchased a Haenel Model 311 Serial #002637 (Made in GDR) in 1988 while stationed in Germany. Since this is a pre-falling of the wall air rifle, does it change the value of the rifle.

    Detn8r69


  11. Detn8r69,

    Not really. In fact I think Haenel stopped making the 311 before the wall fell. But even if they didn’t, there is no extra value assigned to a communist-made gun.

    B.B.


  12. Hi,

    I have a similar looking BB gun at home but it does not say Haenel on the barrel. It has a TW Suhl mark on it and text Modell 3.112. Is this the same gun and if it is do you have any instructions how to take it apart? It has been unused for a few years and I would like to get it working again. At the moment the pellet gets stuck in the barrel and you have to fire it several times to get it out. Any instructions on how to fix it? I have been trying to find pictures and instructions on this gun but can’t find anything. I’m Finnish so please excuse my English.


  13. You have a Haenel 311. DO NOT try to take it apart! It hass the most complex trigger mechanism I have ever seen. I took mine apart years ago and I still don’t have it together correctly.

    You gun needs to be oiled! Open the pellet tap, fill it with light machine oil. Close it and stand the rifle on its butt for two hours. They see how it shoots! You may have to do this a couple of times.

    B.B.


  14. Thanks for the article. I bought a 311 on your recommedation in the Airgun Letter. The low power and accuracy were perfect for target practice in my basement. I ended up refinishing the stock, and I think it`s a great looking rifle now. Thanks again!

    -Art





  15. B.B.,

    I have recently inherited a Haenel Mod 28 Pistol. Do you have any information as to the care or possible value?

    Mike



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