HW35 – another golden oldie

by B.B. Pelletier


This thumbhole HW 35 is a rare version of the popular rifle.

The Weihrauch HW35 holds the record as the spring air rifle with the longest continuous production. Started in 1951 and never out of production through the present time, the 35 has seen hundreds of other classics come and go. When it was launched, the 35 was the first air rifle to have the famous Rekord trigger, which must have looked pretty spectacular back then. It’s still the gold standard for sporting triggers, but a half century ago there was nothing even remotely like it.


Rekord trigger shown here in the cocked state has ruled the airgun world for over a half-century.

The HW35 has always been described as a big airgun. In its heyday, it reached velocities in the mid-700s in .177 caliber, which was as fast as a spring gun could shoot. The leather piston seal it originally had was no drawback to speed, but when the velocity races began near the end of the 1970s and Weihrauch switched to synthetic seals, the 35′s major shortcoming became glaringly obvious. It had a huge piston that was, unfortunately, short-stroked. More on that in a bit.

Breech lock
When the 35 came to market, airgun designers were not sure that the breeches of breakbarrel rifles remained sufficiently closed during firing, so a number of models had positive breech locks. The HW35′s lock extends from the left side of the base block, where the left thumb can hook it during cocking. It really doesn’t take much longer to cock this rifle, so the lock remained on the rifle. Breech locks are not common today, now that breech locking detents are more trusted, but the lock on the 35 is a pleasant reminder of the age of the design.


To open the breech, pull the latch forward first.

Sights
When the 35 was launched, scopes were uncommon for sporting airguns, so a fine open sighting system was installed. The front is a globe with interchangeable inserts, and the rear is a click-adjustable open notch. At the extreme rear of the rifle, an 11mm dovetail and two vertical holes were not for scope mounts but for Weihrauch’s diopter target sight. There were no formal airgun target matches in those days, but they were coming, and rifles like the HW35 were perceived to be suitable for target use, as well.


Globe front sight comes with many replacement inserts.

Articulated cocking link
In those days, all spring rifles vibrated, so anything that could lessen the buzz was considered. The HW35 had an articulated cocking link that allowed the cocking slot in the firearm to be very short, and the belief was that a solid forearm helped dampen the vibration. Whether it did or not is open for debate, but it provided a good place for a front sling swivel.


The Diana 45 (top) has a one-piece cocking link, while the HW35 below has a two-piece articulated link. The steel bridge holds the link close to the spring cylinder.


The Diana 45 (top) forearm needs a long slot for the link to clear while cocking. The HW35 (bottom) has a much shorter slot.

It couldn’t keep up
The 35 is a large air rifle, which led a lot of people to think it should also be a powerful one. When first launched, it was among the most powerful spring guns, but when the velocity races began in the late 1970s, the 35 just couldn’t keep up. It became obvious that although it had the largest piston on the market, the stroke was too short, robbing the gun of a lot of potential. Some 35s could make 800 f.p.s. with proper tuning, but that was as far as they went.

When the R1/HW80 was developed in 1982, it used the same diameter piston but had a much longer piston stroke. The result was the fastest spring rifle in the world for a little while. That dramatically demonstrated how much a piston’s stroke affects power.

Different models
Because of the length of the production run, the HW35 has been made in dozens of different styles. The thumbhole stock shown here is uncommon, as are all of the walnut-stocked rifles. The EL 54 is a special HW35 variant that has an ether-injection device on the side of the compression tube. It uses controlled detonations to shoot heavy pellets or round balls up to 1,000 f.p.s. It is the most valuable of all the HW35s.

Not gone, but forgotten
As mentioned earlier, the HW35 is still in production today. Beeman stopped importing it many years ago. Since they’re the exclusive U.S. importer of Weihrauch, the model is no longer available to us. No doubt, Beeman believed that Americans want only the most powerful air rifles, which is correct. If they tried to reintroduce the 35 here in the U.S., the high price and mediocre velocity would spell disaster. Fortunately, there are still plenty of nice used 35s available, and they aren’t commanding a lot of money. Just make sure you buy one for the right reasons, because nobody can turn it into a powerhouse.

44 Responses to “HW35 – another golden oldie”

  • Anonymous Says:

    Tom I writing you to remind you to do a write up on the Condor. Also you could split into what is Condor specific and what applies to all the A.F. line. You asked me to ask you what i wanted to know, well here goes….I want to know what can be tinkered with, with out voiding the warranty. Such as, adjusting the top hat Vs. adjusting the power wheel. Installing a different barrel. Having a different valve spring in the bottle (mine does NOT care for a full fill) to help flatten out the rainbow velocity curve. Accessories (best bang for the buck scope) green daylight lasers. The micro-meter tank. Etc. From SavageSam

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    SavageSam,

    I’m getting ready to leave for the Little Rock airgun expo. I will start this when I return next week.

    B.B.

  • Bruce Says:

    B.B. Thanks for the picture of the Rekord trigger. Always wondered what they looked like. Also looking forward to your comments on the Little Rock show–have safe trip.

  • Phil L. Says:

    B.B. -

    Thanks for a great write-up!

    Hmmmm – You recently suggested I look at the HW 30 in an earlier blog comment. It looks like a used HW 35 could also be an interesting alternative for what I have in mind (accurate – but no need for high power – plinking/target work, mostly in my basement range).

    One thing I’ve discovered about airguns: The diversity of design and implementation combined with a rich history of companies that have brought so many models to the market means there’s always something more to be learned.

    Phil L.

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    The longest production run of all airguns is quite a recommendation. Longevity is the point one keeps hearing about with the M1911 that has me convinced to get one. Given that the HW35 velocity has been passed, what keeps it going?

    I’m catching up on blog posts. Isn’t the Discovery a little light for field target?

    Have fun at the airgun show. It will be fun to hear a report.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    henry

    Thanks for your update with the long-range shooting. The .338 Lapua is a fantasy round that I have imagined shooting. The MacMillan TAC 338 is quite a rifle. Have you heard of the Armalite AR30? Sounds very impressive. They have a good review on the gunblast site. And by your standards, this is probably a budget rifle.

    Also on the subject of the ultimate rifle, I don’t know if you saw my post to you some time ago about the G. David Tubb rifle called something like the Tubb2000; it’s easy to find on his site. It’s interesting to hear his opinion that the bolt-action repeater is the ultimate in long-range accuracy over a semiauto, even considering follow-up shots.

    And have you heard of the Tac Ops Tango-51? It’s sort of a semi-custom rifle built on a Remington 700 action and comes with a guarantee of 1/4 MOA which I’ve never heard of before. The reviewer was so inspired that he became a dealer! This gun is also used by the LAPD SWAT teams which I keep hearing about as a sort of gold standard for police work. I suppose they get plenty of practice.

    I’m about to refinish the stock on my Garand for $125. Where will this end….

    Matt61

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Matt61,

    Yes, the Disco is light for field target. It’s really more of a hunting rifle.

    I don’t know what keeps the HW 35 alive. It should have died back in the 1980s.

    B.B.

  • Henry Says:

    Matt61,

    the Armalite AR30 lacks the adaptability of the TRG-42, Accuracy International, or the McMILLAN (not MacMillan). ANy of these three rifles will shoot a four inch group at 1000 yards! The TRG-42 is out of the picture because it doesn’t have the correct number of twist in the barrel for the 300gr bullet i want to fire (its suited for the 250gr). The 300gr is superior for those one mile shots! The tac-338 has the tightest twist of all at 1 in 10in.

    This is an exceptional article that compares the .338 AI and Sako TRG-42, but also informs one of the calibers potential. From this article it looks like i have to get a silencer for this puppy! Assuming i end up getting one that is. 50/50. Here it is

    http://demigodllc.com/articles/military-338-lapua-rifles-trg42-awsm/

  • Henry Says:

    Matt61,

    G. David Tubb 2000 is made by McMILLAN!

    as for the Tac Ops Tango-51, it looks like the .308 of choice. I just got through a review on sniper central saying that it does do .25 at 100. I bet it would group no better than 10 inches at 1000 because of the caliber (tumble!). I got my mind fixed on a scope and a caliber, but not a gun, not sure if i ever will.

    good luck with the grand! Its the best!

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    I was just about to place an order for a Benjamin EB22 when I noticed the Crosman 2240. On paper (er, online) they appear relatively similar, but the EB22 is twice the price. Is there a lot of plastic in the 2240? Is the difference in build quality or performance. I know you don’t like to compare guns, so I’m not going to ask which is better. :-) I just want to know where my extra cash is going in the Benjiman.

    Thanks,

    RO

  • Anonymous Says:

    I know what keeps the HW35 going. In Germany and other countries that have limitations it’s a very popular rifle…. according to HW literature. I have a de-tuned for Canada HW35E in .177 which is very accurate and very nice to shoot. Not as tame as my full power HW55 but pretty close. I do have a full power .22 HW35 thumbhole stock version that I bought new in 2000. When taking care of pigeons, magpies and gophers I grab it more than my BSA Supersport or Diana 34 (both full power). I just find my HW35 more comfortable to shoot accurately. In Canada I have noticed that the E model seems to be the only version now being imported. Well actually one company is offering a nickel plated E too. The walnut stock puts the price over $500. When I ordered my Thumbhole version ($375) you could also get a Standard and Safari model. The Standard is still on the HW website but I guess if you don’t want a fancy HW35E you could always buy an HW50.

    Benny

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    RO,

    The 2240 does have a lot of plastic, but don’t let that bother you. As it comes from the box it’s a great shooter. I did a gun to gun test for Shotgun News against the Crosman Mark I and the S&W 78G and the 2240 won, hands-down.

    Also, there are aftermarket parts that alloow you to modify it all the way to full steel, if you want.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Benny,

    You have made me jealous!

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    Yesterday I had to type in a hurry, so that was why I didn’t give you sufficient info. This is the gun I own now:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/p/crosman-664sb-bolt-action-air-rifle.shtml

    Yes, I was asking for an air rifle. The only shooting that I do is shooting Beer bottles and cans from maybe 25-30 feet. Does this change you recommendation, or do you have another gun i should look into?

    Thanks for your help,
    Kyle

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Kyle,

    Well, the rifle I recommended is a but upscale for just that. But I focused on your budget and tried to pick the best one in the range.

    You could really do with less power. A Crosman 1077 might be a good one for you. It’s accurate and fun to shoot, as well. And the repeating function is gravy. Of course it isn’t for cold weather.

    The Haemmerli 490 Express is a nice single-shot. If only the trigger weren’t so heavy.

    I’ll soon test a Gamo Delta, which might be another good one for you.

    B.B.

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    BB,
    I don’t know why but I’ve found myself generally enjoying the vintage/nla reviews more than the new guns. So, far, none of them seem to deserve to be forgotten.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hi BB, I had a brilliant idea after reading your link to the EL-54. What would happen if you put Co2 in the air intake of a spring rifle. You see, no fire, just denser air. If it does work, it could really drive those Baracudas in my Gamo shadow sport.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,
    I read on one of the air gun forums that Beeman was going the import the HW35 again and an assortment of other HW’s and I believe Pyramid air was going to sell the. I don’t know if thats true or not.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. I really like the Delta and the 490. I like the 1077, but I don’t want to be bothered with powerlets and such. How about other rifles? (these are more expensive, but get great reviews.)

    The Mendoza RM 200
    The Crossman Phantom 1000
    or the Avenger 1100

    Thanks for all your help,
    Kyle

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    BG_Farmer,

    I like then oldies a lot, too. I try not to have too many of them because people want to see what is current, but I think it’s helpful to reflect on where this hobby has been.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Bright idea,

    Well, you just reinvented Cardew’s famous experiment. Your velocity will drop like a stone, because all spring guns over 600 f.p.s. have to burn oil to get to full power. Cardew tested this in an inert gas environment.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    I haven’t heard the rumor about Beeman importing the 35 again, but it will be great if they do.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Kyle,

    Of the rifles you mentioned, I like the RM 200 better than anything I recommended except the original RWS Diana Panther 34.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    sorry didn’t mention, rws model 34 panther

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    John,

    I have to go with the RWS Diana 34 Panther over the CF-X. Especially if you get a .22, because the CF-X is weak in that caliber.

    The Panther has a scope mounting problem that will be resolved in June when the new scope base comes out.

    I like the Panther for pests – especially in .22.

    Yes, I make all the little videos, but not the big beautiful ones. Those belong to Paul Capello.

    B.B.

  • Henry Says:

    BB,

    Regarding the latest question – favorite place to shoot airguns… I said woods as its the closest thing to my favorite. I prefer to shoot from the top of a pile of gravel that has been extracted in a gravel project. The visibility is great and game is plentiful. trying to get my cholesterol better so i blend in…

    -Henry

  • Henry Says:

    cholesterol higher

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    So, the RWS 34 wins out over the fabled Gamo CFX. That’s a surprise. The good news about the 34 keeps mounting.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    henry

    What does adaptability mean for long range rifles? I understand that you can take the stock off the AR30 for portability so that can’t be the issue. Does it not perform at the longer ranges?

    Lucky guy to have a 1000 yard range. I have to travel miles just to get to a 100 yard range.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Kyle

    Ah, you bring back one of the fondest memories of hitting a pop can with a 1077 at 20 yards and seeing it jump in the air. The thing is that it’s even more fun to do this with snap shooting. You whip up the rifle and plug the can. The great strength of the 1077 for me is that it is so versatile. It can keep up with everything short of a target rifle in its range. It can do rapid fire with the big magazine and it is light enough to do snap and tactical style shooting. A picture is worth a thousand words to convey the rewards of snap shooting. The best movie I found actually has to do with a pistol, but the principle is the same.

    In Clint Eastwood’s In the Line of Fire, John Malcovic–a renegade CIA assassin–is caught dead to rights by a Secret Service who gets the drop on him as he is spreadeagled on a rooftop. So, what does Malcovic do but whip his arm around with a hidden pistol and (alas) shoot the agent. It’s incredible, but it looks like something a really trained person could actually do.

    As for the powerlets, that’s more a matter of imagination. I don’t even think about that as part of the loading process, and when I do, I kind of enjoy it. Loading can be fun. When you put one into the rifle, you feel really charged up. And you can eject it when finished with a big clank like one of those WWII battleship gun casings that I’ve read about.

    Also, there’s the price. How many times have I thought about $70 that’s been frittered away for one reason or another. Anyway, you don’t want to overlook the 1077.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Matt61,

    For starters, the AR30 does not has a bar to put your cheek on instead of a adjustable plate. My research shows the AR30 accuracy at 500 yards to be similar to that of a top dollar riffle at 1000.

    -Henry

  • RonS Says:

    BB, when I acquired my .22 cal HW35(as a companion to my .22 HW95), I soon found out that despite its superb accuracy, the safety mechanism was not working properly as it should be—it would not go “on-safe” upon cocking the break-barrel. Given that it was the only HW35 that I could locate and buy (and the price was reasonable)here in the Philippines, I decided to keep it, rather than to return the rifle to the gunshop where I bought it from. Thus, I simply used the rifle with greater care, being mindful of the absence of a manual safety. It wasn’t much of a stretch, in terms of gun safety, considering that I’ve been carrying a chamber-loaded Glock 27 via mexican-carry (holsterless, inside the pants, strong-side)for 13 years already as a regular part of my wardrobe and lifestyle. However, after nearly 500 pellets through my HW35, squeezing the trigger would no longer fire the rifle, but oddly enough, pressure applied to the still-non-functioning safety button would somehow trip the sear and cause the shot to be fired. I have thus ceased from using my HW35, until I could restore it to safe-shooting condition. I have also learned the lesson of never shooting airguns that have any safety issues to begin with—only guns that are in absolute safe-working order should be shot. BB, which parts do you think, would need replacement, for the complete restoration of my HW35? I’m thinking, most likely, the sear and the safety assembly? Also, would you suspect that perhaps, my HW35 was previously dry-fired (shot without a loaded pellet in the breech)at the gun shop from where it came from, which could account for the phenomenon of the non-functioning safety mechanism?

  • tophat Says:

    BB,

    Thanks for including a pic of the famed Rekord trigger. I have not seen it for real yet, I am very much interested in seeing its internals and theory of operation as well as tuning procedures. Is it also used in pcps?

    David

  • .22 multi-shot Says:

    RO,

    I would recommend the CO2 Pistol from the Crosman Custom Shop (at Crosman’s web site). Basically the custom pistol IS a 2240 except you get to pick your options, plus a steel breech is standard (your choice of short or long breech). You can make it as inexpensive or expensive as you want!

    Of course if you just want the basic 2240, it is a nice pistol.

    Just my 2 cents…

    .22 multi-shot

  • tophat Says:

    BB,

    OT question…how do I calculate grams into grains? I am curious, where do grains come from and why not just simple weight measurement in grams?

    Thanks.

    David

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Ron S.,

    You are in luck, because the HW35 is easy to disassemble. It’s exactly like the Beeman R1, and there is a 13-part report on that in this blog:

    http://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2006/08/spring-gun-tune-part-13-range-testing.html

    Your safety most likely has a little piece of the end of the return spring caught inside the hole in the end cap that the safety runs in. It’s jamming the button. Disassembly and reassembly is all it take to fix it.

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    David,

    No, the Rekord is only found in spring guns. The TX200 has a copy of it, and so do several of the Webley rifle (made in the UK) like the Tomahawk.

    I suppose I could show you the inside of the trigger, if you like, but this website has an animated illustration pf the TX 200 trigger which is very similar. Go here:

    http://www.arld1.com/

    B.B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    David,

    Grains came before grams and they are simple. There are 7,000 grains in one pound. They are an apothecary measurement.

    The easiest way to convert gains to grams is with a calculator. I keep on on my computer’s desktop, because I convert all the time. If you want to do it the hard way one gram equals 15.4323 grains. One grain equals 0.064799 grains.

    B.B.

  • .22 multi-shot Says:

    David,

    You can type a phrase like “convert 2.3 grams to grains” into the search box of Google and it will convert it for you. Grams are too large a unit for measuring pellets, 7 grains is 0.45 grams, and how many decimal places do you want?

    If you want to convert grams to grains yourself, there are 15.4323584 grains in 1 gram.

    Here is a URL to an article about where grains came from, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BQY/is_3_47/ai_70650314.

    .22 multi-shot

  • tophat Says:

    BB and .22 multi-shot,

    Thanks a lot for the info.

    Perhaps I am much an Indiana Jones kind such that whenever grains is mentioned as a unit of measure, I feel like it is an ancient unit of measuring “grains” of salt or “grains” of wheat in the olden times.

    David

  • Anonymous Says:

    Mr. B.B.

    If you were going to buy a new HW35, would you get it in .117 or .22 caliber? It will be used mostly for target and some small pests. Thank you.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Because of the limited power, I think I would get an HW 35 in .177 if I could.

    B.B.

  • joeblow Says:

    Beeman 'was' the *chief* importer of the HW line, but NOT the **exclusive** importer and seller – many others have, and still do sell non-Beeman HWs – including the HW 35e in both blue and nickel. For the last decade, HW rifles have been readily available from numerous retailers from Pyramid to AOA to Straight Shooters, numerous others. I'm surprised you are seemingly unaware of this VERY well known, readily accepted fact, unless you are but failed to articulate it – this is what you wrote in error: "Beeman stopped importing it many years ago. Since they're the exclusive U.S. importer of Weihrauch, the model is no longer available to us". You wrote this in 2008, granted, but this was true in 2008 – I bought my nickel HW35e from a US retailer we all know well in 2006, and others offered it at the time. Sorry:-)

  • Dom Rivers Says:

    Aaah the venerable 35, it was always popular here in the Uk where our 12ft/lb power restriction puts a little less emphasis on it's short stroke, you'll find that the best you can get these to (and shoot smoothly) is around 11 ft/lbs in .22 and about 10/ft/lbs in .177 for approx 580/750 fps respectively (pellet dependant), however this report fails to mention it's pin sharp accuracy, they are real tack drivers and a nice one will still happily take rabbits and pigeons with head shots at 30 yards.
    I've owned three of these as an aside, all the .22's love RWS Hobby's while the .177's hate them, much preferring Superdomes. If you can find a nice one for a decent price, don't be put off in favor of a Gamo, Hatsan or Chinese gun with a hatful of extra fps, these things can hide ten shots under a penny at 40 yards leaning on a tree trunk even in my wobbly hands, and that's much more important than whistling right past a rabbit 150 fps faster

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