This article is from the July 1997 issue of The Airgun Letter. You’ll probably never see a gun like this, so I thought I’d share a glimpse at this rare German piece.
This report is a bit different than our regular fare. That’s because our subject rifle is a bit different. Not only is it an example of a scarce and highly collectible spring gun in beautiful condition (with noted exceptions)–it’s also one of the oddest airguns we’ve encountered because of some strange customization work.
Usually, we plunge in and tell you the ballistics and accuracy and so on. That isn’t going to happen this time because the rifle is incomplete, making loading a real chore. Velocity of this .22 was in the low 400s with medium pellets, which means she could stand a look inside. Either that or the strange automatic tap built under the drum magazine leaks air. It doesn’t matter, though, because this one is so strange you aren’t likely to take it to a field target match, anyway.
18-rd drum mag
The 18-shot drum magazine is the rifle’s most unusual feature–from the factory, anyway. It’s a gravity-feed mechanism that rotates by means of a pawl attached to the underlever. When the rifle is cocked, the pawl advances the next pellet to drop straight down into a rotating tap that’s now vertical. Returning the underlever realigns the tap with the barrel and transfer port; and the pawl is returned to catch the next ratchet. Our rifle is missing the pawl and the spring that keeps it bearing on the rotating magazine.
The magazine is loaded through an elongated slot shown in the two o’clock position in the above left photo. It’s simple to drop a pellet nose-first into this slot. Unfortunately, with the pawl missing, it’s tough to advance the magazine manually, so loading our test gun was a trial! Also, the pellets must be small enough to drop freely into the tap below when it aligns itself. This was the most difficult part of testing the gun.
The Haenel logo is an arrow with the name stylistically printed inside in block letters. Seen on the end cap of this rifle, it gives a real sense of pride in manufacturing. The rifle has nearly 100% of its original blue!
Above the forearm are the words Haenel Mod. V Rep. DRP. Just forward of the magazine is the caliber: CAL. 5.5 m/m (.22)*. The asterisk means this is a rifle, not a smoothbore. Note the lack of a rear sight. These are difficult to use with the repeating drum sticking so high above the top of the barrel. Still, I believe the rifle always came with one.
The front sight is a graceful towering bead. It has to be high for the shooter to see it over that magazine. The swept-back look is illusionary, caused by the leading edge of the sight. In back, the post is straight.
This is where things start to get strange! Someone chopped into the wrist to insert a peep sight.
A Lyman peep sight on a German air rifle? Will wonders never cease? This is where the strangeness starts with this rifle. Not that it’s a bad idea. A pity the Germans didn’t think of it first, though, so those nasty (and crude) inlet cuts didn’t have to be made on such a fine and rare rifle. Sort of like putting a coat of Varathane on the Mona Lisa. Ah–but that’s just where it begins!
Not exactly an elegant job on the pistol grip!
Note the different color wood that has been frenched into the pistol grip. The original grip was smooth and rounded. Whoever did the work did such a fine job on the joint and nonstandard checkering, that it seems strange to have selected such a mismatch on the color! Almost as though they wanted it to stand out. The rifle actually looks more complete this way, but very odd at the same time.
The underside view of the grip is even more revealing–and astounding! Apparently, the person who made such a tight joint was unable to wipe off all the wood putty after he finished! Either that or the piece fell off at some point and a person of my own skill level put it back on.
Who goes to the trouble of checkering a grip like this–and then leaves a dowel so visible? A steel grip cap would have hidden this completely. Maybe, this was a gun built by a committee.
The checkering was extended to the forearm’s belly.
The custom checkering wraps completely around the fore end. Although it’s not a masterpiece, it does show some skill, as those surfaces are hard to work around. The curved borders are no picnic, either! I would be proud to have this person’s checkering on one of my airguns.
The latch for the cocking lever.
The cocking lever latch is an easy-to-release button on front of the lever. The rifle is very smooth to cock, though not as light as the lower velocity would indicate. Also, a hiss of air rushing into the tap makes me believe that the insides are airtight, as well. That makes the lower velocity a real mystery.
It appears to be retreaded.
The best was saved for last. After all the fine custom improvements we’ve seen, the rifle was sent to Goodyear, where someone retreaded the butt.
Actually, we don’t know if this is a genuine Goodyear custom shop part or some Japanese radial aftermarket item. It does look like it will give miles of safe shooting, though.
No Rekord, this! The trigger is a reminder that air rifles haven’t always been graced with perfect releases. There was a time when 4 lbs. was considered normal. The sear engagement is adjusted by the single screw passing through the front of the triggerguard.
Notice, also, that the triggerguard is a machined piece of steel–not a casting or a formed piece of plate. In the days of this rifle, this was the standard of excellence.
Accuracy testing with this rifle was as frustrating as chronographing it. It never got better than two inches for five shots at 10 meters. German barrels of that day were certainly capable of far better accuracy; so, again, we must suspect the kaput magazine as the culprit.
Testing and examining this rare rifle was a special treat for us. Thanks to owner Marv Freund for the opportunity.