by B.B. Pelletier
Testing and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
Before we begin, a medical update. I left the hospital last Friday with the blood clot in my shoulder seemingly not an issue anymore. The visit proved very beneficial because the gastroenterologists replaced the stent in my pancreas three weeks early, and an infectious disease doctor identified four strains of organisms growing in my pancreas that we are now treating with antibiotics. So, what felt like a setback turned out to be an advance.
I am weaker now as a result of the new medicines, but I expect that to pass. And I have the run of the house, which is where the bulk of my airgun testing is done. My buddy Mac continues to help me with the testing, so things should look pretty normal.
You’ll recall from Part 1 that Mac really likes the .177 caliber HW50S. He was mentally prepared to like it for its Weihrauch heritage, but after actually holding, examining and shooting one he now has specific comments to share.
Today, we’ll look at the power of the gun, and it’s important to note that the current HW50 is not the same gun it was years ago. The current rifle has a powerplant with a little larger piston and therefore develops slightly more power than the older version.
Mac tried a variety of pellets. Some were light, some of medium weight and one heavyweight. This demonstrates how the powerplant responds to different weights as well as different hardnesses of lead and different fits to the bore.
Crosman Premier heavies
The 10.5-grain Crosman Premier pellet fit very tight in the breech and of course is also a hardened lead pellet. These two things plus the heavy weight conspired to slow the pellet down to an average velocity of 618 f.p.s. The range went from 600 to 632. The average muzzle energy is 8.91 foot-pounds.
Crosman Premier lites
In contrast to the heavy Premier, the 7.9-grain Premier lite was a good fit for the breech. It averaged 754 f.p.s. with a spread from 738 to 771. The average muzzle energy was 9.98 foot-pounds, beating the heavy by a full foot-pound. So, lightweight and better bore fit produces better results. The Premier lite is made of the same hard lead alloy as the heavy pellet, so that did not change.
The lightest pellet tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby, which was a loose fit in the breech of the test rifle. They averaged 836 f.p.s. with a spread from 822 to 849. The average muzzle energy was 10.87, foot-pounds, so another almost whole foot-pound was gained. The RWS Hobby is made from nearly pure lead, so it’s much softer than either of the Premiers.
JSB Exact, 8.4 grains
The lightest JSB Exact domed pellet fit the bore very well. It averaged 750 f.p.s. with a spread from 739 to 758. This 19 f.p.s. spread was the smallest of all four pellets tested. The average muzzle energy was 10.87 foot-pounds, which is identical to the Hobby’s performance.
So, the new HW50S powerplant is clearly more powerful than the old one. I don’t own an HW50 to make this comparison, but my HW55F has the same powerplant and develops an average 631 f.p.s. with RWS Hobbys. Even assuming my rifle is a bit tired, the difference in power is still pretty clear.
The current 50S develops just about the perfect power for a plinking rifle or an all-day airgun. Mac reports just a little vibration with the Hobbys but a solid feel for the other three pellets. The cocking effort is a light 24 lbs. that won’t bother most adults. And the Rekord trigger is delightful. So to this point, the 50S seems to be a winner.