by B.B. Pelletier
The Walther LGV Olympia is a beautiful breakbarrel spring-piston target rifle from the 1960s.
Well, the Roanoke Airgun Expo starts today, so while you read this, Mac and I will be buying, selling and looking at airguns. I will take pictures to show you, of course.
So, there I was, on the morning of October 5, reading my October 4 blog, “A safe strategy for no-loss — mostly gain — airgun collecting — Part 1,” when I came to the embedded link to the Yellow forum classified ads. Since I always check the embedded links in blogs, I clicked through and immediately came upon an ad for a Walther LGV Olympia target rifle in great condition for $425. What? Are they going to be selling Harleys in crates left over from World War II next?
And, then, I noticed that the seller was none other than Tom Strayhorn, one of America’s most well-known collector of Walthers. I knew Tom was a straight shooter, so this ad was apparently no scam despite the 1990s price. Ironically, this ad came to me right as I was lecturing to all of you that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes along every few months if you look for it.
So, I bought the gun. What else could I do? I had just told you not to miss out on really good prices when they come along, and here was one that just landed square in my lap. Talk about serendipity!
During the 1960s, spring-piston target air rifles reached their high water mark. There was the Anschutz model 250, the FWB model 300, the Weihrauch HW 55 and, in 1963, the Walther LGV joined the fun. The LGV was the last in a long line of target breakbarrel rifles from Walther that started in the 1950s with the LG 51. Its immediate predecessor, the LG 55, is well-known as a fine European club gun, and the LGV took that one step farther. Although it’s a recoiling spring-piston rifle, the LGV is so smooth and heavy as to be almost recoilless. It was produced until 1972.
There are several different versions of LGVs, and mine is the first model called the Olympia that has rounded corners on the wood. I owned another Olympia LGV years ago that had a matte finish on all the barrel jacket to cut the reflection, but this current one is probably an older model that has all deeply polished metal finished in a deep black oxide. The polish is fully the equal of a Whiscombe or a Colt Python with the royal blue finish.
The forearm contains a lead weight to make the rifle decidedly muzzle-heavy, as target rifles are supposed to be. The rifle weighs 10.5 lbs., or just about one pound more than a 1903 Springfield rifle. It’s very muzzle-heavy, not only from the lead weight in the stock by also from the thick steel jacket that surrounds the barrel.
The heavy steel barrel jacket is held on by a special nut at the muzzle.
Casual observers will spot the barrel latch immediately. Like Weihrauch’s HW 55 target rifle, Walther provided the LGV with a special latch to positively lock the heavy barrel closed. The LGV was the only breakbarrel Walther did this for. The LG 55, which is quite similar in size and power, does not have a barrel latch.
Barrel latch locks the breech like a bank vault.
To compliment the latch, the baseblock has two hardened steel pins, one on each side of the block, that eliminate any possibility of sideways wobble in the barrel. In combination with the barrel latch, they make a vault-like rigid joint when the barrel comes to the closed position. Like the doors on a Mercedes, the barrel closes with the quietest of clicks that mask the ultra-rigid lockup.
Hardened steel bearing pins on either side of the baseblock ensure zero sideways barrel play.
Cocking effort on the LGV Olympia is legendary. It’s one of the few adult models to cock at less than 12 lbs. effort. This rifle has been tuned prior to my receiving it, so it may cock a little harder, but it’s still on the silly side of trivial. I will record it for you when I test the velocity in Part 2.
You’ll notice that the grip is heavily stippled to grab your hand during a match. These rifles were shot from the offhand position only, so all the design features stress that position over all others.
LGV grip is roughly stippled for better purchase.
The curved buttpad is rubber and adjusts both up and down. The trigger is a fine target trigger, although it is of 1960s technology and not the current day. It’s two-stage and breaks at 11 oz. And, of course, it’s adjustable.
The stock is figured walnut (I think) with a reddish-brown finish. It’s very full and robust, yet the forearm has no checkering, stippling or even finger grooves. It seems almost informal compared to the other contemporary target rifles. The Olympia was not intended to shoot in world cup competition. That honor was reserved for the LGV Spezial and the UIT models.
The front and rear sights are target-grade and identical to those found on the LG 55. In the front, a globe accepts standard inserts; in the rear, Walther’s own proprietary aperture target sight prevails. The rear sight rail allows for some adjustment of eye relief, though the rear sight has to lock down in one of the half-round cross slots on top of the receiver.
The LGV uses the same rear aperture sight as the LG 55.
I’m not a target rifle shooter, but I must say that this rifle holds steadier than any other rifle in my collection. Mac is supposed to bring a Weihrauch HW 55 CM for me to see, so I’ll get a chance to compare that to this gun. But of all my target rifles, this one is the steadiest.
In Part 2, I’ll chrono the rifle for you and measure the cocking effort.