The HW 55CM target rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier


Is this Custom Match the best HW 55 ever made? Read the report to find out.

Part 2
Part 1

This is a special Part 3 for the HW 55 Custom Match target rifle. It will be a retest of velocity, following a strip-down and lubrication with black tar to get rid of some uncomfortable vibration when the gun fires. When I tested it for velocity in Part 2, I discovered the rifle was shooting way too fast for an HW 55. Probably the Beeman Company replaced the mainspring when it went back to them for an overhaul. At any rate, when RWS Hobby pellets average 694 f.p.s., as they did for this rifle, you know something is wrong. I’ll try to remove as much of the harshness as I can with this tune, and I really don’t care how much velocity is lost.

A word about the Part 2 report is needed here. I combined it with Part 2 of the report on Mac’s Diana model 60 target rifle because I don’t want to crowd the blog with too many reports about vintage air rifles. Since the velocity report goes pretty quick, I just put the two of them together. But, today, the 55 CM gets its own report, because as well as testing velocity I’ll be disassembling the rifle and applying a tune. There will be some observations for that, as well as the velocity results afterward, so this work rates a report of its own. Of course, there will still be a Part 4 accuracy test to come.

Disassembly
There were no real surprises when disassembling the rifle, except to find a very canted mainspring. That was where the vibration came from — of that there can be no doubt. I rooted around in my collection of replacement mainsprings and found one that Jim Maccari made for a TX 200! Talk about inappropriate for an HW 55 — but the dimensions of this spring were so great that I had to try it.

I discovered that the trigger was still coated with a drying, tacky layer of factory “tractor grease.” I kidded Hans Weichrauch, Jr., about this years ago and he had no comeback. From his perspective, the grease is always fresh and new. I removed everything I could from the trigger but expected no change in performance. This was more of a conservation step than a restorative one.

The new spring was very liberally buttered with black tar, and the rifle was assembled once more. However, when I cocked it the first time, I knew that wasn’t the solution. The cocking effort started out light but quickly stacked until I was pulling back around 30 lbs. of effort. That’s way too much for a 55 target rifle.

On the plus side, I probably added at least another 50-75 f.p.s. to the velocity. But, with a target rifle, who needs velocity?

So, once more, the action came apart. This time I used a spring that had very similar dimensions to the one that came from the gun — only this one is straight. It got buttered with tar, too and then everything went back together.

How does the rifle feel?
The rifle now requires 26 lbs. of force to cock, compared to the 20 lbs. before — so that part isn’t good. The firing cycle, however, feels lighter and much quicker. Gone is the objectionable vibration that came from the canted mainspring. This rifle will now be easier to shoot accurately.

Velocity
The first pellet tested was the RWS Hobby that was such a speed demon with the old tune. Back then, the rifle averaged a blistering 694 f.p.s. with this pellet. That’s way too fast and does nothing for the potential accuracy. The extreme spread was 17 foot-seconds with that pellet and tune.

With the new tune, Hobbys average 603 f.p.s., ranging from 602 to 610 f.p.s. for an 8 foot-second spread. That’s more like what I wanted, and maybe even on the low side of what I was looking for. But with that tight spread, I know the rifle is doing well with this tune.

Next, I tried H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. The old tune gave an average 632 f.p.s. velocity with a 14 foot-second spread.

The new tune gives an average of 573 f.p.s. with a 12 foot-second spread that runs from 567 to 579 f.p.s. The spread is pretty close to what we had before, but the velocity is now down where I expect it to be.

The last pellet I tested was the RWS R-10 Match Pistol pellet. With the old tune, the pellet averaged 632 f.p.s. with an 18 foot-second spread that went from 619 to 637 f.p.s.

The new tune sends this pellet downrange at an average 565 f.p.s. with the total velocity spread that runs from 560 to 567. Only 7 f.p.s. separates the slowest shot from the fastest.

Firing behavior
The rifle now seems much more calm and settled when it fires. I can’t be sure until I shoot for the record, but I think I’ve tamed the beast.

Am I satisfied with this tune? Yes, except for the extra cocking effort. An HW 55 should cock at around 15 lbs. of force, and this one takes 26 lbs. That’s heavy, even though it doesn’t set off any alarms. I would still like to get it back under 20 lbs., but I’m not going to hold up the show just for that.

Accuracy testing is next, and then we’ll have complete tests for five popular 10-meter spring-piston target rifles: the HW 55 SF, FWB 150Diana model 60Walther LGV Olympia and this HW 55 CM. Guns I haven’t yet tested (that I own and have access to) are the FWB 300S and the Haenel 311.

45 thoughts on “The HW 55CM target rifle: Part 3

  1. Don’t worry about crowding the blog with articles about vintage target rifles! I prefer to read about interesting (accurate) air rifles and pistols than brand new junk that would not hit the side of a barn if you were standing inside! Of course it is nice to have you reviewing them also. That way we know they are junk.

    It does sound like nay you need to invest in the proper spring for that rifle though. Although it is not likely an issue with such a quality gun, I would be concerned with the added strain of the increased cocking force. Also, it is likely good excercise, but that isn’t the objective.


    • Ditto! These are my favorite type of airguns (target guns, that is). I think it was Warren Page who said it best: “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” Keep them coming.

      Jim


      • Jim,

        I don’t know who Warren Page is, but that’s not his saying. Townsend Whelen is the originator of that famous saying, and it’s my favorite. A lot of contemporary and not-so-contemporary writers and personalities have used Whelen’s saying without giving him credit.

        Edith


        • Warren Page was one of the original wildcat cartridge inventors, gun writer, gun editor for Field and Stream magazine in the 50′s and 60′s, and author of the book “The Accurate Rifle” (I think – not sure of the title). He was the originator of the 6mm cartridge that eventually became the .243 Winchester.

          I have heard the comment attributed to several writers, so I’m not really sure who is the originator. Whoever said it first, however, the comment stands as one of the truisms of the last century – and maybe this one too.

          Jim



  2. Two questions re this article:
    1) Where do we get replacement springs? My three springers (2 magnums) are getting up in age, and may need new springs sometime. And yes, I’ve already opened them SAFELY, with my home-made spring compressors (thanks to your older info).
    2) With a brand new spring installed, is there typically much of a break-in period? FEW shots, or many??
    — thanks


    • Barrika,

      Source for replacement springs depends on what type of springers we’re talking about.

      In general I would encourage you to start by calling or emailing Pyramyd Air (sponser of this blog) since they’re now tuning guns and carry many parts that are not even listed on their website.

      Another good source is ARH (maccari):

      http://www.airrifleheadquarters.com/page/page/251327.htm

      Gary Steele at B & B Supply is also a good source (garysteele1@comcast.net)

      kevin


    • Barrika,

      To Jim Maccari I would add John Groenewold.

      John Groenewold, PO Box 830, Mundelein, IL 60060-0830, (847) 566-2365
      http://www.jgairguns.biz

      John has been supplying European replacement parts for close to two decades now, and often he will sell you just the part you want instead of asking you to buy a kit.

      Following a tuneup there is often a break-in of about a hundred shots. If the airgun was well-used before the tune that should be all it takes to settle it into thye groove. If the gun was newer, it may take a little longer (500 shots?).

      B.B.


      • I just bought a Daisy 99 from him, it should be here this week, I can ‘t wait to try it out.
        Very nice guy to deal with.

        Talking of new buys, all this CB cap talk got me salivating so I just bought a Flobert rifle, it should also be here very soon. The thing is they can be bought in Canada without any permit or licensing.
        This is what the law says :
        -Manufactured before 1898 that can discharge only rim-fire cartridges, other than 22 Calibre Short, 22 Calibre Long or 22 Calibre Long Rifle cartridges;
        -Manufactured before 1898 that can discharge centre-fire cartridges (whether with a smooth or rifled bore), have a bore diameter of 8.3 mm or greater, measured from land to land in the case of a rifled bore, with the exception of a repeating firearm fed by any type of cartridge magazine.

        Pretty much looks like a Flobert to me! All I have to do now is get it checked by a gunsmith to be sure it can be fired and find me some ammo and I’ll be in business. It will be my first real antique gun (it was made between 1845 and 1885 according to the owner who didn’t seem to know much more about it). It’s WAY older, if it was made prior to 1876 it’s over a hundred years older than me. Gotta fin me a Flobert pistol now.

        Did I tell you guys I was an airgun addict?

        J-F


  3. Today’s article reminds me that I owe everyone an apology.

    Awhile back I was making a quick comparison between several 10 meter guns and said the cheek piece on the anschutz 380 isn’t adjustable. It is.

    One of the many things I like about this blog is that the majority of the time the information shared is first hand. Not conjecture or second hand like most airgun blogs. When I do speak it is with first hand knowledge.

    I have an anschutz 380 and fiddled with adjustment screws that would loosen the cheek piece but there isn’t a way to keep the adjustment in place. I was reading the 4th quarter publication of American Airgunner (1989) and there’s a good article on the anschutz 380 by J.J. Galan. He stated that the cheek piece was fully adjustable for height and cant. ??? Sure it is but how do you lock it in place? I went to the champions site and printed out the owners manual. Sure enough the manual describes “two wedge-shaped intermediate plates and a third rectangular intermediate plate” that act as spacers to “lock in” adjustments. They’re missing from my anschutz 380.

    I’m now searching for these factory correct pieces.

    Really wish the anschutz 380 had a self contained ability to adjust the cheek piece like most other 10 meter guns since it’s so easy for these spacers/risers to get separated from the gun (like they did with mine).

    Sorry for the misinformation.

    kevin


  4. Let’s see…you don’t want to crowd the blog with reports on vintage guns because:

    a) Nobody cares,
    b) There’s nothing to learn from them,
    c) No one can find them anymore,
    d) If you find one, you can’t afford them anyway,
    e) Their quality has deteriorated too much over the years,
    f) They’re very inaccurate,
    g) There is no way to repair a gun so old,
    h) They’re ugly,
    i) NONE OF THE ABOVE

    -i


    • Chuck,

      You forgot one: Some blog readers have complained to Pyramyd Air about the number of blogs about collectible/vintage guns.

      Edith


      • REALLY… ouch, that’s sad. I really like these reports on older rifles, sure it makes want to buy some of them but that’s the way it is and I can deal with it (actually I can’t and I end buying some of them but it’s ok… really).
        I always had a thing for history, and always tought I wasn’t born in the right era.
        I prefer almost everything older than me, my house is older than me, I almost only listen to music that was made before I was born and am a big fan of almost every older engine powered stuff.
        It’s not the fashion side of thing either as I always like this stuff.
        There a whole story behind these things, if these things could talk, the stuff they’ve been thru.

        Earing stories of how things used to be always facinate me.

        Maybe there should be a poll on this… I want old stuff.
        I also want more stories about and written by Josh Ungier, I want his tractor stories and how PA became what it is today, I want powderburners too, I want vintage guns, I want collectibles… I want guest blogs, I want tuning, I want it all!!!

        J-F



          • Chuck,

            The vintage/collectible gun blogs will continue, but we try to work in the new guns (and accessories and ammo) as much as possible because…well, Pyramyd Air doesn’t sell the collectibles. It only seems fair that they should get the lions share of the coverage on their own blog :-)

            Edith


            • Edith

              Some people complain that their hot chocolate is “too hot” or “too chocolatey”. These persons’ place in life is to be IGNORED. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Especially with so many whiners afoot these days. You guys please most of the people most of the time. You really can’t do much better than that.

              The blogs on the guns not available new for sale are some of the best that have been written here. They make us learn a little something of airgun history, and perhaps we pine for something we can’t readily find or afford. (They also absolutely ooze with BB’s enthusiasm for all guns.) Weather we realize it or not, our horizons have been broadened.

              One of the things I like best about this blog and its occupants is that you guys don’t pander to the lowest common denominator (like most media).


              • Slinging Lead,

                Blogs about vintage guns have not disappeared. In fact, I just did a count of the number of blog entries done in one month that are categorized as being about collectibles. The most we had was in Jan. 2011…when half the blogs (11 of them) were about vintage/collectible guns.

                Most other months in 2011 varied between 2 and 9 blogs about old guns each month. I think we’re still doing plenty of blogs every month about collectibles, but it was the statement B.B. made in today’s blog that seems to have set us off on the wrong foot…and then I made my comment and made things worse.

                This blog will continue to cover vintage guns. I’d like to repeat something I’ve said before: Pyramyd Air’s No. 1 priority is educating the customer. There’s no other airgun retailer that offers a site like Airgun Academy. Pyramyd Air has put its money where its mouth is.

                Edith


  5. I would like to offer my recent experience dealing with John Groenwald in order to inform others.
    I recently ordered a piston o-ring and buffer washer for a BSA Meteor along with a Weirauch breech seal from him. The parts prices were a bit high but not egregiously so. But the S&H charges WERE ridiculous and there was also a surcharge because my order was deemed ‘small’. The upshot was that the 3 inexpensive parts wound up costing me almost $35!

    John often has parts difficult to find from other sources but you WILL pay a premium in one form or another! Tom @ Buzzard Bluff


  6. Always glad to read about good-shooting springers.

    PeteZ, granted you’re probably right about the math parody. But I had a look at the evolution clip and what stood out for me was that the contestants were more fluent (glib) and that their answers were much more repetitious and scripted. Obviously they had been heavily drilled. What if they were hit by the math question out of the blue? Besides, there is the case of Miss Vermont who said, “Yes, it’s math. Excuse me, is this a joke?” Is this an indicator of authenticity or a clever red herring for those who might suspect it is staged…? Anyway, the math clip is more interesting to me as a representation what some people surely think somewhere, and I can revel in it for that reason alone. I’m still chuckling over the bit about how “making basic mixed drinks” is on par with math in the educational curriculum. :-)

    Say, I bought a WWII era sling for my Lee-Enfield but it is like strap iron. Anyone know how to make it more flexible? I’ve been spraying it with Ballistol with little if any effect. The material is cloth webbing similar to the U.S. web gear.

    Matt61


  7. BB,
    I also like the articles about Vintage Airguns! I hope Pyramid is understanding about this. I think I will send an e-mail to Pyramid Air to tell them my feelings since they are getting complaints too.

    I was wondering why you didn’t just put the original spring back in. It sounds like it was a old model HW50 spring based on the velocity. I have a new JM HW55 spring somewhere that I bought when he made a run of them. It seems that he doesn’t make them often and you have to catch them when he makes them.

    David Enoch


    • David,

      The emails about too many collectible guns happened some time ago. Because Tom has continued to do collectible items, you may not have noticed the ever-so-slight shift in balance to new guns.

      FWIW, I agree that the majority of the blogs should be about new items. Don’t worry, the vintage items will still be included…just not to the exclusion of everything else for days on end (which I believe happened for many weeks a while ago).

      Tom has created a nice mix of old and new. It’s just a slight tickle of a change :-)

      Edith


      • Edith,
        What impresses me about the old ones is that they still have so much to offer. How are future generations of kids suppose to know about competitive marksmanship if none of the newer product offerings don’t offer even a hint of what can be. New products found on shelves are all about POWER, which translates into breaking stuff, or killing. I’d love to see affordable target air-rifles that fire under 600 fps with lead, even if they were break-barrel. A move like this by manufacturers could change the way Americans see “pellet rifles”. Imagine if each rifle came with a handbook on competition types and rules, along with info on how to join or create leagues. Imagine a unified effort to make air-gun competition as popular as bowling? Sorry, I got lost in La-La-Land again!
        Victor


  8. B.B.,
    My hope from La-La-Land is that these blogs on old target air-rifles might influence manufacturers to produce them again, but at far cheaper prices than the current crop of “Target Rifles”, most of which are now PCP. You know that I’ve often harped on the idea that I wish aperture sights could be placed on more air-rifles as an alternative to scopes.

    I’m not sure what’s driving the move away from affordable 10-meter air-rifles, other than profit motive. In any case, I’d sure like to see more 10-meter air-rifles like the now “vintage” ones that you’ve covered here.
    Thanks,
    Victor


  9. The reason I favor Pyramyd Air is,simply put: They do things, like furnishing this blog,that are NOT purely profit motivated.I like to think it is for the betterment of the hobby.If this were a blog about art,of course we would occasionally speak of the work of the “old Masters”.A healthy enduring buisness is about the pursuit of excellence,profit being a desirable byproduct…..when a buisness is all about product,IMHO excellence is SELDOM a byproduct.My $.02


  10. “Vintage” air guns are bought and sold everyday. Not sure what the definition of vintage is but the HW55 series qualifies in my view.

    Pyramyd Air is to be commended for their support of allowing this discontinued guns to be blogged. I think it’s important to learn about our airgun roots through vintage guns and educate airgunners about the pros and cons of all models so we can be better prepared when the potential purchase of a vintage gun presents itself.

    Vintage gun purchases have caused me to spend a lot of money with Pyramyd Air on pellets, mounts, scopes, gun cases, etc.

    kevin


  11. Hello B.B. Just want to add my vote for the vintage air rifles. Unfortunately, I wasn’t into air guns at the time these came out. In 1969, I was doing my Woodstock thing. To know these rifles were under $100.00 . just adds salt to the wound. Of coarse, $100.00 was about the same as what I’m paying for an HW97 these days. It is good to keep things in proportion. Also, where oh where is part 2 of Dr. Beeman’s interview? I believe part one was in May.
    Titus



      • Thank you for your vote of confidence Edith. If I may call you Edith? I realize B.B. is a busy man; what with testing at the range and looking up bits of facts, etc. However, the Beeman name is synonymous with high powered “adult air guns”. To hear him explain in his own words, his trials and tribulations, is to look at how we got to where we are today. A wealth of knowledge comes through every time I listen to part 1. And that’s about 6 times.
        Titus


  12. For me the vintage reviews are certainly a negative, as I then have more competition when a sweet oldie shows up. Looks like I will need to complain again.

    B.B. – Once again I am a day late and dollar short from being able to help. HW50 number two came back from Rich shooting at a sedate 550 ft per second. The primary reason for its trip up north was to chop and shroud the barrel, but while he had it I had him install a new spring and seals. The old leather breech seal was especially bad and the rifle was barely managing 350 ft per second .

    Now since I had not specified what type of tune I wanted rather than send it back, I just ordered a JM R8\ old HW50 kit to replace the spring Rich had put in. The result was instant and it now hits over 700 fps with Silver Bears, the lightest pellets I generally keep.
    The point of the story is I took the brand new soft shooting spring and tossed it in the trash not foreseeing how it could possibly be needed in he future. Sounds like what you needed.

    Overall, this $130.00 bargain rifle will not be the best value of the HW50’s I bought. Just like with home repairs, ever thing is more than you estimate. Stock refinishing, replacement screws, metal work, etc. As far as a house, you should always buy new!

    The winner of the 50’s was the 3rd one from an estate sale. I swear it was tuned by Paul Watts – shoots mid 700’s with a perfect trigger job all for $240.00 and about 95% condition. Needs no work.


  13. The market needs get a $300 target rifle that is self contained and easy to cock. It needs a grip like the HW55, aperture sights, adjustable cheek and butt.


    • John,
      I love what you are saying pal but, 10m target has gone PCP. There’s no turning back unless there is a dramatic improvement in springers where they don’t need the the sensitive artillery hold. At this time, not gonna happen. But I’m with you bub!!!!!! I have a Crosman Challenger (PCP) that I haven’t been able to enjoy yet because of too much traveling but pretty soon I’ll get to it. If you’re not prejudiced against PCPs then wait for my review. Today, with peeps it’s about $600, double what you’re looking for but you ain’t gonna get that kind of accuracy any cheaper, today.


  14. Well you’ll certainly never see me complain about blog posts on vintage airguns! In fact, for my tastes they are just about the only kind I find worth collecting and shooting these days. Sure, a classic may be out of production, but beauty and performance never become obsolete or go out of style.

    I fully agree with Kevin, I think it’s wonderful that Pyramyd supports this activity.

    I’m sure this won’t exactly come as a revelation, but I’ve had great luck with Jim Maccari’s kits for the HW 55, and would highly recommend one for this rifle!


  15. B.B.,

    I thank you for ALL of your reviews. And I thank PA for so graciously providing us with this blog! If PA would like more reviews of newer products, so be it. It is their blog after all. I am just thankful that they do not muzzle B.B. (although at times he does seem a bit overly gracious when reviewing a real stinker).

    Speaking of new guns to review. Have PA send you a Hammerli AR-20. That to me looks like it could be a VERY interesting rifle! And the price is quite reasonable by most modern day standards! It could be a real winner for PA and us!


    • RidgeRunner,

      You MUST be joking! A field target rifle with a muzzle velocity of 560 f.p.s.? When someone puts something like that on the market, they open themselves to ridicule. Shooters may not know what field target is, but manufacturers certainly should.

      Imagine if Kia put out a 4-cylinder truck and called it the NASCAR pace car! The Hammerli AR-20 is the same sort of faux pas.

      That rifle can’t be used for 10-meter, field target, silhouette or anything else. What good is it?

      B.B.



        • I see the removal of the scope and mount, replacing them with aperature sights, creating an entry level 10 meter rifle at a price that doesn’t break the bank. It is a Walther, made in Germany. No, it is not likely worth diddlely as a FT, but could very well be a tack driver nonetheless.


          • Ridgerunner,

            There are two AR20 rifles. One is the FT version, which Umarex in Germany mistakenly thought could be used for field target (don’t ask me why), and the other is the non-FT version that has open sights. On the AR20 product page on Pyramyd Air’s site, the owner’s manual is linked in the left column…and that manual shows the 2 guns. At this time, Pyramyd Air carries only the scoped version. I looked at the Umarex USA site, and it also shows only the scoped version. Maybe Umarex thought American’s didn’t want the gun with open sights :-)

            Edith


            • Thanks Edith!

              Something else everyone should probably keep in mind is that this air rifle may not have been designed primarily for the American market. I seem to recall that in England and other European countries that air rifles are restricted to less than 12 FPE. Now if they want to go to the FT range, what are they going to use? Very likely you would see a few 10 meter rifles with nice scopes on them.

              We are just spoiled with an over abundance of available power. What good is 500+ FPE if you cannot hit what you are shooting at? I wonder how well the AR20 does with the “Green” H & N pellets?

              As far as appearance is concerned, it looks like other modern 10 meter rifles. That Airforce rifle looks more like an “assault weapon”.


              • RidgeRunner,

                No, this wasn’t a cultural thing. All the world competes in field target at just under 12 foot-pounds, which would be around 800 f.p.s.

                This was just a stupid mistake, made by people who are not shooters and thought “field target” was a cool term. They didn’t appreciate that is is a real discipline.

                I see mistakes like this all the time. Ten years ago, no one in Germany knew what field target was, so they referred to it as “field shooting” and made up all sorts of claims about their equipment and pellets using that term. Then the Brits went to Germany and put on some demonstration matches and the German shooters quickly understood the sport.

                The manufacturers, however, haven’t caught up yet.

                B.B.


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