Walther’s new LGV Challenger breakbarrel spring air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle
Walther’s LGV Challenger is an exciting new sporting breakbarrel springer.

Today, I’ll start looking at a new breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle that’s offered by Walther — the LGV. I saw the full range of these at the 2013 SHOT show and asked to test this one. For the record, I’m testing serial number BJ001517 — a .22-caliber rifle in a black synthetic stock. Also for the record, this rifle says “Made in Germany” on the baseblock.

The new LGV
There was an old LGV, of course. Several of them, in fact. They represented Walther’s high-water mark in the 1970s with breakbarrel recoiling spring-piston target rifles, coming at the end of a long line of developments in that field.

Walther LGV Olympia
Walther’s LGV Olympia target rifle was one of the last and finest recoiling spring-piston target rifles.

The new LGVs are all sporting rifles, which means more power but no target sights or target stocks. So, I’ll evaluate these guns on the basis of what they are, not on the name they carry.

The LGV Challenger is a large air rifle, weighing 8.5 lbs. and measuring 43 inches from end to end. The pull is 14-1/2 inches, so it fits me like a glove. I cocked it just to see how it felt…and, gentlemen, I must admit that I am in love! I haven’t felt a spring-piston air rifle that cocked this smooth since — never! And the cocking effort is light for what they tell me is a 700 f.p.s. rifle (in .22…it’s 1,000 f.p.s. in .177). When I closed the breech, it clicked like a Mercedes limo door after a factory adjustment.

Then, I thumbed off the automatic safety (which they put on the tang, just like a shotgun safety) and squeezed the two-stage trigger. It was light, if not quite crisp, but it beats most other air rifle triggers I’ve tested right out of the box. The literature calls it an adjustable match trigger; and based on just one shot, I think they’re correct. Of course, I’ll do all the adjustments and tell you what I discover.

The feel upon firing was a tiny shudder of vibration. Nothing so bad as to need attention, but enough that you know the gun is a springer.

Walther had a choice of power sources — coiled steel mainspring or gas spring. They chose the coiled steel spring, and that brings with it the easy cocking and slight shudder at firing. I think they made the right choice, because cocking a powerful gas spring gun these days is like bending the bow of Hercules!

Sights
The sights are fiberoptic — front and rear. But they also give the shooter a VERY crisp squared-off front post and rear notch. The fiberoptic tubes are very bright, so I’ll have to adjust the lighting to use them as conventional sights; but if this rifle shoots half as nice as it looks, it’ll be worth the effort.

The rear sight is fully adjustable. The knobs for both adjustments have crisp detents and scales to tell you where the sight has moved. And it’s made of steel!

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle rear sight
The LGV’s rear sight has adjustments in both directions that are crisp and precise. The barrel pivot bolt is also shown here.

The rifle has a grooved scope rail built into the top of the spring tube and, once again, Walther did it right. They put three vertical scope stop holes at the rear of the rail, so there should be no problem mounting a scope that will stay put.

Barrel lock
The one feature that carried over with the LGV name was the barrel lock. It’s a latch under the baseblock that must be pushed up before breaking the barrel. The barrel locks with a strong detent, which this lock puts over the top. Ddid I mention that I like the positive feeling when the barrel closes? It closes more positively than just about any breakbarrel I’ve tested since a Diana model 25/27.

The barrel pivots on a genuine steel bolt that appears to have a nut on the other side. It looks like the designers listened to the need to occasionally tighten the breech bolt and did the right thing.

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle barrel lock
The barrel lock keeps the breech tightly closed when firing.

The synthetic stock is rough to the touch and has a hint of tacti-cool to its profile. When the off hand touches the triggerguard, the rifle is agreeably muzzle-heavy, which stabilizes it in all positions. A thick, soft, black rubber buttpad holds the rifle securely on your shoulder and keeps it from slipping when you stand it up in the corner.

All metal, except for the rear sight, is highly polished and deeply blued. You’ll be proud to own a rifle that looks this nice.

The cocking link is a two-piece articulated link that allows the cocking slot in the stock to be shorter. That reduces vibration a lot.

Threaded muzzle
The Challenger has a threaded muzzle with 1/2×20 thread, which is the British thread pattern for a silencer. Most conventional American-made silencers use a pitch of 28 threads per inch and will not fit. Now, in truth, most spring guns aren’t loud enough to need a silencer. Most of the noise travels through the stock, and the shooter is the only one who hears it; but airgun silencers are all the rage today, and this is a nice touch.

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle threaded muzzle
The Challenger’s muzzle is threaded for a silencer.

I can’t wait to start shooting this rifle. The feel conveys a sense of quality that I haven’t felt in a new air rifle in a long time.

54 thoughts on “Walther’s new LGV Challenger breakbarrel spring air rifle: Part 1

  1. Do my eyes deceive me, or is that a green fiber optic picking through the vents in the front sight housing?

    At least they used a easy to see color… Bright green rear with hard to see red front seems futile to me. Just something about putting dots in the middle of visual acuity range close to the eye where they appear larger, and then putting a dim red dot way out front where it needs a lot more light just to match the apparent intensity of the rear.



      • Too bad… Must have just been the angle of the glare on the photo then. Or maybe the angle is going under the plastic rod and I just thought I saw it as green plastic. That’s what I get for posting before going to bed (a habit I need to break in the next week or so — no more getting out of bed at 11AM and staying up until 1AM… I have a job offer and need to get back to hours I haven’t used in 20 years… Getting up just before 6AM to make it to work by 8AM)


  2. What a wonderful surprise!

    Although B.B. tantalized us in the SHOT Show reports about visiting the Walther booth and showing us a picture of the new Walther LGV Competition Ultra that has spawned worldwide attention I am pleasantly surprised that the new Walther LGV is being tested.

    Since Pyramid Air doesn’t carry this model (yet?) I’m again thankful for the latitude that Pyramid Air allows on this blog. It’s been decades since the German Walther plant introduced a new airgun. It’s unprecedented that they introduce an airgun in velocities for hunting (as defined by the USA consumers). This is a big deal.

    Don’t know what cables (not strings) B.B. pulled to obtain a test gun but I appreciate the effort and obvious commitment to this blog. Just more evidence that B.B. is passionately devoted enough to this blog in order to go the extra mile to test airguns that aren’t easily available.

    I really like that a .22 caliber is being tested in this new walther.

    I’m looking forward to this series but wish they would have sent B.B. a woodstocked version (like the lgv competition ultra) with iron sights rather than fiber optics.

    kevin


    • Kevin,

      I asked Umarex USA for several of their new guns at SHOT. The P-08 and this one are two they have sent. More are on the way.

      I admit that I had to overcome personal bias against the reuse of the LGV name. But others are doing it, as well, so why not Walther? I decided that it’s time to cooperate and graduate.

      B.B.


      • Tom,

        Re: Bias against reuse of the LGV name

        Agreed. Unfortunately, like you said, it’s becoming a popular marketing crutch.

        Someone smarter than me said awhile back that these fresh out of diapers, airgun marketing geniuses just want to “continue to harvest the energy that a model name has built up.”

        kevin


  3. Wow, this looks like a great new rifle. Any idea of the potential price point and/or it can be had with a wooden stock? Thanks in advance.


  4. I have been reading a few articles from across the pond, where this gun has been available in sub 12flb for a few months now. All the reviews have been very favourable on the three versions of this beautiful airgun. When I saw tomorrows blog, I was elated. Although B.B. has given us a clue as to what to expect, it will be very interesting to see how a full powered gun in .22cal will perform. As I stated, although I have read a few articles by the British airgun press, I look forward to B.B. putting this gun through his usual methodical testing. It should be a great 3-4 blogs worth. Happy days ahead.
    Caio Titus


    • Titus,

      I plan on at least 4 parts to the report, because I want to shoot the rifle at 25 yards using the open sights. If it shoots even half as nice as it feels, I’m going to like this one.

      B.B.


  5. This rifle just screams style at me, i love air rifles where the end of the action curves into the body like on an Airsporter. It just looks as if its excellently engineered like a Wiehrauch and at 9 lbs odd on a synthetic stock it has to be, though it would be heavier in wood I would love to own this rifle. The design of the stock in wood would look absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait for the accuracy test!

    TTFN, best regards,

    Wing Commander Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe.


  6. B.B.
    I would have thought you would have picked th Master or the Master Ultra to test since they have real sights instead of those glowy thingy sights. Their hype is this is one primo sproinger. I am anxious for an honest, hard look at this one.



    • RR,

      This is one of two LGVs I have scheduled to test5. The other one is the Competition Ultra. As I said in the report, I plan on lighting the target so the sights show as a square post and notch.

      B.B.


  7. B.B.

    You almost have my attention with this one.

    Something about the pic makes it look smaller and lighter than you say it is. The stock has a bit of the cheap tactical smell to it. I could do without the silencer thread, even though it can be hidden. It may come back to bite us some day. The fiber optics itch me a little . I have mixed feelings about the things.

    So let’s see how it shoots.

    twotalon


  8. BB, I’m glad you are testing a .22 cal version, it’s rare except on here to see that. looking foward to the test on this one.



  9. For those who live in NY state, you may be interested to know that there’s a claim that’s been filed against the state & the law by the NY Rifle & Pistol Association and AR15.com. I read a brief article about it at GirlsJustWannaHaveGuns.com. Here’s a quote:

    “New York law enforcement officials have also spoken out against the law for feasibility reasons. Some police officials say they are not keen on harassing law-abiding citizens who just happen to own firearms. When notified of the claim, Governor Cuomo stated that he expected legal responses to the SAFE act and that he is confident it will stand on its own.”

    So, there may be hope, yet, for gun owners in New York.

    Edith


    • I sure hope so. I suspect a lot will depend on “WWRD” (What Will Remington Do?).

      “Girls Just Wanna Have Guns” is a great site. I read it every day.

      Les


    • Edith, There is a huge grassroots movement here to repeal the NYSAFE Act here. There will be a rally in Albany at the end of this month, and there has already been one in Buffalo which was well attended. Most law enforcement is against the act. My state senator voted against it . He was a NY State trooper and Sheriff. All NY shooters should go to the SCOPE, or NY Firearms sites and sign the petitions .


  10. This is certainly off-topic, but the story of the bow that nobody could bend only reminded me of the Odyssey. Here’s a line from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odysseus:

    When the contest of the bow begins, none of the suitors are able to string the bow, but Odysseus does, and wins the contest.

    Is there a similar story about Hercules?

    Paul



    • Odysseus not only won the contest, he put an end to the suitors, including one young man he attempted to persuade to leave. Odysseus subscribed to the Castle Doctrine and didn’t take kindly to the entirely unwelcome home invaders. ~Ken


  11. Nice rifle. I hope it doesn’t have German pricing to go with its engineering. :-(

    Wulfraed, there is another breed of SF residents–mostly older guys–who like to walk around with truly nothing at all. There was finally a popular backlash against these people prancing around at all hours of the day. Unfortunately, it’s not the beautiful people who decide to act like this.

    Victor, yes, I have experienced the ultimate shot, more since I adopted your killer method. Last night was a little off but still substantially better than what I was doing before. I’m reminded of my Master’s Swimming Coach. After a particularly grueling set with the rain coming down hard, he cried out, “These could be the best moments of our lives!” This was greeted with loud laughter up and down the pool, but I can kind of see his point.

    Titus Groan, how fascinating. I was under the impression that to make sense of a passage, the minimum was that the first and last letters of the words had to be correct. You have clearly shown otherwise! So what’s the minimum requirement? Perhaps some fraction of words with correct first and last letters. I would be surprised if you could read phrases of nonsense words. Otherwise you would be able to understand: “All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mom raas outgrabe.”

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      If only more people would realize how special the gift of youth is. We think the party is going to last forever, but it leaves us ever so slowly such that we don’t even realize it. But on the other hand, we gain wisdom and maturity, which is just as special a gift. A couple of years ago Lones Wigger shot the Arizona state championships with a score of 3188/3200. That’s about what I was shooting when I was 17 and near my peak. Lones Wigger won his first Olympic Gold during the 60′s! The difference between Mr. Wigger and so many of us is that he fully appreciated the gifts that were bestowed upon him. Many of us either don’t appreciate the gift of life, or we take it for granted.

      Victor


  12. Victor, in regards to the Vietnam veteran with PTSD that you mentioned, I’ve read enough memoirs saying that the combat experience is utterly indescribable to believe they are probably right. A family friend was in Force Recon in Vietnam, and he says that on one mission lasting three days or so, he walked over 100 miles. When he was told this, he didn’t believe it, but they showed him his route on a map. It must be like a super-Olympics out there. But most people don’t experience it without some kind of deep disturbance. This friend is well-adjusted but he needed treatment after his service.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      My brother in-law was traumatized by the absolute horror’s of war, meaning lots of blood, pain, death, and the stench of it all. He saw the people that he killed and that killed his friends. He experienced combat situations where you didn’t have the luxury to aim your rifle. He felt the splattering of ricochet’s right next to him. He stood guard over dozens of dead soldiers. He experience the morbid fear of hiding in bush while the enemy search nearby. But he kept going back with each younger brother that got drafted. In the end, it was a booby-trap that killed several of his friends, and severely wounding him, that forced him to leave. What I know about his experiences took literally decades to find out, because he really doesn’t like to talk about it. It’s only been in recent years that he’s brought out some of his military memorabilia, including pictures of him at combat zones, medals, and his First Calvary patch. He’s very proud of his service, has been a wonderful husband to my sister and father to his two daughters, who both have graduated from college, but he lives with demons inside of him that lie too close to the surface. He’s proof that you don’t just get over it. Sure, he lived a full productive life, but that’s just because he and my sister have managed it.

      Victor


  13. Okay, more baby steps (into the world of PB’s).
    My Christmas present to myself and the boys this year was a GSG 1911 http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.fatwallet.com/static/attachments/34104_f1gsg1911.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1015565/&h=312&w=480&sz=50&tbnid=NaemMy0V7PNTcM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=138&zoom=1&usg=__4sO3wdXzLSs9AEllTQDZFGMvDOM=&docid=OA3HaS-4naNMfM&sa=X&ei=_qwSUfSWF4_4qAHZu4GIAw&ved=0CD4Q9QEwAg&dur=429
    Had it out to the range for the first time last night. Put about 200 rounds of .22 Blazer through it without a single issue.
    As soon as the boys are big enough to handle the recoil I REALLY want a Series 70 or 80 Colt. But I would definitely take suggestions as I know that there are many experts (this means you b.b. ;-) ) in the world of the Colt.


    • CSD,

      Congrats on the .,22! Are you still able to buy ammo in Canada?

      As for the 1911, definitely the Series 70 over the Series 80. The Series 80 has an extra half-safety that does nothing but screw with the trigger pull in my opinion. It was one of Colt’s many concessions to the anti-gun crowd. It fixes a problem that doesn’t exist.

      A Series 70 is old-school and has just the three safety devices — the safety, the grip safety and the short firing pin. The trigger can be tuned really nice and still safe.

      B.B.


      • At the moment you can walk into any store locally and buy whatever you want, in any quantity.
        I’ve talked to a couple of local store owners and they feel it will be next year that we feel the pinch.
        All of their stock would have been ordered in the fall when there was no frenzy going on in the U.S.
        Our con laws are fairly draconican as many of you are aware. So the general public feeling up here is that we don’t need bans, or new laws…just that the U.S. should follow our lead and institute restricted classes, background checks, inane stupidity (up here air pistols over 500FPS are subject to the same restrictions as a .50cal Desert Eagle for gods sake)…all meaning that at the moment there is no buying frenzy.
        But come fall, when the stores up here all start ordering for next year…then the manufacturers shortage will hit and they won’t be able to get stock for next year.
        I know that since the beginning of the year I have been taking buying an extra couple of boxes of ammo every paycheque. I figure that if I do this as long as I can that if the supply dries up next year I’ll have enough to get by.
        And another question. My friend with the 70 & 80 series Colts says there is nothing like a Colt.
        Are there other brands worth considering…Wilson Combat and a few others come to mind.
        Part of me says to get a Colt I’d be buying a piece of history…same reason I want the Lee Enfield. But first and foremost my guns are all ‘shooters’ and if another brand will give me the Colt feeling but be better bang for the buck, I’d go in that direction.
        One thing…I’ve always considered myself a ‘rifle’ guy, but after last night I gotta admit those pistols are fun…guess I’m just a ‘firearm’ guy.
        I better never try a grenade launcher ;-)



        • CSD,

          Oh, yeah! There ARE other brands than Colts. In fact, Colt plays catch up just to be on the same footing with these other brands.

          Wilson Combat of one good one. Les Baer is another. Either of those guns will run rings around a factory Colt. Just ask Kevin, who tried the trigger on my Wilson Combat CQB Light Rail how good they get.

          My advice to you is to purchase Patrick Sweeney’s two books (the Gun Digest Book of the 1911, Vol. 1 and 2) and internalize them. Through him I learned what was what with the 1911 of today — even though I have been using them for the last 45 years.

          B.B..



          • Nah grenades wouldn’t be good but a 9mm or .357 bigbore airgun shooting under 500fps would be fine and wouldn’t need anykind of license.

            J-F


        • CSD,

          You really should hold a wilson combat cqb before deciding. I’m sure the trigger out of the box isn’t adjusted as nice as B.B.’s but his trigger is shockingly good. I’ve got medium hands and his wilson combat fit and balanced very well. I put a volquartson trigger on my ruger mark III and I hate to admit it but it’s not as nice as his wilson combat cqb.

          kevin


    • Channeling Yoda
      Listen to Master BB, you will…

      The Series 80 has a trigger (de)activated firing pin block. Near the end of the trigger stroke it has to lift a spring-loaded rod until a notch cut in the rod clears the firing pin body.

      Considering that the 1911 uses a straight back trigger (and not a pivoting style), having a rod move vertically upwards above the trigger from a movement perpendicular to the rod has to have some strange effects on the pull.

      The similar blocks on other semi-autos don’t have the same degree of effect, as the pivoting trigger permits a direct upward lift force.


  14. BB,

    Yesterday afternoon, I set up a short range (about 15′) in my basement to try to test the accuracy of my grand kids’ bb guns. Nicky’s new M4-177 was shooting badly to the left at the range. We shoot only pellets with this gun.

    A nice thing about it is the power can be limited by the number of pumps. In the basement, it is shot with three pumps.

    I couldn’t adjust the rear sight far enough to get it to shoot to POA. I took off the front sight and reversed it. This helped a lot, but looked wrong.

    I could see no way to adjust the front post. So I took some thin black tape (striping tape) and added ten layers to the left side of the sight base where it contacts the mounting rail ( wanted to align the front and rear sights using a laser, but the gun uses a Weaver rail that is not compatible with my BSA laser).

    That only moved the front post a little, but it was enough to allow adequate adjustment to the rear sight (a peep sight with a choice of two holes). When this resulted in a dead-center bullseye, I quit while I was ahead. I had to use about 3″ hold-over. Could see no way to adjust vertically. The front sight is now installed correctly.

    Maybe this will be OK on the outdoor range where we shoot at 25 yards.

    Although both Nicky and Melanie have moved on to more advanced guns, I want to give them plenty of short-range practice with the Red Ryders because they are so similar to the Daisy 499′s they use in the bb gun school.

    Nicky and sister Amber keep bb guns here. Nicky has a Red Ryder, Amber has a 1998 (a Red Ryder done in pink). Melanie shoots my own Red Ryder. My other Red Ryder, 70th Anniversary Edition, stays in the case.

    I tried all three. Nicky’s grouped reasonably well for a smooth-bore. Mine was so-so, not as good as his. Amber’s 1998 was dead-on. I was shooting Daisy 15′ standard bb gun targets (“don’t shoot my washing machine” I was warned).

    I can see no way to adjust windage on these guns. Mine is also missing its sight ramp (I should be able to order one).

    I also have a Marlin Cowboy bb gun. This is a Crosman Red Ryder clone with an improved cocking mechanism. It was badly imprecise (although accurate?). It grouped well but not to POA.

    I was able to correct that. The rear sight is held on with two screws. I removed it and enlarged the rear hole with a Dremel Tool. Now I have a small windage adjustment that brought POI to POA (Point of Impact to Point of Aim for newcomers).

    Les


    • Les,

      That’s a tribute to what Yankee ingenuity can do! Wait till those girls shoot the 499. They’re in for a treat!

      B,B.



    • Ton,

      We’re checking into it but the dollar against the Euro? We’re printing Fiat money these days and the dollar isn’t what it used to be.

      B.B.


      • Does that mean I can get a new Jeep for cheap?

        (according to the magazines, the next bottom end Jeep model will be a 4-wheel drive version of the Fiat 500 with Jeep trim)


    • Ton,

      We asked Umarex, and this is what they told us:
      “Umarex has been eating increases on prices on these guns for the past few years (and NOT passing those increases on to customers). That’s no longer an option.”

      Edith


  15. It’s nice to see a gun carry a German brand that’s made in Germany instead of China. I have a real problem with China and their poor manufacturing quality and often toxic materials used to make things.
    I’m hoping to see the LGR that was promised years ago that never made it to market. I was looking forward to that gun. I forget if that was a Walther but i think it was. I’m fairly glutted with break barrels right now so I think I’ll give this one a pass over.


  16. BB,
    You said “The cocking link is a two-piece articulated link that allows the cocking slot in the stock to be shorter. That reduces vibration a lot.” I am interested to know why a 2-piece cocking link reduces vibration a lot?


    • Joe,

      The cocking link doesn’t reduce vibration. The shorter cocking slot in the stock reduces it. The shorter slot makes the stock more rigid and less prone to vibrate, hence less vibration.

      B.B.



  17. BB,
    After you initial handling of LGV, how would you rank it in quality (Mercedes door closing) to the Weihrauch HW30-50-80? I read a lot of high praise for those guns (except for a galling problem I keep reading about on reviews-not sure if true). I was really excited about it till I read the price on Pyramyd Air…$566. I’m sure it will probably be worth it (pending BB’s review) but it’s out of my range none the less…..


    • Bradley,

      The new LGV is smoother than modern Weihrauchs. It is equivalent to the vintage HW 50 that we loved back in the 1980s.

      I am surprised that the price is that low. People were guessing $700. The dollar has been trashed by the government’s printing of billions in fiat money.

      B.B.


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