by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I get to play with this wonderful new .22-caliber breakbarrel Walther LGV Challenger, and the experience was wonderful. Kevin — start thinking about a new gun! And Victor — stick around, because today you’re going to see an example of an airgun whose velocity claims are on the money. What a perfect way to get rid of the bad taste yesterday’s report left.
Oh, and to whoever said these were going to cost $700 — they’re not. This one is listed for $566.10 on the Pyramyd Air website (on the date this blog report was published). I realize that’s still a lot of money, but you can’t buy this level of quality for a whole lot less. The first time I cocked it for today’s velocity test, I was reminded of the bank-vault feel the action has. I cannot say enough good about it, except to tell Kevin that it cocks as nicely as my tuned Beeman R8. He’ll know what I mean.
What does a two-piece cocking link do?
I made an offhand remark in Part 1 that because this rifle has a two-piece cocking link that allows a shorter cocking slot, it vibrates less, and one reader asked me why that was. It isn’t because of the cocking link. It’s because the shorter slot in the stock makes the stock stiffer and less prone to vibrate. It’s a trick that’s been around since the 1960s and used to be touted by all the airgun catalogs.
The barrel is held shut by a lock whose latch can be seen sticking out the end of the forearm. Cocking requires that latch to be pushed up with the thumb and only then can the barrel be broken open. You don’t have to slap the muzzle like you do on so many air rifles today, but the barrel opens like a bank vault, also.
The LGV has a short-stroke piston, so when the rifle is cocked the barrel doesn’t go very far past 90 degrees. Compared to many magnum rifles we see today, it seems to stop very quickly when you break it down. The catalog says the rifle cocks with 38 lbs. of effort, but my test specimen cocks with 33 lbs. of force. And, it feels like it may drop a pound or two after a good break-in.
“And don’t-cha wanna know how it works?” as the comedian Gallagher used to say. I selected three pellets to test today, though I may try others during the accuracy tests later on. Pellet No. 1 is that “standard candle,” the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Premiers averaged 587 f.p.s. in my test. The low was 583 and the high was 591 f.p.s., so the total velocity spread was just 8 f.p.s. That tight spread is phenomenal for a new springer and would even be considered good for a tuned gun.
At the average velocity, the test rifle generates 10.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with this pellet. And speaking of velocities in this range, remember that 671 f.p.s is a “magic” number; because at that velocity, the energy of the pellet in foot-pounds equals its weight in grains. That makes it easy to know the power of the rifle you’re dealing with.
The second pellet I tested was another standard test pellet — the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby. It’s a pure-lead pellet, so it has high lubricity, and its skirt is both thin and flared wide enough to seal most barrels…and that holds true for all calibers. So, the Hobby is the pellet serious shooters select when they want to know the practical power and velocity limits for a given springer.
Hobbys averaged 664 f.p.s. from the test rifle. The low was 649 and the high was 670, so this spread was a much larger 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Hobby pellet generated 11.65 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
Gamo PBA Platinum
I don’t have a lot of lead-free pellets — especially in .22 caliber, so I had to use what I had. Ideally, I would have tested this rifle with the RWS HyperMax pellet that weighs 9.9 grains. But the Gamo PBA Platinum pellets I did test weigh 9.7 grains. Normally, they would be even faster, but these are very large and fit the bore tightly. I know that HyperMax pellets in .177 caliber are not that large, so I’m assuming they would also be smaller in .22 and would, therefore, be a little faster, as well.
The PBS Platinum pellets averaged 703 f.p.s. (see, Victor?) in the test rifle. The low was 691 and the high was 713 f.p.s., so a total spread of 20 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the PBA pellet generated 10.65 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle
So, this LGV Challenger is a 12 foot-pound gun. Ten years ago, that would be a suicide marketing venture, because the 1,000 f.p.s. mark was considered the gold standard (and 800 in .22). Today, we know better, and I’m here to tell you — this is a seriously classic air rifle. I can see a long and successful life ahead for the new LGV series, as long as it holds up in the accuracy department. And I think it has to, because I can tell the level of care that went into its design. Walther, all will be forgiven for re-using a classic model name if this test rifle shoots well.
The trigger is adjustable. I don’t have a manual, but I can see the screws, and they call it a match trigger. As it was shipped, the trigger was two-stage and released at 1 lb., 10 oz. The first stage takes about 7 oz., so you can’t really feel it at all and stage 2 is definite. I felt one jump of creep on the second stage, and that was it.
The first stage is quite long, and that may bother some folks. None of the two adjustments appears to affect this. The screw that’s in the trigger blade affects the length of the second-stage pull, and the Allen or hex screw that’s located behind the trigger blade affects the sear contact area. It’s possible to adjust out all the contact so the gun cannot be cocked.
What I found was that the trigger was adjusted as good as it gets when I received the rifle. So, the numbers above represent the best you can expect.
The rifle has a small shudder when it fires. It’s enough to tell you there’s a steel mainspring, but it’s not objectionable. I would leave it as is. The application of black tar would quiet the shudder, but you would lose a little velocity. Perhaps, some tolerances could be closed up or the piston might be buttoned to calm the gun, but that’s a topic for a real airgunsmith — not me.
Next, I plan to shoot the rifle with the open sights. I’ll light the target so I can use them without the fiberoptics showing, which will give greater precision. After that, I plan to mount a scope and test it again. If this rifle shoots well, it’ll be an instant classic!