Walther 1250 Dominator PCP air rifle: Part 1

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

Walther 1250 Dominator
Walther 1250 Dominator

“A poor man’s PCP!” That’s what “they” said about the Hämmerli 850 AirMagnum CO2 repeater. It has many of the features shooters were looking for — repeatability, accuracy and a huge number of shots from the 88-gram CO2 cartridge it used. So they called it a poor man’s PCP; and before long, someone converted one from CO2 to air. They liked it that way, and a boutique industry was born.

But Walther, who makes the Hämmerli 850, was paying attention. If people wanted the rifle to use compressed air, they could build the gun that way from the start. The result — today’s test report on the Walther 1250 Dominator.

The rifle
The 1250 Dominator is a bolt-action, 8-shot precharged pneumatic (PCP) repeater. It comes in either .177 or .22 caliber, and I’m testing a .177. The rifle uses a rotary clip to hold the pellets. To remove or install the clip, the bolt is cocked, then the clip retainer is pushed back, and a clip can be installed or removed from the left side of the receiver, only. The owner’s manual calls the clip both a magazine and a drum, interchangeably; but because there’s no spring-assist, it’s just a clip to hold the pellets. One notable feature that differs from almost all other rifles having rotary clips is that the top of this clip lies below the plane of the receiver, allowing one-piece scope rings to be used.

Walther 1250 Dominator PCP air rifle
The clip lies below the plane of the receiver, allowing one-piece scope rings if you prefer them.

I am testing rifle serial number GO39547. It is all black, with matte metal finish and a dark synthetic stock. The stock is hollow, but feels substantial. The butt is padded with a soft rubber pad that prevents the rifle from slipping.

This rifle operates on compressed air, only. Though it’s based on a CO2 rifle, it cannot use CO2 cartridges, nor does it operate on a bulk charge of CO2. The fill level for air is 300 bar (4,350 psi). Those with carbon fiber tanks or special hand pumps will be able to fill the rifle to capacity; but even if you can’t fill to that level, you can still use the rifle. You’ll just get fewer shots, but they’ll still be high-velocity. Does that model number 1250 tell you anything? Walther rates the rifle to 1,250 f.p.s., and we’ll soon see how this one preforms.

The rifle weighs 8.0 lbs. It feels muzzle-heavy when held with the off hand back by the triggerguard. The balance is very conducive to good shooting, and I think it’s going to help a lot.

Trigger
The trigger is two-stage, and the length of the first stage is adjustable via a screw in front of the trigger blade. The trigger blade is wide plastic with a smooth face. It’s possible to uncock the rifle, but you have to catch the hammer with the bolt as it falls. The automatic safety must be pushed off, and the bolt cannot be all the way back or you can’t get the safety off, so there has to be a little standoff distance. That’s why the bolt has to catch the hammer as it falls.

You might wonder why you would want to uncock the gun, and there are several reasons. One is to test the trigger without discharging the gun. Another is when you wish to remove the clip without firing the rifle. But be careful; because, when you cock the rifle with a loaded clip installed, pushing the bolt forward will push a pellet into the breech! Do that more than one time, and you will double-load the rifle. So, that’s a third reason for wanting to uncock the gun — to remove the loaded clip after inadvertently loading one pellet, so only one pellet is in the barrel — the one the bolt just fed in.

Sights
The sights are open front and rear with fiberoptic inserts. Because this is a PCP, I won’t try the open sights in my testing; but if I did, I would light the target to defeat the fiberoptics because they’ll detract from a precise sight picture. The rear sight adjusts for elevation by sliding it up and down an inclined plane. The front sight adjusts for windage by drifting the sight sideways in its dovetail. Remember to move the front sight in the opposite direction than you want the strike of the round to move.

Of course, most owners will mount a scope on this rifle, which is what I plan to do. The 11mm dovetail rail is just over 6 inches long, which is big enough to handle any large scope on the market.

Discharge sound
This is an outdoor air rifle, to be sure. Nothing is held back when it fires. It presents no problem for a person outdoors in a rural place, but you’ll need a large backyard if you don’t want to disturb your neighbors. It isn’t as loud as a .22 short cartridge, but it’ll seem very loud in this day of silenced PCPs.

The barrel is solid and free-floated from the receiver all the way out. That is important for accuracy because the removable reservoir underneath the barrel flexes as the pressure drops during firing.

Not for field target!
There is a rumor floating around that the 1250 Dominator is a good rifle for the sport of field target. Not so! In fact, it would not be legal to use such a powerful air rifle in a field target match. The confusion probably stems from the fact that years ago there was another Walther Dominator that was purpose-built as a field target rifle. That one was a converted Walther 10-meter target rifle whose power was increased to make it competitive. This one would have to be seriously detuned to be used. This is a hunting rifle — pure and simple.

Filling the reservoir
The reservoir is removed from the rifle for filling. And I’m so glad I got to test this gun because I twice discharged the whole fill before remembering how this type of valve works. The manual gives the correct instructions…but whoever reads the manual — until they lose two entire fills?

The trick is to shut off the tank and then unscrew the reservoir without bleeding it. Don’t use the tank’s bleed valve with the tank turned off because the reservoir inlet valve is held open mechanically when the reservoir is screwed in all the way to the fill adapter.

Speaking of the fill adapter, it’s a 300-bar DIN adapter, so you have to have something to screw it into. I was able to screw it directly into my carbon fiber tank valve, but you may not have a 300-bar DIN connection. If you don’t, buy one from Pyramyd Air. The Air Venturi Female DIN Adapter allows you to connect a female Foster quick-disconnect adapter, which many hand pumps come with these days, to the Walther 1250 Dominator fill adapter.

Walther 1250 Dominator precharged pneumatic airgun
The fill adapter screws into a 300-bar DIN adapter. The tank screws onto the other end.

Well, that’s about it for the overview. It’s an interesting PCP; but to hold its own, it’s up against some tough competition. It will all come down to two things — the trigger and, of course, accuracy. And that’s what we’ll evaluate in the tests to come.

48 thoughts on “Walther 1250 Dominator PCP air rifle: Part 1



    • RidgeRunner

      No for the most part of those I witnessed. It has Walther’s own barrel and gives quite good results.

      duskwight


    • RR,

      Lothar Walther and Walther are two different and separate companies. They are related, but the relationship is very weak.

      As TT says, any time a gun has a Lothar Walther barrel they will usually advertise that fact, for the cachet it brings.


      • B.B.

        One other thing though…

        Some barrels are better than others, no matter who makes them. You could get a very good or very bad barrel from anyone. Luck of the draw. It’s a matter of probability when dealing with different manufacturers.

        twotalon


        • TT,

          Yes, I hope everyone is taking that into account here. We are not looking for small variances. We are looking for large trends.

          No two barrels will ever be the same.

          B.B.


      • How about this fantasy gun? It turns out that if you want to get your old Mauser k98 rebarreled, Lothar Walther makes a new production barrel to spec. So, you get a Yugoslav rework of a German k98 for $350 or so, rebarrel it with the Lothar Walther barrel, get the gun modified for a modern scope, and get the Huber Concepts Mauser trigger job. Presto, ultimate sniper rifle. I already have super-accurate rifles, but if I was handy with guns, I would give this a try.

        Matt61


  1. BB,
    This Walther 1250 Dominator really is interesting to me. My first thought was 8 pounds seemed heavy so looking at the manual the spec. states 6.73 lbs.; is this the weight of the rifle without the cylinder? Also is the barrel shrouded or is the barrel as thick as it appears? It is very hard to tell by the pictures. Speaking of barrels I know that Walther precision rifles are as good as any of the top manufactures so if they use the same process for the Dominator it should be an outstanding performer. I will be looking forward to the “rest of the story”


    • Caveman,

      The manual and catalog are wrong. I weighed the rifle on a balance beam scale and it came out exactly 8 pounds.

      There is no shroud. The barrel is solid steel

      B.B.



  2. Aaargh! Another pcp that fills to 4k+….dive shops must be common wherever these things are made. Wish they’d build something for us landlocked types who’s only source of high pressure air is the hot stuff coming out of the mother-in-laws mouth.


    • dangerdongle,

      I must, however warn you, that despite their tanks are tested at 450 atm (1.5 times max operational pressure) their pressure gauges sometimes may not be very precise at the scale of +/- 20 atm when it comes to above-250 atm pressures. So one must be cautious not to overfill the rifle when it comes into 300 atm area and be wary with temperature/pressure, always using external pressure gauge on filling station to verify readings.

      duskwight


    • DD,

      I have found out something interesting. If you check with your local Fire Department, they use (for the most part) 4500 psi carbon fiber tanks for their breathing apps. If you are nice, they will sometimes fill tanks for you. :)

      ATB Chris


    • I think a lot of these rifles with very high fill pressures tend to be regulated. So the fill pressure is really “anything above the reg. pressure, up to the rating of the reservoir”. Is that the case here, or am I spreading misinformation?

      -Jan


      • Jan,

        I don’t think this one is regulated, but I will look int5o it. The literature doesn’t seem to mention a reg.

        Once again, I think people are confusing this rifle with the old Dominator that was based on the LG-300 target rifle. That WAS regulated and it was made for field target. This isn’t the same gun at all.

        B.B.


    • A lot of folks are getting Shoebox setups and filling their own. It comes in either 3000 or 4500 PSI. And for what little it costs (relatively speaking), it does not take many trips to the dive shop to pay for it.


  3. B.B.,

    I have long had a Walther (now branded as a Hammerli) 850 Airmagnum in .177 that uses the Airsource 88 gram CO2 cylinders. I rarely use it, but I can’t bring myself to part with it because it is soooo much fun to shoot. It is incredibly accurate, and the bolt action on mine is smooth as silk. I do not recall how the trigger is. For a CO2 it is a bit loud.

    The downsides to that CO2 version are the non-hunting velocity (chronies at precisely 700 fps. with a fresh Airsource, a warm gun, and Hobbies) and the cooling and slowing down with each shot because of the CO2. As I’m a paper-puncher and plinker only, the low velocity doesn’t bother me, but the cooling effect does, because these guns are fun to shoot rapidly (much like the Walther Lever Action). The first time I shot it in my ten meter basement range I emptied two magazines (16 shots) in about three minutes. I ended up with a group that was a ragged, narrow “rip” in the target that was probably .2+ inches wide and one inch tall! We all know what happened there.

    Quieted down, the CO2 version of this rifle would be an exceptional plinker and rat-killer. I am VERY excited about this test because I’ve periodically looked at this HPA version on Pyramyd Air’s site for a long time and tried to think up a scenario that would justify my buying one. My gear lust for this rifle isn’t helped at all by the fact that it also comes out in a very extra-laden combo package.

    This report is going to be especially fun to read.

    Michael


  4. It’s a good and interesting rifle. I was quite impressed with it. 8 shots, fairly quiet and powerful. But I looked at the price and then thought about it. I already have a custom condor that can easily hit a spent .240 Winchester shell at 25 yards in .22 with authority and can reach out and touch a muskrat and kill it at 100 yards. So as much as I like this gun, I think I’ll need to pass on it. It does feature a fast follow up shot, but when performing sniper duty on small game I don’t often need a second fast follow up shot. Something happens down range I could not predict and I miss which means if I get a second shot it will not be right away, or I hit and the second shot won’t be needed. I might like this gun for target shooting though.


  5. This should be an interesting report. I remember asking about this gun a couple of years ago and was pretty much warned off of it mostly due to fill pressure, but also because I could get more gun for the money. So even though I just got an AA S410 bolt action off of the yellow classifieds and am not likely to buy a 1250, I’ll be watching this report with interest to see how this turns out!

    In other news, I just ordered a Golden Age Lock, an L&R double set trigger and a bunch of misc small parts for my muzzle loader project. I decided to go with some ready made stuff in the interest of gettin’ r done sometime this decade…

    /Dave


  6. Is there such a thing as an inaccurate pcp? I’m a big fan of Walther after the discover of the HN match pistol pellets. They reveal astonishing accuracy in my Walther Nighthawk and the trigger pull seems to be getting better all the time. Here’s absolute proof of the transformative power of the right pellet.

    On the subject of pcps, how’s the smoothness of the bolt action on the Marauder. Can you run it fast?

    Victor, that is truly appalling about your doctors. I hope at the least you submitted a report to some quality control group if you didn’t outright sue. You could almost see that as an obligation to protect the rest of society from a genuine threat. And what was the connection between you being smart and mistreating you? It sounds like the guy has lost it. I’m reminded of a crazy doctor in the news awhile ago who did some procedure on women’s abdomens, perhaps a C section, and then he would sign his initials with a scalpel so that they were permanently reproduced as scars. You can imagine the woman’s husband was not pleased. The prosecution likened it to a man branding cattle. I think this was the same fellow who went out to cash a check at some point in the surgery at a bank across the street. I suspect that you will find receptive ears to any complaints about a doctor. At my last hospital stay, I checked myself out after one day because of a nurse who was a disgrace to her profession, and I let the quality control officer at her hospital have an earful.

    The wisdom when I was in medical school was that there are no bad American medical schools but there are bad residencies. A banana republic school is a red flag for sure. And there are plenty of bad American doctors. I think the guy who was last in our class when I left was an older fellow who aspired to be a proctologist.

    Tin Can Man, thanks for the customized test! I am honored. I’d say we’ve proven the superior density of paper over hard wood. But I think you are right too about the possibility of other factors. What comes to mind from your description is rigidity as opposed to pliability. It’s like the development in fortifications with the development of gunpowder. The biggest castles would get knocked to pieces, so they developed whole new technologies. The exotic star-shaped forts from the era of Louis XIV have been lost with time but their deflecting surfaces are probably reproduced with tank armor, and their absorbing walls of dirt (relevant to the test) probably live on with sand bag fortifications.

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      I spoke with the senior staff member of this Urgent Care outfit about both doctors. As I mentioned before the doctor with this outfit suddenly vanished. It took less than a week for her to be gone, and I have no idea where she ended up. This senior staff member, a much older doctor with a much wiser demeanor, patiently listened to my complaint and then added that the husbands golf partner was a known jerk, and he told me flat out that lots of doctors say that if they saw him a bar, they’d kick his behind. I’ve since heard similar opinions about this jerk. There’s much more to this story, but I’ll spare you the additional details of just how much of a jerk he was. In the end, he was as incompetent as he was a jerk. But no one need worry about him because his only real goal was to make a lot of money, and he has. He owns lots of real-estate, and you’ll see his name all over town as the owner of land that includes major retailers. If he had an ounce of decency, he’d just leave medicine and drown in his fortune.

      Victor


  7. Wulfraed, that statistical report is certainly the fruit of diligence. I’m reminded of a scene in the Nicholas Cage film, ConAir. Convicts are hijacking a prison plane. When one of the convicts pulls out a complicated device to control the plane’s transponder and foil pursuit, one of the other convicts says, “How do you honkies know all this stuff?” But I don’t know where I see the abomination with the statistics without examining them in detail. I thought the yellow shapes were unnecessary. Otherwise, it reminded me of Frank Mann and the Bullet’s Flight from Powder to Target.

    Matt61


    • Heh… I think the fruit had fermented…

      As mentioned in the “conclusion”, I’d have really enjoyed it if the four pseudoStrings were close enough to be considered possibly the same mean velocity. That would have indicated a fairly flat span of the pressure*velocity curve.


  8. B.B.,

    I’m curious as to why you would choose to test a hunting rifle in .177 instead of .22? Are there reasons, or times, when .177 is better for such a purpose, especially for this level of power?

    Victor


  9. twotalon,
    Wulfraed,Thank You for your comments to my question yesterday.That was what I needed and I’ll make use of the info. in a bit.-Tin Can Man-


  10. BB,oooow ahhh.This rifle was on my list of 3 a while ago.I ended up getting the M-rod.The fill pressure was one reason,relative loudness another.I worried that I wouldn’t get much performance out of it with a hand pump.What you said today would have been helpful then.
    I should have asked my question yesterday.I have been trying learn about gyroscopic effects so I could better understand that blog series.The earth is a gyroscope and in the northern hemisphere it causes the poi(point of impact) to move to the right of the poa (point of aim).This becomes a problem at ranges of 300 yards and beyond.This isn’t a problem for most airgunners unless you buy from Dennis Quackenbush or Jack Haley(the man we’re praying for,and Mac too).Also,from right hand twist barrels,when air pushes up under the nose of a projectile dropping down through it’s trajectory ,gyroscopic effect causes the poi to shift to the right of poa.Why didn’t early gun makers use a left hand twist so the two effects would subtract from each other so little or no compensation would be needed?Do you know of any information in history that tells us why?
    Now I know why buffalo hunters always carried a flask.Can you imagine every time you drew on and shot at a buffalo…the one next to him would fall down dead?That could cause a man to drink.

    p.s.Don’t you love it when we stand you up and try to get you to answer for the actions of everybody else over the past 2 to 300 years?Sorry :( -Tin Can Man-


  11. All right, some words on cylinders.
    As we all know time is money and vise versa. In this case it’s both time and money: a new CO2 cylinder for C62 costs above $150 and package from Germany seems to travel by snail mail with some hefty payment for its weight.
    So being as impatient as I am, I decided to make some cylinders of my own, replicating original ones and paying less than $100 per kit.

    http://i49.tinypic.com/iqhgyp.jpg

    Extremely simple design – stainless steel body (to fight the inescapable dew), brass 2-piece valve body and simple cone-and-rod valve with Caprolon valve seat made airtight with an O-ring.

    Cylinder body is made of 2 parts laser-welded together with filled joint, guess where the seam is :) Seam is thermostabilized, ultrasonic and isotope-tested – just to be on the safe side.

    This weekend I’m going to test it by pressure (cylinders are designed to hold 180 atm, with test pressure 90 and working pressure of 60, it’s CO2), test valves and assemble everything together for final tests on the rifle.

    duskwight


    • duskwight,

      You be careful, testing that cylinder. The normal way to test is with oil, because it doesn’t compress, so there is no danger of an explosion. With air, you run the risk of a catastrophic explosion.

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        Of course, I know the rules and I consider my health to be of some value to me :)

        My drill is going to be like that.

        The testbed is a professional equipment certified for XHP tests. Main chamber is an armored cylinder with inch-thick walls, filled with water (to stop possible fragments from bouncing) installed inside a concrete cubical chamber with heavy armored door and thick wooden paneling inside.

        The cylinder is filled with liquid, submerged into it and pressure test starts. After 4 hours under 1.5 times its operational pressure if it is still 1 piece it is taken out and pressurised with water again, 4 more hours and then tested with a micrometer to find any deformations and with precision pressure gauge to see if there are any leaks, then a final helium test for leaks and if it passes through – all right, it’s ready to be used.

        duskwight


  12. In reading the current “American Rifleman” there is an article about the coming gun exhibition at the NRA annual meeting in Houston. Featured in the story is a list of gun manufacturers and their products expected to be featured there.

    I was very pleased to see a couple of air gun manufacturers had their products featured right in with the powder burner builders. Both Airforce and Gamo had products mentioned. They were not put in a category of their own, but rather were included in the general listing. Airforce was the first firm listed (in alphabetical order) and Gamo between Franchi and Glock.

    This seems to be a sign of acceptance of airguns by the firearms community, or at least by the NRA.

    Les


  13. B.B., the concept and the fact of it are interesting. At first I was still uncertain about something. Then I realized that I am comparing springers with bows and crossbows. With bows there is not only the draw weight involved, but also how quickly the limbs can return to their initial resting point (brace height). A with coiled spring airguns, the is always some tension (unless unstrung or removing the spring).

    With the bows, if the limb materials are of good quality, the heavier limbs hoist the same arrow at a faster fpe. Of course, other factors exist and that arrow may not be the best for either or both bows. What I got caught up in was a question of how much difference a faster returning spring would make in the performance of a springer, and so wondered about the cocking weights of the two Titan GP air rifles.

    I can see, I believe, that as in the case of the bows, there must be an optimal operation for a given springer and issues quickly arise when trying to tamper with that (as in a faster heavier spring which I suppose will have consequences, e.g. slamming into the breech just as when shooting light alloy pellets in a “magnum” springer, and probably other less than pretty outcomes.

    Ken


  14. Tom, on another subject. You like to test air guns for young shooters. I don’t think you have tested the Crosman Raven yet? I’d like to read your test on that one myself.

    Take care, Jon in Keaau


  15. This would have been on topic…yesterday.

    http://bisonballistics.com/articles/barrel-twist-and-bullet-stability

    The conclusions seem to back up those made by BB.

    I was very interested in Tin Can Man’s left hand twist theory from today’s blog. It seems that the US military has much experience shooting bullets north and south of the equator and the lines of capricorn and cancer depending on season. While TCM is right on the mark, it seems at long distances like artillery fire it is very important, but at airgun or even powder burning guns… not so much. My source: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/navy/docs/es310/ballstic/Ballstic.htm

    specifically the paragraph which states:

    “In the northern hemisphere, the trajectory will be deflected to the right. A projectile traveling 1000 m/s due north at latitude 30o N would be accelerated to the right at 0.07 m/s2. For a 30 second time-of-flight, corresponding to about 30 km total distance traveled, the projectile would be deflected by about 60 m. So for long range artillery, the Coriolis correction is quite important. On the other hand, for bullets and water going down the drain, it is insignificant!”

    I should add that reading these sources pushed me far from my intellectual comfort zone.


  16. Not too long ago there was some brief conversation about using modeling material for shaping hand grips. I would like to try that on one of my self-made grips. Does anyone have a recommendation as to what I can use for modeling?
    -Chuckj


    • Chuckj…

      If you are thinking about what it sounds like, there used to be some stuff for forming a hand fitting grip on bows. Looks like crap, but forms to fit your hand.

      twotalon


  17. I bought Walther Dominator 1250 (.22 Cal) 40J version in January 2014. The airgun performed awesome upto few days back when it suddenly got some leaking problem. In Pakistan we didn’t have any dealer or repair service available. So with the help of my friend (who also owns Walther Dominator 1250) we opened regulator and found that Orange Color O-Ring was damaged.
    I haven’t been able to find the said O-Ring on any website for .22Cal 40J version. Your guidance/advice is solicited on purchase of O-Rings from any online store. Thanks


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