by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Okay, so fire me! This is like eating dessert and I can’t stop. Today, I’ll share the results of the 50-yard test of the new Walther LGV Challenger with you. And don’t worry — Umarex USA knows I’m still working on a feature article for the July Shotgun News, so they don’t expect their LGV back soon. They’re even sending me another LGV with a wood stock that I’ll test for you as soon as it arrives.
It was one of those rare perfect windless mornings at the range. They’re the perfect days to test air rifles at long rangesbecause there’s nothing to disturb the pellet in its flight. And 50 yards is plenty long when you’re shooting 10-shot groups. Yes, the shooter is part of the equation, but I really have to say that this LGV is so neutral that it holds like a PCP. Not a lot of skill is needed as long as the basic artillery hold is employed.
I decided to start with the pellet that proved to be the best at 25 yards. That was the 13.4-grain JSB Exact RS dome. It seems to be perfectly matched to this powerplant and compliments the 12 foot-pounds that the rifle develops.
When a 12 foot-pound rifle is sighted-in for 25 yards, the pellet will drop a lot as it goes out to 50 yards. A lot means as much as a foot more than at 25 yards. So, I cranked in some elevation and proceeded to start the test. The first group was still hitting about four inches low; but it was on the target paper, so I just continued to shoot. Pellet after pellet went to the same point. By the time I’d fired 5 rounds, I knew this rifle was a shooter. Of course, the earlier testing did give me a lot of confidence that the LGV could shoot; but when you stare at a bullseye that’s the size of a small pellet tin lid 50 yards away, things look very different!
After finishing the first group, I adjusted the scope up some more to compensate for the 50-yard distance. The second group landed at the correct elevation, but slightly to the left of the aim point. Ten more JSB Exact RS pellets made a second group that measured 1.35 inches between centers. This group was much taller than it was wide, and I wasn’t satisfied that I was holding the rifle steady enough.
After the second group, the wind was still calm so there was time for one more good attempt. I adjusted the scope to impact to the right and started the third group.
I shifted in my seat so I was completely relaxed when holding the rifle. And the third time was the charm because this time the crosshairs stayed within 1/8-inch of the center of the bull all the time. When the last shot was fired, there was a group measuring 0.989 inches between the two widest shots. That may not sound like a big deal, but it’s one of the best 50-yard 10-shot groups I’ve ever shot with a breakbarrel air rifle. And you can’t equal it with a brand-new Ruger 10/22 that today costs almost as much as this air rifle — to say nothing of the cost for the ammo. Nine of those pellets landed within 0.634 inches of each other.
After this third group, the wind picked up just a bit and I shifted over to Beeman Kodiak pellets, but they were dropping a foot below where the RS pellets were striking. So I tried only a few shots before giving up for the day. The wind had picked up to the point that it would affect the flight of the pellets, so I declared the test finished.
That may seem like a short test of the rifle at 50 yards, but the gun is so smooth and right that it doesn’t take a lot of special handling to deliver results. It’s what you think all spring-piston airguns should be…only many of them aren’t.
If you’ve read every report on this rifle, you know what I’m going to say: It’s the finest sporting breakbarrel spring rifle I’ve ever tested or shot — and that covers a wide range of airguns. I came into this test with a chip on my shoulder about Walther using their classic LGV name for a new offering that wasn’t even a 10-meter target rifle, but it took only a couple shots before all that was forgotten. This LGV Challenger stands on its own merits and even reminds me of what I like about the old target rifle.
Cocking is smooth and light. The firing cycle is light with just a hint of buzz at the end. The trigger, while a bit creepy, is light and reasonably crisp. It isn’t a target trigger, but it’s one of the better sporting triggers I’ve tested — short of a Rekord or Air Arms unit.
Even the open sights — while they do have fiberoptic tubes — can also be used as precision open sights as long as the target is properly lit.
For those who are looking for the highest quality in a spring-piston airgun — this is it. Breakbarrels don’t normally handle as well as this one. If you fancy one and care about accuracy without a lot of hassle, here it is.