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Education / Training Blast from the past The Haenel model 28 pellet pistol

Blast from the past The Haenel model 28 pellet pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we begin today, attention bargain hunters. Pyramyd AIR has a great sale on H&N Baracuda Match pellets in .22 caliber.

The Haenel 28 is a stout single-shot spring pistol from before WWII.

I was at a gun show 10 years ago and saw a strange-looking pistol on a table. Something about its shape told me it was an airgun and not a firearm. When I picked it up, though, the substantial weight of 38 oz. told me that this was an airgun built to LAST! Probably made before WWII (it was), it was all steel and wood with leather seals.

That first gun show model 28 was overpriced at $100, but I bargained the seller down to $80. The gun had no finish and a fair bit of pitting from former neglect, so that was about the maximum it would be worth. Someone had wire brushed all the metal, so there was no collector’s value left, but it still functioned in every way. With a gun that old, that’s something.

When I got the gun home, it had no power. I stripped the powerplant by unscrewing the end cap. That gave me access to the piston, which had no seal, so my first job was to make a new one out of an old leather belt. When that was finished, I had a gun that shot .177 RWS Hobby pellets at about 250 f.p.s. Not a magnum! My mainspring was canted, so I guessed that a new one might get 300-350 f.p.s.

A breakbarrel and more!
The model 28 has a conventional breakbarrel for loading, but the gun is cocked another way. The barrel is only held by a chisel detent, so all you do is break the barrel down at any time to load. The action is cocked by unlatching the pistol grip, which is a subframe, from the upper frame of the gun and swinging it down and to the rear. The picture shows it more clearly. Once the gun is cocked and the pistol grip is locked with the upper frame, you’re ready to fire.

The Haenel 28 is a stout single-shot spring pistol from before WWII.

Bottom subframe unlatches from the top and pivots back to cock. Note that the trigger is now disconnected from the powerplant. That’s why the trigger can never be great.

The trigger is a single-stage, but slop in the trigger mechanism allows the blade to wiggle like a false first stage. The pull is even and breaks at 7 lbs., which sounds very heavy, but for some reason doesn’t feel that way. I suspect the deeply curved trigger blade has something to do with that. With the pistol breaking apart the way it does, the trigger linkage has to do a lot more than a conventional trigger.

A little history
Hugo Schmeisser designed this pistol in 1927, but production didn’t start until around 1933. It continued up to the start of WWII, but ended there. Approximately 25,000 model 28s were made, along with a few thousand earlier unnumbered guns. You cannot help but notice the similarity of the shape to the famous P08 or Luger, which has given rise to speculation that Haenel 28s were used for military training. However, I know of no hard evidence to support that claim. Germany did make use of many long airguns as rifle trainers, but they used no pistols that I know of.

Second pistol
I sold the first model 28 after playing with it a few years, but about a month ago a second gun came into my hands. This one is in much nicer condition with some bluing, while the remainder of the metal has turned to be a pleasing plumb patina. It has a stronger mainspring than the first gun, and the piston seal is fresh, yet the velocity with RWS Hobbys is still between 250 and 270 f.p.s. So, my guess about a new mainspring may be overstating the capability.

Sights and accuracy
The front sight is a barleycorn mounted on a dovetail. The rear is a V-notch mounted on an adjustable leaf with its own dovetail. Adjustment comes via a small screw at the back of the leaf. Accuracy with an air pistol of this vintage is a problematic thing. Expect to hold groups of 2.5″ to 3″ at 10 meters in spite of the rifled barrel. Actually, there are some smoothbore 28s known, as well as some in .22 caliber, though a rifled .177 is the most common type.

Of all the heavy steel pre-war air pistols, only the Webley Senior is more common than the Haenel model 28. So, if you want one, they’re available. I would guess that a nice one with lots of blue will cost $175-225 – more if there’s a box with it.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

56 thoughts on “Blast from the past The Haenel model 28 pellet pistol”

  1. hi
    at first glance i thought this was a co2 pistol with the powerlet in line with the barrel! anyway the mainspring must be very short because it looks like it just goes from the pivot on the back of the grip to the end cap. an i missing something here?

    Field Targetier

  2. BB.
    Wouldn’t a Beeman pell seat take care of our issues with pellet skirt size. In your Mendoza report you mentioned pellet skirt size had a great impact on power and accuracy. Maybe I dodn’t really know what this tool is for.
    I want you to know I really enjoy your daily reports. George

        • I have a question about the Model 28. Do you have a number for the foot pound pressure of this pistol. I need it to be below 6 foot pounds to import into the UK as a gift for a friend. Also, do you know of any authoritative source for this information that would satisfy HM Customs.

          It may be 9 years old but it’s a great article.

          BTW: my email is stuartnphillips@rcn.com

          • Stuart,

            Welcome to the blog.

            This blog may serve as your proof the Haenel 28 is well below 6 foot-pounds. I am accepted in Canada by the RCMP for technical questions about airguns. If the UK customs officials will check my credentials online at http://www.thegodfatherofairguns.com they will see that I do qualify as an expert.

            A pistol that shoots a 7-grain .177-caliber RWS Hobby pellet at 350 f.p.s. generates 1.9 foot-pounds at the muzzle. As I said in the blog, my pistols does not shoot that fast, so it’s less powerful.

            There is no way a Haenel 28 will ever make 6 foot pounds.


  3. Will a “Low-Profile Dragon Claw Clamp-on Barrel Bi-pod” on a under lever rifle (B3-1 I have been working on, re-finished stock, spring work, muzzle break added, ect…) work?

  4. I came across a Haenel air pistol last weekend at an ‘antique’ show–from what I remember, it looks identical to your Haenel 28.

    The dealer claimed it was a multi-shot pistol… is that possible ? was there a multi-shot model ?

    It had a price tag of $190, which I figured was way too high, especially since the condition was fair at best, and not knowing anything about this air pistol, I passed on it (I probably would’ve only offered about $50, if that).

    Sure helps to know something about it before buying!

    I now know a little more, if I should encounter another… but I probably still won’t buy it!


  5. airmojo,

    Yes, there is also a 28R (repeater). You can tell it by the steel magazine tube sticking out the back. In fair condition, a rare 28R is worth about $150 if complete and working. If it is as nice as the one pictured above, it’s worth $250 at least.


  6. Donna,

    I don’t know what your husbands Haenel model 28 would bring in the “real world” (gun shows, auctions, etc.) but the current Blue Book of Airguns ( similar to the blue book of firearm values or the nada guide to used automobile values) says that your model 28 is worth $75.00 in 40% condition and $150.00 in 90% condition. If you have the original factory box it came in add 30% to the value and/or if you have “Super 28” markings on the gun add 30% to the value.

    Please look closely at the markings on the gun. If it is the repeater, marked “28R” (R for repeater) the value, according to the blue book is $100.00 for 40% condition and $235.00 for 90% condition with another 30% added for having the original box.

    Remember, these are blue book values and can be different than the “real world”.

    B.B. would be able to put a finer point on these values since he attends airgun shows worldwide.

    You have posted your question that is attached to an article written on this blog almost 2 years ago. Not many people check back on the comments for a post almost 2 years old. Because of this I would also encourage you to copy your question that you posted here and enter it or retype it on the current/active comments so that all the other knowledgable airgunners have a chance to respond to your query. You can access the current/active comments here:



  7. BB,
    I ran across a Model 26 in its original box, in decent condition and have no idea of the value. It is probably manufactured earlier than the model 28. Do you have any information of this? Value?

  8. Anonymous with the Haenel Model 26,

    The model 26 was manufactured 1926-late 1930’s. The model 28 was manufactured 1930-1940. Basically the same period. If your model 26 is in the same condition as the model 28 pictured above in the article, based on what B.B. said in the last paragraph of this article, your gun with the box should be worth $200-$250.


  9. The 26 was made about 1926 to the late ’30s. That puts it a few years before the start of the 28 in 1928.

    In good working condition it is worth at least $150 and add another $75 for the box. I wouldn’t part with it for less than $250.


  10. I came across a Haenel model 28 air pistol from my late father's posessions. It is missing the rear site & the upper "claw" part of the closing/safety mechanism. Are there parts available to make the gun whole again?? & where?? TY for your time!

  11. I was doing a web search on an old pellet gun I have, it seems it is a bit rare. I have a Model 28, but it is a rifled bore, 22 cal. It says on the barrel: Cal. 5.5mm(,22) On the top of the body, it says “Brit Pat number 277265. As far as condition goes, it seems to be very good, but the body has much “patina” The barrel has less patina and more of the original finish left on it. Any additional information you can add would be appreciated. FC

  12. FC,

    Most 28s have rifled bores. The gun is low-powered, so in .22 it’s probably a real dog. Expect 200 f.p.s., at so, would be my guess. The .177 does about 300.

    The one shown here is down to mostly patina, so it probably looks like yours.

    The prices mentioned above are still about right.


  13. I just discovered your post, and I now know more about my grandfather’s old pellet pistol!

    Mine is also a .22 and I can verify it is a dog. Pels bounce off a cardboard box. I was hoping MY piston seal was shot too, but no such luck. Just a dog. My kids don’t even like to shoot it that much. Very cool pistol…but a dog.


  14. Hi I just acquired a Hansel mod 28, it had been left out in the rain and is badly rusted.I have the barrel freed up and the back cap off, the piston inside is free and in good shape. the latching mechanism that unlocks the front of the action from the barrel is stuck with rust. How does it work. Would appreciate some help. Thanks.John

  15. I have a Haenel model 28 DRP pistol
    with no spring ,is there a blueprint or schematic for this air gun anywhere ?
    I would like to get it back in working condition.
    There is nothing when I take the end cap off.but everything else is solid and excellent condition

  16. Anonymous with the Haenel Model 28,

    Sounds like your spring has been removed. Never seen a schematic for these old pistols. If it exists the guys on this vintage airgun site would know:


    I know that Dan had one of his Haenel Model 28's worked on by John Groenwold and he was very pleased with the results. You may want to contact John about fixing your gun:


  17. I am delighted to find this site! I have a Haenel Model 26 which my cousin bought in the early 1930's. He passed it on to me just before WWII, and I have had it ever since. I am not interested in its value, as I will pass it on to ,my son, and eventually to grandchildren.

    It is pretty rough looking, as the finish, which appears to be paint, is about 2/3's off, and the riser on the sight is missing. It has shot hundreds of pellets, and has the original leather on the piston.

    In all these years (I am 80), I have never seen another one. It feels good to read about it here.

    Thanks for providing the opportunity for me to comment!


  18. Hi

    Any suggestions on removing the piston. Got the end cap off and the spring out. The piston I can only get as far bask to the edge of the pistol/thread where the end cap goes on…
    (Mine is the 28-R)

  19. Thanks B.B. That got me going on the right track. It moved a bit more but got stuck again.
    Removed the sear (I think its the sear) and saw it got stuck because of debris on the piston.
    Sprayed some gun treatment in there and let it soak.
    Tried again, got movement and voila, piston out!

    The 'gunk' feels/looks like lube and leather fibres. Now tp clean it out and attempt the making of a seal.

    Thanks for the advice and for the great articles.

    Jacques, South Africa

  20. Hi,Just got a Model 28 today and the end cap was off. I tried to get it back on but did not want to mess up the threads.Have to push down pretty hard. Is there a trick to getting it back together or have I gotten to old and weak? Thanks

  21. hi, as I remember, my father had one in 1947..later, when I was tall enough, i put the gun on the ground,
    Put my foot on front, and pulled with two hands the grip to the back.. I was 7 years old then..
    i d like to buy one again…

    • Tom.

      Welcome to the blog.

      You have commented on a 7-year-old report that almost nobody will see. If you want to talk to over 100,000 airgunners, please come to out current blog located here:


      You can talk about anything related to airguns on any repor — no need to stay on topic. Hope to see you there.

      Also, if you want to buy a Haenel 28 you can sometimes find them on the Yellow Classifieds located here:



  22. Funny to leave a comment 10 years after the article but I liked your review of the Haenel 28, there is not a lot out there on this pistol. After retiring a couple of years ago I have begun collecting vintage air guns. I have become enamored with the Haenel 28, specifically the 28-R repeater. I have acquired 2 of them one in .177 and one in 22. They are made with amazing quality, just like a true firearm. I stripped the 22 down, inside its built to last; four separate leather seals to support the repeating mechanism. I believe it was the first repeating pistol. I am not bothered by the low power given it is sufficient to make it a fun safe shooter in the house or back yard. The genius of Hugo Schmeisser was he created a pistol true to the Luger tradition and free of any obvious mechanisms.

  23. I have become enamored with the Haenel 28s. Now have collected 3 28-Rs, but never could nail down a nice straight 28, All I saw were pretty beat. This week I scored a 28 that was just about new in the box. A real time capsule. It was a 22 so I was assuming it would be a pretty dog! Lol. I was very surprised, I am getting 260 fps with a 14.2 grain pellet. Using various pellet weights It seems to be pretty consistent at 2.2 FP. These are 80 year old guns now and maybe there are few examples left that show what they could do when they were young. With 99% bluing and walnut grips they are works of machining art from a era we will never see again.

  24. As someone new to collecting air guns, this blog and site have been a tremendous help. Thank you. I recently acquired a Haenel 28 and discovered it does not have a piston spring or piston spring guide. I am coming up empty trying to determine what size spring it takes. Since original parts are few and far between, I am hoping there is an aftermarket spring such as Titan (or other) that would fit. Would anyone happen to know which Titan spring would fit or what the original spring specs are (length, number of coils, diameter, etc.)? The Titan fitment chart doesn’t list the Model 28.
    Thanks in advance for any assistance.

  25. billfoster,

    I can see why you’re asking on this page.

    Please know that I only came across your question because of magic! Most readers do not use it (rss feed or something, that a really kind and helpful man, who calls himself Roamin Greco, helped me with).

    Therefore I have two suggestions:

    1. try posting your question as a comment below the current / today’s blog article. Off topic comments are always very welcome! 🙂
    2. try T W Chambers & Co ( https://twchambers.co.uk/search.php?search_query=haenel+28 )

    Good Luck ! 🙂

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