by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The Walther LGV Olympia is a beautiful breakbarrel spring-piston target rifle from the 1960s.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity of my Walther LGV Olympia target rifle. I told you in Part 1 how serendipity brought me to this rifle and what a find it was. Of course, this one has been tuned, just like they all have by now. Walther was one of those companies that used an improper formulation for its piston seals in the 1960s and ’70s; and as a result, all the original seals have dry-rotted. At the very least, all the guns should have been resealed.

This particular rifle was resealed and was supposed to be shooting on the hot side. Back when it was a new rifle, 650 f.p.s. was considered the right velocity for a 10-meter rifle. Today, it’s more like 550-590 f.p.s. So, this vintage target rifle is faster than a lot of today’s world-class target rifles.

Another legendary feature of the LGV was the low cocking effort. My first LGV cocked with less than 12 lbs. of force. This one requires 15 lbs., which puts it 3 lbs. under an Air Venturi Bronco! If it didn’t weight so much, it would be the ideal kid’s gun. But it does weigh a lot, and so it’s better suited to full-grown adults who are physically able and also know how to apply the proper offhand technique.

The trigger on my Olympia is adjusted as a two-stage trigger, and stage two breaks at 12 oz. I suppose I could adjust it even lighter, but I hardly see the need. There’s no overtravel adjustment — after the break, the trigger blade continues to move.

The trigger adjusts for pull weight and length of stages.

JSB S100 pellets
Okay, time to test velocity. The first pellets I tried were JSB S100 target pellets. These have a 4.52mm head and average 591 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread went from 576 to 599, which is pretty large for a rifle of this quality. At 10 meters, though, that much variation would probably not show up on the target. The average muzzle energy for this nominal 8.2-grain pellet is 6.36 foot-pounds. I was surprised to find that the pellets in this tin of “hand-sorted” pellets actually weighed between 8.0 and 8.4 grains. They’re supposed to be hand-sorted by weight, so I’d like to know how that happened!

RWS Hobby pellets
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. At seven grains even, they’re often the fastest lead pellets I can try. In this rifle, they averaged 640 f.p.s. with a spread from 633 to a high of 644 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 6.37 foot-pounds.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
The next pellets I tried were RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets that also weigh 7 grains even. They averaged 662 f.p.s. in this rifle and seemed to fit the breech the best of all pellets I tried. The spread went from 654 to 664 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.81 foot-pounds. I couldn’t find a head size on the tin, which is most unusual for top-grade target pellets.

H&N Rifle Match pellets
The last pellet I tested was the H&N Match Rifle pellet in head size 4.50mm. At a stable, consistent weight of 8.2 grains, these pellets averaged 593 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread went from 585 to 602 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.4 foot-pounds.

Firing behavior
The LGV was one of the last target air rifles to use mass to counteract recoil. As I mentioned in Part 1, the barrel has a very heavy steel sleeve around it and there’s also a lead weight in the forearm, so the overall balance is decidedly muzzle-heavy. Consequently, you feel almost no recoil when the gun fires. This particular rifle also fires very smoothly, with almost no vibration. Cocking was equally smooth until halfway through the test, when the rifle developed a scraping feel while being cocked. I found that if I worked the barrel back and forth after the piston was cocked, the scraping could still be felt, so the problem lies in the cocking linkage, not powerplant itself. I guess I’ll have to strip it down and attend to whatever is apparently dry in the cocking linkage.

Looking straight up at the cocking linkage, we see that the LGV Olympia has a two-piece articulated cocking link. That’s why the cocking slot can be so small, and that, in turn, reduces the amount of powerplant vibration.

I get the feeling that this rifle wants to plunk them all into the same hole. We’ll find out when we get to part three.