Walther’s new LGV Challenger breakbarrel spring air rifle: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll start looking at a new breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle that’s offered by Walther — the LGV. I saw the full range of these at the 2013 SHOT show and asked to test this one. For the record, I’m testing serial number BJ001517 — a .22-caliber rifle in a black synthetic stock. Also for the record, this rifle says “Made in Germany” on the baseblock.
The new LGV
There was an old LGV, of course. Several of them, in fact. They represented Walther’s high-water mark in the 1970s with breakbarrel recoiling spring-piston target rifles, coming at the end of a long line of developments in that field.
Walther’s LGV Olympia target rifle was one of the last and finest recoiling spring-piston target rifles.
The new LGVs are all sporting rifles, which means more power but no target sights or target stocks. So, I’ll evaluate these guns on the basis of what they are, not on the name they carry.
The LGV Challenger is a large air rifle, weighing 8.5 lbs. and measuring 43 inches from end to end. The pull is 14-1/2 inches, so it fits me like a glove. I cocked it just to see how it felt…and, gentlemen, I must admit that I am in love! I haven’t felt a spring-piston air rifle that cocked this smooth since — never! And the cocking effort is light for what they tell me is a 700 f.p.s. rifle (in .22…it’s 1,000 f.p.s. in .177). When I closed the breech, it clicked like a Mercedes limo door after a factory adjustment.
Then, I thumbed off the automatic safety (which they put on the tang, just like a shotgun safety) and squeezed the two-stage trigger. It was light, if not quite crisp, but it beats most other air rifle triggers I’ve tested right out of the box. The literature calls it an adjustable match trigger; and based on just one shot, I think they’re correct. Of course, I’ll do all the adjustments and tell you what I discover.
The feel upon firing was a tiny shudder of vibration. Nothing so bad as to need attention, but enough that you know the gun is a springer.
Walther had a choice of power sources — coiled steel mainspring or gas spring. They chose the coiled steel spring, and that brings with it the easy cocking and slight shudder at firing. I think they made the right choice, because cocking a powerful gas spring gun these days is like bending the bow of Hercules!
The sights are fiberoptic — front and rear. But they also give the shooter a VERY crisp squared-off front post and rear notch. The fiberoptic tubes are very bright, so I’ll have to adjust the lighting to use them as conventional sights; but if this rifle shoots half as nice as it looks, it’ll be worth the effort.
The rear sight is fully adjustable. The knobs for both adjustments have crisp detents and scales to tell you where the sight has moved. And it’s made of steel!
The rifle has a grooved scope rail built into the top of the spring tube and, once again, Walther did it right. They put three vertical scope stop holes at the rear of the rail, so there should be no problem mounting a scope that will stay put.
The one feature that carried over with the LGV name was the barrel lock. It’s a latch under the baseblock that must be pushed up before breaking the barrel. The barrel locks with a strong detent, which this lock puts over the top. Ddid I mention that I like the positive feeling when the barrel closes? It closes more positively than just about any breakbarrel I’ve tested since a Diana model 25/27.
The barrel pivots on a genuine steel bolt that appears to have a nut on the other side. It looks like the designers listened to the need to occasionally tighten the breech bolt and did the right thing.
The synthetic stock is rough to the touch and has a hint of tacti-cool to its profile. When the off hand touches the triggerguard, the rifle is agreeably muzzle-heavy, which stabilizes it in all positions. A thick, soft, black rubber buttpad holds the rifle securely on your shoulder and keeps it from slipping when you stand it up in the corner.
All metal, except for the rear sight, is highly polished and deeply blued. You’ll be proud to own a rifle that looks this nice.
The cocking link is a two-piece articulated link that allows the cocking slot in the stock to be shorter. That reduces vibration a lot.
The Challenger has a threaded muzzle with 1/2×20 thread, which is the British thread pattern for a silencer. Most conventional American-made silencers use a pitch of 28 threads per inch and will not fit. Now, in truth, most spring guns aren’t loud enough to need a silencer. Most of the noise travels through the stock, and the shooter is the only one who hears it; but airgun silencers are all the rage today, and this is a nice touch.
I can’t wait to start shooting this rifle. The feel conveys a sense of quality that I haven’t felt in a new air rifle in a long time.