We interrupt our regular program…
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
…to have some fun. I mean, that’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Don’t we all shoot airguns for fun?
So, there I am at the range last week with the new Walther LGV, and I’m shooting these groups on a perfect day and all the time I’m wondering the same things most of you wonder right back at me. Things like, “I wonder what my R8 would do at this distance? Could it really group this far?”
But you don’t want to hear about my R8, because you can’t have one of your own. They’re rare birds and hard to come by these days. And, heaven forbid, they cost money — something that makes airgunning a real drag. But I still want to shoot something fun, instead of sticking to the script.
Then it dawned on me. I’m shooting an LGV. And I shot another LGV very recently. Both rifles were great fun. and fun is what I’m looking for today.
But I have another LGV that I haven’t shot in over a year. That LGV is the original LGV Olympia target rifle that was popular back in the 1970s. I reported on it two and a half years ago, but back then I was looking at it solely as a target rifle — lumping it in with the HW55 and the FWB 300. It was a target rifle, to be sure; but in light of the new LGV sporting rifles, might it also be something more? Might it be a low-powered sporting rifle that can shoot at 50 yards? It would certainly be fun to find out. There’s that word, again — fun.
Walther LGV Olympia target rifle was a top-quality 10-meter rifle from the 1970s.
What would be fun about shooting a 10-meter rifle at 50 yards? Well, first, could you do it? Of course you could. I know the gun will shoot that far. I even tried shooting my most accurate 10-meter target rifle — an FWB 300S — at 50 yards once. Remember that? It was in Part 5 of the report on the FWB 300S. In fact, it was also in Part 4 of the same report.
But when I reread that report, I discovered that my mindset wasn’t how accurate the rifle could be. It was more like, “How accurate could a 10-meter rifle BE at 50 yards?” (Said with sarcasm) I see that I didn’t even try to pre-qualify pellets at 25 yards before moving out to 50 yards. I went straight from 10 meters out to half a football field in one jump.
But the recent test of the two new LGVs included a 25-yard intermediate stage where I was able to qualify certain pellets and let others fall by the wayside. Shouldn’t that be done for the 10-meter rifle, as well? And that doesn’t even address the possibility of deep-seating the pellets, which we’ve seen in other recent tests can have a profound effect on accuracy.
The LGV Olympia
The Walther LGV Olympia is a vintage wood and steel airgun that does have a plastic triggerguard, but no other plastic on the exterior of the gun. The design is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston powerplant with one of the lightest cocking efforts and softest recoils ever produced in a factory air rifle. The test rifle cocks with just 13 lbs. of effort. I measured it at 15 lbs. in the lest test, so perhaps my technique has changed or maybe the mainspring has weakened, but I’ll test the velocity and we can make a comparison.
Speaking of comparisons, how does this vintage LGV stack up against the modern rifles? Well, it’s about a pound heavier, and has the capacity for being even heavier by inserting lead weights in the stock. The barrel is enclosed in a heavy steel sleeve that adds about 2 lbs. to the overall weight. And it was weight that Walther used to temper the recoil when this gun was new.
The LGV represents the high-water mark of recoiling spring target rifles from Walther. They built several models in their 50-series, with the model 55 being the last and most well-developed. Then the LGV topped them all. After that, Walther moved into the single-stroke technology that they developed in their LGR rifle and LP II pistol.
Like the modern LGVs, this vintage target rifle has the same barrel latch that locks the barrel shut during firing. It works the same way as the modern barrel latches do; but since it has probably unlocked the gun several thousand times more, it’s a little smoother.
Like the current LGVs, the target rifle has a barrel latch.
Shooting the LGV Olympia will come as a bit of a shock to anyone unfamiliar with the golden age of spring rifles because there’s almost no recoil. A tuned HW55 can be very calm, but the LGV has no equal when it comes to soft recoil. You feel a pulse but are hard-pressed to say that the rifle actually moves. There’s a very subtle spring twang that will remain on my rifle forever, ’cause ain’t nobody gonna see the insides as long as she’s a-workin’.
The trigger on the Olympia is lighter than the sporting trigger, but not by that much. And the wider trigger blade on the sporting guns makes their triggers feel lighter than they are. So, the triggers are a wash between the vintage guns and the modern sporters. Both are great.
The sights on the Olympia are target aperture sights — front and rear. I plan on keeping the peep sight mounted for this test, as I demonstrated with the FWB 300S that I can shoot just as well with a peep as with a scope.
The front sight is a hooded globe with inserts.
The rear sight is a precision adjustable aperture sight.
Finally, the finish on the vintage Walther is the one place where hand work shows. The metal is polished smooth and deeply blued in the manner of fine firearms. And the stock is made of walnut rather than beech. It harkens to an earlier time when such things were both possible and expected.
What I plan to do is shoot the rifle at 25 yards to find the best pellets for long range. I’ll try them both seated flush and deep, and we’ll hopefully get one or two that really shine. Then, we’ll take those to the 50-yard range on a perfect day and see what this baby can really do.