by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- RWS Hobby pellets
- JSB Exact pellets, 8.44-grain dome
- RWS Superdome pellets
- But wait — there’s more!
- Cocking effort
- What’s next?
Today, we’ll find out what kind of powerplant is in my new HW35 Luxus. Is it really a 5.5 foot-pound gun, as the German Freimark (capitol F in a pentagram) indicates, or is it something different?
The Freimark is a legal designation from the German government. Guns that have it must not produce over 7.5 joules of energy at the muzzle. That converts to 5.53 foot-pounds. If they qualify, such guns are legal for persons 18 years and older to purchase and own as airguns. If they produce more than 7.5 joules, they are classified as firearms and are controlled by those laws.
As an aside, I remember when I worked at AirForce Airguns that we made up a few special guns for the German market. A special valve had to be made to prevent these guns from exceeding 7.5 joules. About a year later when we went to the NRA Annual Meetings in Houston, we installed that valve in our guns that were then used on the indoor airgun range. Later still, a variation of that valve was turned into the MicroMeter valve that anyone can buy.
I can’t stand the suspense, so let’s get right to it. I’ll start with the 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet that has long served as the high-velocity benchmark among lead pellets.
RWS Hobby pellets
I ran the Hobby pellet through the Pyramyd Air energy calculator. This calculator allows you to figure muzzle energy if you know the pellet weight and velocity, and a second formula allows to enter the muzzle energy and pellet weight and determine what the velocity must be. I plugged 5.53 foot-pounds and 7 grains into the second formula and found that the gun must not shoot the Hobby pellet faster than 596.4 f.p.s. By German law, if even one pellet goes faster than that speed, the gun is not a 7.5 joule gun.
This rifle averaged 601 f.p.s. with Hobbys. They ranged from a low of 583 to a high of 615 f.p.s. Clearly, this rifle exceeds 7.5 joules. At the fastest velocity, my rifle produced 5.88 foot-pounds at the muzzle, which is 7.97 joules. To do this, the rifle has to have been tuned, because in factory trim it should never have done this. Let’s move on.
JSB Exact pellets, 8.44-grain dome
The plot thickens when I tested the JSB Exact 8.44-grain pellet. Being almost 1.5 grains heavier than Hobbys, I would expect this pellet to shoot slower, but, in fact, it did the opposite. This pellet averaged 611 f.p.s., with a spread from 602 to 618 f.p.s. At the maximum velocity (remember — the law isn’t concerned with averages), the Exact produced 7.16 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s 9.71 joules, which is way over the limit. Clearly, I think, the parts in this air rifle have been breathed on (a hot-rodding term that means the gun has been modified).
RWS Superdome pellets
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. They averaged 537 f.p.s. in the HW35. The low was 523, and the high was 554 f.p.s. At the highest velocity, this pellet produced 5.66 foot-pounds at the muzzle. That’s 7.67 joules. So, it’s close to the limit, but still over. Therefore, all 3 pellets I selected at random have exceeded the power limit imposed by the Freimark. I haven’t looked at velocity averages this time. Because of the law, I’ve looked at the extremes, which is what the authorities will do.
But wait — there’s more!
I’ve been holding something back. I knew this rifle could be made even more powerful when I saw the breech seal. It’s leather, completely flat and appears to be homemade. It even had a low spot where air might leak. If the rifle hadn’t tested above the Freimark limit, my plan was always to replace the breech seal with something better. I didn’t have to do that, but after the test, I replaced it anyway.
The breech seal was flat and appeared homemade. There was even a divot in it (arrow). When I pulled this seal with a pick, it crumbled into waxy pieces — the sign of dry-rot in leather.
I dug the old seal out with a pick, and it broke up and crumbled into wax-like chunks that I pried out of the groove around the breech. I was just planning to put a shim behind the seal; but when I saw how dry-rotted it was, I simply slipped in a Beeman R1 breech seal as a replacement. And it was a used breech seal I’d replaced years ago in my R1. I’m not looking for power in this rifle — only smoothness. I already have that, and the new seal gave me some additional velocity.
A used Beeman R1/HW80 breech seal fits perfectly. It stands proud above the breech and boosts the velocity. If I want even more velocity I can shim this seal.
JSB Exact domes average 626 f.p.s. with a range that extends from a low of 619 (faster than the fastest velocity recorded before) to a high of 638 f.p.s. At that top speed, my HW35 Luxus now produces 7.63 foot-pounds at the muzzle with this pellet. That’s 10.35 joules. We are way past the legal limit.
I think I’m safe in saying this rifle has been tuned. And it’s so smooth that I don’t want to do anything more to it. Johnny Hill, the owner of Tin Starr Bullets, was over to collect his Diana model 45 this past weekend. I let him shoot both this rifle and his newly tuned 45. He agreed that his 45 is just as smooth as this 35, but it has more forward thump when fired. This 35 is such a pleasant gun to shoot!
The 35 cocks with just 17 lbs. of effort — what I would expect from a youth gun! It is a delight to cock.
Stage 2 of the Rekord trigger breaks at 2 lbs., 9 oz. at this time. That’s a little heavy, given how well the rest of the rifle is set up. I might adjust that down a bit for the accuracy test.
Next, I want to shoot the rifle to find one or more accurate pellets. I have no intention of scoping this rifle. The open sights are fine for the shooting I plan to do. Although it’s larger and heavier, I find this HW35 is as nice as my Diana 27, and you know how I feel about that rifle. I think I’ve found a new friend.