by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Haenel 310
Haenel 310 is a different kind of trainer.

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • History — Haenel 33 and 33 Junior
  • Haenel model 49 and 49a
  • Haenel 310
  • Magazine
  • Cocking
  • BB gun action
  • Accuracy

I’m starting this report to address a question from one of our readers. J. Lee asked how well H&N Smart Shot lead BBs would work in a Haenel 310. The 310 is nominally built for 4.4mm lead balls and the Smart Shot BBs are supposed to be 4.35mm. Will a difference of 5 hundredths of a millimeter really matter? That’s just under two one-thousandths of an inch.

Also, I’m calling the 310 a trainer, but it’s different from all the other trainers we have looked at. Those other trainers all copy or attempt to copy certain military models, while the 310 is a copy of nothing. It is simply a straightforward bolt action repeater that fires round lead balls through a rifled barrel. What makes it a trainer is the fact that it was built for target shooting and marksmanship training, rather than as a general-purpose air rifle. It was built to train shooters.

History — Haenel 33 and 33 Junior

Before WW II Haenel made a model 33 and a model 33 Junior bolt action repeater. They were made on a patent held by Schmeisser. They were made from 1933 through the start of the war, and perhaps some were made after the end of the war, but that’s not clear. This bolt action rifle had an 8 or 12-shot magazine (6 or 12-shot for the Junior model) and fed a straight stack of 4.4mm lead balls to the breech. The stock was full and included an upper handguard that was common on most military arms of the time.There was also a Mauser type wing safety at the back of the bolt. This was a true military trainer that resembled a Mauser bolt action rifle.

Haenel model 49 and 49a

In 1949 Haenel brought out a sporter version of the same rifle. They called this one the model 49. It features a one-piece sporter stock that was much slimmer than the stock on the model 33. The 49 had a 16.2-inch sight radius and the 49a had a slightly longer 18.5-inch sight radius. These two guns lasted up to the year 1960.

Haenel 310

The Haenel 310 started production in 1960 and might be seen as a sportier version of the model 49. It features the same bold action repeating mechanism that accepts a 6, 8 and 12-shot magazine. The Blue Book of Airguns also speaks of a 7-shot drum magazine that sits horizontally above the breech, that’s a variation I have never seen. According to the Blue Book, production ran until 1989, which was the same year as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After the wall fell and East Germany was reunified with the West, a lot of former Stasi equipment was sold on the world market. A pawn shop in South Caroline brought in hundreds of Haenelo targfet rifles for many years and they were available quite cheap. Those supplies were exhausted year ago and the prices have begun to climb back up to where they should be.

This 310 came to me from my late friend, Mac. He and I bought quite a few of them when they were available and when the dust settled, he still had one. He figured I needed it more than he did, so he included it in one of our swaps years ago.

The rifle is nondescript in appearance — a plain-Jane bolt action that’s 40.5 inches long and weighs 5 lbs. 15 oz. The sights are a hooded tapered post in front (the Germans call it a Perlkorn) and a notched rear. The rear is adjustable for elevation but not for windage. And windage adjustment will be made by drifting the front sight sideways in its dovetail.

Haenel 310 front sight
The front sight is a tapered post inside a globe.

Haenel 310 rear sight
The rear sight adjusts for elevation only.

The rifle is blued steel with a solid wood stock. It comes from a time when that kind of construction was considered the norm, but even at that, this model is built more robust than necessary. The bolt action mechanism is a study in rugged construction.

There is a manual safety located back behind the action. Pull back and the trigger is blocked from moving. This safety can be applied at any time.

Haenel 310 bolt
The bolt sticks out to the right when relaxed.

Haenel 310 bolt up
When the bolt is rotated up it aligns with the larger portion that’s inside the action of the gun. Now it can be pulled back to cock the gun.

Magazine

My rifle has a 6-shot magazine. I have owned and used 12-shot magazines before, and found them more difficult to load, so I never used them. The 6-shot mag works fine. But one question will be if the mag will hold the smaller Smart Shot BBs securely, or will they just fall out?

Haenel 310 Mag release
Push the release button back and the magazine drops free of the rifle.

Haenel 310 Magazine
The magazine holds 6 lead balls. Windows on the side show the status of the load.

Cocking

The bolt lifts up and then rocks back, compressing a mainspring that is located ahead of the bolt and hidden from view. You can see the pivot point of the bolt sticking down below the stock, in the form of a triangular sheet metal cover just in front of the triggerguard. When the handle is lifted it aligns with the long axis of the bolt inside the action, making a longer lever for better leverage. A link on the side of the action pulls the piston backward to cock the gun.

It takes 27 lbs. of effort to cock the bolt. While that sounds light, it it has to be applied through such a short lever than it feels like a lot more. The 310 is definitely for adults, only.

BB gun action

As we have seen recently with other trainers such as the Hammerli trainer for the Swiss Schmidt Rubin K31, the Haenel 310 also has a BB gun action. That means there is an air tube the pushes the BB out of the breech and starts it on its way. Then when it reaches the end of its travel, a blast of compressed air comes through the hollow air tube, accelerating the BB to its top velocity, which for the 310 shown here is around 350 f.p.s. when the piston seal is lubricated. I’ve owned other 310s that topped 400 f.p.s.

This rifle is a lot more powerful than a typical BB gun because it shoots 7.6-grain balls instead of 5.1-grain steel BBs. And the barrel is rifled, which slows the passage of the ball just a little.

Accuracy

I will test the rifle for accuracy in the traditional test, but first I have to see it it works with Smart Shot BBs for J. Lee. I guess he is wondering whether to buy some or not for his 310. These tests should tell us that, plus a lot more about the Haenel 310.