by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Walther LGV breakbarrel air rifle
Walther’s LGV Challenger breakbarrel was a short-run success in 2013.

History of airguns

This report covers:

I have been thinking about doing this report for several years. The Walther LGV Challenger is an air rifle that went extinct just after I reported on it in 2013. There was an entire range of modern LGVs. Many had wood stocks and upgraded features and they are all gone now, but it was the Challenger in its black synthetic stock that caught my eye at the 2013 SHOT Show.

The one I am reporting today retailed for $566.10 in 2013. Others in the line went up into the $600s.

The first LGVs

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. They were contemporary with the LGR Universal I tested for you last month.

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 10-22-10-01-Walther-LGV-Olympia Walther LGV Olympia was a top-quality 10 meter target rifle from the 1970s. The weather cooperated yesterday and gave me a perfect day at the range, so I was able to shoot the Walther LGV Olympia at 50 yards. I also shot the Talon SS with the 1:22" twist barrel before the wind kicked up and stopped all airgun shooting, so I'm on the way to the final test of the different twist rates. I knew the LGV Olympia was never going to hit the target, no matter what I did to the rear sight, so I placed two 3-inch bulls on a 2-foot by 4-foot piece of target paper and used them for sighting. The shots landed far below these bulls, of course. How far is an eye-opener, so I took a picture of it so you could see. 06-22-13-01-Walther-LGV-Olympia-50-yard-groups The pellets landed about 18-inches below the aim point at 50 yards. The sights had the pellets hitting the center of the target at 25 yards, so this is how far they drop in the second 25 yards. Notice that the center of the group of JSB Exact Jumbos on the right is about 2 inches lower than the center of the RWS Superdomes on the left. I fully expected this to happen, so I stapled the bullseye targets to a huge piece of target paper, so the pellet holes would show. Knowing they could well go to the same point I used two separate bullseyes as aim point, and from the picture you can see that was a good idea. I selected the two best pellets from the 25-yard test for this. They were the JSB Exact Heavy, which was the best pellet at 25 yards, and the RWS Superdome that took second place. I shot off a sandbag with the rifle rested on the flat of my hand in the classic artillery hold. The flight time of both pellets was extreme. Although I couldn't see them in flight, the flight time told me they were dropping rapidly as they moved downrange. JSB Exact Heavy The first pellet I tried was the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy. It is far too heavy for the LGV Olympia powerplant, but in the 25-yard test 10 Exact Jumbos went into a group that measures 0.354-inches between centers. So a novice might expect that since the range was doubled, the group size would be as well. That would give us something like a 0.70-inch group for this pellet. 06-22-13-02-Walther-LGV-Olympia-50-yard-group-with-JSB-Exact-Heavy The 50-yard group was larger than expected. Ten JSB Exact heavys went into 2.285-inches What I actually got was 2.283-inches between the centers of the two pellets that were farthest apart. Thats roughly 6 times larger than the 25-yard group and more than 3 times the expected size, if you simply try to extrapolate from 25 yards to 50 yards. This is why you have to be careful when making generalizations about accuracy. The shooting conditions were perfect for this test. There was no breeze to speak of and if I felt something I always waited it out. I also had no shots that were called as anything but perfect. So what you see here represents the best I was able to do with the LGV Olympia at 50 yards with this JSB pellet. RWS Superdome The second-best pellet at 25 yards was the RWS Superdome that gave me a 10-shot group measuring 0.695 inches. Multiply that by 6 and you get an anticipated group size of 4.17-inches. I'm doing that because of what happened with the JSB Exact Jumbos. 06-22-13-03-Walther-LGV-Olympia-50-yard-group-with-RWS-Superdomes RWS Superdomes opened up even more than JSB Exact Jumbos. This group measures 3.062-inches between centers. What Superdomes actually did was put 10 shots into 3.062-inches -- so it was better than predicted (if you use the 6-times predictor) but was certainly much larger than simply double the 25-yard group size. The lesson here is that group size does not simply increase linearly with distance. We hear that all the time. If a certain gun shoots 1-inch at 100 yards we say it should shoot 2 inches at 200 yards. I'm saying that rarely happens. Usually the group will open faster as the distance increases. Not always, but usually. Evaluation The Walther LGV Olympia is a remarkable airgun. Out to 25 yards it is extremely accurate, plus it is very easy to cock and quiet to shoot. Beyond 25 yards, though, the LGV Olympia quickly gets outside its comfort zone. There just isn't enough power pushing the pellet to hold the group size to what you might expect. These results are consistent with the results I got when shooting the FWB 300S at 50 yards. Installing a scope helped, but only marginally. So I'm not going to put a scope on this rifle. I'm satisfied with this test and that's as far as I'm going in this test.
Walther LGV OLympia.

Why the Challenger?

My LGV Challenger has several features that I like. It is quite accurate. It is easy to cock — at least for the first part of the stroke. It is .22 caliber, which makes it easier to load. The pivot joint is very tight which contributes to the accuracy — or at least we all feel that it does. And it has a barrel lock that helps keep the breech sealed tight. It shoots most pellets well, which makes it a real plus for the guy who doesn’t have a lot of different brands on hand.

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle barrel lock
Challenger barrel lock

The barrel lock makes the breech very tight.

The bad points

The LGV Challenger is not perfect, however. It has a slight buzz when it fires. In 2013 I could tolerate it, but in this day of Tune in a Tube there is no longer any reason to put up with it. It also has fiberoptic sights—boo! But I found they don’t gather light too well and they look dark when shooting — yea! The muzzle is threaded for an add-on silencer, which is next to useless with a spring piston rifle that generates all its noise in the powerplant. Still, it is there for those who want it.

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle rear sight
Fiberoptic sights!

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle threaded muzzle
A threaded muzzle — your call.

The rifle was advertised as having a match trigger. It does not. While the vintage LGV really did have a match trigger, just saying it doesn’t make it so. When are the marketing departments going to realize that calling something “match” only draws attention to it and makes everyone scrutinize it more closely? The second stage of the trigger on the LGV Challenger is somewhat creepy.

Power

The power is just under 11 foot-pounds. When I learned that in the last test I said, Ten years ago, that would be a suicide marketing venture, because the 1,000 f.p.s. mark was considered the gold standard (and 800 in .22). Today, we know better, and I’m here to tell you — this is a seriously classic air rifle. I can see a long and successful life ahead for the new LGV series, as long as it holds up in the accuracy department.”

Well — I was wrong. It was accurate, but the entire line was discontinued in about 18 months. I was so sorry to see what had the potential to become a time-honored classic disappear. You know FWB tried to resurrect the success of their 124 in the new FWB Sport and they missed the mark, but Umarex was sitting on a potential icon and they killed it. Well — I got mine!

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This report

So, this will be a traditional report with a couple things added. I will inject Tune in a Tube into the mainspring to quiet the action and I will attempt to adjust the trigger to be crisper. At 1 lb. 10 oz. it’s light enough — just a little creepy. I will quiet the spring before testing the velocity — just so we know.

I tested the rifle out to 50 yards last time. That proved to be a bit too far, but at 25 yards it was really good.

Summary

What we have in the Walther LGV Challenger is a modern air rifle that has transitioned over to the historical section. If you sometimes wish you had been around when airguns like the FWB 124 and the Hakim were available, this is your chance to turn back the clock.