LG55 Tyrolean
This Walther LG55 Tyrolean has double set triggers.

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Breakbarrel
  • Recoil?
  • However
  • A secret
  • However number 2
  • Hair trigger
  • Sights
  • Thank you Frank
  • Summary

Happy two days after Christmas! This Christmastime most of us have been eating candy and desserts we shouldn’t touch. But it’s Christmas and we do. The Jews celebrated Chanukah earlier this month and I bet they did the same thing.

Well, boys and girls, it’s time for another trip down memory lane with your storyteller, BB Pelletier. Get the coffeepot going and let old BB tell you about the Walther target rifle that shouldn’t have existed.

Breakbarrel

The LG (for Luft Gewehr, which is German for air rifle) 55 was almost the high-water mark of the Walther breakbarrel recoiling target rifles. Only the LGV — the real target LGV from the 1960s, not the LGV sporting rifles they made this century — was more advanced. But the LG55 predated the LGV by a decade and was the big boy in the Walther tent for all that time.

Plenty of shooting clubs in Europe had LG55s on hand for their members to shoot. They were breakbarrels that cocked easily and they had good triggers. Oh, they recoiled a little and their triggers weren’t of the match quality found on, say, an FWB 300, but they were a darn sight better than any sporting triggers, except for the Rekord. These club guns are the tired LG55s that you sometimes see for sale at what seems to be a very reasonable price. Much of their finish is gone from hundreds of different hands holding and cocking them hundreds of thousands of times, but they still shoot very well.

The LG 55 was manufactured from 1955 to 1967, and existed at a time when recoiling spring-piston rifles competed at the national and international level. In fact in 1969 a Weihrauch HW55 MM, another recoilling spring-piston target rifle, won the European championship in competition against the newer sidelever Feinwerkbau match rifles. But the hyper-accurate sidelever recoilless FWB 150 and especially the FWB 300 soon destroyed all the breakbarrel springers, including the Weihrauchs and the Walthers.

Everything about the LG55 was made for target shooting. It existed in the days when shooters wanted heavier rifles to cut down on random movements. So a recess in the forearm was made to hold a lead slug that was poured in while molten to ensure there were no voids. And a steel jacket on the barrel added even more weight.

LG55 Tyrolean forearm
That lead slug adds weight to the LG55. This is to slow down the rifle’s movement while shooting offhand.

LG55 Tyrolean muzzle nut
That knurled nut on the LG55 muzzle (bottom) holds a steel jacket on the barrel. Remove the jacket to lighten the rifle.

Recoil?

Strictly speaking, the LG55 is a recoiling air rifle. I just fired a shot with this one to verify that for you. Yes, I felt an impulse, but it would be hard to call it recoil. It was more of an impulse than a recoil. This is the same experience you’ll get when shooting a Walther LGV or a Weihrauch HW55 CM. Yeah they kick, but it isn’t very noticeable.

However

The LG55 I am reviewing for you isn’t the standard rifle with a beech stock. This one has a beautiful walnut stock that’s shaped in the Tyrolean style with a deeply cupped cheekpiece.

I mentioned in the beginning that this rifle shouldn’t have existed and now I’ll tell you why. Tyrolean stocks have been banned from competition for many decades for reasons that nobody can pin down. Maybe they positioned the sighting eye so accurately every time that they gave an unfair advantage to shooters who used them. Or maybe, because  they can only be used in offhand matches, they require a second target rifle to shoot the other positions. Or maybe the manufacturers couldn’t get enough of the wood that was thick enough to make them, so they had them banned.

1LG55 Tyrolean cheekpiece
The high cupped cheekpiece of a Tyrolean stock is its trademark.

Whatever the reason, target rifles with Tyrolean stocks can’t be used in sanctioned matches. Beeman found that many shooters who had never seen them before were attracted to them, and thus they were an upscale sales item.

A secret

Now I will tell you a secret that nobody else will tell you. Tyrolean rifles either fit you or they don’t — there is no in-between. And most of them don’t fit most shooters. Back in the days when Schuetzens and Zimmerstutzens were being made, the stocks were handmade and fitted to their owners.

I have owned several Tyrolean stocks and not a one has fit me. My head ends up in the wrong place when it’s held by that high cupped cheekpiece. That was true for the two Zimmerstutzens I owned, the R1 Tyrolean as well as an HW55 Tyrolean. And let me tell you something else about the Tyrolean stock. If it’s on an air rifle that recoils like the R1, you get one heck of a punch in the face when the rifle fires! This Walther LG55 is the most pleasant Tyrolean I have shot and even it feels odd to me.

So, a Tyrolean stock is a major selling point that will leave most shooters unsatisfied when they shoot it. But people see them and they want them.

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However number 2

The rifle being tested also has double-set triggers. It has whaaaaat? It has double-set triggers. If Tyrolean stocks are scarce, air rifles with double set triggers are almost unheard of!

1LG55 Tyrolean DST
Pull the rear trigger blade to set the front one. The rifle can be fired without setting the trigger and the pull is still reasonable.

And here is the funny thing. You can compete in a match with a trigger that breaks at 50 grams, but not with a double set trigger that breaks at 80 grams after being set! It isn’t the weight of the trigger pull that infuriates the match officials — it’s how you get there. They no likeee the DST!

Hair trigger

Very few double set triggers are real hair triggers, though you will often hear them called that. When Bubba sets his Hawken rifle trigger to break at 2 ounces he thinks it is a hair trigger and he calls it that unknowingly. A true hair trigger is a steel blade so thin it’s almost impossible to see and it’s set to release so light that it will fire the rifle when the action is cocked and the muzzle is raised to the vertical. The weight of the infinitesimally thin trigger blade will fire the rifle. The bellows dart guns from the 18th and 19th centuries have triggers that can be adjusted that light. But to use a trigger set so light effectively, your trigger finger has to be extremely sensitive — as in sanding-it-until-it-bleeds sensitive! Unless it is that sensitive you will never feel the trigger blade before the gun fires.

I was unaware that air rifles had double set triggers until reader Kevin stopped by my house many years ago and showed one to me. It was a Walther LG55 Tyrolean, as a matter of fact. Following that encounter I have seen one other at an airgun show — also an LG55 Tyrolean.

This LG55 has a double set trigger that’s unlike any I have seen — and I have seen quite a lot of them. The mechanism for this one lives inside the stock — not on the barreled action!

1LG55 Tyrolean DST stock
On the LG55 the double set trigger mechanism resides in the stock and stays with it when the barreled action is removed. Sorry for the blurry image. That’s me not adjusting the camera correctly.

LG55 Tyrolean DST action
This is the part of the trigger that remains with the barreled action. The trigger unit shown inside the stock that you see in the picture above releases a lever that pops up and hits the sear, causing it to release.

Sights

There is a full match target sight, front and rear. The front one accepts inserts and came to me with a solid post. I hope to exchange that for a clear aperture. If not I’m sure I have solid black aperture inserts that will fit.

Thank you Frank

When reader Frank Ballistreri and I were discussing me purchasing the FWB 110, he mentioned that this rifle was also available. He priced it very reasonably, so I bit the bullet and bought it, too. Remember — I had only ever seen two of these before! Now I get to test one and you get to watch!

Summary

There are Walther LG55s and then there is this one — a Tyrolean with double-set triggers. This one is unique and as I test it and report on it, I hope to get the uniqueness into the reports as well.