The new Walther Lever Action CO2 rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

The brushed-nickel version of the Walther Lever Action CO2 rifle is extremely attractive.

Today, I’ll shoot the gun downrange and find out if this newest Walther Lever Action rifle has the same pinpoint accuracy as the first model. Many readers have written in to support this latest offering, so I think I should share some personal observations with you.

General observations
For starters, the new buttplate doesn’t look that bad in person. When you’re shooting the rifle, you don’t have time to look at it, and it does feel right in your hands. How it holds is far more important than how it looks, but I’m telling you now that it doesn’t look that bad.

Next, I want to convey the absolute butter-smoothness of the action. If Marlin or Winchester rimfires worked this smooth, they would sell a lot more of them! The lever doesn’t have much work to do, so it can move unimpeded through its arc. It even sounds right when it cycles, with a satisfying snick-snick.

Finally, I now know the trigger a lot better than before. There’s an ever-so-slight hint of creep in stage two, but it still releases crisply.

I’m back to open sights
My eyes suddenly became better last week, so I was able to shoot the rifle with open sights. I tried it at only 10 meters, because the bull was beginning to get fuzzy, but I wanted to see how well I could do without the aid of a scope. I surprised myself — or, I should say, the rifle surprised me because it stepped up to the mark and did all that was asked of it. I remembered my older Walther Lever Action was very accurate with open sights, but with all I’ve been through getting other guns to shoot well recently, this was still a pleasant surprise.

All shooting was done offhand, with a support. Like the strong-side barricade position for practical handgun shooting, I supported the rifle against a door jamb to steady myself.

RWS Hobbys
The first pellets tested were RWS Hobbys, which fit the circular clip very tight. I used the pellet seater tool that comes with the rifle to seat every pellet, but Hobbys were the only ones that actually popped forcibly into the chambers when their skirts were sized down. All the others slid in without a complaint.

Shooting from 10 meters offhand supported, these eight RWS Hobby pellets made a nice little group that measures 0.698 inches between centers.

Seeing that tight group of Hobbys gave me some confidence that I could shoot with open sights. At least at 10 meters, things were clear enough using the reading glasses I described in several past reports.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
The next pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domed pellet. This is the so-called “lite” pellet in the .177 caliber Premier line. Domed pellets don’t mark a paper target as distinctively as wadcutters, but with the Walther’s velocity ranging in the mid 550 f.p.s. region, they leave holes that are clear enough to see. Any slower, and you’ll get ripped holes that are very difficult to locate.

Eight Crosman Premier lites made this group that measures 0.615 inches across the farthest centers. It was the best group of the test.

Let’s get crazy!
Just for fun I decided to shoot 8 Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic Pellets, to see what they might do. We tested them for velocity in Part 2, and it seemed only right to give them a chance here, as well. And they didn’t disappoint.

Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic pellets
As anyone with experience using Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic lightweight pellets knows, they scatter like shot from a blunderbuss. That’s not a criticism of Crosman pellets; all lightweight, non-lead pellets have this tendency. Only when a lot of manufacturing care (and a lot of additional cost) is put into their making can they keep up with lead pellets — and even then only out to about 25 yards.

Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic pellets gave this 1.561-inch, eight-shot group. In light of the performance of the other three pellets, I don’t think anything more needs to be said.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
After the Super Sonic pellets I loaded H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets, so we’re back to a lead pellet with some hope for accuracy. Sometimes, these will be the most accurate pellets of all. I used the pistol pellets instead of the rifle-weight pellets because of the rifle’s available power.

The H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet also did well in the Walther Lever Action gun. This group measures 0.835 inches between centers.

Although the Premiers and the Hobbys outshot the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets in this test, I would have to group all of them into the same category of accuracy because I didn’t shoot that many groups. The non-lead pellets, on the other hand, are clearly in a different category.

I’m not done with this rifle. I’m going to mount a good scope and shoot again at 25 yards. Then, we’ll have a complete picture. I’m not saying this is supposed to be a target rifle, but from past experience I know that its accuracy is well above average. I just want to show that to everyone, plus I really like shooting this one. It’s like an R7 that’s easy to cock.

Oh, one last comment. After at least 150 shots, I’m still shooting with the first 88-gram CO2 cartridge I installed.

Beeman P1/HW 45 air pistol: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

A large and impressive spring-piston air pistol, the Beeman P1 sits in the top tier of air pistols for power and quality.

In Part 1, we received so many comments and questions about the Beeman P1 that it’s now certain that this report will have more than three parts. I’ve been asked to show you how to hold the handgun for best results, and while I’d hoped to get to that today, something has come up in today’s testing that caused me to postpone that until the next report. I want to spend some time explaining a spring-gun phenomenon that I’ve read about but, until this test, have never seen.

However, first things first. I promised the links to the older reviews of the P1/HW 45. The first link goes to a report I wrote back in 2007, which was supposed to be an update on this pistol: Beeman P1/HW 45 air pistol.

That report was supposed to update the report I did back in 2005: Beeman P1/HW 45: A shoulder stock, red dot sight and more!

After reading both of the older reports, I see that a lot was left out. I hadn’t started using the current report format yet, so I wrote things pretty much as they came to me and as the readers asked for them. Today, I’ll try to hit all the important points in every report. The later report does explain how to fit the piston seal to the compression chamber by dry-firing the gun, though. That’s a factory procedure, so don’t worry about it.

Back to today’s report
Today, I’m going to report on the velocity I get from my P1, which is now 15 years old. As I mentioned in the first report of this series, I lubricated my gun when it was new, and that was the last time I was inside the powerplant. I also made a trigger modification, but that has no bearing on the powerplant.

What you see today is the performance of a Beeman P1 after 15 years of relatively light use. I estimate fewer than 5,000 shots have been fired in all that time. Many airgunners have speculated that since the wire used in the pistol’s mainspring is thin, it will degrade over time, causing the pistol to lose power. Let’s see how much truth there is to that. The spring wire has to be thin to fit inside the small compression/spring cylinder that’s hidden inside the top of the pistol. There’s only so much room for things inside the small package that I showed you in Part 1.

Cocking effort
I measured the cocking effort by placing the topstrap on a bathroom scale and pressing down to open the pistol and cock the spring. It took exactly 12 lbs. of force for this, though I would have estimated the number at 20 lbs. if the scale wasn’t available. I guess the closeness of the two levers (the topstrap and the rest of the gun) when cocking makes the effort seem greater.

This is how you test the cocking effort of the P1. Just keep pulling apart the action and bearing down on the scale as you do.

It seems to take no more effort to continue to cock the gun to the second sear stop, but you do have to apply the same force over a longer arc, so arguably it really does take more effort. However, practically speaking, once the lever is moving, it’s just as easy to go all the way as to stop halfway, which is why I never use the low-power setting.

The first pellet I tested was the venerable Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domed pellet in the brown cardboard box. I noticed that some of our newer readers don’t understand that when I link to a certain pellet in the Pyramyd Air website, that’s the pellet I use. I don’t normally use any Premiers unless they come in the brown cardboard box. I’m telling you this because a couple of readers were speculating about whether to use the Premiers in the tin can or in the box. As a veteran who has used Premiers since they first hit the market, I find it difficult to think of anything that’s not in a box as a Premier. It’s an old habit that has a lot less significance now that die-lots mean so much less than they used to.

Premiers on low power
On low power, Crosman Premier lites averaged 416 f.p.s., with a spread from 407 to 424 f.p.s. That works out to a muzzle energy of 3.04 foot-pounds.

Premiers on high power
On high power, Premier lites went 98 f.p.s. faster, on average. At 514 f.p.s., they generated 4.64 foot-pounds. The spread on high power went from 508 f.p.s. to 517. So, on high power, the total spread was 9 f.p.s., while on low power it was 17 f.p.s.

RWS Hobbys on low power
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which is one of the lightest pure lead pellets around. On low power, they averaged 445 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 3.08 foot-pounds. The spread went from 439 to 449 f.p.s., so only 10 f.p.s.

RWS Hobbys on high power
On high power, Hobbys averaged 553 f.p.s. That’s a muzzle energy of 4.75 foot-pounds. The spread was from 545 to 557 f.p.s., so a total of 12 f.p.s.

These pellets are extremely uniform in this P1, as evidenced by their tight velocity spread at both power levels. In Part 1 and also in one of the older reports, I told you that this pistol averaged 559 f.p.s. with Hobbys. So, the difference of just 6 f.p.s., between the old and current velocity readings is almost too small to have any impact. The gun is virtually shooting as it did four years ago and even as it did 15 years ago. That should answer the question of whether or not the mainspring breaks down over time. Clearly, it doesn’t.

And now for the special event
I wasn’t expecting what I am about to show you, but I’ve never shot super-lightweight pellets in my P1 before. I knew they would be faster. They would have to be, because they’re so much lighter. But they also did something that I didn’t expect.

Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic pellets on low power
When I began shooting Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic Pellets they registered 530, 524 and 541 f.p.s. on the Shooting Chrony Alpha model chronograph I was using. Imagine my surprise when shot four registered 597 f.p.s. Was it just a fluke? No, it wasn’t, because the next four shots after that all registered between 580 and 598 f.p.s.

I wondered if I had somehow “awakened” the gun with these lightweight pellets. But just as I was thinking that, shot nine registered 533 f.p.s, followed by shot ten at 532 f.p.s. The velocity had dropped back to exactly where it had been before the sharp increase. What was happening?

Cardew was right!
I thought for a bit and then remembered that one of the Cardews who wrote the book The Airgun, From Trigger to Target had written that all spring guns exist at one of four possible phases of function. They’re either a blowpipe, a popgun, a combustion gun or a detonation gun. Most of the time, the guns we deal with in this blog are in the combustion phase, in that they diesel with each and every shot. By diesel I mean that they burn some of the lubricant that makes its way into the compression chamber by igniting it through the heat of compression.

Most of the time, we deal with only a single phase in one gun. What I believe has happened in this test is that the P1 converted from being a popgun to a combustion gun for five shots in the shot string, then reverted back to being a popgun for the last two shots. When it was launching pellets at 530 f.p.s., it was doing so by the pressure of compressed air, alone. When it began to push them out at above 580 f.p.s., it was burning some of the fuel (oil droplets) that were in the compression chamber. Bear in mind that this gun was tuned with Beeman M-2-M moly (now sold as Air Venturi Moly Metal-to-Metal Paste), alone, and that was done 15 years ago. Even that small amount of “fuel” is apparently enough to raise the muzzle velocity significantly, as can be seen in this one test.

The “average” velocity for this test was 562 f.p.s., but no one pellet in the shots string went close to that speed. What we actually have here is a bimodal distribution in which the test samples are not all coming from the same source. Some are when the gun is functioning as a popgun and others when it’s functioning as a combustion gun. There are actually two separate distributions of velocities for this pellet when fired on low power, and the only explanation I can think of is the one I’ve given. At the “average” velocity, the muzzle energy is 2.81 foot-pounds.

As I said at the beginning of this report, I felt this was such an important event as to warrant some extra explanation. Let’s look at what happened when I shot the same pellet on high power.

Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic pellets on high power
The average velocity on high power was 677 f.p.s., but, again, no pellet within the shot string went close to that speed. I got another bimodal distribution, with the slower pellets down in the 653-666 f.p.s. region, while the faster pellets were all over 700 f.p.s. (up to the maximum of 704 f.p.s.). I didn’t expect that at all. I thought that at high power the pellets would come out at one consistent velocity, but that’s not what happened. By the way, at the average velocity, the muzzle energy was 4.07 foot-pounds.

Well, I never expected a physics lesson from testing this pistol. Still, it’s nice to know the old gal still has what it takes to get the job done. And, the cocking effort is so much less than I would have imagined!

Next time, I’ll show you how to hold the pistol for the best accuracy, plus I may have another tidbit for you.

The new Walther Lever Action CO2 rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Walther Lever Action CO2 rifle

Today, we’ll look at the power the new Walther Lever Action CO2 rifle generates. Since my old Walther Lever Action is a carbine with a shorter barrel, I hoped to see some improvement in velocity from this rifle, and I surely got it.

Like most of the repeating airguns made by Umarex, the Lever Action uses a circular 8-shot clip. Instead of 10 shots for velocity calculations, I used 8. I’ll also do that when shooting targets for the accuracy test.

Trigger performance
Kevin had asked about the trigger on the rifle. It’s not adjustable, but the second stage does break cleanly at 4 lbs., 6 ozs. It’s a very nice, crisp feel that I think will satisfy most shooters.

Velocity test
Walther recommends that you use either wadcutters or domed pellets in their repeaters that have a circular clip. Since either of those pellets will be more accurate than hollowpoints or pointed pellets anyway, I say, “Why not?” I find myself using domes for almost everything these days,anyway, because they’re so accurate at long ranges, but since the Walther Lever Action will be used primarily for plinking at shorter distances, wadcutters will do just as well.

The first pellet tested was the Falcon from Air Arms. This is a lighter domed pellet that’s often quite accurate in some rifles. I’m hoping it will be in this one, too. They averaged 576 f.p.s. for 8 shots with a spread that went from 571 to 587 f.p.s. The average velocity delivers a muzzle energy of 5.4 foot pounds.

Next, I tried the old standby Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domed pellet. At an average of 561 f.p.s,. they delivered 5.52 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. The spread went from 555 to 569 f.p.s.

Easy to cock
I have to observe at this point that this is an easy rifle to cock and load. The butter-smooth lever works with so little energy that you can cycle it with the rifle on your shoulder and the sights aligned with the target.

Then, I tried H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. They weigh 7.56 grain, and in the Lever Action rifle they averaged 569 f.p.s. The spread went from 562 to 581 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the energy at the muzzle was 5.44 foot pounds. This is another pellet that should be accurate in this rifle.

The last pure lead pellet I tested was the lightweight RWS Hobby. At just 7 grains, Hobbys are usually the fastest lead pellet in any gun, and they didn’t disappoint here. They averaged 583 f.p.s. for 8 shots. The spread was only from 577 to 593 f.p.s. They averaged 5.28 foot pounds of muzzle energy.

Trick pellets
I couldn’t finish without testing at least one trick pellet, so I selected the Crosman High Velocity Super Sonic Pellet that weighs just 4 grains. It averaged 689 f.p.s., but the spread was large, running from 660 to 706, a spread of 66 f.p.s. At the average velocity, these pellets produced 4.22 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Just for fun, I’ll also test these pellets for accuracy. Wouldn’t it be fun if they turned out to be accurate?

General observations
I’m still impressed with the rifle’s smooth action, crisp trigger and with the overall look of quality. I hope this rifle will continue Walther’s Lever Action tradition of being a tackdriver.

Please take note that lighter pellets produce less energy in CO2 guns. That’s because CO2 gas needs longer to accelerate the pellet to an optimum velocity. So, just like pneumatics, light pellets produce less energy than heavy pellets.