Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Weihrauch HW45/Beeman P1 Review

Key Info
-Made in Germany – excellent build quality and precision.
-Available in .22, .177. or .20 calibre.
-5.9ft/lbs energy.
-600 ft/s velocity.
-Fibre optic 'TruGlo' sights.
-Spring-piston power source.
-Aluminium, steel and wood (Walnut) construction.
-Available in black or silver.
-Precision accuracy – micrometer adjustable rear sight.
-Two power settings – half and full power.
-Adjustable two stage trigger.
-Ambidextrous safety catch.
-Spare parts available.

The Weihrauch HW45/Beeman P1 is, and has been for a long time, known as the Rolls Royce of air pistols. It has become somewhat “the one to beat” in air pistol designs. It's build quality is excellent and comparable to that of a tank! Every aspect of the design is extremely precise, and nothing rattles or wobbles – it's all super-smooth. This quality is evident in the weight of the HW45 – it weighs just a little over 2.5lbs, which is heavy for an air pistol, so perhaps not suitable for children, but the weight is not excessive, so will not be a problem for adults. Due to its spring-piston design, the HW45 also has recoil – and, for an air pistol, a fair amount of it too! Recoil is hardly noticeable on low power, but on full power, it jumps quite strongly when fired. Believe it or not, the weight and the recoil are deliberate design features! The HW45 was designed to resemble the Colt 1911 (.45) firearm (hence the name), and is in fact often used as a training aid for this handgun, so these characteristics add to the similarity with the powder-burner. The recoil does mean, though, that to achieve any degree of accuracy, a very consistent technique is required. However, once mastered, the HW45 will leave most others trailing behind in terms of accuracy, and out-power them too! The .177 HW45 has a velocity of 600ft/s with 7.0 grain pellets, for a muzzle energy of around 5.9ft/lbs. This is just below the UK legal limit for pistols, and the HW45 pushes closer to this limit that most of its rivals. The HW45 is available in .177, .22, and the less common .20 caliber. .177 has greater range, velocity (about 600ft/s) and penetration, and flies on a flatter trajectory than .22. .22 has a little more energy on impact (about 5.9 ft/lbs) than .177, but has less range and a lower velocity (about 430 ft/s) and will drop considerably on its trajectory – about a foot at 40 yards. .20 is liked by some, and hated by others, but is said to lie somewhere in between the energy, trajectory, velocity and penetration of .177 and .22. The HW45 has an ambidextrous safety catch, so it can be comfortably engaged and disengaged by left or right handers!

When you first use the HW45, you will be greatly disappointed by its accuracy – but don't worry – it's your fault! The HW45 is, in fact, an exceedingly accurate pistol, but takes much practice to fully master. It all comes down to how you hold it. On low power, a firm, controlling grip is needed, or the pellet will hit very high – up to 7 or 8 inches at 10 yards! This is due to the barrel recoiling before the pellet has left it – directing it upwards. However, on full power, the opposite is needed. A loose grip, that allows the pistol to naturally move in your hand, is required. This prevents the recoil being countered by your grip, as soon as the gun begins to recoil, and pushing the barrel downwards, resulting in a hit low, however, if held properly, due to the high power setting, the pellet exits the barrel before the recoil can have an effect on it. After using the HW45 for a while you will begin to learn how it behaves, and will, in time, perfect your technique. Consistency is key.

The sights of the HW45 are very good. They have replaceable TruGlo fibre optic inserts, for easy viewing in the daytime, and better performance under low-light conditions. The front sight is a fixed post with a TruGlo insert, and the rear sight is a micrometer adjustable iron sight with a TruGlo insert. The adjustment on the rear sight is for windage and elevation, and it is easy to adjust the elevation screw a few clicks when switching from low to full power.

When a proper technique is developed, and the sights are correctly adjusted, the HW45 can easily produce groups about the size of a 5p (about 1.5cm) at 10 yards. With the .177 model, accuracy tends to really start to drop off at around 30 yards, and just hitting the target at this distance can be a challenge.

The HW45, while not as powerful as some rifles, is very powerful for a pistol. The .22 caliber has slightly more energy on impact than the .177, but in my opinion, the .177 caliber is far more suited to this gun. The .177 has greater range, a much flatter trajectory (the .22 will drop about 1 foot at 40 yards), and greater penetration. Some also say that .177 is more accurate. The preferred weight of pellet in .177 caliber for the HW45 is around 7 - 8 grains (Crosman or RWS Superdome are perfect). 7-8 grains is perfect to achieve the optimum power output available from this spring-piston setup. If your pellet is too light, or too loose, it will leave the barrel too quickly, and air may escape on either side of the pellet, resulting in decreased power, and hence decreased accuracy too. If your pellet is too heavy or too tight, the spring will have a hard time pushing it out the barrel, decreasing performance. The HW45 in .177 caliber maintains a great deal of its energy up to around 25 yards, after which the power begins to drop away more noticeably. It will easily puncture both sides of a can at up to 40 yards, perhaps slightly more, but beyond that is really pushing it! At a sensible range of around 10-15 yards, approximately ½ inch of plywood is necessary to prevent full penetration (.177 caliber), and the pellet will sink in so that the skirt is about 2mm below the surface of the wood. The .22 caliber has lesser penetration than this, due to its wider surface area, but makes a very loud noise when it hits the wood!


About the Spring-Piston Design
The spring-piston is an air gun power source that takes a fair amount of getting used to!

The way that it works is that when the gun is cocked, by rotating the cocking arm around a pivot at the muzzle end of the gun, the trigger sears engage, holding back the spring. On the HW45, there are two points at which the sears engage, enabling two power levels to be achieved. The cocking motion takes a little effort, but shouldn't be a problem for an adult – but may prove difficult for children. When the gun is cocked, the trigger mechanism holds back the spring, so that when the trigger is squeezed, the sears disengage, and the spring is released. On the end of the spring is a piston, which compresses the air in front of it as it moves down the cylinder, this compressed air is then redirected through the transfer port and into the barrel – forcing the pellet out the end!

The spring-piston system results in recoil. When the gun is fired, the spring flies back towards the rear of the pistol, and the energy transferred from the spring coming to an abrupt stop at the end of its travel, is felt as recoil.

Because of the nature of the spring-piston system, certain steps have to be taken to ensure its longevity:
-Never dry fire the pistol – that is, cock it and pull the trigger without a pellet in the barrel. This results in the piston seal slamming into the end of the cylinder, and will likely damage it – resulting in reduced performance, and possibly a broken spring.
-Use only the right types of non-dieseling oil (Abbey SM50 Gunlube is perfect), and don't over-oil. When you oil your HW45, just use a small amount of the correct oil on moving parts, and that's it! Done! Too much is not a good thing!

When the gun is new – you may notice that it makes extremely loud noises, and sparks and lots of smoke come out the end – do not be alarmed! This is normal in a new spring-piston gun, and is called dieseling. Dieseling is a result of oil (or the tank axle grease that Weihrauch use on their springs!), seeping past the piston seal and into the cylinder. The extreme pressure (about 3000psi) generated when the gun is fired ignites this oil, as in a diesel engine, creating this effect. A small amount of dieseling is necessary for the gun to function correctly, and is in fact where the spring-piston design achieves much of its power, however, use of the wrong type of oil can result in excessive dieseling, which can burn away the piston seal, snap the spring, and even re-cock the gun!

After 10,000 shots or so, your spring will likely need replacement. This may not sound like very much, but in my experience, it takes a surprisingly long time to get through 20 tins of pellets. Spring replacement can be done at home, and the parts are available, but will require a spring compressor (or an improvised one) and can be a bit dodgy, as the spring or other components can fly out with great force if you're not careful! If you're not comfortable doing this job yourself then its probably best to take it to a good gunsmith. 

It's excellent – need I say any more?!

The Weihrauch HW45 is probably the best air pistol you can buy today. It's a little pricey, but it's definitely worth every penny! It's very accurate, very powerful, exceptionally well made, and is one of the remaining few air pistols that can be disassembled, repaired, then reassembled again without breaking off any plastic clips (as there is no plastic in the entire design!), and parts can be bought online quite easily. If you're looking for an excellent, pro-grade air pistol – look no further! 


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. I have two Weihrauch .45's and they are without a shadow of doubt, the best I've ever come across in the Spring Powered Airguns, and I wouldn't touch a PCP with a barge pole, they are like pop guns having no kick, like that of the Weihrauch .45, and they are ideal to use as small game Humane Killers.

  2. ist feel exlusiv like a fine car

  3. Just bought one in .22 and very pleased indeed. I test fired it with some RWS Hobby (11.9g) and it shoots quite flat over 20yards, 10yards I was pelased with the groups achieved. I very much like the (standard) wood grips, very comfortable indeed, and ambidextrous. Its one thing I wish Webley had left well alone on their pistols instead of having a right handed grip - I wish I could have similar grips on my .177 Tempest. I have a newer model with True Glow sights, and I am really getting to like these, verg good in shaded wooded locations. One thing I did wonder about is why Weihrauch did not super glue the frontal red fibde optic insert into the cradle ? I am thinking of doing this, but not without advice, as the super glue could damage the fibre optic material (therefore I am suspicious that there could be a very good reason for not having done this). Overall, a very good pistol. The only thing that is as powerfull, if not a little bit more so, is the BSA scorpion (still around 2nd hand). They are very accurate and powerfull too, but very heavy and you need to take a breake in between shots. Don't confuse this with the BSA scorpion PCP carbine, you need to search for BSA scorpion air pistol. The HW45 is also a nice size and weight, able to take the recoil without being too big like the Scorpion, and not as small as a tempest so as not being able to deveop the power. Its size and everything about it are optimum (it also has a lower power level for indoor plinking - very good indeed, remember to wear eye protection though).

    One thing that really annoys me, is that I would like some TruGlows for my HW99s, they are on the Weirauch Website, but Hull Cartridge does not currently do them - what a shame. One air rifle config I very much want to try is a rear peepsight, and frontal red TruGlow - this would be deadly on Rabbits.

    HW45 - a masterpiece if ever there was one.

    Just a thought, how about a .25 version at 5.9ft pounds, this would be a giggle on the rats at 10-15yards.

  4. "The HW45 was developed as a training pistol for the Colt .45 firearm...." do you have any verifiable sources to corroborate this?

    According to the Blue Book of Gun Values, co-authored by Dr Robert D. Beeman, there is no mention of this. I would have expected a mention if it were true as the Beeman's specified the design to Weihrauch.

    1. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I've investigated this further and can't find any definitive evidence so I've updated my review accordingly.


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