CZ 452 Varmint HMR against the elements

April 19, 2018 at 4:27 pm

A dull cold morning transformed into bright sunshine, driven by a brisk wind and convinced that a balmy afternoon would follow, I headed out to my new permission eager to get some more rabbits for the freezer. Due to the wet weather of late, the farmer has been reluctant to let his cattle out for the spring pasture. Once the cattle are on the land, he does not allow shooting, so every visit is a bonus.

Rather than abating, the wind increased, scudding clouds across the sky as I patrolled the land, checking out previous kill sites. In the west the sky was beginning to darken and I was having doubts about my decision to drive the 15 miles to the farm. Higher temperatures had been promised this week and my vision of a warm afternoon bringing rabbits to the surface to sunbathe was disappearing fast.

A 30 minute stake out, a hundred yards from the usually productive pylon, revealed only a pair of very young kits, dancing in and out of the brambles, but no caring adults. I couldn’t wait all day. The kits will be bigger in the summer.

Walking back into the wind, I could make out two brown blobs 200 yards away, the scope confirming the sighting of a pair of big adult rabbits. In this wind I would need to be within 80 yards to be sure of a head shot, the gusts coming to the left of head-on, could blow the tiny .17 inch diameter bullet well off course. Heading directly for them, I kept low, the pylon behind me masking my outline, until about 100 yards away, where a shallow gully allowed me to cover more ground unseen. Pushing the HMR onto the higher edge, I could seen the two rabbits clearly, one was hunched with its back to the wind looking in my direction, the other partially obscured by grass, side on. The head-on rabbit was clearly visible, but a wind drifted shot to the body would ruin the meat and opted for the one to the right, head down feeding. Again not an easy shot, to the body yes, but I had to guess where the bullet would end up in its head. Aiming for the upper shoulders, I expected a right drift of 3 inches to the brain. I fired and they disappeared from view. A search of the area revealed nothing. I must have missed completely.

Walking the fields, I saw several other rabbits slink off into the now rapidly growing grass, two more weeks would see the end of it until haymaking. Near a hedge, white tails were bobbing away to cover and decided to invest the time to wait for them to come back out. Overhead the clouds had joined up to form a darkening mass and the unceasing wind was beginning to spit with rain. Like humans, rabbits dislike wind and rain, it seeming that the chance of a rabbit was declining with the weather.

Movement in the hedge got my attention, but again it was frolicking kits tormenting me, scurrying around. Constantly scanning around was rewarded by the sight of an adult rabbit sitting up behind me to the right. I swung round and aimed at the upper chest, the tailwind carrying the bullet to its target.

Although it was only 4 pm, the clouds had brought on premature darkness and as I cleaned this rabbit, heavy raindrops had begun to fall. So much for spring. The shower was brief, but enough to send me back to the van and home.

CZ 452 Varmint HMR accuracy reward

April 3, 2018 at 1:36 pm

With the possibility of more snow, but the certainty of rain for the rest of the week, I made the effort to find time to visit my new permission this afternoon. The farmer would like to put his cattle onto the new grass early next month, but too many rabbit burrows on the land are causing him concern for the beast’s well being. At the beginning of this month he had gone over the land with his digger, flattening and filling as many burrows as he could find, but another dozen have reappeared in that time.

Driving toward the farm, four rabbits were clearly on view at the base of one of the electricity pylons, but crossing the field in their direction, the flashing of white tails meant that they would be safely underground, before I was anywhere in range. Circling round to the left, I found a depression in the ground which offered a degree of cover about 80 yards away. Later in the year this will be a patch of stinging nettles, but today they were immature plants, which proved they were still capable of making my palms itch. Adjusting the rifle bibod up another few inches allowed a view of the pylon base with its bramble topping and I settled down to wait for some movement. In full view of cars passing along the lane, but shielded from the pylon, I lay prone until a rabbit emerged from a burrow, its head and shoulders clear, when I squeezed the trigger.

With no time to wait for more rabbits, I paused to note the number and depth of the burrows, some appearing to continue straight down for six feet. Picking this one up, I made my way back across to the centre, where a fallen tree gives a degree of cover, but also a convenient platform for cleaning rabbits. Half way over, a big rabbit was feeding part hidden by the rough ground of the warren, too far for a safe shot to hand, but not visible from ground level. Changing direction I hoped to come up from behind, but it saw me and bolted for the ditch along the edge of the field. As that opportunity faded, another arose in the shape of another bunny emerging 100 yards away. Getting down, there was a clear shot with the extended bipod and sent the little .17 ballistic bullet on its way to claim another for the pot.

The farmer’s attempts at filling the burrows was a wasted effort, these spring rabbits full of energy and able to reconnect with the existing underground tunnels.

Back at the fallen tree, I began preparing the rabbits for bagging, looking around every now and then for new targets, being interrupted by the sight of a deep brown buck leaving the safety of a burrow to feed in long grass. Only its ears were visible and I shut down the bipod to rest on a fence post, aiming into the grass to where the head should be. Squeezing off the shot at 80 yards, the animal cartwheeled forward out of sight and I climbed through the barbed wire to collect it.

Well out of range, back toward the farm, I could see three more rabbits feeding near some willows and walked steadily in their direction. On my last visit I had taken a successful shot at over 160 yards, but they had all filtered back into the undergrowth long before that this time. Taking advantage of the fact that the rabbits had their heads down, I moved in closer to about 120 yards, settling down into a shallow depression in the uneven field and waited.

The sun had come out and I watched a red kite wheeling over the farm, making its shrill call. Spring is on its way. Movement beneath the willows got my attention. A pair of rabbits began chasing around. As I said spring is in the air. One came out on its own. No breeze to worry about. Cross hairs on, squeeze and it toppled over.

Another healthy doe to carry back to the fallen tree for cleaning, then the half mile trek back to the van ladened down with the day’s harvest. Once more the accuracy of the CZ 452 HMR had proved its worth.

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR scores after the snow

March 21, 2018 at 10:30 am

What strange weather we are having in the south of England at the moment. Two days of snow left a thick carpet four inches deep covering the land, then the wind changed from freezing to just very cold and the roads cleared, but the snow remained on the land. This morning I awoke to see my garden still white, but by 10 am the sun was out and I could see the snow retreating. By lunchtime I was making plans to visit my new permission later in the afternoon.

Filling the van with fuel, and three sets of roadworks delayed my arrival, by which time the sun was hidden by a blanket of grey cloud and the air temperature was dropping fast, driven by an increasing north wind. The good news was, no snow. This area had missed the main onslaught over the weekend and I hoped for some steady rabbit action.

I got the feeling that I had arrived too late. There was nothing in sight. This time of year bucks like to sit out, being warmed by the spring sunshine, but spring was rapidly turning to winter again and they had all gone indoors. Scanning the warren through the scope from across the field, a brown smudge proved to be a rabbit 200 yards away. I needed to get across the open ground without being seen and moved sideways along my hedgerow, until a broad oak in the opposite hedge line was between me and the rabbit. I then headed over the field in cover of the tree, stopping to get down about 80 yards away to check round the trunk that the rabbit was still there. It was, but hidden by grass from the prone shooting position, just the tops of its ears being visible. Back behind the tree, I moved closer up a slight incline. Still only ears on view. Sighting on the expected head below the twitching ears, I clicked my tongue. The ears pricked up and I fired, somersaulting the rabbit. Got it. A big doe.

Scanning through the scope again, I could see a pair of rabbits out feeding close to an electricity pylon and worked my way along a hedge, until I was in range. Getting down prone about a 100 yards away, I realised that there was no safe backstop, the lane and a house clearly visible 50 yards beyond. The bullet could pass through, or a miss could prove deadly to someone. This is the main problem with urban shooting. I had to walk away. A shot from the opposite side of the field will be safe, but I would have to leave that for another day.

Cleaning the rabbit in the field, I kept my eyes open for more, seeing another pair close to an old willow, across the adjacent field. Packing away my kill, I walked slowly toward them. They stopped feeding and sat up. I stood still. They continued munching. Another 10 yards and they were sitting up again. I could hear a helicopter flying very low and slow across the fields towards me and looked behind to see its yellow belly. My immediate thought was that it was a police helicopter, alerted by a good citizen, that there was a man with a rifle in the field. The word ELECTRICITY was readable. They were surveying the cable line.  The pair of rabbits were still there. I got down prone, the rifle on the bipod, the range about 150 yards. The wind was behind me and I sighted the scope to maximum. Spooked by the sound of the helicopter, the rabbit turned and ran. The other one was still there and aimed for the top of its head and fired. It rolled over.

I paced out the distance, 168 paces. Further than I thought, but not a problem for the HMR with a tail wind, the bullet dropping four inches to pass through its chest. This time a big buck.

The helicopter continued on its low level flight across the field and I was reminded of an occasion, when it was the police. I was shooting rabbits at a crowded warren on a remote farm in the Chiltern Hills. Not remote enough, a dog walker had reported hearing what he described as a Wild West shootout and called the police. A police helicopter flew over and circled a couple of times. By now I had stopped shooting and was butchering a dozen rabbits. I held up my firearms licence and an officer jumped out and came over, while the helicopter hovered at a distance. He was happy with my paperwork and it was smiles all round. Not a pleasant experience, even when you are legally shooting.

Driving back down the lane, there were now three rabbits feeding around the pylon and I stopped to choose a safe vantage point. I was tempted to get the rifle out, but time was against me and I continued down the lane to join the rush hour traffic.

 

CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR season opener

March 8, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Only days ago the countryside was covered in snow, but winds from the south brought air temperatures back into the positive, although despite bright sunshine, it was still in single figures due to a cooling wind.

One of my landlords had acquired more grazing for his cattle, but there was a problem, too many rabbits. Calling me over for a meet up, he pointed out the problem areas and I took the CZ HMR with me on my first walk round. Following a scrubbed out hedge line, I saw three rabbits sit up and watch me approach. With a gusting crosswind, the 120 yard shot was not on, so I changed direction into the icy chill, in an attempt to work round into a firing position that had the wind behind me. A shallow gully gave a degree of cover, but I was spotted and saw a trio of white tails bobbing off toward a fallen tree, then out of sight. I was surprised to see so many rabbit droppings around, signs of a healthy population.

Propping the rifle up onto the raised edge of the gully with the bipod locked in place, I covered an area sloping away to the tree giving shots out to 110 yards, the angle across the wind giving a maximum of 30 degrees left and right. The lightweight 17 grain plastic tipped HMR bullet is easily blown off course, but this would keep it to a minimum. Nothing showed for ten minutes, then something moved to my right and I lifted the HMR round to cover the area. A rabbit was working along the other side of the fence toward the tree. It stopped and I fired in that instant. It dropped out of view behind long grass. I waited another ten minutes, just in case of another target, then made a bee line for the spot. A devastating head shot, characteristic of the HMR had stopped it in it’s tracks.

Placing the rabbit high on the fallen tree, I scanned for more rabbits, before continuing my recce, finding the biggest warren I’ve ever seen, which covered an area at least a hundred yards by twenty five yards, the ground raised up and pock marked by countless holes, with fresh excavation work everywhere. This field had previously had a few private ponies left to roam and can understand why the new occupant wants the rabbits gone, the loss of one of his beef cattle to a broken leg, could prove costly.

Cover from the fallen tree would provide the ideal shooting position during daylight, while the flat field will give safe access in darkness with the night vision. I passed beyond this warren, finding another half the size about two hundred yards further down. Reaching the hedgerow at the edge of the field, a pair of electricity pylons held more burrows at their bases, brambles masking more fresh digging.

At this point a car pulled up in the lane behind the hedge and the occupant came over. These meetings can often be difficult, as not everyone in the countryside agrees with the shooting of cuddly, furry rabbits. I need not have worried. He lived in the lane overlooking the field and my landlord had gone on to tell him of my intentions to clear the rabbits. He had seen me and popped over to offer me shooting over the ten acres behind his house, which was suffering the same fate. A double bonus! Passing on his phone number and the code to his gate, he warned of the two big guard dogs he kept in the field, to deter people from running lurchers over it. “Make sure you ring me before going into the field, so that I can lock them up!” No worries on that account! My new permission had also suffered with lurchers, due to the public lane and he hoped that fewer rabbits would make the visits less attractive.

Following an old hedgerow back to the fallen tree, many burrows became evident. With only about a month to go before the cattle are released onto the land, I had better get busy.

Using the tree as a cutting table, I began cleaning the shot rabbit, a big meaty doe. Eighty yards away another rabbit popped out of a burrow and surveyed the scene with its back to me. In seconds the rifle was rested on the tree trunk, the cross hairs planted on the back of the neck and the trigger squeezed. The impact tumbled the rabbit forward.

Another big doe for the freezer. I would like to have stayed longer, but with a commitment that evening and traffic to join, I had to make tracks back to the van, ignoring another pair of sitters on the way.

 

 

 

 

Weihrauch HW100 Sport add on IR Nitesite Viper Review

February 1, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Having flirted with night vision using a modified Sony Handycam with Nightshot and an IR torch on my Webley Viper .22 PCP, I had found that the short torch battery life was a limiting factor, as the power went down, so did the range and image on the handycam screen. 10 minutes between battery changes was about the limit. It worked well for close range rats and pigeons in the farmer’s barn, but fumbling with fresh batteries in the dark had its limits.

Occasional visits to shooting forums had highlighted a few home grown night vision systems, but the limiting factor had always been the house brick sized battery needed to run the things. Not needing to shoot after dark, until last year, when I was given permission to shoot rabbits over an 80 acre sports ground, I had put the night vision on hold. Brief low light visits had brought results, but it was time to revisit the forums to check up on the latest technology.

At last lithium batteries were being used and good reviews saw me reaching for the credit card to buy a NiteSite Viper scope add on infrared unit, which arrived in a smart shock proof case.

This is the least expensive and smallest unit with a specified range of 100 metres, more than enough for my Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP airifle, although I can see it being pressed into use with my other rifles, Career 707 FAC air, .22 semi auto Magtech and .17 HMR. More power is available at a cost, the Wolf having a quoted range of 300 yards and 500 yards for the Eagle models.

Opening up the box all the components are well protected, the idea being that the box will travel to the permission, where the parts will be assembled on site. Central in the case are two rubber sleeves to suit different sizes of scope eyepieces. Top right is the IR camera, with locations for the power jack and the screen feed. The camera has an on/off push button switch, which is silent in operation. No clicks to alert a rabbit in the dark. Bottom right is the IR torch and 3 1/2 inch screen unit. Bottom left is the lightweight lithium battery. This box housed the previous battery, a foam rubber filler taking up the now defunct space. Top left is a three pin UK mains adaptor for charging the battery, which has a charge life of over seven hours. A two pin plug is also included in the kit. Alongside the camera are two mounts for the torch/screen unit, one for a 25 mm scope tube and the other a 30 mm. With the mounts is an anti recoil bracket to firmly locate the screen unit.

Assembly onto the rifle literally takes a couple of minutes. My scope has a 25 mm tube, so the appropriate screen mount was clipped over the tube, having removed the clamp screw first. The anti recoil clip is then positioned over the mount with its slot covering the clamp screw hole.The screen unit slides into the groove at the top of the mount, the clamp screw refitted and the anti recoil clip pulled up to lock the screen. The serrated clamp nut can now be screwed on to tighten the clamp. It sounds complicated, but takes longer to say than do.

Next select the rubber sleeve that suits your scope eyepiece. This slides on up to a reduction, which positions the sleeve ready for the camera to slide in from the other end. Over the sleeve fit the battery pack, holding it in place with its velcro strap. With the camera fully home, plug in the lead from the screen and that from the battery. They are male and female connections, so fool proof. Switch on the screen and camera to check the focus of the cross hairs on the screen.

The focus of the camera is adjusted with the index finger pushing onto the rough surface of the lens holder, which is marked white to allow judgment of rotation of the holder. Rotating the lens moves it in and out allowing fine adjustments of the focal length to the scope eye piece. Each time the lens is adjusted, it is a case of pushing it back fully home in the sleeve to view the cross hairs on the screen.

With the IR torch turned fully anticlockwise in the off position with the knob at the top of the screen, for daylight use, this is the view of the cross hairs on my scope. With the focal length set at the lens, the camera can be removed and replaced without the need to reset the focus.

Weighing in at 14 oz fitted, the unit sits easily on the scope without feeling bulky. Having used a red dot scope in the past, the heads up shooting position is not difficult to master, giving a similar sensation to using a games console. Place the cross hairs on the target and squeeze the trigger.

The business end. There is a warning in the instructions not to look into the torch, when the unit is switched on, as serious damage to your eyes can be the result. Good practice would be to always turn the knob to the daylight position when in the field, adjusting the intensity to the range that you are shooting.

Due to the January weather of late, storms, rain, frost and snow, I have yet to test the NiteSite Viper in the field, but sighting down my 40 yard rear garden in pitch black conditions, I was amazed at the clear image, almost jumping out of my skin, when the neighbour’s cat emerged from behind a bush, its eyes glowing like those of a demon, as it wandered up the path toward me.

Festive pheasant pasties with sweet potato

December 23, 2017 at 9:10 pm

Gifted three brace of pheasants by a shooting friend, I occupied one end of the kitchen, while my wife was busy at the other end. The birds appeared to have run the gauntlet of several guns before hitting the deck and with several entry wounds in each, they were unsuitable for roasting, but ideal candidates for some pheasant pasties, alongside more of my popular pheasant burgers with apricots. With only days before Christmas, my wife had her sausage roll and mince pie production line in progress, getting ready for the annual influx of family to our home. This gave me the idea to try pasties with a savoury twist, by adding spicy mincemeat with a dash of whisky. Instead of traditional swede, I also substituted sweet potato, giving a touch of the exotic to a humble pastie.

The end result, a sweet tasting pasty more suited to accompany the after dinner nibbles and mince pies, than the main course. Offered up warm and sliced, they were the perfect match for late evening mulled wine. Hope there are some left for the New Year Bash.

Ingredients

600 g Minced Pheasant pieces (Coarse Blade)

200 g Sausage meat

400 g Potato, diced into 10 mm cubes

400 g Sweet Potato, diced into 10 mm cubes

200 g Red Onion, coarsely chopped

1 Rosemary sprig, stripped and chopped

3 tbs Mincemeat

3 tbs Whisky (Blended)

250 g Butter

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

2 packs Short Crust Pastry

1 Egg, beaten

Method

Cut the sausage meat into rough 20 mm cubes and add to the pheasant strips as they are minced to allow an even blend in a large bowl. Stir the vegetables into the bowl and sprinkle over the rosemary, followed by the seasoning. Scoop out the mincemeat from the jar into the mix, trying to get an even spread of the fruit throughout. Last but not least, add the three tablespoons of whisky, making sure to stir up from the bottom to avoid waste! Cover the bowl with cling film to infuse for at least an hour in the fridge. If making up your own pastry, this is good time to do so, also allowing time for the pastry to chill in the fridge.

Roll out the pastry into 3 mm thick squares and place a dessert plate over as a guide, cutting out a 170 mm diameter disc. Using a brush, paint round the upper outer face with the egg approximately 25 mm wide. Scoop out about two tablespoons of the meat / veg mix into the centre of the disc, piling up into a heap, adding a knob of butter to the top. Take two opposing sides of the disc and bring them up to meet above the centre, pinching them together between fingers and thumbs, working back down to the ends, creating a long oval. Pinching the thumb between two fingers of the same hand, go back over the join to form the traditional pasty zig zag pattern over the top. Place on a baking tray ready to cook at 180C for 50 minutes, or freeze, painting over the outside with the egg wash to give a gloss to the finished pasty.

An afternoon’s work in the kitchen made the most of what is now considered an often unwanted by product of organised game shooting.

 

 

 

Pheasant burgers with apricots

December 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Its good to have friends who shoot and even better when they have some surplus pheasants going spare. This week a nice fat, maize fed brace came my way and I decided to make some burgers, adding ready to eat apricots to complement the richness of the pheasant meat.

Building on the experience of my tasty rabbit and chorizo burgers (also on this blog) and substituting sausage meat for pork lardons, the recipe below produced a stunning burger that gets the mouth watering every time.

Ingredients

1kg Pheasant meat minced (coarse)

250 g Sausage meat, cut into 25 mm cubes

150 g Ready to eat apricots, rough cut to 5 mm cubes

1 Red onion finely chopped

1 Clove garlic finely chopped

1 Sprig rosemary

1 tbs Mixed herbs

1 tbs Worcester sauce

1 tbs Cooking oil

1 Thick slice wholemeal bread, reduced to bread crumbs

1 Egg (beaten)

Season to taste

Method

On a low heat, soften the onion and garlic in the oil and allow to cool.

Strip the rosemary leaves from the sprig and reduce with the bread in a liquidiser. This will allow the herb to be evenly spread.

Over a large mixing bowl begin to mince the pheasant, adding the cubes of sausage meat at regular intervals, which will result in an even mix of the two meats. Being low in natural fat, pheasant needs extra fat such as pork lardons, or sausage meat to aid cooking.

Add the onion and apricot then stir in, sprinkling on the bread, herbs, egg and Worcester sauce, turning the whole until an even blend is achieved.

Either roll into balls and flatten into patties, or place in a burger press between grease proof sheets and press out perfect burgers every time ready for the freezer.

That is just about it, either grill, or BBQ. Serve in a bun, or without. They are delicious!

 

 

 

CZ 452 .17 HMR long shot after haymaking

September 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

A wet, then hot spring had resulted in rapid grass growth on most of my shooting permissions this year, giving plenty of cover for the rabbits, but not a lot of use for my CZ HMR. A call to one of my farmers confirmed that he had completed haymaking and that there were rabbits “everywhere”. I took his description with a pinch of salt, as any numbers over a couple count as everywhere in his book, but it was worth the trip to find out, the freezer looking a bit bare, due to a burger making session.

Arriving in the late afternoon, I had a good view down the field and could count five rabbits along the edge, but once through the gate, the nearest three were sitting up ready to melt back into the hedge row.

There were two still feeding out in the open about 200 yards away and I made my way across to the far edge, keeping in cover as much as possible, hoping to close the range down before I was spotted. One sat up. I stood still. It went back down to feed. They were about 150 yards away now, in range for the HMR, but with a slight breeze in my face, not a sure shot. I got down and belly crawled another ten yards. Over the curve of the field, one was just visible, the other only a set of ears. Another five yards and the prone shot was on. Lining up on the right shoulder, I eased the trigger and the rabbit toppled over. Working the bolt, the second rabbit was flat to the ground and heading for safety. I have harvested this field too often.

After waiting for 15 minutes, nothing else showed, so got up and began walking to collect the first rabbit, only to see another appear in the field 50 yards beyond it. Back down again, through the scope it was facing me. Shooting for the table, its side on head, or shoulder shots with the HMR. Even at 100 yards the bullet can pass right through from head to tail, the percussion ruining the meat. Another wait and it turned broadside on. Crack! It jumped, running in thin air and dropped. Another unseen rabbit was up and running, slowing down only to negotiate the brambles, before vanishing. On new permissions, I have shot three, or four from one spot, but not here recently.

I waited 20 minutes this time. Further round, well out of range, a small group were now feeding and I made my way to pick up both rabbits, keeping my eye on the group. Maybe another shot would be on, but one by one they slipped away. Another wait would have seen them out again, but behind me toward the gate, the others were feeding again. I had paced the distance to the second rabbit, being pleased with 146. Zeroed at 120 yards on a still day, the Honady .17 Magnum Round gives an almost flat trajectory out to 150 yards, needing only a one inch hold over.

These were big rabbits, making a change from the young ones of late, obviously out making the most of the fresh grass shoots to put on fat before winter. The field curves round and I knew that I would be spotted before making cover and sure enough white tails were bobbing back to safety, before I reached a small bush with long grass at its base. Patience is a virtue required for this daylight shooting and I settled down behind the rifle, scanning through the scope for movement along the far end bramble bushes.

This time like magic, a rabbit popped into view in minutes a hundred yards away, falling to a quick head shot. These three heavy rabbits were just right for my planned bunny pasties and I made my way back to the van just in time to meet the rash hour traffic home.

 

Weihrauch HW100 Sport .22 PCP review

August 31, 2017 at 9:58 am

My neighbour is moving and asked if I was interested in buying an air rifle that had been cluttering up his office for the last couple of years. Taken as part payment for work he had done, it had been used by his son for plinking in the garden a few times, then put away. Already well served by my .177 Relum springer, Webley Venom Viper .22 PCP and the FAC rated Career 707 .22 PCP, I was not seeking another air rifle, but said I would take a look at it. Unzipping the gun bag, I could see that it was an iconic Weihrauch HW 100 with a thumbhole walnut stock in perfect condition.

Used for target shooting and pest control alike, this rifle has gained a reputation in the precharged pneumatic  air rifle world on par with the BSA Airsporter of many years ago.

The asking price was well below what I would have expected for a rifle of this quality and took up the offer of a trial before I made any decisions. The rifle also came with a 7 litre diver’s bottle and I filled the rifle to 200 bar before setting up a target at 25 yards to shoot prone off the bipod. Also supplied was a near full tin of JSB Match pellets, which filled the two 14 shot magazines.

The scope, which was an optional extra, is a Hawke Panarama EV 4-12 mag x 50 AO IR with parallax adjustment from zero to infinity. The illuminated mil dot scale has a choice of red, or blue illumination with a brightness scale from 1 to 5.

The magazine loaded easily from the right hand side with the cocking lever pulled back, a thumb switch pushing forward to then positively locate the magazine. With the cocking lever pushed forward, a centre spindle for the magazine comes forward for more location, as the pellet feed probe pushes the pellet into the barrel ensuring no damage to the pellet. The trigger is very light and smooth, the pellet sent on its way silently with no vibration back through the rifle. Reloading can be done with little effort on the bipod without unsighting the scope and the minimum of mechanical noise. In fact the click of the pellet hitting the wooden target back stop was the loudest, if any noise. A lot of thought and engineering knowledge has gone into this rifle.

With the target at 25 yards, the first shot was an inch high and a half inch to the right, although I was glad to see that the following few shots were equally off target. The thumb wheels for windage and elevation were smooth in operation with fine, but positive clicks and I was soon clover leafing the targets, taking out the 10 mm centre bull. Moving back 5 yards to 30, I was please to see very little drop of the pellets, a 14 shot magazine opening up a touching hole group on the same zero.

I am not a target shooter and and could have adjusted for the right to left breeze, while a higher magnification would also have shown the drift. At 20 yards the group was tighter and half an inch higher on the same zero.

At 160 bar on the the end of cylinder gauge, the pellets were still falling into place, a sign of a well regulated air charging valve system.

The HW100 Sport is not a lightweight, with a scope and bipod it weighs over 9 lbs, a bit heavy for me firing to hand, although the thumbhole stock gives a good firm hold on the rifle, when bringing the rifle up to the eye for a snap shot. This rifle was new in 2013 and in 2014 a shorter by 4 inches carbine was brought out, no doubt to address the weight issue, while also allowing more flexibility when hunting, especially if shooting from a vehicle.

Overall I was very impressed with the Weihrauch HW100 Sport and took over ownership of the rifle, taking it out a few days later for a test in the field using the heavier 19 grain H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme pellets, which I have used in my Carrer 707 to good effect at longer ranges, than I expected from this 12 ft lb weapon.

This was the first of three rabbits taken during a brief after dusk session at my sports ground permission. With the blue graticule illumination on the scope, the rifle had clinical accuracy on prone head shots out to 30 yards.

42 grain Winchester .22 subsonic, long range field test

August 14, 2017 at 11:44 pm

Having carried out a series of comparison tests between RWS subsonics and the new 42 grain Winchester subs on paper targets, I was keen to try them out on rabbits, but had been unable to find the time, when conditions were right. Today that opportunity arrived, when a dull humid afternoon with a few spots of rain, eased into a mellow, dry windless evening.

Driving along the lane toward the farm, rabbits were visible in the pasture, while another hopped across the entrance as I passed through the gates. Despite these heartening signs, it was all change once I’d unloaded the Magtech semi auto from the van, the sight of a rabbit squeezing under a fence to disappear into the brambles beyond, being the only indication of my furry quarry.

Like all my current permissions, regular visits have kept the bunny populations in check, while as one of my landowners suggested the other day, they have figured out that my van parked in the lane means trouble. Whatever the cause, there seemed to be nothing about as I passed along the lane and decided that it was going to be a waiting game, climbing the motorway embankment to where I would have a view over a wide area covering two known warrens.

This is a favourite vantage point for the HMR, giving safe shots out to 150 yards with an 180 degree panoramic view. Having set the zero for 50 yards on the .22 Magtech, I was expecting targets to appear up to 70 yards out, giving the fast moving 42 grain Winchesters the chance to prove their worth.

I had settled down with the Magtech rested on my gun bag, when a rabbit appeared from beneath a hedge to my left. It was about 50 yards away and was confident of a kill, lining up the cross hairs on it’s upper chest. Squeezing the trigger, nothing happened. I’d forgotten to cock the action. Reaching forward, I pulled back the lever, letting it spring forward to feed the first bullet into the breach. Sighting on the rabbit, I was in time to watch it pass through the rear hedge 60 yards away. The ground below the embankment is rough from winter cattle and I hadn’t chambered the round for safety reasons.

Five minutes later the rabbit was back, working its way along the hedge beneath an apple tree. It paused and I shot it, dropping forward with out a kick, but I remained sighted on the head just in case it had only been stunned. It did not move. The Magtech was only a cheap rifle, when I bought it over ten years ago, but it settled into being extremely accurate with the right ammo. The 42 grain Winchester had proved its accuracy and knock down power, while being almost silent against the background noise of the motorway behind me.

Firing from the embankment top, it had been point and shoot at this range due to the drop cancelling out the looping trajectory. Looking back I was impressed by the distance.

I had remained at my post, waiting for more movement, while scanning the area. A hundred yards to my left, several rabbits had come out on the top of the embankment and considered the thirty yard crawl to get in range, but twenty minutes after the first, another rabbit broke cover. It stopped to dig into wood chippings long enough for me to swing round for a shot between the shoulders. A leap in the air and it was still.

Another clean shot beyond 50 yards. The Winchesters have a larger diameter hollow point, than the equally accurate RWS subs, of which I have questioned their knock down power, probably due to the small hollow point. No need for a second safety shot with these Winchesters. A few minutes later and another rabbit emerged from brambles into a small hollow at least seventy yards away. Allowing for drop, I aimed high on its chest and squeezed the trigger, watching it jump forward then stop.

The top of the embankment was still a hive of activity, with white tails flicking among the nettles and I decided to pick up my bounty, then return to the van for a closer shot. Walking down the incline, I disturbed a feeding rabbit, which ran across the path in front of me, then stopped short of the fence. At thirty yards the image was blurred in my scope, but the white of its front was a big target as I raised the rifle and squeezed off the shot, flipping it over in a back somersault.

 Four rabbits with four shots from the 42 grain Winchester subsonics, three at long range for a .22, will see my RWS subs pushed to the back of the gun cabinet for the time being, to be used for zeroing, while these young rabbits will make good eating, being kept in the freezer for a rainy pie making day.