Posts Tagged ‘Walther LGV Challenger’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Walther LGV Olympia was a top-quality 10 meter target rifle from the 1970s.
Don’t get confused. The title of this blog is the Walther LGV Olympia field test, but the first part was titled, We interrupt our regular program….I used that title so I wouldn’t give away the topic that first day. This report is, indeed, about the Walther LGV Olympia of history, but this is a new take on it. I already reported on it two and a half years ago, but that report was about the rifle as a vintage 10-meter target rifle, which at that time was all the LGV had ever been. Only in 2012, when Walther brought out their new line of sporting rifles under the LGV model name, was the LGV anything except a breakbarrel target rifle.
We’ve now looked at the .177-caliber Walther LGV Master Ultra rifle and also at the .22-caliber LGV Challenger (which I now own), so I thought it might be nice to see how the original LGV stacks up to these new rifles. This test will look at the vintage LGV Olympia at 25 yards and at 50 yards. At both distances, I’ll use the rifle’s target sights. I mentioned last time that when I tested the FWB 300S at 50 yards, it didn’t seem to matter that much whether target sights or a scope was used, so I see no need to switch the sights on this rifle.
One thing I have learned in the two and a half years since testing the LGV target rifle is how deep-seating the pellet often has a dramatic affect on accuracy. We have seen that with other airguns, but this will be the first time I think I’ve tested it on a vintage target rifle. This should be an interesting test. And, because the LGV is a breakbarrel, it plays right into the test plan, because breakbarrels are the easiest type of guns in which to seat the pellets deep.
Naturally, I’ll use the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and PellSet seater to seat the pellets. It’s so easy; because once you set the optimum seating depth, it never changes until you change it. If you don’t have a tool, you can seat pellets with a ballpoint pen…but the seating depth is not adjustable.
Today, we’re just going to see how well the rifle performs with some sample pellets that might get chosen for the 25-yard test. I’ll test the velocity of all pellets both seated flush with the end of the barrel and also seated deep. That will be a good comparison.
JSB Exact Heavy
You must wonder if I’ve lost my mind, testing the 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy domed pellet in a rifle this weak. No, that’s one of the types of pellets I expect might do well at 50 yards. It certainly has the capability to buck the wind, so I thought it might be a good one to test. I have almost no experience shooting airguns of this low power level out to 50 yards, so this is just a hunch.
JSB Exact Heavys averaged 500 f.p.s when seated flush with the breech. The low was 499 f.p.s., and the high was 501 f.p.s., so there was a total variation of just 2 f.p.s. That’s remarkable for a spring-piston air rifle — I don’t care what type it is! This pellet generates 5.74 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
When seated deep, the same pellet averaged 511 f.p.s., with a low of 509 f.p.s. and a high of 512 f.p.s. The spread opened up to 3 f.p.s., which is still astonishing. Deep-seated pellets averaged 11 f.p.s. faster than flush-seated pellets. The average muzzle energy was 6.0 foot-pounds.
The second pellet I tested was the ever-popular RWS Superdome. This is another pellet that I believe might do well at long range when fired from this air rifle. When seated flush, they averaged 552 f.p.s., with a 17 f.p.s. velocity spread from 543 f.p.s. to 560 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy this pellet generated when seated flush was 5.62 foot-pounds.
When seated deep, the average velocity increased by 10 f.p.s. to 562 f.p.s. The spread ranged from 557 to 565 f.p.s., so it tightened up to just 8 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.82 foot-pounds.
Next, I tested the Beeman Kodiak pellet. This is another heavy pellet that I plan to try at 25 yards; and if it does well there, at 50 yards, too. At 10.65 grains, this is the heaviest pellet in today’s test. When they were seated flush, Kodiaks averaged 483 f.p.s. in the LGV Olympia. The spread went from a low of 478 f.p.s. to a high of 487 f.p.s., so 9 f.p.s. in total. That’s still pretty tight. The average energy was 5.52 foot-pounds.
When seated deep, the average velocity for Kodiaks increased to 501 f.p.s. The spread now went from a low of 479 f.p.s. to a high of 515 f.p.s., so a total of 36 f.p.s., which is on the high side. The average muzzle energy was 5.94 foot-pounds.
JSB Exact Express
The JSB Exact Express pellet is one I haven’t tried before. It’s a dome that weighs 7.87 grains. Normally, I would try the JSB Exact RS pellet in a rifle like this; but when I tested it in the past as a 10-meter rifle, I did try the RS pellets and they didn’t seem to do very well at 10 meters. So, I welcomed the opportunity to include this new JSB dome in the test.
Although it’s heavier than the RS, this Express pellet is still the lightest pellet I tried in this test. When seated flush, it averaged 585 f.p.s., with a spread from 569 to a high of 593 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.98 foot-pounds.
Of course, I expected this pellet to go even faster when seated deep, but it didn’t. In fact the relationship between deep-seating and velocity turned around 180 degrees with this pellet. The average for deep-seated Express pellets was 547 f.p.s., with a range that went from 545 to 553 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.23 foot-pounds. So, just like we have seen in some tests of deep-seated pellets in the past, here’s another surprise. I wonder what will happen in the accuracy test?
The Walther LGV Olympia has an adjustable 2-stage match trigger. The one on my rifle is set very nicely, and stage 2 breaks at 10.5 to 11 oz. I can do very fine work with a good trigger like this.
Impressions thus far
I was surprised by how consistent the rifle is with JSB pellets. The fact that 3 pellets increased when seated deep, while one decreased, is also something curious. It just points out the need to test a gun in as many ways as you can think of, I guess.
Best of all, this test gives me one more opportunity to shoot and handle this rifle. I own many nice airguns, but my work doesn’t often afford the chance to play with them; so, tests like this one are a refreshing change for me. And I know that many of you get enjoyment from reading about a fine vintage airgun. It’s a nice change of pace.
I do hope the newer readers will see how nice these older airguns are and maybe use the links to explore them more thoroughly. If you’re new to the shooting sports, this is where a lot of the fun is found.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Wow! That’s my assessment from today’s test. Please read the explanation of how I arrived at that result.
Today, I shot the .22-caliber Walther LGV Challenger air rifle at 25 yards with open sights. You’ll remember that it has fiberoptics front and rear, but they can be defeated by lighting the target brightly and sitting in a dark place to shoot. Fiberoptics are not good sights for precision shooting, but they’re good for a fast snap shot when hunting. These can be used both ways, so they’re wonderful.
I always become concerned when I shoot indoors at 25 yards — especially when using open sights. I have only a few inches of clearance through the garage door; and if a pellet goes astray, it could plow into the woodwork around the door. I needn’t have worries with the LGV, however, because the only place those pellets went was to the target.
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies
Reader Kevin asked me to try the rifle with 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets, so I did. I was concerned that a 12 foot-pound rifle wouldn’t be able to handle a pellet so heavy, but that wasn’t a problem. In fact, this pellet gave me the best 10-shot group of the test, measuring 0.78 inches between centers. That’s just a hair over 3/4 of an inch!
Ten JSB Exact 18.1-grain heavies made the best group at 25 yards. It measures 0.78 inches between centers. This is great for 10 shots at 25 yards with open sights.
The first group was low on the target, so the rear sight was adjusted up for the next pellet, which was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. As you can see, I lucked into the perfect sight adjustment for this pellet and tore out the center of the bullseye. I realize this makes a lot of people feel better about the group, but I hope you readers realize that it’s simply a matter of sight adjustment that determines where the pellets land. If the gun will shoot a tight group, then you can move that group anywhere you want. This one certainly does shoot very tight.
Ten Premiers landed in a group that measures 1.147 inches between centers. It’s not as tight as the previous group, but we expect that to happen with different pellets. The irony is that because this group is centered on the bull, it’ll look better to those who think the object is to the strike the center of the target regardless of anything else.
Ten Crosman Premiers made a 1.147-inch group. It happens to be centered on the bull but isn’t as tight as the previous pellet.
Predator Big Boy
I did try a group of 10 Predator Big Boy pellets in the LGV; but at 26.2 grains they’re clearly too heavy for this powerplant. They opened to 1.657 inches at 25 yards, which told me this isn’t the right pellet for this rifle. I could also hear a very long lag between firing and the pellet hitting the trap, so the velocity must be in the high 300s or low 400s.
Ten Predator Big Boys made an open 1.657-inch group. This is obviously not the pellet for the LGV.
JSB Exact Jumbo Express
I finished the test with 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Express pellets that weigh 14.3 grains. I tried it because, in the 10-meter test, 13.4-grain JSB Exact RS domes didn’t do as well as the others. But at 25 yards, this pellet certainly did very well. Ten pellets grouped in 0.786 inches, just a whisker larger than the group of 18.1-grain heavies…and really too close to call.
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo Express pellets made3 a 0.786-inch group at 25 yards. This is too close to the group made by the Jumbo heavies to call the difference.
The bottom line
So far, the LGV is living up to its name and even going beyond. I say beyond because this new LGV delivers 12 foot-pounds, where the target rifle by the same name was less than half that powerful.
This rifle is smooth, it holds well, the weight is distributed very well and the trigger is light enough for good work. When you cock the rifle, it’s smoother than any breakbarrel I’ve ever tested…other than a few that were tuned to perfection. I had the chance to shoot another LGV while I was at Umarex last week, and it felt identical to the rifle I’m testing. Rick Eutsler, who usually tests airguns costing $200 and under, fired the rifle before he was ready on the first shot. He, too, was blown away by the feel of the gun.
I know these rifles are going to cost a lot, and I know that not everyone will be able to purchase one, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is the best new breakbarrel to come along in the past half-century. I may not live in a mansion, but that doesn’t prevent me from appreciating one when I see it.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’ll cut right to the chase — this Walther LGV Challenger is everything I hoped for. This is a classic air rifle, and we’re privileged to see its inception. We were there!
Today, I tested the rifle’s accuracy from a rest at 10 meters using the open sights. This rifle is equipped with fiberoptic sights, and we all know that they’re not precision aiming devices; but if you light the target brightly and shoot from a relatively dark space, the dots won’t appear. You’ll see a crisp, square post and sharp rear notch that you can use to the extent of your shooting skill.
Start of the test
Each time I break open this rifle, I’m reminded of why it’s so special. The barrel feels like a bank vault — both on opening and again on closing. Cocking is relatively easy and every one of the four pellets I tested loaded easily, yet were tight in the breech. I even like the size and configuration of the stock that seems to be made for me.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tested was the one that I thought might be the most accurate — the 13.4-grain JSB Exact RS dome. Remember, the rifle I’m testing is .22-caliber, so all the pellets will be heavier.
Since I was using open sights, I looked at the target after the first shot to make certain the pellet had struck the paper. It had, and in the bull, too. It was at 6 o’clock, on center with the 10-ring so I didn’t adjust the sights. As I continued to shoot, I could see pellets dropping just below the bull — and the hole didn’t appear to grow much from where I sat.
When I went downrange to change targets, I saw the first group — 10 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.464 inches between centers. It’s a good group that told me the rifle could shoot, but the verticality told me I needed to do better on estimating the bottom of the bull with the tip of the front post.
The rifle hangs perfectly dead in the hands when shooting. What that means is that I wasn’t fighting it to find a good hold point or to control the balance. It just hung there, giving me confidence. My off hand was back under the forearm touching the triggerguard.
The trigger does have some creep in the second stage, and I would want to adjust as much of that out as I could; but for this test, I left it as it was. It was light and posed no difficulty to good shooting, as you’ll see.
Next up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domed pellet. They went to almost the same place as the JSB pellets on the target, which is a good sign that the rifle isn’t picky about pellets. Of course, I could only see the shots that landed in the white below the bull; but when I went down to change targets, I saw they were all in the same place! I had a remarkable group that measures 0.285 inches between centers. Look how round it is! This is what you see when a rifle really likes a particular pellet.
The third pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. At just 11.9 grains, it goes the fastest of the lead pellets and is often among the most accurate pellets — at least at close range. Ten shots went into 0.408 inches.
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which weighs 14.5 grains. It made a 10-shot group that measures 0.378 inches between centers. The group is taller than it is wide; but this came at the end of the test, so I may have been tiring out. I know that each shot looked perfect to me when it went off, just as all shots in this test did.
Opinion so far
I gave you my opinion at the start of this report. I think the new LGV Challenger is a wonderful new spring-piston airgun. I certainly did not expect to see quality like this from a new air rifle. I thought those days were past, but it’s now clear that fine spring-piston airguns can still be made when the maker wants to.
This rifle reminds me a lot of my Beeman R8. The trigger could stand to be improved, but not much more needs to be done. I think you’re going to like the LGV if they all work as well as the one I’m testing.
Next, I plan to test this rifle at 25 yards with a scope. I expect the great shooting to continue. Then, I have to find more things to test it with, so I can hold onto it until Umarex receives their first shipment of rifles to sell so they can give me a price for this one.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I get to play with this wonderful new .22-caliber breakbarrel Walther LGV Challenger, and the experience was wonderful. Kevin — start thinking about a new gun! And Victor — stick around, because today you’re going to see an example of an airgun whose velocity claims are on the money. What a perfect way to get rid of the bad taste yesterday’s report left.
Oh, and to whoever said these were going to cost $700 — they’re not. This one is listed for $566.10 on the Pyramyd Air website (on the date this blog report was published). I realize that’s still a lot of money, but you can’t buy this level of quality for a whole lot less. The first time I cocked it for today’s velocity test, I was reminded of the bank-vault feel the action has. I cannot say enough good about it, except to tell Kevin that it cocks as nicely as my tuned Beeman R8. He’ll know what I mean.
What does a two-piece cocking link do?
I made an offhand remark in Part 1 that because this rifle has a two-piece cocking link that allows a shorter cocking slot, it vibrates less, and one reader asked me why that was. It isn’t because of the cocking link. It’s because the shorter slot in the stock makes the stock stiffer and less prone to vibrate. It’s a trick that’s been around since the 1960s and used to be touted by all the airgun catalogs.
The barrel is held shut by a lock whose latch can be seen sticking out the end of the forearm. Cocking requires that latch to be pushed up with the thumb and only then can the barrel be broken open. You don’t have to slap the muzzle like you do on so many air rifles today, but the barrel opens like a bank vault, also.
The LGV has a short-stroke piston, so when the rifle is cocked the barrel doesn’t go very far past 90 degrees. Compared to many magnum rifles we see today, it seems to stop very quickly when you break it down. The catalog says the rifle cocks with 38 lbs. of effort, but my test specimen cocks with 33 lbs. of force. And, it feels like it may drop a pound or two after a good break-in.
“And don’t-cha wanna know how it works?” as the comedian Gallagher used to say. I selected three pellets to test today, though I may try others during the accuracy tests later on. Pellet No. 1 is that “standard candle,” the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Premiers averaged 587 f.p.s. in my test. The low was 583 and the high was 591 f.p.s., so the total velocity spread was just 8 f.p.s. That tight spread is phenomenal for a new springer and would even be considered good for a tuned gun.
At the average velocity, the test rifle generates 10.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with this pellet. And speaking of velocities in this range, remember that 671 f.p.s is a “magic” number; because at that velocity, the energy of the pellet in foot-pounds equals its weight in grains. That makes it easy to know the power of the rifle you’re dealing with.
The second pellet I tested was another standard test pellet — the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby. It’s a pure-lead pellet, so it has high lubricity, and its skirt is both thin and flared wide enough to seal most barrels…and that holds true for all calibers. So, the Hobby is the pellet serious shooters select when they want to know the practical power and velocity limits for a given springer.
Hobbys averaged 664 f.p.s. from the test rifle. The low was 649 and the high was 670, so this spread was a much larger 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Hobby pellet generated 11.65 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
Gamo PBA Platinum
I don’t have a lot of lead-free pellets — especially in .22 caliber, so I had to use what I had. Ideally, I would have tested this rifle with the RWS HyperMax pellet that weighs 9.9 grains. But the Gamo PBA Platinum pellets I did test weigh 9.7 grains. Normally, they would be even faster, but these are very large and fit the bore tightly. I know that HyperMax pellets in .177 caliber are not that large, so I’m assuming they would also be smaller in .22 and would, therefore, be a little faster, as well.
The PBS Platinum pellets averaged 703 f.p.s. (see, Victor?) in the test rifle. The low was 691 and the high was 713 f.p.s., so a total spread of 20 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the PBA pellet generated 10.65 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle
So, this LGV Challenger is a 12 foot-pound gun. 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. And I think it has to, because I can tell the level of care that went into its design. Walther, all will be forgiven for re-using a classic model name if this test rifle shoots well.
The trigger is adjustable. I don’t have a manual, but I can see the screws, and they call it a match trigger. As it was shipped, the trigger was two-stage and released at 1 lb., 10 oz. The first stage takes about 7 oz., so you can’t really feel it at all and stage 2 is definite. I felt one jump of creep on the second stage, and that was it.
The first stage is quite long, and that may bother some folks. None of the two adjustments appears to affect this. The screw that’s in the trigger blade affects the length of the second-stage pull, and the Allen or hex screw that’s located behind the trigger blade affects the sear contact area. It’s possible to adjust out all the contact so the gun cannot be cocked.
What I found was that the trigger was adjusted as good as it gets when I received the rifle. So, the numbers above represent the best you can expect.
The rifle has a small shudder when it fires. It’s enough to tell you there’s a steel mainspring, but it’s not objectionable. I would leave it as is. The application of black tar would quiet the shudder, but you would lose a little velocity. Perhaps, some tolerances could be closed up or the piston might be buttoned to calm the gun, but that’s a topic for a real airgunsmith — not me.
Next, I plan to shoot the rifle with the open sights. I’ll light the target so I can use them without the fiberoptics showing, which will give greater precision. After that, I plan to mount a scope and test it again. If this rifle shoots well, it’ll be an instant classic!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll start looking at a new breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle that’s offered by Walther — the LGV. I saw the full range of these at the 2013 SHOT show and asked to test this one. For the record, I’m testing serial number BJ001517 — a .22-caliber rifle in a black synthetic stock. Also for the record, this rifle says “Made in Germany” on the baseblock.
The new LGV
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.
Walther’s LGV Olympia target rifle was one of the last and finest recoiling spring-piston target rifles.
The new LGVs are all sporting rifles, which means more power but no target sights or target stocks. So, I’ll evaluate these guns on the basis of what they are, not on the name they carry.
The LGV Challenger is a large air rifle, weighing 8.5 lbs. and measuring 43 inches from end to end. The pull is 14-1/2 inches, so it fits me like a glove. I cocked it just to see how it felt…and, gentlemen, I must admit that I am in love! I haven’t felt a spring-piston air rifle that cocked this smooth since — never! And the cocking effort is light for what they tell me is a 700 f.p.s. rifle (in .22…it’s 1,000 f.p.s. in .177). When I closed the breech, it clicked like a Mercedes limo door after a factory adjustment.
Then, I thumbed off the automatic safety (which they put on the tang, just like a shotgun safety) and squeezed the two-stage trigger. It was light, if not quite crisp, but it beats most other air rifle triggers I’ve tested right out of the box. The literature calls it an adjustable match trigger; and based on just one shot, I think they’re correct. Of course, I’ll do all the adjustments and tell you what I discover.
The feel upon firing was a tiny shudder of vibration. Nothing so bad as to need attention, but enough that you know the gun is a springer.
Walther had a choice of power sources — coiled steel mainspring or gas spring. They chose the coiled steel spring, and that brings with it the easy cocking and slight shudder at firing. I think they made the right choice, because cocking a powerful gas spring gun these days is like bending the bow of Hercules!
The sights are fiberoptic — front and rear. But they also give the shooter a VERY crisp squared-off front post and rear notch. The fiberoptic tubes are very bright, so I’ll have to adjust the lighting to use them as conventional sights; but if this rifle shoots half as nice as it looks, it’ll be worth the effort.
The rear sight is fully adjustable. The knobs for both adjustments have crisp detents and scales to tell you where the sight has moved. And it’s made of steel!
The rifle has a grooved scope rail built into the top of the spring tube and, once again, Walther did it right. They put three vertical scope stop holes at the rear of the rail, so there should be no problem mounting a scope that will stay put.
The one feature that carried over with the LGV name was the barrel lock. It’s a latch under the baseblock that must be pushed up before breaking the barrel. The barrel locks with a strong detent, which this lock puts over the top. Ddid I mention that I like the positive feeling when the barrel closes? It closes more positively than just about any breakbarrel I’ve tested since a Diana model 25/27.
The barrel pivots on a genuine steel bolt that appears to have a nut on the other side. It looks like the designers listened to the need to occasionally tighten the breech bolt and did the right thing.
The synthetic stock is rough to the touch and has a hint of tacti-cool to its profile. When the off hand touches the triggerguard, the rifle is agreeably muzzle-heavy, which stabilizes it in all positions. A thick, soft, black rubber buttpad holds the rifle securely on your shoulder and keeps it from slipping when you stand it up in the corner.
All metal, except for the rear sight, is highly polished and deeply blued. You’ll be proud to own a rifle that looks this nice.
The cocking link is a two-piece articulated link that allows the cocking slot in the stock to be shorter. That reduces vibration a lot.
The Challenger has a threaded muzzle with 1/2×20 thread, which is the British thread pattern for a silencer. Most conventional American-made silencers use a pitch of 28 threads per inch and will not fit. Now, in truth, most spring guns aren’t loud enough to need a silencer. Most of the noise travels through the stock, and the shooter is the only one who hears it; but airgun silencers are all the rage today, and this is a nice touch.
I can’t wait to start shooting this rifle. The feel conveys a sense of quality that I haven’t felt in a new air rifle in a long time.