By Lars Dalseide | June 20 2014 16:29

Pistol with the sleek "space age" lines as Sci-Fi ray guns from yesteryear

OLYMPIC ARMS WHITNEY WOLVERINE .22 LR PISTOL My man B. Gil Horman delves into the past with a 1950s styled Olympic Arms Whitney Wolverine ...

Olympic Arms Whitney Wolverine .22 LR Pistol
This polymer revival of R. Hillberg’s 1950s rimfire “ray gun” is sleek, light and fun to shoot.

In the early 1950s, firearms designer and engineer Robert L. Hillberg decided to build a lightweight .22 Long Rifle semi-auto pistol using aluminum investment casting to form the frame. Although investment casting is often used to produce gun components today, Hillberg's plan represented an uncommon approach at that time. He gave the pistol the same sleek "space age" lines as the ray guns seen in sci-fi movies and TV shows of that era. The pistol was called the Whitney Wolverine and made available in either a blued or nickel finish with a 10-round magazine.

Unfortunately, due to financial issues and competition from manufacturers like Ruger and Colt, the Whitney Wolverine was short lived. Just over 13,000 were made during the 1956 to 1958 production run. But this pistol was not to be forgotten. In the late 1980s, Robert Schuets, owner of Olympic Arms Inc., started looking into how the Whitney Wolverine could be brought back to the market. Teaming up with Mr. Hillberg, who received one of the first pistols off the line, Olympic Arms successfully launched a polymer-framed version of the Whitney Wolverine in 2004, just over 50 years after the pistol was originally designed.

The most notable feature of the Olympic Arms version of the Whitney Wolverine is its single-piece polymer frame, or shell, which makes up almost the entire exterior surface of the pistol, including the vented rib and front sight. The square-notch metallic rear sight is drift adjustable for windage. An aluminum support, molded into the frame just in front of the trigger guard, is marked with the pistol's serial number. The predominant use of polymer results in a pistol that weighs in at 19.2 ounces unloaded.

The steel barrel and bolt assembly are held in place by a knurled knob threaded on to the muzzle of the barrel. The knob is prevented from rotating by a spring-loaded dent pin. Removing the knob allows the barrel assembly to be removed from the back of the pistol for cleaning.

The Whitney Wolverine is a traditional single-action semi-auto. The exposed hammer rests between two wings of the black metallic cocking handle. Although the hammer lacks a traditional curving spur, the pointed tip of the hammer protrudes above the cocking handle for thumb cocking. A generous beaver tail extension above the grip prevents the hammer from coming into contact with the shooter's hand.

The aluminum trigger has a grooved surface and a generous curve that feels comfortable to work with. After just a bit of take-up, the trigger broke cleanly with 3 pounds 6 ounce of pressure. With the short trigger travel distance, pulling the trigger felt even lighter than the gauge indicated. The thumb safety is located on the left side of the frame. It swings down into the Safe position, and up into the Fire position. When engaged, the thumb safety blocks the sear and disengages the trigger. The pistol also has a magazine disconnect that prevents it from firing when the magazine is removed from the grip.

Read the American Rifleman's review of the Kahr Arms CW380 on their website.


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