The new Webley Patriot! - Part 2
by B.B. Pelletier
I tried chronographing the rifle before going to the range, but it was dieseling and getting too broad a velocity spread for accuracy. There were no explosions, but there were variations of 60 f.p.s. in the shot strings, so I figured it needed to be shot in to settle down. That proved to be a good assumption.
At the range
Conditions were perfect for shooting an air rifle. There was no wind and good light to see the target. Because the Patriot is a breakbarrel, it needs a lot of technique to shoot well. I did rest my off hand on a sandbag to steady the rifle, but when rested directly on the bag the groups opened to three times the size.
The Patriot has always been especially sensitive to hold, probably because of the heavy recoil and relatively long time the pellet spends in the barrel when compared to a .177 shooting 1,000 f.p.s. So, how you hold the gun is critical. You have to float it with as light a touch as you can and allow it to recoil as much as it wants to for the best accuracy. It always takes me time to get into the right frame of mind before my groups will tighten to what they should be. And, it was that way with this test rifle, too. However, once I was dialed-in, the rifle shot like - well, a rifle!
The two-stage trigger was reasonably crisp, if a trifle heavy, at 4.5 lbs. The single adjustment screw affects the length of the first-stage pull. I found the trigger usable and not too heavy for good accuracy.
The recoil is about as heavy as a smallbore airgun ever gets. Hold the stock tightly, and you'll get a headache from repeated punches in the cheek. Something else I forgot about was also a concern. The Patriot will shake itself to death if you don't keep checking all the screws. The scope mount screw loosened several times, as did the stock screws and the rear sight mounting screw. Loose screws are bad for accuracy, so remember to keep checking them, until you apply some blue Locktite to all the threads.
Setting up the scope
I gave the rear scope mount an extra full turn as I normally do for all breakbarrel spring rifles (except RWS Diana guns - they get two turns). That elevates it above the front ring and corrects the normal tendency for the barrel to droop. After sighting-in, I discovered that it isn't required for the new Patriot. In fact, I didn't need to use adjustable rings at all. The barrel was looking straight ahead! To save time, I sighted-in the scope so I was aiming at the target below the target that the pellets were hitting. It worked fine for most pellets, except that Diana Magnums were still climbing too high.
The best pellet
Without a doubt, the 31-grain Beeman Kodiaks are the best pellets for this rifle. Always have been and probably always will be. Beeman Ram Jets were also good, grouping about 0.8", and Beeman Perfect Rounds proved adequate - giving 1" groups at 25 yards. You could hunt with them to that distance if you like, but Kodiaks were so much more accurate that I don't know why anyone would. The lightweight 21-grain Diana Magnums were a disappointment, shooting 1.3" to 1.5" at 25 yards.
Once the shooting technique was right and the screws were tightened, the new Patriot began to perform. This group, measuring 0.657 " at 25 yards, was typical for five Beeman Kodiaks. Because these are .25-caliber pellets, the group appears larger than it really is. The beauty of this caliber is that the pellets cover a lot of area!
Through the chronograph
After the accuracy test, I retested the rifle for velocity and found it had settled down. Beeman Kodiaks averaged 620 f.p.s., with a spread of 13 f.p.s., which translates to 26.47 foot-pounds. Round balls go an average of 711 f.p.s. and vary by 15 f.p.s. They generate 26.5 foot-pounds. Ram Jets average 723 f.p.s., with a spread of just 9 f.p.s. and a power of 28.07 foot-pounds.
Is this really a Webley Patriot?
Yes! Without a doubt, it is. There are some subtle physical differences, and probably a few I missed, but the performance is pure Patriot. Welcome back, Webley!