by B.B. Pelletier
Update on Tom/B.B.: I spent several hours with Tom on Monday evening. He continues to make nice progress. Happy days are here!
On to today’s blog about the Webley Junior’s accuracy and velocity tests.
Although most Juniors are smoothbores, the barrel on our gun looked like it was rifled. To check, I pushed a pellet through the barrel. The rifling would have engraved itself on the thin skirt, enabling me to count the lands and grooves and check their pattern. But to my surprise, the pellet showed no signs of any rifling. Another look through the bore revealed that it was, indeed, a smoothbore, but when there was oil present, it tended to look like it was rifled. Maybe the barrel was originally rifled and the factory reamed them smooth because they were earmarked for Juniors. Or, maybe the appearance of the rifling is simply an optical illusion.
Webley Junior pre-war model
72-deg. F – 10 shots – Muzzle at start screen
Chinese blue label wadcutter, 7.6 grains
Extreme spread……28 fps
Standard deviation….8 fps
Muzzle energy……….1.91 ft-lbs.
RWS Hobby, 6.9 grains
Extreme spread……49 fps
Standard deviation….16 fps
Muzzle energy……….1.68 ft-lbs.
Accuracy has never been the Junior’s strong suit, nor even Webley’s for that matter. A Senior or Premier will group inside an inch or just a little larger at 25 feet, and our Junior did the same at 15 feet. Because of the lack of rifling plus the relatively slow velocity, a pellet with a pronounced diabolo shape is preferred. You need all the stability you can get from the high drag of a flared skirt for any semblance of accuracy.
A real find!
To American collectors, the most desirable Webleys are those imported and sold by the A.F. Stoeger firm. Better known for their publication Shooter’s Bible, Stoeger was a big importer of quality Europeanguns like the famous Luger, whose name they eventually purchased the rights to. When it came to airguns, they sold the best, and, of course, this included Webley.
A Stoeger gun will be marked with the company name, as this Junior is. It will also command a premium when it sells, much the same as a Winchester-marked Diana airgun. It’s not any more scarce than other Webleys, but it’s more desirable because of the recognized American name associated with it.
As far as condition goes, it’s hard to locate a steel-gripped Junior that doesn’t have a trace of rust or pits somewhere on the thin grip panels, or at the very least the blueing will have turned plum. This example is no exception to the rule. Collectors should take this into account when grading a gun, much as they do for early 1950s Daisys that have warped and shrunken plastic stocks.
You can still find this air pistol at reasonable prices by attending one of the better airgun shows. Expect to pay top dollar for the pre-war gun in excellent condition and with the Stoeger name. Juniors usually go for about half what Seniors bring in the same condition, so let that be your guide.
The Webley Junior is as well made, if not as expensive, as its larger siblings. If you want to collect the brand, you can’t overlook the smallest member. But, even if you have no desire to get them all, there might be room for this one in your gun cabinet.