How to shoot a Webley Hurricane

by B.B. Pelletier


The Webley Hurricane is a large spring-piston air pistol.

A blog reader requested this report several weeks ago, but I can’t remember who it was. I think he asked for a report on the Tempest; but since the Hurricane is very similar and I have one, that’s what I picked.

I remember very clearly when Webley first brought out the Tempest air pistol. It was 1979, and I was back in the United States, following a 4-year tour with the Army in Germany. I’d just gotten to the point of accepting the Webley Premier Mark II that everyone could see was the beginning of Webley cheapening their pistol designs with (shudder) aluminum. And then they brought out the mostly aluminum Tempest, which had a plastic cover over the front half of the spring cylinder and was finished with PAINT! Well, that certainly got my mind off the Premier Mark II.

I probably vowed never to own one of these plastic airguns, but time passes, airgun newsletters start up and before you know it I’m looking at airguns I wouldn’t have thought of touching without a tetanus shot! I actually owned a Tempest, plus I bought a Hurricane that I still have. As if to poke a finger into my eye, these air pistols not only commit all the sins just mentioned — they also have safeties! A safety on a handgun, for gosh sakes! Well Agatha Christie was exonerated in the end, I guess, because here are two handguns that really do have safety catches. They aren’t the revolvers she wrote about, but I guess that’s still in the works.

All kidding aside (and I’m really not kidding), the Webley Tempest and Hurricane are both wonderful air pistols. Looking back at them from a 21st century perspective, they’re both built better than most of the air pistols available in their price bracket today. These are spring-piston guns that use their barrels to cock their coiled steel mainsprings. The piston then comes back toward the shooter when the gun fires, giving the sensation of a recoiling firearm. And therein lies the problem that drives today’s report.

Because they recoil, these pistols bounce in your hand when they’re fired. Because the spring cylinder is located above the top of your grip, they make the pistol bounce noticeably when they fire. So much so, it seems, that some shooters worry about them — that perhaps their recoil will somehow throw the shot wild.

The fact of the matter is that if you hold the pistol correctly, it won’t throw its shot wild; but if you attempt to control the recoil, you’re in for some trouble.

Let me illustrate. Under the heading of pistols that bounce when fired, the M1911A1 Colt semiautomatic jumps to the head of the list. Not because it’s a hard-recoilling handgun, but because the force of the recoil, which is centered on the breechblock, is located high above the top of the gripping hand. When you fire the gun, the slide comes back above your hand and rocks your grip most noticeably. To those unfamiliar with shooting a 1911, the gun seems to have a very harsh recoil — but that’s only because they do not know how to hold it!

All you have to do is hook the thumb of your shooting hand over the safety switch, and you’ll cancel about 80 percent of this bounce. And when you do, you’ll realize that the pistol no longer kicks very hard. In fact, it’s one of the softest-recoilling pistols around. It’s like an M1 Garand or an M14 that both sound like the end of the world when they fire, but which actually have far less felt recoil than a 1903 Springfield shooting the same cartridge (as the Garand). Oh, the recoil is still there, but it’s masked by its long duration, in effect lessening the sensation of recoil.

On the Tempest and Hurricane, there’s nothing to hook your thumb over, so you do have to tolerate the bouncing recoil at its fullest. It’s not that bad; but if you aren’t expecting it, you’ll definitely notice it. What I’m saying you should do is just tolerate it without trying to control or lessen it in any way. What you’re doing is the pistol version of the artillery hold, and it works for both firearms and air pistols, alike.

I actually shot the pistol on two different days, with day one being used to discover the best pellet. Although I tried only¬†4 pellets the first day, RWS Hobbys stood out as the best. The next day, when I was interested in the best hold for the gun, that’s what I shot.

One hand or two?
You can do this either way — with a one-hand hold or with two. But since this is a report on how best to hold the Hurricane, I tried it several different ways and got dramatic results. They illustrate what I’ll be saying. All shooting was 10 shots at 10 meters with RWS Hobbys unless otherwise noted.

Don’t use a bag rest directly!
Do not rest a Tempest or Hurricane on a sandbag. When I did, the gun shot 4 inches high at 10 meters. And the shots were so scattered that I stopped shooting after just 4 shots for fear of missing the backstop.


Resting the pistol directly on a sandbag sends the pellets much higher than the aim point. I stopped after 4 shots because the pellets were going wild.

Next, I tried using a two-hand hold with the hands rested directly on the sandbag. It was better than resting the gun directly on the bag, and the point of impact shifted lower, as well. Though this group was tighter than the first one, it still wasn’t what I’d hoped for.


Resting my hands directly on the sandbag brought down the point of impact and tightened the group — but not enough.

Hands off the bag
Back when I was competing with air pistol, the only way I shot pistols was with one hand. A lot has changed since that time, though, and now I do better using a two-hand hold. However, I wanted to see how the gun shot in just one hand, so I held it that way and rested my arm on the sandbag. In other words, the hand was well in front of the bag and not subject to vibrations from the shot.


Here the pistol is held in one hand, and my arm was resting on the bag.

Two-hand hold is the best
The final hold I tried was the one that had done well the day before. I held the pistol in two hands that were forward of the sandbag. Both arms were rested on the bag.


No doubt — this is the best hold for the Webley Hurricane. Pistol is held in two hands with both arms resting on the sandbag. Notice, though, that this is a very vertical group. I had the same results the day before.

There’s no doubt that the two-hand hold with both arms resting on the bag is the best hold for this pistol. But the verticality tells me there might be even more to learn about holding a Hurricane.

One thing I found quite interesting about this test was to compare the results to those obtained with the Browning Buck Mark URX just the other day. The Buck Mark gave a much rounder group and was also tighter.

Update on the Winchester Target Cube
As you know, I’m testing the Winchester Airgun Target Cube with as many airguns as possible so I can give you a report about it in a few weeks. The cube now has about 300 shots from guns in both .177 and .22 caliber and ranging from 300 to 700 f.p.s. It has started to leave a residue of small styrofoam particles on the table after every test.


The Winchester Airgun Target Cube left this styrofoam residue on the table from this shooting session.

Pellet comparison
Rather than bore you with more targets from the other pellets I tested, I’ll show you just one target that was shot using Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets. I used the best hold and shot at the same 10 meters for this target. As you will see, it’s pretty poor by comparison.


Ten Premier Lites made a much larger group than the RWS Hobbys when the best hold was used.

Bottom line
The Webley Hurricane and Tempest are both recoiling spring-piston air pistols that are reasonably accurate, but they’re not target pistols. They’re both well built by today’s standards and will give generations of good service.

32 thoughts on “How to shoot a Webley Hurricane


  1. The Tempest was my first stab into premium airguns. I was looking for a quality pistol for backyard shooting. I really had no ideal where to start, but found a gun store that carried a few airguns RWS 34s mostly and they said they could get me a pellet pistol. My big requirement was I wanted something that you could cock with one pump of the handle. So I paid what seemed like a fortune for an airgun at the time for a Tempest.

    It is hard to shoot, but can be fairly accurate at times. My best accuracy came from holding the gun two handed while resting arms between my knees in a seated position.

    Long story short, I still have the Tempest. It’s been rebuilt twice. I get it out every now and then just for the fun of it. Looking back it was a bargain compared to what I have spent on airguns since….

    Bub


  2. Off Topic. Kinda.

    B.B.,

    I get the impression that you’ve owned the Hurricane for quite awhile.

    My memory isn’t what it used to be. Candidly I never had a memory for details.

    I’ve had 3 ring binders that are titled “kevins guns” for years. When one got sold the page was copied, sent to the buyer and the original was put in a “sold guns” folder.

    For firearms the page entries were short and sweet. For airguns the page entries are longer. For airguns I have the following catagories:

    Favorite pellet
    Velocity/FPE and Date
    Notes-(this includes details of grade of wood, grade of bluing, history of the gun, shots fired, tuning information, replaced triggers, serial no., why it’s unique, WHAT HOLD DERIVES THE BEST GROUPS AND DETAILS OF THE HOLD, etc.)
    Value-I place a conservative value on the gun and indicate whether the value includes mounts and scope or not. I also place a value on the scope and mounts if it’s not part of the guns value to aid in my nominees job of liquidating my estate.

    Do you have a similar system to remind you of the favorite pellet, favorite hold, etc. when you pick up guns to shoot that haven’t been shot in years?

    kevin



      • Yes, I agree. I hate record keeping. I keep detailed handloading records for powder burners but not airguns. I just use a piece of painters tape on the stock that I mark with a sharpie with the pellet that last shot best in the airgun so I have a place to start. I find that a warm up period is in order for any airgun for me to get my memory back, like riding a different bike. I find that with airguns , humidity , age and viscosity of internal lubes, temperature, my personal issues like stress and arthritis, and even shooting uphill or down hill all effect the performance when shooting a airgun. Mine though are all springers, msp, or CO2 guns though. I suppose PCP would need records on the shot crurve, but I have no experience with them. The msp are the least fussy, and the details tend to stay the same for years on end. Good records though, as far as value ,condition are important in the event the guns are lost or taken by intruders. I keep written records and burn CD’s for that.


        • Yes, with my pcp’s, under NOTES, I record fill pressure and shot count. Since some of my pcp’s have adjustable power I note the shot count at low, medium and high power. I don’t have much patience and hate record keeping too but it’s less painful than fumbling with a gun to rediscover it’s favorite pellet, favorite hold, etc. when I’d rather be spending my time shooting accurately.

          kevin



      • It may be overkill, but for the last two years one of the things I always make use of at the range is a snipers data book http://www.impactdatabooks.com/Modular_s/1.htm
        I’ve had to customize some off the pages…my Slavia trouble at 500yds ;-) ….but the info is invaluable.
        I can look at any day at the range and see how a particular pellet (and rimfire round) does under varying wind conditions…how direction of light affects my shooting…all kinds of things.


  3. THANK YOU! I mentioned awhile back when I was telling about my experiences with the H&N Green pellets that one of the guns I use them in was a Webley Hurricane and mentioned that the groups I got with it (regardless of pellet) were a fair bit worse than my HB-22. The only guide I had before on pistol shooting was your columns on the “1911 grip” which improved my HB-22 shooting quite a bit but my Webley marksmanship only a little. I actually really like the Webley. I inherited it from my Dad so it’s in the “never sell” category for that reason alone but I also like the solid feel, the shape of the grips and the sights so It’ll be nice to be able to shoot it better. I don’t mind the safety at all because at least it’s not automatic.


    • nowhere,

      Did you ask for this report? I did shoot the Baracuda Greens in the test, but they didn’t do very well. Not as bad as the Premiers, but almost as bad.

      B.B.


  4. I guess I should thank you. Now that you are reporting some on Webley’s pistol, everybody will want one and the value of my Tempest will skyrocket. On the down side though it will likely hinder my efforts to expand my collection for the same reason.


  5. Here’s my two cents worth of advice on how to shoot the Tempest. Put away all of your other airguns. Get a coke can and either hang it from a tree by the tab or stick it on a stake. Start at 10 yards and shoot at that distance until you almost always hit the can. Now move the can back to 15 yards, then 20, and 25 yards. You will discover what hold works best for you. For me, I use a loose two handed grip. My Tempest has a heavy trigger and I have to be careful not to pull the shot off to the side as I squeeze the trigger.

    Learning to shoot the Tempest isn’t likely to happen in an hour or two. I took mine with me on vacation to Colorado and shot it several hours each day for a whole week. The payoff for me was how much fun it is to be able to shoot a gun like this well. I enjoyed the challenge.

    David Enoch


  6. I agree with David’s advice above, I also have a Tempest and I find it to be a compact ,fun plinking pistol. I shoot at one of those small plastic baby aspirin bottles dropped on a 1/4″ metal rod stuck in the ground. I have also found that most any round nosed lead pellet will work best , The old Beeman bear cubs and English bulldog brand ones came with mine when I got it. The thing I like best about my Tempest is it’s size. It is also best to watch out for the trigger adjustment allen screw. If your pistol won’t cock ,that may have backed out to far from recoil.



      • I use a lot of the cheap BSA elites in mine now. PA should carry them or the Milbros. They are perfect for short range plinking guns like this, when you don’t want wadcutters. Otherwise it’s RWS basics for me.


  7. I had a Tempest in the 80′s which started my interest in airgun shooting as an end in itself. I discovered early on that airguns can be very particular in preference for ammo and grip pressure, but part of the reward of airgunning, especially with springer air pistols, is when you finally figure out the right combination for your particular gun. After that, the more you practice the better you get. After I gave the Tempest to a friend as a graduation present in the late 80′s, I picked up a refurbished Premier and a refinished and restored Mk I while I was in the UK in the 90′s. Since the MK I has been refinished, shooting shouldn’t affect its value, so I have had the chance to use an example of the original design. Although the machined blued steel MK I appeals to me as a traditionalist, the small square grip is a challenge even for my medium sized hand. I think the best grip design the Webleys had was the round butt ambidextrous design as used on the Premier. Thanks for the nice review, I may have to spend an afternoon shooting those old timers soon. I wonder if the Turkish makers of the commemorative version will also build a less costly unboxed version someday.


  8. kevin,

    yes, I do keep records but not always the same details you do. velocity, targets made with different pellets, date purchased, where, price paid, modifications, work done on the piece. what I need to add is sighting or proper scope settings for different ranges.

    fred dpronj


  9. I’m getting the hang of the 1911, but it takes me a few shots to adjust and that first shot tends to go high for the reasons that B.B. mentions.

    Mike and Derrick, here’s a fair test for the AR platform. I was reading a review of the Arsenal AK recently. The report was very positive. Accuracy with an optical sight was about 2 MOA. But, they said that after rapid fire of 60 rounds, accuracy degraded to something like 4 MOA. So, the question is how the AR would fare under the same conditions. Most accuracy tests that I’ve heard of are cold bore or maybe with a few shots down the barrel. I suspect that sniper rifles wouldn’t lose this much accuracy because of their heavy barrels and because you cannot fire as rapidly as a semiauto. But the AR is the same type of weapon. How do you think it would do?

    Wulfraed, a long comment of mine to you on the Olympics went missing this weekend. I was intrigued by your comments about the combat orientation of the original ancient Olympics. That is quite correct. The original events consisted of the decathlon whose combat applications are pretty clear (except for the discus??). There was also a running event in full hoplite armor. The rest of it was combat sports: boxing, wrestling, and the Pankration which was like mixed martial arts. There were few rules for these other than no eye-gouging or biting. The referee’s job was to enforce those rules or encourage the timid by clobbering them with a stick. Death was not uncommon and cheating was rampant. The rewards for victors were god-like status in their city-states and lifetime perks that are sort of like endorsement contracts today. So, it was never about getting a laurel wreath for the perfection of mind and body.

    Also of interest, the secrets of Olympic strength are revealed! They don’t have to do with huge bulging muscles. The key elements are quickness, size of muscle fiber, muscle attachment and (most importantly) muscle recruitment which is coordinating large muscle groups into a task. This is supposed to be why people can lift cars in moments of stress. This ability can be developed to a certain extent by training but also depends on the natural “neural hook-up.” Too bad we can’t use all of this knowledge in shooting. Maybe it is still relevant with natural point of aim where you have to relax muscles properly. So you are relaxing and instead of tightening, but maybe the coordination is the same. And perhaps the Jaws of the Subconscious are how we execute this extremely fine level of coordination!

    Matt61


    • Matt61,

      I removed your very lengthy comment because it had gruesome, detailed descriptions of how other countries torture their citizens. I’m still trying to erase the words from my brain.

      Edith


      • I agree with Edith’s removal of these comments (even though I did not read them) because this is not the appropriate forum for this type of comment or information.

        However, I would be very interested in reading about them elsewhere. Parts of the world are becoming very bad places for human rights and we must speak out against these atrocities. The very freedoms that we enjoy in the United States with the First and Second Amendments (Free speech and Right to bear Arms) are currently being threatened. If we do not learn from history, then we are bound to repeat these human rights issues. The middle east and the Ukrane are current examples.

        NRA Life member since 1968.


    • I’d seen it before it was eradicated… I just didn’t have anything to say (and still don’t — except for the non-sequitur that today’s Google Doodle looks like Pinochio is using a nose trimming as a javelin)


    • RE: AR series

      Heh… Carbine barrel, Rifle barrel. Original issue light or heavy barrel. 5.56 chamber, .223Rem chamber, or hybrid 5.56/.223Rem chamber. Using direct gas impingement action or a piston action? Original non-ventilated hand-guard, ventilated Picatinny guard? Free-floated barrel (no connection to hand-guard at muzzle end — I think there are a few such designs)…

      Once you get into a system where it is possible for no two examples to be the same, generalities likely can not be made.


    • I agree with Wulfraed’s comments. That said, direct gas impingement action AR’s of most types will out shoot AK’s for accuracy even when hot. This is a general rule that will of course have exceptions. Accuracy is the AR’s speciality. Reliability is the AK’s.

      Mike


  10. I went to the range with my granddaughter Melanie this morning.

    Since her bad accident, I have only let her shoot air pistols so as not to jar her face which is still healing.
    Today, I put her on a multi-pump pneumatic, a Daisy 856. I figured she would be OK shooting this gun, as there would be no recoil shock to transfer to her cheek.

    She is not used to shooting outdoors for score. Today we were both shooting at my normal targets: Shoot-N-See 6″ bullseyes at 25 yards. 30 rounds, best possible score 300.

    She shot a 256. Not bad at all, especially for someone who does not shoot this way usually.

    I shot a personal best of 295. I was shooting my Storm XT. I was shooting Cabela’s 7.9 gr. hollowpoints. She was shooting Crosman Hunter pointed pellets.

    When we finished shooting the targets, we blasted some ping-pong balls.

    When the 4H airgun school begins again this winter, Melanie and her brother Nicky will be shooting Daisy 499 bb guns again, then will graduate to PCP target guns the following year. I want to get them
    into the traveling series.

    Little sister Amber will be starting the bb gun school. I’ve been giving her some 15′ target practice with the Red Ryder.

    I see a pink version Red Ryder in her future. Her brother and sister each have their own Crosman 760′s.

    I bought a Marlin Cowboy this spring, but have had a problem getting it to shoot to point of aim. The adjustable ramp under the rear sight can get the elevation pretty close, but there is no windage adjustment.

    I took off the rear sight ramp, and narrowed the tang at the front of it. Then I enlarged the hole for the rear mounting screw for the ramp, so the ramp can be moved slightly from side to side, then locked down by tightening the screws. Hopefully, this will get it to shoot to POA.

    The Marlin Cowboy is a well-made competitor to the Red Ryder, but the unmodified sights are rather hopeless.

    Les


    • Desertdweller, I have the same problem with my RedRyder and Crosman 760.

      Daisy& Crosman, BB guns are fun but they don’t reach their fully entertainment value until you can hit where you’re aiming it. A windage adjustment is almost always necessary to accomplish this,even if such an adjustment would require a supervising adult to perform.It’s hard to learn proper sight alignment when “that don’t work”.I have considered mounting a scope on my RedRyder to allow for windage but what’s going to happen when I hand it to my 7 year old nephew Adyn? He’ll transition well but I’d like to keep him on iron sights for a bit longer range than 10 meters.I have another option I came up with while looking at my collection of parts. I have a slotted rear sight blade left over from a broken 880 but it would require drilling and tapping along with a screw to match.This would be done much more easily on the production line than on a coffee table or a kids bed.

      Reb



    • Ton,

      Thanks for the link. That is a very good reference, and I was unaware that my little pet peeve was also shared by others.

      B.B.


    • I love this gun!I remember, just before my “vacation”,I had nominated this gun as well as others with distinguishing characteristics for as special blog on weird weapons.Rotary magazines and other early repeaters could easily find their way into it. An open palette for our artiste in chief! Gotta set up appointments now.

      Reb




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