The Webley’s Reprise
The Nickel MK VI Part 2 Part 1
By Dennis Adler
Webley & Scott has had an equally robust history manufacturing airguns. Following on the company’s success in the British pistol and shotgun markets, Webley decided to begin manufacturing airguns in the early 1920s, having received its first airgun patent in 1910. Over the course of 14 years Webley & Scott worked on various designs but it was not until the UK Firearms Act of 1920, which required people to obtain a firearms certificate to purchase or possess a firearm, that Webley introduced it first non-cartridge firing pistol. Webley’s first production air pistol, the Mark I, was released in 1924. Their first air rifle, also known as the Mark I, was introduced two years later. The Webley Mark I air rifle set the standard for air rifles throughout the 1920s. A break-barrel, spring rifle, it is today very much a collectors piece. The follow-up model, the MKII, introduced in 1929, became known as the Service Model and was used to train British Army recruits. Today, a complete MKII Service in its original case could fetch as much as $3,000. Working MK I air pistols (which was a single shot break barrel design) can bring up to $450 today. Webley’s first air pistol was followed by the MK I Variant 1, Variant 2, and Second through Sixth Series in 1935. It was replaced by a succession of single shot pistols through the 1970s and later Hurricane, Tempest and Typhoon single shot models. The current Alecto is the latest Webley & Scott single shot model, making the MK VI Webley’s first revolver.
Making an authentic MK VI Airgun
The CO2 model is copied from the original MK VI blueprints to recreate the gun in exacting detail. The original .455 caliber centerfire MK VI models introduced a very distinctive look, the first square-butt grip, flat sided 6-inch barrel and new front sight design. The military versions had a dull finish (like the first MK VI airgun) intended to be less reflective than the polished blued finish previously seen on Webley & Scott pistols. There were also commercially-produced models for the civilian and law enforcement market with blued finishes like the example shown.
Among characteristic features of all topbreak Webley models was the large triggerguard allowing for use with a gloved hand, large crescent-shaped trigger, and with the MK IV, V and VI, larger hammer spur. The ejection system used on Webley models changed from the MK I and MK II, which were very similar in operation to the 1872 S&W No. 3 American, to the MK III design with its large external cam lever on the left side of the frame.
Even with the shorter 4-inch barrel the MK VI was a man-sized handgun overbuilt to endure, and while some might consider it an unattractive looking pistol compared to an American Colt or S&W double action, a Webley was remarkably rugged and suited to the field of battle. Swing out cylinders might have been more modern than the Webley’s topbreak design, but nothing could be emptied and reloaded faster. And the large stirrup release lever was very easy to operate even with a leather gloved hand.
The airgun follows the exact same design, although there is very little resistance to the stirrup latch, and the barrel and cylinder assembly drops more easily, whereas the cartridge model’s barrel needed to be pushed down either with the offside hand or against the leg to completely open and eject the spent shell cases.
There is one other interesting facet of the Webley & Scott design intended to make handling the gun one-handed easier, even when re-holstering, the triangular-shaped cylinder retaining cam in front of the cylinder was designed to spread open the holster pouch and prevent the cylinder from catching on the edges. All of these features from the original 1915 patent are accurately reproduced on the MK VI CO2 models. The only exception is completely ejecting the shells, which need to be dumped when the action is opened, or they will drop back into the cylinder chambers when the extractor reaches its full extension and resets. The plus side is that once it does you can actually reload the pellet cartridges in the cylinder if you don’t have another set of loaded cartridges ready. Extra rounds come in sets of six.
With an empty weight of 37 ounces and exactly 11.25 inches in length and 5.75 inches in height, the Mk VI air pistol is as close to the original Webley revolver as possible. The pellet-firing model ups the game for CO2 pistols putting it in the same class as the Colt Peacemaker and Dan Wesson Model 715 revolvers for authenticity and shooting accuracy. And that nickel finish even makes a MK VI look handsome!
First shooting test
I am going to break this down into two tests, first velocity and accuracy at 21 feet fired single action. Saturday we’ll take it outside for a holster draw and firing test at 10 meters, single and double action.
As a baseline I am going to use Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 grain lead wadcutters for the entire test. With a full CO2, the first six shots clocked a high of 447 fps, a low of 425 fps, and average velocity of 435 fps. Factory rated velocity is 430 fps. My first 21 foot test was shot using a two-handed hold and fired single action. The front sight is just a little harder to hold on target than the all black BB model’s, but at 21 feet elevation was almost POA with a slight tendency to shoot right (which I then over compensated for), but I think at this point it is probably just me getting used to the trigger pull. Two rounds of six shots gave me a best six at 0.875 inches with overlapping hits. My second six opened up to 1.06 inches with one flyer. Saturday’s test will be at 10 meters, including a trigger pull test compared to the BB model, and with a little more practice I expect the MK VI pellet model to equal the Colt Peacemaker for accuracy at 10 meters.