The Webley’s Reprise

The Webley’s Reprise

The Nickel MK VI Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

The Webley MK VI CO2 model with rifled barrel and nickel silver finish is a very close match to the original .455 caliber high polish blued model. Both guns fit the new Pyramyd Air Webley leather holster. The higher stirrup latch on the CO2 model can be a little problematic when holstering if you run it into the edge of the holster, which can push the latch back and open the action. You need to be a little cautious when re-holstering the airgun. The latch on the .455 model has a lot more resistance, so that has never been a problem with Webley revolvers in the past.

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.

Diagram of the MK VI shows the correct proportions for the stirrup latch which is a little taller on the CO2 model. It also provides a slightly larger rear sight notch, so it is actually a plus for target shooting with the pellet-firing models. Note how accurate overall the Webley CO2 model is to the original 1915 specifications.

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.

In this closer shot the taller stirrup latch is evident compared to the .455 model at bottom. One other obvious difference is the absence of a firing pin on the hammer.

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.

Inch for inch the CO2 model is a very close match in measurements with exact overall length and 6-inch barrel. The front sight on the .455 model is pinned to the ramp, whereas it is part of the sight ramp on the airgun. Also note the accurate detail in the cylinder design.

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.

Another small difference is the screw size used for the ejector camming mechanism. Overall, it is a very close copy of the original design.

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.

This illustration of the cylinder and cartridge ejection system again shows how closely the Webley MK VI airgun is to original design specs.

One modification made to the design is a non-ejecting feature that allows the shells to drop back into the cylinder after the action is fully opened. This has two advantages for the airgun; one, you don’t have to pick the shells up off the ground, and two, you can easily reload them in the cylinder if you don’t have extra pre-loaded cartridges. The gun has correct MK VI, .455 and Webley patent marks on the barrel, topstrap and frame which really stand out on the nickel model. Also note the brass CO2 firing pin in front of the hammer.

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!

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.

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.

My best test target with the new MK VI pellet firing model gave me a six-shot group from 21 feet measuring 0.875 inches with overlapping hits. The gun sighted to POA for elevation at 21 feet using Meisterkugeln 7.0 grain lead wadcutters, but was hard to keep centered and had a tendency to shoot to the right. At this point I think it is just a matter of getting comfortable with the trigger pull, which has a little more creep in the take up than my older BB model’s trigger.

11 thoughts on “The Webley’s Reprise

  1. Regarding speed of reloading ,especially for left hand use , the Webley is very fast, auto emptying, and fast to reload. I will reshoot mine now that I put some red paint on the front sight , initially hard to see and was shooting low for me and slightly to the left. To be fair will shoot it against a 5 1/2 pellet Peacemaker, the 7 1/2 is just too accurate with the long barrel to a fair test. Would be interesting to pit 2 WW 1 war dogs with rifled barrels , the Webley ,and the Nagant. Even with short tube the Nagant is very accurate.


  2. Playing around with the Webley MarkVI and the replica holster, I have found that one way to avoid accidental activation of the top break when holstering the revolver is to place your shooting hand thumb under the release lever. It would not be unreasonable to modify the release lever with a stiffer spring, it seems a little light.


    • It is extremely light compared to the actual .455 MK VI model’s latch. But it is far easier to work on the airgun, so that is more of an overall advantage, except for the holstering issue. You could also just put your thumb against the top of the latch when holstering. I also like to work the leather a little on a new holster, to make it a bit suppler and not so stiff. This is especially true of unlined heavy leather rigs like the Webley flap holster. Just gentle bending and folding of the flap and pouch to break the initial stiffness will make it a better holster to use. This comes from use as well but giving it a little help makes the break-in go easier.


  3. Yup. Great minds think alike. I usually bend those holsters to form a softer bevel type opening . I first noticed the accidental opening when I tried putting the bb version of the Webley in an X15 type shoulder holster


  4. Hi guys,
    Wow, I am now confused. It looks like you achieved better accuracy shooting steel BBs at 21 feet then with this new pellet firing pistol. Should I order the BB model or pellet model. May be the ten meter test will help me. Have fun guys !
    Harvey


    • I have a feeling that this revolver like most pellet rifles is pellet weights d manufacturer sensitive. My first targets were shot with the usually excellent Meisterkugeln 7 gr wadcutter . They shot low and so /so groups. Surpringly the bulk pack Crosman7.4 wadcutter were centered with tighter groups . I plan on reshooting this weekend withpainted front sight with both pellets . The jury is still out


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