The Webley’s Reprise
By Dennis Adler
Building a CO2 model that is 100 percent accurate to its cartridge-firing counterpart has its advantages, especially with a semi-auto pistol like the Umarex S&W M&P40. If Webley built its CO2 model of the MK VI exactly to the specifications of the original MK VI, it would have a very heavy double action trigger, a stirrup latch that requires a strong thumb to release, and a barrel and cylinder that demands using the offside hand or pressing the assembly against your leg to open. That’s how a MK VI works. It would not be an ideal CO2 pistol for handling, and thus that much of the .455 caliber model is marginalized for the air pistol which opens, almost too easily, allowing the the barrel and cylinder group to drop on their own. It’s an extreme opposite to the original gun, but the better of two choices for the air pistol. I’d have preferred something in the middle but as compromises go, the MK VI air pistol errs on the side of convenience.
Gauging the MK VI
As a comparison, it should be noted that a .455 caliber MK VI has a double action trigger pull in excess of 14 pounds and a single action pull averaging 9 pounds, but it is as crisp as biting into a chilled Granny Smith apple. The Webley was a gun not exactly prone to accidental discharges. However, if the MK VI CO2 model were built to those specs, no one would be happy with it. But how happy are we with the trigger on the latest nickel silver rifled barrel CO2 model?
First let’s look at the 2015 version. Mine is one of the first models delivered to the U.S. and has been shot quite a bit in the last two years. I retested the double action trigger pull on this gun and it averages 7 pounds, 10.5 ounces, less than half that of a .455 Webley. The trigger on the CO2 model also cleanly stages the hammer half way through the pull for a carefully aimed shot. Single action trigger pull tested a modest 4 pounds, 9.2 ounces with a Lyman trigger pull gauge. The best this smoothbore pistol had done using the new 4.5mm pellet cartridges is six rounds at 0.593 inches, fired single action from 21 feet using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold. The new rifled barrel model only delivered a best six at 0.875 inches from 21 feet in Part 2 of this article, so the smoothbore had out shot the rifled barrel model with the same pellet-loading cartridges. We are only talking 0.28 inches difference but the rifled barrel gun should outshoot a smoothbore. So what happened?
First off, I am more familiar with my original Webley MK VI CO2 model. Secondly, the nickel front sight on the new model is a little harder to see in the rear notch. Why isn’t that also true with the nickel Umarex Colt Peacemakers? It has a lot to do with the type of sights. The black rear notch sight on the Webley stirrup latch actually seems to make the narrow rectangular nickel front blade harder to center than the old style frame notch on the Colts, which are nickel on nickel. The black front and rear sights on the older Webley model are just easier to see. The bigger question is trigger pull. Has Webley been able to maintain the same level of trigger quality in this latest gun?
The rifled barrel MK VI has a double action trigger pull averaging 9 pounds, 7 ounces and does not stage the hammer quite as smoothly. Single action trigger pull is 4 pounds, 5.1 ounces average, just a little lighter on single action than the older MK VI CO2 model, but the trigger on the newer gun has some creep in the take up as it closes the same 0.125 inch distance to drop the hammer. These are all minor variances.
Retesting at 21 feet
I decided to start over and shot the 21 foot test again. Out of two 6-shot strings my best six measured 0.68 inches, a little more than the width of a dime; still not quite as good as the smoothbore MK VI’s best target at 0.593 inches, but now we are only talking 0.08 inches difference. While that’s all the difference in the world in a match shoot, for shooting with the MK VI, not much difference, this isn’t a target pistol. We know the MK VI smoothbore has a serious drop off in accuracy at 10 meters, so how well the rifled barrel model does at that range will be the final arbiter.
Stepping back to 10 meters the first thing that happened was that the gun began to continuously hit below POA by 2 inches. However, this only occurred when fired single action. When I fired double action the Webley became a much more manageable pistol by carefully (as in very deliberately) staging the hammer. This also changed the trigger dynamics and the creep all but vanished pulling through the last 0.125 inches. Shooting double action at 10 meters is where the rifled barrel MK VI lives. It is a bit confounding but targets don’t lie. This gun shoots better double action than single action.
My best 6-shot group fired double action at 10 meters measured 0.81 inches. Just for the heck of it I shot another target double action from 21 feet but my results were within 1/16th of an inch from my best earlier single action targets. To add a final twist to this little conundrum, I shot a 21 foot target using the pellet shells in my older MK VI smoothbore, which cleanly out shot the rifled barrel model with a best 6-shot group in one ragged hole in the bullseye, establishing a new benchmark for the smoothbore with wadcutter pellets.
The Webley was meant to be a double action gun from the time of its introduction in 1880 as the MK I right through its culmination in 1915 with the MK VI. As an air pistol, this latest Webley model lives up to that old standard, rather than as a carefully aimed target pistol fired single action. Why that differs from the first MK VI CO2 model I have yet to discover. Overall, the rifled barrel model is still a very accurate pistol, but a little more challenging to shoot than the smoothbore. With its fine, shiny finish it ends up more an eyeful than a handful. As a copy of a military sidearm, this latest Webley model lives up to that role and delivers satisfactory accuracy with wadcutter pellets at 10 meters fired double action. And since it demands that you fire it double action to achieve the best accuracy, it is thus far been more of an historical shooting experience.
The final evaluation will be with the Battlefield Finish Model to see if sighting improves and how the trigger and action on that pistol compare to the Exhibition Model and black Parkerized smoothbore Service Model. Is the issue with accuracy the trigger, the barrel, or just this one individual test gun?
To be continued…