Webley MK VI

Revisiting the Webley

Giving the MK VI a little something extra

Firing pellets from a British Legend

By Dennis Adler

Webley has its own history with air guns and the MK VI air pistol is an accurate BB cartridge firing copy of the maker’s original .455 caliber MK VI model produced from 1915 to 1923.

Before venturing off into uncharted waters with the Umarex Beretta APX this coming weekend, I’m going to answer one more curiosity about mixing pellet-firing cartridges with smoothbore barreled revolvers, and the obvious choice is the Webley MK VI. As fate, or the odds of manufacturing convenience would have it, when the Bear River Schofield was developed, the BB firing cartridge chosen for the gun is the same one used in the British Webley MK VI CO2 revolver, only the rims are stamped Bear River .44 instead of Webley .455. In fact, when you purchase extra cartridges for the Schofield you get them with a Webley speed loader, which unfortunately doesn’t align with the Schofield’s cylinder.

The Webley Mk VI air pistol is built to exacting detail and bears the original stampings for caliber (on the barrel) model (on the topstrap) maker’s mark and patent date (on the frame).

The historic MK VI

Webley & Scott has a long history manufacturing air pistols and air rifles dating back to the early 20th century. In recreating their legendary 1915 MK VI, Webley & Scott actually followed the original .455 caliber blueprints and specifications to exacting detail to build what is one of the top five most authentic CO2 model air pistols in the world. The original .455 caliber Webley MK VI Self-Extracting Revolver became one of the most distinguished of all British handguns and was carried by British troops throughout two world wars, and the guns are still in use today in some parts of the world. Most, however, are now relegated to the shelves and vaults of military arms collectors.

The Webley & Scott manufactured CO2 model bears all of the original markings and shares the same operating features, only instead of firing the British .455 cartridge (or .45 ACP rounds in moon clips, which many Webleys were modified to shoot after WWII), this MK VI sends .177 caliber steel BBs downrange.

The MK VI comes with one six-round speed loader and six front-loading .177 caliber BB cartridges. (Pictured with a reproduction Webley holster from World War Supply)

The Webley is fundamentally a late 19th century handgun beginning with the MK I, adopted by the British military in 1887. The MK I design evolved over a period of nearly 30 years culminating with the MK VI variation produced from 1915 to 1923 and kept in service until 1947 giving the Webley topbreak pistol a 60-year span as Great Britain’s primary large caliber military sidearm! The distinctive topbreak design and cartridge ejection system developed in the late 1880s was similar to the 1872 S&W Model No. 3 American topbreak revolver and 1875 Schofield, and this is perhaps one reason why the Schofield air pistol uses the same front-loading BB cartridges as the Webley MK VI; they were already the correct size to work in a topbreak pistol. That, however, is about all the Schofield and Webley MK VI have in common.

By no small coincidence the rear-loading pellet cartridges for the Schofield, which come with a Webley speed loader, fit perfectly into the Webley MK VI. Loaded with Sig Sauer cast alloy pellets, the Webley delivers stunning performance with an average velocity of 495 fps.

A Webley has a very distinctive look, the MK VI featuring a square-butt grip with lanyard ring (which also functions to cleverly disguise the CO2 seating screw). Military MK VI models had a dull finish (like the airgun) that was less reflective than the blued finish used on some Webley & Scott military sidearms and commercially-produced models for the civilian and law enforcement use.

The rear-loading Schofield pellet cartridges work perfectly with the Webley MK VI ejector since they are identical in circumference to the MK VI front-loading BB rounds.

Among characteristic features of the Webley design is the flat-sided barrel, large hammer spur, copious triggerguard and large crescent-shaped single action, double action trigger. It was a man-sized handgun overbuilt to endure, and while some might consider its appearance less than attractive, it’s still a matter of opinion more than a century later. A Webley is unmistakable, especially with the gun’s massive “stirrup latch” used to release the barrel for loading and unloading. The large release lever on the left side of the frame is pushed down to pivot and unlatch a locking bar over the back of the topstrap, thus freeing the barrel assembly to be tilted downward just like the old S&W topbreak revolvers. Opening the Webley activates an automatic ejector (working off an external cam lever on the left side of the frame) that drives the cylinder pin and extractor upward and simultaneously expels all six spent shell cases. For the airgun this mechanism falls short of ejecting the re-loadable shells, just like the Schofield CO2 model.

Weighing in at 37 ounces, measuring an exact 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. Now by using the new Bear River Schofield rear-loading pellet cartridges you can up the Webley’s game and make it into a real high-velocity target pistol; something for which the gun’s sturdy design is already well suited. And not only do the new Schofield pellet shells fit perfectly in the MK VI cylinder, they also load and release from the Webley speed loader!

The author tested the Webley Mk VI air pistol at a range of 21 feet with Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs and Sig Sauer cast alloy wadcutters. The test was done using a Weaver stance and a two-handed hold as opposed to this more traditional one-handed shooting stance.

Range testing with pellets

Double action trigger pull on an original Webley MK VI was in excess of 12 pounds, and single action trigger pull averaged 10 pounds 10.5 ounces, not a gun for those lacking confidence to pull the trigger. Webley built a military pistol and as such they were not prone to accidental discharges. The Webley MK VI Service Revolver in .177 caliber is a bit more trigger friendly with a double action pull averaging 7 pounds, 10.5 ounces, and a single action pull of  5 pounds, 5 ounces, making this a more suitable target shooting air pistol than its legendary .455 caliber antecedent.

Best six-round group from 21 feet with the Webley MK VI firing steel BBs measured 1.75 inches. There are a total of 18 shots on the target.

In my original test of the Webley MK VI (Airgun Experience No. 37) the Webley was fired in a series of three six round sets, with a best six round group clustered into 0.625 inches at a range of 21 feet, and all 18 rounds inside the 10 and X (with a couple cutting the edge) measuring 1.75 inches center-to-center. To update that test I re-shot it with Umarex .177 caliber steel BBs chronographing the first six shots, which delivered an average velocity of 405 fps, with a duplicate high of 413 fps and the balance repeating at 405 fps. Knowing that lead pellets will deliver slower velocities I went straight to the lighter weight Sig Sauer cast alloy pellets which delivered an impressive average velocity of 495 fps, a high of 506 fps and a low of 489 fps from the 5.5 inch (internal  length) Webley MK VI smoothbore barrel. The gun has a correct 6-inch external barrel length with a .455 caliber muzzle; the smoothbore barrel is recessed ½ inch.

With the rear-loading pellet cartridges and Sig Sauer cast alloy wadcutters the Webley sent its six shots downrange at an average velocity of 495 fps grouping all six at 0.593 inches with five shots in one ragged hole and the sixth dead center in the bottom of the X.

The Webley MK VI is by far one of the best shooting smoothbore CO2 revolvers on the market. My 18 round test target (including the first six rounds) had a total spread for 18 shots measuring 1.437 inches center-to-center. With a rifled barrel the Webley MK VI would easily be competitive at 10 meters. Even with its smoothbore barrel I managed a best 6-shot group measuring 1.25 inches from the 10 meter line.

Shooting from 21 feet with the Schofield rear-loading pellet shells, the Webley MK VI slammed the first six rounds into the target with a spread of only 0.593 inches with five shots in one ragged hole and the sixth dead center in the bottom of the X. And remember, this is a smoothbore barrel. I fired two more 6-round sets for a total spread measuring 1.437 inches with multiple overlapping hits all in the X ring. The Schofield’s rear-loading pellet cartridges are exactly what the Webley needed. The MK VI, already a great airgun, just became greater!

A word about safety

Double Action/ Single Action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts. Most airguns, in general, look like cartrrige guns, historic models like the Webley MK VI even more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

39 thoughts on “Webley MK VI

  1. Thanks for this report. I may have to get some Schofield pellet cartridges for my Webley MK VI. My preference though would be a rifled barrel pellet shooting version of the Webley MK VI.


  2. The Webley air gun rendition of the Mark VI has to be the silent , best kept secret. The accuracy has to be some of the best, and just improved. It delivers on what the svelte Python could not. Increased velocity and accuracy using the rear loading pellet cartridges.A pellet version would be nice, but how much more accurate could it be? It might stabilize pellets better for longer flight, but that may be all. I may now use this revolver more as a dedicated pellet revolver with 5-6 gr alloy pellets. This is the reason I have been banging the drum for more power and less shots. My experience has been that higher velocity airguns ,at least pistols, shoot tighter groups. Nice shooting. While not Old West , a pair of Schofield, Webley using the same ammunition would make for a nice day of shooting.


  3. Surprising how much velocity the Webley picks up using these cartridges. The Python did not impress but the old ugly duckling Webley show don’t judge a book by its’ cover. Looking at you firing that Webley , I have the urge to watch Zulu again.


    • Boy that makes me feel old! I was still in high school when that film came out in 1964. Always liked Michael Caine, put him in anything, I’ll watch it. I think that was one of the first major films to show the Webley pistol. The Mk VI was also featured in The Longest Day in 1963, and of course, my favorite, Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, 1962. The Webley Mk VI is legendary in firearms and cinema history.



  4. HI Dennis and the group. Makes me want to order the Webley, Schofield cartridges, and the Sig Sauer
    pellets. That was until I researched how much those pellets cost .Since I am on a limited budget the cost of those pellets slows me down. It is very interesting how the velocity increased that much. Don’t the pellets still weigh more then steel BBs ? That may be the subject of another blog. Does this happen with other smooth bore pistols ?
    Thanks again for a very interesting, informative article.
    Harvey


    • Harvey . If you are just plinking paper at 21 foot smoothbore bb range the cost may not be worth it. For extended range , velocity and accuracy, the rear loading pellet shells make the Webley and Schofield tack drivers. Powerful tackdrivers with those 5.5 gr alloy pellets , and don’t lead the barrel I just ordered , with Pyramid buy3 , get one and 10 percent discount a total of 900 alloy H&N and A Winchester tin for $42 , about half the cost of the Sig . Will wring them out this weekend . If you decide to buy some pellet cartridges. , you can keep costs down , if you can’t spring for pellets , let meknow I will send you the 4 th free tin on this order and my next to get you started . This is a brotherhood. Every addedshooter makes us bigger and better


      • Wow, thank you very much for your kind offer. I am sure there are other folks who could use the help more than I . I will research the lighter alloy pellets on my own, but for now, will order the pellet loading cartridges for my Schofield. Thank you very much Dennis.
        Best wishes
        Harvey


      • Lawman67
        I would like to thank you for your kind offer. As I posted below, there are lots of folks that would need a helping hand more then me, but you are correct in every added shooter makes us bigger and better. To my knowledge , there are very few ardent airgun shooters in the area that I live. I think for the most part folks just buy Crosman guns and their cheaper ammo at the big box stores around here. I have been in this hobby about 3 years now. Have a fair collection of the replica pistols. I really enjoy my 6″ Peacemaker and Schofield. Just ordered the Schofield cartridges and lightweight Winchester pellets. I am curious to see how those pellets will work in some of my other pellet pistols. Shoot safe friend,
        Harvey


        • I had purchased older airguns , most of which weren’t terribly accurate copies of actual firearms . They needed frequent resealing and now only a few see actual use . When I purchased my first UmarexPeacemaker , then a Colt Commander, P08 , Mauser 712 I was hooked. I now have around 30 airguns. I look at airguns as an adjunct to firearms. I frequently shoot airguns when I otherwise wouldn’t be able to shoot firearms .It also allows you do do what I do , practice cowboy fast draw and spinning safely , or damaging expensive Colts. It also allows you to enjoy shooting a replica and a very close replica of a firearm that is prohibitively expensive , and like select fire where I live , that you simply cannot own.


          • I liked your comment further down in the blog about how the thin pellet skirt will expand and thus trap more of the C02 . That makes a lot of sense . The guys I shoot with are for the most part shooting paper at 10 meters. That is just too far for most of my BB pistols.
            I can make respectable, but not great groups using the Crosman 1377, 2240, Webley Tempest and Alecto. The only problem is they are just not as fun for me to shoot as the action pistols which are repeating pistols. This will be a new experience for me, shooting the Schofield and Colt Peacemaker with the lighter weight pellets. I will get the MK VI later on, because they look so darn cool !
            Thank you for input on these blogs lawman !


    • Harvey, the Webley exceeded expectations for the Sig Sauer alloy pellet velocity, far greater than other smoothbore pellet firing models with alloy pellets. It is a very powerful CO2 pistol. There are less expensive alloy pellets on the Pyramyd Air website. Sigs work great but lighter weight alloy pellets will all have higher velocities than lead pellets. The Sig alloy pellets weigh nearly the same as a .177 caliber steel BB so a lightweight skirted alloy pellet makes the most of the CO2 in the Mk VI.


      • My theory is that some gas escapes by going around the bb as well as having the solid base resist it slightly more . The hollow base skirted pellet utilizes the gas by trapping it , and also providing a seal , maximizes the co2 .The increase in velocity by the Webley using the pellet shells is quite amazing .


        • There is a lot to be said for skirted pellets and I can relate a story about skirted bullets that totally underscores your comment. Back in 2008 I owned one of the rare Springfield Trapdoor pistols, this one based on the version done by the Springfield Armory for Gen. Sherman in 1869-1870 as experimental models for possible use by soldiers as a large caliber close quarter pistol for cavalry. This was for an article in the Spring 2009 issue of Guns of the Old West. My example, which I later sold, was built in the late 19th or early 20th century from original parts, including one of the extra Trapdoor pistol stocks, action and a smoothbore barrel. Sherman’s test guns had used rifled barrels but it is believed some were also smoothbore and in .45-70 Government and smaller .36 caliber variants. The example I acquired was chambered for a .50-70 cartridge. The gun was, shall we say, less than accurate, as had been the original pistols tested for Gen. Sherman by Col. J.G. Benton in 1870. My test with specially-loaded Ten-X .50-70 black powder cartridges was fairly disappointing as well with only half of the rounds even hitting the target at 50 feet and with a considerably unpredictable spread. A good friend of mine Dr. John Wells, who collects Springfield rifles and does his own hand loading, said I should try lighter weight hollow base bullets. They almost looked like a lead shuttlecock and he loaded a dozen test rounds for me, which took to the Springfield’s smoothbore barrel leaving the muzzle at over 1,000 fps and hitting the target 50 feet downrange with rounds landing within 2.5 inches of each other and inside the 8 to 10 rings of the full size B-27 silhouette target. The hollow base bullets did the trick with the smoothbore barrel, just as hollow base lead wadcutter pellets do with the smoothbore airguns like the Webley and Schofield. Proven in the field.



  5. I just looked once again for accessory BB and pellet cartridges for the Webley MKVI. Unless the accessory Webley made cartridges are listed elsewhere, I could not find them.

    Will Webley & Scott ever release their own accessory cartridges for the Webley MKVI?

    In the mean time it appears that I will have to use the accessory Schofield BB and pellet cartridges.


  6. Hi Dennis. Thank you for your interest. I just ordered the Schofield pellet cartridges and the Winchester alloy pellets. The Webley will come a little later down the road. I love the look and feel of the vintage pistols that are now being produced. Sure like your series about pistols.
    Best wishes
    Harvey


    • The Webley is one of those airguns you just have to own. It is that good. And I don’t think that they are over priced for what you get. Mine is a couple of years old now and has been shot quite a bit and never fails. With the new rear-loading pellet cartridges it is like shooting it for the first time.


      • There are quite a few what I would call bench mark air pistols. My criteria is that it looks authentic , shoots at least minute of pop can accuracy, and is reasonably priced. Among the survivors in my collection are the Colt Peacemaker, Schofield #3, Colt Commander, Sig Sauer P-226 and Tanfoglio Limited Custom. For the most bang for the buck is my little Makrarov non blow back. I am s.ure when I get the Webley it will be at the top of the list.
        Harvey


  7. My nickel Schofield is an exceptionally accurate handgun with bbs ,and pellet shells throwing 7 gr pellets, theWebley is as or more accurate . Either can hold its’ own against target pistols st 30 feet.



  8. I am glad it has not been discontinued. Over the 2016 holiday season ,Pyramid had a onedaysale on the Webley with a 177 pellet target for around $140. I was going to buy one but thought they were closing them out either for a pellet version or ,that had been discontinued. Go figger!.


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