Webley vs. Webley – The Final Showdown

Webley vs. Webley – The Final Showdown

The Finish, the Trigger, and the Accuracy Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

By Dennis Adler

All the same, yet each uniquely different, the Webley & Scott MK VI CO2 models have more than different finishes and a choice between a smoothbore BB model and two rifled barrel pellet models. The latest addition to smoothbore Service Model (top right), is the nickel silver finished Exhibition Model with rifled barrel and the just released (in the U.S.) weathered Battlefield Finish pellet model (lower left).

The Webley MK VI has become one of the most controversial CO2 military models of the year, and as we begin to close out 2017 the big three MK VI models are all now available, the original Service Model with smoothbore BB barrel and matte military finish, the silver nickel finish Exhibition Model with rifled barrel and pellet-loading cartridges, and the weathered Battlefield Finish Model with rifled barrel. All three exhibit different characteristics aside from their distinctive finishes and this is what has created the controversy over the last couple of months since the rifled barrel Exhibition Model was introduced. The accuracy with the rifled barrel Exhibition Model at 21 feet was barely equal to the smoothbore BB Service Model and at 10 meters (which is beyond the smoothbore BB model’s optimum accuracy); the rifled barrel Webley came up short against other pellet-firing revolvers, especially fired single action, which is most unusual. This raised several significant questions about the newest Webley MK VI model.

All three test guns had different double action and single action trigger pull averages with the new Battlefield Finish model having the heaviest double action trigger pull and a single action pull between the other two. The only consistency appears to be inconsistency. This is not all that different from centerfire pistols of the period (1915) that can vary in trigger pull from one to another. The most important difference with the CO2 Webley models, however, is the smoothness of the action, regardless of the trigger press.

The same but different

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That is a top shelf oxymoron, but appropriate when discussing the differences between these three Webley & Scott CO2 models which are essentially all the same gun based on Webley & Scott’s original c.1915 Webley MK VI design. So how can going from smoothbore barrels and .177 caliber BBs to rifled barrels and 4.5mm pellets change the gun’s overall handling and accuracy? The obvious answer, except for a rifled barrel and 4.5mm pellets having high velocity and increased accuracy, is that it shouldn’t. But as Holmes would say, “the game is afoot!”

The Battlefield Finish is by far the most visually appealing of the three British Webley MK VI models, with just enough wear to its military gunmetal finish to look remarkably realistic. (Shown with period correct reproduction MK VI leather holster and pellet-loading cartridges)

Over more than half a century, Great Britain’s acclaimed Webley MK VI revolvers have never lost their international standing as one of the greatest handguns of all time, nor have they lost their appeal to military arms collectors. One reason the Webley has never faded from memory, as many handguns from the early to mid 20th century have, is their distinctive design, remarkable durability, abundant supply, and having been readily attainable at a time when some of the greatest epic war films were made. The Webley was prominently featured in 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence. It was famously carried by Richard Burton in The Longest Day, and by Robert De Niro, playing a young Vito Corleone in the Godfather Part II flashback scenes in 1920’s New York City. Corleone uses a MK VI to kill mafia boss Don Fanucci. After breaking a light bulb in the hallway to Fanucci’s apartment and hiding himself in the shadows, Vito emerges with the Webley wrapped in a towel to silence the gun’s sound and shoots Fanucci almost point blank. He then takes the gun to the apartment building’s roof, breaks it apart and disposes of the individual parts. No second take for that MK VI. And lest we forget the Webley WG (Army Model with bird’s head grip) used by Harrison Ford in two Indiana Jones adventures, The Last Crusade and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There have been so many films past and present where the Webley makes an appearance, that when Webley & Scott introduced the first .177 caliber version in 2015 it immediately soared to the top of every airgun collector’s want list.

If there is one indelible image of the Webley MK VI in cinematic history, it is this scene from the 1962 Oscar winning film Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole as T.E. Lawrence. This is what a battlefield finish really looks like.

Copied in superb detail from the original 1915 model blueprints, the CO2 versions are literally as close to an original MK VI as you can get without firing .455 caliber cartridges. After the debut of the smoothbore .177 caliber BB cartridge-loading topbreak model in the U.S., consumers began hearing about other MK VI models sold in Europe but not exported. These included a rifled barrel 4.5mm pellet cartridge-loading model in both nickel silver finish and in a worn battlefield finish. After more than a year these two have finally arrived on our shores, first the Exhibition Model in nickel silver, a rare finish for an original MK VI, and within the last month the greatly anticipated rifled barrel model with the weathered battlefield finish, truly the most authentic looking of the trio. Now with all three in hand, and after a somewhat less than remarkable field test of the Nickel silver version last month, all three square off in one final test to prove their mettle on the 10 meter firing line.

The question that has been in the minds of many who have or want to have the MK VI is how well the rifled barrel models shoot. The issue with the nickel silver MK VI has been accuracy with the often hard to see front sight. This was not an issue with the Service Model introduced in 2015 but that was a smoothbore BB model. Now with the addition of the Battlefield Finish MK VI the sights are certainly far easier to see. The question remains how well it will shoot at 10 meters compared to the Exhibition Model with its very bright finish.

Webley vs. Webley vs. Webley!

Rather than quoting previous test figures, I am going to start with a fresh page and test each of the three pistols over again beginning with trigger design and the single action, double action trigger pull weights.

Going back to the original 2015 smoothbore model, the Webley & Scott MK VI has an average double action trigger pull of 6 pounds, 13.0 ounces on this test gun. Single action, the MK VI smoothbore delivers a trigger pull of 4 pounds, 15.5 ounces. Trigger take up is 0.5 inches and trigger pull is smooth with light stacking as you pull through. The hammer stages easily and consistently when fired double action to provide a better aimed double action shot. It is about as good as a double action trigger can feel; actually, too good compared to most centerfire double action revolvers and has only a fraction of the resistance of a .455 caliber MK VI trigger.

The new Exhibition Model with rifled barrel tests differently than the smoothbore. While double action pull averages a heavier 8 pounds, 4.0 ounces, single action pull is a lighter 4 pounds, 6.0 ounces, 11.4 ounces less than the smoothbore. Fired double action the trigger stages the hammer about the same as the smoothbore; single action has a little more creep but less resistance. Stacking fired double action varies from smooth to moderately heavy, with four out of six chambers running more smoothly. Shooting consistently with this test gun has proven more challenging for this reason. I found the same basic issues with a second Exhibition Model, so it is not an anomaly; the trigger pull appears to be somewhat different on the smoothbore and the rifled barrel guns.

There is also the question of accuracy. The rifled barrel model is not as consistently accurate as the smoothbore BB model, particularly when fired single action. This is still difficult to explain. The tolerances on the MK VI are exceptionally tight between the forcing cone, front of the cylinder and the back of the cartridges to the recoil shield. The nickel silver finish could be enough to make the fit even tighter. If this is so, the same issues will not occur with the weathered Battlefield Finish MK VI.

The big three of British topbreak CO2 models, the original 2015 Smoothbore MK VI (bottom) nickel silver rifled barrel Exhibition Model, and the most authentic looking of all, the new weathered Battlefield Finish Model (broken open at left).

This is the most realistic-looking of the three Webley models, at least from the left side. On the right there is the telltale manual safety which ruins the gun’s otherwise pristinely historic lines. Double action trigger pull on this gun averaged a hefty 10 pounds, 12.0 ounces, a more realistic double action pull for a Webley revolver but quite a bit heavier than either of the other models. Once again we have a different trigger pull average than either the smoothbore Service Model or rifled barrel Exhibition Model. Fired single action the Battlefield Finish MK VI averages 4 pounds, 8.3 ounces, right in the middle between the smoothbore Service Model and rifled barrel Exhibition Model. The final arbiter of accuracy will be the question of whether it is easier to sight the Battlefield Finish model’s slightly distressed matte gunmetal front blade in the rear stirrup latch notch compared to the harder to see nickel silver front sight on the Exhibition Model, and how well the Battlefield model fires single action. We’ll find out in the next Airgun Experience.

6 thoughts on “Webley vs. Webley – The Final Showdown”

  1. The Webley is a great looking co2 revolver that does not live up to its’ potential in the accuracy department. It should have equaled or surpassed the smoothbore version and entered the realm of target grade accuracy. It is ok , but not exceptional,and the question is why? I can shoot groups half the size in sa with the Nagant ,and the UmarexAce in the Hole. A 5 1/2 or 7 1/2 Peacemaker bury the Webley in the aacuracy dept. Could be the trigger , or maybe the rifling itself. The true test would be a Webley rebarreled with a Walther Lothar barrel

    • HI all, glad to be back. Sorry for the multitude of typos in this first article since being off. It was completed late Monday night after a very hectic week off. Not a vacation. All corrected now, so if you are reading this for the first time you missed all the bloopers. For those of you who stumbled over some missed (missing), wrong or added words, sorry about that. Hopefully you read through them, just like I did!


  2. Hi folks : Looking forward to the final test From a historical view point, it would be interesting to see how the original powder burning Colt 1911, Webley, Luger and Nagant would compare. If the Webley shot 1 and 1/2 ” low, I could just see a British drill instructor telling the troops to aim at their mouths and you will drill the rotten buggers between the eyes .”take a bit of their head off, eh what?” These test have been a fun read.
    Thank you

    • Thanks Harvey. Actually if the gun shoots below POA, you have to aim 1 to 1-1/2 inches high, so you would be aiming for the caps or hats for a head shot. Aim for the mouth and you hit them in the neck. That’s a nasty hit too, but most everyone went for center body mass. Hard to be picky in battle unless you’re a sniper.

      As for the Colt 1911 vs the Webly centerfire models I could actually do that comparison to see how the real guns do at 10 meters compared to the CO2 models. Might be great fun sometime.Neat idea Harvey! Thanks.

  3. Wow, my face is red Dennis ! Did Webley ever make a target model of any of their MK series of pistols with adjustable rear sights ? From reading excerpts from their small arms training manual you are correct in the ability to quickly acquire a sight picture of the body mass. Still waiting to get mine. Maybe since I have been a good boy Santa will help.
    Best wishes

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