by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

Webley Senior straight grip
Webley Senior straight grip air pistol.

This report covers:

  • The test
  • Wasps are first
  • Seating the pellets
  • RWS Hobby
  • H&N Field Target Trophy Green
  • Overall evaluation

Today we learn the accuracy of the Webley straight grip air pistol — at least with the pellets I have selected. And, in a surprising turn of events, I discovered something new (I think) about my pistol. If I knew it before I had forgotten it.

The test

If ever there was an air pistol that is not suited to shooting targets, the straight grip Senior is it! This is a plinking pistol, through and through. But I have to show you something, and looking at the dents on a can is pretty boring. So I set up to shoot 10 meters off a rest. I rested my hands on the bag and held the pistol in them, so it wasn’t  directly contacting the sandbag. Still, I think it could do better by just being held. But that would take a better shooter than me.

Wasps are first

Eley Wasps had to be the first pellet I tested. I have reserved the entire lot of them for shooting in guns like this one. The first two pellets hit the target low and to the left of center, so I adjusted the rear sight up and to the right. It was a simple matter of loosening the single screw that holds the sight assembly and sliding the whole unit in the right direction. From its appearance you would think this method of adjustment was imprecise, but the sight actually moved very well. I was surprised there was so much control.

Webley Senior rear sight
Though it looks crude, the rear sight actually moves smoothly and precisely.

Following the sight adjustment the first pellet hit the bull in the 9-ring at 5 o’clock. I thought that was good enough, so I shot 9 more pellets without checking again. In the end I had an open group that measures 2.654-inches between centers. It’s more vertical than horizontal, and I might normally blame my eyes, but as I was loading I noticed something. The pellets were going into the breech to different depths.

Webley Senior straight grip Wasps target 1
Ten Eley Wasps went into 2.654-inches at 10 meters.

Seating the pellets

As I watched each pellet fall into the breech, it either needed to be pressed in all the way by a finger or it fell into the barrel a short distance, I knew this inconsistency could be causing at least some of the inaccuracy. A second group with all the pellets seated to the same depth was necessary.

I have misplaced my Air Venturi Pellet Seater, so I used a ballpoint pen. It pressed each Wasp into the breech about 1/8-inch. Most went in with a pop that could be felt. The first shot was an 8 at 5 o’clock, so I felt I was good to go. This time 10 rounds went into 1.659-inches between centers. You don’t need the measurements, though, to see the difference breech-seating made. It’s obvious at a glance. So, all shooting for the rest of the test was done with seated pellets.

Webley Senior straight grip Wasps target 2
Ten Eley Wasps went into 1.659-inches at 10 meters. Now, we’re cookin’!

This is the kind of accuracy I was hoping for. Apparently my Senior wants the pellets to be seated to the same depth in the breech. This is the surprise I mentioned at the beginning. Could it do even better, I wondered?

RWS Hobby

Next up were RWS Hobby pellets. Hobbys have wider skirts than many other pellets, and, with the larger bore of the Webley, the size of the skirt really does matter. Hobbys also popped into the breech with a noticeable feel when they were seated. They are smaller than Wasps, but not by much.

Ten Hobbys went into a group that measures 2.427-inches between centers. That’s not exactly a good group — especially in light of what we have seen the Wasps do. But see how much higher the pellets landed! The highest Wasp is lower than the lowest Hobby.

Webley Senior straight grip Hobby target
At 10 meters 10 RWS Hobby pellets made this group that measures 2.427-inches.

H&N Field Target Trophy Green

The last pellet I tried was the .22 caliber H&N Field Target Trophy Green. This is listed as a 5.56mm pellet, but the tin I had contained 5.50mm pellets that were obviously smaller. They fit the bore loosely and made a 10-shot group that measures 3.758-inches between centers. It was the largest group of the test.

Webley Senior straight grip H&N Field Target Trophy Green target
At 10 meters 10 H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets went into 3.758-inches.

Overall evaluation

The test turned out like I expected. This old pistol is still going strong after 80-some years, but it was never a target gun and time hasn’t changed that.

It turned out that the breech-seated Wasps were the most accurate pellet tested. But we’re not done yet.

I promised to show you the inside of this airgun and that will come next. It will be my opportunity to peek at the work I did so many years ago and perhaps to touch things up a bit. Stay tuned.