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Air Guns Revisiting the Webley MK VI CO2 Revolver

Revisiting the Webley MK VI CO2 Revolver

Firing pellets from a British Legend

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.

author avatar
Dennis Adler
Dennis Adler has been an author and contributor to Blue Book Publications since 1997 and was co-author of the First Edition Blue Book of Airguns. He is an airgun collector and enthusiast for over 20 years and wrote the Air Show column on air pistols for Combat Handguns magazine and other publications before joining the Pyramyd Air writing team. His articles appeared in the Pyramyd Air Airgun Experience blog and provided readers with expert reviews and in-depth articles.

39 thoughts on “Revisiting the Webley MK VI CO2 Revolver”

  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.

  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.

  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

  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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