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Ammo Webley Senior spring-piston air pistol: Part Seven

Webley Senior spring-piston air pistol: Part Seven

Webley Senior
My new/old Webley Senior slant grip pellet pistol.

History of airguns

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

This report covers:

  • Not fiber
  • Velocity test
  • RWS Hobby — October 2022 test
  • RWS Hobby today — March 3, 2023
  • Eley Wasp — October 2022 test
  • Eley Wasp today — March 3, 2023
  • H&N Field Target Trophy — October 2022 test
  • H&N Field Target Trophy –March 3, 2023
  • Pellet sizes
  • Experiment
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today we revisit an oldie and one from which we learned several valuable lessons — the Webley Senior spring-piston air pistol. Before we start there are several things to remember. First, this pistol was an eBay purchase that came to me without a breech seal. The seller didn’t tell me that, and I don’t think he even knew.

This pistol is a post-WW II pistol that was made between 1949 and 1955. Read Part 1 to find out how I know that. It came to me without a breech seal and I showed you a picture of that. You can see that if a person was not familiar with the pistol they might not even know.

I inspected the pistol before firing it and it looked great. I didn’t catch that the seal was missing. But a shot into my office pellet trap where the pellet bounced off the duct seal said otherwise and I looked closer. Read what I said.

“When I unpacked the pistol I was pleased to see it was even better than the web pictures showed. Wow, I couldn’t wait to shoot it. This one is a .22 so I loaded a pellet and noted that it bounced off my duct seal pellet trap in my office. Oh, oh! It wasn’t very powerful. Maybe it needs a new piston seal.

“But wait — these pistols don’t have conventional piston seals. They have a piston ring made from beryllium copper. This one has to either be broken or missing for the pistol to loose this much power. Okay, let’s check the breech seal.

“Well, the breech seal looks good. It’s nice and sharp. In fact it’s a little too sharp. These breech seals are made of fiber and should look mushroomed and crumbly after they are used. This one is razor sharp. And deep! In fact, it’s a little too deep. In fact there is no seal in the breech, whatsoever! Well, that will certainly make the pistol shoot slow!”

Webley Senior breech
Webley breech seals don’t look sharp and crisp like this And they aren’t that deep.

Not fiber

When I received my new breech seal from T.W.  Chambers I discovered that it wasn’t made from fiber. It was/is some sort of tough but pliable rubber compound. Okay, the world changed when BB wasn’t watching.

The new seal was much easier to install than a fiber one and once in it seemed to seal the breech fine. Time would tell if that assessment was correct, and today’s report is five months after that seal was installed.

Velocity test

Well, the new seal worked as it should. Let’s look at the three pellets I tested and what they did. I will show each pellet I tested, both back in October, 2022 and now. Hopefully that will help you understand what I’m saying.

RWS Hobby — October 2022 test

Ten RWS Hobby pellets averaged 378 f.p.s. The low was 372 and the high was 385. The spread was 13 f.p.s. The low was on the first shot and the high was on the last shot. This pistol feels like it is breaking in, and it is in such good cosmetic condition that it may not have been shot that much before.

The RWS Hobby weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and, at 378 f.p.s., it produces 3.78 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. It’s well within the UK legal limit of 6 foot pounds for an air pistol.

RWS Hobby today — March 3, 2023

Today ten RWS Hobby pellets averaged 377 f.p.s. The low was 372 and the high was 382. The spread was 10 f.p.s. The low was on the fifth shot and the high was on the last shot.

The RWS Hobby weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and at 377 f.p.s. it produces 3.76 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. It’s still well within the UK legal limit of 6 foot pounds for an air pistol.

This was not exactly what I expected. I thought the pistol might have increased in velocity by just a little. I say that because, after spring guns are tuned I often see some increase in speed. More to say on that in a bit but for now let’s look at pellet number two.

Stock Up on Shooting Gear

Eley Wasp — October 2022 test

The next pellet I tested was the 5.6 mm Eley Wasp. This is the one that produced a velocity of 339 f.p.s. soon after after the breech seal was installed. In today’s (October, 2022) test ten Wasps averaged 342 f.p.s. The low was 337 and the high was 347 — a difference of 10 f.p.s.

The Eley Wasp weighs 14.5 grains, on average. That means it produces 3.77 foot pounds at the muzzle.

Eley Wasp today — March 3, 2023

Today ten Eley Wasps averaged 334 f.p.s. The low was 327 and the high was 339 for a difference of 12 f.p.s. At the average velocity this 14.5-grain pellet produced 3.59 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

H&N Field Target Trophy — October 2022 test

The last pellet I tested was the 14.66-grain H&N Field Target Trophy. In other airguns I have had no success with this pellet, but in the Senior they seem to fit better than most pellets other than the Wasps. They averaged 342 f.p.s. for 10 shots. That works out to an average energy of 3.81 foot pounds. The low was 336 and the high was 348 — a difference of 12 f.p.s.

H&N Field Target Trophy –March 3, 2023

Today ten FTT pellets averaged 336 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 3.68 foot-pounds. But the spread went from a low of 321 to a high of 348 f.p.s. — a difference of 27 f.p.s. That’s quite a bit up from the 12 f.p.s. spread the same pellet and pistol showed back in October of 2022. However, I had noticed something I thought might be the cause. 

Pellet sizes

Some FTT pellets were falling deep into the barrel upon loading while others stopped flush with the breech. Neither of the first two pellets had shown this tendency. I realized this by shot number nine, so I watched where shot number ten went when loaded and, seeing it fall deep into the barrel, I wrote the word FAST before shooting that pellet through the chronograph. It went out at 346 f.p.s., which was the second-fastest pellet in the string. That led me to construct an experiment to see if my suspicion was right.

Experiment

I wrote two titles — Fast and Slow for the velocity columns I was surely about to record. I would look at how deep the FTT pellet went into the barrel and determine beforehand whether it was going to be fast or slow. Then I would enter that velocity in the appropriate column.

The first pellet seated flush with the breech so I figured slow. When it registered 342 f.p.s. on the chronograph (which would have been the fourth-fastest pellet in the string discussed above) I gave up right there! Apparently how deep the pellet goes into the barrel does not relate to velocity.

Discussion

Today’s velocity test is something I wanted to come back to after the pistol had more shots on it. I figured the shots fired in Parts 4, 5, and 6, plus the extra shots I fired while adjusting the sights, qualified as enough shots to affect velocity. However, instead of going slightly faster, today the pellets went slightly slower. And, with the FTT pellet, the velocity spread was rather large this time. But there was else something that I discovered.

Remember me talking about the new synthetic breech seal — how it differed from the old fiber one? Well, the barrel has been closed and locked for five months — pressing on the new seal. Look at the face of that seal now.

Webley Senior seal
The breech seal is unmarked after five months of the rear of the barrel pressed against it.

Seeing a breech seal uncrushed is unthinkable for an old Webley guy. It’s like a Harley Davidson motorcycle that doesn’t leak oil. But I know that modern Harleys don’t leak oil, and now I also know that modern Webley pistol seals don’t show marks from being under compression.

Summary

This won’t be the last report on this Webley Senior. Now that I have seen how well-made JTS pellets are I want to try them for accuracy and when I do I may as well try a couple of other pellets. Yes, I just want to have some fun with this air pistol, but this series can mean a lot to Webley pistol owners, so there is some redeeming value there, too.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

40 thoughts on “Webley Senior spring-piston air pistol: Part Seven”

  1. Cool, as you know I love to see vintage pistols being put back in working order for future generations.

    I have never owned a Senior, but after handling one at the last Texas airgun show, I was taken aback by how small it actually is.

    So one is on my wish list.

    The differences in velocity over the last few months appears not enough of a difference to make a difference..

    I recently picked up an unmolested (not resealed or tinkered with) Crosman MKI from Gunproker for $50 and since the seller was local, no shipping, he is also starting to explore pcp’s so I may have a new shooting buddy.

    It needed a cap reseal, and and bolt probe oring, both were as you said, “crumbly”. it now shoots strong and has been holding air for 2 weeks. I have not replaced the main valve seal as I want to see how long it will run.

    My question is Tom, does the Webley typically perform well with heavier pellets like the JTS 18.1’s?

    We know from your testing if I remember correctly that the MKI Crosman’s tend to favor the hobbies and lighter pellets.

    Since you will be testing the pistol from across the pond, I guess I will try the JTS pellets in the Crosman MKI, and pit it head to head against a Mac1 LD version of the MKI and give a report.

    Happy Monday everyone!

    Ian

    • Ian,

      I’m not sure if the Webley Senior typically does perform better with heavier pellets, but that sounds like the next thing I should test.

      BB

    • Ian, I must have been sleeping at the switch to let a Mark I get by me at $50, but I’m glad you got it.
      My experience with Mark Is is Meisterkugeln perform well, but so do HN Excite Plinking pellets for a cheaper option.

  2. BB,

    Of course you know I am crazy about Webleys. There are three hanging around here at RRHFWA. I think I will always find room for one of these old gals to move in. They are not the most accurate airguns, but they sure are fun.

    Any of you folks out there who are thinking of picking up one of these things really should. With the exception of the “new ones” with the plastic nose cones, they are pretty much indestructible. There are plastic nose cones available, so even those can be rebuilt. You have to go out of your way to seriously abuse one to not be able to rebuild it.

    Myself, I like to leave the breeches open when I put mine up. The seal might do better if it is not compressed all the time.

    Oops?
    Discussion
    But there was else something (something else) that I discovered.

      • 3hi,

        When I first decided to start up RRHFWA, I made a promise to myself that I would only have one pistol, my Izzy. I now have six, one Russian, one German, one Polish, two British and one American. Along the way, I have gotten rid of a few, one I would like to have back, but that ain’t happening.

        I am a plinker. I am a very serious plinker.

        • Well hello fellow plinker! And a little less of the “serious”, please… 🙂

          I can guess which one might be your Russian, 🙂
          I am intrigued what the German pistol is,
          one of the English would likely be a Webley,
          the American I remember to be a Crosman 2240 and finally,
          two CO2 pistols are destined to be fixed for your grandchildren.

          Care to confirm and fill in the gaps for all your interested readers? Oh, I would also be interested in their calibres please? 🙂

          Assuming you’re as fond of your handguns as the other “ladies”, what is the last pistol you “danced” with?

          • 3hi,

            My German pistol is a Beeman 800/Diana 6G. It has very recently been resealed and I danced with it some this last week. The two British are both Webleys, a very old Senior (thanks Tom) and an old Junior.

            The Polish is a Predom Lucznik KL. 170. It has a horrible trigger, but it is an awesome shooter. I hope to improve the trigger some.

            Most of my pistols are .177 with the exception of the Senior and the 2240.

            • Thanks RidgeRunner. Interesting variety. 🙂

              Your mention of the Predom Lucznik KL. 170 has reminded me to plink again with mine (well it’s not exactly the same but looks very similar). 🙂

              Have you an idea how to improve it’s trigger?

              • 3hi,

                I have not torn into it yet. First I have to study how it works. Maybe it is not much different from the Walther, which it supposedly copied. We will see.

        • 6 pistols?
          I wish…

          I have 6 of the Crosman MKI & MKII’S alone, some are stock, others have different upgrades I deemed pertinent for how I use them, and thats not even counting the Mac1 LD versions of the Crosman (3 of those).

          And WAY too many other pistols….

          PLEASE do yourself a favor, never write a list of the airguns you currently own….

          Before you start the list, you will say “oh I only have a few airguns.”

          After you list them you will realize how addicted to airguns you actually are…

          Do yourself a favor, never start that list…

          Ian..

  3. B.B.,
    That seems like pretty good power for this ol’ gal. My .177 caliber Beeman Webley Tempest, while advertised by Beeman as getting “up to 500 fps,” only averages 440 fps, even with the lightweight 7.33-grain JSB RS Diabolo pellets (for 3.15 fpe), the ones she prefers accuracy-wise.
    My pistol is a fun plinker, and an inheritance from my Dad; hence, I am very much enjoying this series about her older sister. 😉
    Blessings to you,
    dave

  4. B.B.,

    You gave up too soon IMHO!
    “Experiment
    I wrote two titles — Fast and Slow for the velocity columns I was surely about to record. I would look at how deep the FTT pellet went into the barrel and determine beforehand whether it was going to be fast or slow. Then I would enter that velocity in the appropriate column.

    The first pellet seated flush with the breech so I figured slow. When it registered 342 f.p.s. on the chronograph (which would have been the fourth-fastest pellet in the string discussed above) I gave up right there! Apparently how deep the pellet goes into the barrel does not relate to velocity.”
    I had lots of OT&E testers do the same thing to my Golden DT&E Systems. I always loved shredding their results with rebuttal reports and watching them eat crow; but I know you love to eat chocolate hats so….
    If you really “…gave up right there!” on the basis of one try (evolution) what in tarnation makes you think that pellet didn’t have some other factor in play that determined the result!!!
    You owed yourself at least a full series before you canned your logically arrived Test Element!
    Just think back if one of your DT&E Testers had sent a rebutle like that to you the OT&E Tester?
    Test Schedule must have the Boss pushing hard to not run the full Test Element as written!
    ONLY a dangerous outcome should do that.

    shootski

    PS: logic says that that air gap behind the pellet should effect a pneumatic just as you thought.

      • B.B.,

        So here I thought I would have given you a valid reason to: “…have some (more) fun with this air pistol…”
        Okay if that doesn’t do it for you should also do a leak test on that barrel breech seal with a thin sheet of tissue just in case.

        shootski

  5. Off Topic, I added to my vintage Winchester collection with a Model 422 (Diana Model 22). It has a brass barrel insert, and I can cock it with one finger. Although it is a bit rusty on the outside, I am working the steel wool and Ballistol and it is cleaning up nicely. When I put the finishing touches on my guest blog about the Diana Model 24 J, I may share some more details. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it shot with RWS Hobby pellets. It is missing a rear sight elevation screw, but I think I can find a replacement.

    • Roamin Greco,
      Those are interesting little guns; I’ve found some pics, but not much info on them.
      Is the brass insert rifled, or smoothbore? Thanks.
      Blessings to you,
      dave

      • Dave,

        Rifled. I just looked up BB’s reports on it. It looks like a Diana Model 23 but with the brass barrel insert and cheaper sights. It is a delightful little gun. I got 3 pellets in a row to go into the same .177 diameter hole (!), but then they would begin stringing vertically. Still needs more polishing with the 0000 steel wool and Ballistol. I also want to see if my spare Diana 23 stock fits it, because the stock is really torn up. Eventually, I’ll go inside to clean and lube everything.

        I also have one of 45 Bravo’s “no excuses” chronographs on its way.

        Blessings to you, as well.

  6. Everyone,

    I have been using an app called Feedly to view the RSS feed of B.B.’s posts and our comments in chronological order, but for the past several days, all I see are the main posts and no comments. I have not seen similar complaints from any of you, so I doubt that anything is wrong with WordPress or the website. I’m thinking either something is wrong with Feedly or with my phone.

    To those of you who watch the RSS feed, is yours still working? What reader app do you all use on an Android phone? I may want to try another app and see if it works.

    Thanks!

    • Roamin Greco,

      I use Aggregator on my Android, my PC is Linux Mint 20.3 there I use RSSPreview in Mozilla Firefox and a stand alone app called Akregator which can store unlimited feed data.

      Let us know if you get your feed back.

      Mike

      • Thanks Mike. Aggregator won’t install on my old “smart” phone. Maybe time for an upgrade.

        I installed one called Feeder that seems to be working. I may also uninstall and reinstall Feedly because I like how I could swipe through the comments.

    • Roamin Greco, I remember how you kindly tried to help me use ‘Feedly’ on my ipad.
      Well, I never had your latest problem, because I couldn’t get it to work in the first place. 🙂

      Maybe I’m not the only one who doesn’t/ can’t use it. 🙂

        • Roamin Greco, not long ago, all ‘Junk’ emails appeared in my hotmail ‘Inbox’. Now it’s back to normal, ie I still get loads that I can’t avoid but at least they’re back in the naughty box! 🙂

          I wonder if it is possible, if not even probable, that the problem is not at your end but with Feedly.
          If (!) they’re aware of this issue then they may well be in the process of dealing with it (though it’s been quite a while). 🙂

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