visibility of the numbers indicating how many pellets are left in the mag’, plus the general ease of use this auto-reload system provides. Having a spare magazine, loaded and ready to go, is a genuine bonus in this finger-numbing weather, so full marks to Webley on that.
TRIGGER FUNCTION The Raider’s trigger is a fairly standard, two-stage, adjustable unit, with the trigger blade coated in shiny, perhaps a tad garish, ‘gold’. Oh well, I can forgive a tiny touch of flash on such an understated rifle, and far more importantly, the trigger breaks cleanly with no sign of creep or inconsistency. As with most sporters, a knowledgeable person equipped with the correct honing tools could refine the function of this trigger, but I was determined to carry out my usual ‘tuned through repeated use’ regimen on the test rifle, so more about that in next month’s follow-up test.
ON THE RANGE The unregulated powerplant of the Webley Raider 12 requires a maximum charge of 200 bar, from which the .22 version will extract 80, full-power shots. The .177 gives a reported 60 shots, so allowing for the odd miss, that’s at least three rucksacks’ of rabbits worth at the very least before an air injection is required.
A supplied probe charger and rotating dust cover over the inlet port take care of air-delivery, and there’s a pressure gauge at the end of the rifle’s reservoir to let you keep an eye on compression reserves. All sturdy, simple, no-nonsense stuff, and all the better for it.
CONSISTENCY I went straight in with a selection of .22 pellets before Air Arms Diabolo Field and Daystate Kaiser announced themselves as top options for the test rifle, recording 11.6 and 11.3 ft.lbs. respectively, with the Fields pinching the consistency sector with a variation of 14 f.p.s. over the first 50 shots – after three ‘clearing’ shots. Those clearing shots turned out not to be needed, because they delivered the pellets smack on the point of aim, but old habits die hard and I always check my zero before any hunt, if only to ramp up confidence to the max.
ACCURACY Now we’re talking. Paul Garrity had promised me a rifle that ‘shoots very, very well’ and this one does. In fact, in terms of group sizes, it has already produced one of the best returns from any .22 I’ve ever tested, and I’ve already asked for a .177 version to be sent as soon as a production example becomes available. On the subject of production guns, I am absolutely assured that the rifle I’m testing represents exactly the degree of accuracy produced by the standard factory Raider 12. This isn’t a ‘special’; it shoots precisely like the production guns will – and I do mean ‘precisely’.
Sub-20mm groups at 45 yards, using pellets straight from the tin, can’t be realistically bettered by a .22 sporter.
CHANGING FOCUS My focus now, needs to shift to getting as close as possible to that standard, under typical hunting conditions, and that will depend on the Raider’s mechanical reliability, consistency, and handling qualities. To explore fully these vital qualities, I’ll carry out more of the intensive mooching I did for this month’s follow-up test, because this best reproduces the demands of hunting, without the risk of my not being fully up to speed. Also, with vermin having more sense than an airgun tester and staying safely under cover for most of the time, I don’t have to worry about finding quarry in the colder months.
“sturdy, simple, no-nonsense”
NEXT MONTH Next time around, I’ll be snapping off controlled shots at all sorts of angles and ranges, and that will provide a proper workout for the new Raider. So far, we’ve got ourselves a reasonably priced, highly practical, extremely accurate sporting rifle, that somehow generates a quiet excitement. I’m keen to see if our relationship cools or if we become an item as the true personality of the Webley Raider 12 Classic is revealed. All of this, and more, next month! I
Will the buzz continue? Only time, and hundreds of test pellets, will tell.
The mag’ slides in and out from the right-hand side.
At-a-glance info on remaining shots.