Back to the ‘80s

Tim Fin­ley takes us back to the days when springers were the hottest

Airgun World - - Contents -

Tim Fin­ley goes back a few decades in time with a We­b­ley Vul­can, Tasco scope and all

I be­gan work­ing as an ap­pren­tice black­smith for Bri­tish Rail in Oc­to­ber 1982, earn­ing £31 a week, and one of my first pur­chases, in early 1983, was a break-bar­relled spring ri­fle, the We­b­ley Vul­can in .22. I bought it be­cause it was at the top end in terms of power lev­els back then, deemed more pow­er­ful than the equiv­a­lent BSAs. I had been a BSA man (or boy) un­til then and owned a BSA Su­per Me­teor only ca­pa­ble of 10 ft.lbs. on a good day with a fol­low­ing wind, so the prom­ise of a Bri­tish-made gun near the 12 ft.lbs. le­gal limit was tempt­ing in­deed. I was ‘go­ing We­b­ley’ be­cause I’d al­ready bought a Tem­pest with my first cou­ple of wage pack­ets – you might know the story of that from my ar­ti­cle last year. The We­b­ley Vul­can was launched in 1979 as the MKI, of course, and it came in a golden era of spring ri­fles be­fore the rise to dom­i­nance of pre-charged pneu­mat­ics.

EMERG­ING FT SCENE

The MKII Vul­can was launched in 1981 to co­in­cide with the rise of field-shoot­ing com­pe­ti­tions. It had a bet­ter stock, with white spac­ers un­der the black grip cap and butt pad, and a thicker, 16mm bar­rel and big­ger front sight. I bought my Vul­can MKII in Fe­bru­ary of 1983, when Fein­werk­bau Sport MKIIs and Orig­i­nal 45s dom­i­nated the fledg­ling out­door tar­get-shoot­ing scene – it wasn’t even called ‘field tar­get’ back then – and the new Weihrauch HW80 was be­gin­ning to be seen more and more.

In the Fe­bru­ary is­sue of Air­gun World that year, there was a We­b­ley ad­vert on page ten and the rec­om­mended re­tail price of the Vul­can was £73.50. I went to my lo­cal gun shop in Don­caster and bought the a .22 MKII Vul­can, with a fur-lined bag and a Vik­ing 4 x 32 non-par­al­lax scope with two-piece scope mounts for, if I re­mem­ber rightly, 85 quid in cold hard cash – you could get some good deals from gun shops back then.

.177 NEEDED

I loved that gun and when my in­ter­est was piqued in what was by then called ‘FT’ in 1987, I re­alised from read­ing Air­gun World that I needed a .177, so I bought a .177 bar­rel, put that on, and joined Don Val­ley Field

“I went to my lo­cal gun shop in Don­caster and bought the a .22 MKII Vul­can”

Tar­get Club. I scored seven out of 20 on my first-ever proper FT course on knock-down me­tal tar­gets. I didn’t re­ally know what I was do­ing, but I loved it, and the rest is his­tory. I fit­ted an ad­justable butt pad, brass rigger shoe, Venom muz­zle brake and a bar­rel lock on the now .177 Vul­can to im­prove the ac­cu­racy, but I knew the Vul­can was not an FT ri­fle I could win with, so I then bought my first HW77 and Tasco 4x32 AG scope. I gifted the Vul­can to my best mate, to whom I had al­ready given my We­b­ley Tem­pest. Roll for­ward to 2018 and he still has it, but I’d al­ready prised the Tem­pest out of his hands, so didn’t want to take the Vul­can off him, too, but get­ting the Tem­pest back made me de­ter­mined to get a We­b­ley Vul­can back in my hands.

BACK IN TIME

Af­ter a quick look on Gun­trader, I had a We­b­ley Vul­can in my sights. From the pic­tures and se­rial num­ber, it looked like a MKIII. This last Vul­can mark was launched in 1985 with a bet­ter trig­ger than the MKI/MKIIs. The later ones had a two-stage trig­ger, and they were needed be­cause the trig­ger was ‘ba­sic’ to say the least on the MKI/IIs. It came with a

“When the gun ar­rived, I was over the moon. It was in good nick”

mod­er­a­tor and a BSA 4 x 32 scope; the stock looked clean, not drilled for sling swivels, and it turned out to be an early MKIII and it still had white spac­ers on the grip and butt. Also, it was a very fair price – all-in at £160 – so I talked to Antony, at Shoot­ing Sup­plies of Broms­grove, where the gun was avail­able. What a great guy to deal with, and look­ing at their web­site, it’s a proper gun shop, too.

When the gun ar­rived, I was over the moon. It was in good nick, and the mod­er­a­tor turned out to be a Pro Sys­tem steel one made for We­b­ley. It’s a very clever push-on sys­tem, and this meant that the end of the bar­rel was stan­dard so I could fit a new front sight to put it back to fac­tory spec. John Knibbs is al­ways my first stop for air­gun parts, and £35.50 had a new front sight and steel hood wing­ing their way to deep­est York­shire.

CLEAN-UP

I was left with the clean-up process, and the is­sue of putting on the scope. It was an early MKIII with the wider trig­ger blade, but not the two-stage trig­ger, and I wanted a pe­riod scope to go on it be­cause the BSA was not re­ally the cor­rect scope. In fact, I struck very lucky be­cause my mate, Dave Wylde from Valkyrie Ri­fles, had given me a Tasco scope from the 1980s that he’d ac­quired and it had the clas­sic ‘TV screen’ sight pic­ture that was pop­u­lar back then. It also hap­pened to be on page two of the Air­gun World Fe­bru­ary 1983 is­sue. A full-page Tasco ad­vert had the same 4 x 40 WA 648FM scope. From an­other ad­vert on page three, I no­ticed that it cost £45.50 in 1983, so it was a top-end op­tic back then – this was way back when Tasco scopes were made in Japan.

TIME TRAVEL

Once the Vul­can was all put to­gether, I was trans­ported back to 1983 and got to shoot­ing it. Power lev­els were at 10.8 ft.lbs. with ten shots not vary­ing by six fps, not bad at all – the trig­ger weight was 1.4kg and pre­dictable, too. It’s true that guns back then were not as re­fined as the mod­ern era of springers, but surely that’s the point. All I need now is a BSA MKII from 1966. Any­one have one for sale? I

POINTS OF IN­TER­EST

Airguns can take you back in time to your early days of shoot­ing. When you shoot them, the happy mem­o­ries come flood­ing back – price­less!

Shoot­ing our mod­ern air­gun her­itage. Older guns can do this!

As de­liv­ered from the shop, with steel mod­er­a­tor and BSA 4 x 32 scope.

My 1987 com­pe­ti­tion Vul­can. I loved that ri­fle.

Scoped in pe­riod Tasco and ready to trans­port me back to the 1980s!

We­b­ley made sure the model name stood out by pick­ing it out in gold. En­grav­ing it be­tween the sight fix­ing grooves meant it all but van­ished once a scope was fit­ted, though.

Trig­ger per­for­mance was never a strong point on those early Vul­cans but this one was usuable, if not re­fined.

I man­aged to fit the cor­rect fore­sight.

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