ED’S TEST

THE EN4CER 12, FROM WE­B­LEY

Airgun World - - Contents -

It’s been many years since I first ex­pressed my be­wil­der­ment about the whole ‘tac­ti­cal’ thing. Truth to tell, I’m still none the wiser about the mean­ing of that word, but I’m fully clued-up about what it rep­re­sents as far as air ri­fles go, at least. Th­ese in­vari­ably black, mil­i­taris­tic, of­ten omni-ad­justable air­guns are here to stay, and it’s way beyond time that we tra­di­tion­al­is­tas stopped giv­ing them the skunk-eye and judged them fairly.

My own past en­coun­ters, steeped as they were in a shame­ful cock­tail of prej­u­dice, pref­er­ence and un­pro­fes­sional snob­bery, al­ways re­sulted in my com­ing away with a grudg­ing ad­mi­ra­tion for what the tac­ti­cal hard­ware did, rather than what I be­lieved it was. That all stops, right here, right now. Hence­forth, I’ll do what I’m sup­posed to do, and as­sess all ri­fles on merit, while leav­ing the per­sonal pref­er­ence stuff to you. That’s the plan, any­way, let’s see if I can stick to it. Here goes.

NAME AND SHAME

Plan or no plan, I ab­so­lutely hate that name and I’ll re­strict its use as much as pos­si­ble through­out this re­view. I loathe ‘text-speak’ in all its forms and re­gard it as a creep­ing curse on our glo­ri­ous lan­guage. Yes, I’m old and I work with words, but hav­ing seen with my an­cient eyes a CV to this of­fice con­tain­ing the phrase ‘I like 2 chill with my m8s’, I be­lieve my ha­tred is jus­ti­fied.

Names don’t put

“I have no hes­i­ta­tion in declar­ing this We­b­ley’s stock ‘an ex­tremely use­ful thing, in­deed’.”

ver­min in the bag, so let’s get to the things that do, be­gin­ning with a run-down of this new We­b­ley’s main fea­tures.

THE WE­B­LEY EN4CER 12

What I have here, is a sidelever-op­er­ated pre-charged pneu­matic ri­fle, that runs a 14-shot, .177 or 12-shot in .22 - re­mov­able ro­tary mag­a­zine, two of which are sup­plied, along with a sin­gle-shot tray. The float­ing bar­rel is fully shrouded and that shroud in­cor­po­rates We­b­ley’s cel­e­brated Quan­tum si­lencer sys­tem, so it’s not just there to score style points. The shroud also comes ready threaded for a mod­er­a­tor, if shoot­ing as qui­etly as pos­si­ble is your pri­or­ity.

At the front of the ac­tion sits a 425cc buddy bot­tle, which when charged to 200 bar via the probe port in the ri­fle’s un­der­side, will pro­vide at least 160 shots at 11-plus ft.lbs. in .177, the cal­i­bre of the test ri­fle. For rea­sons that es­cape me, I de­cided to charge the test ri­fle, from al­most empty, with a man­ual pump. Don’t do this. It’s a silly thing to do, un­less you are one of those weirdos who ac­tu­ally en­joy per­spir­ing, light-head­ed­ness, and breath­ing with a rasp­ing sound. Use a diver’s tank and take 20 leisurely sec­onds to fully charge that buddy bot­tle.

REMARKABLE STOCK

Part of my re­hab from sneer­ing snob to pro­fes­sional air­gun as­ses­sor, is a full ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the type of ad­justable stock fit­ted to the test ri­fle. As one who bangs on re­lent­lessly about the im­por­tance of gun fit, and how it’s the sin­gle great­est ad­vance avail­able to us, to­day, I re­ally should have el­e­vated such a pos­i­tive fea­ture far more than I have. Well, I am now, and I have no hes­i­ta­tion in declar­ing this We­b­ley’s syn­thetic stock ‘an ex­tremely use­ful thing, in­deed’.

At the squeeze of a lever, the ri­fle’s pull-length can be changed from 13 inches to 16, and all points be­tween. This fea­ture also makes the ri­fle more com­pact – 37 inches long, rather than its full 40 inches – should you opt to trans­port it in a case other than the padded hard case sup­plied.

Twist­ing a fin­ger-friendly lock­ing knob al­lows the cheek piece to rise and fall over a full two inches, and com­bined with the ad­justable pull-length, gun fit, in­cor­po­rat­ing op­ti­mum head/eye/scope align­ment is pretty much a given. Ide­ally, that fat rub­ber butt pad would shift, too, but even with it fixed, I had no prob­lem ac­com­mo­dat­ing a va­ri­ety of odd­shaped shoot­ing chums. Make no mis­take, this ri­fle’s hi-im­pact syn­thetic stock is a highly prac­ti­cal plus.

GET A GRIP

I might not be nat­u­rally tac­ti­cal, but I do love a gad­get, and sup­plied with the test ri­fle was an ex­tremely clever added ex­tra. It’s a de­tach­able drop-down grip that dou­bles as a bi­pod. I used it in bi­pod mode through­out

the bench-test­ing phase of this re­view, and most handy it proved to be. It’s not an in­stant-fit sort of at­tach­ment, but it’s def­i­nitely worth hav­ing and I found my­self ex­plor­ing its ef­fec­tive­ness as a fore grip as well as a bi­pod. As range time passes, I find my­self veer­ing un­com­fort­ably to­ward the tac­ti­cal on this one. Best move on.

GET READY

Charg­ing this ri­fle is, as stated, as easy as plug­ging in a push-fit adap­tor could pos­si­bly be, with the bonus of an on-board pres­sure gauge right there next to the in­let port. Per­son­ally, I al­ways go by the gauge on the tank, but there’s no harm in hav­ing some­thing else to keep you in­formed of your ri­fle’s state of charge.

Once charged, the next job is to load the mag­a­zine and, as al­ways, this takes far longer to de­scribe than to carry out. Sim­ply ten­sion the mag­a­zine’s in­ter­nal drive-spring by ro­tat­ing the clear cover in the direc­tion of the em­bossed ar­row, then hold­ing it in place to load the first pel­let, nose-first. You can now re­lease the cover, mov­ing it round a cham­ber at a time to fill the mag’ with pel­lets. With the sidelever open and the safety catch ap­plied, the loaded mag­a­zine can now be slipped into the breech slot, ‘back­wards’, rounded end first, un­til its ver­ti­cal face lines up flush with the face of the breech block. Close the sidelever, re­lease the safety, and the We­b­ley is ready to shoot. It’s re­ally no bother, I prom­ise.

ON THE RANGE

This ri­fle shoots to the ac­com­pa­ni­ment of a ‘bo­ingy’ fir­ing valve, which will an­noy the tech-heads out there, at least un­til they see how closely the pel­lets are group­ing. I took the test ri­fle to my fa­ther’s back gar­den, where I’d spent years shoot­ing at tar­gets at 37 yards, and set­ting up on Dad’s vin­tage Black & Decker Work­mate, I propped the ri­fle on a bag of com­post and shot a se­ries of 15 to 18mm di­am­e­ter groups. I could have used the grip-bi­pod, but this was how I tested my ri­fles when I was learn­ing the trade, so I wanted to see what the pas­sage of time and the tide of tech­nol­ogy had brought to my sport.

BEYOND COM­PARE

There’s sim­ply no com­par­i­son. My 86 year-old fa­ther could punch out sub-20mm groups with the En4cer, seam­lessly cock­ing and load­ing the ac­tion with a smooth, back-forth of its side lever. ‘Too easy, re­ally,’ he re­marked, but qual­i­fied it with, ‘any rat near the chick­ens wouldn’t stand a chance, would it?’ My dad claims a fair few rats and squir­rels with the HW95 I got him one Christ­mas, so I’ve no doubt he’d nail any­thing ver­min-shaped with a re­coil­less, multi-shot, noise-sup­pressed sporter, with a crisp, creep-free, ad­justable two-stage trig­ger. To see if that’s the case, I’ll be leav­ing the test ri­fle with him for a week or so, and I know he’s al­ready re-ze­roed it to be shoot­ing dead-on at 28 yards, which is the dis­tance from his bed­room win­dow to the hen house. He’ll leave the gar­den light on, rest the We­b­ley on a cush­ion on the win­dowsill, and en­joy a happy vigil wait­ing for a rat.

INI­TIAL VER­DICT

I’ll re­port on how Dad does with the test ri­fle next month, but as things stand, I’m ready to

give my own early ver­dict. First, that stock ad­justa­bil­ity re­ally works. I tweaked the set­tings through­out this test, be­cause my con­tact with the ri­fle changed slightly as I nat­u­rally found the best way to hold it. This is an im­por­tant point for all ad­justable stocks, ac­tu­ally; don’t just ‘set and for­get’ them. Keep test­ing to en­sure that you’re not adapt­ing to the set­tings. It ab­so­lutely must be the other way round. In fact, this sub­ject is so im­por­tant, I’ll be do­ing a fea­ture on it in the next is­sue, so look out for that.

SHOT-TO-SHOT

The test ri­fle isn’t the most con­sis­tent PCP I’ve ever used, with an ini­tial shot-to-shot vari­a­tion of 18 f.p.s. over the first 50 shots. That said, at re­spon­si­ble hunt­ing ranges, that vari­a­tion made ab­so­lutely no prac­ti­cal dif­fer­ence, with sub-20mm groups as stan­dard at 40 yards, wind per­mit­ting. As I write, that vari­a­tion has set­tled to 15 f.p.s., as the We­b­ley’s ac­tion ‘runs in’, and I would have to­tal con­fi­dence in us­ing this ri­fle in the hunt­ing field.

It’s not the qui­etest sporter, ei­ther, but an ad­di­tional stubby si­lencer on the threaded muz­zle of its shroud would sort that. I wouldn’t bother, though. This ri­fle is plenty quiet enough for me and my hunt­ing re­quire­ments.

WEIGHT AND BALANCE

At 8.4lbs, in­clud­ing scope (7.2 with­out), the En4cer is just about the ideal heft for sta­bil­ity on the shot, with­out feel­ing like you’re drag­ging an anvil around in the field. I’m still work­ing with the add-on front grip/bi­pod, but I can see it earn­ing its keep.

Over­all, at a shade un­der £530, in­clud­ing two mag­a­zines and that handy add-on, plus a hard case, the We­b­ley En4cer rep­re­sents great value for money, and I un­der­stand the or­der books are fill­ing rapidly. This is a func­tional, prac­ti­cal, highly ef­fec­tive hunt­ing ri­fle, and I’m pleased I can now ap­pre­ci­ate it fully – be­cause that’s what it de­serves.

The We­b­ley En4cer 12. Hor­ri­ble name - ex­cel­lent ri­fle.

I’d use this ri­fle in the hunt­ing field, no doubt about it.

This added ex­tra has proved its worth.

Es­sen­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion. The ad­justable pull-length and comb are se­ri­ously handy.

The in­cluded bi­pod folds to be­come a drop-down grip.

Happy on the bench, with full, hunt­ing stan­dard ac­cu­racy.

Ha! Proper spell­ing for a proper sporter.

Easy to use and see, but that air in­let needs a cover.

All in­cluded, plus a hard case and that bi­pod/grip.

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