The editor started with a Webley, and 40 years on, tries out another - the VMX
My first- ever serious air rifle was a MK1 Webley Vulcan, considered very powerful in its day because it delivered close to the 12 ft.lbs. legal limit. As much as I loved it, I was tempted by the MK2 deluxe and eventually bought one. The cut chequering, grip cap and white-line spacers gave it a much more finished and expensive look that I simply couldn’t resist. Fast forward 40 years to today and I have in my hands another very good-looking Webley – in fact, much better looking, the VMX.
The stock is the star of the show being beautifully sculptured and rounded so that it feels like a much more expensive rifle in your hands. Well- cut chequering panels add to the handsome looks even though they aren’t needed on a spring gun, which needs to be held lightly for best accuracy. What’s very different is that Webley has added a synthetic cocking aid to the barrel. This serves two purposes; firstly it gives a secure grip as you pull the barrel down and back, and secondly, it keeps the barrel free from the salt that appears naturally in our skin. These salts are corrosive to blued steel and many an old rifle will show the wear at the muzzle from the thousands of times it’s been cocked.
FIBRE OPTIC INSERTS
The VMX comes with open sights as standard and these are enhanced with fibreoptic elements, making them much brighter and enjoyable to use than standard ones. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation allowing you to get them perfectly zeroed. Back on top of the action there are scope rails machined in that will accept the scope of your choice and at their rear, a recoil stop. This is vital on a recoiling rifle to ensure that the scope cannot move, which would then cause your zero to be lost. Full marks to Webley for adding this
A sharp tap on the barrel with the palm of the hand unlocks it, and a firm pull down cocks the action. There’s noticeable spring noise as the piston is compressed, but the cocking force is quite light for a full-power rifle. I used my standard test pellet, the 16 grain, .22 Air Arms Field Diablo for the test which seemed quite a loose fit into the rifling. This meant that I was able to seat them fully into the rifling without the need of a seating tool, but because they were fully in, I had worries about the skirt being crushed as the barrel was closed to the action.
I started off with a fun session on the 10yard range to settle the action in, and allow the inevitable dieseling to pass. Dieseling is when excess lubricant inside the chamber, and in front of the piston, effectively burns off under the compression of the piston slamming forward in the chamber. This soon cleared and I was pleased to see a 1” group form on the card, making it clear that this rifle liked the Air Arms pellet, but then most rifles do. Over the chronograph, it produced an impressively consistent 566fps for a muzzle energy figure of 11.3ft.lbs. and that’s plenty of punch for anybody’s needs.
The trigger was quite unusual in that it was set for a lighter pull than you usually find in this class of rifle, which was a pleasant surprise. What was less of a surprise was that the release point was somewhat indistinct, and it took me a while to get to grips with it, but once I had, I found this one of the best I’ve found at this price point.
I particularly like the automatic safety the VMX offers. It sits at the rear of the cylinder in the ideal place for the thumb of your trigger hand to disengage it. The action is silent and smooth, and best of all, it can be reset at any time. A secondary safety feature is what’s known as an ‘antibear trap’ device, so even if you pull the trigger, the action cannot fire whilst the barrel is broken. This ensures that your fingers cannot get trapped in a slamming barrel, but it does mean that you cannot manually de- cock the rifle, so once cocked it must be fired.
Being quite a light rifle and not bearing the weight of a scope and mounts, I found the firing cycle quite lively. Again, spring noise was quite apparent, but this soon died down and vibration dissipated just as quickly. Most importantly, I was soon shooting nice round 1” groups with the open sights, making this either a super plinker or the obvious choice for fitting a scope to release the clear accuracy potential. I enjoyed it as a back garden plinker, pure and simple, when its performance was the ideal partner for some old-fashioned shooting fun.
The firing cycle feels quite lively with no scope fitted
I think the new stock is particularly handsome
Fibre- optic inserts enhance the open sights This synthetic cocking aid keeps your sweaty skin off the blued steel barrel
It’s great to see a recoil stop fitted as standard