SPRING­TIME

The ed­i­tor started with a We­b­ley, and 40 years on, tries out an­other - the VMX

Air Gunner - - Contents -

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

im­por­tant fea­ture.

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.

RUN­NING IN

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.

GREAT SAFETY

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

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