Mark Camoccio reports on a rifle ideal for the small people in your life
Mark Camoccio finds the ideal rifle for youngsters, or those new to airgunning – the Webley Cub
I’m glad to say that I still get excited at the prospect of visiting the British Shooting Show, and with this year’s event making a welcome appearance at the NEC back in February, we had plenty of reasons to enjoy this top date in the shooting calendar. Plenty of new models were on show, too, and I couldn’t help noticing the brand- new Webley VMX offerings on the Highland Outdoors stand. The VMX Classic really is a classic, and reminds me of my old Vulcan, which gave me such pleasure, and, of course, introduced me to a lifetime of airgun sport. Sitting alongside the Classic was the VMX Cub, and this was not only a real looker in its own right, but a perfectly scaled- down version, especially aimed at the little people among us.
Having now got to grips with this stylish little break- barrel, I have to say, I really am genuinely impressed. Read on and I’ll tell you just why.
Encouraging youngsters into airgun shooting is absolutely vital if the sport is to thrive and grow. Getting the next generation to put down their X- Box, turn off the blessed mobile phone, and come out of the bedroom, is no easy task, but when the lure of fresh air and a proper shooting range does beckon, the chances are the hardware is just too heavy and ungainly. That’s why scaled down models such as the Cub are so vital to harness the interest of the youngsters coming through the ranks.
Novices learning the art of shooting don’t need full power, so Webley have deliberately designed the Cub to be low- powered, which has several benefits. Firstly, it has a shorter cocking stroke, and a weaker mainspring, so is significantly easier to cock than a full- size gun. Secondly, less poundage in kinetic terms translates to a milder trigger which can be set lighter, and thirdly, reduced energy means less recoil, so the whole shooting experience is more enjoyable.
BUILD AND SPECIFICATION
Pick up the VMX Cub, and the lack of weight is most apparent. At 5.75lbs, it feels very manageable indeed, and it also particularly well made. OK, the chemical bluing on the barrel and cylinder, is maybe a little dull, but it’s all very even and smartly done. All the components look precisely machined, and with attention to
detail such as the tensioning bolt at the breech, complete with keeper screw, it really is quite impressive.
The ambidextrous sporter stock is nicely scaled down, with the butt around two inches shorter than the adult version. The grip itself is more compact for small hands, whilst the fore end is much shorter too, in keeping with a reduced reach. Otherwise, the same length barrel, breech block and sight assemblies are utilised. Of course, lower power in the region of 5 to 6 ft.lbs. allows for a much shorter compression cylinder, which is where plenty of weight is shaved.
LITTLE HANDS ON
Cocking the action soon reveals that short stroke, and it’s easy to achieve. I did rope in young James at my club for his input, and he found the stroke pretty easy too, and the whole gun very manageable. His hands on the grip, and reach to the trigger, showed that the designers have got it just right, and with the weight kept to a minimum, he wasn’t overly stretched in any way.
For my initial evaluation downrange, I decided to stick with the open sights, and these are super- bright fibre- optics. I was initially confused by the direction of the finger wheel for windage – I haven’t been doing this long you know! – because it defies logic, but they do mark it up clearly, so ignore my pathetic efforts. After a few clicks on both wheels, I soon had zero near enough set, and set about some serious grouping. Whilst I wasn’t really expecting much, being a bit rusty in this department of late, I was astounded to find myself walking up to the target at 25yards, and staring at a five-shot group barely over an inch in diameter. A very encouraging start, but it was no fluke, and with a good bright target, groups of around an inch were easy to come by if I did my bit. That’s impressive with ‘irons’, I should imagine in anyone’s book, and encouraging, given that a good percentage of these guns will be enjoyed with the open sights in place.
I just couldn’t resist fitting a scope to see what potential accuracy could be milked. A suitably compact 2-7 x 32 Hawke model felt right, and looked the part too, and I soon had it locked against the Cub’s built- in arrestor block. Groups now shrank to less than ¾” centre-to- centre, and I retired with a smug grin for the evening.
The trigger does gently creep, but it is still a delight given this is a basic springer; the auto- safety catch is about as smooth and slick as it gets, and all in all, I really fell for the neat little Cub.
It’s a truly excellent little junior rifle with proper performance for youngsters who need time to grow into the sport. So a massive thumbs up, and well done to Webley!
“it was no fluke, and with a good bright target, groups of around an inch were easy to come by”
ABOVE: Having a gun that fits properly can make a huge difference to control
LEFT: Traditional break- barrels are still incredibly popular
ABOVE LEFT: Stylish and effective, that muzzle assembly
ABOVE: The Cub is a perfectly scaled down model
TOP LEFT: A simple, but very pleasant trigger awaits
LEFT: A small grip for small hands