ED’S TEST

WEBLEY’S LAT­EST ECLIPSE

Airgun World - - Contents -

Gary is an ex­pe­ri­enced air­gun shooter and he of­ten con­tacts me with points about things that mat­ter to him. He’s al­ways po­lite, he thinks about what he says, and he seeks in­for­ma­tion more of­ten than he strives to put his own point across. Time af­ter time, he has left our con­ver­sa­tions with a, ‘yes, I see now. That makes sense when you ex­plain it like that.’ How­ever, when Gary’s con­sid­ered opin­ion dif­fers from mine, even af­ter I’ve given him my point of view, he’ll stand his ground and we’ll re­spect­fully agree to dis­agree. Now and again, Gary will call me and tell me his opin­ion has changed and he can now see what I was get­ting at, and some­times I’ll do the same to him. All in all, Gary is the per­fect can­di­date to take part in some­thing I’ve been want­ing to do for some time, now.

SUR­VEY SUG­GES­TION

You’ll have no­ticed the one-page read­er­ship sur­veys we’ve been run­ning, and as we’ve said all along, ev­ery re­sponse is con­sid­ered. Sev­eral of you sug­gested it would be in­ter­est­ing if an Air­gun World reader gave their opin­ion along­side mine, dur­ing the Ed­i­tor’s Test fea­ture, and this month, with Gary’s help, we’ll be giv­ing that a try.

To get things mov­ing, I ar­ranged for Gary to use this month’s test sub­ject, the new Webley Eclipse 12, for the best part of a month, af­ter which I’d visit him, take some photos, then grab the Eclipse for a cou­ple of weeks. When

“you’ve got your­self a se­ri­ously handy rat­ter, feral pi­geon clear­ance tool”

I’d fin­ished my tests, I’d phone Gary and com­pare opin­ions. Easy!

Well, as ever, it wasn’t quite as straight­for­ward as I’d have pre­ferred, but I think the ex­er­cise was a valid one and it’s some­thing I be­lieve is worth re­peat­ing. I hope you think so too. Here’s how it all panned out.

OUR FIRST IM­PRES­SIONS

The test ri­fle is the full-power in­car­na­tion of the ul­tra-car­bine Eclipse re­leased a cou­ple of months ago. Like its equally com­pact, sub-6 ft.lbs. sta­ble­mate, this .177 Eclipse 12 is built around the pre-charged, 14-shot (12 in .22), sidelever for­mat, with the lever on the left-hand side of the ac­tion and it fea­tures the in­stantly ad­justable ,‘ min­i­mal­ist ’, syn­thetic, am­bidex­trous stock, in any colour you like, as long as it’s black. Webley also sent us a pro­to­type bi­pod/ grip at­tach­ment for as­sess­ment, and that will be in­cluded in this test.

You’ll find a Pi­catinny scope rail, plus an accessory rail of the same for­mat un­der the ri­fle’s fore end. On the sub­ject of the test ri­fle’s scope rail, I was in­ter­ested to see that Gary had used a one-piece scope mount, rather than the two-piece ex­am­ple I’d sup­plied. I was even more ‘in­ter­ested’ to see that this mount was over­hang­ing the rail by around a quar­ter of the mount’s length. I men­tioned this to Gary, as you’d imag­ine, and he told me, ‘I pre­fer one-piece mounts, and it’s as solid as a rock as it is.’ Fair enough.

GARY: This is my sort of ri­fle. Thanks to that ad­justable stock, I can make it fit me per­fectly, and if I want to give any young­ster a bit of coach­ing, I can have it fit­ting them in­side a minute, and it won’t mat­ter if they’re south­paws, ei­ther, be­cause this ri­fle is am­bidex­trous.

That drop-down grip has had some thought put into it, too, and I even like that pro­to­type front-mounted grip/bi­pod at­tach­ment, al­though it’s a shame it doesn’t slip on and off a bit more eas­ily. I used it as a bi­pod when I ze­roed the ri­fle and it’s just the job on my back gar­den ta­ble. When it’s folded into a grip, I found my­self us­ing it more and more. I think this at­tach­ment could be re­ally use­ful and I left it fit­ted in the end. Yes, my first im­pres­sions are pretty good. The Eclipse is well made and fin­ished, and it’s easy to op­er­ate once you teach your­self how to run the magazines, and you re­mem­ber to keep a track on the pel­lets you’ve fired.

CA­PAC­ITY

TD: I’ll now ad­dress Gary’s last point about keep­ing track of your pel­lets. The stumpy, 105cc air reser­voir fit­ted to the full-power Eclipse is charged to 200 bar, from which it pro­duces 20 ‘per­fect’ shots in .177 and 24 in .22. I can al­ready hear some hunters dis­miss­ing this ri­fle be­cause of that low shot count, but be­fore you do that, think on. One of the most pop­u­lar and best-sell­ing ri­fles of the mod­ern pre-charged age, was the orig­i­nal Fal­con Lighthunter.

Rarely a month goes by with­out some­one con­tact­ing me and ask­ing if I know where one could be found, or if it’s likely to make a come­back. That ri­fle in its orig­i­nal, pis­tol­based form did about as many use­able shots as this Eclipse 12, but it had quite a fol­low­ing and I used a pro­to­type as the ul­ti­mate ‘walk­a­bout’ ri­fle to hunt rab­bits.

SPE­CIAL­IST RI­FLE

Mean­while, back at the Webley Eclipse 12, I forsee the same sort of ap­pli­ca­tion, only even more ef­fec­tive, due to the Webley’s multi-shot magazines, two of which are sup­plied with each ri­fle. Add the op­tional si­lencer to the fully-float­ing bar­rel of the Eclipse, cour­tesy of its ½-inch UNF thread­ing, and you’ve got your­self a se­ri­ously handy rat­ter, feral pi­geon clear­ance tool, or some­thing that’s ideal for shoot­ing from the cab of a 4 x 4. Let’s see what Gary thinks about the use to which this ri­fle is suited.

GARY: Let’s get some­thing clear, here. I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I shot 10 rab­bits, let alone 20. My sort of hunt­ing usu­ally in­volves a walk around my two per­mis­sions, and the farm­yards at­tached to them. I can keep an air bot­tle in my truck, any­way, so when I need to, I could just come back for a top-up. I’ve used

this Eclipse for a few weeks now, and re­mem­ber it’s a .177, not a .22, and I’ve never run out of air. On two oc­ca­sions, the gauge told me the ri­fle would be need­ing a top-up soon, but even then it was still ready to go by the time I got back to the ve­hi­cle.

Far more im­por­tant, for my shoot­ing at least, is the fact that I can carry this ri­fle any­where, use it in con­fined spa­ces, and as I said be­fore, I can make it fit me. The shot count thing is no big deal for me at all.

RANGE PER­FOR­MANCE

TD: Over the chrono’, the .177 test ri­fle’s ‘best’ 20 shots aver­aged 11.6 ft.lbs., and showed an over­all vari­a­tion of 18 f.p.s., us­ing Air Arms Di­abolo Field straight from the tin. Gary showed me a se­lec­tion of tar­get cards, all shot at 30 yards from his gar­den ta­ble, and his lat­est five tar­gets showed groups from 16 to 18mm di­am­e­ter. Back at Bis­ley, on my fenced-off range, I man­aged to pinch those groups in a lit­tle, and con­firm that the Eclipse 12 has gen­uine hunt­ing per­for­mance out to 35 yards, weather per­mit­ting, as al­ways.

PRAC­TI­CAL AS­SESS­MENT

Gary and I now need to give you our views on how easy, or oth­er­wise, the Webley Eclipse 12 is to shoot, run and main­tain. I’ll let Gary go first, af­ter which I’ll sum up.

GARY: First things first, charg­ing this ri­fle with air is about as sim­ple as it gets. There’s a probe charger sup­plied which just plugs in un­der the reser­voir and self-seals on its ‘O’ rings. Talk­ing of ‘O’ rings, there’s a set sup­plied with the ri­fle, which is a nice touch.

I’m go­ing to ad­mit some­thing em­bar­rass­ing, here; when I first tried to charge the Eclipse, I thought some­one had built it wrongly and there wasn’t enough room for the probe to go in. That’s be­cause I was look­ing at the charg­ing port from the top of the ri­fle, so don’t make that mis­take! Still on charg­ing, this ri­fle is per­fect for any­one who uses a pump rather than a diver’s tank. I pumped up the test ri­fle in well un­der five min­utes and it didn’t ruin me, ei­ther.

MAG­A­ZINE

Load­ing the mag­a­zine is easy, too, and all the more so be­cause there’s none of this ‘first pel­let in back­wards’ deal to do. Just wind up the mag’s clear cover to ten­sion the spring, then drop in each pel­let un­til the mag­a­zine is loaded. Oh, and re­mem­ber it slides in ‘back­wards’, rounded end first, from the right-hand side of the ac­tion. There are grooves to guide the mag’ home and it won’t let you load it the wrong way, so as I said, it’s as easy as can be.

MOUNT­ING GRIPE

On the down­side, the more I use that pro­to­type front grip/bi­pod at­tach­ment, the more I wish it was eas­ier to fit. That’s the thing with Pi­catinny mounts, isn’t it? They don’t slide-fit be­cause of the cross-bolts, and while I can see the need for cross-bolts to deal with re­coil on a scope mount­ing rail – not in this case, ob­vi­ously, but gen­er­ally – there’s no need for them on an accessory rail. It’s just a small point but some sort of quick clamp­ing mount would be bril­liant on that fore stock rail.

GARY’S VER­DICT

All in all, the Webley Eclipse 12 is the sort of ri­fle I’d buy, es­pe­cially at £450. I’d prob­a­bly buy a pump for it, too, un­less I had other PCPs to charge, and I’d def­i­nitely add that si­lencer op­tion. This ri­fle makes quite a racket with­out one, and I don’t need that at all. Fi­nally, Terry has now con­vinced me to

change that one-piece mount for a two-piece. It’s just a looks thing and it didn’t bother me un­til he kept has­sling me over it. I’ll know next time I help him test a ri­fle – if he ever lets me, that is!

MY VER­DICT

TD: I’d agree with pretty much ev­ery­thing Gary has said, es­pe­cially chang­ing that mount, but I was sur­prised he didn’t men­tion the Webley’s sidelever be­ing on the left, and not a word about the trig­ger. As al­ways, I showed the test ri­fle to some of my fel­low shoot­ers and I was amazed that only the left-han­ders re­marked on the lever be­ing mounted for south­paw use.

I’d left the trig­ger as re­ceived from the Webley agents, High­land Out­doors, and it was a lit­tle on the firm side, but it suited me and it ob­vi­ously suited Gary. Trig­ger ad­just­ment is a ‘stock off’ pro­ce­dure and the process is cov­ered within the ri­fle’s in­struc­tion book­let. I had a tweak about with the test ri­fle’s trig­ger and I think I im­proved it a lit­tle, but these things are per­sonal, and with the win­ter weather now here, I’ll avoid any ul­tra-light trig­ger set­tings that frozen fin­gers could mess up.

Like Gary, I fully ap­pre­ci­ate the Webley’s ad­justable stock, plus it’s not cold on the face and hands, and those ad­just­ments lit­er­ally do take sec­onds. I also like the po­si­tion of the on-board pres­sure gauge, just for­ward of the moulded trig­ger guard, which lets me check air re­serves by sim­ply half-ro­tat­ing the ri­fle.

FI­NAL THOUGHTS

This Webley Eclipse 12 is def­i­nitely worth its rea­son­able £449.99 ask­ing price, and its ver­sa­til­ity makes it suit­able for a wide va­ri­ety of shoot­ers. You’ll need to add the price of a si­lencer to its price, and you’ll have one ex­tremely handy ri­fle. I’ll use it for an­other month and re­port back in the Fe­bru­ary is­sue, so we’ll see if the shots-per-charge out­put is an is­sue in the real world, al­though I strongly sus­pect it won’t be. For now, I’m en­joy­ing this go-any­where, one size fits all sporter, and if you’re look­ing for an af­ford­able bit of spe­cial­ist kit – you’ll need to check out the Webley Eclipse 12. See you next month!

Con­fined spa­ces are no prob­lem.

It’s a com­pact, ad­justable, ver­sa­tile, full-power sporter the Webley Eclipse 12.

Gary ze­roed the Eclipse cour­tesy of the pro­to­type bi­pod and a gar­den ta­ble.

Gary found the Webley Eclipse 12, and its ver­sa­til­ity, ex­tremely handy.

Hardly any­one no­ticed that the sidelever is on the left. That over­hang­ing mount has to go, though.

Plug and play - pro­vided you use the cor­rect port, eh Gary?

The mag­a­zine sys­tem is sim­plic­ity it­self to run.

Just semi-ro­tate to check on those pre­cious air re­serves.

In­stantly ad­justable and in­cred­i­bly use­ful.

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