Mark Camoccio tests the Webley Alecto multi-pump pneumatic pistol
For as long as I have been involved with airguns, Webley have been around. The original company of Webley and Scott, go way back of course, having produced the Army service revolver among others. The company went on to solely make airguns, yet their sense of tradition has for the most part been upheld.
With air pistols having played a major part in the company’s fortunes too, a return to this sector of the market was always likely. Remember the classic Junior and Premier models of yesteryear, followed by the more modern-looking Tempest and Typhoon versions? What they shared was that time honoured ‘up and over’ barrel cocking system which became a firm favourite, is now synonymous with the brand.
Customers these days can hardly be blamed for failing to keep up with the company’s re-structuring and corporate manoeuvring, yet this world famous British marque continues to surprise.
The Alecto is Webley’s relatively new flagship pistol, and to be honest, I’ve been ultra keen to get my hands on one for some time. As an aficionado of the single-stroke or multi-pump airgun, this product holds immense appeal. Webley supply the pistol as a comprehensive, beautifully presented package, complete with barrel cleaning rod, oil and adjustment tool, all recessed in a padded hard case. Once the specification is listed, it really does all seem like a mouth watering proposition; so let’s take a closer look and see if this model delivers where it matters.
With its multi-pump pneumatic action, shrouded in an ergonomically designed compound chassis, complete with adjustable, anatomical grips, the Alecto offers variable power and a host of features to benefit the shooter.
First impressions are of a solid, hand filling piece of technology, which just feels right from the off. Obviously there will be a little luck involved as to just how well those shapely grips fit, but for me, with fairly large hands, the curvaceous palm shelf and finger grips are supremely comfortable.
Traditional open sights are fitted on the Alecto, with the foresight being formed from a spring loaded bead of plastic. Ingenuity comes with the way this bead can be pushed through 90 degrees to show a slightly longer bead; the idea being that the shooter can switch to a 10m or 25m setting without having to adjust the rear sight. Whilst the theory may be good, I can’t help seeing this as a weak point if the sight was constantly turned. The rear sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation, by careful use of a screw driver, just requiring gentle rotation of the relevant screws in the conventional manner as required.
Made to fit
A key part of the Alecto’s design concerns the fact that it can be adjusted to fit the user. Two key areas combine to achieve this: namely the palm shelf and the trigger.
Firstly the palm shelf can be slid up or down by up to a quarter of an inch once twin screws have been slackened off; offering vital support for smaller hands where necessary.
The trigger is a mini marvel of engineering in itself, offering an impressive array of adjustments any which way. To start with, the physical position of the blade can be altered by slackening off the rear allen screw, allowing the blade assembly to be slid backwards or forwards on it’s axis. Again, around a quarter of an inch of movement is possible, which is significant with regards to a trigger. Just nip up the screw once a position is arrived at where the fore finger pad falls most naturally in place. The leading surface of the blade can then be altered either to the left or right, for those who prefer an offset trigger. Length of pull can be adjusted via the access hole at the rear of the grip, whilst the weight-of-pull adjuster is accessed, curiously, from under the base of the pistol grip.
Finally a re-settable automatic safety catch blocks the front of the blade until it is pushed forwards before each shot, making the Alecto ultra safe in use.
A pneumatic action, combined with that super-light trigger, means recoilless shooting, which in turn, means accuracy is that bit easier to come by. Cocking the mechanism firstly requires the ambidextrous release catch to be lifted, which then allows the top frame of the chassis, containing the barrel, to be pulled in an arc all the way forward, sucking air into the compression chamber ahead of the piston, as it travels. A pellet can then be pushed into the breech end of the barrel, before the top frame is then pulled back and the action is closed. The return stroke actually compresses the air held within, priming the shot. The clever part is the fact that the Alecto offers variable power. Webley state that a maximum of three pumps can be made to increase the power, yet in practise, the third pump is unnecessary effort, giving only a marginal increase in velocity.
One pump returns approximately 3ft/lbs, whilst two pumps generates around 5ft/lbs. The third stroke will give you another 0.5ft/lb if you’re lucky, so why bother? With the first pump incredibly easy to complete, and the second, significant effort already, I would personally stick to just one.
A point to note at this stage is that consistent pumping technique is vital for consistent power output. Basically, remember to open the mechanism to its fullest extent every time; thereby taking in a precise amount of air each time.
Air pistols are great for target practise at 10-30yds, and at those ranges, accuracy from either one pump or two, was near identical. However, overall enjoyment when minimal effort is expended, for me, makes the choice ‘a no-brainer’ to coin the phrase.
My target cards shows tight clusters shot at 10yds from one, then two pumps - then the difference in trajectory when the Alecto is similarly shot at 25yds. Accuracy was excellent, with groups of a little over an inch at 25yds shot with open sights. Fit a scope, and the Alecto couldn’t fail to impress further.
With no heavy spring bouncing about, the firing cycle just feels superior, with an incredibly fast lock time and slick, snappy action. This style of airgun mechanism is known for the crisp efficient air release, not to mention incredible consistency, and the Alecto is indeed a fine example of the art. Those space-age looking internals are crisply machined, and I really can’t fault the overall design and function of this very capable pistol.
Detail is everywhere, and whilst the majority of the Alecto is indeed formed from composite, the precision afforded to the moulding process has resulted in some well defined features. Note the integral accessory rail, just forward of the trigger guard, which allows for the addition of a plethora of add-ons. Lasers, torches, counter weight bars and the like, can all be slid on and attached as desired, giving further flexibility and versatility to this pistol.
As far as any negatives to report, all I can muster is the rather significant muzzle crack, as compressed air rapidly expands as it exits the barrel. Modern economic reality also dictates that the Alecto is produced overseas in Turkey, rather than Webley’s spiritual home in Birmingham, yet this sad observation apart, there is simply no faulting the build quality.
In short, the Alecto is a fitting addition to this famous old company’s product list, offering the serious shooter high performance and superb features, all at a realistic price. By the way, I’m putting my money where my mouth is too, since I’ve no plans to return this beauty!
|Manufacturer||Webley International Ltd|
|Type||Single/multi stroke pneumatic (maximum 3 pumps)|
|Calibre||.22 on test, .177 available|
|Stock||Composite with anatomical grips|
|Performance||Using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets: 1pump, 2pumps, 3pumps|
|Average velocity||1pump:286fps, 2pumps:386fps, 3pumps:391fps|
|Average spread over 10 shots||1pump:5fps, 2pumps:4fps, 3pumps:4fps|
|Average energy||1pump: 2.9ft/lbs, 2pumps: 5.3ft/lbs, 3pumps: 5.4ft/lbs|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates