Pete Wadeson revisits the Webley Longbow SE – which he now owns and has customised with a few little extras
When Webley originally launched the Longbow SE (Special Edition) it was intended as a limited run rifle for the HFT/Hunting market. However, it is now distributed by Highland Outdoors, and its popularity has kept it in production.
The right stock
The light colour walnut stock is obviously the main feature that will attract shooters of any discipline as it ticks all the right boxes for a rifle to be ‘tailored’ to suit your individual build, shooting style and preferred hold. An adjustable butt pad is a welcome feature, and why more gun manufacturers don’t at least offer this as an option on their rifles has always bemused me. No person is the same in build, and an adjustable butt pad allows for a rifle to sit in the shoulder at exactly the right height for a full and comfortable eye to scope alignment. That’s only part of the deal as with the Longbow SE the stock has a relatively high sloping cheekpiece and a thumbhole stock arrangement that coupled with the rather thickset slab sided forend gives a very high degree of comfortable and stable handling from any shooting angle.
The cheekpiece is a relatively high right hand roll over design which coupled with the steep drop down pistol grip and thumbhole configuration almost seems to mould itself into your hand. The pistol grip has a stylish maple spacer and rosewood end cap with the company name being embossed into the underside. A wide thumb channel runs up the right hand side of the stock should you opt for a ‘thumbs up’ hold. Laser cut chequering adorns the grip seen and the forend also has twin panels on either side. The forend itself is quite deep making this comfortable to hold shooting either freehand or prone.
The Longbow action has always been good, featuring the POWR-LOK™ spring internals with TVA (Tuned Vibration Absorber) so no surprise that on cocking the rifle I’m always impressed with the smoothness and how easy the rifle is to cock. After thumbing a pellet directly into the breech, and returning the 12.75” barrel to the closed position it locks up reassuringly solidly at the breech. The détente is a secure one and even if the pivot was to ‘wear’ over time (a very rare occurrence with modern components), there’s an adjustable breech jaw facility to tighten it up.
When the barrel has locked back in the open position, it also engages the automatic re-settable safety. This is a broad and well sized ‘thumb button’ that pops out at the rear of cylinder. Ideally positioned for the thumb to push forward to put the rifle into fire mode and can easily be gripped between forefinger and thumb for pulling back to re-set should your quarry inconsiderately do a bunk before you have chance to take a shot.
The barrel comes supplied with a screw on ‘ported’ muzzle weight but will accept a screw on ½” UNF threaded silencer of your choice. This was my first area of custom, as I used a Swift ‘stubby’ moderator which performed far better than I’d expect of such a small can – plus it only extends the rifle’s overall dimensions to 43”. Still not over lengthy, yet the highly efficient moderator still has the benefit of doubling up as a handy cocking aid.
The Longbow SE is fitted with a precise 2-stage adjustable trigger unit. It’s a nice unit that trips the sears without a hint of creep. It has a good amount of adjustment and the broad polished brass trigger blade has a nice curve. I’ve now fitted a broad trigger shoe – a low cost accessory that really gives improved trigger control on virtually any springe
I first scoped up with an old favourite, a Simmons 4 – 12 X 40AO Pro-Air. Not only because I used this scope the first time I ever tested an SE, but also this ‘old school’ scope still in my opinion suits the rifle, whether for hunting or HFT. Any similar mid-range adjustable magnification scope such as the AGS 3-9x40 from Highland Outdoors would be equally at home.
With the .22 calibre test rifle zeroed at 25-yds, the minimal and therefore very manageable recoil coupled with the quality barrel and trigger soon had me making ragged clover leaf groups at the set zero using Webley Accupells.
This accuracy is aided by the ‘rapid’ lock time due to the fact the rifle was purposely designed with a smaller swept volume to work as it was intended – that being at its optimum power level within the 12ft lb legal limit.
I can’t fault the production Longbow SE as I reckon it’s just what many springer shooters want. This is a top performing, relatively lightweight and fully featured rifle dressed in a custom quality walnut thumbhole stock, and with a couple of little personal touches – it can be even better. GM
|Model||Webley Longbow SE|
|Type||Break-barrel, spring/piston, single-shot rifle|
|Calibre||.22 on test .177 available|
|Stock||Walnut thumbhole sporter, oil finished with adjustable butt pad|
|Barrel||12.75” screw cut for moderator – comes with a ported muzzle brake|
|Overall length||41” with muzzle brake (test gun is 43” with a Swift moderator)|
|Sights||No open sights fitted, but grooved for scope mounting|
|Energy||11.5 ft/lbs average energy|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates