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Webley Rebel

Mark Camoccio finds out what his right arm is for with the Webley Rebel pneumatic

I’ve always been a self-confessed airgun nut. Ever since that first rifle all those years ago, I’ve been hooked. Forget any notion of airguns being an introduction to other types of shooting too. It’s ONLY airguns that do it for me… and there’s a reason; self-contained power.

My first serious gun was a Webley Vulcan, a fine example of a traditional spring piston design. As the trigger was pulled, the mainspring rapidly expanded, so the air forward of the piston became compressed in a few milliseconds - sending the pellet on its way to the target. Stripping that rifle in a splendidly amateur fashion, with quite the most inappropriate tools, encouraged my sense of wonderment at how the mechanism went about its business; and many years down the line, my sense of satisfaction and enjoyment derived from shooting a plethora of ‘self-contained’ airguns, has yet to diminish.

Admittedly pre-charged pneumatics (PCPs) have largely taken us away from the ‘self.contained’ spring/piston brief, yet every now and then, something different arrives on the market, to remind us just what is possible in terms of design.

Looks familiar?

My test rifle here is the brand new Webley Rebel, and if it looks strangely familiar, that’s because it’s based loosely around the Sharp Innova - a classic Japanese airgun from the ‘80’s.

The Rebel is basically a single shot, variable power, pump-up design, aimed at the entry level market. What makes it stand out from the crowd, is the fact that there’s no spring or piston on board, the action is recoilless, and everything is self-contained. On paper at least, this concept is highly attractive, and since the rifle’s pump system generates the power, this means that no external diver’s bottle or separate pump is required.

first impressions are highly favourable, with the black polymer stock catching the eye. Configuration and proportions are excellent, and although the stock is not truly ambidextrous, the cheek piece definition is so subtle as to be irrelevant with regards to left-handers. White line spacers set off both the pistol grip and rubber butt pad nicely, whilst the extended, angular fore-end is both comfortable and stylish. The solid polymer/ composite stock manages to feel grippy and pleasant to the touch too - so we’re off to a good start.

Open sights

A further nice touch comes with the fact that the Rebel comes pre fitted with a highly usable set of open sights; and these are of the high-viz fibre optic variety. The integral fore sight sports a red dot, and is all part of the plastic moulding holding barrel to cylinder, whilst the fully adjustable sprung leaf rearsight offers two green filaments, effectively creating the ‘notch’.  fitting a scope requires careful removal of the rear sight - achieved by fully unscrewing and removing the top wheel. This gives access to a tiny screw beneath, which necessitates the use of an equally tiny screwdriver. I used one from a spectacle repair kit, which worked just fine. Once slackened, the unit slides straight off the rails.

With this rifle pumped and primed, loading a pellet is achieved by pressing the bolt release catch on the right hand side of the plastic breech block. The bolt then flies backwards to expose the loading channel, where a pellet can be gently rolled in from the right hand side. It has to be said that the channel is a little small and fiddly, yet in use, it all does the job.

Testing, testing

With the multi pump design demanding a full investigation, I turned first to the chronograph, to see just what energy levels were on offer here, and what level of input was required.

The trigger incidentally, is a pseudo two-stage affair, and given the lack of heavy loading from the pneumatic mechanism, the final let off is relatively light, albeit fairly creepy. The irritating shape of the plastic blade itself though, felt a little rough on the finger from the test model, since the mould line runs down the centre.

Back to the power/pump ratio results, and with this type of airgun, it’s always worth considering that if too few pumps are used, then the resultant low power may not be sufficient to even drive the pellet up the barrel. In the absence of any confirmed guidance here from the instruction leaflet, I decided that four pumps was to be the minimum, and eight was to be the maximum as specified (a tamper proof power limiter kicks in after this).

Pumping the Rebel is as usual with this type of gun, largely a matter of technique, and a positive consistent approach certainly renders the task much easier. The pumping procedure is as follows: first pull down the hinged fore-end, which doubles as the pumping lever; pull it down and back, to the end of its stroke. It’s important to appreciate that the cocking stroke should be the full arc every time, since this will then allow the same amount of air to be drawn into the compression chamber each time. Each return stroke compresses the air within, building a usable velocity over several pumps. Another important point to bear in mind here is that the supporting hand needs to be positioned so that it isn’t in the way of that returning pump handle.

The pumping in general is fairly reasonable, although perhaps too much for some younger shots, who maybe better off with a conventional springer. The clatter as the pump handle slaps back against the action is something that could be minimized, with the addition of small pads or cushioning material applied at the manufacturing stage. Other than this, the overall feel of the action was fine.

I found that a faster stroke used momentum to lessen the effort required, and to be honest, didn’t notice much greater effort needed for the first four pumps. Pumps five through to eight require fractionally more effort, but with energy levels proving fairly similar, throughout this band, I would be tempted to stick at four in any case.

The manufacturers claim that with the maximum number of 8 pumps, the Rebel should generate around 10ft/lbs of energy. On test, using the Webley Accupell pellets provided, in .177 calibre, energy came in a little shy of this figure, being nearer 8ft/lbs. Bearing in mind the ultra low price, and it’s clear that the Rebel is an entry level rifle, so we just can’t expect too much. Other examples may well perform slightly differently too.


For the crack

Since the Rebel is to all intents and purposes a pneumatic, it should come as no surprise that a fair old crack is generated at the muzzle, as the escaping air rapidly expands. Some owners will love this, but if you prefer quieter shooting sessions, a half inch thread is provided at the Rebel’s muzzle, so I spun a Daystate Airstream sound moderator into place. Balance still felt good, and with only a few ounces of weight added, the Rebel’s 5lbs mass was hardly spoilt.

With the Airstream silencer in place the Rebel’s significant report was reduced to a real whisper; instantly making the shooting experience a civilized one. Indeed the difference at the muzzle between silencer on/ off was dramatic. (Velocity and accuracy tests were unaffected by the silencer incidentally). The totally non-recoiling action on firing is of course another benefit of most pneumatic systems, and the Rebel is impressive in this respect.

Regarding accuracy, despite using top end pellets like JSB, the Rebel seemed to prefer Webley’s own Accupells. The best group achieved was 1 inch at 30yds, but spreads of around 1.5inches were more representative. This is really good considering the price of the rifle.

Bargain!

Overall then, I’m certainly pleased to see investment in the pump-up concept, but I can’t help being a little disappointed that a full power model wasn’t on the cards (although the more ballistic efficient .22 calibre version may do just that).

That said, the Rebel is an ultra-lightweight rifle, with a particularly comfortable stock, and has much to recommend it. It handles well and offers the recoilless shooting experience at a bargain price.

Technical Specifications
Model Webley Rebel
Type Bolt action, multi-pump manual pneumatic
Calibre: .177 on test/.22 available
Weight 5lbs
Overall Length: 35.5inches
Barrel Length: 18.75inches
Stock: Polymer/ composite
Trigger: 2-stage
Performance: From ten shot strings using
Webley Accupell pellets
Pumps @4pumps @5/6/7 pumps @8pumps
Average velocity: 610fps 652fps 675fps
Average spread: 18fps 10 fps 30fps
Average energy: 6.5ft/lbs 7.5ft/lbs 8ft/lbs

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Gun Mart Shooters Forum - Get Involved in the Discussion!
User Comments
  • The rebels opens sight are rubbish, cheap plastic with wobbly bits. the two rear tru-glow dots dont even sit straight.
    As for fitting a silencer........pffft! every one I have tried has clipped...why?
    Cos most ordinary silencers are 1/2" unf.
    But no!
    The Rebal is 1/2" metric.............talk about pain in the arse.

    Webley is no longer what it used to be & never will be!

    As for Mark Camoccio not truly stating that the open sights are only decent for 10yrd (if that) plinking just goes to prove he's just another paid puppet shoveling shite.

    Comment by: Paddy Collins     Posted on: 07 Jul 2013 at 12:43 AM

  • i think its fair to say webley have gone and shot themselves in the foot again. the sharp innova was a true legend of a rifle, just look at their 2nd hand values.............

    webley then recycle the design with low performance......!
    as I actually like this rifle (originally thinking it was a 12ftlb ) I searched for my nearest stockist, whilst doing this I read this review and thank god I did.

    I would only buy one if I knew someone who could up the power to legal limit- as to me its like having a McLaren F1 with a mini engine fitted......

    Comment by: nobby     Posted on: 06 Oct 2013 at 10:38 AM

  • I've had a Sharp Innova .22 from the 80's & it is still working well.
    I bought the Webley Rebel .177 for two reasons, one, I was very interested to see how it compared to my Innova & two, I wanted it for my Grandson.
    What a disappointment, 1, my silencer didn't fit the thread, it was way too loose.
    2, the accuracy was very poor no matter what pellets I put through it, & 3, the loading port looks like it was designed for a .22 because when I dropped a pellet in, it turned sideways & I had to use a cleaning rod to move it back.
    After reading all the terms & conditions on the warranty, I decided it was a waste of time sending it back, I have to pay postage both ways for any repair.
    Waiving the warranty, I stripped the gun & did my own mods to the loading port & made a new adaptor for the silencer, a 1/2" unf not a metric 1/2" (what a joke!!)
    It shoots a lot better but I am considering re-barrelling at some point.
    Would I buy another one or recommend it? NO, pay a bit more & buy a used Innova.

    Comment by: Malc Tulloch     Posted on: 01 Dec 2013 at 04:08 PM

  • I had my .177 as a second hand/ trade in from a local gun shop. I paid half the new price, so I was off to a good start ! The new one on the gun rack had issues with the pump handle not securing. A .22 was suggested by the owner to be the better model.But as I was only after a plinker I didn't see the problem with the hardly used bargain priced rifle I'd noticed in the corner of the store room... Using it raised issues with uncomfortable pump handle plastics. loading, why oh why didn't they use a 5 shot clip ! Had issues with pellets getting trapped and clipped . Rear sights, cheap n nasty being a compliment for these cap gun rejects. I was warned in the shop that although it had a thread forget silencers as they would foul the pellet . I fitted a scope and with 4 pumps got reasonable results with the odd wayward shot I presume these are clipped pellets or where the name of the model comes from ! It was almost a nice gun !

    Comment by: Mike Bunce     Posted on: 20 Dec 2013 at 05:29 PM

  • Having owned a SHARP INNOVA and loved it's power and accuracy, I eagerly awaited the First Rebel to be released. I was disappointed at first that I could only get hold of the .177 version, but happily paid up and bought a very high power scope to go with it. 7-32x50. Knowing how good the old sharp was and the fact that I had rebuilt and replaced many parts I had worn out, I was ready to compare the new REBEL intimately.

    OK the bad news first..
    The silencer mount is M12 and not 1/2"UNF Also it is very thin and can be easly snapped off..
    The front end is plastic so there is a certain amount of flex movement if you start pumping like a demented gorilla. Especially if the pump action is adjusted too long and the pump lever closes with a loud clack..
    Actually a simplified design of the breech pump barrel retainer system has also contributed to the pump barrel being easily rotated a degree or two and this will promote sideways errors. The old sharp had two screws under the breech block. One to fix the reserve air chamber and retain the stock. And a second that actually screws up against the shim that secures the pump barrel and puts pressure on the transfer seal to avoid leakage.
    Lastly inside the air reservoir there is a plastic internal part that the SHARP INNOVA didn't have and a missing seal on the firing pin.
    Now if you buy a m12 silencer, and don't over pump the rifle it will perform well.

    Now for the good bit.. This rifle can be re-engineered or blueprinted and made even better than the sharp innova... There are about 8 modifications I have done to mine to blueprint it ti the old spec, new seal and retainer in the chamber, different bump stop rubbers for the firing pin, new front end with a longer silencer tube that is shimmed to the barrel., new securing system for the pump tube, a pump lever bump stop, main barrel re bonded to the stock, and different quality o rings and springs used.

    My blueprinted rifle 177 now performs with surgical accuracy,with the 32 mag mil dot scope. I can place a pellet on top of another over and over at 10 meters indoors and fairly often outdoors even in light wind at 25 meters.. and in almost silence with the new silencer ( m12 thread)

    So I have bought another one in .22 and that is going to get the same treatment.. I foolishly bought a 2-7 x 32 scope to go with it...ok for shooting game but for paper targets the rifle is so accurate it needs a very good scope. Yes i can shoot twigs off a tree at 25 meters with a 4x20 scope with a sharp but with a scope that has quality and power like the hawk sidewinder didgi nite eye i can still hit with surgical accuracy in near darkness at 25-50 Meters with the REBEL.. Placing the pellet exactly where the rifle is pointed.

    Conclusion, for plinking its excellent, it's light, even with a big scope and silencer (80 Gramms) for hunting it's powerful, and with a few mods it can be exceptional...Shame the Chinese or whoever make them, have cut a few corners and missed the possibility of doing a proper remake of a great oldie and improving the spec.. Who knows perhaps they will correct the mistakes and do a REBEL 2 and do it properly..IF ONLY::

    Me.. I love them, I enjoy modifying them and getting the accuracy that I still enjoy with my much rebuilt sharp. and for the money...what a bargain..

    Comment by: COLIN MARTIN     Posted on: 13 Sep 2014 at 10:04 PM

  • Sorry the above message should have read :-
    main barrel re bonded to the breech block, and different quality o rings and springs used.

    Also
    There is a high quality M12 & 1/2" -18db dual caliber .177 & .22 silencer made for this rifle. In light strong aluminum, anodized, and at 80 Gmms very light..Just ask around...IM not advertising the name...Just saying there is one made.

    Comment by: COLIN MARTIN     Posted on: 13 Sep 2014 at 10:15 PM

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