By: Mark Camoccio
Mark Camoccio checks out a Webley rifle that will definitely appeal to the cost conscious
In these days of global recession and economic turmoil, belt tightening for many, has become the order of the day. However, in the world of airguns, all the signs are that sales overall seem to be weathering the storm, in spite of less than ideal trading conditions - and several theories abound as to why.
Favourite among them is that many of us are simply determined to fund our beloved hobby, come what may, given its positive effect on our well being. That said, there’s inevitably more interest in value for money gear, and my test rifle here is a classic answer to many shooters demands, for a robust budget performer, with a host of features, at a price that’s right.
The new ValueMax is advertised by distributors, Highland Outdoors, as ‘Webley’s answer to the credit crunch’, and with an RRP of £135 for the camo stocked test version, and an impressive spec list, I was really keen to see whether this full powered sporter could deliver the goods.
The ValueMax is basically a spring powered break barrel, and (it’s an expression that will crop up repeatedly in this review) ‘bearing in mind the asking price’, it seems hard to believe the features included with this rifle as standard. Features such as an adjustable, lockable breech, built in arrestor block, and fully adjustable fibre optic sights, are all surprising inclusions.
Indeed, given the proportions of the stock, and the bold visuals throughout, it’s difficult not to be impressed by the ValueMax. For this is an adult rifle, yet at 6.7lbs in weight, its handling is such that many younger shots can still grow into it.
Whilst my test rifle wore the camouflage stock as mentioned, two other alternatives are available (black or green) for around ten pounds less; making the Value Max even better… er…value. The moulding includes a boldly styled angular fore-end, and well shaped grip; with both areas sporting sharply relieved chequering, and whilst the cheek piece is maybe a tad low, the ValueMax really feels right in the aim.
The polymer/composite stocks are undoubtedly eye catching, and some highly respectable metalwork awaits inspection too.
At this stage, it’s worth mentioning the rather snazzy fibre optic open sights that come fitted as standard. The ultra trendy foresight assembly acts as a muzzle finisher, and houses the red foresight element. With no hood, the element is slightly vulnerable to knocks, but with a fully adjustable rear sight completing the set, the overall image created is very good. Open sights are always a good idea on a rifle of this type, bringing versatility to novices and juniors alike; and these are particularly well executed.
If scope use is on the cards, then the ValueMax has that covered too, with 6inches of dovetail rail, arrestor stud holes, and even a small arrestor block included! Bear in mind that spring rifles can generate surprisingly aggressive two-way recoil, and an arrestor block makes sense, restricting the movement of mounts once in place.
All the metalwork on the ValueMax is reasonably well finished, although this is an area where some costs are saved; so don’t expect lustrous, highly polished blueing. What you can expect though, is some half decent engineering, with a surprising level of detail. All break barrel air rifles are vulnerable to wear at the breech, as the barrel itself acts as the cocking lever. Over time, this regular pivoting action can cause microscopic wear around the jaws, so this Webley comes fitted with an adjustable bolt, and a second locking screw, which is impressive indeed… especially bearing in mind the asking… sorry.
Admittedly I’m of a large build, but for me, shouldering this ValueMax felt just right. Cocking effort (both breaking open the breech and compressing the spring) is very reasonable, and in keeping with many rifles of this type, if a positive sweeping motion is adopted, the whole task becomes easier.
Possibly the weakest area for the ValueMax, and another area where savings have been made, is the 2-stage trigger which would really benefit from a broader, flatter blade. ‘Rather vague and creepy’ best describes the action, yet acceptable as it still trips with more subtlety than my old Webley Vulcan, so overall it’s about par for the course.
Advertising makes much of the ‘Powr-Lok’ mainspring inside these rifles, and whilst the reality (on the test sample at least) is a cocking action which is a little ‘graunchy’, followed by plenty of spring twang on firing, overall recoil is still highly manageable. An internal anti-beartrap safety system brings peace of mind too, although this means the action cannot be de-cocked.
Consistency was impressive to say the least with this gun, and over the chronograph, RWS Superfield pellets, produced regular ten shot strings in the region of 9fps total spread - which is excellent by any standards. With average kinetic energy readings of 11.7ftlbs, findings in this department were just about text book.
With those same Superfield pellets posting regular 3/4inch clusters over 30yds, this Webley well and truly proved a point!
So if you’re in the market for an entry level airgun, take my advice and avoid those atrocious far eastern offerings in the £50-£60 bracket. Acceptable entry level quality starts here. Before this test, I’d have said £200 was the bare minimum outlay for acceptable performance, but this rifle is something of a game changer.
To say this Webley ValueMax impressed is a definite understatement. It’s well thought out, well executed, and exceedingly well appointed. Throw some half decent accuracy and full power output into the equation, and what we have here is not only a an ideal starter rifle for any newcomer to the sport, but a gun that’s suitable for mid range vermin control into the bargain - and bargain is the word, with the Webley ValueMax one of, if not THE best value rifle in this price bracket. GM
|Calibre:||.22 (.177 available)|
|Stock:||Polymer/synthetic in camo Power Source: Spring/piston|
|Average Velocity:||575fps over a 10 shot string using RWS Superfield|
|Spread:||9fps over a 10 shot string using RWS Superfield|
|Energy:||11.7ft/lbs on test|
|RRP:||£134.99 approx. (for camo model on test) Options: Black or green stock (£124.99)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates