Webley Mk VI Civilian
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Phill Price ends up being smitten by the short-barrelled Webley Mk VI Civilian
Webley Mk VI Civilian
One of the many great things about airgunning as a sport is that it offers so many opportunities to enjoy yourself, and collecting functioning replicas must be near the top of the list. Just think, you can own James Bond’s Walther PPK or Dirty Harry’s Smith & Wesson Model 29, and better still shoot them for fun. Added to that list surely has to be the Webley Mk VI revolver that served our armed forces for decades, and was valued for its strength and durability in tough conditions. It’s also iconic in the world of filmmaking, and today even features in video games, so millions of people who don’t even shoot feel that they know this superb revolver well. Webley Airguns is proud to say that the replica you see in these pictures, the Webley MkVI Civilian, is almost exactly the same weight and dimensions as the real firearms because the company used the original drawings to make them. Of course internally the guns are totally different, but you most certainly get the heft and feel of a firearm as you pick it up.
Functionally, the airgun variant of the Mk VI is identical to the original too. In a clear difference to most revolvers, loading is done by pressing a lever that holds the top of the frame forwards. This releases the frame to swing open downwards, exposing the six chambers in the cylinder.
Dummy cartridges hold the .22 calibre pellets in their base, where the primer would be in a live cartridge. A soft, flexible material grips them to ensure they stay put while you handle the cartridge and also effects a gas seal during firing.
Gun supplied by: Highland Outdoors (highlandoutdoors.co.uk)
Model: Webley Mk VI .4550 2.5in Revolver
Price: RRP £230.99
Warranty: One year
Type: CO2-powered revolver
Power source: 12-gram capsule
Trigger: Double- and single-action
Webley Mk VI Civilian – gassing up
This means that you can fill the cartridges ready and then load the revolver just like the real thing. The importer tells me that spare ones and even a speed loader will soon be available for those who enjoy rapid fire! Once the cartridges are in the cylinders, you close the frame again and you’re ready to fire, assuming you have a CO2 capsule fitted.
To charge the Mk VI, lift off the left side grip half to expose the frame. At the bottom is an authentic-looking lanyard loop on a threaded bolt.
Take your 12-gram CO2 capsule and drop it in with the neck to the top. Adjust the bolt enough that it can sit flat inside the frame, then turn the screw clockwise until the probe pierces the capsule’s thin top. This allows the CO2 to flow into the valve and then you clip the grip panel back on. The gun is now live.
In a change from the original, Webley engineered a manual safety on the right side of the frame below the cylinder. In this position it can be manipulated with the trigger finger, for right-handed shooters at least. It’s very small and discreet, so it doesn’t detract from the replica’s good looks.
Just behind this is a panel of white writing, with safety information and “made in Taiwan”, but I’m sure that a little creativity could be used to disguise it. Similarly, there’s a sticker on the barrel saying “energy max. 3,0 Joules”, which could also be hidden. I expect there’s a legal requirement for this information to be displayed, but the gun would look far nicer with them unseen.
This revolver can be fired in both single- and double-action modes, which I’ll explain.
In double-action, you simply pull the trigger, which cocks the hammer and rotates the cylinder. In single-action mode, you cock the hammer with your thumb. The key difference is that in single-action, the trigger only moves a little bit and is very light. In double-action mode the pull is much longer and heavier, so for precise shooting single-action is the top choice.
It is, however, slow, and a soldier fighting for his life has no time for such things, which is why the design allows for both modes. These functions really add to the pleasure of using this gun and make it one of the top choices for any avid collector.
In use, I noted a few things that modern revolvers offer that are not here. Firstly, the grip is quite slim and best suited to one-handed shooting, which I think was quite normal when the Mk VI was in its heyday.
My modern two-handed combat grip needed some modification to use. Secondly, the sights are simple and do not offer any adjustment, nor any colour to aid their use. Please don’t take these as criticisms, only observations. If you do want to improve the sight picture, a steady hand and a touch of white paint on the front sight blade could be an aid, but would certainly not be authentic.
Webley Mk VI Civilian – seeing the sights
After sounding like I didn’t like the sights, I should note that I was able to shoot the Webley Mk VI Civilian accurately for a CO2 gun of this kind, which was very pleasing. At 6 yards I was getting groups that I could cover with a 10p coin, excepting the occasional flyer just outside that, but they were more likely to be me than the revolver. I thought that this was quite excellent, and great fun for plinking. I should also note that the sights were dead on for my eyes and grip.
It’s also offered in 6in,4in and the 2 ½in barrel length that you see here. Webley explains that the shortest version was made for civilian use, namely for a gentleman to protect himself from villains, which was unrestricted until 1920 when we became obliged to get a licence. It was also popular with tank crews, who appreciated its compactness, and even a high-ranking Indian diplomat who wore his proudly. I liked the look and sensed no loss of accuracy or power from it.
On that matter, I undertook a vitally important test which was to chase an empty steel can around my lawn. Perhaps it was the extra weight of the .22 pellets, but it certainly knocked the can back hard, and even punched through the metal a couple of times when it caught the angle right.
Webley Mk VI Civilian – safe travels
A small addition the Mk VI has is one I’d never seen before. On the sides of the frame, just ahead of the cylinder, there’s a small triangular plate each side which was designed to help the revolver slide unhindered into the holster.
I imagine that being able to return it quickly to the holster for safe carry in the stress of battle would have made this neat little improvement very welcome indeed. It also speaks of the history, development and real-world evolution. It is the Mark VI after all.
There are many reasons to like this replica, and its proud history is surely one. It was used around the world for over a century, and over 300,000 examples passed through the Webley factory doors in England.
On top of this, it’s a functional demonstration of exactly how it worked – and then the icing on the cake is that as a CO2 plinker, it’s top-class as well. It’s not cheap, but the best things in life never are. Next time you’re in your local Webley dealer, ask if you can take a look at one of these in any of its many pellet or BB versions.
They all exude the same desirable qualities and you’ll feel that from the moment it’s in your hands.
Whether you go for this little snubby or a model with a longer barrel, no replica could be more accurate to the original, more pleasurable to own or more fun to shoot than the Webley Mk VI