I ate my wafer...


Webley Air Pistol Feeding and Care

So, I started to write a long comment over at hellinahandbasket about air pistol pellets, then realized that I haven't posted here for a while, and I didn't want to hijack James's thread.

I've been a huge fan of air guns in general since before Kindergarten (the first gun I remember firing was a Benjamin 317 air rifle at age 4). One of the first, and best air guns that I personally bought was a Webley Tempest Airpistol, very similar to the one that James Rummel is discussing here. I bought my Tempest in about 6th grade for the princely sum of $150, and I've put around 50,000 pellets through it since then. I'm a bit biased, but I do think that it is one of the best values in firearms training available. Although the Webley design vibrates a bit much for serious 10m air pistol competition accuracy, it is blessed with higher velocity, long barrel length, AND durability which makes it very practical to shoot at longer distances, and for heavy practice. With the rear sight nearly at its maximum elevation, mine will consistently hit at shoe box at 40 yards (8 or 9 pellets out of 10 if I do my part).

The first place to look for any airgun info is the pyramid air blog, which is readable, concise, and very honest. Although it is written in connection with the pyramid air store, the blog critically reviews the very products sold in the store. I can't say enough good things about the pyramid air blog or store. For a quick example, here's one of their blog posts on the webley pistols.

What to shoot into:

I don't see anything wrong with shooting a cardboard box stuffed full of paper, other than having to change the paper ever now and again, but metal and putty traps are nice and simple. Anyone with some metal working skills and equipment can slap together their own metal trap in a hour or less, so that's also a possibility for the tinkering inclined.

Besides eliminating the clanking noises of a metal trap, the main advantage to a putty trap is the containment of lead dust. Each time a pellet hits the rear surface of a metal trap, it throws off some lead dust, which, if you shoot heavily enough in an enclosed area it can increase lead exposure. I've never built a homemade putty trap, but it sounds simple enough.

When outside, air guns should be treated similarly to a shotgun loaded with trap loads since they both have very similar maximum ranges (on the order of 200 yards, I used the free, and fun to use AL_Bal program to compute an approximate Webley max range). Now, the main reason I bring this up is for the edification of anyone tempted to shoot in the air, say at a bird in a tree with an airgun. If (excluding noise and legal reasons) you wouldn't feel comfortable using a shotgun loaded with cheap trap loads in the same environment, you might wish to reconsider using an airgun. Not very many people are injured by airgun and shotgun pellets falling from the sky at 200 yards, but you can certainly irritate your neighbors if you miss the starling you shot at.

What to Feed it:

I'd suggest that buying some decent pellets, lead bbs are so soft that they lead the barrel fairly quickly, and, well, every pass of the cleaning patch takes a little life out of the barrel, so I'd rather shoot pellets and clean less often.

Never, ever shoot steel bb's or darts through a rifled barrel. It will damage the rifiling very quickly, even not necessarily noticeably to the naked eye. Shooting Steel BB's through a good rifled barrel is the shooting equivalent to defecating in bathroom sinks.

I shoot RWS light weight match pellets (blue tin, ~$8/500) when I really want to shoot accurately with my webley (in part I keep them around to be able to tell when accuracy degrades from leading and I should clean.

Otherwise I shoot whatever's cheap at wal-mart OTHER than the rebranded "Beeman" Chinese pellets, which are just too crappy to bother with. Usually the bulk pack cheap crossman's are ~$3.75/500 and they're not bad. The Daisy offering isn't bad either, but usually their a bit more money locally to me, and somewhat lower in qualirty. A couple times a year Meijers runs a sale on air gun accessories for 25% off, and I usually buy 20 bucks worth, which is about 3 or 4 thousand cheap pellets or perhaps 2500 of the excellent Crossman "Premier" pellets.

The crappy pointed bulk pack pellets are a little disappointed to shoot bullseye with, but they'll still hit cans out to 50 feet or more.

I've played around a little with the plastic skirted Prometheus pellets, and while they're definitely accurate and flat shooting, I can't justify the price for general shooting.

If you order enough pellets to get the "buy 3 tins get one free" deal from Pyramid Airguns, they're definitely the cheapest online source for pellets.


A. Lube:

I've used air guns specific lubes before, and they work ok. Most of my experience has been with the Beeman products, but I can't find their chamber and spring oils on their website anymore. There are plenty of decent primers on airgun lubrication on the internet, so I'm not going to rehash them here. To be honest, I typically use Mobil One automotive oil for chamber oil, since it is as flash resistance as most chamber lube, cheaper, and already in my garage. Since it is easy to drip oil directly into the compression chamber on a Tempest, special needles and techniques aren't particularly necessary, and I typically just drip a drop or two or so through it every 2000 or 3000 pellets. I can't say that I really follow a strict schedule. Besides the chamber, I usually just drip some oil into the spring slot and in the various pivot points and call it good as far as lubrication. On my particular Tempest, the barrel's bluing has worn off (actually I reblued it and it wore off again) so I have to wipe it with oil often in hot weather to prevent rust (usually about every 500 pellets), and I usually tend to oil the linkages then as well. The Tempest is a pretty durable design, and pretty forgiving.

B. Bore:

A great number of firearms are worn out before their time by excessive and ham-fisted cleaning, and air guns are even more vulnerable since the rifling is much finer and usually softer. So, I personally don't clean my Tempest's bore until accuracy degrades from leading. It isn't particularly scientific, but if I suspect accuracy has dropped while shooting the usual crap pellets, I shoot a 50 yard rifle target at 10 meters with RWS pellets, and if the score is particularly bad, I clean the bore. I do this at approximately every 1,500 pellets, though if I shoot particularly soft pellets I may have to clean at 500 shots, and sometimes I get perhaps 3,000 pellets or more between bore cleaning when shooting high quality pellets.

Never clean any gun from the muzzle that you can clean from the breech.

My cleaning technique is pretty similar to this (pdf), but I typically use weedwacker string for the pull through (you can melt a ball on the end of the string to hold a patch). I occasionally use felt cleaning pellets, and they do save some time for light cleaning. I do have a .177" sized cleaning rod, but I've migrated towards using pull-throughs mainly for the silly reason that I feel the rod touch the rifling lands, and I don't feel the same contact with the pull through. It is a bit sloppy, but on the Tempest, I typically use any solvent I have at hand to wet the first few patches, from Hoppe's #9 to Ethyl Ether or Brake Cleaner. After the cleaning, I do run a lightly oiled patch or two through the bore, typically with the same Mobil One oil used for the chamber.


  • Good post!


    By Blogger James R. Rummel, at 11:39 PM  

  • Don't know exactly how I linked in here, glad I did though. Love air power myself... thought I'd tell you about a fantastic lube... from Mobil no less. A spray can... or volume, it's called "One-Lube" by mobil.
    It's a spray so you already know it picks up farrrrr less grit then other lubes... and you never get deiseling.
    Red can...Black top. All my Field Target bud's swear by it as well. Well worth the search. Great for Semi's as well.... brake cleaner quick clean... and spray w one lube. Done.
    GL, Stocky
    ps.. absolute best all around air pistol ever... go to Mac1 website... look up the Larry Durham modified crosman mark1 in .22. If you haven't seen it yet... your about to have strawberry shortcake.

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