Simon Everett takes a close look at a true icon of airgunning: the Webley Mark 3
The Webley Mark 3 had a very long production life, being launched in 1946 and remaining in production until 1975. The standard of workmanship and the sheer engineering excellence that went into these rifles is astounding for what was essentially a garden gun that made about 8ftlb in .22 calibre.
This particular example was built in September 1966 and is completely original, having never been restored and retaining 99 per cent of its original finish.
The walnut stock is shaped from the same walnut that was brought in for shotguns. Workmanship throughout is excellent, and the Webley badge inlaid into the cheekpiece is another sign of the quality that was bestowed upon these fine air rifles.
The real precision went into the machining though, and everything on these underlever rifles was machined. There are no pressed steel pieces on the Mark 3 – everything was turned out of solid steel, even the trigger blade and cocking lever.
The loading tap was reamed in position, to ensure perfect alignment, and the metaltometal fit is so precise that if you fire the cocked rifle with the tap open, the air takes about six seconds to escape!
Other noteworthy features are the adjustable V-notch rear sight and the beaded front blade sight with hood. The rear sight is adjusted for elevation with a finely threaded, knurled wheel, while the windage was factory-tuned
using the dovetails.
A target version with aperture sights was also available and was used extensively in bell target shooting. The barrel is tapered from the breech end to the muzzle with an even reduction, having been turned down by
hand, no less.
The entire creation retains the pride of Webley & Scott, founded in 1790 and one of the oldest names in British gun-making.