Simon Everett puts popular airgun pellets to the test. This month: Webley VMX .177
The VMX is a completely new pellet, designed by Webley to their exclusive specifications and formed in Germany on state-of-the-art pellet-making machinery. Its specially shaped ‘aerodome’ head provides a blend of attributes – those of a flat-head for accurate paper-punching and extra knock-down power on impact in a hunting environment, plus some of the flight characteristics offered by a dome-headed pellet (albeit only partially in the latter configuration).
I must admit to being intrigued when I opened the tin of .177s – the VMX has a longish skirt and very slightly domed head that’s neither flat nor round. Interestingly, these recently released pellets are shaped courtesy of brand new presses that are exclusive to Webley, so no other derivative of this pellet will be available.
New dies return good tolerances, of course – and these pellets arrive with a bright, clean and crisp appearance. Of the 498 pellets in my test tin, just two were damaged – and with only slight dents in their skirts, they’d probably ‘reshape’ with a blast of air anyway. They also weighed in consistently, with an average of 7.97 grains, albeit a little below the 8.18 grains quoted on the lid.
I was pleased the weather was slightly overcast with little wind on the day I’d set aside for testing. Cloud cover always helps with sky screen chronoscopes as the pellet’s passing shadow is easily registered; direct sunlight can affect the sensors and, so, the readings. Conditions were perfectly calm when I zeroed up the rifle (at 35 yards) with VMX, but during the course of the testing, the wind began to blow toward me. Though this didn’t add much lateral drift, it did knock the 35-yard point of impact ‘down’ a tad, as you can see from the targets opposite.
The thinking behind these pellets is to give better downrange accuracy than conventional flat heads. The curved face of the head is a good compromise between the accuracy of a true domehead, and the sledgehammer thump of a flat head.
At 25 yards, the VMX held a tight group – and one small enough to give any farmyard pest a headache! At 35 yards, the clusters remained within the parameters required to clinically pick off avian pests, too.
It was only really when the velocity began to drastically haemorrhage – by the 50-yard mark – that the accuracy of the VMX became a bit wayward. Of course, 50 yards is one of the set distances this pellet comparison series dictates (for the sake of consistency), though I’d never recommend this configuration of pellet at such an extended range. For starters, the merest hint of wind would blow such a lightweight projectile way off course.
However, my longest-range tests do show one thing – that these new-style diabolos will hold their own to around 35 or 40 yards.
A flat-headed pellet is never going to fly along a trajectory as flat as a domed pellet, but the VMX proves you don’t need much of a dome to gain a noticeable advantage over a true wadcutter through the air (which would return much greater losses than the VMX recorded – see table above). Note also the relatively low muzzle energy of my rifle with these pellets – a start-off figure nearer 11.5ft/lb would return slightly better residual energies downrange.
Even though the lighter .177 calibre generally tends to lose its velocity more quickly than a .22, the VMX’s head shape has a user-friendly parabolic arc – the rise and fall of the POI between 25 and 50 yards (with a 35-yard zero) is less than 80mm in total. In fact, it’s within 20mm of the line of sight from eight yards through to 42!
The intriguing shape of the new Webley VMX caught my eye from the very outset – helped in no small way by its beautiful quality of manufacture. I can certainly see the potential of creating a nose that takes the best attributes of a flat and semi-domed shape – and I’ve no doubt it will make a very humane hunting pellet at normal ranges for those who favour the higher velocities enjoyed by the .177 calibre. It’s perhaps not the best choice for reaching out beyond 40 yards – but for typical airgun hunting ranges, the VMX returns a very impressive performance at a very attractive price.
|DOWNRANGE PERFORMANCE STATISTICS – WEBLEY VMX .177|
|Rise/fall from zero||N/A||+ 18mm||0||– 60mm|
PELLET: Webley VMX .177
DISTRIBUTOR: Highland Outdoors – www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
TYPE: ‘Aerodome’ head, waisted diabolo
CALIBRE TESTED: .177 (4.5mm)
AVERAGE WEIGHT: 7.97 grains (sample tin)
USES: General plinking, hunting and target shooting
SUPPLIED: Tin of 500
SRP: £5.99 per tin