Getting pumped

As a lifelong airgun enthusiast, I’m a big fan of single- and multi-stroke pneumatics. The immense appeal of these recoilless airguns is that the on-board pumping system generates its own power, so you don’t have to depend on air bottles, pumps or CO2 capsules. Simply grab the gun and a tin of pellets… and the action can begin right away.

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Achieving full power in a pump-up rifle is no mean feat though, since the effort required to pump increases with each stroke as air pressure builds up. However, the same physical restrictions don’t apply to lower-powered air pistols, which still benefit from the superb action and no-fuss appeal of this powerplant. With that in mind, I’ve brought together two of the best pneumatic pistols out there – the Weihrauch HW75 and the Webley Alecto.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Up close, these two pistols ooze class. Though Weihrauch’s offering looks unashamedly conservative alongside its rival, the single-stroke HW75 is clearly a quality piece of kit – as you’d expect from such a respected name. Words like compact, sleek and purposeful describe the HW75, which loosely resembles the classic Colt Government auto, with its target-style grips.

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Webley’s Alecto is a completely different animal, one that’s proved highly popular since its release. The bulk of the chassis is constructed from a composite polymer, and with so much plastic on show, it’s a miracle of design and execution that the Alecto manages to avoid looking cheap.

Weihrauch HW75 9/10

Webley Alecto 9/10

GRIPPING STUFF

409_HW75_9845If you harbour traditionalist tendencies, then the rather elegant piece of oiled walnut on the HW75 will certainly suit your tastes. The fine stippling is a nice touch – although it seems a little unnecessary that your fingers touch metal at both front and back. Curiously, the grips aren’t totally ambidextrous, though the difference in the swell on each side is only very slight.

Webley’s Alecto, meanwhile, has the appearance of a modern firearm. The composite moulding is extremely precise, and the fully-anatomical grip configuration is striking. My test model is right-handed (though a left handed model is also available), with a full thumb and palm shelf on the left, and a beautifully shaped, palm-filling section on the right. Despite my large hands, I found the countouring melded perfectly with my fingers.

Weihrauch HW75 8/10

Webley Alecto 9/10

OPEN SIGHTS

001_HW75_9657Given the low power output from these pistols, their forte is relatively close target shooting, where open sights are sufficient. Learning the art of the post and notch can help with all forms of shooting, and both models come well appointed in this department. Their rear-sights are adjustable for windage and elevation via a screw, while the Weihrauch’s foresight is a fixed moulding, but offers a good clear picture. Webley offer an excellent revolving foresight blade – a clever design that presents either a post or red dot. In case you want to mount a pistol scope or red-dot, the Weihrauch is the better suited. It has conventional 11mm dovetails machined along the top edge, just behind the foresight, which offer 135mm of rail. By contrast, the Webley requires more specialist, wider clamps, and space is at a premium.

Weihrauch HW75 9/10

Webley Alecto 9/10

COCKING CYCLE

Here’s a fundamental difference – the HW75 is a single-stroke pneumatic, while the Alecto can supposedly take up to three pumps. To cock the Weihrauch, press the serrated carriage release button to the rear of the action and pull the top assembly up and clear. Then, repositioning your hand upside down, grip the barrel assembly and pull it up and forwards until it comes to a stop. It’s important to continue the stroke fully and evenly to ensure consistent velocity. After loading a pellet into the lip of the barrel, push the barrel assembly all the way back. The return stroke compresses the air. It’s under tension, so take care not to catch your hand as the action snaps shut. Pull the hammer back at the rear to cock the trigger, and the HW75 is now ready to fire.

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Webley suggests that the Alecto can take three strokes, but two strokes are more viable. It’s a great system, though, since it offers variable power, and one stroke is super easy for when power output isn’t an issue. Both pistols produced similar energy from just one stroke, but the Webley is notably easier to cock, suggesting superior efficiency of the leverage and internal valving. Indeed, the second stroke of the Alecto is only marginally harder than cocking the Weihrauch, but gives twice the energy return.

Weihrauch HW75 8/10

Webley Alecto 10/10

TRIGGER AND SAFETY

Outside the dedicated match grade bracket, air pistols often seem to get short-changed where triggers are concerned – perhaps because they’re not taken seriously enough. However, I’m pleased to report that there are no such shortcomings here. The two-stage unit fitted to the HW75 comes with a satisfyingly broad blade, with a light first stage and predictably clean second stage. Adjustable for first-stage length, let-off point and weight, it works well. Safety-wise, the ambidextrous bar sits on either side, but as a manual device it can be discreetly overlooked.

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Webley isn’t known for its great triggers, but it has shrugged that reputation off with the Alecto. The wide blade can be adjusted to angle right, left, back or forwards, and the release weight is also variable – adjusted, somewhat unconventionally, through the rear of the grip. Even the neat auto safety tab is a cracking piece of design.

Weihrauch HW75 8/10

Webley Alecto 9/10

OVERALL BUILD

I’ve loved Weihrauch’s guns ever since their all-conquering HW77 in the mid 1980s. Ground-breaking design work, solid engineering and quality finishing are synonymous with this German brand – and the HW75 is a truly impressive example of their art. Smart, well-shaped walnut grips, coupled with super slick, matt-black metalwork, set this model apart from much of the opposition – but Webley’s superb Alecto remains a formidable (and worthy) opponent.

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Though the extensive use of plastics is at odds with traditional gunmaking skills, its subtle design and exquisite execution ensure that the Alecto finds a fan in me. Precisely moulded components exude a quality feel, with maybe just the odd proud seam mitigating that effect. It’s a huge compliment to Webley that so little separates these two.

Weihrauch HW75 9/10

Webley Alecto 8/10

HANDLING

I could run out of superlatives in describing these two impressive specimens. The HW75 sits well in the palm, and I found it particularly comfortable using a two-handed grip, with the left hand cupped underneath. A relatively long sight base is always a bonus, and coupled with the clear sight picture, confident handling is second nature. The grips are as good as ambidextrous, and while they may seem a little bland compared to the Webley, their styling probably has a greater general appeal.

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The Alecto’s dedicated anatomical target grips are obviously a matter of taste, and will work a treat – so long as your hand fi ts them, which mine did. Consequently, I favoured the Alecto for feel over its rival – but with both pistols weighing approximately 1.1kg, they’re equally satisfying, well balanced and wholly manageable handfuls.

Weihrauch HW75 8/10

Webley Alecto 9/10

POWER AND CONSISTENCY

The pump-up pneumatic power plant is generally very consistent, and my test models certainly proved that point over the chrono. The single-stroke HW75 posted an incredible 10-shot string, varying by just 5fps using Air Arms Diabolo Field pellets, equating to 2.6ft/lb of energy. The Alecto matched its rival, with 4fps variation from one pump, and a near identical power output of 2.8ft/lb. Webley’s joker, of course, is the multi-pump capability, with near legal limit power available from two pumps – though hardly any more effort is expended than with Weihrauch’s single pump. Don’t bother with three – no change registered over the chrono – and the third pump takes a fair degree of effort to boot.

Weihrauch HW75 9/10

Webley Alecto 10/10

ACCURACY

002_HW75_9648With such stupendous consistency on offer from both pistols, good downrange results were to be expected. Given their remit as informal target models, my initial accuracy test was conducted from a rest over 10 yards, and resulted in both guns producing genuine ragged single holes which could support a .177 pellet.

Moving back to 20 yards, and picking my aim point carefully, the HW75 managed regular 12mm clusters, against just 15mm groups for the Webley. All accuracy testing was undertaken with the open sights as fitted, and initially with a rest to prove the accuracy of the pistols, rather than the shooter. Freehand groups, made using a double-hand grip, were in the region of 10 or 12mm with both pistols at 10 yards. This is top performance.

Weihrauch HW75 10/10

Webley Alecto 10/10

VALUE FOR MONEY

With its heavy use of moulded plastics, its inevitable that the Webley looks keenly priced compared to the HW75. Moulded components must be cheaper to produce than traditionally engineered parts, as the standard right-handed version of the Webely Alecto is over £100 cheaper than its rival.

Weihrauchs are invariably worth the money though, being solid, dependable, well-engineered products, with a traditional feel that the Webley can’t hope to match. However, for many, the ultra-modern Alecto would be the obvious choice, and it’s hard to fault with the performance and spec for the asking price.

Weihrauch HW75 8/10

Webley Alecto 10/10

FINAL VERDICT

The bottom line is that these are two truly excellent products. The HW75 is an established favourite in Weihrauch’s line-up, and I can’t fault it for being a super accurate, solidly engineered, semi-replica pistol. In short – it won’t disappoint.

However, the Alecto just has something extra about it that clinches the contest for me. Its multi-pump design adds versatility – and I believe it’s the best gun currently carrying the Webley marque.

Weihrauch HW75 86/100

Webley Alecto 93/100

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Posted in Air Pistols, PCP, Tests
2 comments on “Getting pumped
  1. Monte Miller says:

    I’m so happy to have found your review of the Webley Alecto. I currently own a Beeman R7 and Crosman 2250XE. Both shoot great, but I wanted to try a pistol. My choices were the Weihreich Silver Star (HW45) and the Alecto. I’ve been going back and forth with these two for three weeks, wanting to make the “right” decision. You helped me make it! I ordered the Webley on Amazon today for the great price of $297 in the left handed version. And if I don’t like it for any reason, I have 30 days to return it — then I’d buy the Silver Star for $467 from Airguns of Arizona. Again, thank you for the best review I’ve yet to read and which helped solidify my decision.

  2. Jim Driver says:

    Having had the chance to try one of the first Alectos off the production line at a meet of the Umarex Boys club a couple of years back I decided I want one. I have no trouble with the third pump action but it did produce a bit of muzzle flip on discharge.
    My criticism was that the barrel release has a clip on either side and could be fiddly to release.
    Do I want one? YES!
    Am I getting one? As soon as the wife isn’t looking.
    P.S.
    UBC Umarex Boys Club http://www.umarexboysclub.co.uk

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