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Follow-up gun test: Webley Eclipse 12

PUBLISHED: 14:16 20 February 2019

I continually adjusted the cheekpiece - then replaced the scope mount and started all over again! .

I continually adjusted the cheekpiece - then replaced the scope mount and started all over again! .

Archant

The editor's hunting approach changes radically, thanks to the Webley Eclipse 12

Click here to read Terry’s first review of the Webley Eclipse 12.

I’ll kick off this follow-up test with a statement I made in January’s Airgun World. ‘I’ll use it for another month and report back in the February issue, so we’ll see if the shots-per-charge output is an issue in the real world, although I strongly suspect it won’t be.’ As it turns out, I was right, and yet just about as wrong as I could be. The 20-shot capacity of the the Webley Raider 12 did, indeed, turn out to be of little ‘technical’ importance as far as hunting with it goes, but knowing I had ‘just’ 20 shots had a huge effect on how I went about things.

Increased familiarity

Regardless of the shot-capacity of the rifle I’m using, I always begin a hunting session with a couple of shots to check zero and ensure that nothing’s shifted since the last trip. Doing this with the Webley Eclipse 12 would cost me a tenth of my power reserves, so I took along a top-up tank and, because I knew I could have as many checking shots as I wanted, I settled in with the Eclipse by shooting a complete magazine’s worth of pellets at various pebbles, twigs and leaves. After I’d refilled the rifle’s 105cc air reservoir and ‘replaced’ those zeroing shots, I felt perfectly in tune with the little Webley. I’ve already resolved to take more ‘establishing’ shots before hunting, so there’s a change already.

The Webley Eclipse 12 is a go-anywhere sporter.The Webley Eclipse 12 is a go-anywhere sporter.

Considering every shot

The greatest change, though, was my increased emphasis on making every shot count. I thought I’d always had this mindset, as all hunters should, but the 20-shot limit of the Eclipse definitely intensified it. I’m confident in my abilities to make my shots count, but with that little Eclipse in my hands, I went for the ‘can I get closer?’ option more than is usual for me. This in itself is odd, because, each of the 20 shots available from the Eclipse carried all the accuracy and energy required to despatch vermin at my maximum range for a sub-12 ft.lbs. rifle. Yet, I felt the need to get closer to my quarry and to make doubly sure every shot counted. It’s absolutely the right way to think, whatever psycho-babble response installed it, and it definitely worked with the Eclipse.

A change for good

The ‘make every shot count’ deal just kept rolling, and by the time I finished this follow-up test, genuine changes had taken place in my whole approach to the way I hunt. First, I re-checked my prepared pellets before I went out, then gave each one a visual and a roll in the fingertips before loading each magazine. Even before that, I tweaked and re-tweaked the Webley’s adjustable stock, to get everything absolutely right as I brought it on aim. I went so far as to adjust the stock further when I wore a heavier coat to keep out a particularly cold day, and once this ‘OCD’ had implanted itself, it ran me on auto-pilot.

I literally considered every step I took during the three stalks I managed, scanning the ground for twigs, stones and gloopy, noisy mud. I also paid particular attention to wind direction, used every bit of shade I could, and kept myself below the skyline whenever I was moving in the open.

Again, apart from available shots, I had no technical cause to concern myself with anything beyond that which should always occupy a hunter, but I did. As a consequence, to maximise the potential of the Webley Eclipse 12, I raised my game and became more efficient in just about every department. I’m determined to stay that way, too, so this test has been one of the most significant I’ve ever done.

The supplied single-shot tray is perfect for testing pellets.The supplied single-shot tray is perfect for testing pellets.

Performance and recommendations

Away from behavioural changes, I found the Webley Eclipse 12 to be entirely capable of maximum range field performance, although its true home will always be any situation where space is limited. This is an incredibly handy, highly versatile, refreshingly affordable, precision pest-control tool and one that is eminently suitable to those who’d rather use a pump than a diver’s tank.

The trigger can be adjusted to release shots smoothly and predictably, the magazine system is simple and reliable – plus you get two mags as standard – and the stock’s adjustability is a massive plus in combining the Webley’s potential with the shooting style of its handler. I can’t over-stress the importance of continually making those stock adjustments until everything is exactly as it should be, and I promise you’ll see the benefit if you do this. Here are my recommendations for anyone thinking of buying this rifle.

• Get a silencer. Make sure it’s a compact one, rather than a milk bottle job, and you’ll complement, rather than compromise, the overall handling of the Eclipse 12.

• Give the supplied single-shot pellet tray a fair trial, rather than going straight for the magazines. This tray is especially handy when conducting pellet tests, and that’s another major recommendation for you.

• I found the fore end grip/bipod extremely useful, and again it’s essential to experiment with its position, rather than fit it and adapt your handling. The rule has to be, ‘if it’s adjustable, make sure it’s adjusted to perfection.’

• This rifle could have been designed for a pump, so if something ultra-handy, independent of compressors, affordable and capable of full performance is on your shortlist, don’t be put off by that relatively low shot count.

So light, handy and pointable - even with its scope hanging off the back of it.So light, handy and pointable - even with its scope hanging off the back of it.

Verdict

As you can see, testing the Webley Eclipse 12 has had a profound effect on me and the way I go about my hunting. It’s made a major feature of the importance of gun fit, making the most of potential, and the constant need for us to evaluate our priorities. Webley contacts tell me this rifle is proving extremely popular, and I can certainly see why. The chap who helped me test it last month has ordered one to share with his young son, so that’s yet another feature boxed ticked for this remarkable little sporter. As ever, try one for yourself and see if you have a place in your gun rack for a Webley Eclipse 12. I know I have.

Specification

Model: Eclipse 12

Manufacturer: Webley

Country of origin: UK/Turkey

Type: Pre-charged, multi-shot, sporter

Calibre: .22, .177

Cocking/loading: Sidelever and supplied single-shot tray

Loading: Via removable, rotary 12 (.22) or 14-shot (.177) magazine

Trigger: 2-stage, adjustable

Stock type: Ambidextrous black synthetic, adjustable for pull-length and comb height

Weight: 2.55kg (5.5lbs) rifle only

Length: 660mm (26ins) to 736 (29ins)

Fill pressure: Max 200 bar

Shots per charge: 24 in .22, 20 in .177

Variation over charge: 18 fps for .177 on test

Average energy: 11.5 ft.lbs.

Contact: Webley at webleyandscott.com

Tel: 01785 859122

RRP: £449.99

Click here to read Terry’s first review of the Webley Eclipse 12.

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