Gun test: Webley VMX Cub .22
- Credit: Archant
Dave Barham enlists the help of his eldest daughter, Mia (age 11) to test this month’s rifle specifically designed for junior airgunners
This little rifle is absolutely superb! I could end the review there and have said it all in six words, but I'll delve a little deeper and explain why I think this junior air rifle is one of the best I have seen.
Webley has covered all bases with the VMX Cub; it's ambidextrous with cheek pieces on both sides of the stock, which incidentally is wooden. The laser-cut chequering on each side of the foregrip and pistol grip are excellent, and Webley has engraved their name into this too - a really nice touch.
The front stock screws are embedded at an angle, which should help them to stay tight, and it's little touches like this that tell me Webley has really thought about this little rifle in terms of design and practicality.
I enlisted the help of my 11-year-old daughter, Mia, to help me with this review. She's no stranger to shooting air rifles, but previously she has only ever shot from a bench with one of my PCPs, so this was going to be a completely different kettle of fish for her.
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Like many of you reading this, I started my airgun shooting with a break-barrel rifle. In fact, my first-ever air rifle was a Webley Eclipse .22. How fitting that my eldest daughter should begin her airgun journey with a Webley!
Now then, this rifle is specifically designed for junior shooters. It's smaller and lighter than a full-size rifle, but not so much as to take away from the real feel of shooting. It's also half the power at 6 ft.lbs. When I put ten shots through the chronograph I got a steady 5.65 ft.lbs. with very little fluctuation - testament to the engineering inside.
If I had to make a very slight complaint after my initial impressions, it would be the 'half a tub' of grease they have used on the action near the breech prior to shipping. There's far too much of it on there, and at first I let it slide (excuse the pun), but I noticed after half a dozen shots that some of it was working its way into the breech and I could clearly see the dieseling smoke exiting the end of the barrel. A quick wipe with a cloth sorted that problem out.
This rifle features a 100mm long 11mm scope rail, but comes supplied with very accurate, fibre-optic open sights. If you want to add a scope, there is also a recoil block at the end of the rail to help prevent movement of the scope due to the recoil.
I thought long and hard about fitting a scope to this rifle, but thought it best that Mia learn to shoot just like I did, with open sights. It's a lot more fun for juniors, and far easier for them to get to grips with their basic shooting techniques, especially when shooting offhand - a scope wobbling about all over the place is far harder to deal with than open sights.
After a little coaching from me, I let Mia do her own thing. I gave her a short safety brief about locking and loading a break-barrel rifle - always keep hold of the barrel when loading; even though this rifle has an anti-bear trap device, they can fail.
I wasn't sure if she would be able to cock it on her own, but she soon found a way to get the best purchase and, soon enough, it became really easy for her and she was rattling through the tin of pellets. This rifle is easier to cock than full-size rifles, thanks to Webley's 'Powr-Lok' system, which only requires a short cocking stroke. Incidentally, the safety button is positioned right behind the back of the action, just above the top of the pistol grip. It's really simple to use and resets each time the rifle is cocked. A simple push with the thumb is all that is required to turn the safety off before the user takes the shot.
When I was confident that Mia was ready for some serious shooting, after putting about 40 pellets through the rifle, I stopped her for a break and gave her some more tuition on her breathing, stance and trigger control. Talking of the trigger, the blade has a very pronounced curve to it, which is ideal for accommodation of all manner of sizes of finger. It's only a single-stage action, but it is adjustable. I tested the pull weight at a little under 4lb, which Mia managed with no problems.
Once Mia told me that she was ready to try her skills on some proper targets, I set up the pellet catcher at exactly eight metres and told her to have a few practice shots, then we would see what she could do with a five-shot count.
Well, she went straight for the five-shot count and I couldn't believe what I was seeing! Either Mia was born with it, or my 'expert' coaching had really done the trick - I suspect the former!
It was a real 'proud Dad' moment, I can tell you. I wish I could shoot as well as her offhand! Of course, I had to have a go myself, but I'm not going to show you my target sheet - let's just say I lost the competition!
If you have kids or grandkids and they've expressed an interest in your shooting, then this VMX Cub is a sure-fire way to help nurture that interest. For little over £100 it's the perfect entry into the sport, and because it is so well made it will last a lifetime.
What's more, it's great fun for adults to shoot too, and I challenge any of you devout PCP and scope lovers to try your hands at some open-sight, offhand shooting to see just how bad a shot you really are! I think I need to work on my technique somewhat.
- Junior length of pull
- 6 ft.lbs.
- Ambidextrous wood stock
- Adjustable hi-viz sights
- Anti-bear trap mechanism
- Ventilated recoil pad
- Recoil stop
- Automatic resettable safety
Manufacturer: Webley & Scott
Model: VMX Cub
Distributor: Highland Outdoors (01858 410683)
Overall length: 980mm
Barrel length: 430mm
Calibre: .22 (on test) .177
Trigger: Single-stage adjustable
Trigger weight: 4lb
Pull length: 322mm
Sights: Open fibre-optic
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