Gun test: Webley VMX OS
- Credit: Archant
Phill Price tries a classy break-barrel from a famous name
Many of the guns I test these days are very sophisticated and complex, delivering quite incredible accuracy, but there are times when I yearn for the simplicity of the guns I used in my youth. The classic break-barrel springer was my first proper airgun and I still feel great affection for the design. Guns made this way are as simple as can be and because of this they tend to be reliable and durable, to boot. Further, they can be serviced and maintained by anybody with some sensible mechanical aptitude and a well kitted out workshop.
Just such a rifle is the VXM OS from the famous old Webley company. It’s a medium-weight build with what I think is a particularly handsome wooden stock that has benefitted from a recent upgrade. I find the handling and comfort very good, although the reach to the trigger is a little long for my medium-sized hand. The lines are long and sleek, giving the rifle the look of a traditional sporter that’s so refreshing in this age of black ‘tactical’ styling.
The action is solidly built from steel, as evidenced by the chunky cocking linkage. That’s not going bend, no matter how clumsy the shooter. All the metal has a semi-matte finish, which is consistent and even. This model wears Webley’s Quantum silencer that fully encloses the barrel, giving bull-barrel good looks. It also delivers noise suppression and makes the barrel comfortable whilst you’re cocking it. The way it works is, in front of the muzzle there’s a chamber that allows the high pressure air that follows the pellet to expand sideways and then backwards around the barrel and inside the full length shroud. There, it passes through baffles and finally enters two acoustic, felt cages which deaden the noise that extra bit. Through the clever use of lightweight materials and good design, it adds little weight and doesn’t spoil the rifle’s balance.
Inside, Webley fits its Powr-Lok main spring, made especially for them from high-quality steel to their exacting specifications. These deliver top performance allied to durability ensuring long service life. On top of the cylinder we find long scope-mounting dovetails machined into the steel. At the rear of these, there’s a recoil arrestor stop which is very important for any rifle of this kind. When a spring-piston rifle is fired, it recoils backward first, then snaps forward again incredibly quickly. This two-way motion can make the scope mounts slide along the rails, which can cause your zero to be lost and potentially even damage the mounts. By placing the rear scope mount hard up against the stop, this problem is eliminated and reliability is guaranteed. The stop can be mounted in a choice of positions to suit different scopes and the individual build of the shooter. Top marks to Webley for fitting this important feature.
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As you can see from the photos, the VMX OS has no open sights, being designed for scope use right from the start. I think it’s fair to say that the majority of people choose to use a scope these days, so it makes sense to offer this model. A nice touch is that the top of the breech block has been left plain and undrilled, making for a neater look. Beneath this, I noted that the substantial breech pivot bolt has a locking screw to ensure that it cannot loosen accidentally.
I particularly like the automatic safety, positioned in the ideal place centrally at the rear of the cylinder. Placed here, it works equally well for right- or left-handed shooters, which complements the ambidextrous stock. The safety can be easily thumbed off as you come on aim and can be manually reset if you need to. I think it’s excellent and one of the best in the business. There’s a second safety system, known as an anti-bear trap. This mechanically prevents the rifle from firing when the barrel is cocked, which could be dangerous. Only when the barrel is fully back in line with the cylinder and the rear mounted safety disengaged will the rifle fire.
Power and accuracy
Before starting my accuracy testing, I chronographed the rifle and that told me that it was delivering an average velocity of 570fps with my standard test pellet, the 16 grain Air Arms Diablo Field, which equates to 11.5ft.lbs of muzzle energy. As was to be expected, there was an amount of dieseling as excess lubrication burned off, but the rifle settled down as I put more pellets through. The firing cycle is quite lively because of the modest weight, but that’s just what I’d expect from a rifle of this kind. I was pleased to find that the trigger was much lighter than you typically find in this category, although still quite a long pull in the second stage. Not needing to use so much pressure to release it made consistent shooting far easier than I was expecting. At 25 yards I was able to achieve sub-1” groups when I got my technique right, making this an honest short- to medium-range vermin rifle.
This is a great little rifle and has so many uses; alongside being a hunter, it’s a great plinker and a fine trainer, to boot. Add to that, great value for money and a durable build and you have a very appealing rifle indeed.
Importer: Highland Outdoors
Model: VMX OS
Length: 42.5” (108cm)
Weight: 6.6lbs (3kg)
Calibre: .177 & .22