Webley Venom Viper .22 PCP Air Rifle Lockdown maintenance

April 22, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Unable to go shooting due to the UK government Lockdown, with time on my hands, I have taken the opportunity to look at my rifles and carry out overdue maintenance, this week taking the Webley Venom Viper .22 pneumatic precharged air rifle out of the gun safe.

The Webley Viper Venom is a precharged pneumatic legal limit air rifle in .22 calibre. This was one of the last rifles produced by Webley before going into receivership and in my opinion, one of the best made. It is basically a carbine version of the acclaimed Webley Raider, benefiting from a shorter Walther barrel, fitted with a silencing shroud. In use I found the silencing inefficient and modified the screwed in end cap on my lathe, to take a light weight plastic silencer. The report on firing is now inaudible beyond ten yards, which means more chance of a second shot. On one occasion, I had set out pigeon decoys, with sweet corn as bait to keep the birds on the ground and managed to shoot five from a down wind hide before they took flight. This did highlight one deficiency of the Viper, a two shot shuttle magazine, which had me frantically feeding pellets, having to take my eyes off the pigeons, while I reloaded the shuttle. An upgrade was available later, a ten shot rotary magazine, intended for the Raider, fitting straight in, but the original set up worked OK for me. What ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Viper had been stored unused for a few years since its last outing, night shooting rabbits at a lawn tennis club. The club played into the evening under flood lights until 9 pm, but by 10 pm the rabbits were out to play digging up the manicured lawns. The touch button torch was ideal for highlighting the bunnies in the half light, the add on silencer keeping the report down to a mere puff, while the Bisley Magnum 21 grain pellets knocked the rabbits over with head shots from this very accurate rifle.

At the time, the spring loaded two shot shuttle loading system was a handy innovation, the shuttle manually pushed over to the left side when cocking the rifle, having already loaded the right hand side. Firing the first shot released the shuttle for the left hand pellet to rest in position for the second shot, while cocking the rifle again, pushed the pellet probe forward to position the pellet ahead of the transfer port. In the dark and in a hurry to shoot more rabbits, reloading often proved to be a fumbled exercise, but after a few sessions, there were fewer rabbits around to get too hot and bothered about.

This view shows the shuttle on the right hand side. I was pleased to discover that after all this time the rifle was still full of air, a credit to the manufacturers, the carbine one of the last products of the Webley Custom Shop headed up by Steve Pope, before the world famous gun manufacturer collapsed into administration in 2005.

Being an engineer with my own workshop, I considered removing the shuttle and manufacturing my own rotary magazine system to fit the Venom Viper, but already owning the Career 707 .22 carbine, which has a proven ten shot magazine in place, I did not consider it a productive use of my precious time.

Although the Webley was brand new, when I bought it at a greatly reduced price, due to the collapse of the company, I could not stop myself from taking it apart, one of the things being to polish the hammer with 600 grade wet and dry, even though it made little difference to the power output, although a couple more washers added to those behind the hammer spring, did bring the rifle very close to the 12 ftlb legal limit. In this image you can see that I filed away the sharp edges to the cocking bolt guide, creating a small radius, which gave a much smoother motion, when pulling back to cock, then forward to load the pellet. Obviously this was done, when the hammer, spring and other innards were removed and all swarf cleaned away.

The silencer sleeve over the quality Walther barrel, is only filled with small diameter alluminium top hat spacers and the rifle has quite a crack when fired, so this was another area that I tackled at the time.

Unscrewing the rifle’s silencer sleeve end cap, I placed the cap in soft jaws on the lathe and bored a hole suitable for a 1/2 inch UNF tap, running the tap right through the cap. I then, on the lathe, drilled a 6.5 diameter hole through a 20 mm length of 1/2 inch UNF studding as a generous clearance for a .22 pellet. This drilled stud was then Loctited inside the threaded cap, with 12 mm protruding from the end, enough for the lightweight plastic silencer to be firmly attached.

At the end of my maintenance check there was little to do, the rifle was still full of air and apart from a few squirts of Bisley Gun Oil onto the hammer and the shuttle, plus a wipe over of the walnut stock with some thinned boiled linseed oil, that was it. A test firing over twenty yards, saw a four shot clover leaf pattern punched into a target.

The deadly accurate Webley Venom Viper and a head shot rabbit.