The Webley Longbow Air Rifle

by Brad Troyer

In the last decade the development of the pcp air rilfe has been going like gang busters being fueled by market interest. Almost all of the airgun manufacturers have been trying to gain market share with newly developed gadgets and gimmics on their pcp rifles. The airgun market interest in pcp have increased do to the lower cost that the competition between manufacturers has created and the unique features that a pcp rifle has to offer. However in the past few years many airgunners are coming back to their spring gun roots and fortunately several of the English manufactures have been responsive to the demand for newer, more high tech piston guns. Webley is one of the manufacturers that has been busy developing new piston guns to satisfy that demand. One of their newer rifles has been the Tomahawk which is a full sized, full power rifle that rivals the Beeman R1/HW80 and the Air Arms ProElite. Their newest development in the reduced sized break barrel piston rifle called the Longbow.

The Tomahawk’s newest piston stable mate has been dubbed by some at the Webley factory as “Little Tom” due to the Longbows reduced size but strong design influence of the Tomahawk. What it’s not is a carbine version of the Tomahawk, the Lonwbow was designed from the ground up as a smaller rifle based on the Tomahawk’s design. The Longbow sports a shorter compression tube and a shorter barrel which lowers the overall weight to 7.3 lbs. and length to 39”. Airguns of Arizona sent me this test rifle and the first thing I noticed after picking it up was the excellent balance and it’s ease of handling which are due to the shorter overall length and reduced weight.

Webley is known for the high quality finish of their rifles, this was true of the Tomahawk and is also true of the Longbow. The metal work is deeply blued and highly polished while the woodwork is has beautiful grain and a very nice satin finish. The stock is a very functional sporter style with a nice rubber buttpad at the rear and a fore end beaver tail groove that runs the length of the forearm. The front end feels very wide in the forehand and the groove offers a firm grip no matter where you like to place your hand. The length of pull is a full size 14 ½” so it isn’t a youth sized rifle.

Much of the accuracy of any break barrel rifle is associated with the barrel locking mechanism, at least when a scope used. The Longbow is not offered with iron sights so scope use is mandatory and the barrel lock it very important. No worries here though, Webley has a very strong and well made lockworks so the barrel will return to the same position after each cocking. One down side to the very rugged locking mechanism is that it makes breaking open the 13” Lothar-Walther barrel difficult. The cocking effort isn’t bad considering the shorter barrel and the 13 ft. lbs power level of the Longbow, but you have to give the barrel a good slap to break it open. After my first couple shooting sessions the palm of my left hand was a bit sore. The breaking effort has decreased some with use but it is still higher than many of my other break barrel rifles.

The barrel is capped with a nice ported muzzle break that can be unscrewed and replace with other items of the users choice. The other end of the action is grooved for scope mounting, however Webley did not provide holes or grooves for a scope stop pin, they instead depend on the end of the scope rail to act as a scope stop. I don’t particularly like using the end of the groove as a scope stop and feel that a separate scope stop should be used with most scope mounts on this rifle.

At the bottom rear of the action is a 2-stage trigger unit that can be adjusted for 1st and 2nd stage travel as well as for pull weight. The trigger is factory set at 2 lbs. so I adjusted it down a bit for testing, which require that the trigger guard be removed. I found this a bit of a nuisance and prolonged the adjustment period. The specs say that it can be adjusted down under 1 lbs. so that was my goal. The trigger unit is not a 10 meter match trigger but it is smooth and very predictable. The curved trigger blade is smooth and I liked the feel it gives when pulling it.

As with so many high powered spring guns, the Longbow’s shooting cycle has a fair amount of recoil and spring vibration. However I didn’t see near the amount of dieseling out of the box that you see with most other spring power rifles. The Longbow was originally designed as a 12 ft. lbs. rifle and I wonder if it shouldn’t have been hopped up for the U.S. market, either way I think that it would definitely benefit from a simple tune.

After breaking open the action and cocking the rifle, the pellet is loaded into the snug breech and the barrel is locked back into the firing position. Each time the Longbow is cocked, the safety located at the back end of the action is set. The safety is a nice big unit that can be set and reset without having to re-cock the rifle. One problem that I had with the test rifle was that after adjusting the trigger unit, I noticed that safety would sometimes be jolted to the safe position that would not allow the rifle to be cocked for the next shot. That just goes to show that you must be very careful when adjusting the trigger, so if you aren’t sure of what you are doing, don’t mess with it. The Longbows trigger is adjusted well enough out of the box for most hunting and plinking applications.

Before testing the Longbow, I shot a several tins of pellets through it to allow it to break in and settle down. I found the Longbow comfortable to shoot and easy to point. I didn’t have much trouble hitting game size targets a ranges out to 40 yards and was able to hit targets out to 75 yards with a bit of additional support from a nearby tree or fence post and a good guess at the wind. This wasn’t so surprising after benching the rifle for some accuracy testing and found that at 35 yards, the Longbow shot dime and nickel size groups pretty regularly. I would get a flyer every now and again some of which I attributed to the rifles recoil, pellet and a lot of it was my occasional flinch. Either way the rifle tested had more than enough accuracy for just about any task.

The U.S. version of the Longbow is rated for around 13 ft. lbs. and this rifle didn’t disappoint. It averaged 857 fps (12.9 ft. lbs) with an extreme spread of 8.0 fps and a standard deviation of 2.27 fps. These are good numbers for a pcp rifle, let alone a piston gun. That obviously contributes heavily to the accuracy of the Longbow. The power level could be considered mid-powered, but the power to size ratio for this rifle is really pretty incredible. This power level will humanely dispatch any vermin or small game that you might want to shoot with an air rifle.

I enjoyed shooting the Longbow and I was truly impressed with the quality of manufacturing put into it. It handled well whether I was in the woods or in the backyard. It is a very handy size and certainly is a beauty in the gun case. I am glad that Webley has decided to continue development of the state of the art spring guns and can say that the Longbow is a great example of their hard work. I wouldn't doubt that the Longbow could be a top seller for them.

Model Longbow
Manufacturer Webley & Scott Limited, England
Type Break Barrel Spring Piston
Caliber .177 or .22
Energy 13 ft. lb.
Overall Length 39"
Weight 7.3 lbs.
Barrel 13"
Sights None
Stock Beech or Walnut
Safety Automatic
Trigger 2 stage adjustable
Retail Price $350-400