Anyone who is over 20 years old and who has been paying attention should have learned – or should learn very soon – to regard anything said by a marketer with deep suspicion. Marketers, it seems, are continually in the process of naming things in such a way as to convince us of something or appeal to our emotions or tagging on slogans designed somehow to get us to buy.
With the exception of Bernie Madoff (who made-off with a lot of people’s money), it’s fairly rare for things to be honestly named. You don’t hear of “Mostly Honest John’s Used Cars” or the “(Not Really) Harbor View Estates” housing development.
The Webley Value Max air rifle, however, is an exception to this trend. In my view, this single-shot, break barrel, spring piston air rifle is aptly named because it delivers a high return on the buyer’s hard-earned money. The Value Max is available in three different calibers — .177, .20, and .22 – and three different colors: black, green, and camo. The black and green models cost just a penny shy of $150 while the camo model commands a $20 premium. All of them stretch 43 inches long and weigh 6.4 lbs. I tested the .20 cal. green version.
At the aft end of the Value Max is a soft rubber ventilated butt pad that is attached to an ambidextrous synthetic stock. The entire stock, with the exception of the pistol grip and forestock which have molded-in checkering, is done up in a flat slightly roughened finish. I found it easy to grip no matter how sweaty my hands got, and it’s the kind of stock that you won’t worry about treating badly in the field.
Ahead of the pistol grip is a black synthetic trigger guard which surrounds a black metal trigger which appears to be made of a folded piece of sheet metal. Forward of that, there are checkered panels on either side of the forestock and a long slot underneath the forestock to provide clearance for the cocking mechanism. Ahead of that is the 17.7 inch rifled steel barrel which is fitted with a synthetic cocking handle that also serves as a mount for the red fiber optic front sight.
Moving back along the barrel, you’ll find the breech block, on top of which sits a micro-adjustable green fiber optic notch rear sight. Further back, the receiver has dovetails for mounting a scope and a removable scope stop. At the extreme aft end of the receiver is a push-pull resettable safety. And that’s it – the Value Max is almost Zen-like in its simplicity.
To ready the Value Max for shooting, grab the cocking handle and pull the barrel down and back until it latches (I estimate this takes about 35 lbs of effort). Slide a pellet into the breech end of the barrel and return the barrel to its original position. Take aim, slide the safety off, and squeeze the trigger. I measured the first stage at 2 lb. 1.6 oz., and the second stage at 4 lb. 10.8 oz. The second stage has a long pull, but I quickly became accustomed to it. At 32 yards, I was able to put 5 pellets (H&N FTS) into a group that measured 1.25 inches from edge to edge. That works out to just a hair over 1 inch center to center. While that isn’t spectacularly great, it is perfectly adequate for defending the garden at 100 feet.
The Value Max launched .20 cal JSB Exact pellets at 731.5 fps average, generating 16.32 foot-pounds of energy. The report, from the shooter’s position, is a resounding WOK! I am suspicious that the shot sounds louder to the shooter than to a bystander because (again, an unconfirmed suspicion) I think the butt stock may be hollow and may have the effect of amplifying the sound in the shooter’s ear. Perhaps some brave soul will experiment with injecting some sort of sound-deadening foam into the stock to see what effect that has.
Despite the somewhat creepy trigger and apparently louder-than-normal report, I liked the Value Max. I liked its utilitarian appearance and yeoman performance. It delivers solid value at a reasonable price. What’s not to like about that?
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott